Natural Prevention and Treatment for Healthy Eyes

Image Credit:  Biographix Media http://www.biographixmedia.com/

Image Credit: Biographix Media http://www.biographixmedia.com/

How do we Keep our Eyes Healthy?
Painful, watery, itchy or tired eyes can be the result of many different factors. The type of treatment needed depends on the cause of the eye problem.  These factors may include the following:

  • Allergies or Environmental Triggers
  • Eyestrain or Stress
  • Fatigue or Poor Sleeping Patterns
  • Conjunctivitis or Infection in the Eye
  • Insufficient Oxygen to the Cornea and Outer Eye Tissue

Watery Red Eyes

Allergies and Eyes
Most people associate allergies with sneezing, coughing or wheezing, and nasal discharge or “runny nose,” but the eyes are often affected by allergies. According to the
American College of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology, eye allergy symptoms can include: Itching, redness, burning and a clear, watery discharge.
Outdoor allergens, such as pollen from grass, flowers, trees and weeds can easily trigger eye allergy symptoms as well as indoor allergens, such as dust mites, pet dander, mildew and mold. Environmental  irritants such as diesel exhaust and petroleum fumes, perfumes, and cigarette smoke also can cause the eyes to fatigue, burn and water.

 

Teenager on Computer Eye StrainEye Strain and Overuse
Recent studies show that more than 9 out of 10 adults (93.3 percent) spend more than two hours each day using a computer or other digital device, with more than 6 in 10 adults (60.8 percent) spending five or more hours every day on digital devices. This is often referred to as “digital eye strain.”

Digital eye strain or computer vision syndrome is the physical discomfort felt after two or more hours in front of a digital screen. This would include desktop and laptop computers, tablets, e-readers and cell phones. The average person who does not sit in from of a digital screen will blink the eye about 18 times per minute. This natural blinking, lubricates the eyeball and prevents dry, itching or burning eyes. However, research shows that those who spend 2 or more hours staring at a digital screen, blink the eyes less often. This can result in dry, itchy or burning eyes.

 

Young Boy Reading Eye StrainOther causes of eye strain include excessive use of the eyes in any ongoing continuous activity that requires intense and unaltered focus in vision — such as extended amounts of driving, writing, or reading.  Each of these activities can cause eye fatigue. Those who work long hours using their eyes, such as accountants, researchers, illustrators or artists, editors, writers are at high risk. Those who drive vehicles without frequent visual changes, such as a truck driver who drives long distance on many miles of road with no change in scenery are also susceptible to eye strain. Continuous use of the eyes without blinking or change in focus, causes the eyes to get less exercise and to strain the eyes.

 

Sleeping Disorders and Fatigue
When a person does not get enough sleep the eyes are dramatically affected.  After a few sleepless nights, the skin around the eyes can turn an unhealthy brown, yellow or sallow color and often become puffy.

Sleeping ChildChronic sleep loss can lead to lackluster skin, fine lines, and dark circles under the eyes. The body releases more of the stress hormone cortisol which breaks down skin collagen. Collagen can help to maintain the elasticity and softness of the skin.  Without adequate rest or sleep, the eyes cannot revive. Sleep, rest, or meditation is necessary to rejuvenate the eyes and maintain proper eye health. Those who do not get enough sleep may experience blurred vision, eye pain, dry eyes, watering or burning eyes, and in extreme cases, trouble focusing, clouded vision, double vision, and twitching of the eyelid or eyeball (myokymia).  Myokymia can be very distracting and limit productivity.  If a person has trouble sleeping, they should try gentle meditation exercises or napping throughout the day.

 

Conjunctivitis or Eye Infection
How does one know the difference between simple eye strain, allergies or an eye infection? Symptoms of an eye infection are more severe. Watery, burning, red and tired eyes caused by an allergic reaction, lack or sleep or eye strain, will generally improve or will be slightly relieved when the person rests or removes the known allergen(s) triggering the response.

Image Credit:  Journal of the American Medical Association  www.jamanetwork.com

Image Credit: Journal of the American Medical Association http://www.jamanetwork.com

Allergies can develop into conjunctivitis or eye infection if not properly treated. Untreated eye infection can be very serious and lead to vision impairment.  According to the American Optometric Association, the symptoms of conjunctivitis include:

  • A gritty feeling in one or both eyes
  • Itching or burning sensation in one or both eyes
  • Excessive tearing
  • Discharge coming from one or both eyes
  • Swollen eyelids
  • Pink discoloration to the whites of one or both eyes
  • Increased sensitivity to light

The American Optometric Association defines conjunctivitis as:

“Conjunctivitis is an inflammation or infection of the conjunctiva, the thin transparent layer of tissue that lines the inner surface of the eyelid and covers the white part of the eye… While conjunctivitis is usually a minor eye infection, sometimes it can develop into a more serious problem.”

The three major types of conjunctivitis are allergic, chemical, or infectious. Infectious conjunctivitis can be either viral or bacterial. A person can get staphylococcal or streptococcal bacteria from their own skin or respiratory system and this bacteria can spread to the eye through touch, from insects, or from other people. 

People can also develop bacterial conjunctivitis from poor hygiene habits, such as rubbing or touching the eyes with unclean hands or using old, contaminated eye makeup and facial lotions. Eye MakeupFor this reason, makeup application brushes should be cleaned regularly and old makeup should be discarded after about one year, depending on use. Application sponges should be washed after each use and thrown away after about one month. Most cleansers and lotions contain fatty acids and should be discarded after six months. Makeup contamination can occur at any time, because it is always in contact with the eyes, mouth and fingers, which are highly susceptible to germs. If something has changed color or has a strange smell, throw it away immediately.  

