Side effect-free ways to reduce depression

Depression is a debilitating mental condition of overwhelming sadness and disinterest in activity. The victim may feel hopeless, tearfulness, lack of energy to engage in even the smallest tasks, worthlessness, anxiety, anger, restlessness, and have trouble focusing and may even have frequent thoughts of suicide.

If one has been in a traumatic event, depression often accompanies Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). It can also be understood as one of the symptoms of PTSD.

Without support, each episode of depression may be a painful, prolonged and possibly life-threatening time.

For Michael Phelps, depression is both a problem that many athletes face and also a personal challenge. Despite being the world’s most decorated swimmer and the Olympian with the most medals of all time, with 28 Olympic medals (23 gold), he has faced depression over and over.

In 2004 Phelps got his first DUI (arrest for Driving Under the Influence); in 2008 Phelps is photographed taking a bong hit; and in 2014 Phelps received a second DUI. The days following his second DUI were the lowest point in his life. Phelps explained that he was on the brink of ending his life in those days between his arrest and court date. “I’m somebody who’s gone through at least three or four major depression spells after [Olympic] Games that, you know, I’ve put my life in danger,” .

Psychopharmacology is commonly used, but may produce unwanted side effects. It is often ineffective in not only solving one’s original depression or in preventing the next depression. And with extended long-term use, the side effects may have devastating health effects.

Complementary medicine may make mental health care more accessible, without risk of severe side effects. It includes such approaches as taking herbs (e.g. St. John’sWort, Valerian, or S-Adenosyl-L-Methionine (SAMe)), improving sleep, diet, exercise and adding yogic postures, as well as effective, evidence-based meditation, among many possibilities.

One highly effective, evidence-based meditation is Transcendental Meditation (TM). Ten scientific studies show that TM produces systematic reduction in depression and even PTSD-related depression. ( section on depression relief)

With TM, practiced twice a day every day, the brain chemistry improves and EEG shows a regular rise in brain coherence. In addition, TM helps improve sleep. With improved rest from sleep, people tend to feel less impulsive and eat in a more balanced way. Because they feel more settled, they can plan for their future and implement daily exercise regimes. So TM acts as a basis for a life shift towards more inner balance and stability, away from causes of depression.

TM can be used along with the standard treatments to accelerate the return to happy life, or may be used on its own.

If you or loved ones are suffering from depression or PTSD-based depression, you may wish to consider adopting an integrated, complementary approach to reduce both short and long-term depression with the support of a clinician. By making lifestyle changes such as these and by regularly practicing Transcendental Meditation you may begin to live life with fewer or no bouts of debilitating depression. Michael Phelps, Dwayne Johnson, and many other famous people, have called out for help. Here is an effective strategy to help them and millions of other people around the world, to enjoy happiness, success and progress.


Benefits And Uses For Aloe Vera

Before there were bath bombs and contouring palettes, there was aloe vera (rumor has it Cleopatra even used aloe as a skin treatment). There’s a reason it’s stood the test of time as a beauty ingredient—it works.

“Whether it was your parents telling you to rub some on a cut or you’ve noticed it used as an ingredient in your favorite skincare products, aloe vera is one of the more well-known ingredients because it has several beneficial purposes”.

Try aloe as an aftershave.

Do razors leave your skin red and sensitive? “The enzymes in aloe vera provide anti-inflammatory properties that can help prevent razor burn and address small cuts or nicks,” says Bhanusali.

Or use it as a makeup remover.

Just apply pure aloe vera to a cotton ball, and gently swipe off your makeup. “It can be used to calm skin after a long day and sometimes in combination with other products,” Bhanusali says. “My favorite makeup remover with it is the Acure Seriously Soothing Micellar Water Towelettes. Aloe calms, and the micellar water acts as a magnet to remove debris, makeup, and pollutants from the skin.”

It’s an awesome moisturizer.

“Aloe penetrates the skin four times faster than water, making it a great hydrator,” says Bhanusali.

Aloe vera helps heal burns and chafing-related irritation.

If your flatiron got a little too close to your forehead or you had an incident in the kitchen, aloe vera is your friend. “It creates an environment that supports healing, and the anti-inflammatory mediators released promote resolution” .

You can a hair mask out it.

“Your hair contains amino acids and enzymes, as does aloe,” says Chelsea Scott, founder of the haircare brand TRUHAIR. “So using it on hair allows you to put those nutrients back in that washing, styling, and the environment take out.”

