Listen up! We have a story to tell, and it’s called "The Tale of Marshal Earwax: When Dirt Came to Town."
In the Canal Zone that runs from your eardrum to your outer ear live Marshal Earwax and his lovely partner Ms. Cilia von Hair-follicle. Together they battle incoming scoundrels like Dirt and his gang of bacteria. Ms. Cilia blocks the troublemakers’ way with her fine hair fibers, and Earwax ushers them back outside.
At least, that’s what happens when everything’s running smoothly in the Canal. But if Earwax puts on a bit of weight or gets pushed deeper into your ear’s end zone by, say, overzealous fingertips or the dreaded Cotton Swabs, nothing gets in or out, including sound.
So if you’re troubled by stuffy ears, muffled sounds or earaches, you may need to help the marshal clean up the neighborhood. Place a container with a small amount of mineral oil in it into a bowl or pan of warm water. Do not heat the oil in a microwave. Lying on your side with your ear facing the ceiling, drip the oil into your ear using an eyedropper. Then read a book or watch the tube. The wax will dissolve in less than an hour. Tip your head to let the wax drain into a towel. You can also get an earwax removal kit for less than $10 at the corner pharmacy. If these attempts don’t work, talk to your doc. You don’t want to poke around in there and risk damaging your eardrum.
Never miss a local story.
New therapy for peanut allergies
Serena Williams and Ray Romano. There’s a celebrity duo with less in common than, say, Jupiter and silly putty. Unless you consider their peanut allergy, an immune reaction they share to the friendly little legume (really, a peanut is not a nut). This allergy can leave Serena and Ray – and several million other North Americans – sniffling, itching and gasping for breath.
A peanut allergy often starts in childhood, but may be avoided if kids don’t eat any peanuts before age 3 or so. However, recent info indicates that avoiding the peanut after the first 4 to 6 months of life may not be much help. Besides, it can be tough, what with the popularity of PB&Js and the fact that nuts show up in unexpected places, from breakfast cereals to cakes made with peanut oil. And once this allergy appears, it typically lasts a lifetime. Until now.
We are thrilled that a new shot-free therapy (using peanut-laced drops placed under the tongue) tones down this allergic reaction. More than 60 percent who’ve tried this desensitization regimen became symptom-free with no wheezing, congestion or rashes, even after exposure to peanuts. How much of the peanuts you should be exposed to and over what length of time must be carefully controlled and managed, so don’t try this at home. But after 10 months of this therapy, when your kid heads off to school or to a birthday party, you may not have to worry about “peanut danger."
How to cut down on nightmares
If a visit from actor Leonardo DiCaprio sounds appealing to you, you probably aren’t imagining him as the terrifying dream thief in "Inception," plucking secrets from the unconscious minds of slumbering victims. That’s the stuff of nightmares. We’ve all had bad dreams that, like the movie, do more to bewilder than enlighten.
Nightmares are a normal, though sometimes disturbing, part of life. About 50 percent to 85 percent of adults have them occasionally, and after puberty they affect women more than men. While they can cause mood shifts, fatigue and other health problems, they also may help dispel stress, work out anxieties and even allow us to deal with trauma.
So we are here to help you dodge the next late-night roller-coaster ride and get the rest you need to revive and restore your energy and brainpower. Your sweet-dreams regimen:
1. Don’t eat just before going to bed. Late-night snacking revs up metabolism and increases brain activity, which can cause less-than-perfect dreams.
2. Don’t watch your TiVo’d “Dr. Oz" show if it’s past your bedtime. Sleep deprivation can increase the risk of nightmares. Catch Oz in the morning with a cup of coffee.
3. Anxiety and stress are the biggest triggers of bad dreams. Meditating for 10 minutes before you go to sleep, doing progressive muscle relaxation once you are in bed and making sure you have plenty of physical activity during the day will go a long way toward short-circuiting your worry-mares.
For better smells
• If the 250,000 sweat glands in your feet overdo their job, or if you wear damp socks or shoes for too long, your feet can get smelly. The solution: Zap the overgrowth of stinky bacteria by applying a diluted solution of lemongrass oil or verbena oil to your feet after washing and drying them.
• Anxiety, hormones and armpit hair can turn your sweat sour. Or you may have wildly overactive sweat glands. That’s hyperhidrosis. The solution: Most folks need deodorants, not antiperspirants. But if you really suffer, try a boric acid or tannic acid solution. Still dripping? Put on 20 percent aluminum chloride at night, and wash it off in the morning. Or try antibiotic creams to kill multiplying bacteria. Hyperhidrosis? Botox turns off the faucet. Beta-blockers (medicine for high blood pressure) relieve chronic, stress-related sweating.
• What you eat fuels bad breath and flatulence. Food odors – onions, garlic, curry – pass into your bloodstream, and the aromas are exhaled from your lungs. And the intestines pump out methane when you can’t cope with carbs or don’t have good bacteria in your guts.
The solution: Sweeten your breath by flossing, brushing your teeth and tongue, and drinking plenty of water. Gas? Try Beano and probiotics (spore forms).
Veggies that can help block cancer
Like the field of giant vegetables that Woody Allen encounters in "Sleeper," the health-bestowing powers of brassica – think broccoli and its many cousins – are pretty astounding. And we want to shout from the rooftops (or at least the garden) that the phytochemicals and other nutrients in these tasty veggies are an important part of the battle against cancer. So, what should you be dishing up?
Shopping list: arugula, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, cauliflower, collard greens, kohlrabi, bok choy, Chinese cabbage (Napa cabbage), rapeseed oil (canola), rapini, turnip, rutabaga and mustard greens.
Veggie power: It happens that powerful chemicals in these veggies turn off genes that promote cancers, including bladder, prostate, breast and ovarian cancers, and are able to help reduce body-wide inflammation. But that’s not all. Their arsenal of disease-zappers includes cancer-fighting amino acids such as lysine, as well as lots of important trace minerals – selenium, potassium, calcium, zinc and magnesium – that keep the immune system strong and protect vital organs. These nutrient warriors target cancer cells and don’t damage the healthy ones.
Cooking savvy: To get all the anti-cancer benefits that are packed into these tasty veggie treats, saute them lightly (we love adding fresh garlic), steam them or microwave them. But don’t boil the broccoli. That not only releases the health-giving chemicals from the plant’s cells, it turns them to mush. Fresh is always best.