A-Z of Health Concerns

health_concerns

The A-Z of Health Concerns

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A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P R S T U V W Y

Acidosis

The human body is naturally mildly acidic in order to resist infection – its natural pH is between 6.0 and 6.8. Both acidity and alkalinity are measured according to the pH (this stands for potential of hydrogen) scale and acidosis is the medical term for an imbalance, where the body chemistry has become over-acidic. Acidosis is in fact linked to premature ageing because it affects the performance of most of the functions of our glands. Symptoms include indigestion, hunger, burning sensation and pain in the pharynx, nausea, vomiting, insomnia, headaches and joint pains.

Acne

Acne is a common skin condition that affects people of all ages with varying degrees of severity. The most common cause for acne is a hormonal imbalance such as during puberty, pregnancy, menstruation and at times of stress. The skin of sufferers has been found to show greater activity of an enzyme called 5-alpha-reductase, which converts excesses of the male hormone, testosterone, to a more potent, spot-triggering form called dihydrotestosterone but this is not the only cause. Blood tests, for instance, reveal higher levels of toxins from the gut flora of acne sufferers so improving digestion can also help. In addition, vitamins A and D play a key role which is why exposure to sunlight can help clear an acne infection.

Acne Rosacea

Acne Rosacea is an inflammatory skin condition that usually affects the forehead, nose, cheekbones and chin. The skin is these areas turn red and blotchy with small bumps, lumps and even pimples as a result of the dilation of blood vessels. Acne rosacea affects around a fifth of all adults and can be triggered by alcohol, hot drinks, walking into a warm room and even spicy foods. One of the hidden triggers for the acne-like eruption of the skin may actually be a deficiency in the digestive enzymes responsible for the breakdown of fats in the intestinal tract. This is easily remedied if you take if you take a supplement to rebuild levels of lipase, the principle enzyme involved in this process. Zinc is just as crucial to maintaining healthy skin and switching to chemical free cosmetics and skincare will help further inflaming the skin.
Adrenal Stress

If you feel tired all the time, sweat excessively or wake up and cannot get back to sleep, you may be suffering from adrenal stress also often called adrenal exhaustion. The adrenal glands sit atop the kidneys and pump out the hormones, including adrenaline and cortisol, which keep you on your feet through the day. At times of stress, whether physical, hormonal or environmental, these glands can no longer secrete normal levels of any of these hormones and often over-secrete cortisol. Mood swings, symptoms of stress and anxiety, sleep disturbances, lower immunity and loss of appetite are just some of the concerns associated with higher than normal levels of cortisol so this is not a hormone you want circulating in abundance. Adrenal exhaustion must be addressed to really benefit from any other treatment for chronic stress.

Allergies

An allergy is any inappropriate response by the immune system to a substance that is not normally harmful; including foods, chemicals and environmental pollutants. The immune system is a complex mechanism designed to protect the body from infection by identifying foreign invaders such as bacteria or viruses and then mobilising the body’s white blood cells to fight them. With an allergic response, the immune system wrongly identifies a non-harmful substance as an invader and triggers the same response, often creating more damage than the foreign substance, which is how the allergic response becomes a disease in its own right. These inappropriate hypersensitive responses include sneezing, watery eyes, congested sinuses, coughing, wheezing, itching, hives, skin rashes and fatigue. Secondary bacterial infections can set it such as in sinusitis. Typical allergens include pollen, dust, animal dander, certain metals (especially nickel), some cosmetics ingredients, chemicals found in household cleaning products, insect venom and some common drugs, including penicillin and aspirin.

Alopecia

We all lose hairs, up to 50 a day, but hair loss only becomes noticeable when fewer new hairs are produced to replace the lost ones. If hair falls out in patches, the condition is known as alopecia areata. If all the hair on the scalp falls out this is alopecia totalis. If all body hair is lost, this is alopecia universalis. The single most common cause of hair loss in men and women is androgenetic alopecia (AGA), also known as male pattern baldness since it is most likely to occur in men with a family history of balding. In women, the abundance of the male hormone may be due to hormonal disturbances associated with menopause, polycystic ovarian syndrome and immediately after childbirth. Other causal factors include fungal infections of the scalp, thyroid problems, iron deficiency, severe illness and the use of certain prescription medicines.