Pick up an aloe vera leaf in the tropical fruits section of your local nursery (you can slice the leaf open and scoop out the gel inside), or buy aloe vera oil. Either way, use the liquid as a serum two to three times per week: Gently massage the gel directly into the scalp to boost circulation and stimulate hair follicles for better absorption. Let sit for an hour, then use a mild shampoo to wash out.

3 Ways to Lower Your Odds of Diabetes

The nutritionist says … eat one plant protein and one serving of veggies at every meal.

As often as possible, get your protein from low-carb plant foodslike soy and nuts. Beans are also good protein sources, but they’re high in carbs, so be cautious if that’s something you’re monitoring. Studies show that filling your plate with veggies and nuts helps improve chronic inflammation and insulin sensitivity.

And a plant-based diet can also help you lose weight, lower your blood glucose and blood pressure, and ward off heart disease — because you’re getting more fiber, vitamins, minerals, phytonutrients, and healthy fats, and less saturated fat and cholesterol.

The researcher says … sign up for a prevention program.

Most doctors will tell you to eat better and move more, but how exactly do you start putting the advice into practice? That’s why it’s crucial to find a group that helps inspire you to create healthy, lasting habits. Research shows that when you engage in a yearlong lifestyle change program that includes diet, exercise, and support, you’ll cut your risk of diabetes by over half, and by 70% if you’re over 60, you’ll also help prevent heart attacks and strokes.

The doctor says … pop a Vitamin D pill.

While other supplements may claim to help manage or prevent diabetes, vitamin D is the only one with actual evidence to support it. In fact, one study of over 2,000 people with prediabetes found that the higher the level of vitamin D in the subject’s blood, the lower the risk of developing type 2 diabetes.

Your body makes vitamin D when your skin is exposed to the sun, but because people aren’t going outdoors as much, it’s very common to be deficient in this vitamin. And it’s hard to reach the right levels just by eating.

Preventing infant deaths: The ABCs of safe baby sleep

A – Alone. This does not mean that babies should be put to bed in a room separate from parents. It does, however, mean that infants should not sleep in the same bed. The reason for this is that parents may move during sleep in ways that interfere with babies’ breathing or even crush them. Inadvertently dozing off while breastfeeding or cuddling an infant is just as hazardous as intentionally co-sleeping

B – Back. Babies should always be put to sleep on their backs. There is nothing wrong with placing healthy babies on their tummies to play, but on the back appears to be the safest position for sleeping. One possible explanation is the fact that babies lying on their bellies are more likely to rebreathe the air they exhale, causing blood levels of carbon dioxide to rise as oxygen falls. This recommendation applies throughout the first year, but it is especially important in the first six months after birth.

The American Academy of Pediatrics policy on safe sleep explicitly contradicts the outdated view that back-sleeping increases the risk of choking. While it is true that many infants experience gastroesophageal reflux, familiar to parents as “spitting up,” healthy babies protect themselves against aspiration. Parents should also avoid raising the head of the crib. It doesn’t reduce the risk of reflux and can cause babies to slide into a dangerous position.

C – Crib. Cribs and bassinets that meet current safety standards are the safest places for babies to sleep, while chairs and sofas should be avoided. A firm surface prevents the baby’s face from becoming caught in a fold or indentation. Likewise, the crib should be empty of loose bedding, pillows, bumpers and toys, any one of which could cause entrapment and suffocation. Too many coverings can also increase the risk that a baby will overheat, an important consideration because temperature regulation is not fully developed in infants.

Of course, there are other steps parents can take to ensure that their babies sleep safely. One is to prevent exposure to cigarette smoke, which appears to increase the risk of sudden infant death. Unsurprisingly, parental intoxication and illicit drug use also appear to place babies at greater risk. Another key factor is making sure that others who care for the baby, such as family members and daycare workers, understand the importance of adhering to the ABCs of safe sleep.

It is important to avoid stigmatizing parents who have lost an infant. In many cases, like the baby whose X-rays I read, we never know for sure what caused the death. Yet there are simple steps every parent can take to enhance the safety of sleeping infants, and it all begins with education. My colleagues and I hope that by educating parents about the ABCs of safe sleep, we may be able to prevent hundreds – perhaps even thousands – of infant deaths every year.

10 Signs Your Headache Is Actually a Migraine

If you think your “really bad headaches” aren’t migraines, you may want to take a closer look at your symptoms—especially if you’re a woman.

More than half of all migraine sufferers are never diagnosed, according to the Migraine Research Foundation. And according to the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke, migraines are three times more common in women than in men. Crazy, right?

