Fat Loss Weight Loss 

The Weight Loss Motivation Bible: How To Program Your Mind For Sustainable Fat Loss

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Raise a Glass This Season With These 13 Lightened-Up Cocktail Recipes

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If you’re planning on throwing back a few at the office holiday party (or any holiday party, for that matter), it can’t hurt to partake in healthier cocktail choice. These festive cocktail recipes that swap the syrups for fresh juice and all-natural sweeteners, the sugary mixes for superfood-charged ingredients, and the high-alcohol-content liquors for low-proof spirits will not only taste better but also prevent that dreaded next-day hangover. Cheers!

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14 Anxiety-Control Goals For 2017

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If anxiety has been ruling your life in 2016, then this new year is the time for you to have a fresh start. Make mental health resolutions that will help manage anxiety and give you a greater sense of control over your brain and your life.

You can implement these 14 things throughout the year or try one or two a month. Either way, you’ll be feeling stronger, more empowered, and happier every day. We all have anxiety, some of us more so than others — these things can help us keep it in check. Let’s do this!

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Practice deep breathing. Get yourself a tracker or an app, or learn some techniques from yoga. Learning good, slow breathing techniques can come in handy if you’re experiencing a panic attack or extreme anxiety.
Take up a meditation practice. Whether it’s on a meditation app, in a class, with a YouTube video, or on your own, calming yourself at least once a day can help manage your anxiety in a powerful way.
Eat more foods with anxiety-reducing minerals. Did you know that there are foods that can calm you down? Omega 3s, B vitamins, magnesium, and more can all contribute to a greater sense of calm. Many therapists and psychiatrists also recommend a diet that is rich in foods like salmon, which are chock-full of mood-boosting omegas.
Start a gratitude journal. When everything feels too overwhelming, a journal can help. Write down all your thoughts, but also remind yourself of the positives and what is rooted in reality. Bring yourself to the present moment.
Find a therapist you love. You can only do so much on your own. If anxiety is a part of your everyday life, a therapist should be, too. Honestly, we can all benefit from therapy, and we could all stand to learn a little bit more about ourselves, our brains, and how we operate as individuals. Committing to regular therapy can help give you a sense of control over your life and your anxiety; it’s a built-in a support system and a safe place to talk about what you’re going through with tools that have been proven to work.
Find a workout you love. One that actually works for you and your anxiety. While yoga is calming and centering for many, some anxiety sufferers feel like it’s too much stillness and they’re left alone with overwhelming thoughts. Maybe you need a challenging new workout where you don’t have a second to think about anything but what you’re doing in that moment. Finding a workout that forces you to be present is imperative.
Take more self-care days. Too many plans and too many people asking for things from you can agitate your anxiety. Take a weekend day where you say no to plans and give yourself a break to do exactly what you need and want to do, even if that means doing nothing all day.
Disconnect from technology more. Are constant texts, emails, and social notifications bogging you down mentally and emotionally? Turn it off. Keep your phone charger away from your bed. Take a few hours a day to disconnect.
Try a natural practice, like reiki, acupuncture, oil diffusing, forest bathing, or earthing. Each of these holistic approaches have been shown to reduce stress, anxiety, and depression. Can’t hurt to try!
Have a mantra for the year: “Anxiety does not control me.” Repeating this to yourself can serve as a constant reminder that you are in control of your life and mental illness does not rule you. Everyone has anxiety; it’s what makes us human! What matters is our relationship with it. You wouldn’t let a friend control you, so don’t let your anxiety control you either.
Get more sleep. Sleep is a huge factor in reducing anxiety and stress. Make it a goal to get at least seven or eight hours per night.Remove unhealthy relationships and nurture the good ones. There are going to be people in your life who either just don’t understand anxiety or don’t make you feel good and perhaps make your anxiety worse. You don’t need those people in your life! Foster your relationships with the people who build you up, support you, and understand when you need some time to yourself. Those people are on your team and will be there for you for life.Cut back on caffeine. If you’ve known about your anxiety for a while, you’ll already know this, but if you’re just learning, it’s especially important to know: caffeine can trigger panic attacks. If you’re a daily coffee drinker, you might be surprised at how much it’s impacting your anxiety levels. Stop feeling bad about feeling bad. You’re not a bad person, there’s nothing wrong with you, and it’s OK to have anxious feelings. Feeling guilt or shame around your anxiety is only going to make things worse — they’re useless emotions that serve no purpose! Let go of the burden and know that it’s OK to not feel happy or 100 percent all the time.