Giant papillary conjunctivitis is an inflammation of the conjunctiva, which is the tissue underneath the eyelid. Those who wear soft contact lenses, can contract this infection from the bacteria on the contact lenses. The likelihood of contracting this infection is heightened during the allergy season.

Sick Woman Blowing NoseContagious viral upper respiratory infections, such as influenza or the common cold, are generally the causes of viral conjunctivitis. This is usually  contracted through coughing or sneezing, and spreads from the mucus of the nose or mouth, onto the hands and into the eye.

 

Lack of Oxygen to the Eye
Lack of oxygen to the brain and the eye, such as what occurs in those with sleep apnea, heart failure, lung disease or other cardio-pulmonary,  or neurological conditions, can cause eye strain and result in loss of vision due to the effects on the retina, choroid or optic nerve.  Climbing Mountain Lack of OxygenAlso at risk are pilots or cross country hikers, who become oxygen deprived.  If someone is experiencing blurring vision, pain, or swelling or pressure behind the eyes, due to lack of oxygen, they should contact their doctors or trusted health practitioner.  If an insufficient amount of oxygen is entering the bloodstream, the body will react rapidly. This deficit in oxygen is called hypoxia. The eye is usually the first body part to be affected by hypoxia.  A person can recover when the body regains its normal oxygen supply. Hypoxia will progress to anoxia if left untreated. Anoxia is a complete lack of oxygen which results in permanent physical damage or death.

 

Contact Lens

Image Credit: Colormecontacts.com

Contact lenses, in addition to being a trigger for bacterial infections (as written above), can decrease the supply of oxygen to the cornea when it is too tight, too thick or if worn too long. However, a soft contact lens known as silicon hydrogel is less likely to cause this problem, as it provides six times more oxygen to the eye than the traditional soft lens, but these lenses are more expensive. Those who are not practicing careful hygiene with their contact lenses or who wear their lenses too long, could experience symptoms such as clouded vision and red and painful eyes. If this occurs, the person should discontinue using contact lenses and consult a medical practitioner.  They might be advised to use and ointments or drops to reduce swelling, tearing, and promote healing.

 

Preventative Measures
To prevent bacterial or viral eye infection and allergic or chemical eye strain or infection, simple preventative measure can be taken:

  • Washing HandsKeep windows closed during high pollen periods; use air conditioning in your home and car.
  • Wash your hands thoroughly and frequently and especially after petting any animal.
  • Wear glasses or sunglasses when outdoors to keep pollen out of your eyes.
  • Take frequent breaks if spending long hours using the eyes (writing, driving, reading, etc.)
  • Use “mite-proof” bedding covers to limit exposure to dust mites, and a dehumidifier to control mold.
  • Don’t touch your eyes with your hands.
  • Drink plenty of water
  • Change your towel and washcloth daily, and don’t share them with others.
  • Discard eye cosmetics, particularly mascara.Man Sleeping
  • Get plenty of sleep, or try meditation or frequent naps to rest the eyes.
  • Don’t use anyone else’s eye cosmetics or personal eye-care items.
  • Follow your eye doctor’s instructions on proper contact lens care.
  • Use specially designed computer eyewear such as anti-reflective, or AR, lens, or blue light-blocking lenses

 

Natural Treatments for Tired Eyes
There are several natural treatments that might be effective for tired eyes. However, if you suspect that you have a serious infection and experience no relief after making lifestyle changes, see a doctor or trusted healthcare professional for an examination, accurate diagnosis, medical advice and treatment.

Tea Treatment for Tired Eyes

  • Tea has been an age-old remedy to soothe tired eyes. Boil some tea in a little water and let it cool. Dip 2 clean pieces of gauze into the cool tea and place one on each eye for 15 minutes. Make sure you keep dipping the gauze into the liquid as soon as it dries, and reapply as needed.
  • For temporary relief of tired eyes, lie down, close your eyes, and place a cold washcloth (compress) over your eyes. Relax for about 15 or 20 minutes. Refresh the compress as needed.
  • When seeking relief for computer eye strain, researchers at Japan’s National Institute of Industrial Health have found that lowering the computer monitor’s position (and the angle of your head) increases tear production and soothes tired eyes.
  • Eye exercises and vision therapy can sometimes be very effective. Specially trained therapists or ophthalmologists might provide this.
  • For tired eyes, wash them with cold water, several times a day. Rinsing the eyes with water has been found to be highly effective in soothing tired eyes.
  • Herbal remedies such as eyebright and goldenseal have been known to be helpful (do not use goldenseal during pregnancy, or if you are allergic to ragweed).
  • An effective homeopathic remedy might be Ruta graveolens. It is most likely to be helpful in cases of eyestrain where the eyes burn and water after long periods of eye use.

Eye Exam

Prescription or Over the Counter Medications
Your health care practitioner or doctor might advise you to control some symptoms with nonprescription medications, sold over the counter or a prescription medication for infection. These might include

  • Artificial tears
  • Decongestant eyedrops (don’t use eyedrops for “red eye” longer than a week, or they can make things worse)
  • Oral antihistamines (note that they may dry your eyes and make your symptoms worse)
  • Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory prescription medication
  • Antibiotic eye drops or eye cream prescription medication

However, the best way to prevent eye strain or eye infection and to ensure healthy eyes, is to live a healthy, responsible life.  Be sure to get plenty of sleep, avoid alcohol, drink plenty of water, protect your eyes from sun, smoke, and eyestrain, and get regular eye checkups from your trusted doctor or health practitioner.

