Monthly Archives: January 2014

American Heart Month

This February marks the fourth annual American Heart Month, established by Barrack Obama in 2011.  In his official proclamation, President Obama explains the need for such a focus.  Indeed, heart disease continues to be the number one cause of death among American adults (one out of every four!).  As one in three American adults are living with a cardiovascular disease, a month-long, nationwide focus brings attention to this issue and encourages us to be aware of it and to make efforts to be more healthy.

The term ‘heart disease’ includes several different heart conditions.  The most common in the US is coronary heart disease (also known as coronary artery disease), which occurs when plaque buildup in the arteries is so great, the heart isn’t supplied enough blood.  This condition can cause heart attack, angina, heart failure, stroke and arrhythmia.

Understanding that heart disease is a serious threat to your health is a good thing.  But what factors put our cardiovascular health at risk?  The following can increase the likelihood of developing heart disease:

  • High blood pressure
  • High cholesterol
  • Diabetes
  • Obesity
  • Physical inactivity
  • Tobacco use
  • Alcohol use
  • Poor diet
  • Family history

With the exception of being predisposed due to family history, each major risk factor can be addressed now using simple, proactive steps that could very well extend (or save!) your life.  Everyday habits such as eating a balanced diet, maintaining a healthy weight, limiting sodium consumption, exercising regularly, avoiding tobacco, and moderating alcohol intake can reduce these risks.

In the quest for a healthy heart, it’s exciting to note the number of natural herbs that can promote a strong cardiovascular system.  The following four herbs have shown very promising in studies examining their medicinal properties:

Ginseng – Ginseng is essentially an immune system booster.  Studies have provided promising correlations between ginseng and reduced blood pressure as well as reduced heart disease risk.  Slight precaution is advised as ginseng increases blood pressure in some people.

Gingko (Gingko Biloba) – Gingko is more famous for its memory improving effects, but it is a powerful natural medicine for cerebrovascular disease.  Ginkgo leaf extracts have been proven by studies to dilate vessels, thus leading to increased blood flow.  It is also known to prevent and reduce congealing of blood platelets.  Improved blood circulation to all major organs help reduce the risk of strokes.

Garlic (Allium sativum) – There is a reason that most cultures include garlic as an ingredient in their culinary preparations: the Egyptians are known to have found more than 195 medical uses for the herb!  The Chinese too, value the herb to such an extent that one of their everyday teas is Garlic-based.  Furthermore, several studies have shown that a single clove of garlic a day (which roughly translates into 500 – 1000 mg in powder form) is good for healthy cholesterol levels.  Similar studies have also proven garlic to be a blood pressure normalizer.  Regular consumption of this herb treats Atherosclerosis as it softens arteries by breaking the cholesterol and fat that cling to their inner walls, improving their flexibility.

Green Tea – Green tea is becoming increasingly known for its benefits to the heart.  Cells that line the blood vessels in and around the heart are delicate, and consumption of green tea briskly improves their health, condition and performance.  The 2008 issue of European Journal of Cardiovascular Prevention and Rehabilitation reported that researchers have found green tea to improve blood vessel function within 30 minutes of consumption!  Green tea has a high concentration of the antioxidant/flavonoid called ECGC (EpiGalloCatechinGallate).

Health Concerns has a number of formulas that promote cardiovascular health.  Click the links below for more information on each product.

Astra 8™
Astra Garlic™

Quit Smoking and Save a Life – Yours!

Quit Smoking

Every year in the United States, nearly 400,000 people die due to tobacco-caused disease–that’s the entire population of Minneapolis. Worldwide, there are 5 million deaths each year.  And for every person that dies, there are 20 others suffering from at least one serious illness brought on by smoking.  These astounding statistics keep the habit as the number one cause of preventable death in this country.  Smoking causes cancer, heart disease, stroke, and lung diseases (including emphysema, bronchitis, and chronic airway obstruction).

