The Yoga That Eases Blood Pressure

s-STRESSBUSTING-YOGA-large300Some yoga-licious news from the meeting of the American Society of Hypertension (AHH). Hatha yoga introduced to individuals with mild to moderate hypertension appears to lower blood pressure, and reductions in systolic and diastolic blood pressure might be enough to avoid starting antihypertensive medications, . (more)

Source:  Michael O’Riordan. Hatha yoga reduces blood pressure in mildly hypertensive patients. [Clinical Conditions > Hypertension > Hypertension]; May 20, 2013. Accessed at on May 25, 2013

Can Mindfulness Improve Standardized Test Scores?

ps_imageCheck out Christie Nicholson’s Scientific American story about new research published in the journal Psychological Science that suggests that meditation training may boost GRE scores.

Recently scientists analyzed whether such a practice could help improve undergrads’ test scores… (read more)

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Don’t Just Google Yourself, Search Inside Yourself

Nice find about mindfulness at work.

The USC Center for Work & Family Life

“Few of us ever live in the present. We are forever anticipating what is to come or remembering what has gone.”  ― Louis L’Amour

More and more research is surfacing regarding the benefits of mindfulness. Mindfulness is being present in the moment, fully aware without judgment. It allows you to be in the here and now with awareness of your mind and body.  Practicing mindfulness in the workplace can increase focus and productivity, improve work relationships, enhance well being, and reduce stress.  Mindful awareness begins with the most basic activities of our day, such as breathing, eating, and walking.  Sounds almost too simple, right?  It’s not like we forget how to breathe.  So what steps can we take to be more mindful and gain all those advantages?


The acronym STOP can develop more awareness of the body on a daily basis. This is how STOP works:

S: …

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Skateboarders: Unsung Social Heroes


Have you ever considered the social relevance of skateboarding?  An article out this week looks at the impact that skateboarders have on our physical and social environments.

I love the fact that people are out there studying this stuff.

The paper, published in Local Environment: The International Journal of Justice and Sustainability, basically says that we should take skateboarders more seriously.  It explains how skateboarders “ascribe new meanings and pleasures to otherwise mundane built forms,”  declaring that skaters have created an “alternative ethic of care for built environments… that transforms ordinary urban spaces into temporary autonomous play zones.”

The author, focusing on the skate scene in Chicago, write: An alternative sustainability model emerges from waxing ledges and other spatial tactics that seek to care for built environments through play….Waxing ledges contributes to a vision of the city that fosters collective uses and creative experimentations with built environments. Unintended pleasurable engagements with architectural forms challenge prescribed uses by welcoming unexpected encounters. Furthermore, waxing ledges fosters communal land-use practices…Skate boarders scout, usurp, and maintain spots of spatial desire by practising an ethic of care for the built environment that transforms ordinary urban spaces into temporary autonomous play zones . The spaces crafted through the ethic of care outlined above are both subject to an urban politics of disciplined accommodation and figure as groundwork towards resistance to punitive spatial regulation.  

Read more here.

Natural Remedies for Kids: 5 Smart Supplements to Consider


When a study out this month showed that CAM use in kids may be more common than doctors realize, lots of mainstream publications, like Time, covered the news. Why aren’t pediatricians asking about the use of herbs and supplements? They should inquire when taking patient histories, because those remedies may interact with conventional medicines.  Will this study change anything?  I hope so, but I doubt it.  Many more systemic changes have to take place before integrative medicine takes hold. There is more resistance to common sense  incorporation of safe and effective natural remedies than you’d think. When I tried to write about the best supplements for kids last year, the editors of a mainstream publication found my well-researched tips too controversial to publish. Read them at your own risk!

5 Smart Supplements for Kids:  

Probiotics Found in some yogurts and fermented foods as well as capsules, powders, and liquid form, various strains of these “good bacteria” are considered useful for several childhood ailments. With early treatment, probiotics can help shorten the duration of an episode of diarrhea. Regular use might reduce the frequency of colds and other upper respiratory infections. Studies show that the healthy bugs can help prevent antibiotic-associated diarrhea, too. So whenever the pediatrician writes a prescription for an antibiotic drug to treat another problem, ask about supplementing with probiotics to help minimize side effects.