 

Resources
Azari, AA; Barney, NP (October 23, 2013). “Conjunctivitis: a systematic review of diagnosis and treatment.”. JAMA: the Journal of the American Medical Association 310 (16): 1721–9. doi:10.1001/jama.2013.280318. PubMed

Brendan T. Barrett (2008). “A critical evaluation of the evidence supporting the practice of behavioural vision therapy”. Ophthalmic and Physiological Optics 29(1): 4–25, Retrieved 2015-o1-10  PubMed

Conjunctivitis, American Optometric Association, aoa.org. Accessed 2015-01-10

Cassel, G.H.,  Billig, M.D.,  Randall, H.G., The Eye Book: A Complete Guide to Eye Disorders and Health (A Johns Hopkins Press Health Book),  Paperback, April 3, 1998,  ISBN-13: 978-0801858475

Eye Allergy, American College of Allergy Asthma and Immunology, Accessed 2015-01-10

Goldberg, S., Trattler, W, Ophthalmology Made Ridiculously Simple, Paperback – April 15, 2012
ISBN-13: 978-1935660064

Torin Monahan. “Vision Control and Autonomy Constraints: Managed Care Confronts Alternative Medicine.” June 1998.  Retrieved 2015-o1-10  publicsurveillance.com

What Is Allergic Conjunctivitis? What Causes Allergic Conjunctivitis?”. medicalnewstoday.com. Retrieved 2015-01-10.

 

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This article is written by Jean Voice Dart, M.S. Special Education from Illinois State University. Jean is a published author and has written hundreds of health articles as well as hosting a local television program, “Making Miracles Happen.” She is a Registered Music Therapist, Sound Therapist, and Master Level Energetic Teacher, and is the Executive Director, founder and Health and Wellness Educator of the Monterey Bay Holistic Alliance. The Monterey Bay Holistic Alliance is a registered 501 (c) 3 nonprofit health and wellness education organization. For more information about the Monterey Bay Holistic Alliance contact us or visit our website at www.montereybayholistic.com.  Images used in this article are free public domain from Pixabay.com or Publicdomainpictures.net  Other images are credited.

 

Disclaimer: The Monterey Bay Holistic Alliance is a charitable, independent registered nonprofit 501(c)3 organization and does not endorse any particular products or practices. We exist as an educational organization dedicated to providing free access to health education resources, products and services. Claims and statements herein are for informational purposes only and have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. The statements about organizations, practitioners, methods of treatment, and products listed on this website are not meant to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease. This information is intended for educational purposes only. The MBHA strongly recommends that you seek out your trusted medical doctor or practitioner for diagnosis and treatment of any existing health condition.

Cold, Influenza and Maintaining Wellness During the Flu Season

Why  do we catch colds and/or get the flu?

cold woman

As Autumn begins, so does the school year. This time of year also marks the beginning of cold and flu season, as the influx of bodies in crowded places creates a perfect environment for the precipitation of pathogens. The afflictions we can most likely expect to encounter are the common cold and the flu.

Colds are caused by viruses.

The rhinovirus is the most common virus causing the flu. Symptoms of the cold include sneezing, stuffy or runny nose, sore throat, coughing, watery eyes, body aches, and headaches. When the nose and sinuses are first infected, they create a clear mucus that helps flush out pathogens. Later as the cold progresses and begins to subsidcold-and-flu viruse, the natural bacteria found in the nose begin to return and the color of the mucous may change.
Parents are often fooled into thinking this means that their child needs antibiotics, but colored mucous is not always indicative of a bacterial infection. Moreover, antibiotics can’t help a cold get better because it’s caused by a virus which is unaffected by antibiotics. Their misuse can actually cause more harm than good. A healthcare practitioner should be consulted if a child’s temperature exceeds 100.4 degrees, if symptoms last longer than 10 days, or if symptoms are not relieved by over-the-counter medicines.

The influenza virus, or the flu, is a contagious respiratory illness.

Original Title: Sneeze_73bj.jpg

 

 

Its symptoms may include fever, cough, sore throat, runny or stuffy nose, muscle and body aches, headaches, fatigue, nausea, and vomiting. Not everyone with the flu will have a fever. The flu is most easily spread when people sneeze, cough, and even talk. The virus is especially adept at spreading, in part because people with the virus can be contagious up to one day before any symptoms develop, and for up to five to seven days after becoming sick. The flu’s virulence (how sick it can make someone) is unpredictable and fluctuates from year to year.

Flu season lasts from roughly October through May and thousands of people die from it every year, mostly older adults.

