Jenny’s 14th Marathon

Having run 13 previous road marathons, I decided it was time to shake things up and signed up to run my first trail marathon!  In contrast to road marathons, the various appeals of trail marathons include smaller participant sizes, breathtaking views, unpredictable terrain, and a more intimate experience with nature.   This spring, I completed the Scenic City Trail Marathon located a few miles outside of Chattanooga, TN on Raccoon Mountain.

Lined up at the starting line, looking around at my fellow runners, I felt slightly out of place. I clutched a hand-held water bottle, racing shorts, running shoes, and running socks, while the other participants all sported camel baks, long socks, and trail running shoes.  In that moment, it became clear this endeavor would prove quite the challenge for this city girl!  I turned to my past experience and sheer determination to navigate the unforeseen challenges and unknowns of this trail marathon.

The course started out with a gradual uphill until we entered the forest preserve on a narrow, single track trail.  We proceeded through several rolling hills, switchbacks, small boulders, creeks, and then more switchbacks.

Around 8 miles in, my quads were already feeling the steep uphill/downhill course.  I took an early fall on a downhill slope, and was battling the resulting pain in my knee.  Despite the pains and burns, the perks of the race also made themselves apparent.  The views were outstanding, and the aid stations (though few and far between) were well-stocked.  I persevered as the trail became increasingly more technically challenging and the hills became steeper. 

In addition to physical challenges, there was no shortage of mental challenges along the way.  As someone used to running even splits, the constant extreme pace changes combined with the unfamiliar terrain and long periods of solitude on the trail began to play tricks on my mind.  My Garmin lost signal just a few miles in, and there there were no mile markers along the course. The aid stations were not predictably spaced out; between that the multiple switchbacks, it was very difficult to judge exactly where I was located at any given time.  By the time I got to the final aid station around mile 21, I was convinced I would be finishing towards the back of the pack, if I managed to ever emerge from the woods in one piece!

When I finally emerged out of the trail system and into the home stretch, I was dehydrated, low on blood sugar, bleeding profusely down my right leg, and beyond exhausted physically and mentally.  I was also incredibly proud of pushing through the 26.2 miles so unlike any of the previous 13 marathons I had run in the past.  I somehow managed to finish as the 6th female and 19th overall out of 61 runners that finished.

The camaraderie, intimacy, and dedication of trail runners differ vastly from road racers.  I learned a great deal from this experience,  including the importance of purchasing trail running shoes, going much more slowly on the technical downhills (especially early on in the course!) eating twice as much as I would before a road race, stopping and refueling better at the aid stations, and of course the importance of owning a camel bak.  Countless times during the race, I found myself repeatedly swearing I would never undertake one of these trail marathons ever again.  However, as none of you will find surprising, I have already decided my next trail race will be the Antelope Island 50k in Utah this fall.

Research Roundup: Physical Inactivity Pandemic Takes Center Stage


This article was published on August 2, 2016 by the News Now Staff and can be found on the APTA  (American Physical Therapy Association) website:

You don’t need to tell physical therapists (PTs) and physical therapist assistants (PTAs) that physical activity is key to a healthy life and lower overall health care costs, but now a new batch of studies shines a light on that concept in  ways that are grabbing the broader public’s attention.

Over the last week, 4 studies emerged—3 published in the Lancet, and a fourth in the European Journal of Preventive Cardiology—that show a direct connection between physical activity (PA) and mortality risk, and begin to quantify the global costs of low levels of PA. The results, some based on long-term studies with large participant numbers, are unequivocal in their conclusions about the very direct effect PA has on living longer.

Here’s what the 4 studies found:

Engaging in 60-75 minutes of moderate-intensity physical activity for every 8 hours spent sitting virtually erases the mortality risk associated with sitting—and every little bit of PA helps help to offset the risk somewhat. This Lancet study (abstract) gained the widest attention, and was featured in major media outlets including CNNUS News and World Report, andNational Public Radio.

To reach their conclusions, authors conducted a meta-analysis of 16 studies that included 1 million participants in research that compared all-cause, cardiovascular-related, and cancer-related mortality with time spent sitting, watching television, and engaging in moderate-to-high PA. Bottom line: researchers found “a clear dose-response association” with “an almost curvilinear augmented risk for all-cause mortality with increased sitting time in combination with lower levels of activity.”

Using the most active (60-75 minutes per day of moderate intensity PA) and least sedentary (less than 4 hours per day sitting) group as a referent, researchers found mortality rates at 2-18 years 12% to 59% higher for individuals who sat more than 8 hours per day and engaged in minimal PA. The hazard ratios sloped neatly down as activity increased, with the group engaging in 25-35 minutes of moderate intensity PA per day—amounts more in line with national recommendations—receiving nearly the same benefit as the most active group. Those general patterns were also reflected in analyses of mortality related to cardiovascular conditions and cancer.

Researchers also conducted a similar analysis of studies that focused on television-watching time and PA, and found that the relationship between television-watching time and all-cause mortality “seemed to be stronger in magnitude” but followed the same basic pattern.

A long-term study of middle-aged men finds that low aerobic capacity is second only to smoking in its association with all-cause mortality. In astudy that spanned 50 years, researchers from Sweden concluded that low aerobic capacity has a very solid link to increased risk of death—and not just from cardiovascular-related conditions, but from nearly every noncommunicable disease-related cause of death, save gastrointestinal conditions.

