Thursday, June 14, 2018

Pet Power

People with pets — particularly dogs — are markedly healthier than those without. Living with a dog makes us far more likely to spend time outside, according to one report. The reasons are obvious: Dogs encourage us to take them outside every time they need a bathroom break.

One 2015 study found that sustained eye contact between humans and their dogs elicits the same release of oxytocin — the love hormone — that occurs during mother–child bonding. Medical anthropologist Kim Kelly, PhD, who researches the role pets play in enhancing the human microbiome at the University of Arizona, says she couldn’t ignore the way dogs also bonded with older humans during a recent study. “I had one woman tell me she doesn’t know how she smiled before,” Kelly says.

In addition to these benefits, several studies have found that children who are exposed to animals early in life are less likely to develop allergies.

Outdoor Fix: 

  • If you have a dog, take longer, more frequent walks together.
  • Consider letting your pup snooze with you in your bedroom. A Mayo Clinic study suggests this can improve sleep quality.
  • If you don’t or can’t have a pet, consider volunteering at an animal shelter.
  • When you’re outdoors, pay attention to the birds and animals you see; tuning in to wildlife helps calm the fight-or-flight instinct.
  • Book a farm retreat, where you can help milk cows, collect eggs, and care for other animals. (To learn more about animal sanctuaries, visit “Safe Havens for Animals.”)

Excerpt from

Monday, June 11, 2018

Eczema warning - why spending too much time in the sun could trigger dry skin condition

ECZEMA is a dry skin condition that can lead to itchy, cracked and inflamed skin. As the Met Office warns of a hot summer weather forecast, patients could be at risk of painful dermatitis symptoms if they spend too much time in the hot sunshine, it’s been revealed.

Reporting from

The Living Experiment: Summer

Summer is a glorious season — and also a demanding one.With days and evenings packed full of people, projects, and activities, it’s easy to get run down.

Even if your body is telling you it needs a break, you might be hearing a little voice saying you should be trying to fit more in and get more done. As a result, our summers tend to be lived at full throttle.

The trouble is, our do-more culture encourages us to live like it’s summer year-round. So in this installment of The Living Experiment, we suggest ways of designing your summer more consciously.

Dallas shares tips for nutrition, fitness, and sleep from his Seasonal Model of Health. Pilar offers insights for managing your physical, emotional, and spiritual energy. And as always, we suggest experiments to help you enjoy summer’s best gifts in ways that work for you.

The Dark Side of Light

  • During summer, the days are longer and the nights shorter. Those extra hours of bright daylight program our brains and bodies to wake up earlier and stay up later.
  • Our hormones and neurotransmitters naturally shift into a highly active, awake, pro-social mode in summer. In the context of modern lives that no longer enjoy the balancing “hibernation break” of winter, this can contribute to chronic stress, exhaustion, sleep deprivation, and depression.
  • The dopamine-driven, go-go-go vibe of summer (which our culture programs us to sustain all year long) can lead us to take on too many commitments and chase too many goals, driving up adrenaline, and draining our reserves to a dangerous degree.
  • In climates where winters are long and cold, summer weather can feel like a scarce resource. “FOMO” — fear of missing out — can incline us to squeeze in extra activities and social obligations around the edges of our already too-tight schedules.
  • For all these reasons, we can wind up ignoring our bodies’ signals for rest, quiet, and solitude. All of this can contribute to year-round patterns of overdoing, overexerting, under-recovering, and under-reflecting that work against our mental, emotional, and spiritual well-being.

Seasonal Nourishment

  • Summer is an ideal time to enjoy locally available, nutrient-dense foods — especially colorful plants and plant-fed (wild and pasture-raised) animal proteins.
  • Because summer exposes your body to more solar radiation and antioxidant-sapping physical activity, -phytonutrient-rich vegetables and fruits become especially important for fending off the ravages of cell-damaging free radicals. (For more, see “The Case for Seasonal Eating.”)

Long-Haul Fitness

  • Summer is the time to enjoy lower-intensity, longer-duration movement. You’ll likely feel more drawn to outdoor endurance activities (bike, run, hike, climb) versus intense weightlifting or training.
  • If you train heavily or participate in demanding athletic events, be sure to prioritize recovery and sleep.

Summer’s Psychology

  • In the Chinese Five Element theory, the element associated with summer is fire, and the emotion associated with summer is joy — a state of celebration. But that “fire” energy can also burn up a lot of energetic resources.
  • To avoid burnout, aim to rest before you’re tired. Seek out some quiet time. Accept only the invitations that feel like a giant “yes!” Rather than chasing summer’s enticements, let the season’s best come to you.


