While finding the best home gardening tool on homemakerguide.com is easy, deciding what to plant on your balcony is not. But since you are here, we recommend medicinal plants. But what do plants need to grow on the balcony? You need adequate light, moist growing medium (soil, coco peat, or any other), and good drainage.
Why Grow Medicinal Plants?
Medicinal plants come with so many herbal properties that make them an excellent remedy at home. Most of these houseplants come with these properties:
- Sedation (calming effect)
- Antimicrobial (kills microorganisms)
- Analgesic (pain relieving)
- Antidepressant (treats depression)
- Immunomodulation (immunity regulation)
- Hypotensive (reduces blood pressure)
- Anti-inflammation (reduces swelling and reddening)
Concerning the above properties, here are ten best indoor plants to consider:
1. Aloe (Aloe vera)
If you are keen on most skincare products, Aloe vera is the commonest ingredient. This natural remedy is known to promote anti-bacterial, soothing, and anti-inflammatory effects.
You can apply aloe gel on your skin to tone it and on your hair to smoothen it. You can also use it on stings, burns, and cuts to soothe them while promoting faster healing. Aloe vera is adaptive, and so it tends to survive most weathers. The indoor plants, however, thrive under warm weather.
2. Coriander (Cilantro)
Coriander is a popular spice that you can count on when you want some flavor on your dish. While its flavor is unmatched, its herbal properties are just incredible. Coriander lowers blood cholesterol and promotes anti-oxidation. It’s rich in folic acids, essential vitamins, and other vital nutrients. You don’t need to master the study of plants to grow coriander. The plant prefers full sun, and you should water it selectively.
3. Chamomile (Matricaria chamomilla)
Chamomile is an aromatic herb that is widely used in the manufacturing sector. From producing toothpaste to making beverages, the applications of chamomile are many. Medicinally, chamomile treats sleep deprivation (insomnia), cold, sunburns, and wounds. It’s also known to relieve stress and period pains
4. Tulsi (Holy Basil)
Both the flowers and the leaves of the Tulsi plant have medicinal properties. The herb is a stress reliever, an antidepressant, an antioxidant, and an antianxiety agent. It also demonstrates immunomodulation and hypotensive properties. The house plants are sacred in the East, where they are used to treat cold, headaches, asthma, anxiety, and stress. Holy Basil prefers full summer.
5. Lavender ( Lavandula spp)
Lavender is popularly known for its aromatic sense. While this is an attraction, its medicinal properties are unbelievable. Lavender is an analgesic, a sedative, and an antidepressant. More to it, lavender has antimicrobial and digestive properties.
The herb prefers full sun and adequate airflow for its growth. So, you could easily have a flower bouquet when the plant grows optimally.
6. Mint (Mentha)
Mint is another aromatic herb that does well on the balcony. The plant can grow on water alone if you prefer so. You need to feed it with adequate fertilizer. There are 20+ mint species in existence, all coming in different fragrances and colors. The water plants are perennial, which means you’ll have your harvest yearly. You can take Mint in tea, soup or salad. The herb is rich in essential oils, antioxidants, and beneficial vitamins.
7. White Sage (Salvia apiana)
Originating from Southern California, both the stem and the leaves of White Sage are medicinal. The herb is popularly taken in tea, but we have people who prefer to smoke and inhale it.
Whichever way you consume white sage; its herbal actions are outstanding. It has antimicrobial, anti-inflammatory, and astringent (skin tightening) properties. The plant prefers warm weather.
8. Ginger (Zingiber efficinale)
You probably buy ginger every time you go to the market. But did you know that ginger is more medicinal than it is a spice? It’s one of the best house plants because of these health benefits:
- Treats chronic indigestion
- Manages motion sickness
- Relieves menstruation pain
- Regulates blood cholesterol
- Reduces the risk of Alzheimer
Be sure not to take ginger excessively as it could lead to bleeding, diarrhea, or throat irritation.