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1 Way to Hit Your Weight-Loss Resolution Every Month

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The weight-loss goal is easily the most popular New Year’s resolution of all time. Gyms flood in January, and markets are cleared out of their healthy staples like kale and quinoa. Then sometime around early February, no one remembers what a New Year’s resolution even is, let alone what they’re doing for their weight-loss goals.

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The best way to approach this? Make yourself a strategy. Use one of these tips for each month of the year and fill out your calendar for 2017 with what you plan to do, January through December. These weight-loss tips have been proven to be effective — and they’re impossibly simple to implement.

One month you’ll be drinking more water, and the next trying new veggie recipes — but the common theme throughout the year is that you’ll be hitting your weight-loss goals. Try these 12 tips in 2017 to have your most successful year yet . . . and don’t forget about that gym membership you paid all that money for!

Join a gym (or a boutique studio that you love): One of the first steps to moving more is committing yourself to a routine. Whether this is your local gym, or a yoga studio near your office, make it convenient. You won’t go if it’s too far away or has crazy hours that don’t work with your schedule. Also, ensure that you love the style of exercise if it’s a studio — you also won’t go if you hate the workout!
Get a tracker: Like a Fitbit or an Apple Watch, specifically! These trackers serve as constant reminders that you need to move more. You’ll get little vibrations and notifications telling you to stand and move — some even tell you to run! Like tying a string around your finger to remind you of a task, these trackers go with you everywhere to remind you to make healthier choices.
Try a new workout: Mixing it up is often the key to success — especially if you’ve hit a plateau. Challenge your body in new ways by trying a workout you’ve never done before. One month, pick this new activity you’re interested in, and stick it out for the whole four weeks. Do it regularly, even if it’s a challenge. Not only will you learn a new skill and mix things up for your body, but you’ll feel stronger and more empowered, too.
Try four new veggie recipes: Adding more vegetables to your diet is essential to weight loss. Find the ones you actually love, and your favorite way to prepare them so you can fall back on your own staple healthy recipe all year long. Not a fan of brussels sprouts? Try a zucchini recipe. Keep going until you find what you love.
Add a vegetable to every meal: We spoke with one woman who told us this was one of the keys to her success — and she lost over 100 pounds! Adding something green to each meal (yes, even breakfast!) will help you get the nutrients you need all day long and create better, long-lasting, healthy habits.
Cut out sugar for one week: Longer if you can! If you find that you’re totally addicted to sugar, that can be a major obstacle in your weight-loss journey. Set aside a week to eliminate processed and added sugarsnatural sugar is OK! If you can keep going, aim for three weeks; that’s how long it’ll take you to really break a habit.
Learn how to count macros . . . and track them for one week to start: Macros are the fats, protein, and carbohydrates in your diet — and the way you balance them can help you lose weight. Start with recipes for breakfast, lunch, and dinner to get a better idea of what your food can look like with macro counting.
Drink a glass of water before every meal: Did you know that our brains often confuse thirst for hunger? Drinking more water — especially before meals — can help control appetite and help you lose weight.
Get eight hours of sleep every night: Celebrity trainer Harley Pasternak listed sleep as a massive component to weight-loss success. You’ll have more energy for your workouts and more alertness to make better dietary choices.
Eat more (healthy) breakfasts: Make it your goal to always eat a healthy breakfast, but one month this year, learn a new breakfast recipe, and make it at least twice a week. Breakfast can kickstart your metabolism, curb a sweet tooth, and control appetite — all leading to weight loss!
Practice mindful eating: Slow down, pause, put your fork down between bites. If overeating or eating too quickly has been a challenge for you, this is an essential practice to take up. Choose a month to practice your mindful eating with every single meal. You might be able to stop food cravings for good!
Focus on digestion: Take one month to focus on digestion-friendly foods (lots of fiber!), probiotics, and even a digestion-aiding practice like acupuncture or traditional Chinese medicine. By keeping things regular, you’ll feel better, lighter, and slimmer.

