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Alternative Medicine May Help Relieve Symptoms of Menopause

Menopause in women is associated with the lowering of estrogen levels and cessation of reproductive fertility. With significant individual differences, women may experience a variety of bothersome symptoms as they go through that phase, including hot flashes, headaches, insomnia, mood swings, weight gain and fatigue.

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In the 1990s, hormone replacement therapy became popular, but new studies have largely discredited that method as they found it raises the risk of developing heart diseases and certain cancers.

Currently, women are encouraged to try more natural and holistic approaches such as exercise, meditation and nutritional supplements.

Some companies are also engaged in developing innovative products that deliver relief with all-natural and clinically proven ingredients.

One of them is Seattle-based women-owned Beveragette Ventures which has just unveiled a low-calorie beverage which may minimize the many unpleasant symptoms of the transition.

Source: Better Health Research. 2nd.Nov.’09

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Plastic Bottles Behind Earlier Puberty in Girls?

Girls are beginning to grow breasts at an earlier age, and starting their periods sooner too, and scientists suspect chemicals in plastic   bottles may be behind this trend.

The findings back up recent studies that found earlier breast development in American girls over the past several years,
Lise Aksglaede of Rigshospitalet in Copenhagen, the lead researcher on the study, said. “At this point, we don’t know what is happening, and that is also what worries us.”

Aksglaede noted that she and her colleagues have seen an increasing number of girls with precocious puberty, meaning sexual maturation beginning before age eight.

To investigate whether this might represent a trend, or simply greater recognition of the problem by parents, the Denmark-based researchers looked at 1,100 girls who were studied in 1991-1993 and 995 examined between 2006-2008. The study participants ranged in age from 5.6 to 20 years old.

While the average age at which breast growth began was 10.88 years for the 1991 group, it was 9.86 for the 2006 group. Age at first menstruation was 13.42 for the 1991 group, and 13.13 for the 2006 group.

Most experts believe that the obesity epidemic may have something to do with earlier puberty in girls, Aksglaede noted, but she and her colleagues found no difference in the prevalence of overweight and obesity between the 1991 and 2006 groups.
There also were no differences in levels of several reproductive hormones between the two groups, although the 8- to 10-year-olds tested in 2006 actually had lower estrogen levels than girls of the same age tested in 1991.

Chemicals which can produce estrogen-like effects in the body may be responsible, Aksglaede said. However, she pointed out that the effects of such chemicals are extremely difficult to study, given that there are so many different chemicals out there, and that the levels girls are exposed are in constant flux.

Chemicals in plastics like the chemical bisphenol A (BPA) and phthalates have the potential to interfere with estrogen and other reproductive hormones.

While precocious puberty can have psychological consequences for girls, and may also stunt growth, the girls in the current study were still entering puberty at a relatively normal age.

“It is the first time we are seeing this in Europe,” the researcher said. “It might be happening in other countries, but it hasn’t been reported yet.”

Sources: The Times Of India

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Smelling Good (Body smell)

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All human beings have a unique body odour, often pleasant but sometimes a little repulsive. Animals, too, have a distinctive smell which is different from that of other species. They can identify their own kind and are attracted only to the opposite sex of the same species. This is through the release of chemicals called pheromones which they detect with a vomeronasal olfactory (smell) organ in their nasal cavities………CLICK & SEE

Perfumes make the skin acidic and less attractive to bacteria

Human beings, too, have a well-developed sense of smell. Cave men smelt out their friends, enemies and predators. Like lower mammals, humans knew when women were at the fertile period of their menstrual cycle. Similarly, women could identify virile males with good genes.

Over the years, the olfactory sense became rudimentary as it was no longer needed for survival. Natural body odour is now a nuisance, which needs to be controlled and altered to a pleasant, subtle fragrance.

Odour arises as a result of bacterial action on sweat. People with a congenital condition called anhidrosis do not sweat or smell.

Most people have between two and five million sweat glands situated all over the body. Most of these are eccrine glands which secrete a watery, salty sweat as and when the body temperature rises. As this sweat evaporates, it cools down the body. Eccrine glands are distinct from the apocrine sweat glands found in the scalp, armpits and groin. Apocrine glands are connected to cells that secrete a fatty substance called sebum. Sweat from these glands is mixed with this material. Bacteria living on the surface of the skin can break down the sebum for nutrition, producing the characteristic odour.

Our individual odour is dependent on age, sex, menstrual cycle, bathing habits, clothes, diet and any medication we may be taking.

Children have poorly developed apocrine sweat glands and hence have no body odour. These glands develop at puberty, producing the typical “teenage smell”.

Increased sweating or hyperhidrosis can be hereditary. It can also occur with anxiety, as a result of the stimulation of the sweat glands by the nervous system, making the person “clammy with fear” or break out into a “cold sweat”.

Hormonal changes affect sweating. Around the time of menopause, as the oestrogen levels drop, many women experience sudden, unprovoked attacks of excessive sweating. Excessive thyroid hormones also produce the same symptoms.

During fever, the body attempts to cool itself by increasing the sweat production — causing the typical chills and sweating that occur with malaria.

Medications like paracetamol or caffeine also increase sweating.

Body odour is as individual as a finger print. A sudden change in the body odour may herald the onset of illness. Diabetes has a fruity smell, liver and kidney disease an ammonia smell.

Body odour can be changed and controlled. The Japanese have actually invented clothes impregnated with chemicals that absorb and alter body odour, making it pleasant and sexy. For us less fortunate Indians, there are many simple measures that can reduce and pleasantly alter body odour.

