May 13th, 2017

How to Naturally Relieve Allergy Symptoms

The seasonal battle against sneezing fits, sinus problems, hay fever, and eyes that itch (so much they feel like they’re on fire) has begun. With so many foes, how can we properly equip ourselves against this onslaught of symptoms? 

While there may not be a secret weapon to vanquish every allergy symptom, there are a number of natural tools and tricks you can keep in your arsenal to help fight your seasonal allergies.

Schedule Any Outdoor Exercise for the Evenings

If you love taking spring time strolls, waiting to do so until after midday may help to lessen your allergy symptoms. Because most trees release their pollen early in the morning, waiting until the proverbial dust settles (and isn’t swirling around in the air you breathe) can make your time outdoors more bearable.

Change Your Clothes When You Come Home

When you come home from work, school, or errands, change into other clothing when you return to your house. Pollen likes to hitchhike on your clothing and stick to it like tiny sea urchins, so toss your outside clothes into the wash to prevent pollen from infiltrating the stronghold of your home.

Use a Neti Pot

If you’ve never used a Neti Pot before, you may be a little bit intimidated by the thought of pouring water up your nose. It’s actually not that uncomfortable (really!). It takes a little getting used to, but once you get the hang of it it’s quite effective, and will become a staple in your allergy-fighting regimen. Rinsing with a saline solution up to twice a day for short periods of time can help to clear out your nasal passages and help to lessen the effects of allergies on your sinuses.

Eat Local Honey

Many an allergy-sufferer claims that eating local honey helps them battle seasonal symptoms. It needs to be local because it will contain a wide sampling of different pollen carried on the bees who made it. By gradually exposing themselves to small amounts of local pollen, many people report it noticeably helping them build up a pollen tolerance and overall decreasing their allergy symptoms.

Purify the Air in Your Home

HEPA (high-efficiency particulate air) filters in your appliances (like vacuum cleaners) can help ensure that allergens are taken out of the air in your home, instead of being stirred up and dispersed when you clean. There are also free-standing HEPA towers that you can put in high-traffic areas that will work to keep the air in your home as clear as possible.

Use Essential Oils

There are many essential oils that can help to support your immune system while it battles allergies. Add them to a homemade all-purpose cleaner, mix with water in a diffuser, or dilute and apply directly to your pulse points. Especially effective against hay fever, some favourites are lavender, eucalyptus, rose, and peppermint.

Put Turmeric on Everything

This vibrant spice, belonging to the ginger family, is about to become your new best friend. Turmeric contains curcumin, which acts as a decongestant and is a natural antihistamine. If you’re not sure what kinds of dishes you can add this superhero of a spice to, try making this golden turmeric tea recipe in under five minutes. It’s also perfect for curries and stir-fry.

Eat Allergy-Fighting Foods

Mother Nature provides many kinds of foods that contain antihistamines, and incorporating as many as you can into your diet can help naturally ward off allergy symptoms. Naturopaths often recommend eating a lot of cruciferous vegetables, onions, garlic, ginger, cayenne, and deep yellow and orange vegetables as often as possible.

. . .

So there you have it: your arsenal of weapons against allergy symptoms. Even though it can feel like a hopeless battle, any of these remedies can help make a difference.



November 21st, 2016

How You Can Help Build Dementia-Friendly Communities

This holiday season, the Alzheimer Society of BC is asking all British Columbians to join them in building communities that are more welcoming, compassionate and inclusive for people living with dementia. 

The Society works with local governments, professional groups and the general public to assist Canadian communities in becoming truly dementia-friendly. In this video from the society we hear from Jim Mann, a person living with dementia, who offers insight into the daily struggles of living with the disease – and how members of the community can help.

As proud sponsors of the Alzheimer Society of BC, we encourage you to get educated about the disease. With 560,000 Canadians living with dementia, and 1.1 million Canadians impacted either directly or indirectly, it’s important to recognize that those living with dementia deserve understanding, compassion, and support.

Please join the Alzheimer Society of BC in building Dementia-Friendly Communities across British Columbia. For more information about how you can join the movement to build more Dementia-Friendly Communities, please contact Heather Cowie at 604-742-4941 or dementiafriendlybc@alzheimerbc.org.



October 6th, 2016

8 Clever Hacks for Your Kitchen Appliances

There’s no time like the present to dust off that waffle iron you received as a wedding gift two years ago. The same applies to the slow cooker only brought out for potlucks, and the popcorn machine you can’t reach at the back of the cupboard. When it comes to kitchen appliances, the possibilities are only limited by your imagination. Coffee makers and dishwashers are capable of doing much more than what it claims on their packaging. The following hacks take everyday kitchen appliances (and a few kitchen tools!) from one-dimensional to multi-faceted.

