Fungal Nail Infections Exposed

Fungal Nail Infections Exposed

Many suffer from fungal nail infections without knowing the dangers. Let’s face it, whether it’s sandal or not, toenail fungus, or onychomycosis, it is never a welcome sight.

If you have ever suffered the embarrassment of having a fungal toenail infection, you know that they become quite unsightly, often turning white, yellow or brown. Often they become thick, cracked and brittle, sometimes crumbling and even falling off!  

How people get fungal nail infections

Exposure to moulds, yeasts and fungi can cause fungal toenail infections.For toenail infections caused by the fungi, dermatophytes, effective  treatments include prescribed antifungal creams (like Diflucan and Nystatin) and oral medications. These treatments, however, have more side effects than natural remedies like caprylic acid, garlic, oregano oil.and grapefruit seed extract, which can be used topically or ingested.

Fungi that are already present in or on your body can also cause fungal nail infections. Candida albicans is one such fungi. The use of antibiotics, which destroys good bacteria in the stomach, is the root cause on many fungal nail infections.

Diets that are high in sugar, refined carbohydrates and alcohol can also contribute to  candida overgrowth as can the use of birth control pills. The most effective way to restore balance is by eliminating inflammatory foods, sugars and carbohydrates from the diet initially and then to gradually introduce antifungals and probiotics.

Candida infections can cause different symptoms that are difficult to diagnose like: fatigue, bloating, cravings, weight gain, joint pain, acne, depression, mood swings and itchy skin. People over 65, diabetics or those who have an injury on or surrounding the nail are susceptible. People who visit unhygienic nail salons, pools or whose fingers and toes are often moist, are also at risk.

Treating fungal nail infections is important to avoid systemic candidiasis which can potentially be fatal.

Mind-Taming Tools for a Busy Mind

Mind-Taming Tools for a Busy Mind

The purpose of this article on mind-taming is to let you know that, as humans, we all have things we struggle with – including me. I relate this to help others to realise it’s ok to not be ok sometimes. By sharing what helps me, I hope it helps you!

I get a busy head and have an anxious nature that I am quite good at hiding. I’ve come a long way with my worries and overthinking and I realise that my openness lets others know they are not alone with this stuff, it’s totally human. Especially given the pressures these days.

So, here are my tools that help me to feel grounded, less reactive and calm. I hope they can help you too!

Say it out loud

Outsource and voice your worries, racing thoughts or crippling indecision. When you say it out loud, it’s giving your busy mind a rest and simplifies the issues. Alternatively, write. It. Out. I call this a brain dump. It helps you get on with tasks and sleep better.

Mind-taming yoga

Moving and stretching gets me on a whole new level of contentment. I wish someone told me about this years ago. Find a studio nearby or online with YogaGlo for an online membership program. This makes a heap of classes, styles, abilities and teachers and it’s accessible anywhere!

Meditation

Learning mindful meditation changed everything for me, I use the Headspace App. It teaches you how to meditate and has a modern, practical based approach. Remember it’s the mind’s job to “think” and meditation teaches you to be AWARE of your thoughts, letting them come and go. And when you do this, they do slow down. Remember, we don’t meditate to get better at meditation, we do it to get better at life. Think about that one.

Know your triggers

With a busy day or something stressful or triggering (for me it can be social events) I choose to steer clear of things like coffee, sugar and alcohol. I know I will not find the answers in these indulgences and it’s likely to heighten the anxious feelings.

This is actually one of my favourite topics to talk about. If you find this helpful, please reach out with a message. I always love to hear from readers. I have a 1:1 coaching program (it’s online, you can be anywhere in the world!) where I teach mindfulness and holistic health to help you manage your stress, learn mindfulness and make your version of healthy happen. Learn more here.

Depression Treatment 2019: Where is it Headed?

Depression Treatment 2019: Where is it Headed?

When depression doesn’t disappear after the typical treatment, people go to great measures trying to find solutions. They will inflict damage on themselves. They will try many different combinations of expensive medications.They will zap their brains with electricity, again and again, even at the risk of losing bits of memory. All this to free themselves from the prison that is mental illness. Some of it works. Some does not.

Depression treatment: Depressed woman in bed

5 Recent breakthroughs in depression treatment

1. Targeted deep brain stimulation study

Shocking the brain happens to be one solution that works for many people with treatment-resistant depression. A  study conducted by the University of California, San Francisco, was published last Thursday in Current Biology. It  explored a new variation on deep brain stimulation therapy. The results were promising. Shocking only the orbitofrontal cortex made patients feel drastically better.

