SEXY TIME FOR TREES MAKES ME SNEEZE!

I have been fighting with thick pine pollen for the last month and am not sure but I think it’s winning the battle! 

I wash it off my car, hose it off my drive, pull my screens off and clear them of the yellow dust clinging to them.

With all of that pollen I know my VentMask filters were working overtime to keep it outta my home, but guess what….that’s probably not what’s clogging your airways, making your nose run and causing your eyes to itch. The belief that pine pollen can trigger allergic reactions in people is disputed by some experts, they argue pine pollen is too big to permeate the nasal membrane. However, researchers have shown that key proteins from pine pollen can penetrate the nasal membrane to trigger a reaction.

BUT that grainy yellow dust is a “marker” — its presence on your vehicle signals the arrival of other pollens filling the air which are WORSE triggers for your allergies!

Here in Utah and probably any other pollen drenched state you may be able to avoid a particular plant that is proliferus, but odds are your body will find some other plant, mold or pet dander to react to wherever you go. So knowing that allergies are impossible to avoid completely, being informed is the next best thing for alleviating your suffering! It is most likely that not one but several allergens are the culprits causing your misery. Trees pollinate between February and May. These pollens ease off just in time for grasses to start spreading their pollen. Grass allergies are the worst between May and July. Just when those pollen counts start to decrease, weeds take over. Weeds can aggravate allergy symptoms from July until, as previously mentioned, the first hard frost. This is generally sometime in late October or November. Added to this problem may be dust allergies, mold allergies and allergies to pet dander.

The trees most notorious for causing allergy problems in the Western United States, including Utah, are the Ash, Cottonwood, Birch, Walnut, Juniper, Acacia, Mesquite, Alder, Box Elder, Mulberry, Sycamore, Elm, Cypress, Oak and Maple. According to a report in KSLnews.com, Cedar is the most potent tree allergy in Utah. As a general rule, the brighter the plant, the less likely it is to be causing your allergy.

Utah's worse allergy offender...The Cedar!

Utah's worse allergy offender...The Cedar!

CottonWood tree trying to make another CottonWood Tree!

CottonWood tree trying to make another CottonWood Tree!

Ash...lovely to behold, not so lovely for my nose!

Ash...lovely to behold, not so lovely for my nose!

If you are lucky enough to be unaffected by the trees, you may need to try avoiding grasses instead. The top allergy causing grasses in Utah are Bermuda grass, Meadow fescue, Brome, Orchard grass, Wild oat, Timothy, Red top, Johnson and Rye. Fortunately, according to Conservewater.utah.gov, Kentucky Bluegrass is the most common type of lawn grass in Utah and is not on the list of the most highly allergenic.

Meadow Fescue grass

Meadow Fescue grass

Bermuda grass

Bermuda grass

After surviving the tree season and the grass season, you still have to endure weed season, which as mentioned, will last until about the end of October or first of November. The most problematic weeds in Utah are Ragweed, False Ragweed, Pigweed, Careless weed, Sagebrush, Tumbleweed, Cocklebur, Yellow dock, Marsh elder and Lambs quarter.

Sage Brush

Sage Brush

Rag Weed

Rag Weed

Pollen counts, the average number of pollen grains per cubic meter of air, are generally given on the news, often during the weather reports. As a general rule, pollen counts are higher on warm, dry, breezy mornings. They are lower during cool or rainy days. Knowing the pollen count may be somewhat beneficial in avoiding allergy symptoms. A high pollen count indicates that most people with plant allergies are at risk of symptoms. A medium pollen count would indicate that in general most people with sensitivity would be affected. A low pollen count means that only those who are the most sensitive will have a problem.

Utah is a beautiful state and enjoys a wide variety of greenery. We are fortunate to have such variety. However this variety leads to a variety of allergen producing pollens.

Don’t let the trees and grass “getting busy” slow you down!

Take advantage of the great outdoors like I do by using antihistamines butalso be very proactive in keeping those allergens out of your home with good HVAC filters and VentMask filters to stop what the main filters miss. VentMask filters also catch what may be built up in the ducting that the main filtration unit cannot.

Puerto Rico and beyond!

This international travel blog starts in Puerto Rico join us as we make our way about the Western Caribbean! 

We started our adventure by heading out from Salt Lake City to JFK in New York and then hopping a flight to San Juan, Puerto Rico.

Puerto Rico's attractions range from the adventurous…like the underground caves ofRio Camuy … to the historic, like the 500-year old walls of the El Morro Fort. And there are plenty of options between the two extremes. Beach lovers must visit the western beaches of Rincón for sunbathing and surfing; snorkelers are bound to enjoy Vieques' bioluminescent Mosquito Bay.  If you're the kind of traveler who enjoys the after dark scene you'll discover a varied but vibrant nightlife in San Juan.

Our stay of two days here was spent at the Caribe Hilton Condado.  It's a nice hotel with good amenities and an awesome pool area right near all the Condado area nightlife and restaurants. It was real easy to not leave the hotel area but I suggest you absolutely do….at least for part of the day and go exploring….then come back and flop down and have a mojito poolside.

We enjoyed heading into Old San Juan to wander around the shops and see the historical sites. Outlet shoppers should come to Old San Juan prepared to let go of a few dollars. The city's Calle del Cristo is a haven of restaurants, art galleries and boutiques. In addition to popular stores, those walking the cobblestone street can discover local crafts and artisan shops. If you're looking to skip shopping altogether, Calle del Cristo is still a worthwhile spot to get a feel for the beauty of Old San Juan. Trees, cobblestones, shops, restaurants, small squares, people, traffic, birds, locals playing guitar and serenading in Spanish all adds to the vibe of this small town.

We did visit the El Morro Fort while we were here. El Morro juts out of San Juan harbor beckoning to cruise ships just as it used to deter sea attacks. The structure is a hulking six-story fortress built between 1539 and 1589, withstanding the two World Wars and several other scrimmages. Now, El Fuerto San Felipe del Morro is Puerto Rico's go-to tourist attraction, both for its extensive history and its outstanding vistas of the Atlantic Ocean. You can also walk though the fortress' depths, which include a maze of tunnels, barracks and prison cells.

You'll enjoy exploring more if you wear comfortable walking shoes, as the site is quite big and there are lots of stairs to navigate. Bring water and allow yourself at least three hours to explore this fort and learn about its history.

One thing I was a bit put off by, there seems to be a dispute between the cab drivers and Uber drivers and soon to come Lyft drivers. If you are an Uber user, like I am be aware you may have to endure some dirty looks and find agreeable pick up spots. However with the news of Puerto Rico financial troubles the drivers may find that cooperation will make for a better living for all of them very quickly. It’s not a big issue but one that can effect your getting around.

OK the FOOD is amazing! Although Puerto Rican cooking is somewhat similar to Spanish, Cuban and Mexican cuisine, it is a unique tasty blend of Spanish, African, Taíno, and American influences, using such indigenous seasonings and ingredients as coriander, papaya, cacao, nispero, apio, plantains, and yampee. Locals call their cuisine "cocina criolla". When Ponce de León arrived with Columbus in 1493, the Spanish added beef, pork, rice, wheat, and olive oil to the island's foodstuffs. Soon after, the Spanish began planting sugarcane and importing slaves from Africa, who brought with them okra and taro (known in Puerto Rico as yautia). The mingling of flavors and ingredients passed from generation to generation among the different ethnic groups that settled on the island, resulting in the exotic blend of today's Puerto Rican cuisine.

