May 31, 2011

Australia's Koala Population Continues to Plummet and Could be Extinct by 2040

Every child has an animal they adore. They hang posters in their rooms and snuggle stuffed animals of that species. My favorite animal of childhood was a horse. For my sister, it was the koala bear.

Although not listed as an endangered species, Australia's koala population continues to decline causing scientists to be concerned.  Treehugger reports:

Australia's koalas are in trouble. Since 2003, populations have fallen 20%, leaving the total number of animals somewhere between 43,000 and 80,000. One of Australia's most emblematic animals, koalas are chiefly threatened by three factors: climate change, sexually transmitted diseases, and habitat loss. Things are looking so bad, some estimate that the animal will be extinct by the year 2040.

Image:  AttributionShare Alike Some rights reserved by Webbaliah

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May 30, 2011

Really Natural Beauty: derma e Vitamin A and Green Tea Creme

derma e Advanced Wrinkle Treatment Crème, Vitamin A and Green Tea is a lovely moisturizer that leaves your skin feeling soft and smooth.

Retinol (20,000 IU per 100 g) enhances cell renewal to help diminish the appearance of fine lines, crows' feet, wrinkles, and irregularities. Green Tea, an antioxidant, protects cells from free radical damage and is beneficial for sun-damaged skin. Leaves skin toned and refined. No animal testing. Made in USA.

I really love the texture of this cream. It does not leave your skin feeling oily, yet it feels like it really does the job hydrating the face, besides derma e is a company you can trust.

All derma e® product packaging contains a Natural & Organic Seal to indicate that our formulas contain natural, and often certified organic active ingredients. The products themselves are not certified organic. Additionally, all of our products have a safe, effective delivery system free of parabens, phthalates, sodium lauryl sulfates, petrolatum, mineral oil, artificial colors and are 100% vegetarian and cruelty-free.

Disclosure: I was sent free samples of these products to review. No prior assurances were given as to whether the review be positive or negative.

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May 27, 2011

Numi Organic Tea Chest: 18 Assorted Flavors Committed to People, Planet, and Pure Tea

Numi is one of my favorite organic tea brands. Numi Organic Tea Tea Chest allows you to sample 18 different varieties of pure tea!

From fertile hills to sun-kissed meadows... from smooth earthy tones to light floral scents, we proudly bring you our palette of teas and herbal teasans. These Gifts of Nature have soothed, roused, healed and been shared for centuries. Green Tea: Gunpowder Green, Jasmine Green, Toasted Rice, Mate Lemon, Ginger Lemon Black Tea: Aged Earl Grey, Breakfast Blend, Decaf Black Vanilla, Golden Chai Pu-erh Tea: Chocolate Pu-erh, Emperor's Pu-erh, Magnolia Pu-erh White Tea: White Rose Herbal Teasan: Chamomile Lemon, Rooibos, Moroccan Mint, Rooibos Chai, Honeybush"

The tea chest is reusable and made from 85% post-consumer waste. The tea bags are biodegradable.
Numi inspires well-being of mind, body and spirit through the simple art of tea. Our company is rooted in the principle of creating a healthful product that nurtures people and honors the planet. In all of our company initiatives, we strive to foster a healthy, thriving global community while bringing you the purest, best-tasting organic tea.

Disclosure: I was sent free samples of these products to review. No prior assurances were given as to whether the review be positive or negative.

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May 26, 2011

EVs Coming to Japan: Chevy Volt and Volkswagon

Japan is known for it's car technology, as well as nuclear disaster, so I find it ironic that German and American car companies are brining their EVs to the Japanese market.
Green Car Congress reports:

Volkswagen AG plans to introduce electric vehicles based on its Up! and Golf compact cars in the Japanese market within three years, according to Gerry Dorizas, head of VW's Japanese unit.

In addition to releasing EVs in Japan, Dorizas says the German auto giant will debut more competitively priced hybrid vehicles. It unveiled its first hybrid model in January, a luxury sport utility vehicle priced at 8.98 million yen.

Dorizas indicated the company expects 14% of passenger car sales in the Japanese market to be hybrid vehicles this year and is looking to add less-expensive models to help broaden its customer base.