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Fitbit vs. Apple Watch For Exercise: Here Are Our Thoughts

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Fitness trackers are one of the hottest holiday gifts — and for good reason! They motivate, inspire, and can help incite massive physical (and mental) changes. Whether you’re trying to encourage more movement or help someone learn about their heart rate during exercise, a tracker can help.

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I got the chance to compare my Apple Watch Series 2 and my Fitbit Charge 2 side by side, worn simultaneously (yes, I looked like a tool in my SoulCycle classes and on my runs and in my kettlebell class). Since trackers have been helping me on my fitness journey, I wanted to see what the user experience was like for each and what kind of data I could access after my workout. Let’s take a look.

Aesthetic

If you’re worried about the look of your tracker, you have two great options to choose from. You either lean more toward the aesthetic of a traditional tracker/fitness band with the Fitbit Charge 2, or the digital watch styling of the Apple Watch. With both, you can choose the metal accent color (gold, silver, etc.) and change out the bands if you’d like to wear them every day beyond your workouts. Fitbit has a blush pink leather that I’m particularly fond of, and I may switch up my Apple Watch with a new color of silicone band if I get tired of the light gray.

General Features (of Note)
HRM. Both trackers offer a heart rate monitor, which is ideal for data tracking and learning more about your body. It also provides a more accurate account of how many calories are burned per workout.

Waterproof (or not). The Apple Watch Series 2 is waterproof, the Fitbit Charge 2 is not. You will definitely have to take it off in your post-workout shower.

Music Storage. Additionally, the latest Apple Watch has music storage capabilities, meaning you don’t have to bring your phone, and you can listen to your workout playlist — provided you have Bluetooth headphones.

Tracking Your Workout

The first time I used my Fitbit Charge 2, I had no idea how to start tracking my workouts — I was simply wearing it for step tracking and my heart rate. But when I wore it to SoulCycle, it somehow miraculously knew that I was doing a cycling workout from the moment I started — from there, it logged my heart rate every second of the way, and provided me with an in-depth analysis of my workout. Once the Fitbit synced with my phone, the app showed a workout logged as “Bike.”

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I wrongfully assumed my Apple Watch Series 2 would do the same, and went into another SoulCycle class with it, only to be disappointed not only at its lack of intuitive tracking, but zero data to be found anywhere. It didn’t log my heart rate more than once or twice throughout the 45-50 minutes of the workout, and I had no data to track, no exercise counted toward my day. I get it — first world problems. But as someone who loves tracking all of my exercise and activity, this was sorely disappointing.

If there’s enough movement, the Apple Watch will sense it. I went to a hip-hop workout class, and though the Watch knew I was exercising (it logged minutes toward my daily exercise goal), it did not log any particular exercise nor give me the option to.

With the Fitbit, you can retroactively track your workout. Because the tracker is more closely monitoring your heart rate, you can enter the data and say, “I worked out from 12:00 p.m. to 12:45,” and it will populate your workout with the data from that time. This is not an option on the Apple Watch Series 2, as far as I can tell.

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Both trackers give you the option to log a workout if you hit a button and “start” your run, cycling class, general cardio, or weight lifting (Fitbit has a weight-specific workout you can select, Apple Watch you’ll have to select “other”). However, neither tracker gives you the option to edit your stop time of your workout — so if you forget to hit the “stop” button and hours have passed, you’re stuck with wonky data and skewed average heart rate information (and a several-hour-long “workout” on your records).