9. Cayenne Pepper ( Capsicum annum)
Cayenne pepper is widely used in food preparation because of its chilly flavor. Well, this herb does more than making dishes savory. It contains beneficial nutrients that are known to promote these health benefits:
- Improves overall blood circulation
- Promotes better metabolism
- Relieves headaches
- Unblocks nasal congestion
It’s essential, however, to take Cayenne pepper in small quantities as it could easily upset the stomach if consumed in excess.
10. Lemongrass (Cymbopogon citratus)
Lastly, the leaves, as well as the stems of lemongrass, have antibacterial properties, thus excellent for treating wounds. Lemongrass is also an expectorant, which means it can treat cough and flu. It also calms nerves, and this explains why it’s popularly used to relieve stress, anxiety, and headaches. The plant prefers fast-draining soil and full sun.
Above are the best medicinal plants you can grow on your balcony. If you know how to care for air plants or water plants, it should be easy to take care of the herbs. Let’s know what your favorite plant is in the comment section.
Put Your Back In to It!: How to Strengthen Your Back Muscles
Your back is home to 140 muscles that connect to the rest of your body. That makes your back a central component to whole-body wellness and strength.
If you want to feel strong and have an effective workout, then you must start with a sturdy core and proper posture. This will also reduce stress on your body that causes chronic back, neck, shoulder, and even limb pain.
Use these exercise, stretches, and good habit tips to build your back muscles and start feeling and looking like a new healthy person.
Start With Your Posture
Most people work all day at a desk, commute while sitting in a car and continue to sit at home watching TV or socializing online. That’s a lot of sitting and more opportunities to slouch.
If the muscles of the back aren’t inline then they are putting pressure on your organs, joints, and connecting muscles.
Recognizing your bad posture habits is the first step to understanding the importance of your back. It can affect your whole body in the long-term as it can lead to arthritis and chronic back pain.
So, whether you are sitting, standing, or lying down remember to keep your back straight. This will help with the following exercises and stretches.
Finding the right physical therapist can also help improve your posture through an assessment of your back pain. But, not all therapy is equal. Discover more here to find the proper help you need.
You may think that stretching is only good for back pain, but it can also be a preventative measure. It keeps your back flexible, which helps in everyday activities like bending, lifting, and reaching while making your back stronger.
Try these stretches to keep your back limber.
Lying Lower Back Twist
Lie on your back using a mat. Use your right hand to grab your left knee and pull it across your lower torso toward the floor.
Keep your opposite arm elongated and stretched perpendicular to your back. Your shoulders should continue to touch the floor. Look toward your opposite arm by turning your head.
Hold the stretch for 20 seconds, focusing on lower right back pain. Then slowly come back to the center. Repeat using your left arm and right knee.
Knee to Chest
This stretch uses your legs to lengthen the lower back muscles. It also pulls the pelvis away from the muscles, giving them room to breathe.
Lie on your back with your knee bent and your feet flat on the floor. Use both hands to pull your one knee at a time toward your chest. You can keep your head flat on the floor or bring your forehead to your knee for a deeper stretch.
Hold for 20 seconds before switching knees. Repeat as needed.
You may have seen this stretch in your yoga class. This pose does wonders for middle back pain while strengthening your stomach, shoulders, neck, and of course your whole back.
Lie on your stomach with your palms down close to your ribs. Slowly use your arms to push your chest up while lifting your head toward the ceiling.
Arch your back slowly and to the point where it is comfortable. Your arms will extend as much as possible as you rise to your comfort zone. Hold for as long as you like without any pain.
Stretching prepares your back for more strenuous movements. While stretching gives you more flexibility, back exercises offer you increased strength through gaining mass.
Use these exercises to build back muscle.
Lifting Legs Laterally
Since your back is supported by your pelvis, strengthening your hips can offer grounding stability for back muscles.
Lie on your side with your bottom arm bent and your head rested in your palm. Keep your legs straight and your hips in line with your torso.
Slowly raise your leg about a foot from the ground. Be sure to keep your abdomen tight and your leg straight. Hold the leg in the air for a few seconds and then slowly lower it back to the ground.
Do as many repetitions as desired until your leg feels like it can lift no more. Switch to the other side and repeat.
