Stress, Covid-19 and Nature

Are you quarantined due to Covid-19? Perhaps you have lost your job or maybe all you do is go from home to work and back, in order to protect yourself and family. Have you been out of contact with friends and loved ones due to Covid-19? 

Are you concerned about friends or family members who are currently ill with Covid-19? Have you lost loved ones to this terrible disease?

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Living with Viruses and Bacteria

We live in a world that is filled with invisible living creatures known as microbes.  Algae, fungi, and bacteria are types of microbes. Microbes are single-celled, living creatures. Look at a drop of pond water under a microscope and you will see a variety of fascinating creatures of different shapes, sizes and methods of movement.

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Acne & Cystic Acne: Diet

Part 3 of a 4-Part Series

Can the foods we eat be related to acne outbreaks?

Ask any teen-ager if they think foods can cause an acne outbreak and I’m pretty sure they will mention chocolate. Well, in addition to chocolate, greasy foods, sugary foods and drinks, as well as highly processed, refined foods are all suspected of contributing to acne outbreaks.

Foods high in sugar and refined carbohydrates tend to cause inflammation in the body. Inflammation is known to increase incidents of acne. Avoiding foods that cause inflammation may help decrease acne outbreaks.

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Acne & Cystic Acne

The Structure of Our Skin

Part 1 of a 4-Part Series

I am not a health care or medical professional. The things I share in my blogs should not be construed as medical advice. I am simply writing about my personal experience and my research into different areas of personal interest. I practice the use of natural remedies and herbs and follow a basically whole-food, plant-based diet. I believe them to be extremely important in a healthy lifestyle. I also follow the advice of my naturopath physician.  

One of the things I do professionally is to provide Real-Time, EEG Neurofeedback for brain injury and learning disabilities. This is frequently seen as related to health and wellness professions. As such, I am often asked questions about health.

Healthy Ideas

Cystic Acne

I was recently asked whether I knew anything about help for a condition known as cystic acne. I had never heard of this condition and became curious. I did some research on cystic acne and acne. I found out some very interesting things that I am eager to share with you. 

Our skin is the largest organ of the body. It protects us from bacteria and other microorganisms, helps regulate our body temperature and is our largest sense organ. Through our skin we experience touch, heat, and cold.

About the Skin

Skin is made up of three layers: the epidermis, the dermis, and hypodermis. The epidermis is the outermost layer of skin. It provides a waterproof barrier and creates our skin tone. Even though our skin is waterproof, our skin is still permeable. 

Being permeable means that it is possible for the skin to absorb substances that are placed on the skin. This is the reason certain medications can be placed on the skin using special patches, for example nicotine patches to help people stop smoking. Therefore, it is important to be mindful of the quality and contents of cosmetics, creams, and even drugs we rub on our skin.

Skin Layers

The epidermis is composed of anywhere between 50 to 100 layers of dead skin cells. Only the very bottom layer of the cells of the epidermis receive nourishment and oxygen. The majority of the epidermis is composed of dead cells constantly moving up to the surface to replace dead cells being continually sluffed off the surface.   

Moisture Barrier

Between these layers of dead cells are fatty substances that act like the cement between bricks. This combination of dead cells and fats creates the natural moisture barrier of the skin. The moisture barrier protects against microorganisms, chemical irritants, and allergens. Loss of the moisture barrier creates dryness, itchiness, redness, and other skin problems.

Dermis

Beneath the epidermis is the dermis. It consists of tough connective tissue cells. It is where we find our hair follicles and sweat glands. The dermis also contains blood vessels that provide nourishment and oxygen to the bottom layer of the epidermis and the dermis. The most common structural component within the dermis is the protein collagen.  It provides the mesh-like framework that provides strength and flexibility to the skin. 

Hypodermis

Finally, we find the hypodermis, the deepest layer of the skin. It consists of fat tissue that insulates the body and provides shock absorption. Like the dermis, the hypodermis contains blood vessels and connective tissue cells, which support the upper layers of the skin. 

Hair

Hair prevents heat loss and helps protect the epidermis from minor scrapes and exposure to the sun’s rays. Each hair grows from its own bulb-like structure, the follicle, within a pore in the skin. Hair is composed of dead cells filled with keratin, a special protein produced by the hair follicle.  

Pores

Pores are formed by a folding-in of the epidermis into the dermis and are lined with cells that constantly shed.  The follicle is found in the dermis and is nourished by tiny blood vessels.