 

Lunch and dinner generally begin with sizzling-hot appetizers such as bacalaitos, crunchy cod fritters; surullitos, sweet plump cornmeal fingers; and empanadillas, crescent-shaped turnovers filled with lobster, crab, conch, or beef.

 

Carne frita con cebella

Carne frita con cebella

Typical main dishes include fried beefsteak with onions (carne frita con cebolla), veal (ternera) a la parmesana, and roast leg of pork, fresh ham, lamb, or veal, a la criolla. These roasted meats are cooked in the Créole style, flavored with adobo.

Puerto Ricans also like such dishes as breaded calves brains (sesos empanados), calves kidney (riñones guisados), and stuffed beef tongue (lengua rellena). I didn’t get a chance to try any of these…if I had the chance I would just to say I did!

Arroz con Pollo

Arroz con Pollo

Puerto Ricans adore chicken, which they flower various spices and seasoning. Arroz con pollo (chicken with rice) is the most popular chicken dish on the island, and it was brought long ago to the U.S mainland. Other favorite preparations include chicken in sherry (pollo al jerez), pollo agridulce (sweet and sour chicken), and pollitos asados a la parrilla (broiled chickens).

 

Mojo Isleño

Mojo Isleño

A popular fried fish with Puerto Rican sauce (mojo isleño). The sauce is made with olives and olive oil, onions, pimientos, capers, tomato sauce, vinegar, and a flavoring of garlic and bay leaves. Fresh fish is often grilled, and perhaps flavored with garlic and an overlay of freshly squeezed lime juice -a very tasty dinner indeed. Caribbean lobster is usually the most expensive item on any menu, followed by shrimp. Puerto Ricans often cook shrimp in beer (camarones en cerveza). Another delectable shellfish dish is boiled crab (jueyes hervidos).

Jueyes Hervidos

Jueyes Hervidos

Camarones en Cerveza

Camarones en Cerveza

Flan

Flan

And last but not least desserts…Desserts usually include some form offlan (custard) or perhaps nisperos de batata (sweet-potato balls with coconut, cloves and cinnamon). Equally traditional would be a portion of guava jelly with queso blanco (white cheese). Chefs take the bountiful harvest of Puerto Rican fruits and create any number of desserts, including orange layer cake, banana cupcakes, and guava cake. The most delicious dessert may be a freshly prepared fruit cocktail. The pumpkin, which grows in abundance on Puerto Rico, is used not only to flavor soups and as a side vegetable, but also to make the succulent base of a traditional Puerto Rican cake. Similarly, the sweet potato is used both as a side vegetable and in making a regional sweet-potato cake.

Nisperos de Batata

Nisperos de Batata

Coconut is probably the most common dessert ingredient. Many delectable desserts are made with its milk (leche de coco), including coconut flan, coconut cream desserts, crunchy coconut squares, coconut with meringue, and candied coconut rice. Another classic preparation is coconut bread pudding (boudin de pasas con coco).  Polvo de amor ("love powder") is prepared with grated coconut meat after the milk has been extracted. The coconut is mixed with a lot of sugar and placed in a kettle to cook rapidly, then served crisp and golden brown.

I did some research into Puerto Rican traditional medicines and found “Alcoholado” to be very interesting. The basic concept of Alcoholado is that it is a rubbing alcohol that has been infused with natural plants and other essential oils, primarily bay rum, eucalyptus, piper marginatum, pathchouli (see my blog Nov. 28, 2016), ginger, limpia stoechadifolia, yellow sage, sweet scent, peppermint, and camphor.

It has a very strong smell to it, of which one thinks is very pleasant or very overpowering.  We love it though!  It has a wide-ranging list of uses, primarily as a rubbing alcohol for the use in massages to relieve symptoms associated with poor blood circulation, fever, arthritis, headache, muscular pain, fungus, insect bites, rheumatism, respiratory problems and neuralgia. It is a natural expectorant for congestion and eliminates mucus – perfect to combat colds, flus, bronchitis, and asthma. It is applied as a rubbing alcohol on the skin in the affected region.

Amazingly enough the air quality in Puerto Rico can be a risk. Exposure to air pollutants from large ships includes nitrogen oxides, sulfur oxides, and particulate matter and can cause respiratory illnesses, such as lung disease, asthma, and heart disease. The Port of San Juan in Puerto Rico moves approximately 11 million metric tons of goods on nearly 3,800 vessel trips annually. It is also a major destination for over one million cruise ship passengers. It was reported in the States News Service (December 7, 2010) that because of the pollution caused by cruise lines and container vessels there is a proposal for these vessels in “emission control areas” to use much cleaner fuel or install better pollution control technology. So even though the air appears to be clear I would suggest VentMask for your hotel vent registers.

Next week we hop on over to Barbados and work our way down the island chain back to Puerto Rico……check back and get the low down on Barbados!

Guy Rawson-VentMaskTeam Member

Germany!

Germany is a Western European country with a landscape of forests, rivers, mountain ranges and North Sea beaches. It has over 2 millennia of history. Berlin, its capital, is home to art and nightlife scenes, the Brandenburg Gate and many sites relating to WWII. Munich is known for its Oktoberfest and beer halls, including the 16th-century Hofbräuhaus. Frankfurt, with its skyscrapers, houses the European Central Bank.

 

History, culture, and natural beauty perhaps best describe the essence of vacationing in Germany. With its historic cities and small towns, along with an abundance of forests and mountains, visitors are spoiled for choice. Those wanting to sightsee or experience the arts should head to the metropolitan areas, while those looking to engage in recreational activities should visit places such as the Bavarian Alps, the Black Forest, or the Mosel Valley. Lovely old cathedrals and grand palaces are everywhere, and in the smaller towns and villages, many centuries-old traditions continue. At the cultural heart of Germany is the capitol Berlin, home to many fine museums and galleries, while nature lovers will find a world of possibilities in Germany's great outdoors.

 

There are WAYYYY too many cool things to see in Germany to list so here are a few I found interesting.

 

1. Modeled on the Acropolis in Athens and built for King Frederick William II in 1791, the monumental sandstone Brandenburg Gate in Berlin's Mitte district was the city's first Neoclassical structure. Measuring an impressive 26-meters in height - including the spectacular four-horse chariot perched atop - its six huge columns on each side of the structure form five impressive passages: four were used by regular traffic, while the center was reserved for the royal carriages. Huge Doric columns also decorate the two buildings at each side of the Gate, once used by toll-collectors and guards. Undoubtedly Berlin's most iconic structure, it was also once part of the infamous Berlin Wall and for a few decades was symbolic of the division of Berlin into East and West.

 

2. The old town of Füssen, between the Ammergau and Allgäu Alps, a popular alpine resort and winter sports center, is a good base from which to explore nearby Neuschwanstein Castle, one of Europe's most famous royal castles. From 1869-86, King Ludwig II of Bavaria built this many-towered and battlement-covered fantasy fortress - the inspiration for Walt Disney's famous theme park castles. A variety of tour options are offered, including guided tours of the sumptuous interior taking in the Throne Room, the Singers' Hall, and some of the country's most spectacular views.

 

3. The Rhine is Europe's most important waterway, and it’s most beautiful. With a total length of 1,320 kilometers, this magnificent river stretches from Switzerland through Germany all the way to the Netherlands. While there are many places in Germany to enjoy this majestic river, the lovely Upper Middle Rhine Valley section is probably the best place to see it. Here, this often-dramatic 65-kilometer stretch of river boasts more than 40 castles and some 60 picturesque medieval towns all just waiting to be explored either by river cruise or by car. Bingen, where the river cuts through a deep gorge before entering the Bacharach valley, is a good place to start .

