Woman drinking tea

There's a Tea For That

You decide to do the afternoon date. You’re really not that sure about this guy, or gal, so you want to meet at a neutral place.  You decide that no alcohol should be involved and that this not to be an expensive place.  A costly dinner may leave you feeling beholden to him/her and you want to be prepared to split the check if necessary.  He/she suggests a trendy tea house in your neighborhood. You will meet there.

You arrive at the place.  He/she asks you what you would like. You look up at the menu and are horrified.  There are at least 50  different brands of tea and you haven’t heard of half of them.  What do you do?  If you order the plain tea, will you appear too boring, not enough of a risk taker, or should you order something you never heard of? Will he/she think you want to dive into bed with him/her If you order something too exotic? What will your tea say about you? What if you order something you hate  and have to “accidentally” spill it when he/she goes to the restroom?  Well, have no fear.  Here is a small guide to the different types of tea and their benefits.

Black Tea
Making up about 75 % of all tea consumption, black tea is made from the leaves of the”camellia sinensis” plant, which are rolled and fermented.  It has a slightly bitter flavor and contains the most caffeine, about 40 mgs a cup. (May not want to have too much on the first date.)  It is packed with antioxidants called theaflavins and thearubigans which can lower cholesterol.  Research shows that drinking three of more cups of black tea will reduce the risk of a stroke by 21%.

Green Tea
Because the leaves used in green tea are heat treated and dried right after they are picked, the fermentation process is halted.  This gives it a more delicate flavor than black tea.  Green tea contains about 25 mgs of caffeine per cup.  Perhaps most commonly associated with health benefits, green tea contains catechins known to ward off everything from cancer to heart disease.  A daily cup can lower the risk of cardiovascular disease by 10%.

oolong tea

Oolong Tea
Fermented for a shorter time than black tea, oolong tea has a richer taste.  It has about 30 mgs of caffeine per cup and may aid in weight loss and contains an enzyme that dissolves dietary fat.  One study showed that women who drank oolong tea burned slightly more calories over a 2 hr period than those who drank water.  (Got your new workout routine?)

White Tea
White tea has a mild flavor and less caffeine than other varieties, about 15 mgs. It does wonders for the cardiovascular  system, fights cancer and may help people with diabetes, improving glucose tolerance and reducing bad cholesterol.  FYI:  Loose tea may contain more antioxidants than tea in bags.

Flavored Tea
Yum! Flavored tea generally has the health flavors of the others, but if flavored with superfruits, like blueberries (Blueberry tea?  Anyone had this?) may have even more antioxidants.  But, a word to the wise, skip the bottled varieties.  They notoriously contain extra sugar and are watered down, reducing the health benefits.

So, now that you know the skinny, what will you choose?  Which type of tea are you?  Let us know!

Woman sweating after a jog

Say No To Heat Related Emergencies

Is it getting hot in here?  Survey says, “It’s getting hot in here.”  Although summertime is a great time for freedom and the great outdoors, there are a few days when even the most dedicated athlete or worker needs to take a break.  When temperatures in the body reach 104 degrees F or higher, cellular damage from the heat will start to occur after about 30 minutes. Since 1979 the death rate from heat-related causes is 0.5 per one million.  But by taking the proper steps, we can get that number down to zero.

Children In Hot Vehicles
It’s tough to be a parent.  You can’t leave children at home alone and babysitters are expensive, but sometimes you need to leave the house.  Small children require extra schlepping.  Even if there is not a stroller involved, there is the carrying, holding hands, and constant urging to walk faster and not to veer into oncoming pedestrians or vehicular traffic.  Then, once the child  is in the store, there is always the possibility that they will stray or find some product that they just can’t live without, hence the unavoidable meltdown.  It is so  tempting to leave them in the car, walk in the store come out and be done with it.  But beware, long lines and indecision could often cause the time you spend in the store to grow, and the more time in the store, the more dangerous it becomes for the child.  And keep in mind, a car can reach 110 degrees even if temperatures are in the 60’s.

Work
We all need to make the rent at the end of the day and, for many of us, taking days is not an option. Workers that work in a hot environment are prime candidates for heat illnesses and injuries.  Heat  can also cause occupational hazards, like when safety glasses get fogged up or sweaty palms cause a loose grip of tools and machinery.  Highest at risk are firefighters, construction workers, miners, and bakery workers among others. Workers over 65 or who are overweight or have high blood pressure are more at risk than others.