Altitude sickness

In its most dangerous form, altitude sickness is known as pulmonary oedema which describes what happens when there is a build-up of fluid on the lungs. This condition constitutes a serious medical emergency but can be avoided if travellers take care to acclimatise slowly. The warning symptoms include shortness of breath and feeling disorientated and those most at risk are heavy smokers and anyone with a history of heart problems. Because there is less oxygen available at higher altitudes, travellers should make sure their iron levels are normal before leaving home.

Alzheimer’s Disease

This is the most common form of dementia, responsible for some 60% of cognitive dysfunction in later life. Over half of those people aged 85 and over have Alzheimer’s Disease, and while we still do not have a definitive cause, there is a clear genetic link. Scientists remain unclear about which of the brain lesions associated with this condition are more damaging: the plaque deposits that increasingly develop in the spaces between nerve cells or the neurofibrillary tangles that develop inside the nerve cells themselves. The result is a long, slow and painful loss of intellectual function that interferes, initially, with daily life and, after many years, death is usually the result of several factors; including compromised nutrition, complications associated with the immune system and trauma. Before then, memory and the ability to recognise people, places and even objects diminishes over time, making this one of the most distressing conditions for relatives to witness and cope with. Currently, research is concentrating on the use of specific B vitamins including folic acid, vitamin B-6 and vitamin B-12. These vitamins help to reduce homocysteine levels which is responsible for inflammation in the body including the brain.

Amalgam fillings

For a long time, the establishment party line over amalgam fillings was that once the mercury composite was in your mouth, the mercury became inert or locked in and so it was safe. Numerous researchers have now shown this to be untrue and it is now widely accepted that mercury vapour is indeed released into the body from the fillings. The current argument is that this seepage happens in such negligible amounts that the risk to your health is insignificant, although an estimated three per cent of all adults will be hypersensitive to this and have an adverse reaction. Ironically, cleaning your teeth and even chewing a whitening gum actually exacerbates the problem because it increases the rate at which the vapour is released by a factor of five. Symptoms that natural health practitioners believe may be linked to mercury toxicity include Chronic Fatigue, Headaches, Sinusitus, Sore or Bleeding Gums, lack of concentration, memory lapses and depression.

Anaemia/Iron Deficiency

Anaemias – and this is plural because there are several different types and causes – are those conditions in which the number of oxygen-transporting red blood cells in the body, or the amount of haemoglobin (the iron pigment that binds with oxygen) in them is below normal. This means the blood cannot transport enough oxygen to the body’s tissues resulting in a range of symptoms including low energy, poor concentration and, frequently, dizzy spells. That said, often the early symptoms, including loss of appetite, constipation and headaches go unrecognised. The most common cause of anaemia is iron deficiency because this is the mineral used to make haemoglobin. Iron-deficiency anaemia can be caused by insufficient iron intake and/or absorption and by significant blood loss. If you suspect you have this condition, which is not a disease, but rather a symptom itself of various diseases, you must see your doctor.

Analgesics

We’ve all used them, but the trouble with over-the-counter or prescription painkillers is they often come with side-effects. Aspirin, for example, can cause gastric irritation and interfere with the absorption of B vitamins and vitamin C. Non-Steroid Anti-inflammatory Drugs (NSAIDs) can have a similar effect. Our experience of pain may be subjective, but the one thing we all agree on is that our instinct, when we feel pain, is to find relief and make it stop which is why pain and its alleviation is the number one reason any of us seek medical advice. Pain is the single most important signal the body can send and signals the presence of disease, trauma, tissue injury and the fact something is just not right.

Andropause

It may not be an accepted medical condition but that does not stop lots of middle-aged men from feeling they hit the equivalent of the menopause in their early fifties when levels of testosterone decline. Testosterone is the hormone that controls sex drive in both sexes but it also supports the skin, muscles and bones and so falling levels can affect not just libido but your overall sense of wellbeing and vitality.

Angina

Also called angina pectoris, angina is the name given to a temporary chest pain and a sensation of pressure which happens when the heart is not getting enough oxygen. How much it needs depends, of course, on how hard it is working, how fast and how strong the beats are. When the arteries have become narrow or blocked, the blood flow to the muscle cannot increase to meet a greater demand for oxygen during, say exercise. This leads to a condition called ischemia which is what causes the pain of angina.