Cheese Grater

kitchen cooking hacks

We all know how frustrating it can be trying to butter a fluffy piece of toast with a cold slab of butter. Not only can a cheese grater solve all your butter problems, but it can also double as a vegetable slicer, spice grinder, and chocolate shaver. Find more grater hacks here.

READ MORE



March 25th, 2016

LD Picks: The Best Articles We Read This Week

Nobody has time to read the whole Internet, so our editors have summarized the best of it for you. Read on for smart advice on personal emails, the perils of ‘parachuting,’ pancake science, and more—our favourite articles of the week.

* * *

11 Things A Massage Therapist Knows About You After An Hour

smartphone

Smartphone neck: To your massage therapist, it means you should cut down time spent online.

  1. You love big purses. Your body will be tighter on one side, since you’re likely to weight-bear on a primary leg.   A therapist will detect tight glutes, hamstrings, and quads, as well as an unnatural pelvic tilt.
    [Perhaps you’ve been packing an earthquake prep kit in that ginormous satchel?]
  2. You’re dehydrated. Haven’t drunk your recommended eight glasses of water a day? You’ll feel pain on certain trigger points in your upper back.
    [But wait—could 8 glasses a day be a myth?]
  3. You’re cold all the time. People reflexively hunch their shoulders when they’re cold. It’s common for massage therapists to see additional neck and shoulder stress in the winter months.
    [Perhaps you don’t spend long enough warming up your car. Nope, that’s impossible.]
  4. You have a desk job. It’s not for nothing they call sitting the next public health crisis. Working at a computer weakens the lower back, puts your hips out of alignment, and leads to tight glutes and legs.
    [Forget good posture—this is way more important at work.]
  5. You sleep on your stomach. The parachuting position puts stress on the neck, leading to abnormal tightness.
    [These 6 surprising foods help you sleep all night long—in any position.]
  6. You’re constipated. Much easier to detect than you might think. The dead giveaway is an abdomen that’s firm to the touch.
    [Not sure what to suggest… Bran Buds?]
  7. You have a long commute. Hours spent behind the wheel promotes a posture of leaning forward. You can tell a frequent driver by his hunched shoulders.
    [Apparently, the more you burp, the worse you drive, says Dr. Art Hister.]
  8. You’re hurt. Acute injuries radiate heat and inflammation. An experienced massage therapist can distinguish between chronic injuries (muscles feel tight, dehydrated) and repetitive motion injuries (tendons and muscles feel wiry, like guitar strings).
    [Pain sucks. We’ve got a host of services—from pharmacy to health library—to help you through it.]
  9. You’re on your smartphone too much. Chronic texters will find it unusually painful when a massage therapist rubs their shoulders. The cause? The downward position of your head as you look at the screen.
    [That said, we, ahem, have some excellent deals on smartphones.]
  10. You’re a runner. Hips and lower back are tight to the touch, foot arches are tense.
    [Two words: Icy Hot. Dr. Scholls. Okay, four.]
  11. Your allergies are flaring up. Hay fever got you on the ropes? Tissue around your eyes, forehead, cheeks, and jaw will feel tender and inflamed. Lymph nodes, too, in the chest, neck, and underarms.
    [We’ve got more allergy remedies than you can blast a sneeze at.]

* * *

5 Things You Should NEVER Do in the Shower

Janet Leigh, in Alfred Hitchcock's Psycho (1960).

You’ll never look at an innocent shower the same way again. (Janet Leigh, in Alfred Hitchcock’s Psycho, 1960.)

Believe it or not, your safety is on the line every time you hop in and steam up the bathroom. To avoid embarrassment, injury, or worse, the experts at Prevention say you should stay away from…

  1. Showering during an electrical storm: Think about it—water conducts electricity. If lightning hit a power line or the ground it can come up your pipes. (Even at a distance from your home, the jolt can be significant.) Activities to avoid in a thunderstorm: showers, baths, dishwashing by hand, playing hard-wired video games or computers, and talking on hard-wired phones.
  2. Using an old showerhead: Over time, potentially dangerous bacteria accrete in the nooks and crannies, providing microbes. Even worse, modern showerheads can aerosolize water particles, allowing bad bacteria deep into your airways. Use a rain-type showerhead or remove it altogether and go with a single stream of water.
  3. Showering without a mat: In North America in 2011, more than 250,000 accidental injuries occurred in the bathroom or shower—20 percent due to slipping. Put non-slip strips or a mat in your tub and consider adding grab bars inside and outside the shower to reduce falls.
  4. Overusing your loofah: They’re great for removing off dead skin, but loofahs can become loaded with germs. Wash yours once a week. Either soak it in diluted vinegar, or run it through the dishwasher.
  5. Showering before bed: An evening shower is a delightful thing, but don’t hop in within two hours of bedtime. The temperature change messes with your body’s natural triggers for restful sleep.

