Category Archives: Health and Beauty

5 All-Natural Ways to Keep From Being a Two-Minute Man

The two-minute man is a title no man wants to claim. Pride aside, as many as 1 in 3 men say they would like to last longer in bed. If you want your lovemaking to go the distance, researchers say there are several all-natural remedies you can try to extend your performance in the bedroom.

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1. Reduce Your Stress
If it’s hard for you to perform when stressed, imagine how your man’s “little guy” feels. Mayo Clinic researchers say that stress is one of the leading psychological factors contributing to erectile dysfunction. Before resorting to more elaborate measures to increase your stamina in bed, take an honest assessment of your stress level. If work or family obligations are causing you to feel more anxiety than normal, your best bet is to take steps to manage your stress. Taking just a few minutes each day to practice meditation can ease your anxiety and make you more effective when it matters most.

2. Incorporate More Meatless Mondays
Steak and potatoes may be a man’s meal, but a study published in the Yale Medical Journal makes a strong case for why a plant-based diet can help you last longer during sex. Researchers compared the performance results of omnivorous athletes with those of vegetarians and semi-vegetarians. Even though half of the vegetarian/semi-vegetarian group was comprised of sedentary individuals, they outperformed the meat-eating athletes in a series of endurance tests. Among the tests was a knee bend challenge. Thirty-three percent of the omnivores could do more than 353 knee bends while 81 percent of the vegetarian/semi-vegetarian group exceeded that number.

3. Lay Off the Alcohol
One to two drinks is fine, but that six-pack of beer can shut down the party in the bedroom before it gets started. According to a study published in the Indian Journal of Psychiatry, sexual dysfunction was pervasive in men who struggled with alcohol dependency. Of the 100 male alcoholics who participated in that study, 72 percent had one or more sexual dysfunctions. Among the top three dysfunctions were premature ejaculation, low sexual desire, and erectile dysfunction.

4. Do Kegels With Your Partner
Kegels aren’t just for women. These simple, yet effective, contracting exercises strengthen your pelvic floor muscles and can lead to firmer erections and improved ejaculatory control. To do the exercise, contract the same muscles you would use to stop the flow of urine midstream and then release. The Urology Care Foundation recommends doing 45 Kegel exercises twice daily to experience maximum benefits.

5. Consider Herbal Supplementation
Science supports the use of certain herbal supplements like Vimax to boost your efforts in the bedroom. One of the more effective supplements you can try is Vimax Asli. Vimax Asli Canada is comprised of the phytochemical ginsenoside, which researchers concluded was an effective all-natural medicine to help “improve sexual life in men with sexual dysfunction.” Yohimbe, an alkaloid that comes from a West African evergreen tree with the same name, has been used for more than 70 years to treat both men and women with sexual problems. Researchers have found that it may be particularly effective in treating erectile dysfunction. If you think you might want to incorporate herbal supplements into your diet, talking with a holistic medicine practitioner can help you determine the best dosage to meet your needs.

As you explore some of these all-natural stamina-enhancing suggestions, remember to be patient with your progress. Frustration will only add to your stress and prolong the time it takes to see results. If you make an honest effort at each of these recommendations and are still unhappy with your performance, talk to your health care provider about other possible medical interventions.

Lower Certain Blood

A new study suggests that liposuction — which plastic surgeons often use to sculpt the bodies of people who aren’t extremely overweight — can lower levels of a type of blood fat called triglycerides.

“High triglyceride levels are known to be associated with an increased risk of cardiovascular disease,” study author Dr. Eric Swanson, a plastic surgeon, said in a news release from the American Society of Plastic Surgeons. “The decrease in these levels after liposuction was surprisingly dramatic, and revealed that the permanent removal of excess fat cells by liposuction has a major impact on circulating levels of triglycerides.”

The research doesn’t definitively prove that liposuction caused levels to drop, however, and an outside researcher questioned the value of the study.

The study looked at 270 women and 52 men who underwent either liposuction, a tummy tuck (known as an abdominoplasty), or both. On average, the patients were slightly overweight, although they ranged from nearly underweight to morbidly obese.

