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In today’s society, more and more people are aware of health issues that they have and what needs to be done to control those issues. Although some conditions need a pharmaceutical solution, it’s not always necessary. And often, if the pharmaceutical route can be avoided, it’s best to avoid it. Few medications come without side effects. Additionally, becoming tolerant to a medication that might be necessary later is not ideal.

This has resulted in an increase in non-pharma treatments that can provide people with a helping hand. Many people, for example, have issues of concentration and focus. Although this is on the ADHD spectrum, they might rightly be uncomfortable with stimulants. So instead of going the pharmaceutical route, they might benefit from supplements such as iron or Omega-3.

Similarly, people with depression may find anti-depressants unpleasant. Many find that St John’s Wort or tryptophan work better for them. People with digestive issues may find that they benefit more from herbal teas and supplements than from harsh antacids. All of this has created a strong, competitive market in herbal supplements. Which is certainly a boon on one front, but is it all for the best?

Are Regulations Allowing Dishonesty?

In a majority of cases, pharmaceutical drugs will not come to market until they have been tested extensively. Although some exceptions have slipped through the net, existing regulations catch a lot more. Where the issue seems to be arising for some is in the dietary supplement and health food market. Because these aren’t medicines in the strictest sense, they aren’t regulated in the same way.

That approach is hard to argue with, from a regulatory point of view. Of course, pharma-grade medications need to be seen with a firmer gaze. Doctors will be prescribing them, and there is also a natural extra level of trust that is given to them. There is, then, a gap between what we call medicine and what we use for the good of our health. If this gap is exploited in the wrong way, it can be bad for us.

For the avoidance of doubt, the FDA treats supplements as being in the “food” category of its food and drug purview. This means that supplements pass as “safe” unless they are proven otherwise. However, the FDA will challenge companies that make false claims for their produces.

This is the case for health food and for supplements. The recent Hampton Creek news story is one example of where the FDA has requested that a company change its naming approach. This is a relatively benign example and illustrates how the FDA offers guidance to companies. However, companies that make inaccurate claims for their products will face sterner challenges.

What Does This Mean For Supplement Providers?

Companies who make supplements with purported health benefits do not, strictly speaking, need FDA approval to do so. However, there is an issue of credibility involved in the sale of health foods. Without FDA approval, it is more difficult to widely sell a product with claims for health benefits. Health food stores and companies with a wide reach are naturally going to favor products with this credibility.

In order to gain approval, a provider will need to demonstrate the claims they make are accurate. It may sound impressive to claim that a product gives improved muscle mass in just a week. But if this claim is not provable, the company will not get FDA clearance to say it on the label. Without that clearance, the product is automatically less attractive in the marketplace.

For any company looking to sell foods or supplements with a range of health benefits, then, the choice is clear. You can shoot for the moon with bold claims about what the product will do. This will not be cleared by the FDA and will render your product more of a novelty item. Or you can research the benefits of your product and see what it really can do, and benefit from the regulator’s approval.

How Is That Working Out?

In truth, with the limits that exist on the FDA’s power in the food and supplement market, there is only so much it can do. Without the power to ban companies from making claims, or to take products off the shelves, it has less sway than may be ideal. It doesn’t take much time online to find companies selling treatments with outlandish claims. These can range from boasts about reversing the ageing process to boosting sexual prowess.

The FDA is not in a place to prevent these products from being sold nor to restrict the claims being made. What it does have power to do is withhold regulatory approval. This is why such products end up being advertised online in ways which most potential customers will distrust. People will still end up purchasing them, but in much reduced numbers than if they were widely stocked in stores.

For some people, this will naturally be viewed as disappointing. The truth of the matter is that in a free market, regulators will be limited in their scope. Giving them the power to take products off shelves or to dictate what someone can print on a label is difficult. Many people would see it as a restraint of free trade. So is it better that at least the FDA can have some sort of power to dictate credibility?

In the long run, the supplements that we come to trust are the ones which have been widely used and found credible. While some products will continue to be sold on the grounds of unsupported claims, their reach in the market is at least limited.

