The Benefits and Downside of CBD Oil

As natural remedies go, hemp – and its more potent cousin, marijuana – have been used to treat a variety of illnesses for thousands of years. That’s thousands – in fact, hemp is one of the fastest- growing plants, and was grown commercially by George Washington, Thomas Jefferson and other founding fathers. It also was one of the first plants to be spun into usable fiber 10,000 years ago.

Industrial hemp, typically found in the northern hemisphere, is a strain of the Cannabis sativa plant species. And while well known and popular in eastern cultures for its healing properties, U.S. Federal laws aimed at curbing the use and sale of marijuana and Cannabis plant derivatives have restrained the popularity of these medicinal potions in many U.S. states. But now, as the sale of marijuana and products containing THC (Tetrahydrocannabinol) is becoming legal (for medicinal and recreational use), there is a bounty of options available to consumers.

THC is one of at least 113 cannabinoids identified in cannabis, but is the principal psychoactive constituent of cannabis – the product that produces the euphoric “high” that people enjoy. But it’s also used for treating a variety of illnesses and diseases, for pain relief, and for behavioral mental health treatments.

The use of CBD-based oils, lotions and ingestible products is now legal in many states that have not legalized recreational marijuana use, including Connecticut (which has legalized the use of medical marijuana only). Marijuana contains both THC and CBD, and these compounds have different effects. Unlike THC, CBD is not psychoactive. This means that CBD does not change a person’s state of mind when they use it. However, products marketed as CBD oil may contain THC, though these only are available through state-sanctioned and taxed dispensaries, or can be obtained, often illegally, through mail-order and black-market sites.

The Advantages of Using CBD Oil

According to the Institute of Medicine of The National Academies, 100 million Americans live with chronic pain. Along with drastically reducing quality of life, chronic pain can increase healthcare costs and have a negative impact on productivity at work. So, any natural remedy is bound to draw a lot of attention.

CBD, or cannabidiol oil, contains CBD and often other active compounds in a carrier oil. There are a number of forms of CBD oil, including softgel capsules, tinctures, and under-the-tongue sprays. Some forms of CBD oil can also be applied directly to the skin, in the form of products like creams and salves. The concentration of CBD varies from product to product.

For many people experiencing chronic pain, CBD has steadily gained popularity as a natural approach to pain relief. Cannabidiol is sometimes touted as an alternative to pain medication in the treatment of common conditions like arthritis and back pain.

The use of cannabis for pain relief dates back to ancient China. It’s thought that CBD oil might help ease chronic pain in part by reducing inflammation. In addition, CBD oil is said to promote sounder sleep and, in turn, treat sleep disruption commonly experienced by people with chronic pain. Emerging research shows that endocannabinoids may play a role in regulating such functions as memory, sleep and mood, as well as metabolic processes like energy balance. In addition, CBD oil may help improve a variety of health conditions including stress, which exacerbates high blood pressure.

As its popularity has grown, so has the hype, and the marketing mania – CBD is promoted by some as a miracle oil that, among other cures, can shrink tumors, quell seizures, and ease chronic pain. Cannabinoid-laced drugs have been approved by the Federal Drug Administration for treatment of epileptic seizures, and moderate doses of CBD are mildly energizing.

But very high doses of CBD may trigger a biphasic effect, meaning it can produce two different results; the CBD-rich cannabis flower produces sedative and painkilling properties. CBD is not intrinsically sedating, but it may help to restore better sleeping patterns by reducing anxiety.

Industrial hemp typically contains far less cannabidiol than high-resin CBD-rich cannabis flower tops. Huge amounts of industrial hemp are required to extract a small amount of CBD, thereby raising the risk of contaminants because hemp is a “bio-accumulator” that draws toxins from the soil. But plant breeders are now focusing on developing high-resin cannabis varietals (marijuana) that satisfy the legal criteria for industrial hemp – with THC measuring less than 0.3 percent and CBD levels exceeding 10 percent by dry weight.

That may seem like too much technical information, but it’s all to point out that there are a lot of CBD-based potions now on the market that may have some medicinal benefits, and many that won’t. Because CBD oil products are mostly unregulated, there’s no guarantee that any given product contains a safe or effective level of CBD. In fact, a study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association in 2017 found that nearly 70 percent of all CBD products sold online are incorrectly labeled, and could cause serious harm to consumers. Some CBD oils may also contain incorrectly labeled amounts of THC and other compounds.

Some research indicates that the use of CBD oil may trigger a number of side effects, including anxiety, changes in appetite and mood, diarrhea, dizziness, drowsiness, dry mouth and nausea or vomiting. There’s also some concern that the use of CBD oil may lead to increased levels of liver enzymes (a marker of liver damage or inflammation).

However, on a more positive note, researchers are now finding that CBD may help treat generalized anxiety disorder, panic disorder, social anxiety disorder, obsessive-compulsive disorder, and post-traumatic stress disorder, and also is useful in combating addictions to tobacco products and even to THC itself. CBD also may have moderate pain-relieving effects for neuropathic pain without the cannabinoid-like side effects. However, there is currently a lack of proper trials and research confirming these effects.

The bottom line is that if you’re thinking of using CBD oil to treat a health problem (and it is legal where you live), make sure to consult your healthcare provider first to discuss whether it’s appropriate for you, and to ensure that the product you buy is truly beneficial.

Be sure to check out the CBIA Healthy Connections wellness program at your company’s next renewal. It’s free as part of your participation in CBIA Health Connections!

Seeing Clearly

There are so many positive aspects to aging – while it’s true some people become more crotchety and stubborn, most become wiser, more experienced, more forgiving and appreciative. But as our brains mature, so do our bodies, and certain health problems endemic to our chronological progression occur. That includes changes to our hearing, our mobility and our eyesight. As an example, more than 24.4 million Americans develop cataracts by age 40 and older.  By age 75, approximately half of all Americans have cataracts.

A cataract is a clouding of the normally clear lens of our eye. For people who have cataracts, seeing through cloudy lenses is a bit like looking through a frosty or fogged-up window. Clouded vision caused by cataracts can make it more difficult to read, drive a car (especially at night), see the print on signs, watch television and movies and use our computers.

Most cataracts develop when aging or injury changes the tissue that makes up the eye’s lens. Normally, cataracts develop slowly and don’t disturb our eyesight early on. But with time, cataracts will eventually interfere with vision. At first, stronger lighting and eyeglasses can help us deal with cataracts. But if impaired vision interferes with usual activities, stronger prescriptions will no longer improve visual acuity, and cataract surgery may be required. Fortunately, the only real solution, cataract surgery, is generally a safe, effective procedure.