Follicles

Each follicle is connected to an oil gland, the sebaceous gland. These glands secrete a fatty substance, called sebum, which lubricates each hair as it grows and helps create a moisture barrier to the skin.

Sweat Glands

Sweat glands are found in the dermis and are long, coiled hollow tubes of cells. Sweat is produced at the coiled bottom and excreted to the skin surface through the hollow tube. Perspiration helps cool the body, hydrate the skin, and eliminate toxins.

Acne and cystic acne are the result of inflammation and infection of the pores of hair follicles and sweat glands.

In Part Two of this series, we will go into detail about how acne develops.



Sleep, Glorious Sleep: Falling Asleep

Part 4 of a 5-Part Series

Do you remember what bedtime was like when you were a small child? You probably had a special bedtime ritual or routine.

I’ll bet it went something like this:

  • First you a had a warm bath, filled with lots of bubbles for sure, along with fun bath toys.
  • After the bath, while Mom or Dad dressed you in your pajamas, you probably talked about your day, asked questions and had your toes tickled.
  • Then, while you were tucked into bed, it was time for a favorite story, and maybe a song or a prayer.
  • Finally, a goodnight kiss and lights out.

Bedtime Rituals

Eventually, every parent learns the importance of a bedtime ritual or routine to allow children to relax, unwind from the day and get ready to fall asleep. As we grow up, it seems we usually forget the importance of spending time to prepare the body for sleep. It is equally important for adults to have a bedtime routine as it is for children.

With today’s stressed and hurried lifestyle, we all need to allocate time to prepare our minds, brains and bodies to unwind and relax as the first step toward falling asleep and achieving a restful, restorative night’s sleep. 

Remember those light-sensitive neurons in the hypothalamus and the importance of circadian rhythm of light and dark? We need to allow our brains to wind down from both daylight and all of the artificial light with which we are constantly surrounded. 

An extremely important aspect of preparing the brain for sleep is limiting light exposure. This means that we must turn off our televisions, computers, cell phones, and tablets at least 30 minutes to one hour before bedtime.  Preparing for bed is not the time for stimulating or scary movies, TV programs, or video games.

Bedtime is the time to allow the wakeful inhibiting neurons to do their job, and they need increased darkness. Instead of watching screens, try reading, listening to music or an audio book, writing in a journal, doing a craft, or playing an enjoyable game with your partner or children. 

Speaking of your children, the hour before bed is the time to unwind, not do homework. Considering homework and studying for that important test, remember that it is during deep sleep when memories are encoded and sleep is critical to learning. Even if your children are older or are teenagers, it is still important to have a bedtime routine and it must include turning off computers, televisions, cell phones, and video games.

The need for darkness should also include the bedroom. As much as possible, it is important to have darkening or blackout shades/curtains to shut out outdoor lighting. If you have a lighted alarm clock or clock radio, turn the light to the dimmest setting and turn the clock face away from directly lighting your bed.

By the way, for all of us women who wonder why our husbands seem to get to sleep faster and sleep better than us, wonder no longer. It’s a scientific fact that, on the whole, men do sleep better than women. There are differences in sleep stage cycles and circadian rhythm patterns in men and women that may account for differences in quality of sleep in men and women. 

For the best night’s sleep, your bedroom should be cool, dark, and quiet. Believe it or not, we sleep better in a room with a cool temperature of between 60 and 67 degrees Fahrenheit, because our body temperature naturally drops as we fall asleep. 

However, that being said, some people sleep better between 65 and 70 degrees Fahrenheit, so it’s important to experiment to find the best cool temperature for you. You should be comfortably covered, without the need for layers of blankets. Babies need it a little warmer and the best temperature for a baby’s room is between 67 to 72 degrees. 

So, let’s say you have done all of the above things, but you still can’t get to sleep. Let’s not forget the relaxing effects of nice, hot bath. Adding relaxing essential oils to the water can help make the bath even more effective. Experiment with scents you find appealing and relaxing. 

Here is a list of seven scents that are used in aromatherapy for relaxation:

  • Lavender
    Vanilla
  • Rose
  • Geranium
  • Jasmine
  • Sandalwood
  • Citrus. (Depending on individual reactions, both sandalwood and citrus can be either stimulating or relaxing.)

There are many different natural remedies and supplements that can help you fall asleep.  I’ll discuss some of them in the final part of this series. I look forward to sharing them with you soon.