Data and Accuracy

Each tracker displays the average heart rate, total calories burned, and the length of the workout — I wore both of mine at once (in the same type of class, three times, just to be sure) to see how close they were in terms of data accuracy, and I still have no idea which one was correct. Take a look — these are three cycling classes, about 50 minutes long (with the cooldown), both logged at the same time, with the same height/weight/age data in the system.

As you can see, they never lined up 100 percent. Although similar in average heart rate and caloric burn, it’s impossible to tell which one is accurate, which can be frustrating.

In terms of getting a better insight as to what’s happening in your workout, the Fitbit wins by a mile. The heart rate data is so much more nuanced, and it can even show you how many calories you burned in each minute of your workout. I love that it shows you how long your heart rate was in different zones, and the graphs really animate the physiology of your workout, so you get more of an inside look into what’s happening in your body. It’s great. Unfortunately, with the Apple Watch, you’re stuck with average numbers and no fun graphs.

Price

The Apple Watch Series 2 ranges from $369 to $399, and the Fitbit Charge 2 ranges from $150 to $180.

Overall Impression

If you’re looking for data, the Fitbit really does win by a long shot. The data it provides is so much more detailed, and the intuitive exercise tracking makes for much more hassle-free workouts. This is a specialty piece of equipment specifically created and designed for exercise — whereas the Apple Watch was designed with a lot of other things in mind. I do wish they’d provide a feature that lets you cut off your workout time if you actually forget to stop your tracking, though.

While the Apple Watch Series 2 provides a lot more of the bells and whistles (It’s waterproof! You can text on it! It stores your playlists!), in terms of tracking, it’s just not as smart as the Fitbit when it comes to fitness, data, and overall wellness. However, if you’re looking to use it as a running tracker, I’d highly recommend it in that case.

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Here’s What LSD Does To the Brain

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What exactly happens to the brain on psychedelic drugs? A small new study, published in the journal Current Biology, peeked inside the brains of 15 people during an acid trip and found brain-scan backup for a popular drug cliche: that the tripper feels at one with the universe.

Fifteen healthy people, who were experienced users of lysergic acid diethylamide, or LSD, came twice to a lab in London. (LSD is illegal in the UK, but it’s possible to use it in research with special permissions.) Once, they were injected with a small amount of LSD (75 micrograms); the other time they received a saline placebo. After an hour, to let the effects settle in, they got into an fMRI brain scanner, which captured images of what went on in their brains.

The researchers asked the people to rate their mood changes—getting answers like “I’m tripping like crazy” or “nothing is happening”—their visual distortions and their intensity of ego dissolution: a loss of self-identity and sense of connection to the environment outside of oneself that reportedly happens to people when they take LSD, which is illegal in the United States. “You don’t recognize yourself as a separate being from the universe,” says study co-author Enzo Tagliazucchi, a neuroscientist at the Royal Netherlands Academy of Arts and Sciences in Amsterdam. “It feels, in a way, like transferring the consciousness from within your body to the outside world; the focus is in the objects that surround you rather than inside.” Tagliazucchi and the team wondered if they could find some changes in the brain related to this feeling of ego dissolution.

When they looked at the regions of the brain involved in introspection, or thinking about oneself, and sensory areas that perceive the outside world, they found that these networks were communicating more intensely than usual. “When we measured the brains of subjects who were really blown away by LSD, who had a really strong feeling of ego dissolution, they were also the ones who had the strongest increase in communication between the network of regions in charge of introspection and the network of regions in charge of perceiving the external world,” Tagliazucchi says.

Also check out healthywithjodi.com

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This New Patch Can Monitor Patient’s Vital Signs With High Accuracy

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Hospital patients could have their vital signs tracked without cumbersome wires and complex monitors once a new startup’s wearable monitoring patch hits the market.

VitalConnect is building a lightweight, disposable patch that can be affixed to a patient’s chest and wirelessly sends vital signs including heart rate, ECG read out and rate of breathing to a mobile app. The patch has been approved by the Food and Drug Administration and provides clinical grade accuracy in monitoring, the company said.