Woman sweating

Athletes
The American Health Association advises that the average person gets 4 hours of cardio a week.  Many of us see this as a point of no contention.  They will religiously aim to do a minimum of exercise weekly or daily and may claim to not “feel right” if they don’t.  It is true, that exercise can become addictive. Some miss the rise in endorphins, some miss the routine. The same can be said of athletes.  In blind dedication to a sport or dream, many athletes may push themselves to play and train on days when it is better not to. People exercising in a hot environment are among the most prone to heat exhaustion. There were 5 player deaths in America from 1931 and 1958.  There were 103 player deaths in America between 1960-2000.  Heat exhaustion rates are highest for athletes who play high school football.

What Can We Do?
Don’t make the mistake of trying to do too much on the first hot days of the year.  Do a portion of what you need to and take a break; your body will build up a naturals resistance.Keep yourself hydrated, and skip the alcohol. Do not leave children, elderly people or pets alone in a parked car.  Use cool compresses and keep physical activity to a minimum.  Symptoms of heat exhaustion include paleness, nausea, headache, muscle cramps and heavy sweating.  If you see someone exhibiting these signs, move them to a cooler area and get medical assistance.  There is a 100% chance survival rate for heat exhaustion when proper treatment is given.

Woman buying sandals in a shoe store

Flat Sandals And Foot Health

Marilyn Monroe once famously said, “Give the girl the right shoe and she can conquer the world.” I hardly think this is disputable. From time immortal, women have had seemingly unnatural relationships with their shoes. But most of the time, when we speak of these obsessions, high heels come to mind. Unfortunately, heels have their limitations. They make our legs look fabulous, but by the end of the day, the agonized looks on our faces might scare away all comers no matter how fab our gams look. Let’s face it! We need our flats. Six-inch stilettos may be just the thing in the nightclub, but not so much for the supermarket (although I have never seen Beyonce at Ralph’s.) But, that’s okay. There are some really cute and cheap flats right? Ballet flats, flip-flops, jelly shoes and sandals are really fashionable for that sexy comfortable Sunday afternoon look. In fact, even Victoria Beckham, who once said,”I can’t concentrate in heels”, was spotted wearing brogues at the start of the summer. So, it’s a win-win right? Comfort and fashion. Wrong!

According to Dr. Nichola Dunne, director of Douglas Orthotics, “People think that they are doing the right thing by wearing flats, but they don’t realize how much damage they can cause.” Although they may be better for our balance, flats have no arch support, fastening straps or shock absorbing materials. They can cause friction to the heel , Achilles tendon, and toes that can lead to blisters and callouses, and, commonly cause flat feet. In addition, the damage may not stop may not stop at the ankle Back, hip and knee pain are often attributed to wearing flats.

Plantar Fascitis
You may have heard about this on late night infomercials. Plantar fascitis is the swelling of the tissue that runs between the heel and the foot. It can be caused by weight gain or, you guessed it, unsupportive footwear. The HSE estimates that this condition affects one-tenth of the population. Says Dunne,”Each September, every second person who comes into the clinic has plantar fascists after spending the summer in sandals or flip flops.” (Are you regretting all those sandals sitting in your closet waiting to be worn?)

What Can You Do?
Buy your shoes in the afternoon. Your feet may be a little swollen from daily activity and will give you a more accurate expectation of how your shoes will fit on a daily basis. Stretch calf muscles daily to avoid tendonitis and try rolling a ball under your foot to relieve pain. And as for choosing our shoes, is there any middle ground? Should we ship out all our sandals to the Salvation Army, or is that too cruel? Chris McCarthy ,manager of Foot Solutions says, ” Not all flats are bad. A good shoe should have a cushioned base and be shaped to support the arches….The heel counter…behind your heels , needs to be solid and not tilt in or out. Proper shoes will support the heel bone to keep the foot flat and prevent pain.” And NO FLIP FLOPS!! According to the experts, these are an orthopedic disaster. They can cause pain, permanent damage to your toes, screw up your posture, slow you down, expose your feet to infection and could be made of toxic materials. In other words, if you are looking forward to walking comfortably for the rest of your life, avoid these at all costs.

So go forth, choose wisely and have fun conquering the world!

Carefree woman lying on grass

What to Wear During a Heatwave

“It is times like these, that great heaven knows, that we wish we had, not so many clothes.”  So begins the 1980’s pop summer hit,  now cult classic, “Strip,” by Adam and the Ants.  Remember it or not, on hot days, it is definitely an appropriate mantra and a fashion dilemma.  Yes, it is all well and good for those of us who have he luxury of baring it all on a daily basis, but unfortunately, most of us have to maintain some modicum of propriety.  So what do we do? How should we dress on days in which we really don’t want to dress at all?

