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Last Updated:
Thu, 16 Oct 2014, 16:34 GMT
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WHY MUSCLES BECOME TENSE

One of the hormones produced in the body during periods of stress is called adrenaline. This causes skeletal muscles to increase their level of tone – the number of fibres in a state of contraction at any one time. If this persists, muscles can become fatigued and depending on where they are in the body they can become shortened or over stretched.

The muscles which are usually most affected are those in the upper back, neck, shoulders, buttocks and thighs, this can develop into stiffness and discomfort and may eventually limit a persons movement. Back pain, shoulder pain and headaches can all be a result of stiff tense muscles that restrict the circulation and pinch certain nerves. Prolonged time in this state can cause tension and poor circulation, it becomes more difficult for waste products to be carried away and nutrients to be supplied efficiently, while the individual fibres and surrounding connective tissue tend to become less supple and lose their elasticity. These fibres form ‘knots’ or ‘nodules’ that can be felt if the muscle is massaged.

There is a greater risk of exercise-induced injury to these tight muscles in the form of strains and tears to individual fibres causing further pain and discomfort. In addition the brain continues to receive messages of tension from the muscles which perpetuates the vicious cycle of stress throughout the body.

Not all such pain in the muscles is due to muscular problems, for example, arthritis which affects the joints can cause the surrounding muscle to become stiff and uncomfortable, due to lack of use and tension caused by arthritic pain, also inflammation of tendons can result in a muscular pain.

Severe muscle problems such as muscular dystrophy and multiple sclerosis are disorders of the nerves controlling the muscles, sometimes a measure of relief can be found by easing the muscular pain through massage or other forms of alternative therapy.

By: Lesley-Ann Sales - Utah, United States
PERIPHERAL NERVOUS SYSTEM

The peripheral nervous system or “PNS” informs the brain of the world around us and extends beyond the "CNS" central nervous system (the brain and spinal cord) to the limbs and organs. The PNS is not protected by bone structure as is the central nervous system, which leaves it exposed to toxins and mechanical injuries.

The peripheral nervous system is divided into two systems, the somatic nervous system and the autonomic nervous system.

The somatic nervous system is responsible for the coordination of the body and for receiving external stimuli. It is the system that regulates activities that are under conscious control.

The autonomic nervous system is made up of 12 pairs of cranial nerves that start at the base of the brain and 31 pairs of spinal nerves that leave the spinal cord through spaces between the vertebrae.

There are three divisions of the autonomic nervous system, the sympathetic division, parasympathetic division, and enteric division. The sympathetic nervous system responds to impending danger or stress, and is responsible for the increase of our heartbeat and blood pressure. The parasympathetic nervous system is evident when a person is resting and/or feeling relaxed, it is also responsible for the constriction of the pupil, the slowing of the heart, the dilation of the blood vessels and the stimulation of the digestive and genitourinary systems. The purpose of the enteric nervous system is to manage our digestion, from the esophagus to the stomach including the small intestine and colon.

Nerve messages that travel to the brain are called sensory because the bring sensations such as touch, taste or sight, while those travelling from the brain are called motor because they initiate movement. Some cranial nerves are mixed – they are two-way lines that allow both types of signals to pass. The branial nerves mainly serve the head and neck. The only one that travels further into the body is the vagus nerve, this is an important part of the autonomic not the peripheral nervous system.

All 31 pairs of spinal nerves are mixed carrying both sensory messages to and motor signals from the brain. The back of the spinal cord is dedicated to sensory impulses travelling upwards whereas the front deals with the motor impulses moving down. There are twelve pairs of thoracic nerves serving the intercostal muscles and some of the back and abdomen; there are five pairs of sacral nerves which leave through openings in the sacrum and four pairs of coccygeal nerves serving the buttocks, genital region, legs and feet.

Massaging essential oils into our bodies can be a good antidote to stress as can aromatic baths and inhalation which can give a feeling of good health and wellbeing.

By: Lesley-Ann Sales - Utah, United States
DANDRUFF

Also called scurf and historically termed Pityriasis capitis is due to excessive shedding of dead skin cells from the scalp. It is actually a normal proccess for skin cells to die and flake off; the old skin cells are gradually pushed to the surface by new cells form the lower layers, by the time the old skin reaches the surface, the cells have become flat and overlap each other like roof tiles; these cells are dead and are shed from the surface all the time. They are so small that we do not notice this is happening, a small amount of flaking is normal with most people, however some may experience an unusually large amount of flaking, which can also be accompanied by redness and irritation. Flakiness of the scalp can often cause some social embarrassment, it can also be a symptom of seborrhoeic dermatitis.

