Healthy Concepts

In the ‘80s it was aerobics and racquetball. The ‘90s brought about step class and the ubiquitous celebrity workout video. With the 2000s we were introduced to Pilates and kickboxing. In 2010, Paleo fitness came into the picture and in some form or another, continues to be a growing approach.

The concept is based on the principle that we should focus our diet and activities on that of our ancient ancestors. Thousands of years ago we were not sitting at computers or driving to the grocery store. Instead, our lives consisted largely of gathering the foods we would need to live, which involved engaging our bodies in movements like walking, bending, lifting and climbing — and of course, staying away from the things that would want to gather us as food.

Spring into action

Fast forward to today and we don’t really have to engage our bodies much at all in order to live. But to live well, movement is a requirement. Sedentary lifestyles are a known risk factor for developing high blood pressure, anxiety, obesity and depression. The challenge for many is getting started and staying motivated.

You can spring into action toward your fitness goals by going for a walk. As you are walking and thinking about the positive steps you are quite literally already taking, know that walking remains one of the most beneficial and accessible forms of exercise. By walking for just 30 minutes a day every day you’ll find immense benefits including increased bone health, improved blood flow and weight loss.

After two weeks of this walking routine, add strength training into your week. This is where most people fall short. They start one routine, like daily walking, but after a couple of weeks grow tired of the same routine and fall back into their old habits. Counter this by introducing an update to your workout every two weeks. Strength training is a great first addition. According to WebMD, “physically inactive people can lose as much as 3 percent to 5 percent of their muscle mass each decade after age 30.” Metabolism is largely connected to muscle mass. Adding two or three days of strength training into a solid walking regimen is a great way to reduce muscle loss and boost your metabolism.

For do-it-yourself folks, a book or a series of YouTube videos may do the trick. Others may want to consider joining a class twice a week that focuses on strength training.

To ensure proper technique and achieve the results you are looking for it’s a good idea to seek out the guidance from an educated coach.

Strong to the core

We’ve all seen the photoshopped ads featuring perfectly toned bodies in cropped tops with six pack abs. For most of us, that vision is simply not reality, nor does it need to be. Regardless, strong core muscles are what help you in your daily life tasks. You know the ones — a toddler on one hip with a gallon of milk in your hand, reaching to open the door all while man-handling two bags of groceries into the house. Admit it, you’ve done this. We all have. Do yourself a favor and get your core muscles up to par so they can protect your spine and keep you from getting injured because back pain will definitely take the spring out of your step.

Renew and refresh

To stay motivated, think about ways you could renew your approach and develop fresh habits to stay on track. Some people recommend an “accountability partner” who will send you early morning text messages to get you out of bed. Others find that joining a group who is also working on a particular fitness goal helps them maintain their motivation. Remember to incorporate small treats to reward yourself for the work you’re doing. After completing two weeks of daily walking, get yourself a new workout top or buy a subscription to a magazine that will help keep you motivated. Of course, our ancient ancestors didn’t need this sort of motivation, but then again being chased by a saber-toothed tiger was probably motivation enough. 

Forefront Dermatology

Why gluten-free is imperative for thyroid sufferers

By Randi Mann, NP

Hypothyroidism is one of the most common thyroid disorders. The American Thyroid Association estimates 20 million Americans have some form of thyroid disease and women are 5 to 8 times more likely than men to develop thyroid problems. Hypothyroidism is characterized as a deficiency of thyroid hormone. And since nearly every cell in our body has receptors for the thyroid and requires sufficient thyroid to function properly, there is a myriad of symptoms associated with hypothyroidism.

Sufferers can experience:

  • Weight gain
  • Fatigue
  • Cold hands and feet
  • Constipation
  • Thinning of the outer eyebrow
  • Mental slowness
  • Dry skin
  • Hair loss
  • Hoarse voice
  • Muscle stiffness and pain
  • Depression and mood swings
  • Dementia
  • Menstrual irregularities
  • Infertility
  • Carpal tunnel syndrome
  • Loss of balance
  • Peeling, splitting fingernails
  • Joint pain
  • Frequent muscle cramps
  • Low sex drive
  • Puffy hands and face
  • Unsteady gait and bumping into things

Thyroid hormones play a role in the most basic aspects of body function. They directly impact the brain, metabolism, the cardiovascular system, gall bladder and liver function, and body temperature regulation.