Shoes
Sure sandals and flip-flops are easy and great, but, let’s face it, our feet aren’t always our best assets and open shoes are often not the best office look.  Luckily, canvas espadrilles are a stylish alternative, as are backless mules and flip flops. And be aware, smart pedestrian, foot discomfort is more common in the hot weather, as sweat causes friction that can lead to blisters.  Invisible ballerina socks are good summertime investments and you may want to rub some Vaseline on the backs of your shoes.

Undies
Although some of us will chose to forego the undershirt in especially hot weather, keep in mind that in may be your best weapon against sweat patches.  Your best bet is a t-shirt rather than a sleeveless, which will not guard against armpit leakage and grey or pearl colors are the least likely to show through white material. Ladies who are concerned with concealing the errant bra strap may want to consider a clip in strap converter or multiway bra.

Woman wearing a pink top and shorts

Materials
Textured fabrics such as seersucker, linen and cotton are good summertime choices.  They only touch parts of your skin, allowing air to get in.  When buying cotton tees, aim for quality to avoid looking too casual.  Pair them with loose fitting skirts or baggy pants or culottes for a professional summer look.  If you feel you look too “beachy”  accessorize with killer shoes and purse.

Accessories
The only hat you want to wear is a straw one which will provide shade while allowing air to get through.  Most of our body heat escapes through our heads, so trendy as they might be, ski hats and baseball caps may be figuratively cool, but they are literally quite the opposite.  A blazer is a good move for covering up those sweat patches, but leave the lined ones at home.  Silk, satin and polyester, most commonly used for lining suit jackets, make it notoriously difficult for skin to breath.  A bandanna in the back pocket is a good idea for a quick rubdown and, if you really want to get a leg up on the rest of us, you can pick up a hand held fan.  Also, consider keeping a spritzer handy. Apply sunscreen regularly.  Wear light colors.  Look hot, keep cool.

Woman biting nails

Handy Habits

Idle hands are the devil’s playground. Could any expression ring more true? And not just in the figurative sense…anxiety and boredom can often lead to habits like nail biting, thumb sucking, knuckle cracking and more. But how bad are these habits really? And what can we do to stop them?

Thumb sucking is probably the earliest of these habits to develop and often stops as a child gets older but sometimes can last into adulthood. “Thumb sucking is an appropriate and useful behavior for young children,” says Linda Goldstein, MD, a Washington pediatrician. “It allows them to comfort and entertain themselves.” The habit may last beyond infancy and dwindle in preschool years but if it lasts to kindergarten age, parents may begin to get concerned. Children who suck their thumbs may begin to get teased at this age. It can also lead to dental problems like a minor to severe overbite. Prolonged finger sucking can cause chapped skin, calluses and fingernail infections.

Sabine Hack, MD, assistant professor of psychiatry at New York University School of Medicine recommends using poster board and stickers to make a progress chart of your child’s thumb sucking, offering rewards for abstaining. Other remedies may include placing a bitter tasting liquid on the child’s finger, especially at night, to remind him not to suck.

Nail biting is another habit that usually starts at childhood. It can continue into adolescence and even adulthood. Nail biting has many unfavorable consequences. It can leave fingers red and sore. The area of skin around your nail can bleed and become infected as bacteria passes from your fingers to your mouth. It can also lead to misaligned and weakened teeth.

Experts recommend coating your nails with bitter tasting nail polish to discourage you from biting. Other treatments include keeping nails trimmed short so there is less nail to bite and getting regular manicures to make you hesitant to bite your nails, making them appear unattractive. Alternate techniques for stress management like yoga and meditation are also suggested.

The final habit we will be looking at is knuckle cracking. This habit is a bit controversial due to the long time debate of whether or not knuckle cracking can lead to arthritis. Many studies have been conducted to this end including one done by the researchers at the Uniformed Services University of Health Sciences. This study showed that the chances of arthritis is pretty much the same in those who crack their knuckles and those who do not. However, in at least one study, chronic joint popping was shown to lead to inflammation and weakened hand grip. This could be countered by the stimulation of the Golgi tendon organs which is the result of the joints being manipulated. This leads to a “loose” and invigorated feeling.

Those who are looking to break the habit of knuckle cracking may want to think about putting band aids on their knuckles or a rubber band around their wrist to remind them to stop. You can also replace the habit with something else, like stretching your hands or snapping your fingers. Rewards systems and alternate relaxation therapies are recommended as well.

