Archive for September 2013

14119244_sI recently learned about a booming U.S. industry: brain gyms. They’re mostly online businesses that survey potential members to identify areas of cognitive function that they want to improve. Then, in a matter of seconds, software customizes computer games to help achieve those goals.

An obvious market for these e-ventures is baby boomers, the 77 million of us who want to delay not only the appearance of wrinkles on our face but also the fine lines we imagine to be emerging on our brains. Sure, I thought, as we age it’s great to find botanical products  like our Premiere’s Pain Spray that offer natural pain relief for sore muscles. Wouldn’t it be just as great to find a “natural pain spray” for our brains? Some elixir to keep our aging brains in Olympic athlete condition?

The allure was irresistible and I succumbed, quickly signing up with Lumosity.com, one of the new digital brain gyms. I spent a few minutes filling out their survey and immediately began playing games. It was fun and I’ll definitely go back to “exercise” several times a week. After all, one Stanford University researcher recently found that 12 weeks of Lumosity training significantly improved brain function in a group of study participants.

I keep wondering, though, what parts of my mind am I training inside the brain gym? To help our bodies stay fit we carefully choose specific sports and routines because they’re the ones most likely to meet our unique goals. Shouldn’t we be equally strategic in exercising the facets of our mind we value most?

Personally, I want to preserve whatever brain cells abandon puzzles in favor of deeper thought. If I’m going to stick with a brain gym, it better help me formulate complex ideas about life and how to enrich my piece of it. It needs to train me to understand myself and others, not just memorize sequences of
colored squares on a grid.

How about this: we all just read a good book.  My guess is that by page 27 we’ll feel our brain cells multiplying. The Pain Free Spray for our brains will have us all feeling fantastic!

15849322_sSo it turns out middle age women aren’t the only ones coping with painful sex! In fact, new research is shattering a lot of myths related to age, sex and pleasure lubricants.  Just for starters…

A 2013 study finds that the two most common sexual problems reported by women are vaginal dryness (82% of all respondents) and pain during sex (75% of all respondents). Frankly, there’s nothing especially new about this EXCEPT that the study finds younger women experience these problems just as frequently as older women do. PLUS, younger women are twice as likely to be bothered by their symptoms.

A second study, done through the Center for Sexual Health at Indiana University, offers new insight into who uses a vaginal lubricant. And why they choose to use one. Researchers surveyed women ages 18-60 and found that most (62%) had used a lubricant for sex with slightly more than one in four women reporting that they had used one in the past month.  Some reported that they used the product to stop pain during sex. For example, one participant said her menopause dryness had made sex painful sex for years and her recent use of a lubricant had again made it possible to feel comfortable during intercourse.

Even more interesting, many women participating in the Indiana study said that while they had not typically felt pain during intercourse, the use of a vaginal lubricant had made sex significantly more pleasurable and satisfying.

Not so long ago a vaginal dryness cream was thought of as “medicine,” intended to compensate for the natural decline in a woman’s own lubrication after menopause.  This study suggests that the role of high-quality lubricants, like Crème De La Femme, is changing dramatically. Instead of making up for an age-related “problem,” they’re joining the mainstream – being used proactively by couples of all ages to enhance sexual pleasure.

10184511-purple-lavender-flowers-in-the-fieldFor the end of summer, nothing beats lavender!  Add a few drop of this essential oil to tepid water and you’ll have a very effective (and aromatic) compress for sunburns. Some aromatherapists like to include an equal amount of chamomile oil in this formula, especially for children because chamomile is the most popular essential oil for childhood remedies.  If the sunburn stings too much to apply a compress, you can fill any spray-head bottle with the mix and spritz on your sunburn as often as you like until the skin feels begins to recover.  You’ll find it heals quickly and without peeling.

Lavender is also a natural medicine for migraines and headaches caused by too much sun. It’s intended especially for “throbbing head pain” and indicated whenever “cold brings relief.” This may be due to lavender’s analgesic properties. It has a remarkable ability to numb pain of almost all sorts. So if too much fun in the sun has you needing low back pain relief, just add 10 drops of essential lavender oil to one-quarter cup of jojoba oil and you’ll have the perfect therapeutic massage oil.

Finally, lavender is a well-known natural insomnia remedy. If nighttime heat leaves you in need of help getting to sleep or help to stay asleep, use a few drops of this essential oil in a room diffuser. What’s more, because lavender is frequently used to relieve tension, depression and irritability, you’ll be more likely to fall asleep in fine  mood and wake up content.

One note: the finest lavender oil for therapeutic purposes is Lavandula Officinalis. Native to Persia it is now cultivated primarily in France. But this powerful plant is small and yields only a few blossoms at a time, making it very expensive. If you’re willing to hunt for it and can afford the cost, it’s well worth the effort. But the more common alternative is Lavandula Angustifolia, which works well for most everyday aromatherapy treatments.