“It is very small, comfortable and fully disposable,” Dr. Nersi Nazari, VitalConnect’s CEO, said on Wednesday during a demonstration at the Fortune Brainstorm Health conference. One patch can be worn for four to five days and can survive getting wet in the shower, he noted.

The patch, which could also be worn by patients at home, has the ability to detect if the wearer has fallen down. If a fall is detected, the patch can wirelessly notify a doctor or other party.

VitalConnect is also developing a cloud-based service to analyze the health data collected by the patches. The software ultimately could help physicians decide how to treat a patient or decide when the patient is ready to be discharged from the hospital, Nazari said.

For more about medical wearables, see: Can a Wearable Fitness Device Predict Your Heart Attack?

“The data is sliced and diced and analyzed to the condition that the doctor is looking at,” Nazari explained. “We do not want to bombard doctors with so much data that it’s just not useful.”

VitalConnect, founded in 2011, is seeking to combine expertise in bioengineering and data analytics. Nazari previously worked on semiconductor chip design at Marvell Semiconductor. Joseph Roberson, the company’s chief medical officer, was formerly chief of otology-neurotology-skull base surgery at Stanford University.

 

This article originally appeared on Fortune.com.

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Common Eye Problems, Solved

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Thanks to new technology—from disposable contacts to LASIK—it has never been easier to guarantee perfect vision without having to wear clunky specs or reading glasses. (And even if frames are your thing, you can get trendy ones cheaper than ever through mail-order sites, like warbyparker.com.) The latest science can also keep unsightly crow's-feet and dark circles at bay.

But while it's great to look and see better, you want your eyes to feel better, too, whether it's by preventing itchy, watery allergy symptoms or staving off age-related eye diseases. So we went on a vision quest to round up the tests, treatments and warning signs you need to know about so you'll see clearly into your next decade and beyond.

Problem No. 1: Presbyopia

The lowdown. Presbyopia—difficulty making out close objects, like writing on a menu or digits on a phone—usually sets in by the time you're 40. That's because, as you age, the lens of your eye gradually starts to lose flexibility. (Farsightedness, or hyperopia, has a similar effect but is due to the shape of your eye and is usually something you're born with.) Unfortunately, there's nothing you can do to prevent it.

What it feels like. Your vision is blurred at a normal distance. You may also notice eye strain and headaches when you're doing close-up work, like sewing.

Rx. Although presbyopia is a natural condition, you should still see your eye doctor when you notice it to make sure you don't have a more serious condition, like glaucoma, says Bruce Rosenthal, MD, professor of ophthalmology at the Mount Sinai School of Medicine. If it is presbyopia, he'll likely recommend reading glasses. Already wear glasses or contacts? Relax: You won't have to switch to old-fashioned granny glasses, thanks to new bifocal contact lenses and glasses known as no-line bifocals, which use progressive, multifocus lenses and look like regular specs.

Problem No. 2: Allergic conjunctivitis

The lowdown. If you have seasonal allergies, you recognize this as the annoying redness and itchiness that afflict your eyes in response to pollen from grass, trees or ragweed. You might also get these symptoms if you're allergic to pet dander or mold. "When the allergen comes into contact with your eyes, it causes cells known as mast cells to release histamine and other substances," causing swelling and wateriness, explains Richard Weber, MD, president of the American College of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology.

What it feels like. Itchy, red, watery eyes. You might also have other allergy symptoms, like sneezing.

Rx. An eye doctor or an allergist can prescribe prescription antihistamine eyedrops and, if needed, oral antihistamines (available either over-the-counter or by prescription). "Just avoid over-the-counter redness drops—they work by constricting blood vessels in your eye, and you can develop a rebound effect—when you stop using them, the vessels dilate again," Dr. Weber says.

 

Next Page: Dry eye syndrome

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Problem No. 3: Dry eye syndrome

The lowdown. This condition occurs when you don't naturally produce enough tears to lubricate your peepers. "It's very common among women in their late 30s and early 40s, probably because of hormonal changes such as a decrease in estrogen and testosterone production leading into perimenopause," says Robert Cykiert, MD, an ophthalmologist at NYU Langone Medical Center. Certain meds—like antidepressants, antihistamines and decongestants—can also dry out your eyes, as can cold outdoor air.