AutoblogGreen reports:
On Wednesday, the Chevrolet Volt made its Japanese debut at the opening of the annual Spring Congress of the Japan Society of Automotive Engineers in Yokohama. The Volt will be on display at Chevrolet's stand throughout the three-day event, which is expected to draw some 70,000 visitors from industry, academia, government and media. General Motors Japan managing director Sumito Ishii says that showcasing the Volt in Yokohama is:
A great opportunity for General Motors to highlight our advanced technology leadership in front of the tech-savvy community in Japan. It will also contribute to awareness of the Chevrolet brand in one of the world's largest vehicle markets.

Hopefully they find another source of power other than nuclear to charge these cars.

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May 25, 2011

Really Natural Books: Energy, Convenient Solutions: How Americans Can Solve the Energy Crisis in Ten Years

Energy, Convenient Solutions: HOW AMERICANS CAN SOLVE THE ENERGY CRISIS IN TEN YEARS by Howard Johnson offers solutions using current technology that would solve the energy crisis. He explains how the energy crisis does not need to be solved just because of climate change, peak oil, etc., but we should focus on solutions to prevent "economic collapse and war".

This book is a collection of descriptions of energy systems-past, present, and future-and of many possible and practical ways to replace fossil fuels with renewable fuels or nonfuel energy systems. All of the new systems described could lead to no-net carbon dioxide addition to our atmosphere. Using easily understandable terminology, the book describes the many energy systems, sources, fuels, conversions and usages that comprise our total energy system. Use of the information in the book could lead to new, safer power plants, new powering and fueling systems for our vehicles, and greater energy efficiency and reliability. These systems are real and practical alternatives that will replace the use of fossil fuels and stop the hemorrhaging of billions of U.S. dollars for petroleum imports.

This book is easy to read; however, it's simplicity is also deceiving. There seems to be a common theme of a less intrusive government, and I do not agree with Johnson's thoughts that we should be drilling for more oil in the US. I am pissed that he calls environmentalists "opportunistic" and "self-serving."

Disclosure: I was sent free samples of these products to review. No prior assurances were given as to whether the review be positive or negative.
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May 24, 2011

Where is Away: Solving Plastic Pollution in 4 minutes (Featuring Jack Johnson)

Don't use single use plastic!

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May 23, 2011

Goji, Mocha, Pumpkinseed: 22 Days Vegan Protein Bars

What could you accomplish in 22 days? Apparently, it takes 21 days for our minds "to adjust to a major life change". 22 days vegan protein bars adds a day to challenge you to better nutrition.

We believe that foods made with the finest natural ingredients satisfy not only the body but also the spirit. That's why we created 22 Days nutritional products, a smart alternative to many of the well-known nutrition products on the market. Our vegan and vegetarian products are specially formulated using raw and organic superfoods, including the exceptional benefits of hemp and rice protein. When you eat well, you live well and the benefits go beyond the individual and can actually positively affect our environment.

These bars come in the following varieties:

These are raw food bars, so if you don't like that sort of thing, you may not like them. My son did not like the bar he tried, but my daughter liked hers.

Disclosure: I was sent free samples of these products to review. No prior assurances were given as to whether the review be positive or negative.
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May 20, 2011

Soap Hope: 100% of Profits Lift Women from Poverty (at least for a year)

Shopping is a necessity of modern life (overconsumerism is not), but it does not have to be so evil as profits can be used for good. Soap Hope has exactly that mission in mind targeting women living in poverty:

Women! Women are the key to ending poverty. Women save more, invest more, and are more likely to use their earnings to educate their children and break the cycle of poverty. Soap Hope creates a wonderful connection between successful women and developing women: successful women buy our products, and developing women use our programs to lift themselves from poverty.

Following the "Good Returns" model, 100% of Soap Hope's profits support healthcare, education,water, and opportunity for women.
It's simple: every dollar of profit earned by a Good Returns company goes first to an institution that uses it to solve world problems. After those profits have spent a year in service, the money is returned to Soap Hope. It's like the Peace Corps for money: we volunteer every dollar for a year of service.

Heart and Mind. Soap Hope is a for-profit company with a non-profit mission. We designed the Good Returns model on purpose to combine the best of the business and non-profit worlds. Soap Hope runs with the efficiency and power of a business - then uses the profits with the heart of a nonprofit.

I have to admit I don't quite understand how the money can be returned, unless it is a micro-loan situation like Kiva.