Fish oil omega-3 fatty acids Nutrients in fish are known to benefit brain development, and some data suggest that the fatty acids may even help children with attention deficient hyperactive disorder, autism or dyslexia.  However, there are no firm guidelines and research is ongoing. Aim for your child to eat an age-appropriate size serving (about the size of the child’s palm) of fish twice a week.  Note the Environmental Protection Agency advises avoiding shark, swordfish, mackerel, and tilefish to limit mercury exposure, and opting for canned light tuna over white albacore.  Despite the promising data, some small children just will not get on board with eating fresh, non-fried fish. If your school-aged child falls short, supplement with an EPA/DHA blend of high quality fish oil—about 1 gram per day.   The Institute of Medicine (IOM) has set an acceptable range for total omega-3 fatty acid intake at 0.6-1.2 grams per day for ages 1 and up. However, IOM admits that the data are lacking in this area, and these may be conservative figures.  Consult your child’s doctor.

Ginger Studies show that ginger is effective for nausea and vomiting. Drinking some cooled, freshly brewed organic tea is best for infants, while older children might prefer a cold, lightly sweetened tea. Although ginger is not as well studied for motion sickness, it is commonly used to help prevent car sickness, too.

Chamomile One of the oldest cures for colic, chamomile can soothe and relax children and adults alike. The safest way to administer chamomile to an infant is to make a tea from organic chamomile tea leaves, cool the brew, and then feed her one ounce by bottle.  Older children can sip hot or cold tea, with a little sweetener added. Just remember: Do not add honey for children younger than 12 months.

Iron If your child is deficient in any one area, it’s probably iron. Routine supplementation starts at 4 months, but some of the mineral can be absorbed from fortified cereal or infant formula.  Needs increase with age and vary by gender; compared with adolescent boys, girls need more and may be at risk for deficiency due to menstrual blood loss.

Cool Cures from Around the World

alternahealthgrrrl.comOne culture’s medicine may be another’s entertainment, at least if you’re watching Fox News. This Health Magazine story posted on, Alternative Therapies that Actually Work, is a bit mundane, even though it features the well-respected and exciting Woodson Merrell, MD. It’s your standard who-knew-acupuncture-actually-helps  round up.

But check out the Reuters slide show that goes with it! I’m not sure the prenatal-dolphin-sonic-kiss treatment shown here is authentic or effective, and it’s not cool to call them “crazy cures” but it’s a refreshing twist on integrative medicine coverage. A little more reporting and we might be able to call it anthropological.

To see the entire slideshow, click over to

Related alternahealthgrrrl story:  You Call That Maternity Leave?!?!, a look at parental leave policies around the globe.

Group Therapy On The Go

Here’s a beach sculpture –aka sand castle– I created in Long Beach Island, NJ about 24 hours after completing my first coed sprint triathlon.  It’s a self-portrait inspired by the minor torment I felt during the final two miles of the run.

Have you ever considered doing a race?  Don’t over think it.  Just register, train and show up.  Then let the magic happen.  A little like group meditation, the communal experience is truly a mind body one. Read about upcoming fitness events near you at

Related alternahealthgrrrl content:  All You Need Is Psychosocial Support

Science Stories For The Rest of Us

Bob Dylan + CAM

Are most writers and editors too creative in their coverage of science, health and medicine? Steve Myers’ commentary offers some great insights into why it is so hard to write about science, including complementary and alternative medicine, psychology, and other topics covered on alternahealthgrrrl. One example:

This is why reporters are constantly making science out to be what it isn’t, and why scientists are almost always unimpressed with journalists reporting on their work. The point is, this messiness of science, with its endless years of research, cannot be summed up in a few hundred words and neatly tied with a bow harboring a big idea or mindblowing theory.
Read more here, Science writers: Jonah Lehrer’s scientific errors worse than fabricated quotes

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Chemical Sensitivity, Simplified

Alternahealthgrrrl followers have to know that I’m a huge fan of Dr Leo Galland and his smart website, Pill Advised. Don’t miss his recent post, Are Chemicals Making You Sick? The Hidden Health Problem of Chemical Sensitivity on the Huffington Post Healthy Living channel.

People who are intolerant of chemicals in everyday products or the environment often find their problems ignored or brushed aside by other people, even their doctors.

Over the past 30 years I’ve routinely asked patients about intolerance to chemicals, foods and drugs and found a normal bell-shaped curve of distribution: Most people in my medical practice have some degree of chemical intolerance, a small percentage are sensitive to just about anything that’s synthetic and a small percentage report no sensitivity at all.

Where a person sits on that curve may change, depending upon numerous factors, which include infection, toxic exposures, nutritional depletion, and life stress. (More)

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Mindfulness Trend Makes News

Congressman Tim Ryan’s book on the benefits of meditation prompted all sorts of trend stories, including this segment on PBS’s Religion & Ethics Newsweekly.  Lucky Severson produced a pretty nice piece, and it features interviews with Ryan as well as Jon Kabat-Zinn. Check it out:  Mindfulness Going Mainstream

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