Dallas suggests: If you’re not regularly exercising, go outdoors and walk for 15 minutes first thing in the morning. If you have a structured, high-intensity exercise program, take a break and focus more on spontaneous, lower-intensity movement. Notice how these changes affect your energy and sleep cycles.

Pilar suggests: When you go shopping, find two veggies and two fruits that are in season and that are different colors — for example, raspberries and peaches, or leafy greens and radishes (sliced with butter and salt!). Stretch a little beyond what you normally eat, and aim to incorporate a rainbow of foods into all of your summer meals.

Listen and Learn: Check out this and other episodes of The Living Experiment podcast at Subscribe via Apple Podcasts, SoundCloud, and Stitcher.

Excerpt from

Friday, June 8, 2018

My Partner Likes to Camp, and I Like Hotels — What Should We Do?

First, celebrate your differences, says Laurie Puhn, JD, a couples’ mediator and authority on conflict resolution. “It’s your differences that make life interesting,” she points out. “Who wants to be partnered with him or herself?”

Then explore how much your vacation styles really differ. Ask each other what you love about your favorite vacation modes and examine what you learn: What are the interests you have in common? Which ones are most significant? Which are optional, more or less, and which ones can you share?

“Maybe, for your partner, the biggest element in camping is being outdoors, or stargazing, and sleeping in a tent isn’t the No. 1 attraction,” she suggests. If that’s the case, “you can stay at a motel near a park, and go kayaking, and hike at dusk.”

If it really is overnight camping that’s important and you would sooner sleep in an actively haunted house than in a tent, get curious. Ask your partner about his or her passion for tent sleeping — he or she might just share some precious vacation memories, allowing you to discover new aspects of the person you love.

“You might be moved by what you learn,” Puhn says. You could then decide that sleeping in a tent means so much to your partner that you can offer it “as a gift.”

What if, after deep discussion, you agree that separate vacations sound the most relaxing? Puhn is supportive, so long as it’s not a matter of escaping your relationship.

“Four days in a nice hotel with a couple of your friends is great, as long as you are also having important alone time with your partner,” she says. “You should find an opportunity to look each other in the eye and say, ‘OK, how can we truly and deeply connect with each other if we can’t go away together?’”

This originally appeared as “I Like to Stay in Hotels When Traveling, and My Partner Likes to Camp. What to Do?” in the June 2018 print issue of Experience Life.

Excerpt from

Wednesday, June 6, 2018

Eczema: Toddler’s dry and itchy skin treated with £3.99 bubblebath

ECZEMA symptoms include dry, red and cracked skin. They can be treated with eczema creams and moisturisers, or with a separate solution. One young toddler from Scotland had his eczema treated with a surprising product.

Reporting from

Why beige carbs are the ones to avoid - Dr Xand van Tulleken

Low-carb diets have been around for a while. But did you know the colour of the carbs you eat also matters - and Dr Xand van Tulleken says it's the beige ones you really have to watch out for.


Wednesday, May 30, 2018

13 Natural Remedies for Common Ailments

Acetaminophen for headaches, antacids after a spicy meal. Most of us pop the occasional pill for quick relief from everyday maladies — and we’re doing it now more than ever. Americans spent $34 billion on over-the-counter medicines in 2016, more than twice what they spent a decade earlier. Eighty-one percent of U.S. adults take these remedies as a first line of defense against headaches, indigestion, aching joints, and other minor health complaints.

In other parts of the world, people often rely on a different approach. Homeopathic remedies are some of the best-selling over-the-counter medicines in France. Switzerland’s national health insurance covers Chinese medicine, homeopathy, and other herbal remedies. And all over the globe, people have used food as medicine for centuries.

While conventional drugstore pharmaceuticals can provide temporary relief, their benefits often pale in comparison to simpler treatments. The drugs usually have side effects, too: Research has linked common painkillers, such as acetaminophen, to liver damage, and long-term use of antacids to B12 deficiency and bacterial overgrowth in the small intestine.

Conversely, natural remedies are often easy to use, effective, and affordable — and they have few known side effects. You can probably find some of them in your kitchen cupboard right now.

If you suffer from chronic headaches, stomach issues, or other ailments, “your body is actually trying to be helpful,” says Myrto Ashe, MD, a functional physician based in Mill Valley, Calif.  It’s telling you something’s wrong, and you may need to consult a physician to address potential underlying causes rather than suppressing the symptoms with medication.