From Pangea Organics to biokleen, Soap Hope features great natural products from companies you can trust! If you need to shop online, Soap Hope helps you do so with a clear conscious that you are supporting women around the world.

Disclosure: I was sent free samples of these products to review. No prior assurances were given as to whether the review be positive or negative.

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May 19, 2011

Mark Your Calendar! 9/24/11 Moving Planet: A Day to Move Beyond Fossil Fuels

If you are of my generation, you remember Hands Across America and We Are The World. Now is your chance to participate in a global movement with your kids.

Moving Planet is a worldwide rally to demand solutions to the climate crisis--a single day to move away from fossil fuels. For too long, our leaders have denied and delayed, compromised and caved. That era must come to an end.

Come on bike, on skates, on a board, or just on foot. Come with your neighbors and your friends, your family and your co-workers. Come be part of something huge. It's time to get moving on the climate crisis.

Mark your calendars! For one day, you can give up fossil fuels! Besides, who knows how much a gallon of gas will cost by September!

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May 18, 2011

Really Natural Health: New Chapter Every Woman's One Daily

Now that I am getting older, I've decided it is time to take a multivitamin. New Chapter Every Woman's One Daily is an organic, whole food vitamin designed for active women.

All of New Chapter's Multi-vitamins are probiotic and whole. The herbs and cultured whole-food vitamins & minerals in each formulation work together to promote optimal health and deliver condition-specific benefits - not just address nutrient deficiencies.* The nutrient needs of men and women can be vastly different - the same can be said for people under forty versus over forty. New Chapter's formulation team takes exacting care with each nutrient in all of our targeted daily Multi-vitamins to benefit the specific needs of the individual.

I trust New Chapter.

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May 17, 2011

14 States Want to Label GMO Foods

Do you live in one of the 14 states with legislation pending that would label GMO foods? I do. California AB 88 specifically targets GE fish, but it is a sign of consumer sentiment regarding all types of GMO food.

Unfortunately, previous attempts to label GMO food have failed. The Organic Consumers Association explains:

When questions are not misleading, every poll shows the vast majority in the US want GMOs labeled. So why don't we have labeling here in the United States? The short answer is that the FDA made policy in 1992 that stands today. Even though there is clear evidence acquired through the Freedom Of Information Act that their scientists knew about possible health problems when they officially established this position, in a letter dated April 12, 2011, they still state that they are not aware of any data that shows genetically engineered food to be any different than non-GMO food and that there is no data that suggests genetically engineered foods are not safe. They don't consider long term effect or the unknown important. End of story...

Oregon tried a labeling initiative in 2002. They were pummeled at the ballot because of a deceptive media campaign. We cannot allow that to happen again. It won't if we unite as a movement and get support from the whole country. We can expect biotech to feel threatened by this and put all their resources into fighting it. They know that what we do in CA, MI and WA will impact the whole country: this is a national issue being fought at a state level. We need the nation's support.

Image:  Attribution Some rights reserved by AZRainman

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May 16, 2011

Really Natural Beauty: Skin by Monica Travel Kit

Packing for trips has become more challenging with TSA regulations. Although I try to avoid tiny packaging, sometimes you need those smaller bottles when jet setting. I have recently stayed in two hotels with bulk EO beauty products in the shower, but you can't always count on natural products at every vacation spot.

Skin by Monica makes a great travel kit:

TSA hasn't been making it exactly easy on women when packing for a trip. To make your life easier, we have manufactured travel size versions of your favorite Skin by Monica products packaged in a clear TSA approved travel kit. Just because you're on the go doesn't mean you can't treat yourself to spa quality products! Travel kit contains: LUSCIOUS moisturizing shampoo, SILK moisturizing conditioner, NUDE moisture- rich body lotion, DRY antiperspirant & deodorant, PERFECTION-C vitamin c crème, O2 pH balancing spray, and RESTORE MSM facial cleanser...

SKIN by Monica Olsen is a revolutionary natural skin care line. Free of parabens, urea, alcohol, petroleum and other harmful chemicals, this is 100% pure skin care without all the junk. It is nourishing, rejuvenating and gentle enough for a baby.