 Although this study is noteworthy, it will need to be replicated to ensure effectiveness. Furthermore, participants were already undergoing similar treatments for epileptic seizures. While this was effective for them, it is an invasive treatment. Deep brain stimulation involves surgically inserting electrodes into the brain, according to the National Alliance on Mental Illness.

Brain electrocution

2. Ketamine study: Can a hallucinogen treat depression?

Another recent study was published Tuesday in Neuron. The study examined apes whose brains were altered by researchers to the point over-activity. Their overly active minds mimicked depression, causing them to lose interest in rewards. The apes were then given the hallucinogenic drug ketamine, which brought their interest levels back to normal . This provides some solid support for people who use ketamine in treating depression, which has not been formally approved by the FDA . Serotonin reuptake inhibitor drugs do not work on everyone. The idea behind ketamine is that perhaps tackling brain chemistry from a different angle will help those for whom standard medications do not work.

This has been hailed by some as a great breakthrough for depression treatment. But ketamine is an addictive drug according to American Addiction Centers . And prescription drug addiction is already an epidemic. Although this may be a viable option for the future, it may be risky since depression is a bedfellow to addiction. Likely, it would be prescribed in mild, yet effective, doses.

woman with prescription drugs

Prescription drug addiction remains an epidemic, complicating depression treatment options.

3. Should psychedelic mental health therapy be mainstreamed?

Could normalizing hallucinogenic drugs like ketamines lead to mainstream acceptance of psychedelic drugs and psychedelic retreats? According to an article in Forbes, the Netherlands is already doing psychedelic retreats coupled with talk therapy. People with a lot of wealth are interested in investing to mainstream the practice. In fact, the article conjectured that the “legalization of psychedelics could create the next big frontier in the mental health industry.”

Indeed, activists and researchers alike have been throwing around the phrase, “psychedelic renaissance.” Groups in Oregon and Denver have already begun the petition to legalize psychedelic drugs in the United States .

Perhaps these activists sound over the top. But in January, Frontiers in Pharmacology published a study that supported psychedelics, specifically psilocybin, in treating depression. The study found that psilocybin helps with long-term treatment-resistant depression. It is one of many such studies that have found favorable results over the years.

But wait, aren’t psychedelic drugs bad for people? Surprisingly, there seems to be more research indicating that psychedelics are harmless than that they are not . According to The Guardian , in 2016 Global Drug Survey found mushrooms, which often contain psilocybin, to be safer for recreational use than cannabis. Other psychedelic drugs, like LSD, are less predictable and therefore, more dangerous. Yet even LSD was safer than alcohol.

Perhaps, although potentially controversial, in a controlled environment, this could be a better alternative to invasive deep brain stimulation or electrocunvulsive shock therapy (ECT). One patient describe their experience with a psychedelic therapy trial in an article on WebMD :

“It’s like doing therapy while being hugged by everyone who loves you in a bathtub full of puppies licking your face.

4. Ultrasound brain stimulation for depression treatment

For people who are adverse to such treatments, there are more treatment advances underway. Scientists have discovered a new use for the ultrasound. Instead of shocking the brain in a frightening or invasive way, like ECT does, the ultrasound can stimulate the brain without surgery or inducing a seizure.

5. Noninvasive, low voltage, electroshock headset

Lots of doctor appointments can be stressful and expensive. That’s why Flow Neuroscience has come up with a headset device  which, in the future, people may be able to simply buy online. They could receive treatment from home and avoid the hospital.

More than that, the headphones have a built in app that prompts people with  reminders to do things that help with depression like take a walk after dinner or go to bed early. Think Fitbit for your brain. It is hoped that this product will be launched in January of 2019. The effectiveness of this treatment is uncertain, but it may be more effective when paired with other treatments.

headset for depression

 

Mental health as a way of life 

Sensory-motor depression treatment: 3 healing building concepts

These recent studies help increase understanding of depression and the parts of the brain that affect it. But, like most studies, they have not suddenly cured or broken past all major hurdles. Depression affects one in five Americans.

So, what can be done? Are these the only options? Medical treatments aside, cultural and societal changes may also shift to aid in combating mental illness.

Perhaps mental health can take a page out of the physical health playbook.

nutritious food for depression treatment

Nutritionists, for instance, have discovered that healthy eating is a lifestyle rather than something attainable through bursts of dieting. Physical health experts have been trying to find a way to make good diet a way of life. Not long ago, for instance, former First Lady, Michelle Obama, got razzed by food junkies for trying to get junk food out of schools.