There are different reasons a thyroid gland will stop producing the desired level of thyroid hormones (hypothyroidism). It is now believed that approximately 90 percent (possibly up to 97 percent) of hypothyroidism cases are caused by an autoimmune response. This means the body has mistakenly identified the thyroid as “foreign” and starts attacking it. Hashimoto’s and Graves’ (also thyroid diseases) are autoimmune diseases. At the heart of autoimmune diseases is inflammation, which leads to thyroid tissue destruction and continued autoimmune responses from the body.

So, what does all of this have to do with gluten? The protein portion of gluten, called gliadin, is problematic. No human can digest the gluten proteins found in barley, wheat, rye and triticale. “Our human digestive system is perfectly able to digest every protein we eat except gluten. Gluten is a ‘weird’ protein and we don’t have the enzymes to dismantle it completely, leaving undigested peptides that can be harmful. The immune system may perceive them as the enemy and mount an immune response,” states Alessio Fasano, MD, professor at the University of Maryland School of Medicine and the Director of the Center for Celiac Research. In other words, gluten proteins survive the harsh environment of the stomach and make their way into the intestine where they permeate the intestinal walls into the blood stream. In fact, celiac disease is the autoimmune destruction of the villi in the gut. (Villi is the finger-like projections of tissue in the small intestine, which increase the surface area and help with nutrient absorption into the bloodstream.)

Once in the bloodstream, the gliadin protein is flagged for destruction by the immune system.

Unfortunately, gliadin has a molecular structure similar to that of thyroid tissue, which means the antibodies to gliadin also cause the immune system to attack the thyroid. This is called molecular mimicry. Immune responses to gliadin can last up to 6 months each time you eat gluten, even a little bit. If you have a thyroid problem and you are sensitive to gluten, each time you eat foods containing gluten you are initiating an autoimmune response that goes after your thyroid. Even if you don’t currently have a known sensitivity to gluten, gluten makes you vulnerable to developing autoimmune diseases. A person suffering from one autoimmune disease is more prone to develop additional autoimmune diseases. It is estimated that 4 to 6 percent of people with Hashimoto’s thyroiditis also suffer from celiac disease. This number is much higher when you consider hypothyroidism and non-celiac gluten sensitivities. The autoimmune inflammation wreaks havoc in the body.

So how do you determine if you are sensitive to gluten? There are blood tests available for gluten and other food sensitivities, such as ALCAT and other blood tests for antibodies to gluten and its many proteins. Many experts recommend the elimination diet as a reliable test for gluten intolerance. This involves completely removing gluten from your diet for a period of at least 30 days and up to 3 months. If your symptoms improve during the elimination time and return after reintroducing gluten into your diet, you are gluten intolerant and should avoid gluten indefinitely.

Understanding how gluten acts in the body, we can see how dangerous this protein can be for the human body. An argument can be made that everyone would benefit from a gluten-free diet. Gluten is a destructive protein that cannot be fully digested by humans and there are no nutrients found in gluten-containing food that you cannot get from non-gluten foods. If you are suffering from an autoimmune disease such as hypothyroidism, it is imperative to your health to lead a gluten-free lifestyle.

Did you know that one in five Americans will develop skin cancer in their lifetime? Over the past three decades more people have had skin cancer than all other cancers combined. May is Melanoma Awareness Month and summer is right around the corner — it is a great time to become more informed about skin cancer.

There are two categories of skin cancer: melanoma and non-melanoma. Melanoma is a dangerous form of skin cancer that, if not detected and treated immediately, can spread to other areas in the body. Early diagnosis can be the difference between life and death. According to American Cancer Society research, if melanoma is caught in stage one, the five-year survival rate is 97 percent. Late detection survival rates can be as low at 15 percent.