The study, featured on Fox News, the Huffington Post, and Today online, was based on an analysis of 792 men born in 1913 in Gothenberg, Sweden. As part of a 50-year study of health, researchers analyzed the aerobic capacity (VO2 max) of the men in 1963 and again in 1967, and authors of the most recent study analyzed those results with mortality through 2012. After grouping the men into low, medium, and high VO2 max categories, researchers found that the low group had a 21% higher risk of dying prematurely than the middle group, and a 42% higher risk than the men in the top VO2 max category.

The relationship was second only to smoking as a predictor of early mortality, according to authors. Interestingly, researchers found no significant association with death from certain kinds of conditions, including cardiovascular issues. Instead, they identified a relationship between low VO2 max and a wide range of mortality causes, from cancer to urinary tract disease, with the only exception being death related to gastrointestinal conditions. “This … suggests that cardiovascular fitness might be an advantage in most illnesses that can lead to death, and thus a benefit for general health and not only for cardiovascular health,” authors write.

Physical inactivity is costing the world at least $67.5 billion a year, and that burden falls in disproportionate ways. The Lancet published an article from researchers from the University of Sydney in Australia (abstract) who analyzed 2013 health data from 142 countries—representing 93% of the world’s population—to estimate the costs of physical inactivity in terms of health care costs, productivity losses, and disability-adjusted life-years (DALYs), and to establish how those costs were borne out around the globe.

The answer: physical inactivity’s costs equal the total gross domestic product of Costa Rica, and the burden falls more heavily on individuals in developing countries, even though prevalence of physical inactivity is lower than that of more developed countries—for now.

As reported in CBS news and elsewhere, authors of the study estimate that the $67 billion in costs represents payments of $31.2 billion from the public sector, $12.9 billion from the private sector, and $9.7 billion by households, accompanied by $13.7 billion in productivity losses. According to authors, physical inactivity was responsible for 13.4 million DALYs worldwide in 2013.

Excluding productivity losses, physical inactivity was responsible for more than $600 million in health care costs in Africa, $3.2 billion in Latin American and the Caribbean, $25.7 billion in North America, $2.4 billion in the eastern Mediterranean region, $11.7 billion in Europe, $900 million in southeast Asia, and $9.2 billion in the Western Pacific region.

Although individual households were linked to the smallest amounts paid in relation to physical inactivity, that $9.7 billion amount fell disproportionately to less developed regions, particularly in southeast Asia where nearly half of the physical inactivity-related health care costs were paid out-of-pocket. Authors believe that disproportionate impact is further reflected in DALYs rates, with southeast Asia accounting for 20% of the DALYs globally but only 1.7% of the direct costs.

“We show that although inactivity is more prevalent in high-income countries, most of the health burden is in low-to-middle income countries,” authors write. “As such countries develop economically, so will the consequent economic burden, if the pandemic of physical inactivity spreads as expected.”

Globally, we’re getting better at tracking physical inactivity rates—but we’re not doing enough to actually fight the pandemic. In the second in a series of inactivity report cards timed to coincide with the Summer Olympics games, the Lancet follows up on its 2012 look into how the world is responding to increasing rates of physical inactivity (abstract). The results? As reported inScience Daily and other outlets, authors say we know more now than we did in 2012—but that doesn’t mean we’re doing much about it.

According to the authors of the series, while the number of countries tracking physical inactivity is higher than in 2012 (142 countries in 2016, compared with 118 in 2012), and 80% of countries have national physical activity policies or plans, only 56% reported operational policies or plans, and many of those are insufficient. Meanwhile, the global prevalence of physical inactivity is estimated to be 23% for adults and 80% for school-going adolescents.

The lack of progress is most distressing in what authors describe as low-to-middle-income countries (LMICs), where population and physical inactivity rates are both increasing. Researchers note that the increased documentation is pointing out a problem that many LMICs simply aren’t prepared to fix.

“Progress on physical activity has been far from proportionate to the documented burden of disease from physical inactivity in countries of all income levels,” authors write. “LMICs are laying the groundwork for effective public health action on physical activity, but it is not clear where the resources will be round to scale up effective interventions, build a physical activity workforce in public health, expand research in LMICs, and take bold initiatives that will increase physical activity in all countries.”

APTA offers multiple resources on the role physical therapists (PTs) and physical therapist assistants play in addressing prevention and wellness, including a 2-part podcast on the inactivity epidemic (part 1part 2), and a recorded presentation on physical activity and the PT.

Research-related stories featured in PT in Motion News are intended to highlight a topic of interest only and do not constitute an endorsement by APTA. For synthesized research and evidence-based practice information, visit the association’s PTNow website.

Why Magnesium Is The Most Powerful Relaxation Mineral Known To Man

This original article was published on by Dr. Mark Hyman. You can also check out the original article here:


DEFICIENCY IN THIS CRITICAL nutrient makes you twice as likely to die as other people, according to a study published in The Journal of Intensive Care Medicine.(i) It also accounts for a long list of symptoms and diseases — which are easily helped and often cured by adding this nutrient. In fact, in my practice, this nutrient is one of my secret weapons against illness. Yet up to half of Americans are deficient in this nutrient and don’t know it.

I’m talking about magnesium.

It is an antidote to stress, the most powerful relaxation mineral available, and it can help improve your sleep.

I find it very funny that more doctors aren’t clued in to the benefits of magnesium, because we use it all the time in conventional medicine. But we never stop to think about why or how important it is to our general health or why it helps our bodies function better.

I remember using magnesium when I worked in the emergency room. It was a critical “medication” on the crash cart. If someone was dying of a life-threatening arrhythmia (or irregular heart beat), we used intravenous magnesium. If someone was constipated or needed to prepare for colonoscopy, we gave them milk of magnesia or a green bottle of liquid magnesium citrate, which emptied their bowels. If pregnant women came in with pre-term labor, or high blood pressure of pregnancy (pre-eclampsia) or seizures, we gave them continuous high doses of intravenous magnesium.