[More at Prevention]

* * *

The Science Behind Making the Perfect Pancake

pancake

Impress your family with a nugget of trivia: That delicious pancake aroma comes from a reaction named for the French chemist Louis-Camille Maillard.

Everyone loves pancakes. But it takes more than luck to work out how much batter you need or how to ensure the perfect flip. Here’s a great recipe, along with secret scientific underpinnings that contribute to perfect pancakes. Good luck!

THE RECIPE

  • 1-1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 tbsp baking powder
  • 1 pinch of salt
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • 2 large eggs, beaten
  • 2 tbsp butter, melted and cooled
  • 1-1/3 cups milk
  • butter for frying

THE SCIENCE

  1. Cooking is chemistry: Flour supplies protein and starch, both of which make simple sugar molecules join in chains. Much of flour’s protein comes from gluten. When you mix flour with milk and eggs, its gluten molecules get more flexible and can bind. The mixing causes carbon dioxide gas from the air to be trapped within these networks, which causes the pancake to rise.
  2. If you want thick pancakes, use a raising agent: This produces the carbon dioxide. Use baking soda or baking powder, or a mixture of sodium bicarbonate with a weak acid, like cream of tartar.
  3. Let batter stand for at least 30 minutes: Three hours is better. Why? You want to beat the mixture hard, to form the gluten—but allow the starches time to swell. With insufficient time, the pancake structure will be weak and full of air bubbles.
  4. Go easy with the batter: Rookie cooks always use too much.
  5. Use moderate heat: The pan should be hot enough for the pancake to brown in less than a minute, but not so hot that the batter sets when you put it on the pan. The pan matters, too. The best are heavy and flat, and hold heat well.
  6. The colour and flavour come from “browning off”: This process—a chemical reaction known as the Maillard reaction—is caused by hot sugars reacting with amino-acids, generating a wide range of small molecules that escape from the mixture and carry their wonderful smells to your nose.

Happy pancaking!

[More at Time Science]

* * *

How to Write Emails If You Want People to Actually Respond

imrs-1

The sweet spot of email writing. (Image courtesy of Boomerang.)

Having trouble getting people to reply to your emails? The solution, say the experts behind a popular Gmail plugin, is to write as if you’re 9 years old. Short, declarative sentences carry the day. But beware: Excessive simplicity and complexity both diminish your chances of a reply. Messages written at a kindergarten reading level get replies 46 percent of the time; those written at a university level, 39 percent.

Here’s a full list of Boomerang’s email tips:

  1. Use short sentences with simpler words. A 3rd grade reading level works best.
  2. Include one to three questions in your email.
  3. Make sure you include a subject line! Aim for 3-4 words.
  4. Use a slightly positive or slightly negative tone. Both outperform a completely neutral tone.
  5. Take a stand! Opinionated messages see higher response rates than objective ones.
  6. Write enough, but not too much. Try to keep messages between 50-125 words.

[More at The Washington Post]

* * *



March 3rd, 2016

LD Picks: How Your Slow Cooker Can Change Your Life

Did you know that you have a secret weapon in your kitchen? One thing that will help you make delicious dinners, tasty breakfasts, feasts for game day and impressive treats for your in-laws? You do – it’s called a slow cooker. Here’s our guide to getting that humble appliance out on the counter and making delicious meals for you and your family.

Get Started

how a slow cooker will change your life

Photo: jamieoliver.com

If said slow cooker is still in the box that your mother-in-law dropped it off in, you might need a primer. Slow cookers are super-easy to use, but there are a few things to remember. First of all, slow cooking is…slow. Yes, you can turn the heat up to high and cut the cooking time to four hours or so, but that’s often not the best strategy. Plan ahead! Remember also that if you’re cooking with kidney beans or other dry beans that contain high levels of phytohaemagglutinin, a toxin that can cause powerful stomach cramps and nausea, that you need to prepare the beans properly by boiling. A slow cooker will not get hot enough to neutralize the toxin.