The patients underwent fasting blood tests before surgery, one month afterward, and again three months afterward. At three months after surgery, triglyceride levels dropped from an average of 151.8 milligrams per deciliter (mg/dL) to 112.8 mg/dL in patients who underwent liposuction alone, representing a decrease of 25.7 percent; they fell by 43 percent in those with levels considered to be “at risk” — that is, 150 mg/dL or more.

Levels of white blood cells also dipped after liposuction and in patients who had both procedures. (High white blood cell counts are linked with an increased level of inflammation within the body and have been associated with coronary heart disease, high blood pressure and diabetes.) Levels of cholesterol and blood sugar didn’t change significantly.

Commenting on the study, University of Colorado researcher Rachael Van Pelt, who has studied the after-effects of liposuction, said the findings are “virtually meaningless” because triglyceride levels vary from day to day, and the researchers didn’t include a control group.

In addition, “changes in lifestyle (diet and exercise) over time would have profound effects on serum triglycerides, so without knowing how this changed over time in these surgery patients, one can’t attribute any improvements to the surgery per se,” said Van Pelt, an associate professor of medicine at the University of Colorado Anschutz Medical Campus.

Anti Wrinkle Problem Tips

Preliminary industry-funded research suggests that a gel based on the active ingredient of the injectable Botox wrinkle treatment could help reduce the lines around the eyes known as crow’s feet — without the pain of needles.

The effects of the gel, which uses botulinum toxin, last for about four months, comparable to that produced by Botox injections, the researchers said.

The new study is encouraging since it showed that the gel “noticeably softened crow’s feet,” said study author Dr. Michael Kane, a plastic surgeon at the Manhattan Eye, Ear and Throat Hospital in New York City. He has served as an investigator and consultant to Revance Therapeutics of Mountain View, Calif., the gel maker that has been trying to develop a Botox alternative for several years.

There are several caveats, he pointed out. It’s not clear how much the treatment would cost, whether it would work better than injected Botox or when it might be available.

The gel is “not commercialized, it’s not approved,” Kane said, noting the research is part of a phase II clinical trial. “No one is going to be running to the doctor and getting this until phase III studies are done and the FDA rules.”

Botox — produced, like the gel, from the botulinum toxin — weakens or paralyzes muscles or nerves. In targeted injections, cosmetic plastic surgeons use small doses of it to smooth facial wrinkles.

Botox treatment can be painful and cost hundreds of dollars, however, and may result in “the appearance of a ‘frozen,’ insincere smile,” according to the study abstract. And Botox injections can cause bruising, said Dr. Seth Thaller, chief of the Division of Plastic, Aesthetic and Reconstructive Surgery at the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine.

A pain-free, less expensive wrinkle treatment would likely boost the field of non-invasive cosmetic surgery. Despite their drawbacks, injections of Botox and another wrinkle relaxer, Dysport, are the most popular minimally invasive cosmetic surgery procedures performed in the United States, according to the American Society for Aesthetic Plastic Surgery.

Fingers Prune Up

If you’ve ever spent too much time in the pool, or if you like to unwind at the end of a hard day with an hours-long soak in the tub, you’re probably familiar with the “pruney fingers” phenomenon. Believe it or not, scientists have been studying this raisin-like effect for decades, trying to figure out why your hands (and sometimes your feet) get so wrinkly when wet.

One popular idea is that your skin simply becomes waterlogged. According to the Library of Congress, the epidermis, or outer layer of skin, is made up of dead keratin cells that absorb moisture when immersed in water for an extended period of time. This absorption causes the cells to swell, but because they’re still connected to the underlying tissue, which does not expand, the outer skin has to wrinkle to compensate for its larger surface area. It’s a little like having a king-size sheet for a queen-size mattress: The extra material has nowhere to go, so it bunches up unevenly on top.

But why are only your fingers and toes affected — why doesn’t your entire body wrinkle? Scientists say it’s because our hands and feet have the thickest epidermis and thus more keratin cells to absorb water. (Your nails also contain keratin, which is why they may feel softer after you do the dishes.)

Is There a Purpose to Pruning?