The odds are stacked against us as tobacco companies with seemingly endless sums of money continue to spend billions of dollars a day to promote their products.  Would it surprise you to know that $23 million is spent each day on cigarette and other tobacco advertising?  It’s no surprise then, that 4,000 young people smoke their first cigarette each day in the US.  So, what is the cost to Americans exactly?  The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that between 2000 and 2004, smoking cost $197 billion dollars split nearly evenly between lost productivity and healthcare costs.  A similar study reported that second hand smoke alone cost $10 billion in 2007.

There are immediate health benefits of smoking cessation.  Within minutes, your blood pressure drops, within hours oxygen and carbon monoxide levels in the blood start to return to normal.  After one year of stopping smoking, your risk of coronary heart disease is down to about half that of a continuing smoker.  After five years, your risk of stroke drops, after 10, your risk of cancer is lessened.  But it should be noted that the longer you smoke, the more likely you are to suffer negative health effects.  Smokers tend to live ten years less than nonsmokers.  However, those who quit before the age of 35 can gain most, if not all, of that back.  Those who quit at a later age are unable to do so.  Those who quit between the ages of 45 and 59 are only able to add between four and six years to their lives.  The longer one smokes, the more likely, even after quitting, they are to develop health problems later in life.  These include mucous problems, COPD, emphysema, lung failure and loss of immune function.

While these statistics are not very optimistic, there are some that show a little more hope.  Approximately 69% of adult smokers report that they want to quit the habit for good.  Some 52% of smokers even attempted to quit during 2010.  Whether or not they were successful in that attempt is less important than the clear understanding the majority of smokers have that they need to make a change.

The American Cancer Association has published a number of helpful tips and tricks to assist those in their tobacco cessation efforts.

  • Pick the date and mark it on your calendar.
  • Tell friends and family about your Quit Day.
  • Get rid of all the cigarettes and ashtrays in your home, car, and at work.
  • Stock up on oral substitutes — sugarless gum, carrot sticks, hard candy, cinnamon sticks, coffee stirrers, straws, and/or toothpicks.
  • Decide on a plan. Will you use nicotine replacement therapy or other medicines? Will you attend a stop-smoking class? If so, sign up now.
  • Practice saying, “No thank you, I don’t smoke.”
  • Set up a support system. This could be a group program or a friend or family member who has successfully quit, and is willing to help you. Ask family and friends who still smoke not to smoke around you, and not to leave cigarettes out where you can see them.
  • If you are using bupropion or varenicline, take your dose each day leading up to your Quit Day.
  • Think about your past attempts to quit. Try to figure out what worked and what didn’t.

If you’re a smoker, think carefully about quitting today, it could save your life.

When trying to quit alone isn’t enough, there’s support available.  Health Concerns has herbal formulas designed to help those struggling with addiction.  Click the links below for more information about our products or visit our website for more information.

Clear Air™
Ease Plus™
Griffonex™ 5-HTP
Milk Thistle 80™
Schizandra Dreams™

Nine Spices for Health, Energy and Longevity


Spice is usually defined as an aromatic or pungent vegetable substance used to flavor food. Sometimes we forget that these substances like the cinnamon that spices up your chai latte, or the ginger you use to cleanse your palate between sushi rolls can have powerful medicinal properties and health benefits. Let’s take a look at a few of these spices and what contributions they can make to your overall wellness.

1. Garlic

As far back as the Egyptians, garlic has been used both for culinary and medicinal purposes. The health benefits of garlic are truly exciting. Most studies done with the vegetable have sought to find a link between it and combating heart disease. It’s been shown numerous times in clinical studies to significantly reduce LDL cholesterol (the bad kind), while not adversely affecting HDL cholesterol (the good kind). There is also evidence it reduces blood pressure, which in turn reduces the risk of heart attack and stroke.

2. Cloves

Cloves are anti-fungal, antibacterial, antiseptic and analgesic. They can be effectively used in a number of ways to treat things like toothaches, respiratory infections, and reducing inflammation. Although it may sting, cloves can be used to treat scrapes and bruises. The spice also can assist in healthy digestion. Cloves help relax the smooth lining of the GI tract so they help alleviate vomiting, diarrhea, intestinal gas and stomachaches.

3. Cinnamon

Besides being extra delicious on buttered toast, cinnamon has tons of positive health benefits to offer. This spice has been used throughout the world for hundreds of years, particularly in India and Asia. Besides stimulating brain function, fighting bladder infections and detoxifying the system, cinnamon is also thought to help fight cholesterol.