To curb the rate and severity of infection, a yearly flu vaccination is recommended for nearly everyone six-months-old and older (those with certain allergies may need to talk to a doctor first). The vaccine is even recommended for pregnant women, and a recent study showed that its administration in the demographic yielded a 92% rate of effectiveness for preventing flu-related hospitalization of infants (Benowitz, 2010).  Some people should not get the flu shot or the nasal spray vaccine.  According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention,

People who can’t get the flu shot:

  • Children younger than 6 months are too young to get a flu shot
  • People with severe, life-threatening allergies to flu vaccine or any ingredient in the vaccine. This might include gelatin, antibiotics, or other ingredients. See Special Considerations Regarding Egg Allergy for more information about egg allergies and flu vaccine.Note: There are certain flu shots that have different age indications. For example people younger than 65 years of age should not get the high-dose flu shot and people who are younger than 18 years old or older than 64 years old should not get the intradermal flu shot.

senior-man-flu-shotPeople who cannot get the nasal spray vaccine:

  • Children younger than 2 years
  • Adults 50 years and older
  • People with a history of severe allergic reaction to any component of the vaccine or to a previous dose of any influenza vaccine
  • People who are allergic to eggs
  • Children or adolescents (2 years through 17 years of age) on long-term aspirin treatment.
  • Pregnant women
  • People with weakened immune systems (immunosuppression)
  • Children 2 years through 4 years who have asthma or who have had a history of wheezing in the past 12 months.
  • People who have taken influenza antiviral drugs within the previous 48 hours.
  • People who care for severely immunocompromised persons who require a protective environment (or otherwise avoid contact with those persons for 7 days after getting the nasal spray vaccine).

Despite scientific research, whether or not the risks of the flu shot outweigh the benefits, remains controversial.

Multiple holistic and natural health practitioners, enthusiasts and advocates do not endorse the use of flu shots and site research warranting concern. A 2011 research study published in the International Journal of Medicine, (Lanza, et al, 2011), entitled “Inflammation-related effects of adjuvant influenza A vaccination on platelet activation and cardiac autonomic function,” revealed a fact that is not discussed by conventional health authorities, or mainstream news media reports. According to these researchers, flu shots result in inflammatory cardiovascular changes which cause increased risk for serious heart-related events such as heart attack.

Most flu shots have high quantities of mercury, higher than what is considered safe for most people.  Thimerosal, which is 49 percent mercury by volume, is a widely used vaccine preservative. It can be found in many different vaccines used in the U.S., including most seasonal flu vaccines, although there are a few million doses of thimerosal-free single dose vials of influenza vaccine made by drug companies which are reserved for infants and pregnant women. The amount of mercury in a single dose of the flu shot is deemed unsafe for people weighing less than 265 pounds.  It’s a well established fact that mercury is a neurotoxin, having harmful effects on the brain.  If you are getting a flu shot you can request that it be thimerosal-free.

An Act of Congress in 1986 that was upheld by the U.S. Supreme Court in 2011, decreed that a special court be created to handle all vaccine cases, Vaccine Court. The funds for settlements are paid by a vaccine sales tax.  The settlements in Vaccine Court can be downloaded and viewed and we have pasted it here below.  A large number of settlements have been for the flu shot for Guillain-Barré Syndrome. The flu shot has also been linked to narcolepsy in children, allergic reactions and an increased risk of Alzheimer’s in seniors.   Adjudicated settlements for 8/16/13 – 11/15/13 are below.  Note the number of Guillain-Barré Syndrome cases linked to flu shots. Compensation for injuries and deaths due to the flu vaccine were more than the total compensation paid out to eleven other vaccines.
Settlements Vaccine 1

Settlements Vaccine 2

Settlements Vaccine 3

Settlements Vaccine 4

Settlements Vaccine 5

Settlements Vaccine 5

Settlements Vaccine 6

Settlements Vaccine 7 Settlements Vaccine 8
Settlements Vaccine 9

Despite these multiple settlements for Guillain-Barré Syndrome, the Center for Disease Control and Prevention believes flu shots to be safe and strongly recommends that the advantages outweigh the risks and side effects, stating,

“For more than 50 years, seasonal flu vaccines have had very good safety track records. Over the years, hundreds of millions of Americans have received seasonal flu vaccines. The most common side effects following flu vaccinations are mild. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) closely monitor for any signs that flu vaccines are causing unexpected adverse events and are working with state and local health officials to investigate any unusual events.”

 

Flu shotResearchers believe that the flu vaccine cannot give someone the flu.

Some vaccines are made from non-infectious, “inactive” viruses, and others, like the recombinant flu vaccine, are made without any viruses at all. At worst there are mild side-effects from the flu shot and nasal nasal spray such as headache or runny nose.  Some researchers conclude that the known benefits of flu vaccines far outweigh the cost of contracting the virus. Protecting yourself also helps protect others who might be more vulnerable. There will be 150 million doses of the vaccine available to the public this year. Additionally, new laws require health insurance policies to cover the vaccine so virtually no one should have to pay out of pocket.


A variety of alternative approaches to health and healing can improve immune function during cold and flu season.

Prevention-Tips-InfographicEngaging in a light exercise such as walking just a few times a week may improve the body’s immunity. It’s also important to stay well-hydrated by drinking plenty of water daily.  Plenty of fresh vegetables and fruit in addition to the other components of a balanced diet are paramount to staying well and optimizing immune responses during cold and flu season. Last, but no less important, is forming is the habit of frequent hand washing with soap and warm water. Soap and water is always superior to an alcohol-based sanitizer.

Natural remedies and treatments can be very successful in relieving or eliminating cold and flu symptoms and have less side effects than prescription drugs. 

Natural remedies and treatments include:

NaturalSuppressant
For cough
-wild cherry bark, marshmallow root, honey, ginger root, elderberries, mullien
For headache acupuncture, peppermint oil, hot water bottle, ginger tea, meditation, exercise, massage, ice pack and sleep.

