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Did You Know These Potential Adverse Cardiovascular Effects From Excessive Endurance Exercise?

Did You Know These Potential Adverse Cardiovascular Effects From Excessive Endurance Exercise?
Graphic – herbsandhealth.net. Image sources – see foot of article

Cardio is generally beneficial for health, but it could become harmful to your heart when taken to excessive lengths. This generalization was posited by a 2012 study [1] published in the journal Mayo Clinic Proceedings that warned of the long-term harm posed to the cardiovascular system by excessive endurance exercise such as marathon, ultramarathon, ironman distance triathlons and very long distance bicycle races. These activities may cause structural changes to the heart and enlarge arteries, says the study.

According to lead author Dr. James O’Keefe, regular daily exercise is effective for the prevention and treatment of diseases such as obesity, hypertension, heart failure, and coronary heart disease. However, extreme endurance training can cause musculoskeletal trauma and cardiovascular stress. The study associates ultramarathon running and professional cycling with five-fold increase in the prevalence of abnormal heart rhythms.

In an interview with the magazine “Runner’s World”, Dr. O’Keefe clarified that a single marathon is not necessarily bad for a person. He noted that what is bad for one’s health is to do 10 or 15 marathons a year for 20 years. [2]

O’Keefe compared the benefits of exercise to a powerful drug. He explained that any potent drug has an ideal dose. This dosage should be enough to bring full benefit. Too much of it can cause dangerous side effects. He applied the same analogy in the benefits of exercise. He said that when people do more than an hour of strenuous exercise, they could lose some of the health benefits seen with lesser amounts of physical activity. The study author suggested to getting into exercise patterns that promote overall health and longevity.

The Mayo Clinic doctor stressed the importance of just thirty minutes of moderate or vigorous physical activity. He mentioned the influence of a daily exercise habit on cutting one’s risk for premature death, diabetes, Alzheimer’s disease, depression, and heart attack. He added that people who exercise regularly have lower rates of disability [4] and longer average life expectancy than sedentary people. [5]

O’Keefe’s findings are supported by other studies. One was presented at the Canadian Cardiovascular Congress in Montreal, Quebec in 2001 that showed the impact of long-distanced running on cardiac risk. [3] First published in The American Journal of Cardiology, the study linked long-distance running to high levels of inflammation that may trigger cardiac events.

Another study published in the Journal of Physiology in 1985 even discovered grimmer news about excessive endurance exercise. [4] The study focused on extremely fit older men who had successfully run in a minimum of one hundred marathons. It hypothesized that marathon running could provide a cardiovascular benefit to this group of men. Well, Wilson M et. al. discovered that half of these marathoners showed some heart muscle scarring, especially the ones who had trained the longest and hardest.

Heart scarring was also the health issue developed by male rats which were subjected to intensive exercise training to mimic the strenuous daily exercise load of serious marathoners. [6] Before the study was conducted, all the rats had normal, healthy hearts. The study documented diffuse scarring and some structural changes in the cardiovascular system after long-term intensive exercise training.

O’Keefe et. al. and other studies are an important reminder that the human heart does not regenerate itself and that humans only have one heart. While skeptics can continue to emphasize the fact that these studies are small and non-randomized, more evidence for the relation between extreme exercise and the subsequent adverse structural remodeling of the heart is mounting – and should not be ignored.


[1] O’Keefe JH et. al. (2012). Potential Adverse Cardiovascular Effects From Excessive Endurance Exercise. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3538475/

[2] Amby Burfoot. (2012). Q&A with the “Potential Adverse Effects” of Endurance Exercise Authors

[3] Siegel AJ et. al. (2001). Effect of marathon running on inflammatory and hemostatic marker

[4] Stanley P. Brown, Wayne C. Miller, Jane M. Eason. (2006). Exercise Physiology: Basis of Human Movement in Health and Disease https://books.google.com.ph/books?id=T-s3OAZdlhsC&pg=PA392

[5] Georg Neumann, Arndt Pf¸tzner, Anneliese Berbalk. (2000). Successful Endurance Training. https://books.google.com.ph/books?id=4CVi3iZlAk4C&pg=PA28

[6] Wilson M et. al. (1985). Diverse patterns of myocardial fibrosis in lifelong, veteran endurance athletes https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21330616

[7] Begoa B et. al. (2011). Cardiac Arrhythmogenic Remodeling in a Rat Model of Long-Term Intensive Exercise Training http://circ.ahajournals.org/content/123/1/13.short

Photo credits: Pixabay (PD)

How Essential Oils Enhance Your Well-Being

How Essential Oils Enhance Your Well Being
Graphic – herbsandhealth.net. Photo © lily – fotolia.com (under license)

Aromatherapy is the practice of using natural plant oils for improving the physical well-being of a person. These aroma-producing oils come from flowers, leaves, stalks, rind, and roots. Aromatherapy is an alternative medicine that considers your sense of smell’s influence over your thoughts, emotions, moods, memories, behavior and physiological functions.