But you don’t have to be in the hospital to benefit from getting more magnesium. You can start taking regular magnesium supplementation today and see results.

The Relaxation Mineral

Think of magnesium as the relaxation mineral. Anything that is tight, irritable, crampy, and stiff — whether it is a body part or an even a mood — is a sign of magnesium deficiency.

This critical mineral is actually responsible for over 300 enzyme reactions and is found in all of your tissues — but mainly in your bones, muscles, and brain. You must have it for your cells to make energy, for many different chemical pumps to work, to stabilize membranes, and to help muscles relax.

When was the last time you had a good dose of seaweed, nuts, greens, and beans? If you are like most Americans, your nut consumption mostly comes from peanut butter.

That is why the list of conditions that are found related to magnesium deficiency is so long. In fact, there are over 3,500 medical references on magnesium deficiency!

Even so, this mineral is mostly ignored because it is not a drug, even though it is MORE powerful than drugs in many cases. That’s why we use it in the hospital for life-threatening and emergency situations like seizures and heart failure.

You might be magnesium deficient if you have any of the following symptoms:

~ Muscle cramps or twitches
~ Insomnia
~ Irritability
~ Sensitivity to loud noises
~ Anxiety
~ Palpitations
~ Angina
~ Constipation
~ Anal spasms
~ Headaches
~ Fibromyalgia
~ Chronic fatigue
~ Asthma
~ Kidney stones
~ Obesity
~ Osteoporosis
~ High blood pressure
~ Menstrual cramps
~ Irritable bladder
~ Irritable bowel syndrome
~ Reflux
~ Trouble swallowing

Magnesium deficiency has even has been linked to inflammation in the body and higher CRP levels.

In our society, magnesium deficiency is a huge problem. By conservative standards of measurement (blood, or serum, magnesium levels), 65 percent of people admitted to the intensive care unit — and about 15 percent of the general population — have magnesium deficiency.

But this seriously underestimates the problem, because a serum magnesium level is the LEAST sensitive way to detect a drop in your total body magnesium level. So rates of magnesium deficiency could be even higher!

The reason we are so deficient is simple: Many of us eat a diet that contains practically no magnesium — a highly-processed, refined diet that is based mostly on white flour, meat, and dairy (all of which have no magnesium).

When was the last time you had a good dose of sea vegetables (seaweed), nuts, greens, and beans? If you are like most Americans, your nut consumption mostly comes from peanut butter, and mostly in chocolate peanut butter cups.

Much of modern life conspires to help us lose what little magnesium we do get in our diet. Magnesium levels are decreased by excess alcohol, salt, coffee, phosphoric acid in colas, profuse sweating, prolonged or intense stress, chronic diarrhea, excessive menstruation, diuretics (water pills), antibiotics and other drugs, and some intestinal parasites. In fact, in one study in Kosovo, people under chronic war stress lost large amounts of magnesium in their urine.

This is all further complicated by the fact that magnesium is often poorly absorbed and easily lost from our bodies. To properly absorb magnesium we need a lot of it in our diet, plus enough vitamin B6, vitamin D, and selenium to get the job done.

A recent scientific review of magnesium concluded, “It is highly regrettable that the deficiency of such an inexpensive, low-toxicity nutrient results in diseases that cause incalculable suffering and expense throughout the world.” (ii) I couldn’t’ have said it better myself.

It is difficult to measure and hard to study, but magnesium deficiency accounts for untold suffering — and is simple to correct. So if you suffer from any of the symptoms I mentioned or have any of the diseases I noted, don’t worry — it is an easy fix!! Here’s how.

Stop Draining Your Body of Magnesium

~ Limit coffee, colas, salt, sugar, and alcohol.
~ Learn how to practice active relaxation.
~ Check with your doctor if your medication is causing magnesium loss (many high blood pressure drugs or diuretics cause loss of magnesium).

Eat Foods High in Magnesium

Include the following in your diet as often as you can:

Kelp, wheat bran, wheat germ, almonds, cashews, buckwheat, brazil nuts, dulse, filberts, millet, pecans, walnuts, rye, tofu, soy beans, brown rice, figs, dates, collard greens, shrimp, avocado, parsley, beans, barley, dandelion greens, and garlic

Take Magnesium Supplements

~ The RDA (the minimum amount needed) for magnesium is about 300 mg a day. Most of us get far less than 200 mg.
~ Some may need much more depending on their condition.
~ Most people benefit from 400 to 1,000 mg a day.
~ The most absorbable forms are magnesium citrate, glycinate taurate, or aspartate, although magnesium bound to Kreb cycle chelates (malate, succinate, fumarate) are also good.
~ Avoid magnesium carbonate, sulfate, gluconate, and oxide. They are poorly absorbed (and the cheapest and most common forms found in supplements).
~ Side effects from too much magnesium include diarrhea, which can be avoided if you switch to magnesium glycinate.
~ Most minerals are best taken as a team with other minerals in a multi-mineral formula.
~ Taking a hot bath with Epsom salts (magnesium sulfate) is a good way to absorb and get much needed magnesium.

People with kidney disease or severe heart disease should take magnesium only under a doctor’s supervision.

So if you’re coping with the symptoms here, relax! Magnesium is truly a miracle mineral. It is essential for lifelong vibrant health.

Now I’d like to hear from you…

Do you suffer from any of the symptoms I’ve mentioned?

Do you currently take a magnesium supplement? What results have you noticed?

Which of the tips mentioned above do you plan to try?