For mental health, as well, there may be a change that needs to happen on more than just the individual level. Perhaps mental health must also become a way of life in order to flourish in society. Depression treatment should potentially be all around society. Not just at therapists offices once a week.

Here are three groundbreaking architectural concepts that could have broader applications for treating depression. 

1. Nature and light in the workplace 

 Over the past few years, various organizations have created guidelines for constructing buildings in ways that promote wellness.

For instance, one strategy is placing stairs more prominently than elevators, and making the stairs visually appealing. Some of these ideas were originally meant to combat obesity. But exercise is also known to alleviate depression as well as aesthetically appealing sights. Atlanta Georgia is leading the way in implementing  WELL Building Standards in artifices throughout the city.

Again, these architectural designs could have a positive impact on mental health as well, since physical and mental health are inextricably connected. Sunlight and exercise are excellent for mental health. 

And Atlanta is not the only city interested in going this direction. In January, Amazon hosted the grand opening of the Seattle Spheres in Seattle, Washington. These are large, spherical buildings with walls made of plants and seemingly endless windows have become a tourist attraction.

Yet these are just offices for Amazon workers. That is because Amazon thinks big and is striving to change the mentality towards workplaces. They have said :

“The Spheres are a result of innovative thinking about the character of a workplace and an extended conversation about what is

 

Workplaces traditionally do not take great care for employees’ mental health needs. But what if work was a place where people could feel refreshed? What if workplaces could aid in nurturing mental health instead of hindering it? Plants alone do wonders for mental health.

2. Reversible destiny lofts provide a jolt from routine

There are many interesting architectural experiments that could have promising results as well. Reversible destiny lofts are designed to stimulate the senses. It is the kind of place people will see bright colors and strange shapes, feel interesting textures, and be shaken from routine. 

These lofts help people see the world in new ways. In an article in Psychology Today , psychologist, Margaret Wehrenberg said,

Depressed minds get stuck in circular patterns of hopeless and helpless thinking, which makes it hard to exit the pattern and find out what might happen next.”

Reversible Destiny Lofts could help people reset their minds when they get stuck in a rut.

3. Snoezelen rooms spark the imagination

Snoezelen rooms, similarly help patients stimulate the senses. These rooms are usually used to help people with autism, dementia, Alzheimer’s  or other such disabilities. While Alzheimer’s may seem to be far removed from depression, it actually has some overlapping symptoms such as forgetfulness and memory loss. There, indeed, seems to be a link between Alzheimer’s and depression. Those who suffer from chronic depression are twice as likely to experience Alzheimer’s later in life. So, it’s not a far leap to say that snoezelen rooms could be helpful for those with depression. Wehrenberg goes on to say,

“If you are suffering depression, you know first hand the sense of dullness that pervades each day. Often nothing seems exciting enough to get out of bed for.  And when you are depressed, it is likely that you are restricting your connections to things that are new, interesting, bright or intense. Those qualities do not seem to draw you into experiences…you need to encounter the things that will give you a burst of sensory stimulation.

Indeed, sensorimotor stimulation as a treatment for depression has just recently begun to be studied. One study published in 2013 in Frontiers in Human Neuroscience found that things like light and sound can have a major impact on people who are depressed.

Yet the typical, state owned, outpatient depression treatment facility looks like this:

depression treatment center representation

Stimulating environments’ potential to aid people from depression, has often been hinted at, but not explored in depth. It is unlikely that a mental health facility will turn into a happy bounce. A facility that could make you feel like you’re in a fun house rather than a treatment center.

But, perhaps, certain elements of these designs could be incorporated into lobbies, community centers, and places of respite, or even places of work . Or perhaps zany places like this BnB Reversible Destiny loft  could become more available for people who need treatment. This could help those who need escape from a cluttered, stressful, or toxic environment.

A healthier mental world

Psychology is a relatively new science and has just started to scratch the surface behind. As society becomes more conscious of mental health, perhaps a mental health revolution will occur. Medication is improving and research on how the brain works is expanding the worlds understanding of depression. Meanwhile, societal changes could create environments that are more conducive to mental health. Advances like this are bringing society out of the dark.

Secret Drink Codes Keep Women Safe While Partying

Secret Drink Codes Keep Women Safe While Partying

Holiday season is officially upon us in the United States. With the holiday season comes a slew of office parties, ugly sweater competitions, and endless opportunities for bar festivities. Not to mention all the blind dates in search of that special someone to cozy up with during the cold winter months. As women, it’s important to know how to know how to keep safe while partying. That’s why some bars have created secret drink codes women can tell the bartenders to let them know they need help.