 

4. Part of the Wetterstein mountain range, the Zugspitze massif straddles the frontier between Germany and Austria and is surrounded by steep valleys. The eastern summit, at 2,962 meters, is crowned by a gilded cross and can be reached by the Bayerische Zugspitzbahn, a cog railway, or by cable car. Another great way to enjoy this area of outstanding natural beauty is aboard the Tiroler Zugspitzbahn, a railway that runs to the Zugspitzkamm station at 2,805 meters. From here, the journey can be continued via a cable car to Zugspitz-Westgipfel Station at 2,950 meters with its excellent panoramic restaurant. A highlight of the journey is the chance to walk through an 800-meter-long tunnel, complete with viewing windows, to the Schneefernerhaus station at the top of the Bavarian cog railroad, from where you can ascend the eastern summit with its viewing platforms.

 

What about traditional medicines found in Germany?

The Germans have used herbal medicines as cures for a range of ailments down the ages. Herbs were easily available and generally safe for quick recovery from minor ailments. Herbal medicine was first practiced in cloisters and monasteries in Germany.

Chamomile plant with flowers.

Chamomile plant with flowers.

Chamomile infusions for colds and fennel tea for stomach aches were among the many herbal medications that survived generations. Willow Bark was used to cure fever because it contained acetyl salcyclic acid which is used in the aspirin we know today as an effective pain reliever. Hildegaard a Benedictine nun was famous for her herbal preparations for curing illness. She lived in Bingen from 1089 to 1179. Monasteries and cloisters were known to have large herbal gardens and monks and nuns formulated treatments by combining the effects of herbs. Herbal medicine was regarded as the best form of medication for children. Germany has over 3500 registered herbal medications even today.

Willow bark.

Willow bark.

Herbal medicine has a long tradition of using plant seeds, flowers, leaves, bark and roots and its dominance in medicine cabinets throughout Germany, in addition to the advances in clinical research in proving its value in the treatment and prevention of disease, began some time ago to attract the attention of major European pharmaceutical companies.  The use of ‘herbs’ in this case also covers what are commonly known as ‘weeds’ to those who have gardens in which they would rather that they did not grow.

Regular herbal medicine and plant remedy courses, taking the form of walking through meadows and woods or up hills and mountain sides, and before noon because this is the optimum herb harvesting time, are well attended and regularly run for those who want to find out more about nature’s plants and herbs, be given tips on what can or can not be used, and learn the lotions and potions which can aid or perhaps cure a problem.

In keeping with a country which believes as far as possible in a Green way of life, there are also many experts who dispense eagerly followed wisdom and advice on the age-old medicinal recipes for every month and each season’s herbs and plants.  Including a famous Bavarian Kraeuterfee, Herb Fairy, now an active mid eighty year old and an inspiring and youthful advertisement for her way of thinking. Her recipes are followed faithfully and cover everything from various nettle mixtures, including juices to combat stress, anemia and tiredness, red onion juice with honey and schnapps for building up immunity, apple vinegar poultices for tired, swollen legs, to nettle, dandelion and wild garlic paste which, when added to salad sauce or cream cheese, chases away all traces of spring tiredness or anemia.

There are many popular and well-used natural medicine alternatives to the pillbox or medicine bottle, including the centuries old cure for almost everything, homemade chicken soup made with herbs and vegetables. Or the instant and permanent relief that comes when fruit schnapps, or vodka, is dabbed onto a burn first cooled in cold water.  A complementary alternative remedy for headaches is a few drops of peppermint oil gently rubbed into the forehead, temples and back of jaw, any excess allowed to seep into the skin giving an immediate cooling feeling, followed after about 30 minutes by relief from the headache.

Of course although in former years garlic traditionally offered protection from vampires, now amongst other things it is a popular natural health remedy to give relief from bronchitis and clear sinuses, by way of a tea made from three crushed garlic cloves simmered in water for 20 minutes together with chopped parsley leaves, which can then be sipped without fear of leaving a tell tale odor.

Despite its increasing popularity, natural medicine and the use of herbs will not be replacing conventional medicine in Germany. However it will continue to run in combination as modern science has made it possible to prove that, for many ailments, herbs and methods handed down from generation to generation and quoted for centuries in German ‘folklore’, including Horse Chestnut for varicose vein treatment, Chili Pepper for pain relief, Valerian for insomnia as well as the healing power of water, make viable and effective treatments while causing less side effects, and are more relevant today than ever before.

 Should I bring VentMask filters if I visit Germany? In many cities, air pollution from fine dust particles and nitrogen dioxide exceeds the maximum threshold levels, according to a new report from the Environment Ministry.  [Secret Word:VOLKSWAGON] Residents of Stuttgart are currently exposed to the highest pollution levels in the Federal Republic, a report published by the German Environment Ministry showed.

Take VentMask filters and enjoy the sunsets without the worry about allergies.

Take VentMask filters and enjoy the sunsets without the worry about allergies.

Fine dust particles pose another serious problem. Here, the maximum is 40 µg up to a particle size of ten micrometres per cubic metre of air. Stuttgart exceeded this limit on 91 days in 2013. After Stuttgart, Reutlingen follows in second place, followed by Markgröningen, Tübingen, Gelsenkirchen, Hagen and Leipzig.

 

So pack up some VentMask filters for your hotel, and get out there and visit this wonderful country!

 

Safe and healthy travels! -TheVentMaskTeam

 

 

Off to FINLAND!

  Finland is different from that of other Nordic countries like the one we visited in our last blog, Switzerland.  Bordering the Baltic Sea, Gulf of Bothnia, and Gulf of Finland, as well as Sweden, Norway, and Russia, Finland is the northernmost country in the European Union, and is called ''the land of a thousand lakes,'' but at last count there were 187,888 of them - more lakes in relation to a country's size than any other. Indeed, with a population of about five million, Finland has one lake for every 26 people. That’s a lot of lakes…you think the Land O’ Lakes butter people know this? Anyway….

  I’ve only traveled to Helsinki, Finland’s largest city is also its capital and one of the most popular cities to visit. The two places I visited that still stand out from my visit there are Mannerheim Museum and Fortress of Suomenlinna. I would suggest visiting both of those places, you can book guided walking tours of the Fortress to get a bit of the history and interesting stories. The museum is interesting if you walk it with a guide or ion your own, but having a guide to explain the historical importance of the displays REALLY makes a visit there better!

  I traveled Finland via the web and found these to be the top five most interesting places to me…you may and will find others…but heres my top 5.

1. Rovaniemi

Rovaniemi is the old city situated in the north, not far from the Arctic Circle (only about 10 kilometers). Its history dates back to the Stone Age when it was a place of settlements but the city’s name was first mentioned in the 15th century.

It is a hometown of Santa Claus so once you are here, do not forget to visit its Office, Village, Park and many other attractions related to this famous figure. This is why the city is quite popular among travelers.

2. Levi…my love of snowboarding may make me plan a trip here soon!

One of the most popular ski resorts in Finland is known as Levi. 43 ski slopes and 27 lifts are a guarantee of great skiing experience in Finland. The resort’s position within the Arctic Circle is then a guarantee of snow cover during the majority part of the year.

More than a half of them are lit so you can ski here even during the nights. Cross country skiing is also very popular here. You can try it on more than 200 kilometers of tracks. Not far from here is another Igloo hotel, from where you can watch northern lights

3. Hämeenlinna

City of Hämeenlinna is a pleasant stop on the route between Helsinki and Tampere. You can take a short walk across the main square towards a peaceful park on the shore of the lake. It is here where you can find a huge castle Hämeenlinna (known simply as Häme), the main landmark of the city.

