Health / Personal Care

Are you tired of all the DOING? Then read Life Is In The ‘BEING’ – Not In The ‘DOING Find out how you can break out of the “doing” cycle and learn to just “be.”

Read about Essential Oils: What Are They? How Do I Use Them?. Then decide if they fit into your wellness regimen.

Discover how to have Hair, Skin and Nails, Naturally by following a few simple guidelines.

Learn how Beauty Comes From What You Do Inside and not just from what you put on.

Make Your Own Baby Products With Essential Oils

Visit TheHerbsPlace.com and view the numerous Essential Oil Recipes For Babies And Children

Don’t worry you won’t lose your place.

Do Your Homework Before You Choose a Hospital

Doing a little homework before you choose a hospital can do more than give you peace of mind. Choosing a hospital that scores well on quality can make it easier—and safer—for you to recover from a serious event, like having heart surgery, or a routine one, like having a baby.

As a physician, let me emphasize that if you need emergency hospital care, go to the closest hospital. But if you aren’t facing an emergency, take time to do some research.

The good news is that there is a lot of information to help you make an educated choice about which hospital to use. But to get the most complete picture of the best hospital for your needs, it’s helpful to check several resources. It’s also a good idea to ask your doctor and your friends for their advice and why they prefer hospital A over hospital B.  

To get an overall view of quality, you might start by reviewing hospital “report cards” that private groups produce. Hospital “grades” are based on different measures, and each group emphasizes some over others. For example, some grade hospitals on what doctors think of them, how many hospitals use computers to order drugs, and how well patients recover from different kinds of surgeries.

One downside to these report cards is that hospitals are not required to participate in them. This could mean there are no data about a specific hospital. Another problem is they often use data that are several years old. If you have already picked a hospital based on your insurance plan or your doctor’s advice, you can find out more about its overall quality of care. You can also find out how well it compares with other hospitals in your area.

The federal government has a useful source of information on hospital quality. The Hospital Compare website lets you find out how well hospitals care for adult patients with certain conditions. The vast majority of hospitals—about 90 percent—report their data on quality of care. Even if you are not covered by Medicare, this information can help you compare the quality of care that hospitals provide.

Hospital Compare lets you: • See how often a hospital gives the right treatments for certain conditions—like heart attacks, heart failure, and pneumonia—or procedures—like preventing surgical infections. • View the results of care or treatment for certain conditions or procedures.   • See how much Medicare paid hospitals for certain conditions and procedures. • Find out what hospital patients said about the care they received during a recent hospital stay. Their experiences are an important part of good quality care. Feedback from patients to more than 2 dozen questions is currently available. By the end of the year, information from most of the nation’s hospitals will be available on the Hospital Compare website

My agency developed the survey, released in April, which asked patients about their hospital experiences. We also put together a checklist of questions that you can use to help you find a good hospital. These questions can also help you decide if you need more information.

The Joint Commission’s Quality Check website also lets you search for information on any hospital in the United States. This is a national, nonprofit organization that “accredits” hospitals to make sure they fully comply with all of the group’s quality standards. The Quality Check website can tell you whether a hospital is accredited and will identify hospitals that have not met quality standards.

You can use the Quality Check to: • Find out the hospital’s quality performance from previous years. • Learn whether the hospital offers certified programs in specific disease areas, such as stroke care. • Get data on the hospital’s National Quality Improvement Goals. This tells you about the quality of care for several specific conditions, including children’s asthma, heart attack and heart failure, pneumonia, pregnancy, and preventing surgical infections.   

Measuring hospital quality isn’t a perfect science. But we have a lot of information today to help you make an educated decision. That’s the best decision for your peace of mind—and for your health.

I’m Dr. Carolyn Clancy, and that’s my advice on how to navigate the health care system.

Carolyn Clancy, a general internist and researcher, is an expert in engaging consumers in their health care. She is the director of the U.S. Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality.

Source: AARP Bulletin – June 2010

Eliminating Cola Cravings – My Biggest Expense

Q. I need help eliminating my biggest expense at the grocery store: carbonated cola soft drinks. I usually buy 12 two liter bottles every week and a half when I go to the grocery store.  I don’t drink them for the caffeine because I get the decaffeinated cola (I can’t have caffeine), and I buy the generic brand where available. It’s not the sugar, because even though I won’t drink the diet version, another carbonated soft drink doesn’t satisfy the craving for the cola.  I’ve been hooked on them for years and I have tried many ways to kick this habit with poor results. I’ve run the numbers and I know how much it’s costing me, and how much easier it would be to bring in the groceries if I didn’t have all those bottles to haul in. Maybe one of your readers has had this problem and successfully solved it?  Thanks. G.