What it feels like. A scratchy, gritty sensation. You may also have red eyes and blurred vision.

Rx. You can usually treat mild symptoms with an over-the-counter, preservative-free artificial tear solution, like Alcon's. If that doesn't work, see your eye doctor, who can prescribe eyedrops called Restasis. Wear contacts? Consider switching to daily disposables: One study found they improved dry eye by about 20 percent. For severe cases, your doc might recommend prescription eye inserts, which release a lubricant. You can also take an omega-3 supplement, which research suggests may ease symptoms, adds Jimmy Lee, MD, director of refractive surgery at Montefiore Medical Center in New York City.

Problem No. 4: Conjunctivitis

The lowdown. We're talking about pinkeye—inflammation or infection of the conjunctiva, a thin layer of tissue that lines the inside of your eyelid. The most common cause is a virus, usually an adenovirus—the same type that causes respiratory infections. There's also bacterial conjunctivitis, caused by staph bacteria from contaminated eye makeup or touching your eye with germy hands.

What it feels like. One or both eyes will be red, puffy, painful and swollen. The viral kind produces watery discharge, while a bacterial infection usually leads to thick, yellowish-green gunk.

Rx. See your eye doctor promptly, since these symptoms can also indicate a corneal infection. If it's viral, your eyes should revert back to normal within a week or two, though your doctor can prescribe steroid eyedrops for relief if you're in serious pain. Bacterial pinkeye usually clears up with a course of prescription antibiotic drops.

 

 

 

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Natural Cures That Really Work

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Will placing a tea bag on a cold sore make it disappear? Can you ease hot flashes with herbs? And does putting yogurt on your nether parts have a prayer of curing a yeast infection? It used to be that you'd hear about these kinds of home remedies from your mom. These days, they're touted on websites, blogs, and online forums. In fact, 61% of American adults turn to the Internet to find help in treating what's ailing them, a 2009 study reveals. But do these natural moves actually work … and, just as important, could they do more harm than good? Health asked medical experts to weigh in on the Internet's most popular home cures.

The online claim: Yogurt can stop a yeast infection

Is it true? No

Yeast infections— and their symptoms, from intense vaginal itchiness to cottage cheese–like discharge—, are caused by an overgrowth of the fungus candida. Because studies show that yogurt can promote the growth of healthier strains of bacteria in the stomach and intestines, people have long assumed it might also keep candida in check. And that rumor keeps circulating, thanks to the Internet.

Unfortunately, "no study shows conclusively that eating yogurt cures or even lessens the severity of yeast infections," says Michele G. Curtis, MD, professor of obstetrics and gynecology at the University of Texas Medical School at Houston. Neither will douching with yogurt, or (yikes!) dipping a tampon in the stuff, freezing it, and inserting it—a remedy suggested on some websites. In fact, douching can cause yeast infections, Dr. Curtis says, especially if youre using yogurt; its sugars could actually help yeast grow.

If youre sure you have a yeast infection, based on a past experience, Dr. Curtis recommends using an over-the-counter medication, such as Monistat. But, she points out, "everything that itches is not yeast!" So see your gyno when in doubt: That itching might actually be bacterial vaginosis, for instance, which requires treatment with antibiotics.

The online claim: Black cohosh eases hot flashes

Is it true? Yes

Commonly known as bugwort or rattle root, this herb is derived from a plant called Actaea racemosa. While it may sound like something from Harry Potters wizarding world, this remedy is not all hocus-pocus: Some studies suggest that black cohosh may indeed reduce hot flashes, according to guidelines re-released last year by the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists. "It appears to have an anti-inflammatory effect," says Philip Hagen, MD, coeditor of Mayo Clinic Book of Home Remedies.