And what does all this mean for the consumer? Put simply, the decision is yours when it comes to choosing a supplement based on the claims of its manufacturers. We can choose to see for ourselves whether a product does what it says on the bottle. But when there is an option that has already been tested, why risk wasting time and money on something that may be a simple con?

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Student @ Advanced Digital Sciences Center, Singapore. Travelled to 30+ countries, passion for basketball.

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Chronic Pain: How To Regain Control Over Your Life Naturally

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Chronic pain is estimated to affect over 50 million Americans and is becoming an even more popular condition. Due to our lifestyles, posture, exercise level, and diet, an increasing number of people have started to suffer from chronic pain. In some cases, pain can be minimal and only represent a minor inconvenience. However, in some other cases, chronic pain can take over your life and be so overwhelming that it might prevent you from enjoying even the easiest daily tasks. Depending on the cause behind it, chronic pain can develop from mild to severe. Therefore, while there is no definitive cure, chronic pain needs to be addressed. Here are five non-invasive ways to find chronic pain relief naturally. 

Understand the Underlying Causes

Firstly, it is crucial to understand what are the causes behind your chronic pain. You might have been the victim of an accident, or you might have reported injuries that haven’t healed. Alternatively, an inactive lifestyle and bad posture can also lead to lower back, sciatica, and leg pain. 

In some cases, some chronic diseases such as cancer and arthritis might be the cause behind the pain. Before trying to find a solution for your pain, it is crucial to understand what is the underlying cause. This will help you avoid unnecessary painkillers and move towards a longer-lasting solution.  

Use Meditation and Breathing Techniques

One of the main factors that can worsen your chronic pain is stress. Indeed, stress causes damage to cells and leads to increased free radicals. In turn, these can worsen inflammation and prevent your body from healing. 

Breathing techniques and meditation are mindfulness practices that allow you to focus on your breath, repeat a mantra, or focus your attention inward. This can allow you to avoid additional stress and reduce inflammation.

Aim To Move Your Body Regularly

Regular exercise is essential to allow your body to release endorphins – the happiness hormone! These compounds are the ones responsible for the famous “runner’s high” and act as mood regulators. In turn, this can reduce stress levels and allow you to feel more balanced. Exercise is also essential to help you get rid of any extra weight you might be carrying. By doing so, you can lighten up your body, which takes pressure away from your muscles, joints, and bones. And of course, it can help you reduce the risk of conditions such as heart disease. 

Consider a Plant-Based Lifestyle

Studies have proven that whole grain, plant-based lifestyle can reduce fatigue and chronic pain. Indeed, fruits and vegetables are famously filled with the antioxidants your body needs to reduce inflammation and the damaging effects of free radicals. Speaking to your nutritionist allows you to get started in the right way. 

Try Medical Marijuana

Medical marijuana has been seen to help with certain kinds of chronic pain. If you are affected by severe chronic pain which is impacting your life, or you have an underlying condition such as arthritis or cancer, you might be able to obtain a medical marijuana card. You can learn all about Harvest House of Cannabis and how to apply for a medical card here. 

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Unconventional Ways to Boost Your Health

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With health tips and diets around every corner, it can be hard to know what the best course is going to be for your body. Between fad diets and finding the best workout gear, it can be overwhelming. Finding the specific rhythm to support what your body needs is going to be a lifelong journey, but there are things that you can do to get off to a good start.

Establish a Baseline

In order to know what specific health goals you need to have, you first need to establish a baseline. It is important to start with the basics and make sure that you are making generally healthy choices before you can start getting more specific.

Even though each person is different and will require different health goals, there are some things that are in common across all bodies. You need to be getting enough sleep. Not getting enough sleep can mess with your health in surprising ways. You also need to be drinking enough water each day. Most people are not drinking enough water. Being dehydrated can cause you to overeat and to be fatigued during the day. You may be surprised to see how just changing your sleep and water intake patterns can give you an extra boost.