Natural Headache Remedies
For sore throat
– salt-water gargle, herbal lozenges and throat sprays, fruit juices and fluids, vitamin C, honey and apple cider vinegar (do not give to young children), lemon or lime juice, ginger tea, neti-pot, marshmallow sap, horseradish, vaporizer, anise or licorice drops, frozen ice or frozen fruit, garlic
For sinus infection – netipot, quercetin, vitamin C, vitamin E, acupuncture, acupressure, reflexology, steam, rest, drinking plenty of fluids

 

Cold and flu season is unavoidable. Fortunately, its effects can be prevented or at least minimized if we are prepared and take the proper precautions to stay well.

 

References

Baker, Deborah, D.C,  Is There A Natural Cure For.. Flu Shot 2014-2015 Season  Retrieved online 9/30/14  http://www.drdeborahbaker.com/flu/

Benowitz I, Esposito DB, Gracey KD, et al. Influenza vaccine given to pregnant women reduces hospitalization due to influenza in their infants. Clin Infect Dis. 2010; 51(12):1355-61.

Center for Disease Control and Prevention, Influenza Vaccine Safety, Seasonal Influenza (Flu)

Ciszewski A, Bilinska ZT, Brydak LB, et al. Influenza vaccination in secondary prevention from coronary ischaemic events in coronary artery disease: FLUCAD study. Eur Heart J. 2008 Jun; 29(11):1350-8.

Ferdinands JM, Olsho LEW, Agan AA, et al. Effectiveness of influenza vaccine against life-threatening RT-PCR-confirmed influenza illness in US children, 2010-2012. J Infect Dis. 2014; 210(5):674-683.

Flu Shot Causes Polio-like Guillain-Barré Syndrome: Are Rates Higher Than the Government Admits?
J Intern Med. 2011 Jan;269(1):118-25. doi: 10.1111/j.1365-2796.2010.02285.x. Epub 2010 Oct 22.

Flu Vaccine is the most Dangerous Vaccine in the U. S. based on Settled Cases for Injuries,  Health Impact News,

Gach, Michael Reed , PhD, Acupressure Points for Sinus Problems & Nasal Congestion  Acupressure Points for Sinus Infection

Hills, Wellesley , MA , Gold Law Firm, LLC.,  The National Vaccine Law Firm Obtains Compensation for Man Injured By Flu Vaccine  Flu Shot Season is Upon Us—Gold Law Firm Files Petitions to Compensate Those Injured as a Result of Vaccination, Retrieved online 9/30/14 http://www.prweb.com/releases/2011/12/prweb9037470.htm

Holzinger F, and Chenot J-F, Systematic Review of Clinical Trials Assessing the Effectiveness of Ivy Leaf (Hedera Helix) for Acute Upper Respiratory Tract Infections, Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine, Volume 2011 (2011), Article ID 382789, 9 pages

Lanza GA1, Barone L, Scalone G, Pitocco D, Sgueglia GA, Mollo R, Nerla R, Zaccardi F, Ghirlanda G, Crea F, Inflammation-related effects of adjuvant influenza A vaccination on platelet activation and cardiac autonomic function .J Intern Med. 2011 Jan;269(1):118-25. doi: 10.1111/j.1365-2796.2010.02285.x. Epub 2010 Oct 22.

Liu W, Jiang H, and Mao B, Chinese Herbal Medicine for Postinfectious Cough: A Systematic Review of Randomized Controlled Trials,Evidence-Based Complementary Alternative Medicine, Volume 2013 (2013), Article ID 906765. PMC385334810 Published online Nov 20, 2013. doi: 10.1155/2013/906765

Mercola, Dr., Flu Vaccination: The Hidden Risks in This Heavily Promoted Seasonal Routine. October 31, 2011 Retrieved online 9/30/14 http://articles.mercola.com/sites/articles/archive/2011/10/31

Phrommintikul A, Kuanprasert S, Wongcharoen W,et al. Influenza vaccination reduces cardiovascular events in patients with acute coronary syndrome. Eur Heart J. 2011; 32(14):1730-5.

Shadkam MN, et al. A comparison of the effect of honey, dextromethorphan, and diphenhydramine on nightly cough and sleep quality in children and their parents. The Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine. 2010;16:787.

Smith, Deborahann, Natural Remedies for Sinusitis.  Gaiam Life: Your Guide to Better Living

Talbot HK, Griffin, MR, Chen Q, et al. Effectiveness of seasonal vaccine in preventing confirmed influenza-associated hospitalizations in community dwelling older adults. J. Infect Dis 2011; 203:500-8.

Talbot HK, Zhu Y, Chen Q, et al. Effectiveness of influenza vaccine for preventing laboratory-confirmed influenza hospitalizations in adults, 2011-2012 influenza season. Clin Infect Dis. 2013; 56(12): 1774-7.

Udell JA, Zawi R, Bhatt DL, et al. Association between influenza vaccination and cardiovascular outcomes in high-risk patients: a meta-analysis. JAMA. 2013; 310(16): 1711-20.

 

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Kevin McMahan3This article is written by Kevin McMahan and Jean Voice Dart, Health and Wellness Educators for the Monterey Bay Holistic Alliance.

Kevin has had a lifelong interest in health and wellness. After graduating from Carmel High School he went on to get an associates degree in social sciences from Monterey Peninsula College, and a bachelors in kinesiology from California State University Monterey Bay. He is a certified personal trainer through the American College of Sports Medicine. “Your health is your wealth”, is something that he always likes to say.