Some inherited genetic disorders that cause other health problems can increase our risk of cataracts. Cataracts can also be caused by other eye conditions, past eye surgery or medical conditions such as diabetes. Long-term use of steroid medications, too, can cause cataracts to develop.

How Does a Cataract Form?

The lens, where cataracts form, is positioned behind the colored part of our eye (iris). The lens focuses light that passes into our eye, producing clear, sharp images on the retina — the light-sensitive membrane in the eye that functions like the film in a camera.

As we age, the lenses in our eyes become less flexible, less transparent and thicker. Age-related and other medical conditions cause tissues within the lens to break down and clump together, clouding small areas within the lens.

As the cataract continues to develop, the clouding becomes denser and involves a bigger part of the lens. A cataract scatters and blocks the light as it passes through the lens, preventing a sharply defined image from reaching our retina. As a result, vision becomes blurred.

Cataracts generally develop in both eyes, but not evenly. The cataract in one eye may be more advanced than the other, causing a difference in vision between eyes.

Typical signs and symptoms of cataracts include:

  • Clouded, blurred or dim vision
  • Increasing difficulty with vision at night
  • Sensitivity to light and glare
  • Need for brighter light for reading and other activities
  • Seeing “halos” around lights
  • Frequent changes in eyeglass or contact lens prescription
  • Fading or yellowing of colors
  • Double vision in a single eye

At first, the cloudiness in vision caused by a cataract may affect only a small part of the eye’s lens and we may be unaware of any vision loss. As the cataract grows larger, it clouds more of our lens and distorts the light passing through the lens. This may lead to more noticeable symptoms.

Factors that increase the risk of cataracts include:

  • Increasing age
  • Diabetes
  • Excessive exposure to sunlight
  • Smoking
  • Obesity
  • High blood pressure
  • Previous eye injury or inflammation
  • Previous eye surgery
  • Prolonged use of corticosteroid medications
  • Drinking excessive amounts of alcohol

How to Minimize the Onset of Cataracts

No studies have proved how to prevent cataracts or slow the progression of cataracts. But doctors think several strategies may be helpful, including:

  • Have regular eye examinations.Eye examinations can help detect cataracts and other eye problems at their earliest stages. Ask your doctor how often you should have an eye examination.
  • Quit smoking.Ask your doctor for suggestions about how to stop smoking. Medications, counseling and other strategies are available to help.
  • Manage other health problems.Follow your treatment plan if you have diabetes or other medical conditions that can increase your risk of cataracts.
  • Choose a healthy diet that includes plenty of fruits and vegetables.Studies have shown that a healthy diet rich in vitamins and minerals was associated with a reduced risk of developing cataracts. Adding a variety of colorful fruits and vegetables to our diet ensures that we’re getting many vitamins and nutrients. Fruits and vegetables have many antioxidants, which help maintain the health of our eyes.
  • Wear sunglasses.Ultraviolet light from the sun may contribute to the development of cataracts. Wear sunglasses that block ultraviolet B (UVB) rays when outdoors.
  • Reduce alcohol use.Excessive alcohol use can increase the risk of cataracts.Top of Form

What Happens During Cataract Surgery?

Cataract surgery involves removing the clouded lens and replacing it with a clear artificial lens. The artificial lens, called an intraocular lens, is positioned in the same place as our natural lens. It remains a permanent part of our eye. For some people, other eye problems prohibit the use of an artificial lens. In these situations, once the cataract is removed, vision may be corrected with eyeglasses or contact lenses.

Cataract surgery is generally done on an outpatient basis, so there isn’t an overnight stay involved. During cataract surgery, the eye doctor uses local anesthetic to numb the area around the eye, but the patient usually stays awake during the procedure.

Cataract surgery is generally safe, but it carries a risk of infection and bleeding. Cataract surgery also increases the risk of retinal detachment.

After the procedure, patients have some discomfort for a few days. Healing generally occurs within eight weeks. If cataract surgery is required in both eyes, the doctor will schedule surgery to remove the cataract in the second eye after the patient has healed from the first surgery.

June is National Cataract Awareness Month, and since this age-related disorder afflicts many Americans, it pays to learn cataract warning signs. For most people who have cataract surgery, the results are startling – significantly improved vision, a return to all activities, and for many, the elimination of eyeglasses or the need to wear them for either distance or reading only. Check in with your eye doctor at least annually, and know that even though it may be disconcerting, corrective measures are readily available and highly successful.

Be sure to check out the CBIA Healthy Connections wellness program at your company’s next renewal. It’s free as part of your participation in CBIA Health Connections!

Excuse Me While I Veg Out

There is nothing quite like fruits and vegetables plucked fresh from the bush or vine, or recently pulled out of the ground or off the stalk. Connecticut is abundant in fresh produce – especially in the summer – and seeking out this unprocessed bounty rich in nutrients and often lower in pesticides or genetic mutations is healthy nutritionally and emotionally.

Connecticut features vegetable and dairy farms and fruit orchards throughout the state. The growing season is long and the climate is perfect for a wide variety of fruits and vegetables. Beans, squash, broccoli and cabbages start to come in around May and are available through October. Strawberries ripen in June, and in July the farms explode with produce, especially raspberries, blueberries, peaches and sweet corn. In August, the pepper and tomato crops are ready, and as summer comes to a close in September, pumpkins and seasonal squash are ready in plenty of time to welcome the autumn.

Beyond the psychological value of searching out and eating locally grown food, there are practical and healthy reasons to celebrate foods that are in season. That’s when you get the most flavor and nutritional value. It’s also the time when it is the most affordable. Additionally, you’ll enjoy the greatest freshness when you look for foods that are both locally grown and are in season.

An Abundance of Nutrients

Plant foods contain thousands of natural chemicals called phytonutrients or phytochemicals. “Phyto” refers to the Greek word for plant. These chemicals help protect plants from germs, fungi, bugs and other threats. Fruits and vegetables contain phytonutrients, as do other plant-based foods such as whole grains, nut, beans and tea.

More than 25,000 phytonutrients are found in plant foods. Phytonutrients aren’t essential for keeping us alive, unlike the vitamins and minerals that plant foods contain. But when we eat or drink phytonutrients, they may help prevent disease and keep our body working properly.