You should also make healthy eating choices and try to get some exercise. If you are just starting on your wellness journey, then you should take small steps. If you try to take on too much at once, you will likely not be able to sustain the change.

You can start by adding more vegetables to your meals instead of trying to change what you eat. Even if you continue to eat like normal, but add in more vegetables, you will eventually be able to change your diet more drastically. You can also try switching to only drinking water instead of any other kind of beverage with your meals. This will also help with your water intake.

For exercise, you don’t have to go running, even though that is probably what pops into your head first. You can start by just doing stretches before bed or going for a walk during your lunch break. Start where you are and then build on that.

Talk to Your Doctor

You should make sure that you go to your regular checkups with your doctor. If you have concerns about specific health issues, then discuss them with your doctor. If you are looking for advice in general, you can ask what their biggest concerns are and where your focus should be for improvements. They have insights into your health that can help you on your path to wellness.

Environment Changes

There may be changes you need to make to your environment in order to be functioning at one hundred percent. You should have your home tested for toxins and hazardous gases to make sure that you are not breathing in anything that may be harmful to you. You may also want to be asking questions like, What is the Safe Distance From Wifi Router? Or, does my electrical wiring need to be updated. Making these changes can improve your health if there is something happening that shouldn’t be happening. You may be surprised to find out how your health can change when these silent issues get resolved.

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How To Stay Positive During the Extended Lockdown

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The most recent months have been overwhelming for countless individuals, with millions worldwide dealing with stress, grief, job losses, financial challenges, and the need to isolate all due to the coronavirus pandemic. As in the UK and US, there’s a potential lockdown in several countries due to the recent surge in covid-19 cases. This may heighten your anxiety levels surrounding the pandemic. How do you cope? With limited access to your loved ones and outdoor places, you should consider these five ways to help you stay positive during the lockdown. 

1. Get active 

While experts have stressed the need for physical activity, getting out to exercise is impossible due to the pandemic. However, physical activity is essential to boosting your mood and keeping you positive all through the day. Engaging in regular exercising triggers endorphin release into your bloodstream for pain relief and good well-being. Further studies have proposed increasing electrical activity in emotional areas of the brain, especially the prefrontal cortex hippocampus. Exercises like jumping sticks, planking, happy frogs, and even an excellent early morning stretch is useful for maintaining a positive mood all day long. 

2. Remind yourself of life’s positives

Several pieces of research have proposed the importance of daily gratitude to individual well-being. From greater satisfaction to better sleep, happiness, and improved mood, the benefits of being grateful every day is immeasurable. But how can you be positive with all the chaos around? You can begin to integrate this mindset by writing down three things you appreciate each day, towards the day’s end. It could be a good coffee, hot bath, or a supportive spouse. No matter how little they might seem, write them down, and over time you’ll realize the enormous number of things you can be grateful for. 

3. Find an escape from alcohol

During lockdowns, it’s easy to resort to drinking alcohol to keep positive due to its antidepressant effects. However, it can only make you feel better for just a short while. Meanwhile, the long-term impact of alcohol consumption doesn’t present a good look. Why not cut back on the alcohol and go for something more non-alcoholic? If you’re looking for another alternative, why not check Haylees World for a much safer escape? Your liver and lungs will be grateful. 

4. Keep in touch with loved ones

Lockdown or social distancing doesn’t mean cutting ties from your friends and loved ones. If there’s one thing we’ve learned over the pandemic so far, it’s the crucial role our families, friends, and loved ones play in our daily lives. While it may be physically impossible to reach out, there are many tools and apps, for example, Zoom, that you can utilize to remain in touch with everyone else. Reaching out to loved ones can help minimize the mental and psychological impact of the pandemic. It’s indispensable to stay connected to build your support bubble. Create a regular schedule of friends, family, or colleagues you can engage via virtual apps to stay connected. 

Nations worldwide are recording a spike in COVID-19 cases despite managing to slow down the infection rates earlier. With many countries recording massive COVID cases every day, state and health authorities will likely push for stricter measures and perhaps a new lockdown. However, these should guide you during the period.

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