Dandruff is the most common condition affecting the scalp. Dandruff mostly occurs after puberty, usually between the ages of 20 and 30, and often affects males more than females. Dandruff is not an organism like lice it is just dead skin that accumulates in the scalp. Dandruff is unlikely to be the cause of hair loss.

Dandruff is a global phenomenon and many people are finding that dandruff can cause social or self-esteem problems. Treatment may be important purely for psychological reasons. Dandruff is certainly the most common condition affecting the scalp.

If you have dandruff, the process of skin renewal (or skin turnover) speeds up to twice the normal rate, so a greater number of dead cells are shed. The scalp becomes scaly and the skin cells shed and collect in clumps. They are noticeable when brushing the hair and can gather on the shoulders.

There are a number of hair herbs that can be used to treat the scalp such as nettle and rosemary, olive oil can also be applied to the scalp; a strong chamomile tea is very soothing to an itchy, flaky scalp. If your condition is made worse because of stress then remedies such as valerian and lemon balm can be helpful, Echinacea with red clover is also used to treat these conditions.

To find out more information please contact an herbal aromatherpist.

By: Lesley-Ann Sales - Utah, United States
IS LAUGHTER THE BEST MEDICINE?

Laughter really may be some of the best medicine that we can have, as it appears to boost our blood flow by more than 20 percent - a similar effect to that of aerobic activity, which may reduce the risk of developing heart disease.

The benefits of laughing have also been found to help fight infections, relieve hay fever, ease pain and help control diabetes. When we are feeling run down or without energy - try a little more laughing. Some researchers think laughter just might make the difference, helping us feel better and putting that spring back in our step.

Medical studies indicate that laughter boosts levels of endorphins, these are the body’s natural painkillers, and suppress levels of epinephrine, the stress hormone.

Laughter establishes and can restore a positive emotional climate and a sense of connection between two people; In fact, some say that the major function of laughter is to bring people closer together, the health benefits of laughter may simply result from the social support that laughter stimulates.

The sounds we hear represent just a fraction of the vibrational energy that surrounds us. There are a wide range of sounds that we are able to hear, from the crash of thunder to the song of a bird; just as we can be affected by sounds, not just through hearing them but also through feeling them we can produce sounds that use and set free our own vibrational energies.

There is evidence that laughter helps the blood vessels function better. It acts on the inner lining of blood vessels, called the endothelium, causing vessels to relax and expand which in turn increases the blood flow, this is good for the heart and brain as both of these organs require the steady flow of oxygen carried in the blood.

We know that laughter reduces stress it may also keep us balanced in a busy world which can often be too serious. If you are able to laugh loudly and often you have a much better chance of coping with the stresses in life. When something amuses you, don’t hold back your feelings – let your laughter flow.

By: Lesley-Ann Sales - Utah, United States
SCOTS PINE

The Pine Family consists of more than 100 species; Scots Pine is also know as Pinus Sylvester’s is the most widespread variety and also recognised as the safest to use therapeutically. This tall evergreen conifer grows to over 35 meters in height, the crown at first conical later becoming distinctly flattened. It has deeply fissured reddish-brown bark, pairs of bluish-green needles and pointed brown cones. The tree is native to the mountainous regions of northern and western Europe and parts of Russia.


The best quality essential oil is captured from steam distillation of the needles. Pine essential oil can also be extracted from the cones, twigs and wood chippings, but the aroma is quite harsh and is not recommended for aromatherapy.

Oil that is extracted from the needles of Scots Pine is colourless to pale yellow. It has a very strong dry balsamic aroma with a camphoraceous undertone – the effect is most refreshing and cooling. It has many medical uses among which is recognised as a powerful antiseptic oil which can be added to massage blends and rubbed into arthritic joints and areas of muscular soreness, it is also used to detoxify the body through, it is effective in stream inhalations for respiratory ailments such as acute bronchitis, sinusitis, colds and the flu.


By: Lesley-Ann Sales - Utah, United States

 


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