Here is a primer in eating healthfully through fresh fruits and vegetables you can find easily at local farms, in markets, or in your own garden:

  • Carotenoids: More than 600 carotenoids provide yellow, orange, and red colors in fruits and vegetables. Carotenoids act as antioxidantsin our body, tackling harmful free radicals that damage tissues throughout our body. The types of carotenoids that may have other health benefits include alpha-carotene, beta-carotene, and beta-cryptoxanthin. Bodies convert all of these to vitamin A, which helps keep immune systems working properly, and is needed for eye health. Yellow and orange foods like pumpkins and carrots are good sources of alpha- and beta-carotene. These also contain beta-cryptoxanthin, as do sweet red peppers.
  • Lycopene:This nutrient gives red or pink color to tomatoes, watermelon and pink grapefruit. Lycopene has been linked to a lower risk of prostate cancer.
  • Luteinand zeaxanthin: These may help protect us from cataracts and age-related macular degeneration, two types of eye problems which are common as we age. Good sources of these phytonutrients are greens such as spinach, kale and collard greens.
  • Ellagic Acid: This acid is found in a number of berries and other plant foods, especially strawberries, raspberries and Ellagic acid may help protect against cancerseveral different ways. For example, it may slow the growth of cancer cells and may help our livers neutralize cancer-causing chemicals in our system.
  • Flavonoids: A large number of phytonutrients fall into the flavonoid category, which may help prevent certain types of cancers. They are found in a variety of plant foods. Flavonoids include Catechins, found in green tea; Hesperidin, found in citrus fruits (works as an antioxidant reducing inflammation in the body to help prevent chronic disease); and Quercetin, a flavanol found in apples, berries, kale and onions. These are thought to help reduce risk of asthma, certain types of cancer, and coronary heart disease.
  • Resveratrol: Found in grapes, purple grape juice and red wine, resveratrol acts as an antioxidant and anti-inflammatory. It’s believed to help in reducing heart disease and certain cancers.
  • Glucosinolates: These chemicals give vegetables their distinctive odor and flavor. They are typically found in cruciferous vegetables, including Brussels sprouts, cabbage, kale and broccoli. The glucosinolates turn into other chemicals during the cooking process and while we digest these foods. These chemicals may help hold in check the development and growth of cancer.
  • Phytoestrogens: Because of their structure, phytoestrogens can exert estrogen-like effects. They also can block the effects of natural supplies of estrogen. Soy foods contain isoflavones – a type of phytoestrogen – and have been linked to lower risk of endometrial cancer and bone loss in women. Our bodies also convert lignans, another type of phytonutrient, into chemicals with some estrogen-like effects. Two especially good sources of lignans are flaxseeds and Sesame seeds.

Food that’s in season not only tastes better, but contain ingredients that suit the body’s needs for that time of year, such as summer fruits with their high fluid content. Additionally, buying locally sustains our State’s farmers, supports the economy and helps remind us about the importance of understanding food sources and nutritional value.


Be sure to check out the CBIA Healthy Connections wellness program at your company’s next renewal. It’s free as part of your participation in CBIA Health Connections!

Deal with Stress Before It Deals with You

“What an awful day.” Have you ever heard yourself – or someone close to you – express that sentiment? Some days are tougher than others . . . nothing seems to go right, time feels like your enemy, and whatever is plaguing you throughout the day follows you home like a stray cat. There you cope with bills, things that are broken (there’s always something broken), kid troubles, dog troubles, neighbor troubles – it’s a long list that seems overwhelming, especially when your work life is stressing you out, as well. Then you can’t sleep, and tired and cranky, you arise to face another day, frustrated, worried and exhausted.

Stress and work go hand in hand, but the physical and emotional costs of employee stress taxes employers as well through reduced productivity, low morale and teamwork issues. Together, these problems affect quality, service and overall performance.

Stress is insidious and pervasive. According to a survey by the American Psychological Association (APA) Center for Organizational Excellence, more than one-third of American workers experience chronic work stress. The APA also found high levels of employee stress, with two-thirds of those surveyed citing work as a significant source of stress, and more than a third reporting that they typically feel stressed during the workday.

These numbers help put into perspective what organizational development experts see as an epidemic-level wave of unhappy employees. If you’re wondering what the impact of this unhappiness may be on your workplace, consider that stress at work manifests itself in increased absenteeism and presenteeism, lower productivity and increased service errors, and has a negative impact on safety, quality and teamwork.

Yet despite growing awareness of the importance of a healthy workplace, few employees say their organizations provide sufficient resources to help them manage stress and meet their mental health needs.

People want to see an employer show an interest in them as human beings, and want to be recognized for their hard work, dedication and value. And since health is important to all of us, investing in health and wellness planning, and involving your workforce in both the planning and execution can result in a significant return on investment.

Taking time to ask employees what they think is important. That can be done informally at lunches, team meetings, small-group interactions, and one-on-one. There are a variety of inexpensive online tools available for surveying attitudes and communication, as well. But the easy steps, like building employees into planning and decision making is invaluable for improved execution and buy-in. And recognizing performance, personally and in front of the team, pays back in spades. Small gestures like gift certificates, comp time, and team lunches go a long way toward improving morale.

Additionally, you can sponsor team walks, charity events and after-hours athletic activities, supplement fitness center fees, host on-site health screenings, and take many other steps to foster improved wellness and comradery – the list of potential steps is long, as are the benefits.

Coping with Financial Stress

There’s an insidious nature to how we spend money, how we talk with our significant others about it, and the impact finances have on our mental and physical health. Worrying about money and debt causes increased anxiety, sleeplessness, depression, and stress that taxes our hearts, contributes to high blood pressure, aggravates stomach issues like acid reflux and ulcers, and can lead to strokes and heart disease.

Three out of four American families are in debt, and the weight of all that anxiety can become more apparent in our performance in the workplace, as well. Whether it’s lack of sleep, irritability, lower productivity or increased absenteeism due to the side effects of stress and depression, money woes cost us professionally and personally across a wide spectrum. Unhealthy spending behaviors and debt are a major cause of relationship problems and often cited as a contributing factor in many divorces and breakups.

There’s a difference between active coping and comfort coping – some of us eat more, spend more, or devise short-term solutions. Instead we should be thinking about informed, collaborative planning and strategies for dealing with our money issues. Creating goals is important–working toward a home purchase, a special vacation, college, or retirement savings. We need a clear game plan and tools to help realize our dreams. It’s important to think long term, but live with short-term daily strategies, as well.