A. This may sound simplistic but why don’t you try a couple of things.
1. Each time you buy the colas buy 1 less two liter bottle.

2. When you drink your cola use a slightly smaller glass each week. until you are either using a juice glass to drink out of or not drinking any at all. the trick to this is that you designate one glass each day or  so to be used and use only that. This may help somewhat at least to cut down. The rules have to be that glass only and no more cokes after you drink the last one for that week. Visualize a desert island with just you and the cokes and they have to last.LOL  Pam

A. Well, this may be a bit of an offbeat solution but here goes. I used to drink many, many sodas a day. Then I began to really start taking care of my health. I realized what damage the carbonation was doing to my kidneys. Not a good thing!! First of all, even the decaf brands have some caffeine. Not sure why they can get away with that in advertising but they can. But as a transition to just water I found I needed flavor. So I began to brew gallons of herb tea and drink it rather than soda. It comes in wonderful flavors these days like peach, lemon, peppermint, etc. All really tasty with honey added. It may sound boring, but don’t go cold turkey. Try subbing just one liter of soda for a liter of tea. Then two, etc., etc.  Much cheaper (especially when you use sales and coupons.) And it can be really exciting to discover how different flavors taste. Good luck! Toni

A. I too was "addicted" to soda. Actually for me it was diet cola. I don’t know how helpful this is but I just stopped drinking it "cold turkey". I figured it wasn’t good for my health and I needed to stop. I knew that I couldn’t limit myself because one sip would be a whole liter. I started drinking water. Ice cold water. At first I craved the soda, but that actually passed pretty quickly. Now I crave water (that’s what our  body really needs anyway). An added benefit is my children prefer water now. Linda B.

A. One way that we’ve cut our cola budget is to buy 3 liter bottles instead of 2 liters. I can get four 3-liters for $6.00. This equals 12 liters. Buying 2-liter bottles, I would have to spend about $9.00 to get 12 liters. We also limit the number of glasses of cola we each get per day. Since it’s so high in carbohydrates (which I’m trying to cut down on to lose weight) and so high in sugar (which the kids don’t need), we each get 1 glass per day. We can drink it for breakfast, lunch, dinner, snack, whatever…but once you’ve had your one glass for the day, that’s it.  Emily

A. Just an observation on my spouse about cola addiction.   If she keeps properly hydrated plain water is enough.   If however she gets slightly dehydrated she will stop to get the largest diet cola she can get, usually at a fast food place or mini-mart.   When she keeps hydrated she usually doesn’t stop for cola.    What has worked the best for her, when she remembers to do it, is to take water from home.   We have a well with mineral rich, but not ‘hard’ water.    you may be craving electrolytes which are minerals our bodies need to function properly, especially the nervous system.   Your home water no matter the source usually has these.   Cola has several of these in their formulas. Water that has been filtered loses most of these minerals.  Most bottled water is filtered so check the label.   It has been in the medical news that many women that drink filtered water have a greater incidence of osteoporosis.

A. Stay hydrated do not wait to be thirsty, thirst is actually a physical panic response.    Also the sweeteners in soft drinks bind up the water not allowing the proper exchange of fluids throughout the body.     Many times when people feel thirsty due to not enough salt.  A simple test is to put some salt on your palm and taste it.  strong taste means you’re OK.  no taste or greatly reduced taste you need a little more salt in your system

A. I have a few suggestions for cutting your cola costs:
1. The first is to try to bring down the cost by thourghouly  checking out markets in your area for the low-lowest price. Soda in sealed containers keeps very well so this works in your favor. It may be that you can get it much more cheaply from a place where you don’t shop for your groceries, and you could pick up several months worth since you don’t normally shop there. Sometimes drug stores, superstores, or convenience shops sell soda or have it on sale as a "loss leader" to get you to come there, figuring you’ll buy the overpriced items, too, and of course, you can look into combining the low prices with coupon or rebate savings. Don’t neglect to price canned and smaller bottles of cola at the same time, in case there are pricing surprises. 

2. The second suggestion is to see if there are any decaffeinated generic options available to you. We buy generic cola for our guests at an Aldi’s in our area, and the savings is more than 50%. I’ve noticed more generics simulate Pepsi than Coke, I don’t know if this makes a difference to you. 