This is truly a convenience item, and I wish the outer packaging that contained the travel kit was made of cloth, such has hemp, to be truly reusable, washable, and long outlast the small travel size bottles. The products are great and are made with many organic ingredients. I love the folding toothbrush.

Skin by Monica also makes a Travel Kit for Men and Baby Travel Kit.

Disclosure: I was sent free samples of these products to review. No prior assurances were given as to whether the review be positive or negative.

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May 13, 2011

Natural Poison Oak Remedies: Derma e Stop Itch

My son has recently been covered in an extensive poison oak rash. Lavender oil and tea tree oil have offered some relief, but I needed to find some other alternative to help deal with the itch, which is really hard to resist when you are six-years-old. Given my experience with the Derma e products we've been sent to review in the past, I purchased Derma E Stop Itch Instant Relief Cream.

Instantly relieve the discomfort of dry, itchy or irritated skin with this soothing, cooling and calming crème. This instant itch relief lasts for hours and works for all types of itching associated with dry skin, insect bites, poison oak, ivy or sumac, and itching from unknown causes. Formulated with derma e®'s unique herbal complex featuring Oat Extract, Chamomile, Chickweed, Evening Primrose Oil and Calendula Oil to provide long-lasting moisture and soothing itch relief. It is also infused with Peppermint Oil for a cooling calming sensation.

Last night when my son was scratching his arm incessantly in his sleep, I smeared some Stop Itch on his arm. The relief was instant, and he was able to go back to restful dreams.

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May 12, 2011

New Study on Cellular Phones and Your Brain

It's relatively common knowledge that cell phone usage is affecting our brains. We've all heard the news that the radiation could cause brain tumors or cancer, and some of these studies have been refuted.

A new study has found that cell phones affect our brain's metabolism. The Baseline of Health Foundation reports:

Now, a new study has proven unequivocally that the radiation emitted from cell phone antennas alters our brain activity. While these effects may not necessarily be harmful, it's impossible to argue any longer that cell phone usage has no physical impact on brain tissue.

The research, which took place through the National Institutes of Health in Bethesda, Maryland, focused on the brain's increased metabolism of glucose while using a cell phone.1 The 47 study volunteers underwent PET scans while holding cells phones to their heads that were either off or on but muted. The scientists discovered that more than 50 minutes of exposure to a cell phone that is on boosts activity in the area of the brain nearest the antenna by approximately seven percent.

The amount of electromagnetic radiation coming off of a cell phone is relatively small, but this study was designed to pick up even small changes in brain metabolism. And it leaves no question that the brain responds to the weak signals when they are in close proximity. Since it is only within the last 20 years that cell phone use has truly exploded, its long-term effects are as yet unknown, and the research performed to date is inconclusive as to exactly how much -- and what kind of -- damage we are causing when we use cell phones regularly.

Although the size of this study is small with only 47 subjects, the results confirm that we should limit our time on cell phones. I think that texting is a better options, as you hold the device away from your body.

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May 11, 2011

Harmony Valley Vegetarian Hamburger Mix

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I've been a vegetarian since I was 16-years-old. I am not one of those people who feels they need fake meat products, so I always approach such reviews with some trepidation.
Harmony Valley Vegetable Hamburger Mix is a soy based mix that is vegan, but full of ingredients that are potential allergens like wheat gluten and soy protein.

Harmony Valley is determined to revolutionize the meatless category, presenting the convenience of a dry mix that is versatile, healthy, delicious and supports sustainability. The dry Vegetarian Hamburger Mix and Vegetarian Breakfast Sausage Mix create the perfect vegetarian replacement for ground meat. Consumers have a meat substitute at their fingertips to incorporate into any recipe, instead of just one option, which is often the case with other meat replacement products. Harmony Valley products are all convenient and easy to use, as the main preparation required is adding water. Take the vegetarian mix off the shelf, and simply hydrate for health and harmony.

"From devoted vegetarians to flexitarians and those simply seeking a healthier option, we believe this contest will attract a variety of personalities, which is reflective of the versatility of our brand," says Dan Berlin, partner at Harmony Valley. A flexitarian himself, Berlin adds that once people discover the great flavor of Harmony Valley, located in the dry food areas versus the freezer where many meat substitutes are placed, they won't go back.

It is a convenient mix to take camping or backpacking, but I prefer nut burgers to soy-based ones. I also think this mix makes a better crumble fake ground beef, like for tacos, than a burger patty.