Meanwhile, knowing a few home remedies is a good way to take control of your health, Ashe says. For occasional minor health complaints, these simple remedies can provide quick relief, naturally.

Symptom: Headache

Remedy: Magnesium Glycinate

At the first sign of a headache, many of us habitually reach for aspirin or ibuprofen. Yet research shows that long-term use of nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) can lead to gastrointestinal (GI) distress, kidney damage, and elevated liver enzymes, a sign of inflamed liver cells. NSAIDs can also worsen hypertension. Likewise, taking too much acetaminophen can harm the kidneys, intestines, heart, and liver.

Magnesium glycinate, on the other hand, has none of these side effects and is remarkably effective for headaches. It’s a combination of magnesium and glycine, an amino acid that binds to the mineral and carries it to your cells.

“Low blood levels of magnesium have been linked to headaches and migraines, and more than 80 percent of the American population is deficient,” says Tiffany Lester, MD, medical director at Parsley Health San Francisco. “Magnesium is calming for the nervous system and easily tolerated. It also supports serotonin production, a neurotransmitter involved in the onset of migraines.”

For the occasional headache, Lester recommends a 200 mg to 400 mg tablet for relief.

Symptom: Nausea and Sickness

Remedy: Ginger

Thousands of years ago, Chinese sailors chewed gingerroot to relieve their seasickness; today, many air travelers swear by it for motion sickness. Multiple studies confirm ginger’s stomach-settling benefits, and even the Mayo Clinic recommends it for morning sickness.

Ginger naturally increases tone and motility in the GI tract, helping digestion — unlike the conventional bismuth-subsalicylate antacid, which mainly coats the stomach for temporary relief. For soothing an upset stomach, functional physician Frank Lipman, MD, says, “I love ginger in all its forms.”

Lipman, author of How to Be Well, regularly prescribes ginger, sometimes with peppermint, for stomach discomfort. “Ginger and peppermint can be incorporated into foods and smoothies, made into tea, used in tincture form, or used even as an essential oil.”

Next time you’re nauseated, try sipping ginger tea, or try grating some fresh ginger into a green smoothie. For those prone to motion sickness when traveling, ginger tablets can work wonders.

If you’re routinely queasy, however, ginger may not be a long-term solution. You may need to address potential food allergies or high stress levels. When the body’s fight-or-flight system is triggered, digestive peristalsis can grind to a halt, causing an upset stomach and constipation.

Symptom: Acid Reflux

Remedy: Apple-Cider Vinegar and Digestive Bitters

Sometimes it seems there’s little apple-cider vinegar cannot do. Recent studies suggest it can help regulate blood sugar and build good gut bacteria. Lipman, meanwhile, recommends it as an effective solution for heartburn, along with another age-old remedy: digestive bitters.

“Digestive bitters and apple-cider vinegar help stimulate digestive juices in the gut, making the digestive system function more efficiently,” he explains. His prescription: Mix a dropperful of digestive bitters and a tablespoon of raw, unfiltered apple-cider vinegar in a small glass of water and sip it with meals.

These tinctures are a short-term remedy, Lipman notes. If the issue is chronic, it’s important to look for root causes. “Diet and gut health are often at the root of heartburn, so correcting the gut and removing foods that cause inflammation and heartburn is usually the best way to heal,” he says.

This can be as simple as avoiding food that disagrees with you. Tomatoes, hot spices, and wine are common culprits.

The absence of side effects is another good reason to try vinegar and bitters. “There are many issues with over-the-counter and prescription meds used for acid reflux,” says Lipman. “They have been linked to gut dysbiosis, vitamin and mineral deficiencies, an increase in heart and kidney disease, and a decrease in cognitive function.”

Symptom: Constipation

Remedy: Magnesium Citrate

The causes of chronic constipation are many, and it’s important to address the root issues — dehydration, food intolerances, lack of dietary fiber, irregular eating and sleeping patterns, and sedentary behaviors. For acute cases, however, magnesium citrate almost always gets things moving again.

A combination of magnesium and citric acid, the supplement relaxes your intestines and pulls water into them. “This particular form of magnesium is stimulating on the bowels,” says Lipman, who recommends 200 mg to 300 mg before bed as needed. (Powders stirred into water are easy to use.) Cut down the dose if stools become too loose.