Keep your axillary and pubic hair trimmed and bathe twice a day to control the population of body bacteria. Use a loofa instead of applying the soap directly to the skin. Dry the feet thoroughly to prevent bacterial overgrowth.

Wear clothes made of natural fibres like cotton, silk or linen. Clothes including socks should be changed daily and washed regularly. Wearing clothes on which sweat has dried aids bacterial growth.

Shoes should be leather or cloth so that sweat can evaporate and the feet can breathe.

Spicy foods and caffeinated beverages should be avoided as they can increase sweating. Garlic and onions also can impart an offensive odour to sweat.

Aerobic exercise combined with relaxation techniques help to control the stress that triggers excessive perspiration.

Sweating can be reduced with acetylcholine medications, mild electric currents, botox injections or surgery. For most people, such measures are not required. Deodorants, anti-perspirants and body sprays are sufficient. They make the skin acidic and less attractive to bacteria. They contain perfume fragrances which mask the odour of perspiration.

An unpleasant body odour can have psychological, social and occupational consequences. Love follows initial attraction which is influenced by body odour. Romantic failures probably mean you need to “Zatak” yourself or aim for “the Axe Effect”.

Source: The Telegraph (Kolkata,India)

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Healthy Tips

Menopause

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Menopause or climacteric was considered the end   for many women. Their reproductive years were over Numerous pregnancies, hard work and a poor diet took their toll, and only a few women lived into their sixties or seventies.

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This, however, is no longer true. Life expectancy of women in India has increased. This has spawned a whole new generation of  who spend almost half their life after menopause.

Regular menstruation and reproduction is controlled by the pituitary gland and involves periodic release of eggs from the ovaries. It is mediated by pituitary and ovarian hormones released in the correct proportions.

During menopause, the levels of the pituitary hormones, LH (luteinising hormone) and FSH (follicle stimulating hormone) rise while the levels of the ovarian hormones, oestrogen and progesterone fall. Eggs are no longer released and the woman ceases to menstruate or be fertile.

Menopause is defined as the cessation of menstruation for a year. It usually occurs between the ages of 41 and 55 years. Menopause often occurs when the woman is already finding life difficult as her children have grown up and left the house and her husband is busy with his career.

Some women sail blissfully through menopause without missing a beat, whereas in others the altered hormone levels makes them symptomatic. Extraneous social factors often aggravate the symptoms.

Typically they complain of   hot flushes.  This is a sensation of heat and burning which starts in the chest, progresses upwards and lasts a few minutes. It is followed by drenching sweats or chills. The flushes may occur several times a day or just a few times a month. They cause sleep disturbances, irritability, mood swings, headaches and memory loss. The result is the stereotyped unreasonable, ill-tempered postmenopausal woman.

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The hormonal changes slow down the metabolism and weight may slowly creep upwards. The skin may also become thin and dry producing itching. Libido may be altered. Vaginal dryness may make sex painful and unpleasant.

Some of the symptoms of menopause may be mimicked by other medical conditions such as thyroid or pituitary malfunctions, or simply weight gain that seems to be a common feature during middle age.

Absence of menstruation may be due to pregnancy. Approaching menopause is heralded by changing menstrual patterns in an older woman.

During the time of menopause :

* Have a complete gynaecological evaluation including a pap smear for cervical cancer.

* Have a baseline mammogram. If it is normal, repeat it every three years. In the interim, perform breast self examinations once a month

* Rule out other medical problems like hypertension, diabetes and lipid abnormalities.

Once menopause has set in:

* Keep yourself busy. Develop new interests, have a hobby, learn something new.

* Weight should be maintained within normal limits. BMI (Body Mass Index — weight in kg divided by height in metre squared) should be as close to 25 as possible. The waist should be 34 inches or less.

* Prevent osteoporosis by doing 45 minutes of aerobic exercises like jogging or fast walking every day. Calcium supplements are also needed as diet is often deficient. A bone density test can be done to determine if alendrolate or raloxifene is needed in addition to calcium.

* Keep the muscles strong by doing muscle strengthening exercises using a “baby” dumbbell weighing ½ to 1 kg. Strong muscles help to maintain balance and prevent falls and injuries.

* Maintain flexibility with regular stretches and yoga.

*To tackle hot flushes, dress in cotton and other natural fabrics. Drink plenty of water. Avoid alcohol as it aggravates hot flushes.

* Creams containing oestrogen (Premarin Evalon) are safe and can be applied locally in the vagina to overcome dryness, itching and pain during intercourse. They should not be used if there is undiagnosed post menopausal vaginal bleeding.

HRT (hormone replacement therapy) was very popular and widely prescribed. It was assumed that by tackling the deficiency of oestrogen with tablets, all the symptoms and ill effects of menopause would disappear. HRT does help in women who have severe hot flushes. But it should not be continued for more than six months because after that, the risks and side effects may out weigh the benefits.

The symptoms of menopause are apparently less among Japanese and Chinese women. Although this may be cultural, it has been attributed to the consumption of soya, which contains the plant oestrogens called phytoestrogens. Soya is now one of the natural products recommended to control the symptoms of menopause. Soya products can be consumed as chunks, nuggets, flakes, flour, tofu or milk.

Natural supplements with extracts of black cohosh, ginseng and other herbal products are also believed to be beneficial. But they should be taken only after consulting a physician.

Menopause is inevitable but it can be tackled.

Source:The Telegraph (Kolkata,India)