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Are there any natural alternatives to pseudoephedrine medication? I always tend to get sinus problems at this time of year and I would rather take something natural for it.
>> The herb known as Ephedra (also called Brigham tea and Mormon tea in the US) has been used for centuries as a natural remedy to treat respiratory and sinus conditions, along with helping to treat arthritis. Pseudoephedrine and ephedrine are themselves derived from this single herb.
Ephedra is also well known for keeping the mind sharp and alert due to the pharmacological action of certain constituents in this herb, behaving in a similar fashion to adrenaline in the brain and nervous system.
Medical concerns have arisen around the safety of pseudoephedrine and ephedrine for people with weaker hearts and nervous systems. However, the herb, utilised in its whole form, rarely has side effects. The stimulating properties of these derivative and synthesised medicines have led to restrictions of the original herbal remedy in many countries.
Fortunately, there are many effective and widely available herbal alternatives that can help in the management of sinus and respiratory issues. Goldenseal is wonderful for mucous membrane issues in the eyes, ear, nose, and throat, and it is often prescribed to help tone the mucous membranes of the upper respiratory tract. It is particularly useful in treating and preventing infection.
Elderberries and elderflower are both important herbal remedies for treating cold and ‘flu, specifically for catarrh, allergies, coughs, colds, ear infections, and hayfever. Hyssop is another fantastic cold and ’flu herb, particularly where chronic sinus issues are concerned.Thyme, pictured below, is perfect for asthmatics, and those who are plagued by sinusitis. Horseradish is another plant which has an affinity for sinus conditions but is also wonderful for addressing digestive and respiratory problems.
This is always a busy time of year, so it is important to set aside some time each day to rest and relax — even 15 minutes will help. This downtime is essential for balancing out stress, and will typically pave the way for a good night’s sleep.
I have always liked to crack my knuckles as it feels as if it provides some sort of tension relief. I’m told that this habit will lead to arthritis. Is this true, or simply an old wives’ tale?
>> The clicking sound that occurs when you crack your knuckles is usually a result of soft tissue passing over bone or the pop of gas bubbles escaping the joints rather than the actual knuckles cracking. You are on the right track with your description, as this noise is more likely to occur when there is some tension in the tissues.
Obviously, if this habit is causing pain, then it makes sense to stop doing it. Instead, you could carry about a stress ball or something similar to relieve the tension in your hands.
It is a good idea to take the time now to ensure you are including nutrients in your diet to help maintain healthy joints and tissues. Essential fatty acids (also known as the omega fatty acids) are the first place to start, and are found in nuts, seeds, fatty fruits such as avocado and oily fish (sardines, salmon, herring, mackerel).
Vitamin D is so important for the health of bones, cartilage, tendons, ligaments, and soft tissue. Clinical deficiency in this nutrient is indicated by a softening of bones, tooth decay, fractures that won’t heal properly, muscular weakness, rickets, lack of energy, retaining phosphorus in the kidneys. Low vitamin D levels have also been associated with a number of autoimmune diseases, such as rheumatoid arthritis, multiple sclerosis, and Crohn’s disease.
Vitamin D plays an important role in the absorption and utilisation of calcium and phosphorus. It is crucial for the functioning of your nervous system and helps with heart health. Foods rich in vitamin D include butter, raw milk, sweet potatoes, oily fish, oats, cold-pressed vegetable oils, eggs, and, of course, sunlight exposure.
NOTE: The information contained in this column is not a subsitute for medical advice. Always consult a doctor.