Please share your thoughts by leaving a comment below.

To your good health,
Mark Hyman, MD

1 Minute of All-Out Exercise May Have Benefits of 45 Minutes of Moderate Exertion

This original article was published on the New York Times by Gretchen Reynolds. You can also check out the original article here:

one couple man woman exercising workout fitness

For many of us, the most pressing question about exercise is: How little can I get away with? The answer, according to a sophisticated new study of interval training, may be very, very little. In this new experiment, in fact, 60 seconds of strenuous exertion proved to be as successful at improving health and fitness as three-quarters of an hour of moderate exercise.

Let me repeat that finding: One minute of arduous exercise was comparable in its physiological effects to 45 minutes of gentler sweating.

I have been writing for some time about the potential benefits of high-intensity interval training, a type of workout that consists of an extremely draining but brief burst of exercise — essentially, a sprint — followed by light exercise such as jogging or resting, then another sprint, more rest, and so on.

Athletes rely on intervals to improve their speed and power, but generally as part of a broader, weekly training program that also includes prolonged, less-intense workouts, such as long runs.

But in the past few years, exercise scientists and many of the rest of us have become intrigued by the idea of exercising exclusively with intervals, ditching long workouts altogether.

The allure of this approach is obvious. Interval sessions can be short, making them a boon for anyone who feels that he or she never has enough time to exercise.

Previously, I have written about a number of different interval programs, involving anywhere from 10 minutes of exhausting intervals in a single session to seven minutes, six, four and even fewer. Each program had scientific backing. But because of time and funding constraints, most studies of interval training have had limits, such as not including a control group, being of short duration or studying only health or fitness results, not both.

Consequently, fundamental questions have remained unanswered about just how well these very short, very intense workouts really stack up against traditional, endurance-style training.

So scientists at McMaster University in Hamilton, Ontario, who had themselves conducted many of those earlier studies of interval training, decided recently to mount probably the most scientifically rigorous comparison to date of super-short and more-standard workouts.

They began by recruiting 25 out-of-shape young men and measuring their current aerobic fitness and, as a marker of general health, their body’s ability to use insulin properly to regulate blood sugar levels. The scientists also biopsied the men’s muscles to examine how well their muscles functioned at a cellular level.

Then the researchers randomly divided the men into three groups. (The scientists plan to study women in subsequent experiments.) One group was asked to change nothing about their current, virtually nonexistent exercise routines; they would be the controls.

A second group began a typical endurance-workout routine, consisting of riding at a moderate pace on a stationary bicycle at the lab for 45 minutes, with a two-minute warm-up and three-minute cool down.

The final group was assigned to interval training, using the most abbreviated workout yet to have shown benefits. Specifically, the volunteers warmed up for two minutes on stationary bicycles, then pedaled as hard as possible for 20 seconds; rode at a very slow pace for two minutes, sprinted all-out again for 20 seconds; recovered with slow riding for another two minutes; pedaled all-out for a final 20 seconds; then cooled down for three minutes. The entire workout lasted 10 minutes, with only one minute of that time being strenuous.

Both groups of exercising volunteers completed three sessions each week for 12 weeks, a period of time that is about twice as long as in most past studies of interval training.

By the end of the study, published in PLOS One, the endurance group had ridden for 27 hours, while the interval group had ridden for six hours, with only 36 minutes of that time being strenuous.

But when the scientists retested the men’s aerobic fitness, muscles and blood-sugar control now, they found that the exercisers showed virtually identical gains, whether they had completed the long endurance workouts or the short, grueling intervals. In both groups, endurance had increased by nearly 20 percent, insulin resistance likewise had improved significantly, and there were significant increases in the number and function of certain microscopic structures in the men’s muscles that are related to energy production and oxygen consumption.

There were no changes in health or fitness evident in the control group.

The upshot of these results is that three months of concerted endurance or interval exercise can notably — and almost identically — improve someone’s fitness and health.

Neither approach to exercise was, however, superior to the other, except that one was shorter — much, much shorter.

Is that reason enough for people who currently exercise moderately or not at all to begin interval training as their only workout?

“It depends on who you are and why you exercise,” said Martin Gibala, a professor of kinesiology at McMaster University who oversaw the new study.

“If you are an elite athlete, then obviously incorporating both endurance and interval training into an overall program maximizes performance. But if you are someone, like me, who just wants to boost health and fitness and you don’t have 45 minutes or an hour to work out, our data show that you can get big benefits from even a single minute of intense exercise.”

7 Ways To Beat Seasonal Allergies With Ayurveda

This original article was published on by Dr. Prema Patel. You can also check out the original article here:


The worst part of allergies? Not being able to take a deep, clear satisfying breath. Although the itchy eyes and unstoppable sneezing come in as pretty close runners-up.

The best part of beating the allergies? Clarity — being able to focus on my day, the tasks at hand, and the people around me.

I didn’t grow up with allergies, but I watched my dad and brother suffer through their allergies — runny noses and watery eyes every spring and fall. Although I felt bad for them, I couldn’t really relate.

Well, did I ever find out. I developed seasonal allergies as a young adult, and they grew with a vengeance for the next ten years. Refusing to take any drugs on a regular basis, I would suffer through them as best as I could and finally cave in and take some allergy medicine when I could no longer handle it.

That was my not-so-successful treatment plan until I found Ayurveda. Ayurveda views allergies as an excess of kapha dosha, or the earth and water elements. Earth and water are cold, heavy, dense, smooth and stable. These qualities in excess result in congestion, mucus, phlegm, sneezing and post-nasal drip. Along with the excess of these qualities, there’s also a slow digestive fire. So the way to turn allergies around is to improve the digestive fire and use the qualities that are opposite of kapha (warm, light, mobile, and clear) in everything you do — diet, herbs and daily routine.