 

Jean E. DartJean Voice Dart,  M.S. Special Education from Illinois State University,  is a published author and has written hundreds of health articles as well as hosting a local television program, “Making Miracles Happen.”  She is a Registered Music Therapist, Sound Therapist, and Master Level Energetic Teacher, and is the Executive Director, founder and Health and Wellness Educator of the Monterey Bay Holistic Alliance.  The Monterey Bay Holistic Alliance is a registered 501 (c) 3  nonprofit health and wellness education organization.  For more information about  the Monterey Bay Holistic Alliance contact us or visit our website at www.montereybayholistic.com.

 

Disclaimer:  The Monterey Bay Holistic Alliance is a charitable, independent registered nonprofit 501(c)3 organization and does not endorse any particular products or practices. We exist as an educational organization dedicated to providing free access to health education resources, products and services. Claims and statements herein are for informational purposes only and have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. The statements about organizations, practitioners, methods of treatment, and products listed on this website are not meant to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease. This information is intended for educational purposes only. The MBHA strongly recommends that you seek out your trusted medical doctor or practitioner for diagnosis and treatment of any existing health condition.

Sore Throat, Strep Throat or Tonsillitis: Which is it?

With the flu season in full swing, countless people are getting sick from a variety of illnesses.  About 40 million people visit the doctor each year for sore throat.  Since there are many kinds of viruses and bacteria, it can be very difficult to determine an accurate diagnosis. Common illnesses include sore throat, strep throat and tonsillitis. These ailments have similarities that including the population affected, the cause, and the symptoms that manifest. To properly treat a bacterial or viral infection, it is crucial to understand which kind of infection is present in the body.


Strep ThroatWhat is Sore Throat?

A sore throat can be very uncomfortable, and feel dry, painful, and irritated. Sore throat affects people of all ages and can be caused by the common cold, the flu, allergies to foods, air pollutants or second hand smoke, sinusitis, straining the vocal cords through over use, acid reflux disease, cancer or tumors in the throat, dental infections, reaction to medications, and more. Because of the wide variety of causes of sore throat, it is best to consult with your family physician.  Sore throats can be contagious so children should not attend school while infected with the illness. Symptoms of a sore throat caused by a viral infection can include: headaches, body aches, throat pain, laryngitis, cough, fever and congestion.  Most sore throats can improve within a few day or may take as long as a week or two.  Taking antibiotics may not be necessary or effective. Viruses do not respond to antibiotics.

What are Natural Treatments for Sore Throat?
Viral infections and common throat irritations are not improved with antibiotic treatment, however a change in lifestyle and natural treatments are quit effective in alleviating pain and promoting healing.  Natural treatment for sore throat include but aren’t limited to the following:

  1. salt-water gargle
  2. lozenges and throat sprays
  3. fruit juices and fluids (8 – 10, 8-ounce glasses a day)
  4. Vitamin C
  5. honey and apple cider vinegar ( Do not give to very young children as it can cause infant botulism and may also cause allergic reactions.)
  6. lemon juice or lime juice
  7. ginger tea
  8. sage tea
  9. neti pot (to remove allergens from nose causing post nasal drip)
  10. marshmallow sap in a tea or in lozenges
  11. plenty of rest
  12. horseradish
  13. vaporizer or humidifier, or a steam tent
  14. anise or licorice drops
  15. frozen ice, or frozen fruit (cools the throat and lowers fever)
  16. garlic (contains allicin, a chemical that can kill the bacteria that causes strep).

What is Strep Throat?
Strep throat is a form of sore throat that can be caused by bacterium called Group A streptococcus, usually found in the throat or in the skin.  According to the Center of Disease Control and Prevention, Group A streptococci can “spread through direct contact with mucus from the nose or throat of persons who are infected or through contact with infected wounds or sores on the skin.” These infections can be very contagious and should be taken seriously, as it may lead to rheumatic fever, scarlet fever, and permanent heart or kidney damage.

Staph and Strep

Strep throat affects people of all ages however it is more prevalent among school-aged children and teenagers due to them being in such close proximity with each other in school. The disease is caused by a germ called Group A streptococcus bacterium. The U.S. National Library of Medicine states that the symptoms of strep throat include:

      1. Fever
      2. Red sore throat
      3. White patches in throat
      4. Swollen glands
      5. Ill feeling
      6. Headache
      7. Nausea

If antibiotics are needed, those with strep throat should stay home from school or work until the medicine has been in their system for at least 1-2 days. Strep throat can improve within two weeks if treated properly.

What is Tonsillitis?
Tonsillitis is inflammation of the tonsils. Tonsils are glands located at the back of the throat. Tonsillitis can be caused by a virus or bacterium such as Streptococcus pyogenes which causes strep throat. The American Academy of Otolaryngology –Head and Neck Surgery writes that herpes simplex virus and Epstein-Barr virus can also be the cause of tonsillitis. The illness affects primarily children and teens ages 5-15.

Symptoms Tonsilitis

Symptoms of tonsillitis include:

      1. Fever
      2. Sore throat
      3. White or yellow patches in throat
      4. Tender lymph nodes in the neck
      5. Painful swallowing
      6. Lethargy
      7. Halitosis

Tonsillitis is very contagious and can be spread from person to person by contact with mucus of someone who is infected with the sickness. To diagnose tonsillitis, a doctor must perform either a rapid strep test or throat culture. Antibiotics are usually prescribed for tonsillitis caused by a bacterium. A child with tonsillitis needs plenty of rest and liquids. To prevent the re-occurrence of tonsillitis, practicing good hygiene is essential.