The problem with this hypothesis is that it doesn’t really account for the fact that fingers and toes don’t wrinkle when their nerve endings have been severed, as by injury or complications from diabetes. This can be explained by a different theory, which proposes that the prune-like effect is due not to skin saturation but to a reaction in the central nervous system — a “classic mechanics problem,” as Columbia University biomechanical engineer Xi Chen, PhD, explained it to Nature News.

The mechanics theory is based on the idea of vasoconstriction, or the narrowing of blood vessels. Basically, when fingers and toes are immersed in hot or cold water, nerve endings fire off signals that cause your blood vessels to constrict and the tissue below your skin’s surface to contract. This, in turn, forces the outermost layer of skin to buckle, resulting in wrinkling.

Hair Loss Problem Tips

As if the heartache of divorce wasn’t hardship enough, it appears that women enduring marital break-up may also have to deal with hair loss.

New research reveals that, genetics aside, the next strongest predictor of midline (central) hair loss among women is their marital status, with the loss of a spouse (through either divorce or death) raising the risk for thinning hair above that of married or single women.

“Most likely, stress is the aspect of a troubling divorce that appears to lead to hair loss among women,” noted study author Dr. Bahman Guyuron, chairman of the department of plastic surgery at Case Western Reserve School of Medicine.

Excessive drinking and/or smoking also appear to boost the risk for hair loss among women, the study found.

Smoking and heavy drinking also contributed to thinning locks among men, the study found. But in other respects the two genders were affected differently, with various patterns of male hair loss sparked by overexposure to the sun, cancer history and having a “couch potato” lifestyle, among others.

“What we can say is that we identified factors that appear to both raise risk and lower risk, for both men and women, independent of genetic disposition,” Guyuron said.

He is slated to present the findings from two related studies on Sunday at the American Society of Plastic Surgeons’ annual meeting, in Denver.

In the first study, the authors focused exclusively on a pool of 84 female identical twins, all of whom completed lifestyle questionnaires, followed by hormone blood level testing and an extensive photo analysis of their hair. Studies of identical twins can be useful because each twin carries the same genes as the other, ruling out genetic differences as a potential cause for a trait or illness.

Across the temporal area (near temples) of the head, the team found that the more years a woman had smoked the greater the hair loss. A history of skin conditions also contributed to hair loss in that area, while having just a couple drinks per week actually seemed to reduce the risk.

Helathy Dry Winter Skin

Winter brings cold, crisp days, fun seasonal activities, and snowy nights spent by a warm fire. But not all elements of winter are so enjoyable. For one, there’s dry winter skin, which can be exacerbated by the cold winter air outside and warm, dry air inside. This year, do your best to guard against the factors that cause dry, itchy skin.

Winter Itch Factors: How to Prevent Dry Winter Skin

Start by addressing the factors that irritate dry skin. Consider your indoor and outdoor environments, your skin care regimen, and even what you wear.

Low humidity. As temperatures fall, so do humidity levels, and the loss of moisture can cause your skin to become dry and itchy. Heat from furnaces, radiators, woodstoves, and fireplaces can also suck the moisture out of the air inside your home, which can dry out your skin even more. Put moisture back into the air by using a humidifier in the rooms you spend the most time in — both at home and in your office.

The loss of your skin’s natural oils. Washing your hands and showering frequently can actually strip your skin of its natural oils. One of the best ways to combat dry, itchy skin and keep your skin moist and supple is to moisturize it immediately after you wash your hands or take a shower. Moisturizers work by sealing moisture into your skin, so just pat your skin partially dry with a towel — don’t rub skin dry as this can remove your skin’s protective oils — and apply a moisturizing lotion or emollient to your damp skin.

Inferior moisturizers. Not all moisturizers are effective at alleviating winter itch. Water-based lotions and creams don’t lock in moisture as well as the oil-based ones. Thick, emollient moisturizers that come in ointment form typically contain the most oil, which makes them a smart choice for really dry skin. Petroleum jelly is a good example of this type of ointment-style moisturizer. Apply a small amount to your skin and be sure to rub it in well. If you prefer to use a moisturizing cream, look for one that contains petrolatum, mineral oil, or glycerin.