I started my changes one spring and continued them throughout the year, and I finally got to see incredible results the following spring. It took a year to really understand the impact — definitely a worthwhile investment for the way I continue to feel now, several years later. And I keep up with these habits to the best of my ability, though I’m not an absolute perfectionist.

So what did I do, and how can you follow the same path?

1. Eliminate dairy.

For a solid year, I completely cut out cold dairy and had VERY limited hot dairy products — maybe once every two months. For a girl who loves cheese and grew up drinking cold milk everyday, this was a tough one. But dairy has the same properties as excess kapha and phlegm; it’s cold, heavy and dense. Even now, I stay away from cold dairy (except the rare ice cream in the summer), and I sparingly consume warm dairy products, like a yummy fresh mozzarella melted on my pizza.

2. Eat warm, cooked foods.

I stuck to warm, cooked vegetarian foods, made with a little bit of clarified butter (ghee). In Ayurveda, eating warm, cooked foods gives the digestive fire a chance to rest. When the digestion is low, it can’t access the nutrition stored in raw foods, and the poorly digested food creates toxins. Now, when I know my digestion is up to par (especially in summer), I’ll enjoy my fill of raw greens and salads. The majority of my meals are still warm, cooked foods.

3. Do an Ayurvedic cleanse.

cleanse is a great way to get rid of the toxins that are already in the body and reset the digestion. I do a cleanse at least twice a year — once at an Ayurvedic facility, and once at home.

4. Use a neti pot.

A neti pot, or nasal rinse cup, is a must-have accessory for anyone with seasonal allergies. It helps remove the congestion as well as the allergens that are irritating the nasal passages and the sinuses. I did this every morning during the spring and fall, and at least once or twice a week during the summer and winter.

5. Nasya.

Nasya is the Ayurvedic practice of putting herbalized oil drops in the nose. This practice lubricates dry nasal passages, delivers the benefits of herbs directly to the nose, and keeps allergens from directly irritating the nasal lining. I did this every night before going to bed.

6. Exercise and practice pranayama.

I exercised at least three times a week to keep my weight in check and improve my cardiovascular fitness. Even more impactful was a 30-minute daily practice of pranayama, or breath techniques. These simple practices helped me on a physical level, but also on a mental and spiritual level, bringing calm, attention, and space. I focused my time on anuloma-viloma, bhastrika and kapalabhati.

7. Herbal Supplements and Spices.

I used warming spices in my cooking and on my food to support my digestive fire — particularly ginger, cinnamon, turmeric and black pepper. And I also supplemented my diet with Ayurvedic herbs known to support and rejuvenate the respiratory system, like tulsi, pippali and licorice.


The Essentials of a Natural Home Medicine Kit



This original article was published on by Vanessa Nixon Klein. You can also check out the original article here:

It wasn’t that long ago when every home had an herbal or homeopathic medicine kit filled with natural remedies to treat injuries or illnesses that family members might encounter. These days it is not so common and many people feel at a loss when they are faced with a feverish child at 2 am, the beginnings of a respiratory infection, or a finger burned from a kitchen mishap. Not only is it common sense to have a natural medicine kit at home, but it is inexpensive to put together and quite empowering to realize that you have the ability to heal yourself and your family of just about any acute illness or injury that you may encounter. Following is a brief summary of some of the items you may want to include in your natural home medicine kit. They can be purchased ready made, but most of them you can make yourself very easily and inexpensively. A combination of any or all of the herbal items listed below would make a great addition to any home.

Herbal Remedies

Aloe vera – Aloe has been used throughout a long portion of our history in treating and healing burns and other minor skin irritations. The best way to use aloe is directly from the plant itself. Break off a plump piece and slice it open. Apply the clear sap inside directly to the burned or irritated area. It is this sap that has been shown to have pain-relieving and anti-inflammatory properties.

Calendula cream – This is the first thing we reach for whenever one of the children has a cut, scratch, scrape or rash. Historically, Calendula has been used in reducing inflammation, promoting wound healing, and as an antiseptic. It has been used to treat a variety of skin diseases including skin ulcerations and eczema.

Echinacea Tincture – Echinacea is a wonderful immune boosting herb – anti-viral as well as anti-bacterial. Topically useful for stings and bites (it is a Native American snakebite remedy), as well as skin infections, echinacea is a staple for the home medicine kit. Echinacea is useful for poisonous insect and snake bites, toothaches, sore throat, wounds, childhood illnesses, upper respiratory infections, the common cold, sinusitis, influenza, herpes, lymphatic swelling and skin ulcers.

Elderberry Elixir – This is an essential remedy to have on hand, especially during the cold and flu season. Rich in vitamins A, B and C, elderberry supports immune system functioning and is one of the best remedies for viral infections. Useful for colds, flus, respiratory afflictions, fevers and upset stomachs. You can read more here.

Garlic – I have heard many herbalists say that if they were stranded on a desert island and could have only one medicine with them – it would be garlic! It is a powerful broad-spectrum antibiotic and has been used to ward off everything from the common cold to the Plague. Some of the ailments it has been used to treat include wounds, ulcers, skin infections, flu, athlete’s foot, some viruses, strep, worms, respiratory ailments, high blood pressure, blood thinning, cancer of the stomach, colic, colds, kidney problems, bladder problems, and ear aches. Incorporating garlic, especially raw, into your daily diet is a key part of keeping your body healthy and your immune system functioning at optimal levels. You can read more about the benefits of garlic here.