And if you’re a fan of more modern history, right next to it you can find the artillery museum with an extensive exhibition of weapons mainly from the last century.

4. Savonlinna

Right in the heart of the Finnish lake region of Saimaa lies the romantic city of Savonlinna. It is situated on two islands between the lakes Haapavesi and Pihlavesi. Due to the numerous monuments the city has become a popular destination for tourists and those who visit it will not regret.

The most important and dominant landmark of the city is magnificent 15th century Olavinlinna Castle towering on a rocky island. The best time to visit this town is during its annual international Opera Festival that is held at the castle every summer.

5. Kemi

Kemi is another important tourist center especially in the winter when it houses snow castle Lumilinna. It is here, where you can sleep in the ice hotel or taste some of the delicious Finnish meals in ice restaurant.In winter you can also take a trip by icebreaker Sampo, which anchored in Kemi, and today operates mainly as a tourist attraction.

 

 

Finland has so much to offer a traveler and I cant wait to visit Lev and snowboard therei! 

Recently Olympic athletes has brought the holistic practice of cupping into the lime light. Finland with its steam baths and natural holistic medicine leanings has embraced cupping into it's traditions of natural medicine.

Wet cupping appears to be a living reminiscence of the traditional Finnish healing methods. Fifteen persons practicing or having practiced cupping were interviewed in Savo Province, Eastern Finland. The knowledge and skills of cupping appear to be transferred by personal apprenticeship within a family or from a neighbor. No written material is nowadays available and known to be used in learning. Cupping is considered by healers to be useful in the treatment of aching and pains of teeth, head, neck, shoulders, back and legs. Cuppers report cupping effective also in hypertension and skin diseases. On the other hand, the method is not regarded to be useful in problems of internal organs. Cupping is done after a sauna and bathing of the patient in a warm environment (in sauna). It is often preceded by massage. The small wounds in the cupping sites are made with the aid of a small knife. The healers have the opinion that bad blood must be removed from the superficial areas of the ailing parts of the body, The cupping sites were more or less specific to the ailments of the patient and the number of cups varied from patient to patient depending on the condition and size.

Most of the validity of cupping as an alternative medical practice comes from its long history of use over the past 3,000 years. Cupping techniques have been used extensively to treat a range of disorders and symptoms, sometimes on their own, or other times in conjunction with other alternative practices. It’s common for cupping therapy to be used along with massage therapy, essential oils, acupuncture or even as an adjunct to “Western medicine” treatments.

What we do know from the limited scientific studies that have been done is that cupping works by expanding the capillaries and increasing the amount of fluid entering and leaving tissues. Besides this, cupping therapy seems to provoke a relaxation response in some people, which means it’s useful for lowering stress and its negative effects.

While there’s a ton of anecdotal evidence that cupping can be effective and safe, to date very few clinical studies using humans have been conducted, making it hard to “prove” many of the time-honored benefits of cupping therapy. That being said, it’s worked for millions of people over many years, so here are five ways that cupping might be able to help you:

1. Helps Reduce Pain

One of the most common reasons people turn to alternative treatment methods is because they’re looking for a safe way tonaturally reduce joint pain and muscle pain. After reviewing dozens of randomized clinical trials testing cupping therapy in patients with pain of any origin, a report published in Evidence-Based Complimentary and Alternative Medicine found that cupping significantly reduced pain compared to usual care treatments, showed positive effects in treating cancer pain compared with anticancer drugs and alagesics, and helped soothe pain associated with respiratory issues.

Cupping is thought to release tissues deep inside the body, relax tense muscles and ease stiffness associated with chronic back and neck pains, migraines, rheumatism, and fatigue. Some athletes have been known to use cupping therapy to naturally improve performance and reduce stiffness, muscle cramps, joint pains and scar tissue caused by injuries.

2. Promotes Relaxation

It might seem counteractive, but cupping often helps alleviate physical complaints and allows people to enter a more relaxed state since it sedates the central nervous system. This is similar to acupuncture, which you might assume hurts and is uncomfortable but actually seems to help lower most patients’ stress responses and therefore offers protection against anxiety and depression.

How can cupping be relaxing? Just the act of laying still and being “taken care of” during cupping therapy sessions might have a positive effect on someone’s psychological well-being, which could be one reason why it’s used to lower mental illnesses. Once the cups are placed down and suctioned, they might need to remain still for up to 20 minutes, which forces stillness and silence on patients who might otherwise lead very hectic lives. According to the Pacific College of Oriental Medicine, another reason cupping is soothing is because the cups help lift pressure in tense muscles, which offers a relieving sensation just like receiving a deep tissue massage.

3. Boosts Skin Health

Cupping is used to reduce herpes cellulite, acne and skin inflammation. While studies haven’t shown it can necessarily help with weight loss, the fact that it tones and firms skin by improving blood flow and expanding capillaries makes it popular among celebrities and people in the spotlight who want to appear to have toned skin. As part of a skin-clearing or cellulite treatment,  oil is commonly first applied to the skin before the cups are suctioned and moved around, bringing heat to the area along with various skin-healing ingredients depending on the type of oil used.

Because cupping improves blood flow and might help lower inflammation, some studies have found it to be equally or even more effective at  treating acne compared to antibiotics. A meta-analysis of six studies showed that for improving acne, the cure rate of wet cupping was better than the cure rate following use of tanshinone,  tetracycline andketoconazole prescriptions.

4. Helps Treat Respiratory Issues and Colds

Commonly used to help nourish the lungs and clear away phlegm or congestion, cupping therapy can be useful for speeding up healing time from respiratory illnesses like the flu or common colds. Cupping helps improve immune function by moving blood and lymphatic fluid throughout the body, which is why it’s been associated with reductions in lung diseases (especially chronic coughs), allergies, infections and asthma.

Treating respiratory conditions like pulmonary tuberculosis is one of the oldest uses for cupping and was utilized long before prescriptions were available.

5. Improves Digestion

Acupuncture and cupping are both popular ways to improve digestion and reduce symptoms from disorders like irritable bowel syndrome. This might primarily be because they can lower a patient’s stress response, which is highly tied to healthy digestive functioning.

Throughout history, cupping therapy has been found to be beneficial for people with frequent stomach pains, diarrhea, acute gastrisis, loss of appetite, gastrointestinal diseases and water retention. For digestive disturbances, cupping is commonly performed in the following areas: around the navel, over the bladder, around the kidneys or over the stomach.

 

On average, air quality is good in Finland and the local impacts of air pollutants are minor. However, in difficult weather conditions in winter and summer, pollutant levels in cities may rise to the same level as in Central European cities of similar size.  Thanks to air pollution control, air quality has improved significantly in Finland in recent decades. Emissions into the air are still generated by energy production, industry and traffic, especially in urban areas. In addition, long-distance transport brings air pollutants to Finland from other parts of the world, for example, in the form of smoke from forest fires.

The global effects of air pollution include the intensification of climate change, ozone layer depletion in the upper atmosphere and the chemicalisation of the environment. Regional impacts include the acidification of soil and waters as well as increased ozone concentrations in the troposphere. Emissions are also detrimental to human health and the surrounding area. For example, street dust and car exhaust most often cause symptoms in people suffering from respiratory tract diseases. VentMask can reduce and even eliminate particulate of outdoor pollution and also particulate trapped in air ducts of your hotel.