3. The third suggestion I have is to have another try at reexamining your habit, because it sounds to me like you are quite sincere in your desire to kick this habit for reasons beyond saving money. You have understandably been frustrated by your attempts to quit, because you have tried very hard. I respect this, because I’ve been on that long road with chocolate and sweets in general. The thing that finally did it for me was changing how I thought, rather than working so hard to change what I did. What you do follows what you think, not the other way around. So I gave myself permission to eat as much chocolate as I wanted for the time being, but I quit eating it in front of the TV. or anywhere I wouldn’t be fully appreciating the sensation. I delayed eating it before I had enough to eat of lunch or dinner, too. These two small changes let me eat it only for the full enjoyment of it and not out of habit or hunger. Before I knew it, I was able to savor and appreciate one square of chocolate better than a whole bar eaten in front of a TV. show or before dinner – or sometimes, I confess, for breakfast! I am eating so little of chocolate or candy now, that I don’t even know how many months its been since I last bought any! If you are drinking about 2 liters of cola a day, you ARE drinking it when you are thirsty and need water, and possibly when you are hungry and need food if you have the habit of going all day without a meal. Water seems to be an acquired taste, these days, but it will grow on you if you give it a chance. I would like to suggest that you try letting yourself have your usual cola whenever you want, but only after you drink a small glass of good water first, and when you have your cola, think just about the cola, really love it. If you’ve been drinking cola in front of the TV., at least keep your glass of cola in the kitchen so you have to take a little break to drink some. Feel the bubbles on your nose as you lift the glass to your face, feel the bubbles and taste roll around your mouth. In other words – learn to enjoy it even more! If you do that and make sure you are eating healthy food about every four hours and drinking water every two to four, it should be much, much easier to reduce your cola habit. I wish you the best of luck! Holly

A. Well I have seen  theses machines where you add your own liquid ( and you by the CO2 containers) and you make your OWN soda.. it tastes much the same.. and it is less expensive You can use your  own bottles ( 2 liter) to make your own.. The drawbacks are.. it takes room in the kitchen and you would have to buy your own c02 for carbonation,,, I am not sure what they are called but I saw one recently at our city fair and was thinking of purchasing one.. hope this helps!  Bambi

A. To over come my BIG cola habit of 25 years, I switched to water.  I filled a very pretty crystal glass with ice chips, added water and a twist of lemon peel and "indulged" myself for my cola breaks.  It required a few days of really trying, but I made it and now I prefer this "ice water" instead of the colas.  I still have colas, but not nearly as many as before. Good Luck!  Sheila

A. Often times, cravings are an indication of a nutritional deficiency. I am currently on a low-carb regimen of eating to deal with an overgrowth of yeast in the intestines. In addition to dietary changes, I am using whole food supplements. My carb/ sugar cravings have lessened tremendously! God’s blessings upon you as you seek ways to take care of your temple! J.S

A. My husband was stuck on cola for years before we got married, He said that it was the taste that he liked so much and nothing else. I have found a bread recipe that uses cola in-stead of water and it keeps the taste of colas curbed.

A. If it is the caffeine that you are craving, try black tea bags.  Make the tea as strong as you like.  If you want it COLD, make it in advance, refrigerate it and then make ice tea. 

A. Someone once gave me a great hint on this, but it requires self-discipline. Make a habit of drinking one large glass of water BEFORE a glass of cola. In the end you’re a.) getting more water, which is good for your body. b.) not using cola to satisfy thirst, but as a treat and c.) cutting your use at least in half. Good luck!  Brian

Ways To Save Through Free and Low-Cost Medical/Health Services

by Dr. Charlotte Gorman

Medical and health services costs continue to escalate with no cap in sight. But here are a few tips on making use of free or low-cost services that could save you a considerable amount of money:

1. If your employer makes available certain free medical care and medicines to employees (and maybe spouses and dependent children) through a "Company" nurse or doctor, then take full advantage of this benefit. You could cut your medical expenses by a tidy sum.

2. If you are a veteran, find out what medical benefits you could be eligible to receive. Call or write the nearest Veteran’s Affairs office for information. The benefits might make a big difference in how much money you must be out for medical care.

3. If you are a college student, take advantage of free or low-cost medical care and prescription medicines offered by the campus student health services.

4. Check to see if you or your family members qualify for Medicaid (a free medical assistance program). Call or go to your local social services office for information.

5. Call or visit your county and/or city Health Department to see what services are offered free or at a reduced cost. Some services which may be offered are medical examinations, immunizations, well-baby care, prenatal care, and TB (Tuberculosis) testing. If the services you need are not provided by the Health Department, ask where you might receive the care at the least cost.

