Archive for the ‘Stress’ Category

Quick Tip: Massage cuts blood pressure

Wednesday, July 1st, 2009

Regular massage can lower blood pressure, a US study has found. Researchers looked at a group of married couples who were given portable blood pressure monitors. Half the couples were told to massage their partners for 30 minutes three times a week while the other half went about their lives as normal. At the end of the four week experiment, both men and women in the massage group had significantly higher levels of oxytocin, a hormone that counteracts stress. The husbands in the group also had lower blood pressure readings than at the start of the study, whereas the non massage group saw no change.

Ask Marilyn: Are there any natural ways to prevent tension headaches?

Wednesday, July 1st, 2009

Q: I suffer a lot from headaches, which often feel like a tight band restricting my forehead. My doctor says they’re tension headaches and has recommended painkillers, but are there any ways to prevent them naturally?


A: Headaches are caused when blood vessels in the head constrict or dilate leading to pressure on the nerves. Adrenaline, toxins, food allergies, eye strain, hormonal changes and problems with your neck, shoulder and jaw can all contribute to this.

Tension headaches are more likely to occur when you’re stressed and chemicals such as adrenaline are released, making your blood vessels tighten and reducing blood flow to your brain. I would recommend trying yoga, meditation or breathing exercises and 300mg of magnesium citrate before you go to bed to relax the blood vessels. Alcohol, smoking and caffeine can all trigger headaches too, so cut down on these. Food intolerance may be a culprit so keep a food diary to see if there are any possible trigger foods. A number of people get headaches after eating a class of chemicals called amines, which include cheese and chocolate so try to pinpoint if these are the cause and if they are eliminate them from your diet for a while.


Liver function affects the quality and flow of your blood and if it’s not efficiently getting rid of toxins this can trigger headaches, so you may want to try the liver-boosting herb milk thistle. It goes without saying that a healthy diet and regular exercise will also boost circulation and help your body detox naturally. If there is a misalignment of your neck discs or jaw joint, cranial blood flow will be restricted and this can cause a headache. See a cranial osteopath to correct any misalignment. And finally, eye strain may be the trigger. If you spend long periods of time every day staring at a computer screen or find it hard to read small print it may be time to take better care of your eyes. Take regular breaks every 20 minutes when working on the computer and keep your eyes moist by blinking regularly. Visiting an optician will also be of benefit to see if reading or computer glasses are necessary.

In the News: Stress linked to asthma and allergies in children

Monday, June 1st, 2009

Women who are stressed in pregnancy are more likely to have babies who suffer from asthma and allergies (according to a study from Harvard Medical School in Boston and presented earlier this year at the American Thoracic Society International Conference in Toronto).

Researchers found that unborn babies exposed to stress before birth have increased tendencies to react to allergy triggers such as dust mites. It is thought that the developing immune system of unborn babies can be changed by maternal stress, probably through stress hormones, like cortisol. The results of the study held true regardless of a mother’s race, class, education or smoking history. This research supports the notion that stress can be thought of as a kind of social pollutant that can influence the immune system.