3.21.2015

Natural Sleep Aids - Insomnia Cures

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One of the best natural sleep aids I have found to date is the Sleep formula from Now Foods.

I used to work at a job that was really stressful before I quit it for the benefit of my health and well-being. But while I was working there, I would have bad episodes of insomnia, waking up in the night with anxiety and my mind racing at full speed, such that I could not fall back to sleep. It was an exhausting three months at that job.

One day, I bought some Sleep formula from Now Foods via the Vitamin Fun House and started taking some right before bed. It worked immediately, giving me much more restful sleep.

After I quit that horrible job and found a much less stressful one, I had less need for an herbal sleep aid. However, I sometimes still require it.

For example, I sometimes foolishly drink a cup of coffee in the evening and by bed time, my mind is still amped up too high to fall asleep.

Another example is that I am also a semi-professional musician and when I perform on stage, I get an adrenaline rush that is also hard to quell once the show is over and I need to go home and sleep.

When I am not amped up, but just need a bit of relaxation to help me fall asleep, one capsule (half the recommended dose) of Sleep does the trick. When I want to really sleep soundly and deeply, two capsules puts me into a virtual coma.

Now, it is possible this is all placebo effect. But the fact that two capsules knocks me out better than one suggests there is something to it. Remain skeptical of any online claims about insomnia cures, including this one. I have no vested interest in this product. It can't hurt and it might help, so give it a try if nothing else seems to be doing it for you and you don't want to switch to hard drugs just yet.

The nice thing about the product is that I feel rested after a sleep induced by Sleep. It's not a drug. The herbs it contains are soporifics, like hops and valerian, that make you drowsy (Note: Hops is actually related to marijuana).

Sleep by Now Foods is a quality herbal sleep aid I feel I can endorse as a veteran nutrition researcher who understands the problem of finding quality supplements in the unregulated supplement market.

I can only report what I observe and this seems to work for me. If you are looking for something to calm the mind and assist in sleeping better, give this a try.

1.07.2015

Airborne Supplement As a Cold/Flu Preventive?

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On New Year's Eve or shortly thereafter, I picked up my first mild cold or flu bug of the winter. It started as a dry cough, followed by nasal congestion and drainage, leading to a sore throat. I had some mild body aches, which made me think it was a flu virus.

I decided to throw my usual armory or over-the-counter (OTC) cold and flu remedies at it, so I drove to the nearby HyVee and perused their pharmacy section for some good options.

One of the available remedies was Airborne, a supplement of vitamins, minerals, and herbal extracts advertised to support the immune system, help defend against free radicals, and promote overall health. The FDA forbids supplement manufacturers from making any cure or prevention claims on supplements unless clinically proven, and indeed, as a cold and flu remedy, Airborne has no strong clinical science to support its efficacy, per se. In fact, the maker of Airborne lost a class action law suit on claims it was making about the cold fighting powers of its product.

But the new generic advertising message was still quite clear...it can't hurt and it might help.

Given that the stuff was fairly cheap, I thought, "what the heck?" and bought a 10 count vial of the dissolvable tablets (lemon flavor) for about $5 (their marketing worked on me!).

I followed the directions, dropping an effervescent tablet into a glass of warm water every 3-4 hours and used the drink to chase down my other OTC remedies: Benadryl or Claritin for nasal decongestion, Robitussin DM for cough suppression, ibuprofen for the mild aches and probable fever. I sucked on Ricola herbal lozenges for my scratchy throat and also used (sparingly) an oxymetazoline based nasal spray at night so I could breathe through my nose while sleeping.

This barrage of OTC remedies seemed to do the trick and after about three days, the cold had been knocked back substantially and I was on the mend. That was a fast recovery compared with most of the colds I get around this time of year. They usually last seven to 10 days, or longer. But I had received a flu shot a few months ago, and that may have limited the intensity of the infection, if it was in fact a flu bug.

I have no way of knowing if the Airborne supplement had any impact on my cold whatsoever, but I did glance at the ingredients list and it contained a lot of things I knew (from my eight years in R&D at a vitamin company) were anecdotally reported to fight colds and flu.

Most notable, of course, was the high vitamin C content (about 1667% of the recommended daily value per tablet). Growing up, my mom would always megadose my sister and me with vitamin C whenever we got sick, though I don't recall it ever doing much good. Airborne also contains decent amounts of vitamins A and E (can't hurt...might help).

Of the minerals in Airborne, zinc is the one most closely associated with fighting colds and there is some mild clinical evidence for its efficacy when taken preventively or in the early stages of a cold. Airborne also contains selenium, a trace element with mixed effects on immunity. Selenium tends to be deficient in the general population and is essential for the function of many antioxidant enzymes used by the immune system. So there is a logical (if not clinical) case to be made for including selenium in the formula of the Airborne supplement.

Airborne also contains Echinacea, an herb long associated with immune support. Though not conclusively proven to be clinically effective against colds, Echinacea does appear to influence the immune system and may act as an adaptogenic herb, strengthening the immune system when taken preventively.

It is unlikely that Airborne does much to cure colds and flu. However, taken preventively during the cold and flu season, it might bolster immune defenses against colds and flu, thus minimizing the intensity and/or duration of colds and flu.

It can't hurt and it might help...

MORE INFORMATION: http://www.forbes.com/2009/10/12/cold-flu-treatments-lifestyle-health-swine-flu-h1n1.html

10.05.2014

A 30 Day Paleo Diet Experiment

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Today I foraged a little bit like a hunter gatherer. I agreed to participate in a 30 day study/documentary of the paleolithic diet that the pre-agricultural human ancestors used. Today was my first day.

The foundation of the paleo diet is that human nutrition is based on a genome adapted to what humans ate for most of our evolutionary history. It is somewhat of a tautology that if we eat foods we are genetically adapted to eat, we'll be healthier and hopefully leaner. The paleo diet is low glycemic, so it does not stimulate the fat storage endocrine machinery of the human body (insulin) as much. That's the logic anyway. This study I am in should shed more light on the reality of it.

Anyway, I was away from my home turf today, road tripping to Oshkosh. I adhered to the proscribed diet remarkably well. I ate a couple apples this morning and did a bit of hunting and gathering for paleo snacks in the early afternoon. I found raw mixed nuts and all natural Lara bars at a divy little health and nutrition shoppe in Oshkosh. That was more than ample to tied me over until my dinner of bison burgers. The bison was store bought (CostCo).

I actually was not very hungry today, in theory because I was providing my body with an optimal nutritional mix of foods. That's a good sign that it may pay off in health improvement and weight control.

Geeked to be doing the study because it forces me to be more diligent and compliant with the paleo diet.