Employers pay attention to the health and well-being of their employees, so why should employees’ financial health be any less important? Financial experts and coaches are available to come into the workplace for “lunch and learn” or after-work discussions, and employers can encourage employees to seek outside counseling and guidance, or offer to supplement the cost of these kinds of programs.

Here are tips to share for improving financial health:

  • Make a budget. While it sounds simple, many people fail to truly organize their financial lives and understand what they bring in and what they can afford. Is it possible that you spend $25 a week on coffee? Sure it is – and that’s okay, if you can afford the extra hundred dollars a month. If you have a detailed budget and you stick to it, buying things during the day that make you happy is okay. If you can’t pay your bills, you may consider making your own coffee at home for a fraction of the price.
  • Track your expenses. Write it in a notebook, record it on your computer, or download a spending application on your phone. Tracking what you spend is an important way to understanding your spending habits, course correcting, and establishing a realistic budget.
  • Avoid credit or use it wisely. Credit cards can be a good way to build your credit, but only if you use them infrequently and wisely. If you can afford something, buy it with cash or use a debit card. Use a credit card as a last resort for important purchases you don’t have the money for upfront, but be diligent about paying it off as quickly as possible to avoid exorbitant finance charges.
  • Talk to others about your financial concerns. Share your worries and issues with people close to you, especially your partner. The stigma and shame that accompanies money problems – and the weight of hiding those pressures – causes stress, anxiety and depression. Good communication and honesty can help alleviate some of the stress and the sense of hopelessness that comes with every bill or debt collector’s call.
  • Consult a financial expert. You don’t need investment income to seek guidance from a financial planner or consultant. They can help you devise a savings strategy, prioritize your debt, build your budget, and plan for the future more effectively.
  • Refinance your debt. Consolidation loans with a lower monthly finance charge can help you rid yourself of credit cards. If you can, pay more than the minimum monthly payment and avoid missed payments.

There also are services available to help negotiate payment plans and for consolidating debt, but many of them charge a service fee for this assistance. Look for support groups, free counseling services, and programs such as Debtors Anonymous (DA), a confidential 12-step program available online and across the country, where people with debt or spending issues can come together to examine solutions to their money issues, and find fellowship and support.

We all have to deal with stress – the question becomes, can we face our challenges in a healthy way, and get help when we need it, at home and at work, before it takes its toll on our physical and mental health and productivity? Employers can play an important role in helping to recognize and mitigate stressful factors and consequences.

If you’re not enjoying the benefits of a wellness program at your company, join CBIA Healthy Connections at your company’s next renewal. It’s free as part of your participation in CBIA Health Connections!

Stop Working to Increase Productivity

Our brains and our bodies run out of steam after sitting or standing too long at our desks, work stations, machines, counters or work sites. Excessive sitting, in fact, wreaks havoc with our physiology, and is a known factor for increased risk of high blood pressure, diabetes, heart attacks, stroke, cancer, depression and obesity.

Our metabolism slows after 20 minutes of physical inactivity, lowering HDL, which is the “good” cholesterol. And without some physical stimulation over an extended period, we tire, lose focus, productivity drops and opportunities for mistakes and accidents increase.

Taking breaks is smart business practice, though many people choose to work through lunch or avoid breaks. That may be due to deadlines and important projects, piecework, service coverage or because of a work culture that doesn’t encourage downtime. Many managers and senior executives often set that pace by not taking breaks themselves or by not encouraging their workers to take time for healthy movement, stretching or recreation time during the day.

According to a workplace study conducted by Tork, a leading global hygiene, medical supplies and health company, nearly 20 percent of North American workers surveyed worry their bosses think they aren’t working hard enough if they take regular lunch breaks. Another 13 percent worry that their co-workers will judge them, and 39 percent say that don’t feel encouraged to take a lunch break.

And their fears appear justified, in that 22 percent of North American bosses say that employees who take a regular lunch break are less hardworking. To the contrary, nearly 90 percent of employees surveyed said that taking a lunch break helps them feel refreshed and ready to go back to work.

Taking Breaks Increases Productivity

Smart organizations realize that productivity and quality are negatively affected when employees are more tired, stressed and physically inactive. To help mitigate productivity loss and employee burnout, they are making great strides toward changing this paradigm by encouraging employees to regularly stand up and move, stretch, walk or exercise during breaks and lunch and generally move around during the work day.

For some workers, it’s simply knowing the importance of getting up and moving for three or four minutes at least once an hour. That can be walking to get a beverage, going to another office or work area, or strolling for a few minutes. Proper stretching to loosen muscles and limbs is valuable, and encouraging individuals or groups to walk together at or after lunch or dinner promotes exercise, safety and teambuilding.

For good health, adults should engage in moderate physical activity at least 30 minutes a day. Many organizations now offer fitness, yoga or meditation instruction at the workplace, have fitness rooms, or subsidize local gym memberships. Companies also sponsor charity walks, runs or bicycling activities, team athletics such as softball, basketball, volleyball and tennis, and support personal interests such as swimming, climbing and dance.

Here are some simple and easy steps you can take to get moving during work hours:

  • Take daily breaks from work and go for a short walk. Over time, try increasing your distances or taking multiple short breaks several times a
  • Take a few minutes for some easy, natural stretching. Do this several times a day at your desk or in a private area, such as a fitness space. If you go for a walk, include a few minutes for gentle
  • Join a lunch-hour fitness program, or choose a time that works for you, such as in the evening or before work. Select activities that you can also do on your own time so it can become a regular part of your
  • Consider taking public transportation and daily walks to transit stops. Try to enjoy the walks and the fact that they allow you to be more
  • For those with disabilities, or medical or mobility issues, take breaks that are right for you and approved by your doctor. If you have a medical condition, you may be able to participate in or modify some of the exercises in a fitness
  • Support fundraising events with your co-workers for charitable causes that support active living events by training regularly with your co-workers; this can be good for both your health and for
  • Host walking meetings for small groups. Also, getting outside for a walk can invigorate participants, encourage creativity and reenergize everyone.

Worksites can encourage physical activity through a multicomponent approach of offering management support, physical access to opportunities, policies, and social-support programs. We each have to take personal responsibility for our own health and wellness. But when organizations demonstrate their commitment to employees’ health in the workplace, that benefit carries over out of the workplace, as well, and results in reduced absenteeism due to illness and stress, and increased productivity, morale, personal engagement and teamwork.


If you’re not enjoying the benefits of a wellness program at your company, join CBIA Healthy Connections at your company’s next renewal. It’s free as part of your participation in CBIA Health Connections!

