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Category : Health & Wellbeing

Protect The Skin You’re In

Protect The Skin You're In

May is Skin Cancer Awareness Month. Beyond your mother nagging you to death to apply sunscreen before you brave the great outdoors, it’s nice to know that there have been many advancements in the field of skin cancer detection. The level of awareness for the disease has skyrocketed within the last generation alone. I still have visions, from my childhood, of my father sitting on a lounge chair, covered in Johnson & Johnson’s baby oil, holding a bright yellow sun visor inches from his face to maximize his exposure to the sun. Whereas today, I apply SPF 30 sunscreen before I slip into my bikini to ensure that I don’t miss an inch on my face or body. I also apply an SPF hair mask and wear sunglasses as both your scalp and eyes can burn and are not immune to Melanoma either. Ocular Melanoma can present as a freckle within the eye.

But let’s go beyond the sunscreen

It’s critical to visit a board certified dermatologist for an annual skin screening and not only if you fall into the high risk group of those with light skin, eyes and a family history of skin cancer. It’s crucial that everyone go. Often, those with dark skin and eyes assume they are immune from skin cancer and wind up with serious issues down the road due to a lack of screenings and late detection. But don’t go to see a derm only because 1 in 5 Americans will have skin cancer in their lifetime, nor because Melanoma, the deadliest form of skin cancer, causes one death every hour. And not only because it’s the most common cancer diagnosis in adults 25 – 29. And certainly not only because children that have experienced 5+ sun burns in their lives are 80% more likely to develop skin cancer, nor because each year there are more instances of skin cancer than lung, breast and colon cancer combined. You must go because this is an easy one to prevent.

A technological leap forward in skin screening

Until recently the protocol for conducting skin screenings was a manual, imperfect process. Even with the expertise of a highly-skilled, board certified dermatologist armed with the appropriate screening tools, a manual process left physicians piecing together notes from the year before with no standardized method for tracking changes in the skin over time.

Enter DermSpectra, a revolutionary new breakthrough in technology that has standardized the skin screening process with digital imaging capable of tracking even the most minute of changes in the skin over time. When it comes to skin cancer, picking up the smallest change in a mole or growth can mean the difference between life and death.

DermSpectra skin cancer awareness monthYour 10 minutes of fame

DermSpectra, or The Box, as Dr. Mitchell Kline, a board certified clinical dermatologist who specializes in Melanoma surgery and staging, lovingly calls it, uses high speed, professionally focused cameras and lenses, customized for the patient’s skin type, to capture a 360 degree view of the skin in its entirety. Its akin to E! Live’s 360 degree camera used on the red carpet at The Oscars to give us a virtually 3 dimensional view of the haute couture fashions that the the A list actors are dressed in. DermSpectra is the very first full body digital imaging system in the United States that captures standardized, high definition photography of the skin. This imaging tool enables physicians to objectively review and monitor critical skin changes over time.

How does it work?

You strip down to your underoos at the very least – if you feel at ease bearing more – even better! Melanoma can pop up in the least expected of areas, even in places where the sun don’t shine. Climb into the DermSpectra Imaging Unit and move through a series of 9 poses while dozens of cameras capture 36.7 MP high resolution photos of the body from a 360 degree vantage point. These images are instantly available and become a baseline for the long term evaluation and tracking of even the smallest changes in the skin over time. All the information is stored securely for the patient’s and physician’s eyes only.

DermSpectra can only be found in three locations in The United States – at Travel Beauty’s go to dermatologist, Dr. Mitchell Kline’s Park Avenue practice on the upper east side of Manhattan, Walter Reed National Military Medical Center in Bethesda, Maryland and Oregon Health and Science University in Portland Oregon.

So what are you waiting for?

By: Alyssa Barrie Weiss, Twitter: @AlyssaBarrie

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Beauty & Wellness Beyond The Products: A Best Of Charlotte’s Book Round Up

beauty and wellness beyond the products

Fall is in full swing! And since inner and outer beauty rely on so much more than the products we slather all over our face, body and hair, (make no mistake, effective products have a part to play) we wanted to share some other important facets of holistic beauty we’ve been reading up on lately surrounding the importance of keeping up with daily beauty and wellness regimens, nutrition as well as an exploration of the definition of beauty itself. We hope you enjoy this Charlotte’s Book wellness round up as much as we have.