By taking a few minutes to learn about migraines, you can get an idea if you’re dealing with the condition and get treatment that will actually give you relief. Read on for all the signs and symptoms you may be overlooking, plus background on why migraines happen in the first place.

Migraine headaches can cause various symptoms before, during, and after the attack. Not all people experience all symptoms, and your migraine may be entirely different than a friend’s.

Symptoms can come on gradually or suddenly. Sometimes they start overnight, causing people to wake up with a migraine, but not always, the Mayo Clinic notes. Basically, every migraine headache is slightly different, and there’s no cut and dry list of symptoms that pertain to everyone. (Annoying, we know!)

All that said, there are a number of ways migraines differ from regular headaches. If you experience any of these symptoms, you’re likely suffering from a migraine and not something that’ll go away by popping some Advil.

Common migraine symptoms you should definitely know about

1. Debilitating throbbing

    “Patients will tell me, ‘I can feel my heartbeat in my head,’ or talk about touching their temple and feeling the vein throbbing, or feeling like their head will explode,” Ailani says. A run-of-the-mill headache, however, causes a dull, aching pain that’s more of an annoyance versus something that throws a wrench in your daily life.

    2. Pain on only one side of your head

    While migraines can be experienced on both sides of the head, the pain is typically only on one side. A tension headache, however, typically presents as pain all over, and a sinus headache presents as pressure around the cheeks, eyes, and forehead.

    It’s still unclear why migraines may present as one-sided. One theory has to do with the trigeminal nerves. (There’s one on each side of the brain.) However, only one may be activated when a migraine begins, and as this continues to happen with repeated migraines over time, that one nerve becomes the “quickest, easiest path for the brain,” Ailani explains.

    3. Seeing sparking lights or flashes

    “When a migraine happens, there’s a slow wave of electrical activity from the back to the front of the brain,” explains Adelene Jann, M.D., a neurologist at NYU Langone Health. “When that happens, there’s also decreased blood flow to the brain, and everything slows down.” In turn, about 25 percent of suffers experience an aura either before or during their migraines, according to the Migraine Research Foundation.

    A visual aura causes various forms of distorted vision, including sparkling lights, different colors, pixelated vision, flashes on one side of the visual field, or colorful zigzag lines. These types of vision changes don’t usually happen with a tension or sinus headache.

    4. Weakness and tingling

    Vision isn’t the only thing impacted by the decreased brain speed. Migraines can also present with a sensory aura, which causes numbness, tingling, or even weakness on one side of the body. Some people may have a speech aura and have trouble finding their words, which is eerily similar to what happens during a stroke, the Mayo Clinic notes. (But to be clear, is totally unrelated.)

    5. Next level nausea

    Many people who experience migraines feel nausea, dizziness, or even vomit. “Our gut has a nervous system,” Ailani explains. “When you activate the brain nerves, it’ll activate the gut as well.” Experts believe that the gut slows down during a migraine headache, which can lead to nausea. Studies have also found an association between migraines and gastrointestinal disorders, but the connection remains unclear.

    6. A heightened sense of smell

    When you get a migraine, the brain is hyperexcited, Jann says. “Everything is ramped up, so people notice noises, lights, and smells more.” That’s why you may be able to smell your coworker’s lunch all the way down the hall or hear your roommate’s music through multiple closed doors, according to a Therapeutic Advances in Chronic Diseasestudy. It’s also why many migraine sufferers seek refuge in a dark, quiet, cool room when the pain is at its worst.

    7. You’re totally out of it—even after the pain is gone

    Everything from depression to irritability to euphoria has been reported before, during, and after migraine headaches, and some people have reported difficulty concentrating, notes a Journal of Neuroscience study. “Before a migraine, you may notice you’re struggling to get through the document you’are reading, and even during and after, you can feel out of it for a little bit,” Jann says. “It has to do with the slowing of the brain.”

    8. The throbbing derails your entire life

    A migraine is not just a headache. “A migraine is disabling; it interferes with your life,” Jann says. The severity is too intense that you cannot go about your normal day, and you may miss work or social obligations. “You’re trying to do other things, but your brain is like, ‘Sorry, I won’t let you,’” Ailani says. A typical headache, on the other hand, doesn’t usually leave you down for the count.

    9. You get crazy fatigued

    During all phases of a migraine, “your brain is busy having a party, and that party can be exhausting,” Ailani says. The feeling that no amount of coffee could help perk you up can last a day or two after a migraine passes. “Your brain is trying to clean up the mess, and it takes energy to do that,” Ailani explains.