Symptom: Sore Muscles

Remedy: Arnica

The anti-inflammatory properties of this meadow flower have been easing aches and pains since the Middle Ages. Arnica is still used widely in Germany, where researchers have shown it to be an effective remedy for muscle aches, sprains, and joint pain and swelling. Studies in the United States have found it as reliable as NSAIDs at relieving pain from osteoarthritis in the hands.

“It’s one of my favorite pain remedies because it’s available over the counter in a cream that is easy to apply,” says Lester. “It is also very safe to use. As we tackle the opioid epidemic, alternatives to pain management are increasingly needed in our medical arsenal.”

Arnica gels and creams are considered safe; a mild allergic rash is the only potential side effect. The remedy is also available in the form of sublingual homeopathic pills. (Other forms administered orally aren’t considered safe.)

Meanwhile, if you’re often achy, stretching and hydration may be the answer, says Lester. “Our bodies will often course-correct when we get back to the basics, which are highly underrated.”

Symptom: Joint Pain

Remedy: Curcumin

Turmeric has been used in curries as well as traditional Indian and Chinese medicine for centuries. Curcumin, the twisty root’s yellow phytochemical, has emerged as a popular remedy in recent years after studies revealed its anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, and antimicrobial qualities.

Curcumin eases joint pain by inhibiting the body’s inflammatory-response mediators. “It works just as well as nonsteroidal pain relievers but it doesn’t cause a leaky gut and the long-term issues that ibuprofen can worsen, such as heart disease,” says Ashe. She prescribes a curcumin complex called Meriva and recommends taking 500 mg twice daily.

It can be tough to get enough of a medicinal boost from incorporating turmeric into your daily diet, but you can still get some anti-inflammatory benefits from adding the root to curries and other dishes. Or try some “golden milk,” a delicious hot drink with turmeric and other spices, for a moderate daily dose. (For a recipe, see “Golden Turmeric Milk.”)

Those who suffer chronic joint pain may find substantial relief by avoiding gluten, dairy, and sugar, as well as making other dietary adjustments. Essential fatty acids can also help.

Symptom: Earache

Remedy: Garlic Mullein Herbal Eardrops

Hippocrates once regularly prescribed the “stinking rose” (a.k.a. garlic) for a variety of ills. Research shows that its antibiotic, antiviral, and antifungal properties work wonders on mild ear infections.

A pediatric study found that natural eardrops containing the herb mullein are just as effective as anesthetic drops for reducing pain. Doctors often prescribe antibiotics for children’s earaches, says Ashe, but they offer little pain relief, and overuse can lead to intestinal disorders.

When Ashe’s son gets an ear infection, she gives him a few drops of garlic mullein oil in each ear. “It’s anti-inflammatory and decreases the swelling. After a few hours, or by the next day, we usually forget about it because the earache’s gone. For a child that is old enough, that is a better approach than antibiotics.”

To help prevent chronic earaches, avoid dairy, gluten, and sugar. Monitor vitamin-D levels, fatty-acid deficiencies, and stress levels — and be sure to keep some garlic mullein drops on hand.

Symptom: Sleeplessness

Remedy: Lavender oil

You might associate the smell of this herb with a fragrant backyard garden, but the anxiety and insomnia-relieving effects of lavender essential oil are potent and well-documented. Research has found that it can help induce sleep and help people sleep more deeply.

It’s also easy to use: Add a few drops of the oil to an Epsom-salts bath. Sprinkle a couple of drops on a light bulb next to your bed (while the bulb is still cool), or get an essential-oil diffuser for your bedroom.

Symptom: You’re Coming Down With Something

Remedy: Fluids

One of the best ways to chase bugs away is drinking fluids, especially warm ones, says Mark Hyman, MD, director of the Cleveland Clinic Center for Functional Medicine. “Consuming adequate fluids supports all your body’s functions, including the immune system,” Hyman says.

In cold weather, we’re more susceptible to dehydration — there are fewer cues to drink than in hot summer weather — and this makes us even more vulnerable to illness. “With the drier air inside and out, winter can be particularly challenging to stay hydrated.”

Hyman recommends making soups and broths from scratch with fresh vegetables when you begin to feel sick. Also on his list: herbal teas with immunity-boosting ingredients such as ginger and echinacea. To prevent feeling run down in the first place, turn to the old standbys: eating well, getting enough sleep, and drinking plenty of water.

This originally appeared as “Natural Remedies” in the June 2018 print issue of Experience Life.

Excerpt from