This product is not organic. It is made with wind power, and the packaging has a recycling symbol with the number 7, but good luck finding a place to actually recycle it.

Disclosure: I was sent free samples of these products to review. No prior assurances were given as to whether the review be positive or negative.

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May 10, 2011

Atlanta: Fluoridated Water is a Civil Rights Issue


The controversy over fluoridated water and its benefits versus health risks has taken a new turn. In a part of the country known for its history of the civil rights movement, civil rights leaders believe mandatory fluoridation violates these basic human rights of equality. Natural News reports:
On April 18, Atlanta civil rights leaders called for an end to Georgia's mandatory water fluoridation practices April on the grounds that it negatively and disproportionately impacts the health of black families and the poor... Studies show that despite fluoridation, tooth decay is higher in blacks. Dental fluorosis, caused by overexposure to fluoride which can result in pitting of tooth enamel and mottling of the teeth, is also higher in blacks.

The Department of Health and Human Services proposes to lower water fluoride levels to alleviate the growing dental fluorosis epidemic but the Fluoride Action Network submitted scientific evidence to HHS indicating that, to preserve health, fluoridation must stop completely...

"I am most deeply concerned for poor families who have babies." Young said. "If they cannot afford unfluoridated water for their babies' milk formula, do their babies not count?"

"This is an issue of fairness, civil rights, and compassion," he said. "We must find better ways to prevent cavities, such as helping those most at risk for cavities obtain access to the services of a dentist."

Image:  Attribution Some rights reserved by wwarby

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May 9, 2011

Green Travel: Gaia Shasta Hotel and Spa

I recently found myself needing a place to stay in the Redding, CA area, one of my least favorite places in the world, and was dreading the night. I searched on my phone for hotel rates using the Kayak app and was pleased to discover the Gaia Shasta Hotel and Spa located in Anderson. I've known about this hotel for awhile, but as it is about ten miles from Redding, if was off my radar of options in my mental search. Not only was my experience at the Gaia extremely pleasant, it was $40 cheaper a night than comparable three star hotels in the area.

We tread lightly at Gaia Shasta Hotel. Our progressive approach to environmental sustainability pairs beautifully with our beautifully appointed guestrooms and suites. Carpet and bathroom tiles are made from recycled materials. Luxurious linens and towels are made of high-quality, long lasting fibers. Solar power helps conserve energy. Recycle bins cut down on landfill waste. Large windows invite natural light while providing amazing views of the outdoors.

The rooms are comfortably large, and the restaurant was very good, although there were only a couple vegetarian options on the menu. The lobby features displays of current power and water usage, and a pedal powered surrey is available to rent, although I don't know where you would go on it. There were swans nesting in the hallways with warning signs they could be aggressive. The bathroom featured bulk shampoo, conditioner, and soap, as well as dual flush toilets. The tubular skylight in the bathroom was a great touch for morning light.  Recycling bins were in the rooms and hallways.  

There were a few things I did find disappointing about the Gaia, but compared to a normal hotel, I can't really complain. The vending machines were full of classic junk food.  I would expect a green hotel to feature healthy food and drink choices.  Although I was very pleased the windows actually opened, my room faced I-5, so the noise was too much to let in the fresh air all night.  I also would have expected organic sheets and towels, as well as coffee (it was fair trade) in the rooms of a green hotel.
I've seen this hotel pop up before in searches for Bay Area accommodations, but it is really far from all the hub bub. It's location is a bit odd, as it is over an hour to Mt. Shasta, but if you need to stay in the Redding area, this is the place!  The Gaia made my difficult journey to Redding much more pleasant!

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May 6, 2011

Really Natural Books: Nutrition at Your Fingertips

Nutrition at Your Fingertips by Elisa Zied, MS, RD, CDN is a handy dandy reference book. From weight management to trace minerals, everything related to nutrition is explained.

"Nutrition at Your Fingertips covers all the basics, from what happens if you eat too little fat to the safest way to defrost food. It also includes helpful charts that provide readers with must-have information, such as which foods contain key vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants, along with their benefits and a breakdown of food label terms. It's the kind of resource people can go back to over and over again."
-Cynthia Sass, MPH, MA, RD, CSSD, New York Times bestselling author

This book contains information useful for vegetarians and omnivores alike, as well as those requiring special diets like diabetics and celiacs. Food sources for vitamins are displayed in easy to read charts, as well as the BMI index for adults. One of the items I found most surprising is that my cup of espresso actually contains about half the caffeine of a cup of brewed coffee!