Relieve upper back pain while strengthening muscles along the spine in this exercise. This will improve your posture and build a stronger core along your spine and pelvis.
Lie on your stomach with your arms stretched out in front of you. Keep your legs together and straight.
Lift both arms while keeping your head facing the floor. Slowly raise your legs at the same time. Raise your limbs as high as is comfortable.
Try to bring your chest and eventually your stomach off the floor to slightly arch the back.
Hold this position for several seconds and release. Repeat the exercise as desired.
Plank Arm Raises
Shoulder pain is a direct cause of weak back muscles. By working out your shoulder blades and the muscles in between, the posture of your upper back will improve.
Get into a plank position by lying on your stomach and lifting your body by extending your arms. Your arms should be straight with your elbows locked. And your hands should be in line with your shoulders.
You should be on the tips of your toes with your legs hip-width apart.
Lift one arm at a time toward your chest with the elbow close to your ribs. Alternate moving each arm up and back down to the floor.
Do 8 to 10 reps at a time while taking deep breaths as you go up and down.
Strong Back Muscles Prevent Injury and Illness
Having strong back muscles can keep your whole body free from harm. Better posture will take pressure off of your organs and improve circulation while making you more flexible.
Living with MS: 5 Tips For Dealing With Multiple Sclerosis
Multiple sclerosis is an intensely painful neurological condition that affects over 2.3 million people across the globe.
The pain from MS can keep you from doing the things you love the most and spending time with those you care about. But an MS diagnosis doesn’t mean you have to be a shut-in for the rest of your life.
Living with MS gets far easier once you learn how to manage it. Here are five tips to help you start your journey.
1. Educate Yourself
Learning that you have MS can be scary, to say the least. But as the saying goes, knowledge is power.
By learning about the disorder, you can get a better sense of what you can expect. Dive into every (well-sourced) book, article, and journal you can find that deals with MS and soak up as much info as you can.
The good news is that you’re already off to a good start. By reading this article you’re increasing your chances of a happy, healthy life!
2. Stay Cool
Bad news for those who live in a high-temperature area or love the heat: Heat tends to worsen MS symptoms by a considerable amount.
While heat doesn’t bring on any new symptoms, it does heighten the effects of pre-existing issues like fatigue, headaches, and mental fogginess.
Fortunately, heat tends to be easy enough to counteract. Keep your home A/C set to a comfortable temperature and invest in cooling aids like gel packs and light clothing.
3. Lean on Your Professional Support System
You already know that your friends and family care about your well-being. But don’t forget that you have a whole professional network of experts that care about you, too!
Great multiple sclerosis services aim to understand what you’re going through. Your doctors and physical therapists will do their best to ease your pain and provide helpful advice. So don’t be afraid to pick up the phone and give them a call.
4. Do Your Best to Say Active
When your MS is acting up, hitting the gym is the absolute last thing you want to do. Still, research indicates that maintaining an active lifestyle can keep the pain associated with MS at bay.
Go easy on yourself. You don’t need to run a marathon to stay active. A simple walk around the block a few times per week is more than sufficient.
5. Stay Well-Rested
The fatigue that comes with MS is bad enough as it is. But when you consider how MS causes a whole array of sleep issues, it can seem as though there’s no winning.
While you can’t offset all of your fatigue, you can minimize it by taking a few simple steps.
For starters, go to bed and wake up at the same time each night. A regular sleep schedule can improve the overall quality of your rest.
And if you’re struggling with muscle pain, tell your doctor. You may need medication to help relax your muscles.
Final Thoughts on Living With MS
Living with MS can feel downright impossible at times. But don’t give up. By following these five tips, you can improve your quality of life and help keep your MS at bay.
Get Moving: How to Stay Healthy When Working a Sedentary Job
You’ve been feeling a bit sluggish and your body is always in pain. It could be because you have a sedentary job. These jobs pay better than your basic retail job but they can hurt your health.
You need to be able to stretch and walk around regularly. Depending on how crazy your work schedule is, it may be hard for you to find the time. Rather you know it or not, it’s not too hard to work fitness around your daily life.