Know the signs

Skin cancer does not discriminate by age, gender or ethnicity. It is important to know the signs of skin cancer and perform a monthly self-skin check to spot potential malignancies early. While skin cancer can occur anywhere on your body, approximately 85 percent of cases are located on the head and neck, the most sun exposed area of your body year-round. Dermatologists commonly refer to the “ABCDEs” when examining your skin. The accompanying diagram is an excellent tool to help guide you through a skin check, putting this acronym into practice. While examining your skin, look for any spots that show Asymmetry, have an irregular Border, vary in Color and have a Diameter that is wider than a pencil Eraser. It is also important to monitor skin lesions over time to determine if they have Evolved or changed.

Melanoma can occur in a variety of colors including brown, black, red, blue or purple. These spots can be flat or raised and can bleed easily. Non-melanoma skin cancer, also known as basal and squamous cell carcinoma, typically appear as small, pearly, or pale bumps or as dark red patches that can be raised, flat or scaly in texture. It is extremely important to see your local dermatologist and have any worrisome areas professionally examined. Remember, early detection saves lives and a simple office appointment with your dermatologist can truly mean the difference between life and death.

Preventative steps

While there is no foolproof way to prevent skin cancer, there are three key preventative steps. First, try to minimize sun exposure when the sun’s UV rays are at their strongest, typically between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. If possible, while outside seek shady areas and make it a priority to wear SPF 30 or higher sunscreen, SPF lip balm and cover your head with a hat. Reapply sunscreen every two hours, or after water exposure.

Second, tanning bed avoidance is crucial in reducing your skin cancer risk. Research has shown that yearly more than 400,000 cases of skin cancer in the United States are linked to the use of indoor tanning beds. Tanners under the age of 35 increase their risk of melanoma by 75 percent. The temporary tan is simply not worth the risk.

Lastly, it is important to have an annual skin screening by a board-certified dermatologist. Skin checks are easy and quick. The doctor will examine each part of your skin, and may use a special magnifying glass with a light — called a dermatoscope — to examine certain suspicious spots. If a suspicious lesion is identified, you may need a biopsy, which is a quick, simple procedure. A local anesthetic is applied and a small tissue sample is taken from the suspicious area and sent for evaluation. The purpose is to diagnose the condition, not treat it. If the biopsy reveals skin cancer, the remainder of the growth will be removed at a later date.

At a time of the year where many long for sunny weather and the tan that can come with sun, take a moment to remember your skin and your future. Are a few months of bronzed skin worth the potential diagnosis of skin cancer later on? It’s your life, what will you choose?

It’s by no stretch of the imagination that with a PhD in biomolecular chemistry, an MD from the University of Wisconsin-Medical School, training at the Mayo Clinic and residency and fellowships in pulmonary and critical care — not to mention nine years of experience practicing in these fields — Dr. Steven Bittorf is an accomplished member of the medical community.

“I feel fulfilled… but one of the things I recognized is that we expend a lot of resources at the end of life in our medical system,” he explains. “We don’t devote nearly enough attention to preventing a lot of preventable disease. It’s really a tragedy.”

Dr. Bittorf also struggled with the notion that the medical system is programmed for, and focuses on, the diseased patient in a disease model, making it difficult to take into consideration individual differences in the population. It’s in that sentiment that he began considering a more alternative side to care via integrative medicine, also known as functional medicine.

But what is it?

“It’s a very common question,” Dr. Bittorf explains. “Integrative medicine is one-on-one care with the emphasis on the relationship between the physician and the patient. It aims to incorporate both traditional care and alternative care... it’s an emerging subspecialty of medicine. In the mid-2000s it was kind of a whisper in the woods. But I was listening to that whisper.”

Listening but also initiating a business model in which he could spend quality time with patients offering care that wasn’t readily available in traditional areas of medicine was Dr. Bittorf’s mission.

“Lifestyle change is the best medicine your practitioner is not offering you right now… it’s the big elephant in the room. It’s not easy to do on your own, you have to have structured help,” he says.

Dr. Bittorf founded Green Bay Integrative Health (GBIH), a clinic devoted to “sharing extensive knowledge of integrative medicine for patients seeking an alternative approach to a variety of ailments, providing aesthetic and healthy aging services, and promoting health and wellness” in 2014 so he can be the person alongside you on your health journey.

An infusion of individualized, customized care

GBIH focuses on all facets of an individual’s health and implements a full array of alternative treatment options, including supplement care, food sensitivity and allergen testing, aesthetics (like Botox and Juvederm), general medicine, hormone replacement therapy and vitamin infusions to treat a variety of ailments and to prevent further medical intervention.

