Saturday, 9 August 2008

Anxiety Attacks

Anxiety Attacks

Anxiety or panic attacks are sudden periods of intense anxiety, fear and discomfort. While these attacks might seem to happen for no reason, they're actually the body's response to what it perceives as the need for "fight or flight."

The attacks usually last about ten minutes, but can be as short as one minute. In severe cases, these attacks can happen in cycles. These cycles may last for extended periods. These cycles can cause anticipation anxiety between episodes.

Physical symptoms of anxiety attacks generally include shortness of breath, heart palpitations and sweating. Tingling and numbness in the extremities, dizziness, lightheadedness, headaches and nausea are also commonly experienced. These may appear to be random, but they're actually the result of the body's preparations for protection.

The anxiety attack is brought on by a sudden onset of fear. In response, the body releases adrenaline followed by increases in the heart and breathing rate and production of sweat (to regulate body temperature). These actions prepare the body for the physical activities of fighting or escaping. Because the anticipated strenuous activity rarely follows the panic attack, these reactions result in physical discomfort.

The increased heart rate is felt as heart palpitations. Rapid breathing (hyperventilation) results in a drop in carbon dioxide levels in the lungs and blood. This leads to the tingling, numbness, dizziness and lightheadedness. The adrenaline causes a narrowing of the blood vessels which results in less blood flow to the head. This also contributes to the lightheadedness and headaches.

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Sunday, 3 August 2008

To Go or Not to Go Herbal, that is the Question…

To Go or Not to Go Herbal, that is the Question…

Many people nowadays are turning to “organics” and “naturals” otherwise known as herbals. The rising popularity of herbal supplements has created a new fad if not a new health lifestyle. But before you join the bandwagon, here are some things you need to know about this mean, “green” dietary supplementing machine.

What is the difference between a drug and a dietary supplement?

According to the definition set by food and drug administrations in different countries, drugs are chemicals that can prevent, prolong the life, treat other effects of a health condition, improve the quality of life, and/or cure ailments and diseases, or alter the function of any part or chemicals inside the body. These drugs have approved therapeutic claims. For example, paracetamol is a drug given to bring down the body temperature in fever. Ascorbic acid is indicated for the treatment of scurvy. Iron supplements are given to treat mild cases of anemia.

Herbal supplements are not classified as drugs but as dietary supplements. The main difference is that they do not have approved therapeutic claims unlike in the case of drugs. Moreover, dietary supplements could either contain vitamins, minerals, herbals, or amino acids, all aimed to add to or supplement the diet of an individual. They are not intended to be taken alone as a substitute to any food or medicine.

Most of the manufactured medicines we now have once came from animals and plants. Through the years, chemists isolated the life-saving or life-curing components and separated them from the harmful ones. This lead to the further drug research and drug development that lead to the production of a different variety of drugs for many ailments and conditions from synthetic sources. But still we have semi-synthetic drugs, as well as drug that more or less approximate more natural composition. Since herbal supplements are made from a mixture of crude herbs reduced into powder or gel form, and later on packaged as tablets and capsules, there is a possibility that life-threatening or at least body chemistry-altering components are still present, thus the expression of concern from the medical community.

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