Sometime Frozen Is Actually Better Than Fresh

Frozen doesn’t mean what it used to. While the idea of frozen food might bring to mind processed pizza or freezer-burned chicken nuggets, when it comes to produce, frozen is actually better. According to Michael Pollan, Author of Omnivore’s Dilemma, “The nutritional quality is just as good-and sometimes even better, because the produce is often picked and frozen at its peak of quality.” Read more.

Facial Fitness: Scam or Glam?

From the ancient Egyptians (you guessed it—another Cleopatra trend) to the Chinese to the French, women have been working on their facial fitness for centuries. It’s already a huge market in Asia—in fact, Christiano Ronaldo endorses a facial fitness tool in Asian markets. But adoption of facial fitness into American skincare regimens has been slow, perhaps because of some healthy skepticism. That said, celebrity facialists from coast to coast swear by it (there’s even a FaceGym inside Selfridges in London!). Read more.

Your Morning Routine Just A Bit More Stimulating

The temperature is dropping, making it a prime time to focus on exfoliation. You’re no longer dealing with summer heat and humidity, which can make skin very sensitive—plus, your tan has gone from fab to drab; it’s time to work on that body glow. Fall is the perfect time for dry brushing! By now you might have heard of the great exfoliating benefits of dry brushing, but there’s more. Thanks to its stimulation of the lymphatic system, you might also start to consider it as part of your wellness routine. Read more.

The Case For Being #Unpretty – Or, Why It’s OK To Take A Break From Perfection

In a world driven by likes and filters, it’s safe to say we are probably the most self-conscious, most objectified, and therefore most tired, disillusioned, and perhaps cyclically depressed generation ever. But that’s just a guess.

And why wouldn’t we be?

We begin our days oh just casually scrolling through flawless #iwokeuplikethis posts, chew our lunches to Facetuned food coma bellies for #foodcoma or #skinnyfat posts, and conclude our pretty standard, unworthy-of-a-post days with popular #makeup selfies of double-filtered, double plumped, fully made-up people, in bed, hash tagged #longday and #tired. This cycle is BEAUTY HELL! Read more.

Hungry for more? Visit our friends at Charlotte’s Book.

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What You Need To Know About Cupping Therapy

what you need to know about cupping

When Michael Phelps prepared to dive into the pool this past summer at the Olympics, millions of spectators were stunned by the rows of large purplish circles that adorned his back. In an instant the ancient modality of cupping resurfaced on a global stage. The record breaking olympic gold medalist practices cupping therapy to heal and support his muscles, joints and immune system which are pushed to the limits all year long by his intense training and then days of competition during the games.

Save Michael Phelps, I knew nothing about cupping and wanted to learn more. I sought a master practitioner in New York City and was introduced to Anton Lee, a third generation licensed acupuncturist with extensive cupping training. Acupuncture is an integral part of cupping. Anton educated me on the basics.

What Is Cupping?

Born of a culture that considered surgery, the act of cutting the body, an affront to their ancestors, (I found this particularly interesting as Judaism forbids the practice of tattoo and most piercings precisely for this reason) until the introduction of antibiotics, cupping was the principal modality of healing not only muscular pain in the body but ailment of major internal organs as well. In fact, prior to the introduction of antibiotics boils were the leading cause of death. Cupping was partly developed as a method for removing the toxic fluids that were contained within the boil. With the introduction of antibiotics cupping began to fall by the wayside where it would become classified, at least in western medicine, as an alternative therapy.

Dispelling Myths

You will read almost everywhere that the practice originated in China. Not true! Anton insisted. It has been practiced all over the world for a few thousands years throughout Asia, Europe, the Americas and the Middle East. Cups were made out of whatever natural resources were available in the region. In the middle east, cups were made of goat horns, while in China they were fashioned from Bamboo. The modern day versions are made of glass and silicone.

What Does This Have To Do With An Olympic Athlete?

Every time we move energy is created which makes blood and fluids circulate through the body. This in and of itself is a good thing. But like anything, too much of a good thing can turn bad. When muscles and tissue are over exerted, it creates a trauma. When there is a trauma to the body, typically blood and fluid flow to the affected area in an effort to repair it. If The body is functioning healthfully, it is extremely efficient and directs energy, blood and fluid to where it is needed to support and heal the area. When this excess fluid is not completely absorbed by the body it can get deposited onto the muscle. This fluid bonds like glue to the muscle and creates a blockage. This can be in the form of a knot that you might get in your neck, or back. This causes pain and is toxic to the body. Just as the person loses his or her typical range of movement, this blockage is stuck. If you’re not an olympic athlete, you may be be susceptible to extreme weather, which can also cause trauma to the body. When it’s cold we condense our bodies physically and this energy creates stagnation. This stagnation is perceived by us as pain.

