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The Secret Health Benefits of Stinging Nettles

For the longest time, stinging nettles had earned themselves a reputation for being nothing more than pests; whether you were having to pull the weeds out of your garden, or if you were unlucky enough to brush up against them when you were out and about, there’s probably little reason for you to have thought positively about the plant.

That is, however, until now; because today we’re going to take a look at the secret health benefits of stinging nettles that have got people around the globe excited about this affordable and widely-available little pest.

What Exactly IS The Stinging Nettle?

Sometimes known by its latin plant name, “urtica dioica”, the stinging nettle has actually been used for longer than you might think. Throughout the medieval times—and going as far back in history as Ancient Greece—it’s been applied for its numerous medicinal properties. Growing to lengths of up to four feet, the heart-shaped leaves of the plant tend to be either a light shade of fuschia or yellow.

These leaves possess a large number of tiny hairs which you can see if you examine one closely (but not too closely!). When these hairs come into contact with any area of your skin, they tend to break off from the leave and stick into it, causing a stinging reaction to occur. However, the plant also has a wide number of properties which are beneficial to human health when consumed in the right way.

An All-Natural Hay-Fever Medication

One of nettle’s best qualities is its ability to reduce hayfever symptoms. Thanks to its anti-inflammatory properties, it can manage the states of several important receptors and enzymes within your body. If taken when your symptoms first appear, the herb is especially effective.

This is because the plant contains histamine (which, funnily enough, is also one of the chemicals which causes allergic reactions in the first place). However, there are many cases when using histamines can actually reduce allergic symptoms.

Treating Eczema

Those of you who suffer from eczema will already know what a pain it can be. Having dry patches of itchy, scaly skin appear on your body can be quite disconcerting, and so either using nettle tea (or capsules), or applying a topical cream produced from the plant, can help to reduce the symptom of the condition quite significantly.

This is, again, thanks to the histamine within the plant, which acts as an antihistamine in this case. Its anti-inflammatory properties also help in this regard.

Other Benefits of Stinging Nettles

While additional research is most certainly required, there’s also anecdotal evidence to suggest that the herb can be used to treat conditions like joint pain, urinary issues, hemorrhoids, insect bites, and to heal wounds as well, among others.

How to Use Stinging Nettles

Nettle tea is a great way to take the plant internally, and provides an enjoyable warm beverage to relax with at night. Likewise, there exist skin creams, capsules, and tablets which can also help you to incorporate its fantastic benefits into your life.

For those of you who feel more adventurous, you can cook the plant and use it in your meals, but we’d strongly suggest doing further research beforehand to ensure that you do this properly!

So, there you have it. Far from being just a run-of-the-mill pest, stinging nettles can actually provide fantastic health benefits at a very low cost. They’re well worth experimenting with if you feel that you could benefit from them, but always remember to consult a doctor before beginning to use any new medications!

How to Use Poker as a Mindfulness Practice

Most common mindfulness practices are fundamentally simple. Things like deep breathing, counted breaths, and short breaks and walks can help to calm us, clear our minds, and generate simultaneous states of relaxation and awareness. As much purpose as these small, simple practices have though, there are also some more involved activities that can assist with the development of greater mindfulness. And it may surprise some to learn that the game of poker is among them.

Gaming and Meditation

It is first important to understand that a link has been established between gaming and meditation in general. For a long time there were a lot of misconceptions about gaming as an active, almost violent practice meant solely for young people. But perceptions have changed over time. We now understand that people in all age groups play games of all kinds, and we further accept that a lot of these games have meditative qualities. Gamer testaments and a few scientific studies alike have indicated that the right game can have a soothing effect on one’s mental state.

This is the case with poker as well. A passion for many around the world, it’s a unique game that doesn’t necessarily fall under the umbrella of traditional “gaming” as we tend to think of the term. It is nonetheless similar with regard to mindfulness, however. Approached with intention, it can be a calming, almost meditative hobby for players.