With so much mingling underneath the mistletoe, ordering an “angel shot” ensures the creep in the corner doesn’t follow you home.  A bar by the name of Iberian Rooster in St. Petersburg, Florida went viral a year ago for a sign they have hanging in their women’s restroom.

The sign says, “Are you on a date that isn’t going well?” By ordering an “angel shot” you can signal to your bartender that you’re in trouble and need some help. Depending on how you order your drink determines how far your bartender will intervene to help you out and keep you safe.

An Angel Shot ordered:

  • Neat: the bartender will accompany you to your vehicle
  • With Ice: the bartender will call a taxi, Uber, or Lyft for you
  • With Lime: the bartender will call the police to immediately assist you

With two thirds of college students reporting experiencing sexual harassment, having clubs and bars with safety plans for their patrons is not just good for business, but also good for the community. Does your local hot spot not serve “angel shots”? Don’t worry!

drink party

Three great apps that connect women to support quickly

  1. bSafe allows you to set up a network that can follow your GPS trace using your location services on your phone. You can press the alarm when you’re feeling scared or unsafe and the app will send a message to the people you’ve placed in your network with your exact location. The app will also record video and voice in case you need it for a police report later. For iOS users, you can download the app here. For android users, you can download the app here.
  2. Chilla is a safety app that is only available for android users. You can activate an SOS message to be sent to your identified support system by screaming loudly. The app will recognize your scream and send a text message to your support system with our location, an email with a voice recording from your phone, and automatically calls for back up. If you’re an android user, you can download the app here.
  3. My Safetipin is another safety app that is only available to android users. This app translates to English, Hindi, Bahasa, and Spanish. While it tracks your GPS location to send to your emergency contacts with a text message when the alert button is activated, it also sends you locations in your area that have been identified as safe places for you to go to get help. Other users can place “pins” on the app’s map feature to identify unsafe place for other app users. If you’re an android user, you can download the app here.

person pouring drink

Having a safety plan in place can help ease your mind while you get cozy with the new guy in marketing at the office party or have a debate with the cutie at the bar over which Christmas song is obviously the best (“Baby It’s Cold Outside” gets my vote). Whether it’s the angel shots or other secret drink codes, or one of these awesome apps, or a plan you’ve set up with your friends, remember first and foremost to always trust your instinct. If you’re not comfortable with the situation, it is A-OK to make your night a solo sleigh ride home.

Mindfulness Based Practices Treat Chronic Pain

Mindfulness Based Practices Treat Chronic Pain

Chronic pain can be a debilitating experience. Living with pain affects a person more than just physically. Chronic pain also affects a person’s mental and emotional functioning, it causes stress, increases feelings of anxiety, and exhausts the sufferer. In 2012, 25.3 million Americans reported experiencing daily pain. Traditional medical practices have been the most common approach to treating chronic pain with prescription medication. In fact, in 2016, Americans spent $54.1 billion on prescription medication.

For Americans that wish to find alternatives to prescription medication for managing their pain, researchers are recommending the introduction of mindfulness-based practices to their pain management routines.

What is mindfulness?

Mindfulness is a mental state of being consciously present to what is happening in the moment. It is the awareness of what is happening within the body and accepting emotions as one’s own responses and thoughts. Mindfulness is acknowledging where we are in a specific point-in-time. It is recognizing how we are responding to our environment, emotions, and thoughts with no judgement.

paper with "mindfulness" written

How can mindfulness manage chronic pain?

An individual suffering from chronic pain can utilize mindfulness-based practices to allow them to take notice of their pain responses to the present moment. Through the present awareness and observation of the pain they are experiencing, an individual suffering from chronic pain has the ability to:

  • Recognize when they are experiencing pain
  • For what duration does their pain lasts
  • Record and compare the severity of pain they experience each time
  • Notice any patterns in their pain responses

By developing a deeper understanding of their pain, an individual suffering from chronic pain is then able to communicate their needs to their doctor more efficiently and effectively. This improves the patient-doctor relationship. This also improves the effectiveness of treatment options their doctor may recommend taking into consideration their particular pain management needs as an individual patient. Treating their chronic pain becomes less and about eliminating their symptoms and more about improving their well-being and functioning.

Mindfulness practices have been shown to improve the health of chronic pain sufferers emotionally and mentally, as well as, physiologically.