Woman applying nail oil

Healing Cuticle Damage

There’s no doubt about! Nails are all the rage! With all the nail trends that have emerged and continue to emerge in the coming season, a stylish manicure is becoming as necessary a fashion accessory as a great pair of shoes. But bad habits, natural elements and even certain manicures can cause cuticle damage that can seriously put a damper on putting your best finger forward. Well, never fear, because here are a few tips on how to heal cuticle damage and get those nails in shape for the upcoming season.

Treatments for damaged cuticles vary from simple creams to surgical treatments depending on the severity of the damage. “If you’ve been biting your fingernails or yanked off a hang nail, taking care of the issue may not be any more difficult than treating a minor cut,” says health journalist Elizabeth Whitmore. She recommends simply putting hydrogen peroxide and a bandage over the affected area.

More serious cuticle damage can include infections, commonly known as paronychia. These can be caused by bacteria, fungus or yeast and manifest as soreness and occasionally puss-filled blisters. Treatment for these infections usually involve soaking of the affected area in warm water and taking antibiotics, but occasionally surgery is necessary. If you suspect your finger is infected, it is best to see a doctor for proper medical attention.

Another source of cuticle damage is dry skin which can result in cracked and peeling cuticles. “When skin dries out, your cuticles lose natural fats that help keep them soft”, notes Whitmore. Treatment for this kind of damage includes cuticle creams which have fats and oils to help replace those you’ve lost. Other tips for dry, cracked cuticles includes Beauty blogger Nicole Quinn’s recommendation of applying Neosporin to cracked cuticles, covering them with band-aids and leaving them on while sleeping for an overnight transformation. Bobbie Brown recommends soaking hands in warm olive oil for five minutes while massaging the oil into your fingernails.

Of course, the best way to solve the problem of damaged cuticles is to prevent them from happening in the first place. You can save yourself a whole lot of pain, time and money by following some simple cuticle care tips.  These include the following:

  • Wear gloves in cold weather and while washing dishes
  • Don’t bite or pick your nails
  • Moisturize
  • Avoid rough manicures
  • Use acetone free nail polish removers
  • Avoid cutting your cuticles

Maintaining a healthy diet can also make nails strong and resistant to damage. Vitamins A, B, C, E, zinc and calcium are all recommended for healthy nails. Foods rich in these vitamins include citrus fruits, dairy products, bananas, lean meats, and leafy green vegetables. Caffeine and alcohol should be avoided as they can diminish the amount of vitamin A in the body. Cutex recommends their Quick and Gentle Nail Polish Remover Nourishing with Vitamin E.

If your nails are looking rough and peeling, it may be time to explore these options and start taking these steps for a healthier you, not to mention a beautiful manicured look.

Clean hands with French manicure

Dare To Go Bare

Nail polish is so attractive and there are so many trendy manicure options now, it’s hard to think of taking time off to let our nails go bare for a while. However, keeping polish on nails for a prolonged period of time can be doing our nails harm. Find out how your nails might be suffering the effects of being constantly polished and what you can do about it.

Many of us have heard of the benefits of leaving polish off to let nails ‘breathe’. The reality is, nails don’t actually need to breathe, as they receive nutrients and oxygen from the blood stream, not the air. However, leaving polish on can lead to keratin granulation. “These are white, rough patches on the nail that form when the polish is removed along with the superficial layers of nail cells,” explains certified dermatologist and nail specialist Dana Stern. Stern goes on to explain that these are caused by trauma to the nail matrix. The granulations do grow out over time but can result in permanent damage to the matrix that can lead to nail alteration.

Foot specialist Joy Rowland expands on this theory. “The danger with keeping your nail polish on too long is that the pigment in the nail polish can soak into the top few layers of the nail and dry it out,” says Rowland. When that happens, mildew, yeast, mold and bacteria can develop under the nail plate which can lead to long term problems. Rowland recommends leaving polish off and trying to keep feet dry to promote healing. She also recommends rubbing the nail beds with vitamin E.

Nail polish remover can also be dangerous to the nails. Dermatologists simplify the science behind this by comparing nails to tiles on a roof. “These tiles are made of protein, specifically keratin, just like our hair. These cells are very delicate and can become damaged with prolonged exposure to certain chemicals,” says Stern. One of these chemicals is acetone, commonly found in nail polish remover. Acetone can dry out the keratin cells that make up the nail plate causing them to separate, split, peel and break.