A wide range of conditions such as fibromyalgia, Lyme’s disease, ovarian and breast cancer, and chronic fatigue syndrome have been studied and shown to benefit from vitamin C. However, it’s not as simple as taking a pill each morning. The level of vitamin C absorbable by the body is 500 milligrams per day. GBIH provides infusions of up to 50,000 grams in one intravenous session.

“If you take (vitamin C) by mouth, you can only absorb so much into your bloodstream,” Dr. Bittorf explains. “Super high doses of it by vein transiently flow in the bloodstream. It does not cause illness to normal cells or to the individual, and for cancer cells, it induces something called hydrogen peroxide that kills those cells by taking advantage of their sensitivity to vitamin C.”

General vitamin deficiency, Dr. Bittorf says, is also a more common issue to contemplate than we might realize. Per the Center for Disease Control, 90 million Americans are deficient in vitamin D alone. This can contribute to symptoms of depression, seasonal affective disorder, obesity, cardiovascular disease, strokes, insulin metabolism being poor, and Alzheimer’s disease worsening.

Being mindful of our gut is also vital to our health.

“The bacteria in our gut secretes more serotonin that reaches our bloodstream than our whole brain makes in a single day,” Dr. Bittorf says. “If you have an unhealthy biome, you’re not getting that serotonin in your blood and could have sleep disturbance, mental health issues, skin rashes and joint inflammation.”

Education on vitamin deficiency and supplements is a large part of Green Bay Integrative Health’s care, and one Dr. Bittorf takes seriously. While he explains that the supplemental field is an unregulated industry often affecting the purity and concentration of ingredients, he’s found a medical-grade supplement company called XYMOGEN Nutriceuticals to ensure he and his patients know what they’re receiving in the form of vitamins.

“A lot of times people aren’t getting what they think they’re getting or in the right concentration... as your XYMOGEN Nutriceutical Practitioner, you will receive the highest quality formulas on the market and the best customer service in the industry... we care that you want safe, effective formulas on which you can rely. I am proud to be affiliated with a team helping to bring patients what they are searching for — better health and wellness.”

A healthy aging technology for men and women

Typical signs of aging include insomnia, hot flashes, muscle weakness, aches and pains in the joints, irritability, mood swings, mental fog, memory loss, and mild depression — for both men and women. They’re also clear signs of a decline in hormone levels. The replacement of hormones like testosterone, progesterone and estrogen can easily assuage such symptoms.

“Bioidentical hormone replacement therapy is very popular now, and it’s also very safe,” Dr. Bittorf says. “It’s effective in alleviating symptoms of menopause in women and andropause for men affecting people in their 30s, 40s, 50s and older. I have patients in their 80s.”

GBIH utilizes three hormone replacement therapy methods: body creams, lozenges for under the tongue and unique to Dr. Bittorf is pellet therapy in which hormone release from pellets is cardio-activated and delivers consistent, healthy levels of hormones for three to five months in women, and four to six months in men. Pellets avoid the fluctuations, or ups and downs, of hormone levels seen with other forms of delivery.

“It’s the cheapest most effective way to get hormone replacement therapy,” Dr. Bittorf says. The key to the pellet form is that it’s bioidentical, not synthetic. After a while it dissolves and disappears completely. (They) are compounded by an FDA-approved pharmacy into concentrated pellets the size of a grain of rice. The pellets are custom prescribed for each patient and implanted under the skin.

“It’s a healthy aging technology. People who have hormone replacement therapy have better cardiovascular health, better muscle strength and bone mass. When I’m 90 I’d like to do 50 pushups and a crossword puzzle and remember that I did both!

“Patients have told me I’ve saved their lives, and it gives me a really warm feeling. I get really attached to my patients because we see each other frequently and I know it’s making a difference. It’s about forming relationships, and it’s rewarding for me.” 

"My approach to medicine is based upon a model of health and wellness, as opposed to a model of disease. Whenever possible, integrative medicine favors the use of low-tech, low-cost interventions. I incorporate these techniques in every visit.” —Dr. Steven Bittorf

Green Bay Integrative Health

926 Willard Drive, Suite 236, Green Bay

920-489-8349 •

“Our deep respect for the land and its harvest is the legacy of generations of farmers who put food on our tables,preserved our landscape and inspired us with a powerful work ethic.” —James H. Douglas, Jr.