Tips for Tick Season

We’re not even through the sneezy, sniffly, coughing and wheezing allergy months and now we’re faced with the itching, biting and scratching bug season. It isn’t fair – but that’s spring in Connecticut. Unfortunately, the number of people infected with diseases transmitted by ticks, mosquitos and fleas has more than tripled over the past few years, and the prognosis for 2019 doesn’t appear any better.

Of great concern is the possibility of contracting Lyme disease caused by the bacterium Borrelia burgdorferi. It is transmitted to humans through the bite of infected blacklegged ticks, which are common to Connecticut. Typical symptoms include fever, headache, fatigue, and a characteristic skin rash called erythema migrans. If left untreated, infection can spread to joints, the heart, and the nervous system.

Lyme disease is diagnosed based on symptoms, physical findings (such as a rash), and the possibility of exposure to infected ticks. Most cases of Lyme disease can be treated successfully with a few weeks of antibiotics. Steps to prevent Lyme disease include using insect repellent, removing ticks promptly, applying pesticides, and reducing tick habitat. The ticks that transmit Lyme disease can occasionally transmit other tick-borne diseases as well.

First recognized in the Lyme, Connecticut area in 1975, the State Department of Public Health (DPH) reports about 3,000 cases annually to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). But the CDC estimates that there are approximately 10 times more people diagnosed with Lyme disease than the yearly reported number. Using the CDC estimate, approximately 30,000 people are afflicted with Lyme disease each year in Connecticut alone. Nationally, that number is thought to be close to 300,000 cases annually.

Bacteria cause most tickborne diseases in the United States, with Lyme disease representing the majority (82 percent) of reported cases. Borrelia burgdorferi  is carried by hard-bodied ticks that then feed on smaller mammals, such as white-footed mice, and larger animals, such as white-tailed deer. Scientists believe that increased seasonal warming, caused by climate change, is a contributing factor to the proliferation of these pests.

Although there are likely many additional factors contributing to increased Lyme disease incidence in the United States, greater tick densities and their expanding geographical range have played a key role. Although most cases of Lyme disease are successfully treated with antibiotics, 10 to 20 percent of patients report lingering symptoms after effective antimicrobial therapy.

Tick Season is Here

Tickborne virus infections are also increasing and can cause serious illness and death. Another invasive and disease-carrying tick, the Asian Longhorned tick, has been discovered in Connecticut. Fortunately, it preys primarily on livestock and wildlife and isn’t yet considered a threat to humans, experts say. The newly arrived pest was found by scientists at Western Connecticut State University last summer during a monitoring project in Fairfield County. It had previously been identified in New York, and across the eastern and southern United States over the past few decades. Found in grassy and wooded areas, researchers suggest using the same precautions against this species as for native ticks, including protective clothing, insect repellents and close checking of skin after being in the outdoors where ticks are present.

In addition to tick concerns, certain types of mosquitos carry diseases such as West Nile Virus (WNV), which has been present in Connecticut since 1999 in mosquitoes, horses, wild birds and people. Most people who are infected with WNV have no symptoms or may experience mild illness such as a fever and headache before fully recovering. In some individuals, particularly persons over 50 years of age, West Nile virus can cause serious illness, including encephalitis (inflammation of the brain) or meningitis (inflammation of the membranes covering the brain and spinal cord). Symptoms range from a slight fever, headache, rash, swollen lymph nodes and nausea to the rapid onset of a severe headache, high fever, stiff neck, disorientation, muscle weakness, and coma. West Nile virus infection can lead to death in three percent to 15 percent of persons with severe forms of the illness.

Health professionals also are keeping a vigilant watch for the Zika virus, which is spread mostly by the bite of infected Aedes species mosquitos, which bite during the day and night. Zika can be passed from a pregnant woman to her fetus, and infection during pregnancy can cause certain birth defects. There is no vaccine or medicine for Zika, and while local mosquito-borne Zika virus transmission has been reported primarily in tropical climates like Florida, Connecticut experienced a few dozen cases in 2018.

Unless you plan to spend the summer indoors, you’re likely to come in contact with some of these annoying pests. You can improve your odds of not getting bitten by wearing protective clothing, headgear and socks, using insect repellants and citronella products, minimizing use of cologne and perfume when planning outdoor activities, avoiding swampy areas, and moving the party indoors during the height of bite time. You also can spray clothes with repellent containing permethrin, and use a repellant like DEET on your skin.

Protecting Against Ticks and Mosquitoes

While it is a good idea to take preventive measures against ticks and mosquitoes year-round, be extra vigilant in warmer months (April through September) when ticks are most active. In summer, when out hiking, biking, camping, and spending time in and around grass and woods, there are several steps you can take to limit bites from ticks, mosquitoes and other disease-bearing insects:

  • Avoid direct contact with ticks and mosquitoes as possible. If you can, avoid wooded and bushy areas with high grass and leaf litter. When hiking, picnicking or walking, try to remain in the center of trails.
  • Use repellents that contain 20 percent or more DEET (N, N-diethyl-m-toluamide) on the exposed skin for protection that lasts up to several hours. Always follow product instructions. Parents should apply this product to their children, avoiding hands, eyes, and mouth.
  • Use products that contain permethrin on clothing. Treat clothing and gear, such as boots, pants, socks and tents. It remains protective through several washings. Pre-treated clothing is available and remains protective for up to 70 washings.

If you’re using other repellents, go to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) website for safety information.

Ridding Ourselves of Ticks

 Ticks embedded in your skin can be gross, but painless. The best bet is to keep them at bay. But if they do find you, here are tips for dealing with them easily and effectively:

  • Bathe or shower as soon as possible after coming indoors (preferably within two hours) to wash off and more easily find ticks that are crawling on you.
  • Conduct a full-body tick check using a hand-held or full-length mirror to view all parts of your body upon return from tick-infested areas. Parents should check their children for ticks under the arms, in and around the ears, inside the belly button, behind the knees, between the legs, around the waist, and especially in their hair.
  • Examine gear and pets. Ticks can ride into the home on clothing and pets, then attach to a person later, so carefully examine pets, coats, and day packs. Tumble clothes in a dryer on high heat for an hour to kill remaining ticks.
  • Consult your doctor or a nurse (or internet sources) to determine the best method for removing the tick; it’s important to remove the entire tick, or it can leave parts embedded in your skin.

Should you or a family member develop a bulls-eye-type red rash near the bite site, or exhibit other side effects such as a fever, lethargy or extreme exhaustion, consult your doctor. You may need to be tested for Lyme disease.