To help you bring in the cash and stay healthy while you do it, here are a few ways to take care of yourself when you’re working a desk job.
Stretch at Your Desk
Sometimes it’s hard to find time to leave your desk during the day and that’s fine. You can do stretches and exercises without ever leaving.
If you’re not sure where to start with this you can find some great desk workout ideas online.
Take the Stairs
Most workplaces have both stairs and elevators. When you’re left up to choose, go with the stairs. It gives you more opportunity for walking.
If stairs aren’t your friend then you can get the same kind of benefits from parking further away from your building. Basically, find as many opportunities to take steps throughout your day as you can.
Have Weekly Fitness Sessions
While you may not be able to fit in working out every day you can still get wellness benefits from scheduling a few. You don’t have to head to your local gym. You can go on a jog a couple of times a week.
Some workplaces do have a gym on sight. If yours offers this service then make sure that you’re taking advantage of it.
Even though you work at a desk you don’t have to keep yourself glued there. You can get up and walk around a little whenever you want.
For example, say your boss asks you to take a conference call. You can take the call and then pace around as you listen and take notes on a pad.
Schedule Your Meals
Between staff meetings and projects you may not give yourself too much time for lunch and if you do take a lunch it’s quick unhealthy options. You need to give yourself time.
Write down your lunchtime on your calendar every day. When you plan for it you’re less likely to rush to the nearest convenience store and grab a bag of chips and a soda.
Staying Healthy When You’re Working a Sedentary Job
Having a sedentary job isn’t a bad thing but there are some health concerns that come from them. You’ve got to schedule in time for fitness and a lunch that’s more substantial than the stuff you get from the work vending machine. Incorporate some of these steps into your day so you can stay in top form at your desk job.
7 of the Best Tips on How to Help Someone Battling Addiction
There are few experiences more difficult or heartbreaking than watching someone you love struggle with addiction. When someone you love is being controlled by their addiction you’re often left feeling helpless and powerless. It seems like there’s nothing you can do to help them.
Even if you feel like there’s nothing you can do to help someone who’s battling addiction, there are some ways you can be helpful. Wondering what you can do? Here are a few suggestions.
1. Educate Yourself
There are a lot of persistent misconceptions about addiction that make it really hard to understand.
For example, many people still believe that addiction is a choice. They believe that if the addict tried hard enough to quit or wanted to quit enough that they would be able to quit. This belief is based on the misconception that addicts are people with weak willpower, who cannot “just say no.”
In reality, addiction is a disease of both the body and the mind. The disease of the body manifests as the physical addiction to the addict’s substance of choice. Addiction is also a mental illness that manifests as an obsession with consuming the addict’s substance of choice, often to escape co-existing mental illnesses like depression and anxiety.
If you want to help someone struggling with addiction, you’ll need to understand how the disease of addiction works, how it manifests in their life, and how it can be treated. One of the best resources for learning about addiction is the book Alcoholics Anonymous, which is the basis of the 12-step program of the same name.
Books published by Hazelden Publishing are also very helpful resources for understanding addiction.
If you’re going to turn to the Internet for your information about addiction, be sure to find reputable sources. Webpages that end in .org or .gov are more likely to have accurate information.
Being well-informed about the disease of addiction and why addicts act the way they do will help you to talk to your loved one with compassion and empathy.
2. Let Them Know You Care
Addiction is often called the disease of loneliness, and anyone who’s battling addiction can tell you why. Addiction isolates people from those they love because the addiction becomes more important than relationships. And many addicts end up ruining their close relationships because their behavior, driven their addiction, causes them to hurt those they love the most.
This leaves most addicts feeling like there isn’t anyone in the world who cares about them. So, if you do care about someone who is struggling with addiction, it’s important to let them know you still care.
Tell them how much you love them and how important they are to you. And tell them that you care about their health and what happens to them.
Finding out that someone does, in fact, care about them and what happens to them will let the addict know that they are not as alone as they believe and that what they do to themselves does matter to someone else.
