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Natural Awakenings Charlotte

Health Briefs~Good Scents for Winter Blues and more...

Feb 03, 2008 08:06AM
Good Scents for Winter  Blues

When cold and dark run deep, remember that aromatherapy offers a fragrant pharmacy of natural scents able to temporarily lift mood and spirit. Though not claiming to provide a miracle cure for deep-seated emotional issues, various cultures throughout the world have for centuries prized the concentrated essences of certain flowers, fruits, herbs and trees for their gentle healing powers. Because the naturally occurring chemicals in pure essential oils work directly with the brain they can act as positive triggers to both uplift mood and ease feelings of depression and anxiety. The scent of sweet orange, for instance, is used to balance emotions and bring about a positive outlook. Lemon and tangerine refresh and stimulate. The oils of geranium and bergamot help alleviate stress. Lavender and sandalwood have a soothing, calming quality. Essential oils may be applied alone or in custom blends depending on personal preference and desired effect. Commonly used in diffusers to scent a room, they also may be added to unscented massage oils applied to the skin. To learn more consult with a local aromatherapist. For Kisses So Sweet

Bad breath can spoil any kiss. But instead of reaching for the traditional peppermint breath mints, some Illinois scientists encourage us to consider the benefits of bark extract from the sweet magnolia tree. A new study published by the American Chemical Society found that mints infused with the bark extract killed 61 percent of the germs that cause bad breath within 30 minutes compared with only a 3.6 percent germ-kill for the same mints without the extract. More, magnolia bark extract showed a strong anti-bacterial activity against a group of bacteria known to cause cavities.  Sweet magnolia has more to offer than beautiful, fragrant blossoms, researchers say. Breath mints made with magnolia bark extract could be a boon for oral health as an additive to chewing gum and mints.

This Tea Lowers Cholesterol

Scientists at the University of Illinois have found that a group of mate tea drinkers experienced a significant boost in the activity of an enzyme that promotes HDL (good) cholesterol while lowering LDL (bad) cholesterol. More studies to confirm the health benefits of mate tea are under way.

Keep Love Alive:  Take A Walk 

Lean, physically active men have a 30 percent lower chance of impotence, say Harvard researchers. Why? Exercise keeps all the body’s blood vessels flexible and free of plaque.

Sexy, Feminist & RomanticOld-schoolers may still be hanging onto their views that feminists are unattractive, sexually disinclined, usually single or lesbian, and about as romantic as an old pair of socks. Not so say researchers from Rutgers University, whose study shows the opposite to be true.  Through laboratory and online surveys the researchers inquired into men’s and women’s perception of their own feminism and its link to relationship health. They measured overall relationship quality, agreement on gender equality, relationship stability and sexual satisfaction.  Comforting results revealed that women involved with a feminist partner had a healthier heterosexual relationship.  Men with feminist partners reported a more stable relationship and greater sexual satisfaction.  Researchers concluded that feminism does not kill romance and that feminist stereotypes appear to be inaccurate and unfounded.

Get a Better Body Image

Want to make peace with your physique? Step off the treadmill and onto a yoga mat. Women who participate in mind-body exercises like yoga are more satisfied with their bodies than those who stick to aerobic workouts, according to research in Psychology of Women Quarterly. Compared to women taking a step class at the gym, yoga practitioners are more likely to understand their own bodies and judge themselves by qualities like health, energy level and coordination rather than by appearance. The latter “may negatively reinforce the view that you need to constantly strive to improve your body,” says study author Jennifer Daubenmier, Ph.D. Paradigm Shift of the Heart

After 10 years of studying near-death experiences, Dutch cardiologist Pim van Lommel concluded that “Nearly every near-death experience goes hand-in-hand with a life review, during which people gain insight into the consequences of their actions.” This international authority on near-death experiences observes that once back, people immediately make calls to apologize for something they did even decades before. His research shows the deep level at which people are connected and underscores the importance of maintaining healthy, caring relationships with those around us. If everyone saw this, Van Lommel says, we would live more compassionate lives and societies would look different.  “The life review people experience changes their values. They feel they are one with nature and the Earth and that there is no difference between others and themselves. They’ve seen that it’s not about power, appearance, nice cars, clothes or having a young body. It’s about entirely different things: love for yourself, nature and your fellow human beings.”  Learn more at

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