 

I hope you enjoyed learning a little about Finland and cupping. I hope you have a chance to travel there and try cupping for yourself or just look at some of the holistic spas in your area for a go at cupping. – Guy Rawson member of TheVentMaskTeam

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Sweden the land of "Lagom"

Tell a Swede you’re learning Swedish, and within 30 seconds you’ll be sucked into a deep, nuanced explanation of what “lagom” means.

If you’re familiar with the story of Goldilocks and The Three Bears, you’ll understand lagom. It’s when things are not too big, not too small, not too hot, not too cold, not too much, not too little… when things are just right.

We are about to set off for the amazing country of Sweden, where you'll find things are just right!

How does one describe a country that has given the world the Vikings as well as the Nobel Peace Prize, little Swedish meatballs as well as Absolute Vodka, Volvo as well as ABBA, IKEA and H&M and…well, you get the idea.

Sweden is an incredible country that is often missed by those who only venture about Southern, Central or Eastern Europe. It has a spectacular landscape, incredible cities, an educated population (most of whom speak English) and a history and culture much older than ours in North America. Up north you’ll find a pastoral landscape and dense green forests, while to the south there are all those little red island cottages scattered across the Stockholm Archipelago. In between is a pastoral countryside filled with ancient Viking burial grounds, wonderful biking and hiking paths and a heartland in which tradition is still king. And in its cities you’ll enjoy first-rate cultural opportunities, upscale restaurants and wonderful shopping.

This is my top 5 of cool places to visit, but do not limit yourself to seeing only these places because there are too many to list on our blog today!

1. Stockholm is widely celebrated not only as the capital of Scandinavia, but also as one of the world’s most beautiful cities, built where lake meets sea, on fourteen islands, with ten centuries of history and culture. The Swedish Royal Capital is also widely known for its remarkable modernity, progressiveness and trend sensitivity in everything from lifestyle to fashion, design, food and drink and usage of new technology. The combination of magnificent scenery, ancient history and tradition, and a pervasive innovative spirit combine to give Stockholm its truly exceptional character and charm.

Stockholm

Stockholm

Swedes like to claim that Stockholm is a city that has all of the qualities and allures of a major international metropolis but few of its usual downsides. It’s a city where it’s easy and efficient to move around, where the air is fresh and the waters clean, with vast green areas permeating the city with plenty of space for everyone to roam freely. Few other places let you experience the pleasures and enchantments of nature, urban sophistication and cultural history, all in a single day.

Gothenburg

Gothenburg

2. City breaks don’t often come more perfect than they do in small, beautiful Gothenburg, the capital of West Sweden. Here you can discover quaint canals, the cobbled streets of historical Haga and countless green open spaces, including Sweden’s biggest botanical garden, boasting over 16,000 species. Immerse yourself in the Swedish lifestyle, soaking up the buzzing outdoor café culture with ‘fika’ (a break for coffee and a sweet bun) or indulge in the intriguing food markets, impressive museums and multitude of enticing restaurants — five with Michelin stars, including the most recent addition to the list, Thörnströms Kök. What’s more, there’s the city archipelago right on Gothenburg’s doorstep — easy to reach via a half-hour tram ride and a short passenger ferry trip.

 

Kosterhavet National Marine Park

Kosterhavet National Marine Park

3. Sweden’s first Marine National Park, Kosterhavet is centred around the car-free Koster Islands, only a two-hour drive up the lovely coast from Gothenburg. Once on the Kosters, you’ll see small fishing villages surrounded by an amazingly beautiful landscape, with many different plants and flowers. The appeal focuses on the unique seaside location, with beaches, rocky islands and the enchanting ‘Koster light’, which has inspired many artists on the island. You can rent bikes and enjoy a guided tour or a boat trip to see this marine wonderland. It’s the perfect environment for lobster safaris during the region’s renowned Shellfish Journey, as well as seal safaris, diving and sea kayaking.

 

4. No other city in Scandinavia and few cities in Europe can boast such a complete and ‘living’ picture of bygone days as Ystad. Many of the 300 half-timbered houses and other buildings bustle with restaurants and shops, and picturesque corners are alive with surprises and bargains.

Ystad

Ystad

Best-selling author Henning Mankell has put the city of Ystad on the world map with his detective stories about Police Superintendent Kurt Wallander, a bachelor who grapples with murder investigations and difficult criminal cases in Ystad and its surroundings and with his private life. The popular books have been adapted for the screen, and you can now go on a guided tour in an old veteran fire engine around Ystad and listen to stories about the films and the books.

Marstrand Island

Marstrand Island

5. Located only an hour’s drive from Gothenburg, Marstrand island is Sweden’s version of Hollywood as the playground of royalty and celebrities, boasting a rich, intriguing history. Enjoy an impressive vista from grand Carlsten’s Fortress, looking down upon the island’s colourful collection of wooden holiday homes and sailing boats of all shapes and sizes, alongside rugged rocks and the navy-blue ocean. Stay at the former residence of King Oscar II, Grand Hotel Marstrand, or the new Havshotellet Marstrand, just opposite the island, which has a superb spa (designed to reflect its natural coastal setting, with treatments to match) and a restaurant that lets guests watch the sunset over the island.

 

What about the air quality in Sweden? Emissions of air pollutants from road traffic have decreased both in Sweden and Europe, mainly thanks to improved cleaning and better fuels. Nevertheless, levels of air pollution are still high in many towns and cities, where they exceed EU air quality standards and national environmental objectives.

 

The research results confirm that it is emissions from Swedish road traffic that are most significant to the pollutants that cause problems in Swedish traffic environments. However only 1 out of 15 tested cities in Sweden didn’t meet  European air quality standards. So I would say they have great air quality. However the Indoor Air Quality suffers many of the same deficiencies that other large cities have due to dust and pollen being trapped in HVAC systems in hotels and homes.

 

Well what about traditional Swedish medicines?

The Saami are the indigenous people of northern Sweden, Norway, Finland and the Kola Peninsula. They have been hunters, fishers and reindeer herders, pursuing a nomadic style of life. Because of their way of life in the sub arctic and arctic environment they have developed a tradition of folk medicine, which to a large extent differs from the rest of Europe.

 

Medicine from animals came largely from bear and reindeer. Different parts of the animal were effective against different complaints. Bears were such powerful animals that it was enough, for example, to hold a pad of a bear paw against the cheek to cure a toothache. Pure bear fat was used as a salve or mixed as the base for a salve with other ingredients. It was believed that the bear was an animal endowed with a great power. Different kinds of fat were also used from the reindeer. The fat that was boiled out of the hoofs was considered to be extra good as medicine. For example, in small portions it was given as a laxative for infants. The fat of the hoof was used as a salve, just like the bear fat. Today we know that in Japan they use reindeer antlers as an aphrodisiac. The Saami made bullion soup with reindeer antlers, which was drunk in case of a bad cold. A special tendon from the back legs of the reindeer was kept and used to tie around a hurting extremity as a remedy for pain.

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I thought this was super cool !....Ring så spelar vi (Call us and we’ll play) is a long-time favorite radio show in Sweden. As a matter of fact, it’s been airing since 1968 on Saturday mornings at 07:03-09:03, and is the radio program with the most listeners in the country. Recently, the listeners were asked to call in with their best household remedies, and since we’re fast approaching the cold and flu season, Nordstjernan wants to share some of these remedies for you to try.