In fact, the herb is often prescribed in Europe; its a key ingredient in Remifemin, a popular drug there, which is also available in the United States. While U.S. studies haven't conclusively proven that black cohosh works, Dr. Curtis says it cant hurt to try the herb—just consult with your doctor about the dosage first, and stick with it for 12 weeks, she says. (Make sure you're getting black cohosh, not blue cohosh, which could potentially be harmful, she adds.)

The online claim: Pop calcium pills to quell PMS cramps

Is it true? Yes

Since theres scientific evidence that PMS sufferers have lower levels of calcium in their blood, its not a stretch to think that loading up on it would ease the cramps, headaches, and bloating that come at that time of the month. Indeed, research has shown that taking 600 milligrams of calcium twice a day can reduce PMS symptoms. And getting the nutrient in your food (such as calcium-packed dairy) may keep them at bay altogether: In a recent study conducted at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst, women who consumed four servings a day of skim or low-fat milk reduced their risk of developing PMS by 46%.

Note: Some women's cramps are so severe that only prescription medication can curb them, Dr. Curtis says. So if calcium doesn't make a difference with yours, see your doctor.

The online claim: Tea tree oil can zap your zits

Is it true? Maybe

One brand of tea tree oil sold online is dubbed "Pure Liquid Gold," and it just may be, at least in the case of acne. A study published in the British Journal of Dermatology found that applying the extract to pimples reduced inflammation. "Tea tree oil is antifungal and antibacterial," says Debra Jaliman, MD, a New York City–based dermatologist. "Its so effective that many of my patients prefer it to benzoyl peroxide."

Other experts are not so keen. "The oil can cause rashes and even blistering," warns Jerome Z. Litt, MD, assistant clinical professor of dermatology at Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine in Cleveland and the author of Your Skin from A to Z. If you're nervous about using tea tree oil, Dr. Jaliman says, instead try a face wash for oily skin that contains salicylic or glycolic acid.

The online claim: Steam clears up sinus headaches

Is it true? Yes

This old-school treatment—touted in more than 400,000 Google results!—really works. "Inhaling steam flushes out your nasal passages, relieving sinus pressure," explains Neil Kao, MD, head of research at the Allergic Disease and Asthma Center in Greenville, South Carolina.

Add a few drops of peppermint or eucalyptus oil to make it more potent. "The minty smell causes a tingling sensation in the nasal membrane, and this has a decongestant effect," says Dr. Kao, who also suggests dabbing Vicks VapoRub at the lower rim of your nostrils. Another natural alternative: Using a neti pot to irrigate the nostrils with saline solution, which can also ease sinus symptoms, according to one study.

The online claim: Black tea bags help cold sores disappear

Is it true? No

If left alone, cold sores usually clear up in a few weeks—but who wants to wait? Online remedies for the blisters range from the absurd (like earwax) to the less silly, like placing a damp black tea bag on the sore. "Black tea leaves have tannins, compounds that may inhibit the growth of viruses and bacteria, but no studies have verified this," Dr. Hagen says. Tea bags may also have an anti-inflammatory effect, he says. But your best bet to shorten healing time is an OTC treatment like Abreva or a prescription med like Valtrex.

To prevent sores from popping up, stay out of the sun, and use a high-SPF sunscreen around your lips: "Sunlight can trigger cold sores if youre prone to them," Dr. Hagen says.

The online claim: Drinking cranberry juice prevents UTIs

Is it true? Yes

This popular home cure isn't just an old wives tale: Major medical institutions, including the National Institutes of Health, agree that drinking cranberry juice can be effective for treating urinary tract infections (UTIs). "The berries contain proanthocyanidins, which keep E. coli from attaching to the bladder wall and causing an infection," Dr. Hagen says.

If youre prone to UTIs, drink one to two glasses of cranberry juice daily to help prevent them. Doing so also works when you have symptoms—like a constant need to pee, or a burning sensation when you do—to speed recovery. (Theres also evidence that peeing immediately after sex can help prevent UTIs by flushing out bacteria.) Stick to juice that's at least 20% pure cranberry—or try supplements, taking up to six 400-milligram pills twice a day an hour before or two hours after a meal. If your symptoms don't end within 24 to 48 hours, see your physician—, especially if you have a fever or chills. "That points to something serious," Dr. Hagen says, "and means you should not be messing with a home remedy."