How Can We Break Up The Blockage?

cupping therapy

By hand. A needle is inserted at the point of pain (Acupuncture is an integral part of cupping) to create the movement of energy, fluid and blood, within the tissue – to break up the proverbial “glue”, then a cup is put over and suction is applied to draw it out into the skin. The skin is not only the largest organ of the body, but the largest filtration organ of the body. Just like the liver filters blood, the lungs filter air and the stomach filters food, similarly the skin filters excess fluid. Skin contains millions of micro vessels – this is why, when we get cut, we heal so quickly. Using the skin’s filtration system the body disposes of what it does not need and recycles what it can use.

The Basics

The more toxic your body is the darker the cup marks will be. In general men tend to present with darker marks as women’s bodies are cleaner due to the menstrual cycle which circulates and cleans out blood and tissue from the body regularly.

My Mini Consultation

Anton is the real deal. Towards the end of our almost two hour meeting, Anton turned to me and asked if he could take my pulse. He told me that I am a worrier. Worry and stress cause the digestive system to slow down. The stomach is considered the mother organ as it filters food that is then distributed to the other organs of the body in order to nourish them. The odd thing is that I have colitis. It turns out that cupping can be used as part of a regimen to heal colitis and other digestive ailments. He also told me to keep an eye on my posture as bad posture wreaks havoc on the body – yes, causing trauma. The odd thing is, as soon as I walked into Anton’s office, I became acutely aware of my posture. It almost felt as if he was communicating telepathically to me nudging me to sit up straight.

Just Scratching The Surface

Cupping is a practice that is tailored specifically for each individual depending on his or her needs and there are many more tools involved in the modality that I did not delve into here. Above I have merely scratched the cupping surface. To schedule a consultation or appointment with Anton, please call Yasmine Djerradine Institut de Beauté at 212-588-1771.

By: Alyssa Barrie Weiss, Twitter: @AlyssaBarrie

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The Effects of Stress on The Body

The Effects of Stress on The Body

I stumbled upon an infographic by The American Institute of Stress stating that almost half of all Americans feel more stressed now as compared to 5 years ago, and 75% of doctor’s visits are due to stress-related ailments. This is not unique to The United States. It is a far reaching global phenomenon. I was intrigued and decided to learn more about how to detect the early signs of stress and how to counteract them.

External Signs of Stress

Those affected by stress tend to look and feel tired and worn down. Under eye puffiness can become more pronounced, skin tone can look dull and become more susceptible to breakouts, hair can begin to thin and the scalp to flake. Though this can be remedied, to an extent, with personal care products, the reality is that you’re stressed and steps must be taken to protect your body inside and out.

The Invisible Effects of Stress

What’s really troubling is that stress has worse effects, which are invisible. When your stress levels are consistently high, there are consequences that can be disturbing, and even life threatening if left unchecked. Hence, it’s important to unwind, laugh, spend time with friends and learn to manage stressful situations.

Effects of Stress on The Body

Stress has effects on all systems of the human body, for instance, studies have shown a direct correlation between chronic muscle pain and musculoskeletal disorders in people who experience chronic stress. 

The respiratory system may also be affected, making breathing somewhat more difficult. This becomes especially problematic for people that suffer from asthma as well as those who are prone to panic attacks. 

Chronic stress is also widely linked to heart ailments. Stress contributes to an increased risk of heart attack, stroke and even inflammation in the circulatory system, affecting vital blood pathways in the body such as the coronary arteries. 

The liver and adrenal glands are another set of organs affected by stress. Elevated stress levels lead to the release of ‘stress hormones’, which result in the production of more glucose. An increase in glucose production means higher blood sugar, which puts individuals at greater risk for diabetes.

A blog post by Aboca highlights the effect of stress on the digestive system, describing how stress can interfere with the entire digestive process and result in gastrointestinal disorders like IBS and constipation. 

Stress Compromises The Immune System

The immune system suffers as well from high stress levels. As explained by Executive Medicine, the natural defense of the body is compromised by stress, which makes individuals more susceptible to viral illnesses like flu.