“A tablespoon of olive oil will take away your cough. I’ve tried it several times on the kids; cough syrup is no longer needed.” Martina Karlsson

“A peeled garlic clove in your ear if you have an ear infection is very effective.” Catrine Månsson in Hörby (another listener added that it is important to wrap the garlic clove in a piece of cotton, don’t put it directly in your ear)

“Dissolve 1 teaspoon of salt in a glass of warm water and gargle if you feel you’re about to get a sore throat. If you need to sing, then add a small piece of butter and let it melt in your mouth and swallow.” Curt Axelsson, Myresjö

“Ginger: as an aid for sore joints. Take a tablespoon in a cup with filmjölk (plain yogurt might be an alternative in the U.S.). Garlic against a cold (at least 10 cloves).” Leffe on Söderön, Östhammar

“When you have a cold, dissolve 1 teaspoon ascorbic acid in a glass of water and drink. Repeat 2-3 times a day.” Birgitta Bengtsson

“My home remedy for colds: Dissolve two throat lozenges into boiling water in a big cup. Squeeze half a lemon and pour in the juice. Add a splash of whisky and honey. Will tickle your sinuses in a nice way.” Helene Gustavsson, Göteborg

“Cough syrup: Slice a piece of ginger, add 1 teaspoon thyme and 1 cup of milk. Let boil 10 minutes then strain. Drink three times a day.” Lena Landy

“My grandfather always took a sugar cube with a glass of milk for his heart burn. Works for me, too.” Annica in Öjebyn

“My mother often had boils on her legs, and when antibiotics didn’t help she took a piece of bacon rind and put on top of the boil.” Birgitta Ström in Gävle

Ok well there are some destination ideas and some really cool info on traditional Swedish health remedies.

Wishing you the best health and safe travels-TheVentMaskTeam

 

 

Dasvidaniya...off to find Russian folk remedies.

Ladies and Gentlemen please fasten your seatbelts and bring your seatbacks to the upright position we are taking off Russia for our next International Travel Blog.

Russia is the largest country in the world. Its area is 17 098.242 thousand square km. The state is located in Eastern Europe and northern Asia.

From north to south the country stretches for over 4,000 km; from west to east – for almost 10,000 km. Russia borders on 16 countries. In the southeast - with North Korea (DPRK), in the south with China, Mongolia, Kazakhstan, Azerbaijan and Georgia; in the southwest - with Ukraine, in the west with Belarus, Latvia, Estonia, Finland and Norway; the Kaliningrad Region borders on Lithuania and Poland.

Being that it is such a huge country I thought I would find a few things that I found interesting about Russia instead of just one major destination. Here are things that are really interesting …

Sochi where the last winter Olympics were held. Sochi on the Black Sea is a great winter sports destination and, in fact, hosted the 2014 Winter Olympics. Skis aside, Sochi also hosts the Russian Formula 1 Grand prix and will be a host city for the 2018 Fifa World Cup. Despite winter snow, Sochi offers a subtropical climate and great beaches, making it a key part of the Russian Riviera. The resort city makes a great summer (and winter) getaway for Russians. Strolling along the pedestrian-only sea embankment is a pleasant experience. Environmentally conscious travelers may want to visit the Caucasus Biosphere Reserve. Sochi also is home to the area’s northern most tea plantations.

Sochi

Sochi

 

The Golden Ring strings together several cities outside of Moscow that fill the senses with awe. Picturesque countryside’s filled with cherry orchards, quaint cottages, onion-shaped domes and iconic churches that contain the country’s oldest art make this region a special place to visit.

The Golden Ring

The Golden Ring

 

Russia’s second largest city may be known as Leningrad, but most people refer to it by its birth name, St. Petersburg. Founded in 1703 by Tsar Peter the Great, St. Petersburg was once the imperial capital of Russia; its name was changed to Leningrad in 1924. Because of its location on the Neva River, which feeds into the Gulf of Finland and then into the Baltic Sea, the city is a popular northern cruise destination and one of the most popular places to visit in Russia.

 

Saint Petersburg

Saint Petersburg

As the capital of Russia, Moscow is the most important city in Russia, but not just for political reasons alone. This city of more than 12 million is also well known for its artistic endeavors, including ballet, symphonies and art. Onion-shaped domes of historic churches fill the skyline. The stately Kremlin and impressive Red Square, one of the largest squares in the world, are sights not to be missed, as are statues of Lenin and Stalin, controversial leaders in the 20th century.

Moscow

Moscow

 

I also decided to check out some unorthodox destinations that those of us who like the odd and out of the norm kinda stuff.

Dargavs….The village of Dargavs, or the City of the Dead, has an ancient cemetery where people that lived in the valley buried their loved ones along with their clothes and belongings. The valley stretches for 17 kilometers, and the cemetery contains almost 100 ancient stone crypts. Ossetians say that the cemetery helps them understand how people lived 400 years ago. Archeologists, also, are very interested in exploring the site more completely, as there have been interesting items found that have attracted some scientific attention.

Dargavs...City Of The Dead

Dargavs...City Of The Dead

Bunker-42…There’s an amazing tunnel system snaking beneath the streets of Moscow, leading to a secret cold war fortress once code named “Bunker-42.” Designed and built after the first series of nuclear tests by the Soviet Union, these tests revealed that the optimum depth for the bunker’s silo must be no higher than 165 feet beneath ground in order to survive nuclear fallout intact. The task for the builders was enormous: construct a gigantic structure beneath the city streets without damaging Moscow’s existing infrastructure of streets and communication pathways. To do so would alert the public and innumerable unknown spies to the existence of the bunker, thereby rendering the entire thing useless.

Lena’s Pillars…Lena’s Pillars are a natural rock formation which was made a World Heritage site in 2006. Numerous fossils and ancient organisms can be found at these pillars, and the area is important for its fossil record of the explosion of life in the lower Cambrian. It has also been the site of many mega-fauna fossils such as mammoth (Mammuthus primigenius Blum), bison (Bison priscus Boj), woolly rhinoceros (Coelodonta antiquitatis Blum), Lena horse (Equus lenensis Russ), and reindeer (Rangifer tarandus L). Evidence of ancient human life can be seen from the rock paintings and manuscripts from the area.  However this trip will cost you an average of $800 since there are no other airlines competing for this route. Upon arrival in Yakutsk, you will learn that you can only get to Lena’s Pillars by boat. Supposedly this is only a half a day’s trip upriver; in fact the trip with takes 3 days with a local guide and costs $500.  So if you go you better REALLY enjoy this one!

 

Lena's "expensive" Pillars...

Lena's "expensive" Pillars...

There are so many cultural and historical sites to see in Russia theres no way to pick just one to highlight.

 

But what about Russian “folk remedies”?

 

Many Russians, including doctors, are knowledgeable about medicinal herbs. The most popular herbs in Russia include St. John’s wort, chamomile, eucalyptus, Valeriana, coltsfoot, sage, mint, bur marigold, stinging nettle and cranberry leaves.

St. John’s wort decoction is used for treating colds, stomach problems, skin diseases and kidney ailments. Mint, mellissa, motherwort and Valeriana are used to treat nervous system problems. Camomile is known for its antiseptic qualities, and is used to treat sore throats and diarrhea. Stinging nettles are used to stem bleeding, and decoction of the weed is applied to the scalp to strengthen hair.

Bur marigold is known as an effective measure against skin allergies, especially for babies and small children. Russian mothers may add decoction of bur marigold to a baby’s bath if the child has skin problems.

Fresh cabbage leaves are known for their anti-inflammatory effect. When breast-feeding mothers have inflamed nipples, cabbage leaves are believed to ease the problem.

Other Russians rely on the healing effect of mumiyo — a natural blend of organic and non-organic soluble substances that originate in cracks between rocks. Mumiyo is used to treat wounds, gastric ulcers and headaches, and to strengthen the immune system.