It’s no secret Nature’s Pathways has a real love for, and strong connection to, our community — its small businesses, local establishments and the people who make it so vibrant and happy. Among some of our favorite tradesmen and women are the local farmers who provide us with nutrient dense and delicious nourishment in the form of homegrown produce.

“Farm-to-table” has become all the buzz in the restaurant industry, but there’s an even more direct (and fun!) way to appreciate the art of the local farmer: participating in farm share programs, also known as Community Supported Agriculture (CSA).

What’s a CSA?

According to the FairShare CSA Coalition based in Madison, “(Community Supported Agriculture) is a partnership between farms and consumers that keeps independent businesses thriving, helps families eat seasonal, local produce, and charges farmers and consumers with the responsibility of building a strong, equitable food system.”

Members of the community subscribe to a local farm’s CSA program in the beginning of the growing season. In essence, one is buying a share of the farm. In Wisconsin, this typically starts in May and the season ends in mid-October. During a “subscription,” members receive weekly boxes of everything from produce, fruits, cheeses, eggs, meats, poultry, flowers and herbs. Each program is different and identifies its farm’s harvest. Either an established point of pickup or a delivery method will be distinguished.

A few of our favorite perks of joining a CSA farm share program include:

  • Eating seasonally with produce being at its freshest point, often harvested same day
  • Forming relationships with local farmers, knowing where our food is coming from
  • Environmentally friendly
  • Supporting an integral part of our community

This is just the beginning!

There’s so much more to say about CSAs and all they offer our community. The coming issues of Nature’s Pathways will include the difference between organic and nonorganic produce, a list of local farms and the farmer’s markets they participate in, perspectives from both farms and farm share program members and more!

We need your help!

Nature’s Pathways wants to highlight area farms that offer farm share programs to share the wealth of nourishment with our readers!

If you are a local farm that participates in farmer’s markets and/or offers a farm share program, and are interested in being featured in Nature’s Pathways, please email Karen at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.." target="_blank">This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.. 

Determining the nutritional value of certain foods can be a tricky business. Many foods can be enjoyed in moderation, and labeling them as “good” or “bad” might lead to negative connotations. In addition, food labels change from time to time as nutritionists and doctors learn more about nutrition and revise their opinions on certain items.

One food type that has remained off the bad foods radar for quite some time is protein. Protein sources are largely touted as the be-all and end-all in nutrition. But even seemingly infallible protein should be eaten in moderation, and even then only if the right sources of protein are selected.

Protein is an essential building block of good nutrition that is found throughout the body and makes up the enzymes that power many chemical reactions. Protein helps fuel the hemoglobin in the blood that carries oxygen throughout the body.

The Institute of Medicine recommends that adults get a minimum of 0.8 grams of protein for every kilogram of body weight per day (or 8 grams of protein for every 20 pounds of body weight. Physicians in the United States recommend a daily protein allowance of 46 grams for women over the age of 19 and 56 grams for men. Too often, however, people are overloading on protein because they think it’s a better option than carbohydrates and other food sources. But not all protein is the same.

Protein that comes from animal sources offer all of the amino acids a body needs. Unfortunately, some animal sources are less healthy than others. That’s because animal-based protein sources also contain saturated fat. Consuming too much saturated fat may contribute to elevated levels of LDL, or “bad,” cholesterol in the blood. LDL may lead to the formation of plaque in arteries that limits blood flow and may be a risk factor for heart disease. Fatty red meats and whole-milk products tend to contain more saturated fat than other protein sources.

The key when consuming protein is to find the right balance in protein sources. Fruits, vegetables, grains, nuts, and seeds may offer many of the required essential amino acids. The rest can be obtained by choosing smarter animal-based protein sources. Salmon and other fatty fish are good sources of protein and omega-3 fatty acids (heart-healthy fats) and are generally low in sodium. Lentils offer 18 grams of protein and ample fiber. Plus, these legumes have virtually no saturated fat.