If you know you have an allergy to one or more biting insects, you should always carry an epi-pen or other backup medication in case you’re stung or bitten, and seek immediate medical attention. For the rest of us, most bites or stings leave a mark and cause some swelling and irritation. Ice or a cool compress applied directly to the site can bring relief, as can topical salves, ointments or sprays sold over the counter. If the area around the bite continues to expand or becomes blistery and weepy, you have to get checked for a possible infection.


Be sure to check out the CBIA Healthy Connections wellness program at your company’s next renewal. It’s free as part of your participation in CBIA Health Connections!

Boning Up on Osteoporosis

Embracing change isn’t always easy, especially those transformations that affect or challenge our health. But, like it or not, chemical, biological and physiological changes take place as we age, and understanding these processes helps us maintain our quality of life and even prolong our years on earth.

As we grow older, new bone is made and old bone is broken down. When we’re young, our body makes new bone faster than it breaks down old bone, increasing bone mass. Most people reach their peak bone mass around age 30. After that, we lose more bone mass than we gain.

Osteoporosis, which affects more than 53 million Americans, is a condition that causes bones to become weak and brittle, making them easier to fracture or break. Our likelihood of developing osteoporosis depends on how much bone mass we attain by the time we reach age 30 and how rapidly we lose it after that. The higher our peak bone mass, the less likely we are to develop osteoporosis as we age.

Osteoporosis affects the structure and strength of bones and makes fractures more likely, especially in the spine, hip and wrists. It is most common among females after menopause, but smoking and poor diet increase the risk for women and men. There are often no clear outward symptoms, but weakening of the spine may lead to a stoop, and there may be bone pain.

We can build strong bones by getting enough calcium and weight-bearing physical activity during our teen years and into our early 20s, when bones are growing the fastest. Young people in this age group have calcium needs that they can’t make up for later in life. In the years of peak skeletal growth, teenagers build more than 25 percent of adult bone. By the time teens finish their growth spurts around age 18, 90 percent of their adult bone mass is established.

It’s important to understand that our bodies continually remove and replace small amounts of calcium from our bones, so stemming the loss of calcium is important. After our late teens, however, we can’t add more calcium to bones, but can try to maintain what is already stored to help our bones stay healthy.

Keeping Our Bones Healthy and Strong

Calcium is found in a variety of foods. Low-fat and fat-free milk and other dairy products are great sources of calcium. Teens can get most of their daily calcium from three cups of low-fat or fat-free milk, but they also need additional servings of calcium to get the 1,300 mg necessary for strong bones.

Other good sources of calcium include dark green, leafy vegetables such as spinach, broccoli and bok choy.  Other sources of calcium include almonds, broccoli, kale, canned salmon with bones, sardines and soy products such as tofu.

There also are foods with calcium added, such as calcium-fortified tofu, orange juice, soy beverages, and breakfast cereals or breads. Adults or kids who can’t process lactose also can take calcium supplements, but should check with their physician to ensure compatibility with other medicines or conditions.

When muscles push and tug against bones during physical activity, bones and muscles become stronger. Weight-bearing exercises, such as walking, jogging, tennis and climbing stairs can help build strong bones and slow bone loss. So, exercise as well as proper nutrition play vital roles in helping us build and maintain healthy bones at any age.

A number of additional factors can affect bone health. For example:

  • Tobacco and alcohol use.Research suggests that tobacco use contributes to weak bones. Similarly, having more than two alcoholic drinks a day increases the risk of osteoporosis, possibly because alcohol can interfere with the body’s ability to absorb calcium.
  • Gender, size and age.You’re at greater risk of osteoporosis if you’re a woman, because women have less bone tissue than do men. You’re also at risk if you’re extremely thin (with a body mass index of 19 or less) or have a small body frame, because you may have less bone mass to draw from as you age. Also, our bones become thinner and weaker as we age.
  • Race and family history.You’re at greatest risk of osteoporosis if you’re white or of Asian descent. In addition, having a parent or sibling who has osteoporosis puts you at greater risk — especially if you also have a family history of fractures.
  • Hormone levels.Too much thyroid hormone can cause bone loss. In women, bone loss increases dramatically at menopause due to dropping estrogen levels. Prolonged absence of menstruation before menopause also increases the risk of osteoporosis. In men, low testosterone levels can cause a loss of bone mass.
  • Eating disorders and other conditions.People who have anorexia or bulimia are at risk of bone loss. In addition, stomach surgery (gastrectomy), weight-loss surgery and conditions such as Crohn’s disease, celiac disease and Cushing’s disease can affect our body’s ability to absorb calcium.
  • Certain medications.Long-term use of corticosteroid medications, such as prednisone, cortisone, prednisolone and dexamethasone, are damaging to bone. Other drugs that may increase the risk of osteoporosis include aromatase inhibitors to treat breast cancer, selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors, methotrexate, some anti-seizure medications and proton pump inhibitors.

If you find it difficult to get enough calcium from your diet, ask your doctor about supplements. Pay attention to foods with vitamin D, include physical activity in your daily routine, and avoid smoking tobacco products or drinking too much alcohol. We can’t get back what we’ve lost when it comes to calcium, but we can do much to minimize future loss and protect our bones and overall wellness.

Be sure to check out the CBIA Healthy Connections wellness program at your company’s next renewal. It’s free as part of your participation in CBIA Health Connections!


Apple Cider Vinegar: Healthy or Hype?

It has probably come up at a holiday gathering or dinner party – people start comparing home or natural wellness remedies, and someone, invariably, mentions apple cider vinegar and “the mother.” Intrigued, you probably seek more details, and hear anecdotes about how it’s a life-changer, and that a tablespoon a day eases stomach distress, limits weight gain, controls blood pressure and sugar levels, and keeps the user regular.

While some people swear it’s a magic elixir, the medical jury is still out on the long-term benefits of drinking apple cider vinegar, though apple vinegar is an anti-oxidant, and with “the mother” present, contains probiotics, which aid in digestion. So, what is “the mother,” you might wonder?

Well, in case you were worried, “the mother” is nothing like the worm found south of the border in some bottles of tequila. And to understand its origins and value, let’s start with a chemistry lesson.