Ginger – Ginger is an excellent anti-inflammatory herb as well as an important digestive remedy. It is useful for a broad range of ailments such as: nausea, motion sickness, diarrhea, colic, arthritis, rheumatism, colds flus, headaches, poor circulation and heart conditions. In Asia is it considered a longevity herb. Plantain/Comfrey/Self-Heal/Chickweed salve – All of these herbs have excellent wound healing properties and one or all of them alone, or in combination with the above mentioned Calendula and St John’s Wort, would make a great salve or ointment for most skin ailments you may encounter.

St John’s Wort salve – While many people these days are aware of St John’s Wort for it’s anti-depressant benefits, they may not be aware that it is one of the best topical anti-inflammatory and wound healing herbs to be found. Some of the ailments that can be helped by the topical use of St John’s Wort include bruises, wounds, burns, hemorrhoids, sunburn, herpes sores, varicose veins, sciatica, nerve pain, rheumatism and arthritis.

YarrowYarrow is considered a common weed, but is an extremely useful one (as most weeds are). It is an antiseptic, antispasmodic, astringent, digestive and tonic herb. It can be used for colds and flu, stomach ulcers, amenorrhea, abdominal cramps, abscesses, trauma and bleeding, and to reduce inflammation.

Homeopathic Remedies

For homeopathic remedies, choosing the 6c or 30c potency is usually the best option for laypersons and those potencies are readily available. Dosage, in acute conditions, may be 1 or 2 pellets repeated every 1/2 to 1 hour if necessary, up to 3 doses. Dosage frequency can then be reduced to 3 times a day for a couple of days, if necessary. Here are some basics, for the beginner, on homeopathy.

Aconite – This remedy is considered the “A” in the ABC of Children’s Remedies. Aconite is indicated at the onset of chills and colds, especially those that begin after exposure to a cold wind. Symptoms can include frequent sneezing, hot clear liquid from the nose, fever and thirst. Aconite is also indicated for mental trauma, fear and shock. Irritability, restlessness and anxiety are often present.

Apis – This is a great remedy for stings and bites, especially those of wasps and other insects. It is particularly indicated in bites that burn, itch, sting and swell with redness and heat and feel better with cool applications.

Arnica – One of the most well known homeopathic remedies, Arnica is an excellent first aid treatment for physical trauma of any kind. Falls, bruises, strains, wounds, muscle soreness and swelling yield particularly well to Arnica. It also available in cream form.

ArsenicumArsenicum has many uses, one of which is for vomiting and nausea due to food poisoning – particularly from bad meat. It is also an excellent remedy for colds with painful sneezing and thin, watery nasal discharge, where the person is very chilly and thirsty, but only for small sips of water.

Belladonna – This remedy is the “B” in the ABC’s of Children’s Remedies. It is indicated in conditions like fevers and headaches where there is sudden onset, throbbing pains, red, hot skin and dilated pupils. It can also be used for scalds or burns, if there is throbbing present and inflammation is starting.

ChamomileChamomile is the “C” in the ABC’s of Children’s Remedies. One of the symptoms that almost always indicates this remedy is that one cheek is hot and red, while the other is cold and pale. Useful for teething infants, pain and fever, especially in those who are very sensitive to pain. Other symptoms are intense irritability, restlessness, temper tantrums and children who only calm down when carried.

Hypericum – This remedy is extremely helpful in wounds and trauma that involve nerve endings, fingers, toes or spine or those injuries that cause intense pain. Examples are slamming fingers in the door or stubbing the toe.

Ledum – Ledum is the prime remedy to use for puncture wounds. It is also useful for bites and stings that feel cold (opposite of Apis, above).

Nux Vomica – This remedy is indicated in indigestion, nausea and vomiting which results from nervous strain, stress, overwork or overindulgence in food and drink – the hangover remedy. It is also useful in colds where the nose streams in a warm room, but is stuffed up at night. The person is extremely chilly, cannot warm up and is vomiting which results from nervous strain, stress, overwork or overindulgence in food and drink – the hangover remedy. It is also useful in colds where the nose streams in a warm room, but is stuffed up at night. The person is extremely chilly, cannot warm up and is very irritable.

Pulsatilla – Pulsatilla also can be indicated in indigestion, but from rich or fatty foods. However, it is better known for conditions such as earaches, headaches and colds. In all cases there is usually thirstlessness, amelioration from the open air and aggravation from warm, stuffy rooms.

Rhus Tox – Useful in cases of joint injuries, sprain, muscular stiffness after over-exertion or exposure to cold and wet conditions, Rhus Tox is also a great remedy for poison oak and chicken pox, as well as colds and coughs. Some of the main symptoms indicating this remedy are restlessness, feeling worse from beginning to move, but feeling better after continued motion, feeling worse at night and from uncovering, but better from warmth.

Urtica Urens – This is an excellent remedy for first degree burns as well as sunburn and nettle stings, or other rashes from plant contact. You can read more about Urtica (Stinging Nettle) and it’s herbal uses here.


Rescue Remedy – A combination of 5 of the Bach Flower Remedies, Rescue Remedy is useful to have with you at all times for helping to deal with any sort of trauma, whether mental, emotional or physical. It is calming, relaxing and helps to restore balance. I have found it very useful for tantruming children as well as stressed out Mamas.

Essential Oils – Essential oils are extremely potent and must be used with care. If applying topically, ALWAYS dilute them first. Here is more information on how to use essential oils properly and safely.