    10. Your neck is stiff

    The trigeminal nerve is thought to play a role in migraines, the Mayo Clinicnotes. When it’s activated, it communicates with a major pain pathway in the upper region of the spinal cord, Ailani explains. “When that center gets activated, it sends signals upward to the brain, and possibly sends signals into the upper neck, causing pain.”

    Structured financial products not for everyone

    A leading financial planner says she has never had reason to use a structured product in a financial plan, while another says he uses them but they make up less than 2% of the investments he recommends.

    “I’ve never seen an investor who has been happy with a structured product as few of them are profitable,” says 2018 Financial Planner of the Year Janet Hugo of Sterling Wealth.

    She says she has not had to recommend a product with a guarantee for anyone because she matches cash-flow needs to the investment strategy and because offshore investments, with both market and rand exchange rate risks, are usually in the seven-to-10-year strategy, giving these investments long enough to work through expected market cycles. Therefore paying insurance for something like that makes no sense, she says.

    The complexity of these products makes them difficult to fit into any plan, and if you need insurance for a specific concern such as US dollar or US market weakness, it would be better to hedge that concern, she says.

    Good hedging

    The Financial Planner of the Year for 2017, Mark MacSymon of Private Client Holdings, says he does recommend structured products at times as they are an alternative asset class with good hedging. But he will recommend these investments only to investors who will not need access to their capital.

    And he concedes that understanding the cost structures is challenging and each product has to be evaluated for the payoff and guarantee it offers at the time it is offered.

    They can be useful when an investor is concerned about the risks of investing in the market, although most of time it is possible to find comfort for investors with an appropriate mix of asset classes for the investor’s investment time horizon, he says.

    Lance Solms, director of iTransact, says the structured products are designed to lower investment risks but their performance will not “shoot out the lights”.

    He says they are suitable for any investor with a shorter-term horizon, but iTransact will sell them to you only if you have a financial adviser helping you to ensure the investment is appropriate.

    Henk Appelo, Liberty’s product development actuary, says the products are intended for a small portion of your investments – not your entire portfolio – and only for those with at least R150,000 to invest.

    10 High-Fat Keto-Friendly Foods to Add to Your Diet

    1 Extra Virgin Olive Oil

    Aside from being a heart-healthy fat, olive oil is loaded with polyphenols, according to Liz Weinandy, R.D. at The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center. Ok, so what are they and why do we want them? Polyphenols are chemicals found in plants that have been shown to reduce the risk of cancer, other chronic diseases and help with digestion.

    2 Brazil Nuts
    Generally, nuts have larger amounts of minerals than other foods, says Weinandy. Brazil nuts are particularly high in selenium, which is important for our immune systems and thyroid function, she says. Add two brazil nuts to snack time for your daily selenium needs.

    3 Pumpkin

    “Pumpkin seeds are one of the best sources of magnesium that most Americans fall short of getting enough,” says Weinandy. Without magnesium, our blood sugar levels, muscles and blood pressure would suffer.

    Male adults should get roughly 400 milligrams of magnesium daily. An ounce of pumpkin seeds delivers about 168 mg.

    4 Safflower Oil

    Plant oils contain linoleic acid, which is not found in high quantities in extra virgin olive oil. Our bodies rely on this polyunsaturated fat, which can only be found in foods and not made in our bodies, to function normally. Try going half and half using EVOO and safflower or grape seed oil for cooking and other oil needs,” says Weinandy.

    5 Avocados

    Avocados are high in monounsaturated fat, which raises good cholesterol and lowers bad. Plus, they’re a great source of fiber and potassium, says Lauren Popeck, R.D. at Orlando Health.

    6 Flaxseed
    Typically, you think of getting omega 3-fatty acids from fish, but flax is a great plant-based source of the nutrient, explains Popeck. Micronutrients found in flax, lignans, help reduce inflammation in your body, too.

    7 Sardines

    A single four-ounce can delivers 1,363mg Omega−3 fatty acids and nearly 400 IU of Vitamin D. Vitamin D helps your body absorb calcium for healthy bones and teeth plus it supports the immune system, says Popeck.


    Olives contain monounsaturated fat and fiber, both of which protect the heart. Popeck recommends chopping and adding to salads, sauces and dressing.

    9 Walnuts

    Another great plant-based source of Omega-3 fatty acids, walnuts also contain fiber and protein. The combo will fill you up and prevent blood sugar spikes, says Popeck.

    10 Almond Butter

    Almonds are a good source of Vitamin E, a powerful antioxidant that protects cells from damage, says Popeck. Add almond butter to smoothies, oatmeal or fruit bowls to add flavor and get your nutrients.