Chapped lips. Your lips are often the first to succumb to cold winter air. Find a lip moisturizer that you like and apply it often. Barbara R. Reed, MD, clinical professor of dermatology, University of Colorado Health Sciences Center in Denver, CO, and in private practice at Denver Skin Clinic, recommends an emollient-based moisturizer for the lips that is soothing and has no irritants. “I do not recommend products with menthol or phenol as they may be irritating.”

The Roots of Gray Hair

The roots of gray hair may lie in a particular type of communication between hair follicles and melanocyte stem cells, the cells that make and store the pigments in skin and hair, a new study suggests.

Using mouse models, researchers at NYU Langone Medical Center found that Wnt signaling, already known to control many biological processes, may explain how these stem cells work together to produce hair color and generate hair growth.

“We have known for decades that hair follicle stem cells and pigment-producing melanocycte cells collaborate to produce colored hair, but the underlying reasons were unknown,” said Mayumi Ito, assistant professor of dermatology at NYU Langone in a news release from NYU. “We discovered Wnt signaling is essential for coordinated actions of these two stem cell lineages and critical for hair pigmentation.”

Researchers found the lack of Wnt activation in melanocyte stem cells leads to de-pigmented, or gray hair. They also showed that abnormal Wnt signaling in hair follicle stem cells prevents hair re-growth. The study’s authors concluded their findings could serve as a model for tissue regeneration.

“The human body has many types of stem cells that have the potential to regenerate other organs,” noted Ito. “The methods behind communication between stem cells of hair and color during hair replacement may give us important clues to regenerate complex organs containing many different types of cells.”

The researchers added the study, published in the June 11 issue of Cell, could help shed light on diseases in which melanocytes are either lost or grow uncontrollably as in melanoma.

Rules All About Sunscreens

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration said Tuesday it will require new labeling for sunscreens to identify products that are best for reducing the risk of skin cancer, early skin aging and helping to prevent sunburn.

Under the new rule, sunscreens that protect against both ultraviolet A rays (UVA) and ultraviolet B (UVB) rays can be labeled “Broad Spectrum.” UVB rays and UVA rays both can cause sunburn, skin cancer, and premature skin aging; UVB rays are the main source of sunburn, FDA officials explained.

The new rules will also require sunscreens to have a sun protection factor (SPF) of 15 or more or they won’t be able to claim that they help prevent sunburn and possibly reduce the threat of premature skin aging and skin cancer — if used with other measures to protect against the sun.

“Sunscreens that meet the new test for Broad Spectrum protection and are also SPF 15 or above can, for the first time, include the statement ‘used as directed reduces the risk of early skin aging and skin cancer when used with other sun protection measures,’ ” Dr. Janet Woodcock, director of the FDA’s Center for Drug Evaluation, said during a Tuesday morning news conference.

The new labels will, for the most part, not been seen until next summer, she said.

Sunscreens with a SPF of 2 to 14 can be labeled as “Broad Spectrum,” but only those Broad Spectrum products with an SPF of 15 or more can claim they reduce the risk of skin cancer and early skin aging, according to the new regulation.

Any sunscreen that is not Broad Spectrum or a Broad Spectrum sunscreen with an SPF between 2 and 14 will have to carry a warning saying the product has not been found to prevent skin cancer or early skin aging.

Sunscreens labels will also have a “Drug Fact Box,” Woodcock said. And, sunscreens can no longer be called sunblocks, she said, “because we don’t want to give the impression that complete protection is provided.”

In addition, sunscreens can no longer claim they protect for more than two hours, without approval from the FDA, Woodcock said. The products will also no longer be allowed to state that they are waterproof and sweat-proof. Products can, however, claim to be water-resistant for 40 to 80 minutes. The amount of time the product remains effective must be stated on the label, Woodcock added.

One expert applauded the FDA move.

“Consumers need simplified and user-friendly guidelines to help them choose an effective sunscreen. The new guidelines will make it easier for dermatologists to make recommendations about sunscreens and for consumers to choose an effective sunscreen to protect their skin,” said Dr. Jennifer A. Stein, assistant professor in the department of dermatology at NYU School of Medicine in New York City. “These new guidelines are a major step in the right direction to help better protect Americans from the dangers of sunburn and helping them reduce their risk of developing skin cancer in their lifetime.”