Pain increases the level of stress, distress, and anxiety a person feels. Chronic pain can lead to depression, anxiety, sleep problems, and fatigue. Individuals that engaged in mindfulness-based meditation alongside traditional medical interventions may experience:

  • Less anxiety
  • A decrease in depression symptoms
  • Improved psychological well-being
  • Higher pain tolerance
  • Improved sleep quality
  • Less pain symptoms

The ability to understand the pain one is feeling allows for the possibility in communicating that pain accurately to others. Improving one’s ability to communicate the pain they are experiencing also improves the probability for effective and long-lasting treatment recommendations and implementation.

mindful young woman

Living in the moment reduces the anxiety, stress, and fear of what pain one might experience in the future or how terrible the pain was they experienced in the past. Mindfulness-based practices allow the individual suffering from chronic pain to take control over their response to pain, therefore, allowing them to take back their lives and how they heal from it daily.  

Exercise: How to Make it Just a Way of Life

Exercise: How to Make it Just a Way of Life

Why we need to move

We are designed to move. Don’t avoid movement, embrace it.

We need regular movement to thrive, lift our moods, regulate our energy and to allow our body to function with ease. We sit for most of our days, to work, commute, socialise, and relax. We hold onto tension, grunges and toxins this way, making it even more important to move in some way. We need to move in short bursts throughout the day as well as intentionally exercising throughout the week.

What do you want from your exercise?

I used to think of exercise as a way to “lose weight” or change my body in some way, which was generally a negative view on exercising. Exercise got more enjoyable and energising when I determined for myself what I really wanted to get out of regular movement.

Consider what you would love to get from exercising:

A functional body

For thriving health and ease of everyday activities. Combat laziness, so we have more energy to do things for ourselves and with others.

Uplifted mood

 I fell love with Yoga for this reason, the days I do Yoga in the morning are my happiest, lightest of days! Remember, we always feel better after movement, especially when we “don’t feel like it.”

Better flexibility

This means we’re less prone to injury and we go with the flow more!

Restoration rather than depletion

You want to feel good after exercise, strong and clear in your mind – not dead.

Improved strength: physically and emotionally

This doesn’t have to be lifting weights in the gym either, in Yoga and Pilates we resist our own body weight to build strength.

Explore your exercise options

Just like diets, there is no “one size fits all” solution to exercise. You need to try things and see what feels good and what fits into your lifestyle. It’s likely that you have at least one form of movement that you’d like to do more of, or try out! The key is to make it enjoyable and easy to do often.

There are SO many ways to move – here are a few of my favourite most used ways:

Walking

I love nature walks! Go alone or with a friend as an active catch up date and as a quick lunch time pick me up to avoid the afternoon slump. Walking is an easy way to introduce more movement into your day. Incidentally exercise by parking an extra block away, take the stairs, or take a break from the office to walk around the block or eat your lunch in the park for a change.

Running

It’s not for everyone! I’ve come to love running and my tip here is to have low expectations on yourself. Just get your shoes on and get out the door, that’s the hardest part! When starting out, don’t worry so much about distance and speed, just aim to keep moving along at an easy pace for 20 minutes and take breaks when you need to.

Yoga

Yoga builds strength, flexibility and restores my energy levels. I love it most for the way it makes me feel and it allows me to reduce the thoughts in my mind and brings me clarity and joy.

Stretching

Make this the first thing you do when you get out of bed, stretching your body tall and reach for the sky, add some controlled side to side bends, a gentle backbend and then a forward fold to open your hamstrings.

Stand up paddle “SUP” boarding

This is my favourite thing to do for some me time and mindful exercise out on water at the beach near my house.

What is right amount of movement for you?

I say to my clients that the right amount of exercise right now, is what you can realistically commit to in a week, with a bit of a push as a bonus point.

Where to start: You could aim to make sure you “move” your body in some way, for 30 minutes per day.

The key to sustainable habits, is consistency! There is no point in pushing yourself one week and going to the gym every day – and then the next week, life gets busy and the motivation disappears and then comes the guilt!

Make a plan, you’re more likely to stick to it and then celebrate your wins!

Here’s an exercise challenge for you this week!

  1. Set yourself a goal to exercise at least 3 times this week
  2. Write down the type of exercise with a empty tick box next to it, like this!
  3. Plan out when you are going to make this happen during the week and block out that time in your calendar, plan them earlier in the week and include two extra windows in case you miss one.
  4. Celebrate the wins as you tick each one off and take note of how you’re feeling!

Keep it up for a month, adding in bonus points to push yourself.

Remember the aim of moving our body is to love our body and thrive – not to punish it or “undo” the weekend.