Almost everything that will come out of a well-planned slow cooker will be delicious, but there are some basic rules to follow. Brown meat prior to adding to the pot to get a lovely caramelized crust. Don’t peek once things are underway – you’ll only lengthen the cooking time. Don’t add too much liquid. The slow cooker lid will prevent evaporation, so you only need a touch. Also, skip the prime rib and head straight for the chuck; the prime rib won’t stand up well to the long, slow heat.

One last tip – coat the inside of the slow cooker with a small amount of vegetable oil before putting food in there. It makes clean-up a snap.

[More at Jamie Oliver]

READ MORE



February 25th, 2016

The 12 Best and Worst Foods to Eat When You’re Sick

Cold and flu season is upon us again. Need help finding the foods and drinks that’ll speed your recovery and get you back on your feet? We take care of that.

* * *

The 5 Best Foods For Fighting a Cold

popsicles

Popsicles help you take in fluids—important—and help numb down a sore throat.

Doing battle with a cold means taking in plenty of fluids and as many phlegm-fighting foods as you can. Here are some of the best choices.

  1. Popsicles  The name of the game is hydration. While you’re usually better to eat your fruit than drink it, popsicles provide convenient relief  when you’re sore and congested. Buy the ones made from 100-percent whole fruit—or, better yet, make your own.
  2. Broth-based soups At Vancouver’s popular Solly’s Deli, chicken soup’s nom de guerre is “Jewish penicillin.” Small wonder: Chicken contains an amino acid called cysteine, which thins mucus in the lungs. And hot broth fights throat inflammation and keeps nasal passages moist.
  3. Citrus fruits While vitamin C isn’t a magic bullet, it aids in reducing the length and strength of colds. An added benefit: lemons and limes, oranges and grapefruits contain flavonoids, which improve immune system function.
  4. Hot tea Take advantage of the natural anti-bacterial properties of tea. We’re fond of a green tea or hot water with  lemon—besides soothing the throat, they keep you hydrated when you’re down for the count.
  5. Spicy foods Hot foods can make our noses run and our eyes water, which is why they’re effective decongestants. Eating chili peppers, wasabi, and horseradish—not all at once!—can light a fire under the body’s natural clearing-out process.

* * *

The 3 Best Foods For a Stomach Flu

bananas

Bland and dense with nutrients, bananas are a boon to the sick.

  1. Bananas Sweating, vomiting, or diarrhea visit the stricken, and all deplete your stores of potassium. Bananas replace it. They’re easy to digest, and replenish lost electrolytes.
  2. Ginger Ginger is a great help in preventing and soothing nausea. Ginger tea or ginger ale—served flat to avoid bubble trouble (i.e., carbonation discomfort)—will keep you hydrated and on an even keel.
  3. Dry toast, crackers Plain, unsalted, or lightly salted crackers and toast are simple, bland foods that go easy on the stomach, promoting digestion and recovery when a flu has you in its grips.

* * *

The 4 Worst Foods for a Stomach Flu

pickled-jalapenos

Pickled jalapenos—yikes. Avoid the acid and spice until you’re feeling better..

  1. Acidic & spicy foods While spicy foods are great decongestants, they can be hard on the stomach. Same goes for fruit from the citrus family, which can irritate sensitive stomachs. See “bananas,” above.
  2. Sweet snacks Sugary foods can suppress the immune system and cause inflammation. Though it’s tempting to treat yourself when you’re feeling low, leave the milkshake or chocolate sundae until you’re feeling better.
  3. Fatty foods Don’t make your gut do double duty. Forgo the burgers and fries in favour of foods that are easier to digest, like simple carbohydrates and proteins.
  4. Dairy products Whether dairy causes greater congestion or simply mimics the sensation is open to debate. Perhaps, though, the point is moot. If the feeling thicker mucus bothers you, it can’t hurt to avoid milk products while you’re sick.

* * *



January 18th, 2016

LD Picks: What You Need to Know About Colds and Flu

Contrary to popular belief, it’s not too late to get your flu shot – there’s still time to benefit from the vaccine and help prevent the spread of the flu. Here is some super-important information about the flu that you need to know.

* * *

How to Know If It’s the Flu

cold-flu

First are two important facts: 1) Flu symptoms can appear 1–4 days after becoming infected. 2) You can infect others for 5–7 days after onset of symptoms.

Symptoms include

  • Fever of 38 C or higher that starts suddenly
  • A dry cough that can last for weeks
  • Headache
  • An aching body, especially in the lower back and legs
  • Feeling very weak and tired

Other symptoms can include

  • Chills
  • Loss of appetite
  • Sore throat
  • Runny or stuffy nose
  • Some people may have nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea

READ MORE



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