6. See if you qualify for free or low-cost medical services from various charitable organizations, civic clubs, and other groups. Call your county or city Health Department, local office on aging, and local social services office and ask for information on where you should go for the particular help you need. For example, some Lions Clubs provide free eyeglasses for needy children.

7. Contact the business offices of your local hospitals to see if you are eligible to receive free medical care. Some hospitals offer a certain amount of free care, for example, for indigent persons.

8. Take advantage of free tests. For example, some offices of the American Cancer Society provide free colorectal cancer testing. Some national chain department stores offer free hearing tests at various times throughout the year. Some pharmacies located in national chain grocery stores provide equipment within the stores for free, do-it-yourself blood pressure tests. Getting free tests cuts down on your outlay.

9. Watch the newspaper for upcoming Health Fairs and similar public events where a variety of free tests, screening, and information may be available. The following are a few examples of what might be offered: information on alcohol and other drugs; birth control information; blood pressure checks; dental screening; fitness testing; glaucoma screening; nutritional information; stress management information; vision screening; bone density tests; and hearing exams. Not having to pay for these will lower your medical/health expenditures.

10. If you, a family member, or a friend has a drinking problem, call Alcoholics Anonymous for free help. Locate the number in your telephone directory.

11. If you are unsure of where to turn for free and low-cost medical help, call or visit several local churches. The ministers and other church personnel usually will be able to direct you to appropriate places which provide the help you need.

12. Check with your local Health Department and social services office for information on where you can obtain free or low-cost mental health counseling.

13. Inquire at your community mental health services to see if you are eligible for free or reduced-cost mental health counseling. Charges usually are made on a sliding scale.

14. Talk with your minister to see if he or she provides mental health counseling. Such counseling normally will be free.

15. If you are a college student, check with the Psychology Department, Counseling Center, or other appropriate department or office to see if mental health counseling is offered free or at a low cost to students.

*Dr. Charlotte Gorman is an Extension Agent, Family & Consumer Sciences, Texas Cooperative Extension, Texas A & M University System. She is the author of The Frugal Mind, The Little Book of Living Frugal, and Speak for Yourself – [email protected]

Ways To Save On Grooming Expense – Part II

by Dr. Charlotte Gorman

Simply put, most people have to have at least a minimum amount of grooming. Some require more than others because of their particular jobs or contact with the public.

If not carefully controlled, the buying of grooming aids and services can take a large bite out of your budget. The suggestions below will help you keep you and your family properly groomed while keeping the expenses to a minimum.

1. Use a lip brush to get the remaining lipstick from down inside the tube. The lip brush will quickly pay for itself by enabling you to get additional lipstick. Since about one-fourth to one-third of the lipstick is down inside the tube, the use of the brush should cut your lipstick expenditures by approximately 25 to 33 percent. Over the years, you could save several hundred dollars.

2. Use petroleum jelly for cleaning makeup from your eyes and face. Petroleum jelly usually is much lower in price than facial cleansers.

3. Some stores which sell cosmetics will do a complete makeup job free of charge. If you are going to have to replace a makeup item which you have exhausted or if you would like to try a new inexpensive item, such as a lipstick or blush, why not take advantage of the expertise of the makeup demonstrator. Don’t be pressured into buying every item that the demonstrator uses on your face, but don’t go through the makeup session if you have no intention whatsoever of buying anything. The prices of the items normally are higher than comparable items at a discount store, for example, so watch yourself; or you could end up "paying" for the makeup session.

4. Shampoo and style your own hair and that of family members at home. Doing this at home is far cheaper than having it done at the beauty or barber shop.

5. Dye or color rinse your and family members’ hair at home. Coloring hair will be much more expensive at the beauty salon or barber shop.

6. Unless your hair is in "bad" condition, don’t let your beautician or barber put special conditioners on it or give it special oil treatments. You could save several dollars. Even if your hair does need special conditioners or treatments, give your hair this special care at home yourself and save the several dollars.

7. If you have the ability, cut your hair and family members’ hair at home rather than go to the beauty shop or barber shop. You could save $10 to $25 or more per haircut.

8. If you can’t cut your or family members’ hair, perhaps you can at least trim your own and family members’ hair between cuts by a professional. This will result in fewer visits to the beauty shop or barber shop and less expense for you.

9. Give yourself and family members home permanents instead of getting them done at the beauty shop. Home perms will be much cheaper. Follow carefully the directions which come with the home permanents. If you can’t give yourself perms, maybe a friend or family member could help.