Obviously, it is a good idea to take breaks between manicures and let nails go bare. A few weeks with nail polish on, and then a few weeks with bare nails is the recommended procedure. Here are some other helpful hints for keeping nails healthy:

  • Always wear a protective base coat. This will keep nails from yellowing.
  • Take biotin and vitamins to keep nails healthy.
  • Use gloves while doing housework.
  • Keep nails trim and buff them lightly in one direction.
  • Don’t peel your nail polish. This will make the cells on your nails grow in a slanted direction and weaken them.
  • Rub oil into nails to seal in moisture.
  • Avoid overexposure to water and alcohol (which can be found in hand sanitizers).
Woman lighting up a fire

The Basics of Camping Safety

Many of us prefer to keep our entertainment vanilla.  We like to have a little fun, as long as it does not involve bears, bugs, rock climbing and the possibility of losing the signal on our cell phones.  But, for those of us that are a little more willing to break out of our comfort zone, camping can be a very attractive prospect.  I mean, just think of how cost efficient it is:  no expensive hotel room, no overpriced meals, no shopping mall.  And what about the health benefits? Just you and your significant others, sucking up that vitamin D, exercising, and communing with nature, snuggling by the fire, shedding those pesky extra pounds.  Sounding more attractive?  Definitely.  But before you pack your fishing poles and rucksacks, there are a few things you should know about keeping safe on your camping trip.

First, let’s talk about mealtime.  Make sure you bring along safe food and water.  Pack your foods in tight waterproof bags and containers, none of that cracked Tupperware you’ve been eating out of those past few months.  Keep edibles in an insulated cooler and out of the way of any animal or insect invaders. Always have clean hands; you may want to pack some of that delightful vanilla scented sanitizer you found at the 99Cent Store.  Separate cooked food from raw , chill foods promptly to avoid rot and cook foods to the proper temperature.  You may want to bring a food thermometer- make sure those sliders are cooked to an even 160. And while you’re cooking, no fuel-burning  equipment in an enclosed shelter. Gas stoves, heaters, and lanterns all have the potential to cause carbon monoxide poisoning inside a tent.

Woman drinking hot coffee

Aside from the temperature of your food, you may also want to pay attention to your own temperature.  Hypothermia is a very real danger associated with camping.  Be sure to bring enough clothing and bedding to stay warm.  Also, be sure to keep hydrated against the heat by drinking plenty of alcohol-free and sugar-free liquids.  And layer up!  Temperatures can be very high during the day when camping and very low at night. Be prepared to strip or bundle up as necessary, but don’t strip down too much. To fight the bite,  and to keep protected against UV rays, keep your body covered. But console yourselves, nudists, even though you may have to leave the scanty clothes at home, think of how sexy you will look in your sunglasses and a wide-brimmed hat.  Are you channeling Sophia Vergara in the soft drink commercials?  Also, use a sunscreen and lip screen with at least SPF 15 and don’t forget the insect repellant.

So what else should you bring?  You should have a compass or GPS, first aid kit, flashlight, map, some batteries and medications.  Check the weather report, know who you can talk to at the camp if questions arise.  Sound like a tall order?  Maybe.  But if done correctly, camping can be a very rewarding experience.  Go forward without fear.  Just do your homework first.  You’ll come back looking great and feeling invincible!

Woman sleeping in a mosquito net

Repelling Disease Carrying Bugs

When we were little, our first Barbies were often international travelers.  We would dress her smartly in a two-piece suit with just the right amount of sexy and put her in some killer pumps, accessorize her with suitcase and briefcase and off she would go to catch her international flight.  In many scenarios, Barbie would jet set to some tropical location where she would be involved in Bond-esque scenarios, all of which she would able to navigate her way into and out of smoothly, emerging with Ken on her arm and her suit as fresh and pristine as it had been before she left. We really should have warned her about the bugs!!

Unfortunately, no matter how romantic and appealing traveling to other countries may seem, it is not without its dangers,  with insect carrying bugs,  namely mosquitoes and ticks, at the top of the list.  But, if you are well informed and well prepared, about how these  critters operate, you can greatly lower your chances of being bitten.

The first thing you should do is to try and avoid regions that are known to be hot spots for disease transmission.  Tropical regions are most commonly cited,  but be sure to check the CDC Travelers Health Website for updates on regional outbreaks.  But assuming you can’t avoid the mosquitoes doesn’t mean you can’t outsmart them.  Find out when  peak biting times are and try to stay inside during these hours and avoid vegetated areas where ticks and chiggers can be found.