Vinegar comes from the French phrase vin aigre, meaning sour wine. The sourness comes from acetic acid. When yeast is added to pulverized or juiced apples, it digests the sugars in the apples and converts, or ferments them into alcohol. A bacteria, acetobacter, then turns the alcohol into acetic acid. The “mother” refers to the combination of yeast and bacteria formed during fermentation. If you look at an apple cider vinegar bottle that hasn’t been pasteurized, you can see strands of the “mother” floating around.

Many people attribute apple cider vinegar’s positive effects to the “mother.” It is a probiotic, similar in nature to what you find in cultured yogurts. Aside from probiotics, apple cider vinegar has a vitamin profile similar to apple juice, just a lot more sour-tasting. It is loaded with B-vitamins and polyphenols (plant-based antioxidants). These probiotics, acetic acid, and the nutrients in in the apple cider vinegar are responsible for its health benefits. But “how healthy” is a question whose answer researchers tend to differ on.

Health Benefits of Apple Cider Vinegar

Vinegar is used in cooking, baking, salad dressings, and as a preservative. There’s a lot of acid in it, so drinking vinegar straight isn’t good for us. However, while consuming apple cider vinegar straight won’t hurt (as long as we don’t imbibe too much or suffer from kidney disease), it also will not cure cancer, diabetes or control blood pressure, regardless of the myths you may have heard and would love to believe.

On the contrary, it can cause serious problems, including stomach distress, heartburn and tooth decay.

Vinegar has been used as a remedy since the days of Hippocrates. The ancient Greek doctor treated wounds with it. The polyphenols it contains are antioxidants, which can curb cell damage that can lead to other diseases, such as cancer. But studies on whether vinegar actually lowers our chances of contracting cancer are mixed.

Overall, apple cider vinegar is safe. If you’re looking to take some for health reasons, most people recommend adding one to two tablespoons to water or tea.  But before you start ingesting it daily, there are negative side effects including:

  • The acid in apple cider vinegar can erode teeth enamel, so drinking some water after you swallow your cider is a good idea.
  • Acidic foods or liquids like vinegar may exacerbate acid reflux and stomach distress.
  • If you have chronic kidney disease, your kidneys may not be able to process the excess acid from drinking apple cider vinegar.

Apple cider vinegar may moderately lower blood glucose levels, but it won’t cure or control diabetes or replace medications you may be taking for diabetes, cholesterol or blood pressure.  As with any supplement, medicine or herb you may be considering, the smart bet is to check with your physician before you proceed.

Be sure to check out the CBIA Healthy Connections wellness program at your company’s next renewal. It’s free as part of your participation in CBIA Health Connections!

Smart Tools Help Employees Stay Healthy and Engaged

Thanks to the popularity of smart phones, Fitbits, Apple Watches, mobile wellness applications and other easy-to-use “smart” portable technology, employers now have more opportunities to work with their employees on health and wellness programs that can be tracked, measured and reported, synergistically, using today’s accessible technologies.

Wearables such as the Fitbit or the Apple Watch do more than simply measuring steps – they can help monitor stress levels and heart rates. They also aid in implementing fitness plans, so they can be a valuable tool in encouraging workplace health. Simply having access to apps on already existing smartphones can be effective as well.

Progressive employers are using these tools to support employee wellness engagement, taking an interest in the shape of each employees’ health efforts across multiple dimensions including fitness, movement, stress, disease risk and disease management.

The challenges inherent to employer involvement in wellness at work always have included time constraints, encouraging employee engagement, privacy issues and the employer’s willingness to participate or fund these proactive efforts.

However, effective wellness programs improve workforce health, reduce healthcare costs, improve morale, boost teamwork and increase productivity. Corporate wellness programs strive to get employees more active, but, like too many New Year’s resolutions, programs often fall short because people stop participating — and return to an unhealthy, sedentary lifestyle.

This has led many businesses to investigate the use of technology combined with wellness programs to increase and maintain employee engagement. But throwing technology at the problem without proper strategy and support programs will not accomplish the desired result.

With so many millennials and their younger associates, “Gen-Z-ers,” adept at personal technology and absorbed in social media, employers can work with their staffs to encourage personal goal-setting, as well as team goal-setting, and consider setting up online tools, social media groups or dedicated websites for employees to report and track their own and one another’s progress involving mutually agreed-upon goals linked to walking, running, fitness, weight loss, nutrition, hydration, sleep and more.

Some wellness devices wirelessly and securely transmit all activity data through the Cloud to personal web applications without employees lifting a finger. Their daily activity is automatically recorded and uploaded where it is available for easy viewing and personalization. Coupled with incentives provided by a supportive employer, this can create an excellent opportunity for organizations and individuals to get on the same preventive health-care page.

Data gathered from wearables can help an organization make a business case for a wellness program or fine-tune one already in place. Wearables can provide employers with a vast amount of biometric data and help evaluate the return on investment — but only if employees consent to share this information.

Using wearables can decrease the sedentary lifestyle that often pervades present-day working generations. With features such as activity apps, employees can track their physical movements and set reminders to stand when sitting for long periods of time, drink water, track their sleeping patterns, meditate, count calories, and much more.

Make It Easy, and Make It Fun

A growing number of companies, embracing wellness as a positive business model, are facilitating the use of digital technology tools and programs for their employees.

For instance, by demonstrating the impact of poor eating and exercise habits for a person with high cholesterol and a family history of heart disease, or for someone who is pre-diabetic, immediate lifestyle changes can be recommended through a simple mobile app that can also help the user set personal goals. This technology then provides ongoing motivation by displaying their progress along their journey to improved health. If employees agree to share the results, these changes and progress can then be monitored and recommendations adjusted accordingly.

Monitoring and evaluating real-time data of employee’s physical activity, sleep patterns, and stress levels can help employers evaluate the drivers of health risks to their employees, and potentially mitigate illness and prevent long-term disability leaves. Also, it provides the ability to examine the health risks and trends facing the organization’s entire workforce, not just specific individuals.

Employers can create fun challenges, promote friendly competition for willing participants, and reward participation as well as individual or team progress with time off, sponsorships, gift cards, cash prizes, team outings and a variety of “bragging-rights” incentives. Some employers actually purchase wearable technology for their teams as added incentive and a strong sign of commitment.

However you proceed, include employees in the planning and execution. Consider working with an outside firm, fitness expert or wellness professional when possible to establish reasonable goals and review procedures, and practice these simple steps when designing your program:

  • Make it as easy as possible to participate
  • Use helpful reminders
  • Develop engaging programs
  • Seek employee consensus and participation
  • Provide incentives that motivate employees
  • Recognize and reward all participants

With today’s popular and affordable technologies, it’s easier than ever now to engage employees in improving their own health and wellness. Everyone wins, and the only losers are the ones who shed pounds or unhealthy behaviors in favor of fitness, good nutrition and the satisfaction of setting and achieving personal health goals.