  • Lavender essential oil is calming, relaxing and useful for soothing bug bites and burns. It is also extremely effective for relieving the pain of headaches and ear infections.
  • Tea Tree is very anti-microbial and can be used for disinfecting. It is also great to inhale for relieving stuffy sinuses and respiratory issues.
  • Oregano is another potent anti-microbial essential oil. Useful for infections and is also anti-inflammatory.
  • Peppermint essential oil has many uses, including soothing sore muscles, relieving pain and calming nausea.
  • Helichrysum is a superior essential oil for healing old wounds, calming inflammation and reducing scar tissue.

Basic First Aid Supplies -Here is a list of basic supplies to have on hand in your medicine chest so you can be prepared for any minor acute situation that might occur.

  • Assorted sizes of band-aids, including wound closure strips
  • Travel sewing kit which contains needle, thread, safety pins
  • Flannel fabric/wash cloth
  • Tweezers
  • Scissors
  • Fingernail clippers
  • Plastic eye cup
  • Ace bandage
  • Disposable lighter
  • Various tape
  • Hydrogen peroxide
  • Saline
  • Cotton swabs
  • Cotton balls
  • Gauze pads
  • Instant Hand warmers
  • Bottle of water
  • Soap

Although needs will vary from family to family, having these items on hand will not only cover most minor situations that may occur, but give you peace of mind – knowing you are prepared and have the ability to take care of your family’s health naturally.

What is in your natural home medicine kit?



Boost Your Workouts with Chocolate!

This original article was published on, by Margie King. You can also check out the original article here:

runner chocolate blog

Dark chocolate is famous for its heart health benefits.  Now British researchers find it also improves exercise performance in cyclists.[i]

The researchers recruited nine young men in their early 20s who were moderately trained in cycling.

The cyclists were tested to establish their gas exchange threshold (GET) baseline. GET is often used as a marker of cardio-respiratory fitness and endurance capacity.  The subjects then cycled at 80% of their GET for 20 minutes followed by a two-minute time trial.

The researchers randomly assigned the bikers to eat either 40 grams of dark chocolate or white chocolate every day for 14 days before being tested again.  Using a randomized crossover design, the participants then had a seven day wash out period.  After that, they switched to the other type of chocolate for 14 days before being tested again.

The researchers found that supplementing with dark chocolate reduced the oxygen cost of moderate intensity exercise.  They also found that it improved the time trials of the cyclists.

In particular, the dark chocolate increased GET by 21% compared to baseline and 11% compared to the white chocolate. It also increased the total distance traveled in the time trials by 17% compared to baseline and 13% compared to white chocolate.

The researchers noted that dark chocolate contains abundant flavanols which increase the bioavailability and bioactivity of nitric oxide (NO). Increasing NO bioavailability has been shown to reduce the oxygen cost of exercise. Increases in NO also can help to fully dilate the blood vessels, improving cardiovascular health as a result.

They suggested that dark chocolate may be an effective aid for short-duration moderate intensity exercise.

Other studies have shown that dark chocolate can lower exercise-induced high blood pressure in overweight individuals.[ii]  Another study showed that eating 40 grams of dark chocolate for two weeks may reduce oxidative stress following prolonged exhaustive exercise.[iii]

Chocolate has many other powerful medicinal properties.  Research shows chocolate:

In the present study the researchers used 40 grams of DOVE®, Dark Chocolate made by Mars, Incorporated.  That’s about five pieces of Dove Promises.  But that will also give you 19 grams of sugar. . .

– See more at:

C.A.R.E. Physical Therapist presents at the American Physical Therapy Association

This past February, our very own Ilyse Zultowski presented at the American Physical Therapy Association Combined Sections meeting in Indianapolis. She completed the project with help of Northwestern University. The clinical research project was a pilot study comparing the effectiveness of eccentric exercise versus deep transverse friction massage in sub-acute Achilles tendonitis. The study compared three different treatments for the condition: eccentric exercises which consist of muscle contractions (shortening and lengthening of the muscles) while simultaneously producing force; deep tissue friction massage, a deep tissue massage that breaks down scar tissue at the site of the injury and remodels it to be more flexible and functional; and active stretching that is when one assumes a position and holds it with no assistance. Each of these treatments consisted of conservative care involving patient education in. The study consisted of 11 patients that had been referred to physical therapy after being diagnosed with non-insertional Achilles tendinopathy. At the initial evaluation, a collection of two outcome measures were obtained- 1) a Numeric Pain Scale and 2) a VISA A questionnaire, a valid and reliable index that assesses Achilles tendinopathy severity. After the assessments were completed, the patients were assigned to one of the three treatments stated above and all were assisted with a standardized exercise, education program and application of ice. The standardized exercise program received by all three groups consisted of: passive stretching, balance/prioropceiton exercises, education with regard to proper footwear and protective functional activities of daily living. All subjects received the 4 consecutive applications of each therapy in randomized order.



It was found that each treatment, eccentric exercise, deep transverse friction massage and active stretching all resulted in significantly improving results subjective to pain ratings and function. Although eccentric exercise is widely considered to be the preferred plan of treatment, the results obtained in comparison to deep transverse friction massage and active stretching were of no great effect. All patients improved significantly with no variance in improvement with regards to any of the three treatments given.

The findings of this study are highly relevant to the clinical setting due to the limited amount of visits given by insurances. It is important to know if there is a preferred plan of care that gives optimal results sooner and longer duration of improvement.

We expect Ilyse’s research to be followed up by future studies to further explore the long term effects and differences between the varied treatments of deep transverse friction massage, eccentric exercise and active stretching.

Congratulations Ilyse and Thank-you for your contribution in expanding the physical therapy science!