3. Tell Them the Truth
While addicts do need to hear that people care about them, they also need to hear the difficult truths about how their behavior is impacting others. Many people who love addicts fear telling them the truth because they don’t want to upset the addict, who may lash out at them or use substances as a result of the uncomfortable conversation.
Though it’s hard to do, it’s very important to be honest with those you love who are struggling with addiction. They need to know that their behavior doesn’t impact just them. They need to know that their behavior is hurting you. They need to know that you worry about them all the time.
If they get angry at you and refuse to listen, accept that they aren’t yet ready to hear the truth. Try again later. But no matter what, keep being honest. Sugarcoating how you feel about their addiction won’t help them at all.
4. Encourage Them to Get Help
To get and stay sober, addicts need to receive treatment for their disease. Anyone who truly has the disease of addiction will not be able to stop using substances without help.
It’s incredibly important for you as the loved one of an addict to understand that you are not qualified to help your loved one get sober. Unless you’re a certified substance abuse counselor or a recovered addict yourself, then you don’t have the necessary training or experience to get them sober.
And even if you are a certified substance abuse counselor or a recovered addict yourself, you’re probably not the one that your loved one wants to receive treatment from. You’re too close to the situation to be truly helpful.
So, it’s very important to encourage your addicted loved one to seek professional treatment. Help them find an inpatient or outpatient opiate rehab and addiction treatment program. Or suggest that they attend a 12-step program.
If they are resistant to getting treatment, continue to reinforce that addiction is a disease that requires treatment.
5. Let Them Know You Believe in Them
Many addicts don’t seek treatment because they are convinced that it’s impossible for them to stop using substances. They’re so afraid of failing to get sober that they don’t even try.
This is where you can provide the boost they need. You can assure them that you believe they are capable of getting and staying sober. Remind them that anyone can get sober if they are willing to seek treatment and commit to their recovery.
Letting them know that you believe in them may provide the confidence they need to attempt sobriety. And reminding them that you believe in them can provide the support they need to stay sober once they seek treatment.
6. Give a Little Tough Love
There’s a fine line between providing love and support to an addict and enabling an addict. Sometimes the actions you take that you think are helping the addict are actually helping them avoid the consequences of their addiction.
Addicts need to experience the consequences of their disease before they get sober. If they don’t understand that their disease is hurting them and others, they won’t see the need to get sober.
One of the most painful things to do when you love an addict is to give them tough love. This may look like telling them that they can’t live with you anymore. Or it may look like cutting them off financially. It may even look like telling them that you can’t associate with them anymore because their behavior is so harmful to you.
As painful as it is to dish out this tough love, it’s necessary for the addict’s well-being. And more importantly, it’s necessary for your well-being.
7. Take Care of Yourself
When you’re trying to be helpful to an addict, it’s essential to put your well-being first. Though they don’t intend to be, the disease of addiction makes addicts energetic vampires. They’ll suck you dry if you let them.
Addicts will also break your heart over and over if you let them. They don’t mean to, but they can’t help it. Their addiction rules their life and it makes them do things they would never do if they weren’t in the throes of their disease.
So, you need to take care of yourself when you’re helping an addict. If they’re hurting you, you need to stop trying to help. If your mental health is suffering from trying to help, you need to stop. If they’re taking advantage of you, you need to stop trying to help.
You cannot let an addict drag you down with them.
Helping Someone Battling Addiction
Helping someone who’s battling addiction is a difficult task. You can try these suggestions, but it’s important to remember that you have no control over the addict or their addiction. It’s possible that they may not get sober, no matter how much you try to help.
So, do what you can, but keep your expectations low. Try to help, but be willing to disengage if the addict is being harmful or you’re getting hurt.
Could Sciatica Be the Cause of Your Back Pain? Here’s What You Need to Know
About 5-10% of people with low back will suffer from sciatica. As much as 70% of the population will deal with low back pain during their lifetime.
Unfortunately, despite its prevalence, sciatica is not very well understood. Even those who suffer from it don’t always realize that the source of their pain is something different than regular back pain.
Could sciatica be the cause of your back pain? Read on to learn common symptoms and what you can do about it.
What Is Sciatica?
