HERBS FOR HEALTH MANAGEMENT

Herbs are a foundational root in medicine and health treatments, dating back thousands of years throughout every culture around the world. Modern Western herbalism comes from ancient Egypt. The Greeks developed a comprehensive philosophy of herbal medicine by 100 BCE and the Romans built upon it to create a variety of medical practices, some of which are still used today.

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ALTERNATIVE MEDICINE IMPACTS PSYCHOLOGICAL HARDINESS

Psychological hardiness is an individual’s resistance to stress, anxiety and depression. It includes the ability to withstand grief and accept the loss of loved ones. Alternative medicine is a more popular term for health and wellness therapies that have typically not been part of conventional Western medical approaches but are often used along with conventional medicinal protocols.  Coping and dealing with stress in a positive manner play a major role in maintaining the balance needed for health and well-being.

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ALTERNATIVE REMEDIES FOR ANXIETY AND DEPRESSION

Interest in complimentary and alternative medicine (CAM) is increasing as consumers and health care professionals search for additional ways to treat anxiety, depression and other mental health disorders. Some of these remedies include:

St. John’s Wort.  More than 30 studies show it to be effective for treatment of mild forms of depression,…

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Dealing with cravings can take time. If your craving is not tied to a medical condition or other physiological cause, consider managing it by knowing your trigger foods. Once you’ve identified them, keep them out of the house. Change your routine. If you associate mid afternoon with a trip to the vending machine, start walking around the block instead. Choose a healthy substitute. If you crave ice cream, select sugar-free ice cream or frozen yogurt. If you crave potato chips or French fries, try baked tortilla chips and hummus dip instead.


Following a healthy lifestyle with a focus on maintaining a healthy weight, exercising regularly and refraining from drinking, smoking and vaping is the fast track to managing food cravings. Learn more about food addiction at www.webmd.com/mental-health/eating-disorders/binge-eating-disorder/mental-health-food-addiction#1.


Sources and Resources


FOOD CRAVINGS AND THE BRAIN


Like some addictive drugs, certain foods may trigger certain brain chemicals such as dopamine, which results in emotional satisfaction and pleasure. When some individuals experience the pleasure associated with increased dopamine transmission in the brain’s reward pathway, those foods may become an addiction for them.


Food addiction can show itself in irritability, mood swings, headaches, insomnia and depression. Most often, the foods we crave are processed carbohydrates. Individuals with food cravings may actually have neurochemical and hormonal imbalances that trigger these cravings. They change the brain’s chemistry, increasing the level of serotonin, a feel-good neurochemical.


To understand food cravings, we must distinguish between physiological and psychological cravings. Physical cravings relate to low fat intake or low blood sugar. For many people, mid-afternoon cravings are the body’s way of saying it has been too long since lunch and they actually need to eat. A piece of cheese or fruit or some yogurt or nuts can improve blood sugar levels and keep you from reaching for those harmful snacks you think you’re craving.

DR. THOMAS W. MILLER, PH.D, ABPP



Thomas W. Miller, Ph.D., ABPP, is a Professor Emeritus and Senior Research Scientist, Center for Health, Intervention and Prevention, University of Connecticut and Professor, Department of Psychiatry, College of Medicine and Department of Gerontology, College of Public Health, University of Kentucky.

A food craving – also known as selective hunger – is different from normal hunger. It is an intense desire to consume a specific food. It is also one of the major roadblocks for individuals dieting with the intention of losing weight. Food cravings can be addictive, according to WebMd (www.webmd.com). This realization is gaining increased interest in the medical and health communities because of research focused on brain imaging and other stud- ies related to compulsive overeating and pleasure centers in the brain.


Highly palatable foods are rich in sugar, fat and salt. Potato chips and their close cousin, French fries, are two of the most commonly reported food cravings. Listen to your cravings. If you want something salty, you may very well need salt in your diet. Downing bags of fatty junk food may be a signal you’re low on healthy fats such as omega-3s found in certain fish, such as salmon, and avocados, nuts and olive oil. Cheese is another comfort food, and for good reason. Cheese contains l-tryptophan, a compound that improves mood and promotes relaxation.


With moderation as the key, indulging in a reasonable portion of a food you crave can be a good way to reduce stress and improve emotions. However, if you’re constantly craving cheese, it may also be a sign you’re having issues with concentration and memory. A recent study at the University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio found people with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) were twice as likely to crave cheese as others (Heilbrun, LP, 2015).