4. Fennel Seeds

Fennel helps digestion in two ways. First, it stimulates the production of gastric juices. Second, it soothes the nervous system, regulating the actions of the muscles that line the intestine.

5. Cumin

Cumin is thought to boost the immune system and also to improve liver function, reduce flatulence, and aid in digestion.

6. Cardamom

Found in curries, rice dishes, herbal teas, and breads, cardamom is the spice that gives chai tea its main flavor. In Asia, cardamom has long been valued medicinally for its ability to increase circulation and improve energy. Considered an aphrodisiac in the Middle East, cardamom may also improve digestion, asthma, bronchitis, halitosis, and even help improve a bad mood.

7. Ginger

A perfect compliment to vegetables, marinades, and sweets, ginger is also delicious in tea. Ginger may help relieve nausea, arthritis, headaches, menstrual cramps, and muscle soreness.

8. Star Anise

As the name suggests, star anise is indeed star-shaped. Though it is not actually related to anise, star anise shares a similar licorice flavor, due to its content of anethole. This spice frequently makes an appearance in Indian cuisine and is an ingredient of the traditional five-spice powder of Chinese cooking. Star anise has been used in a tea to remedy rheumatism, and the seeds are sometimes chewed after meals to aid digestion.

9. Curry

Curry, a staple spice combo in Southeast Asian cuisine, contains turmeric, the yellow spice that gives curry its distinctive color. The active component in turmeric is called curcumin. If you are a fan of curry, you will be happy to know that this substance is associated with anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, anti-tumor, and anti-amyloid properties; amyloids are plaque-like proteins that build up in brain tissue, and are responsible for diseases like Alzheimer’s and rheumatoid arthritis.

Health Concerns is proud to offer many formulas that take advantage of these natural remedies. From Channel Flow® formulated with cinnamon to treat aches and pains, to Astra 18 Diet™ with ginger to manage weight. Take a moment to stop by to see all the natural remedies we have to offer!

Losing Weight: A New Year’s Resolution

Weight Loss

A study from the University of Scranton and published in the Journal of Clinical Psychology found that the number one New Year’s resolution made among Americans for 2014 is weight loss.  In fact, 38% of all resolutions made this year relate to shedding pounds and becoming more healthy.  Focus on these areas is desperately needed as the epidemic of obesity among adults and children continues to grow at alarming rates.  The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention report that more than 1/3 of American adults (35.7%) are considered obese while an alarming 70% of Americans are considered overweight.  This problem cost the US $147 million in medical expenses in 2008 alone; the average overweight person spends $1,500 more for healthcare a year than someone who is not.  However, the financial cost is far less significant than the health problems excessive weight can cause. Obesity-related medical conditions such as heart disease, stroke, diabetes and some forms of cancer continue to be leading causes of preventable death.

Gallup Poll Weight Graph

The Gallup Poll began tracking American weight by body mass index (BMI) in 2008.  In 2013, they noted an uptick of 1% in obese Americans, a number statistically significant and the largest increase the poll has observed since it began.  While one’s own circumstances certainly play a role in one’s health, it’s interesting to note that regardless of socioeconomic status or geographic location, all American populations saw significant weight increases between 1988 and 2008.

The bright side is that people want to change.  Americans are setting goals to be fitter, healthier, more productive in their efforts to lead better lives.  But how do they go about reaching these goals?  The CDC has published a number of healthy habits to reach and maintain a healthy weight.

Watch Your Diet

  • Follow a healthy and realistic eating pattern.
  • Keep your eating patterns consistent.
  • Eat breakfast every day.

Be Active

  • Get daily physical exercise.

Stay on Course

  • Monitor your diet and activity.
  • Monitor your weight.
  • Get support from family, friends, and others.

The urgency of this problem is clear.  To support your weight-loss efforts and those of your clients, consider the many benefits that herbal supplements can offer.  Health Concerns provides many powerful formulas proven effective in weight-loss.  Click on the following links to view the monograph for each product.


Health Concerns

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