 

Another Russian medical hit is the banya — a steam bath house. The Russian banya differs from the Finnish dry sauna in that it provides damp heat. In the banya, people use veniki — bunches of birch or oak twigs and leaves — to thrash each other in order to improve circulation.

The banya is not just about getting clean. It is believed to have a medicinal effect on the skin, lungs, nasal passages, joints and metabolism. Some people visit the banya regularly and swear that their health improves after doing so, and many believe that sickly children can become much healthier if they visit the banya on a weekly basis.

 

Moscow, St. Petersburg, Yekaterinburg and Volgograd, as well as other major industrial and population centers, are the highest concentrations of air pollution. Overall, over 200 cities in Russia exceed pollution limits, and this is increasing as more vehicles appear on the roads. Make sure to take your allergies medicines and other precautions like VentMask filters to ensure your air quality no matter where you visit in this grand country.

 

Wishing you safe travels and the best health-TheVentMaskTeam

 

 

 

 

Ancient Chinese Secret...not any more! Lets travel to Beijing!!

I hope you enjoyed our Presidents Day blog and learned a little bit and laughed a little bit too.

Back to our International Travel blog we are going to travel westward to Beijing, China.  Bei means northern, and jing means capital.  So Beijing literally means the north capital and is the center of the nation's politics and international exchanges, and it is also China's second largest city after Shanghai.  Breathing Beijing's air for six average days is the equivalent of smoking one cigarette.  If you've only ever heard about Beijing's pollution on the news, you might be concerned about the air. However, the city has plenty of great air days, and the situation has improved a lot even in the last few years. In fact, breathing Beijing's air for six average days is the equivalent of smoking one cigarette, so you can decide what precautions you wish to take to protect yourself while visiting this historically and culturally rich area.

Here are my top 5 interesting things about China.

The Great Wall

The Great Wall

1.     The history sites in Beijing include the Great Wall, Tiananmen Square (largest city square in the world), and the Forbidden City.

Peking Opera

Peking Opera

2.     Beijing opera or Peking opera, a traditional form of Chinese theater, is an important part of the Chinese culture. This art form consists of a combination of song, spoken dialogue, and codified action sequences. People practice their opera singing at parks around the city as well as in opera houses.

3.     The Forbidden City (the huge palace of the Ming and Qing dynasties) consists of 800 buildings, and it is a very popular place for tourists.

Forbidden City

Forbidden City

4.     Beijing was the capital to 6 notable dynasties from over 21 centuries ago, which is why there are so many historical sites to explore. Here is the full list, with links for more information:

221 BC: Yan State Capital, Warring States Period

1271: first a national capital for the Yuan Dynasty

1402: Became Ming Dynasty (1368–1644) capital

1644: Qing Dynasty capital

1912: Republic of China capital

October 1, 1949: People's Republic of China inaugurated by Mao Zedong

5.    Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) that includes a combination of acupuncture and Chinese herbs.

Traditionally, the goal of all TCM is to promote the healthy flow of qi (pronounced “chee”), or vital energy that travels through the meridians of our bodies. Modern practitioners use metaphorical terms such as “wind invasion” or weakened “wei” or defensive qi to describe and to diagnose allergies. The treatments are designed to treat both the root of the disease as well as the symptoms. Acupuncture can treat allergies by controlling the body’s inflammatory reactions to allergens. Herbs can also help with reduce the inflammatory reaction as well as desensitize the body to allergens. For example, the herb Astragalus, or Huang Qi as it is known in TCM, can help modulate immunities. Even simple herbal teas that contain dried chrysanthemum flowers and cassia seeds can help lower histamine production. Many practitioners also recommend a flavonoid compound called quercetin to reduce histamine production.

Ideally, treatments with a TCM practitioner begin about four to six weeks before the start of the allergy season. This allows time to build immunities to allergens. Of course, if your allergy season has already begun or if you are allergies all year round, then starting treatment immediately can still provide great relief. And if you are currently taking allergy medications, then acupuncture and herbs can help wean you from them.

 You can find many licensed practitioners of Traditional Chinese Medicine right here in the US if you decide that TCM is working for you. Simply search for and choose from acupuncturist and herbologists trained in traditional Chinese Medicine that are near you.  

Oh WAIT I forgot one last thing I love about Beijing…. you have got to try the Peking Duck it’s like nothing else.  Enjoy!!

Wishing you the best health and safe travels! - TheVentMaskTeam

I didn't learn this in History 101...Have a great Presidents Day holiday!

In honor of the Presidents day weekend I put together 15 facts about past Presidents that I never knew, they certainly didn’t teach me this stuff in history class. ...And awayyyy we GO!...(most fun if read like a David Letterman top 10 list!)

 

George Washington the only President to not accept a paycheck...RESPECT!

George Washington the only President to not accept a paycheck...RESPECT!

 1. The only president to be unanimously elected was George Washington (1732-1799). He also refused to accept his presidential salary, which was $25,000 a year.

 2.   Abraham Lincoln (1809-1865) is the only U.S. president who was also a licensed bartender. He was co-owner of Berry and Lincoln, a saloon in Springfield, Illinois.

3.   Grover Cleveland was the only president in history to hold the job of a hangman. He was once the sheriff of Erie County, New York, and twice had to spring the trap at a hanging.

4.   The “S” in Harry S Truman doesn’t stand for anything; therefore, there is no period after his middle initial.

Everyone LOVES Lincoln Logs

Everyone LOVES Lincoln Logs

5.   Lincoln Logs are named after Abraham Lincoln and the log cabin where he was born. John Lloyd Wright, son of famous architect Francis Lloyd Wright, invented them.

Thomas Jefferson and John Adams took wood chips from Shakespeare's chair as souvenirs.

Thomas Jefferson and John Adams took wood chips from Shakespeare's chair as souvenirs.

6.   Thomas Jefferson and John Adams once traveled to Stratford-upon-Avon to visit Shakespeare’s birthplace. While there, they took a knife to one of Shakespeare’s chairs so they could take home some wood chips as souvenirs.

 

7.   James Madison and Thomas Jefferson were once arrested together for taking a carriage ride in the countryside of Vermont on a Sunday, which violated the laws of that state.

8.    Andrew Johnson is the only tailor ever to be president. As president, he would typically stop by a tailor shop to say hello. He would wear only the suits that he made himself.

9.   George Washington never lived in the White House. The capital was actually located in Philadelphia and other cities when Washington was president. He is also the only president who didn’t represent a political party.

10.   James Abram Garfield (1831-1881) is the first president to ever talk on the phone. When he spoke to Alexander Graham Bell, who was at the other end 13 miles away, he said: “Please speak a little more slowly.”

Warren Gamaliel Harding hid in a closet to fool around on his wife!

Warren Gamaliel Harding hid in a closet to fool around on his wife!

11.  Twenty-ninth president Warren Gamaliel Harding (1865-1923) repeatedly made love to a young girl, Nan Britton, in a White House closet. On one occasion, Secret Service agents had to stop his wife from beating down the closet door.

12.   Thomas Jefferson (1743-1826) was the first president to be inaugurated in Washington, D.C.

13.   The term “O.K.” derives from President Martin Van Buren (1782-1862) who was known as “Old Kinderhook” because he was raised in Kinderhook, New York. “O.K.” clubs were created to support Van Buren’s campaigns.

14.  President James Buchanan (1791-1868) quietly but consistently bought slaves in Washington, D.C., and then set them free in Pennsylvania.