The sciatic nerves are the two largest nerves in the body. Many nerves are tiny, only about 20 microns or 0.02 mm in thickness. The sciatic nerves, however, are about the size of your little finger.
They split off from the bottom of the spinal cord. One goes down each leg, running from the spinal cord to your big toes.
Sciatic pain occurs when something pinches one of the sciatic nerves. For this reason, most people experience pain on only one side of the body. Of course, this depends on what is causing the pinching in the first place.
Typical sciatic pain begins in the lower part of the spine and goes to the buttock. Pain radiating down the affected leg is also quite common.
Since the sciatic nerve runs all the way down to the big toe, you can experience pain anywhere along its trajectory, although along the back of the thigh and the calf are most common.
People experience sciatic pain differently. Some describe it as a dull ache, others as a sharp, burning sensation or throbbing heat. Still, others experience excruciating pain that inhibits their ability to walk or even stand.
Sometimes it comes on quickly and people experience a jolt or shock of pain. Tingling, numbness, and muscle weakness are also common symptoms.
Sitting for long periods of time can worsen the symptoms.
In severe cases, patients can experience problems like loss of bladder control or complete loss of feeling in the affected leg. If this happens, you should seek medical help as soon as possible.
There are various ways that the nerve can get pinched.
A herniated disc in the spine is a common culprit. The vertebrae in the spine are cushioned by a series of tough discs. These act as shock absorbers for the spine and ensure that the bones don’t rub against one another.
These discs can get pushed out of place. This can happen as a result of a forceful injury, like being in a car accident. The ligaments holding the disc in place also weaken with age, meaning that a relatively minor event, like twisting wrong, can also cause displacement.
The displaced disc, in turn, pushes on the nerve and causes pain.
Osteoarthritis can be another culprit. The disease can cause the root opening through which the nerves travel to become smaller, thus compressing and damaging the nerves.
Inflammation, spinal degeneration, and bone spurs on the vertebrae can also be the cause.
Several common factors indicate whether you could be at risk for sciatica. These include:
- Age: Because of the degenerative effect of aging on the spine, older people are at a higher risk of herniated discs and bone spurs.
- Being Sedentary: Sitting for long periods of time can contribute to nerve compression and lead to sciatica.
- Diabetes: Because of the effect of blood sugar on the body in people with diabetes, they are at a higher risk of nerve damage.
- Obesity: Extra weight puts more stress on the spine, which can cause changes in the spine that lead to sciatic pain.
You can’t do much about getting older, but that doesn’t mean that you can’t lower your risk of sciatica in other ways.
If you work at a desk, take frequent breaks to get up and move throughout the day. A simple trip to the water cooler can help. Giving your brain a break can even make you more productive.
Incorporate a few stretches at your desk and ensure that you are using the proper ergonomic equipment. Being more active will also help you lose any extra pounds that may be slowly damaging your spine.
If you have diabetes, you should already be paying close attention to your blood sugar. Doing your best to avoid unnecessary highs and lows can help prevent sciatic pain.
Most cases of sciatica go away on their own. Some people experience just a few episodes and then the pain disappears. Others struggle with episodes over a period of months.
The type of pain you experience is directly related to the root cause of your sciatica.
To treat the symptoms, you can take over the counter painkillers like acetaminophen (Tylenol), ibuprofen (Advil), or naproxen (Aleve). Icing the area can also help to bring down any inflammation that may be causing the compression.
Mild stretching and low-impact exercises are excellent for treating sciatic pain. Because of the pain, some people cease all physical activity, fearing they will make it worse. While a little rest can help, being too sedentary can worsen symptoms.
Instead, focus on gentle stretches and mild exercise. Check out more from the Stretching Institute for some great ideas of exercises that you can try.
Your doctor may recommend trying steroid shots or pills if the pain is persistent. However, steroids are only effective for some people.
Living Life Pain-Free
The good news is that most people will only have to manage sciatica pain for a short while. Many issues resolve on their own or by making some lifestyle changes. Meanwhile, the pain can be controlled with exercises and stretches, heat or ice treatments, and mild pain medication.
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