Mental and Emotional Calm

When considering the game of poker specifically, one tends to think first of strategy, luck, and mathematics. In some sense, these are the building blocks of any given game of poker, and it will of course be important for any aspiring player to learn how they all factor in. However, what really helps successful players to win at poker is a sound mindset. The manifestation of a sound overall poker game requires that players learn to accept defeat and to avoid getting too high from a win. It demands reasonable approaches to betting and competition, clear-eyed social interaction, and the ability to operate without ego.

Add those factors up, and what success in poker really demands is mental and emotional calm. Players need skill and strategy to be sure, but above all else they need to be able to clear their minds of various pressures and shut out hasty impulses. This in and of itself is nearly a form of meditation, and certainly serves as a sort of training for mindfulness practice.

Focused Meditation

Beyond helping players to establish a general sense of mental and emotional calm, poker also leads to an ability to focus that, in its own way, is meditative. Generally, a focused meditation is described as the practice of focusing on something intently as a way of staying in the present moment and slowing down inner dialogue. It more or less means zeroing in on one subject to the exclusion of all else for the purpose of clearing one’s head — which is pretty much exactly what one has to do in poker! Even the slightest distraction can be a problem, and while the game demands a lot of attention it still makes for such narrow focus that one can clear one’s mind in a useful and soothing way.

Even given all of these benefits, poker does not comprise an entire mindfulness or meditation routine. For those interested in working on these aspects of personal wellness though, it’s always good to have one more option! Some will find this simple, popular card game to be legitimately beneficial.

If you enjoyed this article, you might also like our piece on how to boost your energy, especially useful as we enter a new year and search for fresh motivations!

Earfree Nitebuds: For Better Sleep

Earfree Nitebuds, the two-in-one speaker and pillow that plays calming music, improving the quality of your sleep, is launching on Indiegogo.

The idea for the Nitebuds sleep pillow came from people who used to sleep with earphones in. Many of us who have trouble sleeping at night use earphones to listen to calming sleep music, but sleeping with earphones in is just too uncomfortable. Using earphones while you sleep can cause pain and inflammation in the ear; plus, earphones tend to fall out in the middle of the night. But the adverse effects of earphones on ear health is undoubtedly the most critical of these issues.

Nitebuds puts music IN the pillow to solve the problems caused by conventional earbuds. All you have to do is lay your head down on the pillow to be serenated with lovely music. There’s no earbuds involved – so you can roll around in bed all you like without having to worry about damage to your ears or earbuds falling out.

Nitebuds are simple to use. Just place the speakers in the special sleep-aid pillow, then use Bluetooth to pair your smartphone and begin your music therapy. Once your music is playing, Nitebuds’ crater-shaped design enhances the acoustics, making you feel like you’re listening in on a concert hall performance. This design also prevents the sound from leaking out, giving you the same quality of sound at a 30% lower volume, so as not to bother whoever’s sleeping next to you.

The Nitebuds app also provides free ASMR music and ambience, soothing the brain and easing any anxiety. This white noise works has great benefits on mental health and attentiveness, making the sleep music from the Nitebuds app particularly effective at inducing a natural sleep.

Nitebuds uses 3D mesh material for full, fluffy comfort. The mesh also helps the music play through the pillow without getting muffled, plus high-quality microfiber cotton is also used to give the perfect amount of depth and coziness. The microfiber cotton is also a renewable, biodegradable material, which means Nitebuds is eco-friendly, too.

Even though Nitebuds is electronic, the speaker and pillow are fully separable, meaning the pillow can be washed without issue. If you want, you can even use the pillow by itself without the speakers, or even place other items inside the pillow to help you sleep.

For instance, if you find yourself sweating a lot in those hot summer nights, you can place ice-packs in the pillow to help cool off. Or, when you’re stressed out and in the mood for aromatherapy, the CYPRESS insert can be used for some phytoncide healing.

Also, if you have a preference for a specific pillow height, just use the COTTON insert to adjust the pillow’s height to your preference.

You can back Earfree Nitebuds – the high-tech pillow that serenades you to sleep – by finding their campaign on Indiegogo.