Disclosure: I was sent free samples of these products to review. No prior assurances were given as to whether the review be positive or negative.

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May 5, 2011

MIT Improves Solar Production with Genetically Modified Virus


As an environmentalist, I am pro solar power and anti genetically modified organisms. Researchers at MIT have combined these two contrary aspects. Ecofriend reports:
MIT researchers have found a way to improve the power conversion efficiency of solar cells. They have used a genetically engineered version of a virus called M13 to help improve one particular step in the process of converting sunlight to electricity.

A solar cell works like this - when sunlight falls on the light-harvesting material, electrons are released and harnessed to produce an electric current. According to the MIT research team, adding microscopic carbon nanotubes (hollow cylinders of pure carbon) can increase the efficiency of electron collection from a solar cell's surface.

I admittedly don't really understand the process; I just know when the sun is out my solar panels make power. Do I think we should be using genetically modified viruses to increase their power? Hell no! It scares me to think what the consequences could be.

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May 4, 2011

Easy Hardwood Floor Cleaning with Refillable, Reusable Microfiber Bona Spray Mop

I have four dogs and two kids. My floors get dirty immediately after cleaning. I don't want to always have to fill up a bucket and mop. I once tried the Swiffer Wet Jet, but I hated the disposable pads, batteries that always died, and the chemical cleaner. I would try to reuse the Swiffer bottles by filling them with something less toxic, but even with channel locks, the lids would not come off without ruining them.

Bona Hardwood-Floor Spray Mop with Replaceable Cleaner Cartridge is a much greener solution. It comes with a microfiber mop pad that washes easily in the washing machine. It requires no batteries, as the spray is triggered with a hand pump. The bottle lids unscrew normally, so you can refill it with any floor cleaner you want to use. You can even buy the Hardwood Floor Cleaner in one gallon size for refilling the cartridge.

An effective, environmentally responsible, and non-toxic formula for all types of residential hardwood floors. Specially designed to be safe for floors, families, and the environment.
 I love the convenience of our Bona mop! I also like the flexibility I have to use any cleaner in the mop.  My only complaint is I wish I had another microfiber pad to use while the other one is washing. 

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May 3, 2011

Hot Bath May Relieve Sore Muscles, But What About Your Heart?

I have become addicted to hot baths with epsom salts and lavender oil. Not only are hot baths relaxing, I find them very therapeutic for aches and pains.

The Japanese are known for their baths. These deep pools involve a ritual of cleansing before entering for a soak. All scrubbing occurs outside of the tub. The Japanese culture has a long history of hot baths, that's why a new study is a wee bit alarming.

A new Japanese study has found the a hot soak on a cold day may be bad for the heart. The Daily Mail reports:

The researchers from Kyoto Prefectural University found that enjoying a hot tub could spell trouble for the heart.

They found the rate of cardiac arrests during bathing were ten times higher in winter than in summer.

The team, led by Chika Nishiyama, based their study on data from nearly 11,000 cardiac arrests in the western prefecture of Osaka between 2005 and 2007.

Prior to the cardiac arrest, 22 percent of people had been sleeping, 9 percent had been bathing, 3 percent had been working, and 0.5 percent had been exercising. The rest had been doing "nonspecific" or unknown activities.

When looking at cardiac arrest rates, at the top of the list was 54 arrests per 10 million people per hour of bathing, followed by 10 per 10 million people per hour of exercising.
For bathers, the risk was tied to outside temperatures, with more cardiac arrests on colder days...

While it's still unclear how to explain the link, getting into a hot tub on a chilly day causes a rapid blood pressure drop, which stresses the heart.

This information will not stop my addiction to hot baths, no matter the season. It seems that sleeping may be just as dangerous :)

Photo:  Attribution Some rights reserved by andyarthur

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May 2, 2011

Really Natural April 2011 Monthly Roundup


Electric Cars



General News

Green Cleaning


Herbal Medicine

Monthly Round-Up



Product review

Really Natural Books



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