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I Got Tuberculosis and Spent 20 Days in Isolation

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When I tell people I have tuberculosis, most of them have the same reaction: “Like, consumption? Is that still a thing?” It only takes a few seconds for a look of fear to set in. I can’t blame them. If someone told me they’d been afflicted by an antiquated airborne disease, I’d probably be scared as hell too.

When I was diagnosed with TB disease a month ago, I learned that as a potential public health threat, I was required to undergo treatment or face arrest. Yes, that's a real law, and thankfully so. The germ is spread in tiny droplets that enter the air when an infected person coughs or sneezes. And it kills about 1.5 million people a year worldwide. My doctors informed me that I would be hospitalized in isolation for a minimum of two weeks, and/or until daily smears became consistently negative for the TB bacteria. Thus began my 20 days of solitude, intensive antibiotics, and bureaucratic red tape.

It all started when I went to see my doctor about a persistent cough. He ordered a chest X-ray, and said he'd get in touch with the results. Twenty minutes after I left the office, he called and told me to go to the ER immediately. The X-ray had revealed an "impressive" lesion in one of my lungs.

At the hospital, I was admitted right away and whisked into a negative pressure room with a handful of doctors and nurses in protective gowns, gloves, and masks. It was like a modest version of one of those Hollywood outbreak movies. The doctors and nurses did their best to crack jokes and make me feel settled, but I could sense their nervousness. I was told I wouldn't be leaving until they could run some tests and rule out tuberculosis.

In the meantime my girlfriend came to keep me company. We watched Netflix in my hospital bed, wearing our masks and hoping for the best. It wasn't the most romantic setting for a movie date. The next afternoon the doctors confirmed the diagnosis they suspected. For the forseeable future I was stuck there, while I waited for my daily test results to change. 

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Even with the perks of living in 2016—like smartphones and online TV—when you're cooped up in a room, for weeks on end, you start to lose your mind a bit. You can’t help but feel like patient zero in some zombie flick.

Luckily, I didn't feel too sick. A slight cough and fatigue had been my only real symptoms. Many people who get TB endure a vicious cough, chest pain, fever, night sweats, and weight loss.

All big decisions about my treatment had to be approved by officials in the health department, and trying to communicate with them felt like sending a carrier pigeon to Middle Earth. It would take days to get answers to the simplest questions. Two weeks into my isolation period, they informed me that I'd be staying an extra week because the hospital had given me the wrong dose of antibiotics when I first arrived. A bonus round.

Fortunately the strain of TB I’d caught was easily treatable, and the antibiotics were immediately effective. Many people aren’t so fortunate.

I had a good idea where I’d caught the infection. A friend of mine had been treated for TB one year prior. (She suspects she picked up the infection while traveling abroad.) Shortly after her diagnosis I had tested negative on a PPD skin test, but the clinic failed to inform me that I should return for a follow-up test in eight weeks. Go healthcare system! My infection was asymptomatic until the cough appeared last summer. It turns out TB bacteria can remain dormant for years in what's known as latent TB. Lesson learned: Trust no one, and research the hell out of everything.

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I was discharged from the hospital after three weeks. By day 30, I was back on my feet and generally healthy, able to work again and kiss my girlfriend without fear of further exposing her.

She and the other people I spent considerable time with while I was contagious have tested negative for TB. If they do test positive for latent TB upon their follow-up visit, they can take antibiotics and skip the whole "outbreak movie" scenario that I went through.

The health department will continue to supervise my treatment for the next six months. Initially I was required to go to the health department office every day, to take my medication under direct observation. But I’m now able to swallow the pills during a video chat with a health department employee. An exclusive TB chat room.

All complaints aside, TB is a potentially fatal disease and I got a get-out-of-jail-free card. If you think you may have been exposed to the disease, it's worth taking the time to get tested. Twice.

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