Sore Throat


How Can We Be Certain Which Ailment We Have?

Sore throat
is a minor condition. Strep throat and tonsillitis can both be caused by either a virus or bacterium infection such as Group A streptococcus. All three ailments cause headaches, fever and similar symptoms. The best way to determine which illness is occurring would be to visit the doctor to get tested with the Rapid Strep Test (RST), or rapid antigen detection test (RADT).  The Rapid Strep Test is one of the most common tests for streptococcal pharyngitis. If antibiotics are needed, take the dosage as prescribed by your trusted physician. Washing hands and face often can greatly help prevent the contraction of a sore throat, strep throat or tonsillitis.

           

 

Sources:

Center for Disease Control and Prevention

U.S. National Library of Medicine

American Academy of Otolaryngology

New Human Physiology, by Paulev-Zubieta

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 Hang Pham, MBHA Health EducatorThis article is written by Hang Pham, Monterey Bay Holistic Alliance Health and Wellness Educator.  Hang Pham was born in Hoc Mon, Vietnam.  She came to America in 1994, becoming a U.S. citizen in 2011. Hang graduated from Seaside High School with diploma and received her AA in General Studies from Monterey Peninsula College in 2011. She received her BA in Collaborative Health and Human Services from California State University Monterey Bay (CSUMB) in 2012. In addition to working as a volunteer staff with the Monterey Bay Holistic Alliance, she currently works as a Clerical Aid in the Human Resources Department of Salinas City Hall. To find out more about our Health Educators, or to apply as a Monterey Bay Holistic Alliance writer or volunteer, visit our website at www.montereybayholistic.com

Disclaimer: The Monterey Bay Holistic Alliance is a charitable, independent registered nonprofit 501(c)3 organization and does not endorse any particular products or practices. We exist as an educational organization dedicated to providing free access to health education resources, products and services. Claims and statements herein are for informational purposes only and have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. The statements about organizations, practitioners, methods of treatment, and products listed on this website are not meant to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease. This information is intended for educational purposes only. The MBHA strongly recommends that you seek out your trusted medical doctor or practitioner for diagnosis and treatment of any existing health condition.

Natural Cough Suppressants

Natural Cough Suppressants

This is the season for coughs and sniffles. Healthy alternatives to relieving a cough can be found in nature.

This is the time of year when many people overindulge and overwork. Stress and improper diet can wear on the body and lead to fatigue and disease.  Coughing is the body’s way of telling us it is stressed and in need of care.

WHY TRY NATURAL COUGH SUPPRESSANTS?
In 2007, a Food and Drug Administration advisory panel declared that cough medicines for children can be potentially harmful, and recommended that many of these products be banned. As an alternative, it was recommended that something as simple as a spoonful of honey or even a small cup of herb-flavored water, be given to children with persistent cough, which has few side effects and seems to be effective. Here are a few cough suppressants which have been known to be helpful for many years. When preparing these natural cough remedies, remember that organic foods and herbs which have not been genetically modified or treated with toxic pesticides are generally always best and most healthy for the body.

Of course, always consult with your family physician, trusted healthcare provider, allergist, or nutritionist before trying new foods that your body is not accustomed to eating, and to determine the reason for your cough.

WHAT ARE SOME EFFECTIVE NATURAL COUGH SUPPRESSANTS?
Cherry bark
Cherry bark has been a very important key ingredient in herbal cough syrups for many years. Cherokee and Iroquis native American Indians introduced cherry bark to colonists and settlers. Cherry bark is a good expectorant and treatment for dry coughs and throat irritations. Wild cherry bark contains prunasin which can be toxic if used unsafely, but when taken in tea or cough syrup form, it safe. It also contains natural cyanide (as do many other foods that contains pits), but cyanide poisoning is very unlikely since one would have to ingest very large doses of cherry bark.  You can make your own natural cherry bark syrup by boiling cherry bark with water, honey, and licorice root and allowing it to cool to form a soothing cough syrup, or by drinking as a hot tea.

Marshmallow Marshmallow is not just the white spongy,  confection that people in the United States put in their hot chocolate or roast at a campfire.  It is an herb, Althaea officinalis, a plant with short leaves and small pale white and pink flowers. The plant has been used for more than 2,000 years. The confectionery food treat by the same name, does not contain any of the herb and is not considered medicinal or effective in treating cough symptoms. According to the American Botanical Council, recent animal and human studies have found marshmallow root to be effective in treating coughs, when used alone and also combined with other herbs. Marshmallow root can be used as a tea, by adding 1-2 teaspoons of dried root to a cup of hot water and drinking several times a day.

HoneyHoney has been widely used for many years as a natural remedy for cough because of its  anti-fungal, anti-inflammatory, and antibacterial properties. Choose pure, organic honey. For cough relief, try swallowing one tablespoon of honey.  If an adult or child has difficulty swallowing pure honey, it can added or mixed with warm or hot water, or tea, or with herbs and spices.  Honey helps coat the throat to ease soreness as a result of excessive coughing. The honey flavored tea and water helps to break up the mucous in the throat and soothe the irritation. According to the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases,  honey may be useful in relieving coughing, but it should never be given to children under a year of age because in rare cases it can cause infantile botulism.

GingerGinger root, the rhizome of the plant Zingiber officinale, is one of the most renowned natural remedies for cough. The key part of the ginger root is thought to be the volatile oils and phenol compounds gingerols and shogaols. Ginger has been well researched and many of its traditional uses confirmed by scientific studies. It is a powerful anti-inflammatory and also is an effective aid in digestion. Ginger tea and ginger drinks can be found in most health food stores. Fresh ginger is best and most powerful.

