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One of the core principles to remember when it comes to your skin is that whatever you slather onto your skin will absorb into your body and enter your bloodstream. This is why it's so important to avoid personal care products containing questionable chemicals! Your skin is an excellent drug delivery system, so you should be just as careful with what you put on your skin as you are with what you eat, if not more so, as your gut actually helps protect you against some of the toxins you ingest by filtering them out.
Physiologist and biochemist Ray Peat, Ph.D. considers coconut oil an antioxidant, due to its stability and resistance to oxidation and free radical formation. Plus, he believes it reduces our need for the antioxidant protection of vitamin E. Like Dr. Peat, many believe coconut oil may help restore more youthful-looking skin. When absorbed into your skin and connective tissues, it helps reduce the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles by helping to keep your connective tissues strong and supple. It also aids in exfoliating the outer layer of dead skin cells, making your skin smoother.
Part of the "secret" that makes coconut oil such a healthful oil is its high lauric acid content—about 50 percent of coconut oil is lauric acid. This fat is quite rare in nature, and has a unique set of health promoting properties. For example, your body converts lauric acid into monolaurin, which has anti-viral, anti-bacterial and anti-protozoa properties, which may also help explain its potent healing powers when used topically for skin and scalp issues. Capric acid, another coconut fatty acid present in smaller amounts, has also been found to have antimicrobial activity.
massage image

Health, February 2007

Massage:
It’s real medicine

An hour on the table can fight pain,

boost your immunity, help you sleep, and more

 

by Kristyn Kusek Lewis

Having your honey rub your back is sweet, but it’s tough to compete with the hands of a pro. A good massage therapist can make you feel like a new woman. And now research suggests massage can ease insomnia, boost immunity, prevent PMS, and more. Maybe that’s why hospitals are making it a standard therapy.

“All of our surgery patients are offered the treatment—I call it ‘service with a smile’—and it’s a mandatory weekly prescription I give myself,” says Mehmet C. Oz, MD, director of the Cardiovascular Institute at New York Presbyterian Hospital–Columbia Presbyterian Medical Center and a member of the board at LLuminari, a health-education company.

Our advice: Enjoy your hands-on time with your sweetie, but set aside some Me Time for a real massage, too. Here are six feel-good reasons.

Goodbye, pain
It sounds like a no-brainer, but rubdowns are especially effective for aches like low-back pain. Researchers at the Group Health Center for Health Studies in Seattle found that massage works better than common treatments like chiropractic therapy and acupuncture. It’s not clear why, but several studies show massage reduces levels of the stress hormone cortisol while boosting the feel-good hormones serotonin and dopamine. Those changes slow your heart rate, reduce blood pressure, and block your nervous system’s pain receptors. Massage also increases blood flow to the muscles, which may help them heal.

A bonus: Massage also seems to ease distress from migraine, labor pain, and even cancer, as well as the body tenderness seen with fibromyalgia, says Tiffany Field, PhD, director of the Touch Research Institute at the University of Miami School of Medicine. Plus, the benefits may last as long as a year after just a few treatments, explains Partap Khalsa, PhD, a chiropractor and a program officer at the National Institutes of Health’s National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine (NCCAM), the agency funding many major studies on massage.

Hello, dreams
Fluctuations in several types of brain waves either relax you or wake you up. Massage increases delta waves—those linked with deep sleep—according to a study at the Touch Research Institute. That’s why it’s easy to drift off on the massage table, Field says.

Nice to have you back, brain power
The Touch Research Institute study that connected massage to sleep also found that a 15-minute chair massage boosted alertness. “Subjects reported that it felt like a runner’s high,” Field says. Tests also show that brain-wave activity stimulated by massage is linked to improved attention.

Take that, colds
Massage helps ward off bugs by boosting your “natural killer cells,” the immune system’s first line of defense against invading illness. “We know that cortisol destroys natural killer cells,” Field explains. “Therefore, since massage decreases cortisol, your immune cells get a boost.” Massage even seems to boost immunity in those people with severely compromised immune systems, such as breast-cancer patients.

Blues, be gone
Less cortisol and more serotonin and dopamine in your system may also mean less stress, anxiety, and depression. “We know that the right side of the frontal lobe of the brain is more active when we’re sad, and the left side’s activated when we’re happy,” Field says. “Our studies have observed that massage decreases activity in the right lobe and increases functioning in the left.” The well-being people feel after a massage is a big reason why some hospitals offer it to anxious patients preparing for surgery and cancer patients going through chemo.

Shove off, PMS
A small study of 24 women with severe PMS found that massage reduced symptoms such as pain, water retention, and mood swings. Try it with proven remedies like exercise (and who-cares-if-they-work solutions like a little dark chocolate).

 

 

 

 



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