When looking for healthy protein sources, consumers can opt for the following selections:

  • Salmon: Wild salmon may have greater nutritional value than farmed salmon thanks to the more diversified diet consumed by wild salmon.
  • Chicken: Chicken is generally lower in saturated fat than other animal protein sources. Opt for pasture-raised chicken for the greatest nutritional punch.
  • Greek yogurt: Greek yogurt provides ample protein and can contribute to feelings of fullness, making it a more worthy snack than less healthy snacking alternatives.
  • Shellfish: Shellfish includes clams, oysters, mussels, and snails. Shellfish are sources of animal protein that also happen to be full of iron, zinc, omega-3 fatty acids, and other nutrients.

Variety is the spice of life when it comes to protein sources. Eat different foods to ensure the body gets all of the nutrients it requires. 

Source: MetroCreative Connection.

Nurses wear many hats. In addition to tending to patients and helping families of patients, nurses incorporate the latest technologies into patients’ treatment. Some even work outside of hospitals and doctor’s offices to train the next generation of nurses.

Nursing has also branched out to include holistic nursing, which employs alternative medicine to care for patients. Alternative medicine is sometimes combined with traditional western medicine, requiring holistic nurses, who are sometimes referred to as “complementary health nurses,” understand both holistic and traditional nursing methods.

According to the Campaign for Nursing’s Future, sponsored by Johnson & Johnson, holistic nursing is rooted in the idea that nurses cannot treat a patient’s physical health without addressing the whole person. In addition to addressing their patients’ physical problems, holistic nurses will also try to address their patients’ mental, spiritual and emotional well-being.

Holistic nursing is a growing field, and it’s entirely possible that the role of holistic nurses will expand in the years to come.

Some of the things today’s holistic nurses do include:

  • Acupuncture
  • Assisting patients with managing stress
  • Aromatherapy
  • Massage
  • Hypnosis, hydrotherapy and balneotherapy
  • Chinese and Eastern healing practices
  • Wellness coaching

According to the American Holistic Nurses Association (AHNA), holistic nursing is not intended to negate the validity of conventional medical therapies, such as traditional nursing. Holistic nursing serves to complement, broaden and enrich the scope of nursing practices while aiming to help patients access their greatest healing potential.

The AHNA notes that holistic nurses must be registered and/or licensed. Such nurses may be found working at hospitals, universities and private practices.

Men and women interested in pursuing a career in nursing can learn more about holistic nursing at

Source: MetroCreative Connection.

Sciatica is severe pain in the leg caused from compression or irritation of the sciatic nerve. Chiropractic care can be very successful in removing the cause of sciatica and low back pain.

The sciatic nerve is the largest single nerve in the body and is made up of individual nerve roots that start by branching out from the spine in the lower back and then combine to form the “sciatic nerve.” Sciatica symptoms occur when the large sciatic nerve is irritated or compressed at or near its point of origin. One of the most common causes of sciatica is Vertebral Subluxation Complex (malfunction of tissues caused by impairment of nerve function that results from restriction of normal motion or from abnormal position of spinal segments), which can also be accompanied by a bulging or herniated disc. This can put pressure on the sciatic nerve roots as they exit the spinal openings. This can cause intense pain shooting down one or both legs.

Treatment can range from pain medication, cortisone injections, muscle relaxers, physical therapy or even surgery. The chiropractic approach is to use carefully directed and controlled pressure to remove the interference from the spinal structure and is called a chiropractic adjustment. Chiropractic adjustments can be quite effective in reducing the irritation to the sciatic nerve and its associated pain.

Sciatica, like other health problems that can be traced to the spine, often respond dramatically to the restoration of the normal spinal function through chiropractic care. If you are dealing with leg pain or back issues, contact our office to relieve your pain the natural way. 

Conventional wisdom suggests buying a home makes more financial sense than renting. In many cases, this is true. However, renting is sometimes a smarter approach than buying.

As with any financial decision, all of the options and circumstances need to be weighed before jumping in. Making a major purchase requires doing your homework. The following are some reasons why renting can be more beneficial than buying.

You are young. The National Association of Realtors says the typical first-time home buyer is 31-years-old. People who are younger than that and uncertain about their futures should not feel pressured into buying simply because it is presumed to be the “adult” thing to do. Renting and feeling your financial way, which can include seeing how a job pans out or where your budget lies after paying off debts, might make more financial sense than buying.