If you’re not enjoying the benefits of a wellness program at your company, join CBIA Healthy Connections at your company’s next renewal. It’s free as part of your participation in CBIA Health Connections!

Spring Bling Brings the Sneezing Thing

Red itchy eyes, sinuses blocked, throat tender and nose running like a faucet? Yup, sounds like allergy season is back! Along with the much-heralded return of daffodils, crocuses, budding trees and the reappearance of robins and cardinals, springtime also afflicts millions of Americans with the sneezing, wheezing and sniffles that mark the perennial onslaught of typical allergy culprits, pollen and mold. And it starts weeks before the air seems filled with fluffy snow-like flakes that cover our cars in a whiteish-green film and drive us to refuge indoors.

Seasonal allergic rhinitis is usually caused by mold spores in the air or by trees, grasses, and weeds releasing billions of tiny pollen grains. The severity of allergy season can vary according to where you live, the weather, indoor contaminants, and many other elements. Here in Connecticut, outdoor molds are very common, especially after the spring thaw. They are found in soil, some mulches, fallen leaves, and rotting wood.

Everybody is exposed to mold and pollen, but only some develop or suffer from allergies. In these people, the immune system, which protects us from invaders like viruses and bacteria, reacts to a normally harmless substance called an allergen (allergy-causing compound). Specialized immune cells called mast cells and basophils then release chemicals like histamine that lead to the symptoms of allergy: sneezing, coughing, a runny or clogged nose, postnasal drip, and itchy eyes and throat.

Additionally, asthma and allergic diseases, such as allergic rhinitis (hay fever), food allergy, and atopic dermatitis (eczema), are common for all age groups in the United States. For example, asthma affects more than 17 million adults and more than 7 million children. It’s also estimated that one-fifth of all Americans are allergic to something, whether seasonal, airborne, or food related.

Nasal allergy triggers can be found both indoors and outdoors, and can be seasonal or year-round. It’s important to be aware of the times of day, seasons, places, and situations where your nasal allergy symptoms begin or worsen. If you can identify your triggers, and create a plan for avoiding them when possible, you may be able to minimize symptoms.

Here are a few points to remember:

  • You may be reacting to more than one type of allergen. For example, having nasal allergies to both trees and grass can make your symptoms worse during the spring and summer, when both of these pollens are high.
  • Molds grow in dark, wet places and can disperse spores into the air if you rake or disturb the area where they’ve settled.
  • People with indoor nasal allergies can be bothered by outdoor nasal allergies as well. You may need ongoing treatment to help relieve indoor nasal allergy symptoms.

If avoidance doesn’t work, allergies can often be controlled with medications. The first choice is an antihistamine, which counters the effects of histamine. Steroid nasal sprays can reduce mucus secretion and nasal swelling. The National Institutes of Health (NIH) says that the combination of antihistamines and nasal steroids is very effective in those with moderate or severe symptoms of allergic rhinitis. However, always consult with your physician before taking even over-the-counter medicines for allergies, as they may conflict with other medications or aggravate symptoms of other illnesses or chronic conditions.

Another potential solution is cromolyn sodium, a nasal spray that inhibits the release of chemicals like histamine from mast cells. But you must start taking it several days before an allergic reaction begins, which is not always practical, and its use can be habit forming.

Immunotherapy, or allergy shots, is an option if the exact cause of your allergies can be pinpointed. Immunotherapy involves a long series of injections, but it can significantly reduce symptoms and medication needs. Your physician can help pinpoint what you are allergic to, and tell you the best way to treat your nasal allergy symptoms. Providing detailed information about your lifestyle and habits will help your physician design an appropriate treatment plan for relieving your symptoms.

The American Academy of Allergy, Asthma, and Immunology has some useful tips for those who suffer from seasonal allergies:

  • Wash bed sheets weekly in hot water.
  • Always bathe and wash hair before bedtime (pollen can collect on skin and hair throughout the day).
  • Do not hang clothes outside to dry where they can trap pollens.
  • Wear a filter mask when mowing or working outdoors. Also, if you can, avoid peak times for pollen exposure (hot, dry, windy days, usually between 10:00 a.m. and 4:00 p.m.).
  • Be aware of local pollen counts in your area (visit the National Allergy Bureau Website).
  • Keep house, office, and car windows closed; use air conditioning if possible rather than opening windows.
  • Perform a thorough spring cleaning of your home, including replacing heating and A/C filters and cleaning ducts and vents.
  • Check bathrooms and other damp areas in your home frequently for mold and mildew, and remove visible mold with nontoxic cleaners.
  • Keep pets out of the bedroom and off of furniture, since they may carry pollen if they have been outdoors, or exacerbate your allergies if, for example, you’re allergic to cat dander.

Pass the Honey, Honey

There are many over-the-counter treatments available for seasonal allergies, but some people prefer natural treatments instead. One example rumored to help with seasonal allergies is raw, unprocessed honey made close to where you live. This local honey is rumored to help allergies, but scientists and doctors are skeptical.

 The idea behind honey treating allergies is similar to that of a person getting allergy shots. But while allergy shots have been proven to be effective, honey hasn’t. When a person eats local honey, they are thought to be ingesting local pollen. Over time, a person may become less sensitive to this pollen. As a result, they may experience fewer seasonal allergy symptoms.

It’s true that bees pollinate flowers and make honey. But the amounts of pollen from the environment and plants are thought to be very small and varied. When a person eats local honey, they have no guarantee how much (if any) pollen they’re being exposed to. This differs from allergy shots that purposefully desensitize a person to pollen at standard measurements.

You should not give honey to a child under the age of one. Raw, unprocessed honey has a risk for botulism in infants. Also, some people who have a severe allergy to pollen can experience a serious allergic reaction known as anaphylaxis after eating honey. This can cause extreme difficulty breathing. Others may experience allergic reactions such as itching or swelling of the mouth, throat, or skin.

We can’t always avoid the pollens, mold, and other triggers that aggravate our allergies, but we can try to limit or control exposure and pursue medical interventions to help mitigate our suffering. Spring is a wonderful time of year – enjoy it to its fullest, and pass the tissues!

Be sure to check out the CBIA Healthy Connections wellness program at your company’s next renewal. It’s free as part of your participation in CBIA Health Connections!