Sorry, fashionistas, but if you’re planning on heading to the tropics you may not want to plan on packing those sleeveless numbers.  As alluring as the thought of bearing it all on a tropical island may be,  it may not be the most advisable. The CDC recommends that you minimize the areas of exposed skin by wearing long sleeves, pants, boots and hats and make sure you tuck ’em in.  Shirts in pants, pants in socks, closed shoes.  Just remember:  Confidence makes you beautiful!! Also, while your dressing, it may be a good idea to spritz your duds with permethrin repellents for extra protection.  This will last through many washes.

Bed nets.  Now this one, we quite like.  Haven’t you often thought them to resemble sexy little canopies.  Make sure they reach the floor of are tucked under mattresses to seal the buggers out.  They should be pretreated with a pyrethroid insecticide for best results.  Pretreated nets are available for purchase and can last for several months if they are not washed.

Regrettably, when it comes to using repellents, there are environmental issues to consider.  Most of what is toxic to insects is, consequently, harmful to the environment.  However there are a few EPA registered products that have been proven to reduce bug bites.  DEET, picardin, oil of lemon eucalyptus (OLE) or PMD, ad IR3535 are all recommended.  It should be noted that the first two are known as “conventional repellents” and OLE PMD and IR3535 are known as “biopesticide repellents”, derived from natural materials.

So, if an international flight is on your calendar, do not be deterred!  Just think of Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt in Africa.  They did noble work and managed to keep free of disease and looked great doing it ! If they can do it, so can you!

Woman applying ointment

Beware of These Poisonous Vines and Shrubs

Ah, hiking.  The wonder of nature, the beautiful sunsets, the communing with nature, a time for solitude and reflection.  A time for…..poisonous plants?  That’s a buzz killer.  How many have set off with the idealistic, romantic notions of transcendence, only to return with oozing blisters or nausea?  Well, don’t be daunted, Nature Boy or Girl.  An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure!  Just be prepared and learn to recognize the culprits, so you too can come home as beautiful and comfortable as you deserve to be.

First, let’s discuss the most notorious of the toxic plants: poison ivy, probably one of the most infamous threats to the common hiker. But take heart! Contrary to popular belief, if you merely touch this plant, it does not necessarily guarantee  an outbreak. This is because it is not the leaf of the ivy that is  poisonous, but  the sap, which is normally found only on the broken and bruised leaves. If you do not come into contact with the sap, you may be spared. Poison ivy can be identified by its three glossy,oval leaflets, ranging from 3/4″ to 4″ long.  It tends to be green in the summer, but changes to shades of yellow orange and red in the fall.

If you are exposed, symptoms, unfortunately, are not pretty. (Did you imagine they would be?)  Swollen, red, itchy skin and blisters can all pop up six hours to two weeks after exposure.  Seek relief with calamine lotion, cool baths and antibiotics to prevent infection.

A close cousin to poison ivy, poison sumac is  larger, ranging from five to twenty feet.  It will appear in the summer bearing green leaves, green flowers and white fruit.  In the fall, the plant will become very rich in color, with hues ranging from yellow to scarlet. (Sadly, as we are all too aware, it is often the most attractive ones that prove the most harmful).  Avoid all contact with this pretty poison, just brushing up against it will bring the symptoms associated with poison ivy.  Treat with antihistamines and oral and topical steroids.

Stinging nettles

The Stinging Nettles. Is there a punk rock band by this name? Stinging nettles are as unpleasant as their name would suggest.  Bearing triangular leaves which get smaller as they climb the stem, these plants grow from 3-6 and 1/2 feet tall and have leaves with linear bumps, but, the easiest way to identify them is by their green flowers, brown fruit and, you guessed it, stinging hairs. If these hairs break your skin, prepare for redness and severe itching. On the bright side, however, the symptoms are brief and can be effectively treated with a paste of water and baking soda.

Remember Socrates?  The character from the history books who was always asking questions?  Died from drinking hemlock juice?  Well, unless you want to end up like him, avoid this dangerous plant.  Although its flowers resemble parsnips or carrots , hemlock is probably the last thing you want to eat.  If ingested, it can cause nausea, vomiting, confusion, muscle paralysis and respiratory problems.  Head for the emergency room if this gets into your stomach.

But heroes and heroines of the outdoor, don’t let these evil plants keep you down! After all, where would Indiana Jones or Jane Goodall be today if they were scared of a little poison ivy?  He who dares wins. So just put on those long pants and keep the first aid on hand and get out there! Knowledge is power!