10. Wash (roll, if necessary) and dry your own hair and that of your family at home, and just get a "comb-out" at the beauty salon. A "comb-out" will cost only a fraction of the price of the complete works.

11. Call the local cosmetology schools (beauty schools/colleges) or barber schools and volunteer to have your name placed on the list of people to serve as models on which the instructors can demonstrate hair cutting, perming, shampooing, conditioning, hair rolling, coloring, styling, and blow drying to students. Getting occasional free hair care decreases your outlay.

12. Get permanents, shampoos and sets, cuts, and other hair care at cosmetology schools (beauty schools/colleges) or barber schools. Their regular prices could easily save you from 50 to 85 percent of the prices at beauty salons and barber shops. Call for information and an appointment. Even though students will be doing the work, instructors will oversee their work. I have always been pleased with the quality of the work students have done on my hair.

13. Watch the newspaper for specials at cosmetology schools (beauty schools/colleges) and barber schools. For example, at a cosmetology school I once got a permanent on sale for $7.50 (one-half off the regular price) which also included a cut, shampoo, and set. There is a wide gap between $7.50 and what most beauty salons charge for a permanent.

14. Watch the newspaper for specials at beauty salons and barber shops. For example, one advertisement read, "Hair specials–permanents, shampoo and styling, cuts–2 for 1 on Thursdays in March. Bring a friend and split the cost." Another stated, "Permanents half-price for the month of January." Such specials could ease your financial burden for hair care.

15. If you have to resort to paying full price at a beauty salon or barber shop, then call eight to ten different ones. Ask what their prices are for particular items, such as permanents, cuts, shampoos and styling, conditioning, coloring, and "comb-outs." The prices normally vary a great deal among the different salons and barber shops.

16. Let your hair dry naturally, and save yourself the expense of buying a hair dryer and the electricity required to operate it.

Dr. Charlotte Gorman is an Extension Agent – Family & Consumer Sciences, Texas Cooperative Extension, Texas A & M University System. She is the author of The Frugal Mind, The Little Book of Living Frugal, and co-author of Speak for Yourself: A Handbook on Practical Public Speaking.

The Healing Power of Honey

By Elizabeth Cole, author of 101 Things To Do With Honey

Apitherapy, the treatment of various conditions using honeybee products, has been around a long time. Honey is one of the oldest medicines we have, with proof of its healing power dating back more than 5000 years. Even Hippocrates found that honey "cleans sores and ulcers of the lips, heals carbuncles and running sores." It has been a staple ingredient of folk medicines throughout the ages and now, it is even gaining credibility with current medical and scientific communities. British researchers have proven that applying raw honey to fresh wounds prevents infection as well as any medication and often eliminates the need for antibiotics. They have also learned that honey-treated cuts and scrapes heal quicker than those treated with medicated ointments. Other researchers have found that honey can alleviate asthma, calm nerves and induce sleep, ease pain and relieve diarrhea.

Raw honey can be a valuable part of your "First Aid Kit." Here’s a few suggestions:

Bee Stings : Dab on a bit of honey immediately. It helps draw the stinger out, eases the pain and neutralizes poisons.

Blisters : Combine 1 tsp. honey, 1 tsp. Aloe Vera gel and 10 drops lavender oil. Dab on blister, cover with bandage. Change bandage and repeat 2 to 3 times per day.

Burns : Immediately spread a thin layer of raw honey over the burn. Especially good for oil splatter type burns and steam burns, but of benefit to all types of burns. It relieves stinging, prevents blisters and infection, and speeds healing.

Sunburn : Combine 1 cup of apple cider vinegar, 1/4 cup of honey and 1/4 cup of Aloe Vera gel . Paint onto sunburned skin with pastry brush or damp sponge.

Wounds : The high levels of potassium found in honey make it very difficult, if not impossible, for bacteria to survive. Applying a thin layer of raw honey to any cut, scrape or scratch is beneficial.

Beyond treating injury and illness, there are other reasons to pay attention to honey. Incorporating it into your daily diet is an excellent step to take towards maintaining general good health. Dr. D.C. Jarvis says, "I am saddened when people tell me that they don’t eat honey because it costs more than white sugar. In the long run, you must pay either the grocer or the druggist."

Honey can be substituted for white sugar very easily, even in baking, and the health benefits for everyone but especially for children are worth every penny.

By Elizabeth Cole, author of 101 Things To Do With Honey