Plant-based oils contain biologically-active and volatile compounds that have been found to provide therapeutic benefits. While each essential oil has its own virtues and unique qualities, combining them may create a much more powerful effect. With aromatherapy, you can harness the olfactory power of essential oils for healing, simply to enhance your state of well-being and also through health-supporting effects that have been attributed to the oil molecules themselves.

The versatility of aromatherapy is immense. For this article, we will be discussing some of the therapeutic uses of oils for common complaints. There are oils that treat more than one problem including lavender and peppermint. Several scientific studies have been cited to support how these essential oils offer means for emotional and physical healing and rebalancing moods.

1. Essential Oils for Pain: Lavender, chamomile, clary sage, juniper, eucalyptus, rosemary, peppermint, lavender, and green apple

Lavender oil is one of the most popular essential oils that are commonly used to relieve headaches and neck pain. Its analgesic and anti-inflammatory effects were confirmed by a study [1] published in the August 2015 issue of Brazilian medical journal Anais da Academia Brasileira de Ciencias. Another study [2] supports the effectiveness of lavender oil in treating pain when combined with conventional treatments such as acupressure.

2. Essential Oils for Insomnia: Lavender, chamomile, jasmine, benzoin, neroli, rose, sandalwood oil, sweet marjoram, ylang-ylang, lemon

A Korean study [3] combined lavender, roman chamomile, and neroli oils to assess its effect on anxiety, sleep, and blood pressure of coronary artery disease patients. It found out the value of this blend as an independent nursing intervention for improving the sleep quality of these patients. In another study [4], the oils of ylang-ylang, lavender, neroli, and marjoram were effective in improving the sleep quality of middle-aged women with hypertension.

3. Essential Oils for Stress: Lavender, lemon, bergamot, jojoba, clary sage, peppermint, vetiver, pine, ylang-ylang, chamomile

In 2016, University of Montana undergraduate student McKinley June Sangwin investigated the effectiveness of aromatherapy as stress reduction tool [5] for college students. He pre-mixed a dram of chamomile, clary sage or lavender oil with jojoba oil for the study – which revealed the potential of aroma inhalation in reducing stress among college students.

4. Essential Oils for Anxiety: Lavender, bergamot, rose, clary sage, lemon, Roman chamomile, orange, sandalwood, rose-scented geranium, ylang-ylang, and pine

One study [6] mixed lavender and bergamot oils to evaluate the blended oil’s aroma-therapeutic effects in treating anxiety. The study confirmed the relaxing effect of the synergistic blend and its potential use in medicine for curing depression or anxiety in humans. In 2006, a study published in Phytotherapy Research [7] provided evidence for the usage of ylang-ylang oil as a therapy for depression.

5. Essential Oils for Nausea and Vomiting: Mint, ginger, lemon, orange, ginger, dill, fennel, chamomile, clary sage, lemon, and lavender

Yavari and colleagues [8] conducted research in 2014 to determine the effect of lemon inhalation aromatherapy on nausea and vomiting of pregnant women. Results showed the positive effect of lemon scent in reducing nausea and vomiting during pregnancy. In another study [9], a blend of essential oils of ginger, spearmint, peppermint, and cardamom was proven to be another effective aromatherapy treatment for postoperative nausea.

6. Essential Oils for Memory and Attention: Sage, peppermint, rosemary, lemon, and cinnamon

The effect of peppermint on memory performance has been widely explored. The International Journal of Neuroscience published a study [10] in 2008 that offered evidence for the impact of peppermint on increasing alertness of healthy participants. In 2009, another study [11] posited the potential of aromatherapy for improving the cognitive function of patients with Alzheimer’s disease. The study used rosemary and lemon essential oils.

7. Essential Oils for Low Energy: Black pepper, peppermint, cardamom, cinnamon, clove, angelica, jasmine, tea tree, rosemary, sage, and citrus

In 2013, an experiment [12] was conducted to explore the effectiveness of peppermint essential oil on the exercise performance. The stimulating effect of peppermint was attributed to its analgesic, anti-inflammatory, and antioxidant properties.

8. Essential Oils for Fatigue Exhaustion and Burnout: Basil, bergamot, clary sage, jasmine, lemon, peppermint, rosemary, ginger, cypress, sandalwood, grapefruit, and grapefruit

Inhaling a mixture of essential oils [13] including peppermint, basil, and helichrysum was found to be effective in reducing the perceived level of mental fatigue or burnout. This study first appeared in The Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine.

How To Use the Essential Oils?

As mentioned above, the most common ways to use essential oils are aromatically, topically, internally, and externally. You can diffuse the oils into the air, inhale them directly, use as perfume or cologne, or as a natural room deodorizer. Essential oils are applied topically through massage, hot or cold compress, or bathwater. Certain oils may be used in cooking or as supplements, but they should typically NOT be taken internally unless accepted as a food-grade substance, and even then in minute quantities.

Around the home, essential oils have also found applications in sprays, carpet deodorizers, insect repellent, and household cleaners.