In short, constant stress has serious impacts on every aspect of the body. Here are some remedies to help overcome and counter stress.

How To Minimize Stress

Exercise is proven to promote wellbeing including stress reduction mentally and physically. Activities like yoga, strength training, jogging and walking can all keep stress in check.

Playing mindless video games for approximately 30 minutes a day aids in stress management. Believe it or not, games like the popular cut and slash Fruit Ninja is an excellent stress reliever. Then there’s classic games such as Slingo which has received positive feedback because of its relaxing attributes. And who could forget the multi-awarded Plants vs. Zombies? These games can effectively help lower overall stress levels.

Getting enough shut eye is perhaps the most important part of the equation. Sleep deprivation is correlated with increased stress levels; therefore, getting the right amount of rest is vital.

While stress can adversely affect our outward appearance, it has more detrimental effects on the internal organs and activities of the body and can lead to serious complications.

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Ovarian Cancer Research Fund Alliance’s 19th Annual Super Saturday

Ovarian Cancer Research Fund Alliance's 19th Annual Super Saturday

On Saturday, July 30th, over 2000 people attended the Ovarian Cancer Research Fund Alliance’s (OCRFA) 19th annual Super Saturday. The highly anticipated event took place in the heart of The Hamptons, on the lush grounds of Nova’s Ark Project in Water Mill, New York. It was hosted by Kelly Ripa, Donna Karan and Gabby Karan de Felice. I spotted loads of other celebrities too including Christy Turlington, Molly Sims, Ingrid Vandebosch, Kristen Taekman and Star Jones.

From humble beginnings

The first Super Saturday took place in 1998. It was held in the backyard of the late Liz Tilberis’ (former Editor-in-Chief of Harper’s Bazaar) home in the Hamptons. She was the then-president of OCRF, and had been diagnosed with the disease herself. From these backyard beginnings, the event has evolved into a day-long, star-studded designer shopping extravaganza attended by over 2,000 people. In addition to 30 – 50% off premier designer brands, there is a children’s carnival and delicious catered lunch (and cocktails, of course). There are always fun “experience tents” as well – you can enjoy an Essie manicure, get a psychic reading and more!

This year’s selection was fantastic! Designers included Ralph Lauren, Vince, Theory, Alice + Olivia, Vilebrequin, Magaschoni and Michael Kors. Beauty brands such as B. Kamins Laboratories and Ahava were also in attendance among many others. All Super Saturday proceeds fund OCRFA’s research initiatives.

So what is behind all the glitz and fanfare?

A not too glamorous story, I’m afraid. For the past 15 years I have been involved with Ovarian Cancer Research Fund Alliance in different capacities. OCRFA has led the way in research, advocacy and support for patients and their families for over 22 years. The organization’s mission is to fund critical research on ovarian cancer and its work has led to earlier detection of the disease and will ultimately lead to a cure.

I was introduced to the organization by a dear friend of my mother’s who ultimately lost her battle with this terrible disease after many years of perseverance. There are people we cross paths with that leave a distinct impression and Ina Feuerstein was one of them. She was such a lovely, warm, positive woman. I admired the joy and kindness that she exuded especially in the face of such a debilitating disease. She inspired me to learn more. I was shocked to learn that most women never presented with symptoms, and by the time the cancer was detected, it was so advanced that it usually amounted to a death sentence.

Moreover, for years, and unfortunately to this day, when women go to their physicians complaining of lower abdominal cramps or bloating, they are usually dismissed and told that they probably just have gas. If women report a change in their eating habits – either a sharp decrease in appetite or feeling full quickly, they are often told that they are probably just stressed or anxious. If they have an increase in the frequency or urgency of urination, women are again brushed off and told that this is what happens with age. Though the tide is beginning to turn, it seems that even amongst the healthcare community’s elite, lady parts and diseases associated with them, tend to be overlooked or dismissed. Many women feeling ashamed that they now fit the stereotypical emotional woman archetype, go home quietly not realizing that these are symptoms of ovarian cancer. Down the road when the disease is finally diagnosed, it’s too late.

Ovarian Cancer seemed to be an important women’s issue that does not receive nearly enough attention and I’m a woman! I wanted to help change that and joined the Jr. Board.

To learn more about Super Saturday and OCRFA, please visit OCRFA.

By: Alyssa Barrie Weiss, Twitter @AlyssaBarrie

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