Healthy Winter Skin

Dry winter air can wreak havoc on your skin — leaving it dry, itchy, and irritated; but there are many simple ways to combat dry skin causes and help keep your skin feeling moist and supple all winter long. Here are 10 ways to get started.

Top 10 Tips for Healthy Winter Skin

1. Invest in a humidifier. Using a humidifier in your home or office will add moisture to dry winter air and help keep your skin hydrated. Run a humidifier in the rooms you spend the most time in, including your bedroom.

2. Lower the thermostat. When it’s chilly outside, what’s the first thing you want to do? Crank up the heat! But central heat can make the air in your house even drier. Try setting the thermostat at a cool, yet comfortable setting — 68°F to 72°F — to maintain healthy skin.

3. Skip hot showers. Although it may be tempting to warm up with a long, steamy shower, hot water dries out your skin by stripping it of its natural oils. Instead, take a 5- to 10-minute lukewarm shower (or bath). You should also avoid using excessively hot water when washing your hands — if the water causes your skin to turn red, it’s too hot.

4. Choose cleanser wisely. The wrong soap can worsen itchy, dry skin. For instance, steer clear of regular bar soaps, since they tend to contain irritating ingredients and fragrances. Instead, start washing with a fragrance-free, moisturizing cleanser or gel. You can also prevent winter skin problems by using less soap, so limit your lathering to necessary areas, such as your hands, armpits, genitals, and feet.

5. Modify your facial skin care regimen for the season. During the winter months, choose cream-based cleansers, and apply toners and astringents sparingly, if at all. Many astringents contain alcohol, which can further dry your skin. Look for products that contain little or no alcohol — unless your skin is excessively oily. At night, use a richer moisturizer on your face.

Dry Skin Product

Daily exposure to the elements — sun, wind, rain, heat, and cold — takes a toll on skin. And if you have naturally dry skin, your complexion is even more vulnerable to damage.

That’s why a consistent beauty routine with effective skin products that protect, clean, and moisturize your skin is essential. Every dry skin care product that you use — your cleanser and moisturizer in particular — should add moisture to your skin and help keep it hydrated.

Sandra Marchese Johnson, MD, a dermatologist with Johnson Dermatology in Fort Smith, Ark., and Jeffrey Benabio, MD, a dermatologist with Kaiser Permanente Medical Group in San Diego, Calif., offer their suggestions to help you find the right products to care for your dry skin.

Choosing a Dry Skin Moisturizer

A rich moisturizer is your go-to skin product to help soften and protect dry skin. Here are some effective options:

  • Vanicream. “My absolute favorite is Vanicream because it is very effective,” Dr. Johnson says. This moisturizing skin cream provides hydration without aggravating your skin. Find it at your local drugstore or online for under $15.
  • Cetaphil. A great all-over moisturizer that comes in lotion and cream formulas, Cetaphil is gentle and fragrance-free and offers rich moisture for dry skin. You can purchase it for between $8 and $15.
  • CeraVe. Available in a thick, rich moisturizing cream or a moisturizing lotion to help add and trap moisture in the skin, CeraVe is sold at most drugstores for $10 to $20, depending on the size of the jar or bottle.
  • Aveeno moisturizers with soy. Soy helps fight the effects of aging, makes skin look smoother, and is a great moisturizer. Johnson recommends any of the Aveeno brand’s moisturizers that contain soy to hydrate dry skin every day.
  • Neutrogena Norwegian Formula. This line of moisturizers and creams contains glycerin, a naturally hydrating substance that helps skin retain moisture. A tube or bottle retails for around $10.
  • AmLactin. This moisturizer contains 12 percent lactic acid, according to Johnson, and is great for dry skin. Pick it up over-the-counter for around $20 a bottle. Lac-Hydrin is a prescription moisturizer available through your dermatologist that is also 12 percent lactic acid. “They are both great passive exfoliators to help remove excess dry skin,” she explains.