  • Wash the root thoroughly in clean water, and slice a piece of ginger from the root.
  • To stop a persistent cough, apply the slice fresh ginger in your mouth whenever coughing occurs.
  • Chew the sliced ginger until your cough has stopped. You can also make ginger tea by adding chopped slices of ginger root to boiling water, steeping, and serving.

ElderberriesElderberries, Sambucus nigra are known for their antioxidant activity, in treatment of coughs, colds, flu, bacterial and viral infections and tonsilitis. Bioflavonoids and proteins in the juice fight cold and flu virus infections.  In 1995, it is reported that Elderberry juice was used to control a flu epidemic in Panama.  The berries are fully digestible when fully ripe but are mildly poisonous when eaten unripe. Elderberry plant is traditionally used as a medicinal plant by many people worldwide. 

  • Stem, bark, leaves, flowers, fruits, and root extracts can each be used to treat bronchitis, cough, upper respiratory cold infections, and fever.
  •  The dried flowers can be simmered for 15 minutes, and the tea can be poured through a coffee filter before drinking.
  • All parts of the plant can be poisonous if not eaten safely.

Mullien
Mullein
, “donkey’s ears” or Verbascum thapsus, an herb found throughout the United States, is a woolly-leafed biennial plant with yellow flowers. It has expectorant and cough suppressant properties and has been widely accepted by many around the world, as a useful and favorite herbal remedy for treating sore throat and cough symptoms.  It is primarily used to treat respiratory disorders such as asthma, coughs, tuberculosis, and related respiratory problems.

  • Mullein tea can be made by pour 1 cup of boiling water over 1 – 2 teaspoons of dried mullein flowers and leaves.
  • Cover and steep for 10 – 15 minutes..
  • The tea can be filtered through a very fine sieve or coffee filter, to remove the fine hairs which irritate the throat.
  • A cough syrup can be make by boiling mullein, honey or sugar and water and allowing it to thicken and cool.

Ivy Leaf ExtractIvy Leaf extract (Hedera Helix), not as well-known as the others, has been found to be very effective in easing cough and upper respiratory problems. English ivy leaves seem to be able to break up chest congestion and relieve muscle spasms, and to help breathing in adults and children with chronic bronchitis. Cough Syrup with ivy leaf offers dependable help with the excessive formation of thick mucus and coughs associated with chronic broncitis, asthmas, tuberculosis, pneumonia and other upper respiratory disorders.  Hofmann, Hecker, and Volp (2003) concluded, “The trials included in this review indicate that ivy leaf extract preparations have effects with respect to an improvement of respiratory functions of children with chronic bronchial asthma, but more far-reaching conclusions can hardly be drawn because of a meagre database, including the fact that only one primary trial included a placebo control. Further research, particularly into the long-term efficacy of the herbal extract, is needed.


RESOURCES

Bukutu C, et al. Complementary, holistic, and integrative medicine: The common cold. Pediatrics in Review. 2008;29:e66.

Paul IM, et al. Effect of honey, dextromethorphan, and no treatment on nocturnal cough and sleep quality for coughing children and their parents. Archives of Pediatrics and Adolescent Medicine. 2007;161:1140.

Hofmann D, Hecker M, Volp A, Efficacy of dry extract of ivy leaves in children with bronchial asthma–a review of randomized controlled trials. Phytomedicine. 2003 Mar;10(2-3):213-20.

Holzinger F, and Chenot J-F, Systematic Review of Clinical Trials Assessing the Effectiveness of Ivy Leaf (Hedera Helix) for Acute Upper Respiratory Tract Infections, Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine, Volume 2011 (2011), Article ID 382789, 9 pages

Liu W, Jiang H, and Mao B, Chinese Herbal Medicine for Postinfectious Cough: A Systematic Review of Randomized Controlled Trials, Evidence-Based Complementary Alternative Medicine, Volume 2013 (2013), Article ID 906765. PMC385334810 Published online Nov 20, 2013. doi: 10.1155/2013/906765

Shadkam MN, et al. A comparison of the effect of honey, dextromethorphan, and diphenhydramine on nightly cough and sleep quality in children and their parents. The Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine. 2010;16:787.

 

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Jean E. DartThis article is written by Jean Voice Dart,  M.S. Special Education from Illinois State University.  Jean is a published author and has written hundreds of health articles as well as hosting a local television program, “Making Miracles Happen.”  She is a Registered Music Therapist, Sound Therapist, and Master Level Energetic Teacher, and is the Executive Director, founder and Health and Wellness Educator of the Monterey Bay Holistic Alliance.  The Monterey Bay Holistic Alliance is a registered 501 (c) 3  nonprofit health and wellness education organization.  For more information about  the Monterey Bay Holistic Alliance contact us or visit our website at www.montereybayholistic.com.


Disclaimer:
 The Monterey Bay Holistic Alliance is a charitable, independent registered nonprofit 501(c)3 organization and does not endorse any particular products or practices. We exist as an educational organization dedicated to providing free access to health education resources, products and services. Claims and statements herein are for informational purposes only and have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. The statements about organizations, practitioners, methods of treatment, and products listed on this website are not meant to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease. This information is intended for educational purposes only. The MBHA strongly recommends that you seek out your trusted medical doctor or practitioner for diagnosis and treatment of any existing health condition.