15.   “Teddy Bears” were so named when Theodore “Teddy” Roosevelt (1858-1919) refused to shoot a small bear cub one day. The incident was reported in the news, which inspired a toy manufacture to come out with the cute stuffed animals.

Teddy Roosevelt...not that cute.

Teddy Roosevelt...not that cute.

Teddy Bear...very cute!

Teddy Bear...very cute!

All of here at VentMask hope you have an enjoyable and safe holiday weekend….we will return to our International Travel blog soon.

Wishing you the best health!-TheVentMaskteam

When in Rome...well actually Japan

This is the first in a series International Allergy blogs! I love to travel so thought a look at other cultures and their allergy solutions would be interesting. First stop Japan!

 

Allergies are quite prominent in Japan – with a large number of those suffering primarily from pollen type allergies. So if you too suffer from rhinitis, you will find a very allergy-friendly (so to speak) country in Japan.

 

Heres a few tips about handling allergies in Japan.

1. Wear a mask – Folks in Japan wear a mask for a variety of reasons, but most notably to keep allergies in check or to prevent the spread of whatever illness they might currently be carrying

 

2. Allergy meds –Whatever prescription you have in your home country or whatever OTC meds you use, bring the info to a doctor in Japan to find what you need (or a similar alternative). 

 
3. Drink beni fuuki – For many years Japan's agriculture ministry has encouraged agricultural cooperatives and affiliated organizations to develop healthier food products. An example of such product is the green tea, Benifuki, which is touted to reduce allergy symptoms.

 

4. Use a neti pot – I’ve used it and still use it occasionally as it works quite well to clear and moisten the nasal passages. Google neti pot for more info. Read our blog from Oct 13, 2016 for Neti Pot information.

5. Try Quercetin – a supplement made of an extract from apple and pineapple. Known to reduce the histamine response and boost immunity. I use it regularly and can say that it definitely works and has helped me immensely.

The great thing about tips 3 & 5 are when you get home you can continue to use these natural remedies to lessen your allergies!

Lets talk about benni fukki tea first. I love green tea but this particular tea is an aquired tatse because it is a little more bitter than other green teas.  Benifuuki was the result of crossbreeding Benihomare with MakuraCd86 in Makurazaki city, Kagoshima prefecture, 1965.  The right seedling was selected many years later, and it was registered in 1993. The MakuraCd86 (枕Cd86) tea plant is quite special. It comes from the Darjeeling region, which produces some of the best teas in India. Benihomare is of the assamica variety (mostly found in India and Sri Lanka), while MakuraCd86 is of the sinensis variety (popular in China and Japan).

 Benni fuuki is said to contain hundred times more methylated catechin than regular green tea. Methylated catechin is thought to help relieve the effects of hay fever. Methylated catechins with their anti-allergic qualities help to fight perennial and seasonal allergies. Their substances are readily absorbed by human intestines and remain longer in our blood cycle than regular catechins. Menthylated catechins ease allergy diseases like hay fever and atopic nasitis! You can order benni fuuki tea online, you can find it sold from companies right here in the US like Amazon or if you’d like, even have it sent from Japan!

What about Quercetin? Quercetin belongs to a group of plant pigments called flavonoids that give many fruits, flowers, and vegetables their colors.

Flavonoids, such as quercetin, are antioxidants. They scavenge particles in the body known as free radicals which damage cell membranes, tamper with DNA, and even cause cell death. Antioxidants can neutralize free radicals. They may reduce or even help prevent some of the damage free radicals cause. In test tubes, quercetin has strong antioxidant properties. But researchers are not sure whether taking quercetin (and many other antioxidants) has the same effects inside the body.

Quercetin may help protect against heart disease and cancer. Quercetin can also help stabilize the cells that release histamine in the body and thereby have an anti-inflammatory and antihistamine effect.

 

In test tubes, quercetin prevents immune cells from releasing histamines, which are chemicals that cause allergic reactions. As a result, researchers think that quercetin may help reduce symptoms of allergies, including runny nose, watery eyes, hives, and swelling of the face and lips.

Quercetin supplements are available as pills or capsules. They are often packaged with bromelain (an enzyme found in pineapple) because both are anti-inflammatories. Other flavonoid-rich extracts include those from grapeseed, bilberry, ginko biloba, and green tea.

Enjoy all the sites and sounds and especially cuisine of Japan.

Wishing you the best of Health-TheVentMaskTeam

Might Mites Make Me Miserable? Winter woes for allergy sufferers.

Mighty mites make winter mighty miserable. Spring and summer are not the only seasons that bring misery to those with allergies. Why are winter months an incredible nightmare for people who are sensitive to mold spores and dust mites? It’s because.. “During the winter, families spend more time indoors, exposing allergic individuals to allergens and irritants like dust mites, pet dander, smoke, household sprays and chemicals, and gas fumes—any of which can make their lives miserable. And with the lengthening of the pollen season over the past several years, people with seasonal allergies might find their symptoms extending even further into the winter months.” , says Dr. William Reisacher the director of the Allergy Center in the Department of Otolaryngology (Ear, Nose, and Throat) at New York Presbyterian Hospital/Weill Cornell Medical Center.

Dr. Rachel Miller, director of allergy and immunology at the same hospital adds, “Mold spores can cause additional problems compared with pollen allergy because mold grows anywhere and needs little more than moisture and oxygen to thrive. During the holiday season, it is especially important to make sure that Christmas trees and holiday decorations are mold-free.”

Drs. Reisacher and Miller offer these simple tips to keep mold and dust mites at bay and make the winter months more bearable for indoor allergy sufferers:

Treat your bedroom as the allergy “safe haven” of your home because this is where you may spend most of your time. Your bedroom should have the fewest allergy triggers, so keep pets, carpets, rugs, and plants out of the room to avoid dust mites and mold from decaying plants. You may also want to place an allergenic barrier around your pillows and mattress to create a barrier between dust mites and your nose.

  Turn on the exhaust fan when showering or cooking to remove excess humidity and odors.

  Clean your carpets with a HEPA vacuum to decrease dust mites and pet allergen levels. Mopping floors can be very effective as well.

  Wash your hands frequently, especially after playing with the family pet to reduce exposure to pet allergens and when returning from public places to decrease transmission of common winter viruses.

   Launder your bed linens and pajamas in hot water (above 130 degrees) to kill dust mites.
   
   Spray your live Christmas tree with a garden hose before setting it up and remove all dust from your holiday decorations.

   Install high-efficiency furnace filters, which capture 30 times more allergens, and make sure your furnace fan is always on.

   Keep your indoor humidity level between 30–40 percent with the help of a humidifier or dehumidifier, to help prevent the growth of mold and mites.

   Change the water and filters in your humidifier according to manufacturer recommendations, to avoid contamination by mold and bacteria.

   Perform an indoor and outdoor survey of the house every month to look for visible mold and identify areas at high risk for mold formation, such as a pile of firewood close to the house or an area of the basement with a musty odor.

We here at VentMask can especially help with this tip!

       Treat your bedroom as the allergy “safe haven” of your home because this is where you may spend most of your time. Your bedroom should have the fewest allergy triggers, so keep pets, carpets, rugs, and plants out of the room to avoid dust mites and mold from decaying plants. You may also want to place an allergenic barrier around your pillows and mattress to create a barrier between dust mites and your nose.

By applying a vent register filter you remove more of the allergens trapped in your ducting system before they can be introduced into your room.

Click “Take Action” on our home page and take charge of your allergy symptoms now!

Wishing you the best Health-TheVentMaskTeam