[1] Silva GL et al. 2015. Anais da Academia Brasileira de Ciencias. Antioxidant, analgesic and anti-inflammatory effects of lavender essential oil https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/26247152

[2] Lakhan SE et al. 2016. Pain Research and Treatment. The Effectiveness of Aromatherapy in Reducing Pain: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5192342/

[3] Cho M-Y et al. 2013. Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine. Effects of Aromatherapy on the Anxiety, Vital Signs, and Sleep Quality of Percutaneous Coronary Intervention Patients in Intensive Care Units https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3588400/

[4] Ju M-S et al. Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine. Effects of Aroma Massage on Home Blood Pressure, Ambulatory Blood Pressure, and Sleep Quality in Middle-Aged Women with Hypertension https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3570933/

[5] Sangwin MJ et al. 2016. A Study on Stress and Aromatherapy Intervention Efficacy http://scholarworks.umt.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1079&context=utpp

[6] Hongratanaworakit T et al. 2011. Natural Product Communications. Aroma-therapeutic effects of massage blended essential oils on humans https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21922934

[7] Hongratanaworakit T1, Buchbauer G. 2006. Phytotherapy Research. Relaxing effect of ylang ylang oil on humans after transdermal absorption https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/16807875

[8] Yavari Kia P et al. 2014. Iran Red Crescent Medical Journal. The effect of lemon inhalation aromatherapy on nausea and vomiting of pregnancy: a double-blinded, randomized, controlled clinical trial https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24829772

[9] Hunt R et al. 2013. Anesthesia & Analgesia. Aromatherapy as treatment for postoperative nausea: a randomized trial https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22392970

[10] Moss M et al. 2008. The International Journal of Neuroscience. Modulation of cognitive performance and mood by aromas of peppermint and ylang-ylang https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/18041606

[11] Jimbo D et al. 2009. Psychogeriatrics. Effect of aromatherapy on patients with Alzheimer’s disease https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20377818

[12] Abbas Meamarbashi and Ali Rajabi. 2013. Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition. The effects of peppermint on exercise performance https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3607906/

[13] Varney E, Buckle J. 2013. Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine. Effect of inhaled essential oils on mental exhaustion and moderate burnout: a small pilot study https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23140115

How To Make Probiotic Lemonade

How To Make Probiotic Lemonade
Graphic – herbsandhealth.net. Photo © shutterstock.com (under license)

When it comes to flavor and refreshment, nothing beats a cold glass of fresh homemade lemonade. Store-bought brands are often filled with sugar, preservatives, and artificial flavoring. So when it comes to your drink, it’s always better to go natural. Lemons are already packed with vitamin c, antioxidants, and potassium to keep our body healthy… but imagine if we can make an awesome drink even more awesome. [1]

A great way to boost the health benefits you can get from your beverage is to add a dose of probiotics extracted from yogurt. Probiotics are often called “good bacteria” since they have been linked to improvements in mood, digestion, and immunity. [2][3] Best of all, the natural tart taste of lemons makes it a perfect complement to the sour flavor of the whey from yogurt.

Here are the steps to make your own probiotic lemonade at home.

For this recipe you’ll need:

• 12 Organic lemons
• 1 cup of fresh whey from yogurt
• 1/2-1 cup of organic cane sugar (adjust according to taste)

Things you’ll need
• A thin cheesecloth
• Rubber bands
• A gallon jar

1. Extract the whey. We start with the process of extracting whey from store bought whole milk organic yogurt. To do this, simply drape your cheesecloth into a bowl and add the yogurt. Tie it with a rubber band and hang it up to strain the liquid. After a few hours transfer the liquid into a measuring cup and you now have around 1 cup of whey for your drink.

You can use the leftover yogurt as an ingredient for dips, spreads, and fillings.
Use the thinnest cheesecloth as possible. A think cheesecloth can absorb the whey rather than strain it from the yogurt.
You can save the whey for other recipes, just make sure to keep it refrigerated.

2. Now it’s time to squeeze the juice out of the lemons. You can use a lemon press or any lemon juicer of your choice.

Roll the lemon first on your counter top to maximize the amount juice you’ll get.

3. Mix the whey and lemon juice in a gallon jar. Now add the amount of water and sugar to the taste that you want.

It is best to use at least 1/2 cup of sugar so that the probiotic can use it for fermentation. This will make the sweetness a little weak after fermentation.

4. Wait. Once finished mixing. Tightly close the jar and leave it on your kitchen counter at room temperature for 2 days.

5. Enjoy! After 2 days, transfer the mixture to a glass pitcher and you now have a refreshing and healthy probiotic drink your family will enjoy.


[1] Natural bioactive compounds of Citrus limon for food and health. (2017)
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19748198 http://www.gastrojournal.org/article/S0016-5085(17)35557-9/pdf

[2] Probiotic Bifidobacterium longum NCC3001 Reduces Depression Scores and Alters Brain Activity: a Pilot Study in Patients With Irritable Bowel Syndrome https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/28483500

[3] Probiotics (Lactobacillus gasseri KS-13, Bifidobacterium bifidum G9-1, and Bifidobacterium longum MM-2) improve rhinoconjunctivitis-specific quality of life in individuals with seasonal allergies: a double-blind, placebo-controlled, randomized trial. (2017) http://ajcn.nutrition.org/content/105/3/758