The price-to-rent ratio is too high. Buying may seem like a wise idea, but it could be causing you to spend more than necessary, particularly if you check the price-to-rent ratio and find homes in your area are not fairly priced. Figuring a P/R ratio includes finding two similar houses (or condos or apartments) where one is for sale and the other is for rent. Divide the sale price of the first place by the annual rent for the second. The end result is the P/R ratio. So if a home sells for $300,000, and there is a house around the corner renting for $1,200 a month, divide $300,000 by $14,400 (the annual cost of renting). The ratio would be 20.8. A rent ratio above 20 means the cost of home ownership will exceed the cost of renting. The higher the P/R ratio, the more sense it makes to rent instead of buy.

Home prices continue to rise. Some people find themselves being priced out of certain neighborhoods or cities. RealtyTrac recently analyzed median wage and home-price growth between 2012 and 2014, ultimately finding that, while the typical worker’s earnings increased a meager 0.3 percent during the study period, median house prices were up by 17 percent. Wages have not recovered from the Great Recession as quickly as home prices have, and some people may need to rent out of necessity.

A market shortage makes it harder to find an affordable home. The number of homes available for sale in many areas of the country has fallen below the number that realtors say is required for the market to be in balance. Therefore, even when a home becomes available, demand drives the price up to where it may not be affordable or fiscally smart to purchase. In such instances, renting may be the best option.

You don’t meet the buying criteria. Don’t buy a home based on market conditions or pressure from others. Instead, buy when you’re financially ready. This means being out of debt; having between three and six months of expenses in an emergency fund; enough cash for a 10 to 20 percent down payment on a fixed mortgage; and when your mortgage payment will be no more than 25 percent of your monthly take-home pay, according to financial expert Dave Ramsay.

Renting can be a smart move in many instances. Only when individuals are financially and emotionally ready to buy should they begin searching for their first homes. 

Source: MetroCreative Connection.

Most licorice root grows in Greece, Turkey, and Asia. Anise oil is often used instead of licorice root to flavor licorice candy.

Centuries ago, licorice root was used in Greece, China, and Egypt for stomach inflammation and upper respiratory problems. Licorice root also has been used as a sweetener.

Today, people use licorice root as a dietary supplement for digestive problems, menopausal symptoms, cough, and bacterial and viral infections. People also use it as a shampoo.

Licorice is harvested from the plants’ roots and underground stems. Licorice supplements are available as capsules, tablets, and liquid extracts.

How much do we know?

A number of studies of licorice root in people have been published, but not enough to support the use for any specific health condition.

What have we learned?

Glycyrrhizin — a compound found in licorice root — has been tested in a few clinical trials in hepatitis C patients, but there’s currently not enough evidence to determine if it’s helpful. Laboratory studies done in Japan (where an injectable glycyrrhizin compound is used in people with chronic hepatitis C who do not respond to conventional treatment) suggest that glycyrrhizin may have some effect against hepatitis C.

There’s some evidence that topical licorice extract may improve skin rash symptoms, such as redness, swelling, and itching.

A Finnish study of mothers and their young children suggested that eating a lot of actual licorice root during pregnancy may harm a child’s developing brain, leading to reasoning and behavioral issues, such as attention problems, rule-breaking, and aggression.

Studies of licorice root extracts in people for cavities, mouth ulcers, and oral yeast infections have returned mixed results.

What do we know about safety?

In large amounts and with long-term use, licorice root can cause high blood pressure and low potassium levels, which could lead to heart and muscle problems. Some side effects are thought to be due to a chemical called glycyrrhizic acid. Licorice that has had this chemical removed (called DGL for deglycyrrhizinated licorice) may not have the same degree of side effects.

Taking licorice root containing glycyrrhizinic acid with medications that reduce potassium levels such as diuretics might be bad for your heart.

Pregnant women should avoid using licorice root as a supplement or consuming large amounts of it as food.

Tell all your health care providers about any complementary or integrative health approaches you use. Give them a full picture of what you do to manage your health. This will help ensure coordinated and safe care.

Source: Herbs at a Glance.

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