Jenny’s Medical Trip to Kyrgyzstan

C.A.R.E.’s  PT Jennifer Coon shares on her medical trip to Kyrgyzstan!

This past November, I had an incredible opportunity to travel to Kyrgyzstan with another physical therapist on a medical trip. Kyrgyzstan is a small, mountainous country in Central Asia of 5 million people.  It is a unique melting pot of cultures due to its nomadic heritage, including Russian as a former Soviet Republic, Chinese, Mongol, and Turk.  It struggles with a high unemployment rate, poor interethnic relations, rampant corruption, and lack of access to quality healthcare.  There is extremely limited access to rehabilitative services, with children and the disabled being the most affected.


We treated patients at a stroke rehab center, performed home visits in a small mountain village, treated kids at a Center for Children with Disabilities and a large state-run orphanage, treated adults with orthopedic injuries at an outpatient clinic, and did some community education on preventing back/neck pain, safe lifting mechanics, and pregnancy related low back pain.  A primary goal of our trip was training the local Kyrgyz aide workers, many of whom had a very basic nursing degree at best (equivalent to nursing aide in the US) in each of the settings we visited, in basic rehabilitative techniques they can use to be more effective.


Argon (pictured), one of the boys at the Orphanage, worked on standing and pre-gait activities, and was all smiles. Rahat (pictured), a girl at the Orphanage quietly waited several hours in the corner watching the other kids work with myself and the other therapist from a safe distance, but when everyone else had left at the end of the day, she worked her way over to us and was ready to try standing on her own.  The staff that works with these children will now have a few more techniques and hopefully be more adequately prepared to work with the various disabilities.  I treasure the memories and the people that I met and look forward to similar trips in the future.



Stressed dads affect offspring brain development through sperm microRNA

This original article was published on, you can also check out the original article here:

More and more, scientists have realized that DNA is not the only way that a parent can pass on traits to their offspring. Events experienced by a parent over a lifetime can also have an impact.

miRNA blog image

Now University of Pennsylvania researchers have shown at the molecular level how experiencing stress changes a ‘s sperm in such a way that it affects his offspring’s response to stress. This change is imparted epigenetically, or through a means other than the DNA code, by molecules called microRNAs, or miRs.

The work, led by Tracy L. Bale, professor of neuroscience in Penn’s School of Veterinary Medicine and Perelman School of Medicine, provides important clues for understanding how a father’s life experiences may affect his children’s brain development and through a purely biological and not behavioral means.

“It’s remarkable to me that seemingly mild stress to a male mouse would trigger this massive change in microRNA response and that that would get wired into the course of his offspring’s development,” Bale said.

She collaborated on the work with graduate students Ali B. Rogers and Christopher P. Morgan and research specialist N. Adrian Leu of Penn Vet. The paper will appear in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

In earlier research, Bale’s lab had shown that male mice that were stressed, prior to being bred, by such means as changing cages or exposing them to a predator odor of fox urine, had offspring with a dampened response to stress. When they compared sperm from the stressed fathers to their unstressed counterparts, they found increased expression of nine miRs in the stressed animals. Unlike some other types of RNA, miRs do not code for a protein; instead, they serve to silence or degrade specific messenger RNAs, preventing them from being translated into proteins.

“Just showing that the levels were different doesn’t make it relevant or interesting,” Bale said. “We wanted to find out whether they were having a causal role.”

To find out, the team microinjected the nine miRs into mouse zygotes, which were then implanted into normal female mice who carried them as surrogates. They also included control groups in which zygotes received either a sham injection or an injection of a single miR. When the offspring became adults, the researchers examined their response to stress, just as they had done in their 2013 study.

“The results mapped right onto what we had shown before,” Bale said.

When subjected to a mild stress, in this case, being restrained briefly, the offspring that arose from the zygotes that received the multi-miR injections had lower cortisone levels compared to offspring in the control groups. The mice in the multi-miR injection group also had significant changes in the expression of hundreds of genes in the paraventricular nucleus, a brain region involved in directing stress regulation, suggesting wide-spread changes in early neurodevelopment.

Finally, the researchers aimed to determine how the miRs were carrying out this effect after fertilization. Because miRs are known to target and degrade mRNA, the team looked at the stored maternal mRNA, a genetic bundle that is contained in the egg when it is fused with the sperm and exists for only a brief window of time to direct early zygotic development.

“People used to think that because that stored maternal mRNA gets translated during that initial two-cell and four-cell development, the mom gets a lot of say in those early stages and the dad gets no say,” Bale said. “But we thought maybe these sperm miRs could be attacking that maternal mRNA and directing which mRNAs get translated.”

The researchers again injected miRs into zygotes and performed control injections, but this time they incubated the zygotes for eight hours and then amplified the RNA in each single cell to look for gene expression levels. They found that, indeed, the multi-miR injection appeared to be attacking the maternal mRNA, resulting in a reduction in those mRNA levels compared to control injections. Specifically affected were genes involved in chromatin remodeling.

Bale suspects that when a male experiences stress it may trigger the release of miRs contained in exosomes from the epithelial cells that line the epididymis, the storage and maturation site for sperm between the testes and the vas deferens. These miRs may be incorporated into the maturing sperm and influence development at fertilization.

Up next for the group, including Penn Vet graduate student Jen Chan, who is taking over the project, is to examine what upstream factors could lead to exosome and miR release and whether an intervention, such as providing stressed males with enrichment or a reward, might prevent them from passing on an abnormal stress response to the next generation.

They also hope to study the role of miRs in humans to discern whether some may vary in response to in a similar way as in mice.

The work was supported by the National Institute of Mental Health.