Ankylosing Spondylitis

Ankylosing Spondylitis is a connective tissue disease characterised by an inflammation of the spine and of the joints between the spine and the pelvis causing stiffness and pain. Three times more common in men than women, it tends to run in families suggesting a genetic predisposition, and usually develops between the ages of 20 and 40. Mild to moderate flare-ups generally alternate with periods of no sign of the disease but the most common symptom is back pain. The pain is often worse at night and because the back pain is associated with muscle spasm, which can be relieved by bending forward, sufferers often adopt a characteristic stoop. Loss of appetite, weight loss and fatigue can all accompany the back pain. Conventional treatment may include using aspirin and other non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) to relieve the pain.

Antibiotics

You may need them to clear an acute infection but you also need to be aware of the side-effects. For example, antibiotics interfere with the natural balance of normal intestinal flora required to produce vitamin K which the body needs for its blood-clotting mechanism and to produce healthy bones. This upset of the balance of bacteria in the gut is also the reason why, if you take antibiotics, you may then suffer a candida (thrush) infection that you will need to treat by taking a good quality probiotic. The other problem with the over-prescribing and regular use of antibiotics is that this can promote the development of antibiotic-resistant strains of bacteria. Remember too, antibiotics can only be effective against bacterial and not viral infections and while antibiotics can help clear a bacterial infection, they actually compromise the body’s ability to fend off the more insidious viral infections. Always complete any prescribed course of antibiotics, even if symptoms appear to improve.

Anxiety

Anxiety problems are the single most common form of psychological stress and can start as early as pre-teens. In its worst acute form, it can trigger a panic attack and far from being “all in the mind”, experts now believe this is the result of a malfunction in the chemistry of the brain so that the body sends the wrong signals at the wrong time. When anxiety is chronic, panic attacks are rare but sufferers feel anxious most of the time. This may be a problem that runs in families or anxiety may be stress-related. Researchers have now linked chronic anxiety with a higher risk of other health problems, including digestive disorders, especially constipation.

Arteriosclerosis/ Atherosclerosis

This condition describes the build-up of plaque deposits on the inside of the artery walls which causes thickening and hardening of the arteries. In arteriosclerosis, the deposits are made up largely of calcium; in atherosclerosis, the deposits consist of fatty substances and the artery walls lose their elasticity and harden. Both conditions have the same effect on circulation causing high blood pressure and, ultimately, angina, heart attack, stroke and/or sudden cardiac death. Although atherosclerosis causes high blood pressure (hypertension), high blood pressure can also cause arteriosclerosis. Advancing age increases the risk of these conditions as does a family history of cardiovascular problems, smoking, diabetes, high blood pressure and abnormal cholesterol levels.

Arthritis

Arthritis is inflammation of joints, which results in pain, stiffness and swelling of the affected joint. Arthritis includes a group of diseases that affects the joints and tissues surrounding the joints. Normally a joint is covered with smooth cartilage that protects the joint and allows the smooth movement. When there is breakdown of cartilage, the smooth surface becomes irregular and the bones rub together causing pain and inflammation. Joint inflammation can be due to the general wear and tear of the joint, due to autoimmune disease, infection or trauma due to repeated injury. Arthritis is the leading source of disability in the Western World.

Asthma

Asthma is a lung disease in which, during an asthmatic attack, spasms in the muscles surrounding the small bronchial airways in the lungs cause constriction making it difficult for the sufferer to breathe. These muscle spasms are a result of chronic inflammation and a hypersensitivity of the airways to a range of possible irritants including animal dander, chemicals, drugs, dust mites, fumes, mould, tobacco smoke and food additives. Whatever the trigger, the bronchial tubes swell and become plugged with mucus and this inflammation further irritates the airways resulting in a Catch 22 cycle of even greater sensitivity, more frequent asthmatic attacks and more severe inflammation. Typical symptoms include coughing, wheezing, feelings of tightness in the chest and a gasping for air.

Athlete’s Foot

Highly contagious, Athlete’s Foot is caused by one of two fungi, trichophyton and epidermophyton, which like to grow in the warm, moist areas between the toes. The fungi live off the dead skin cells and calluses of the feet causing inflammation, itching, burning, scaling, cracking and blistering. Since fungi are so common, but not everyone develops an infection, it is clear that persistent fungal infections must be a sign of an imbalance in the body’s microflora which, when balanced, would fight off these organisms and a weakened immune system making us more susceptible to infections.

Autoimmune Diseases

Around eight different conditions, ranging from arthritis to MS, gout to Crohn’s Disease have been linked with an abnormal immune response but what has baffled researchers is why women should be so much more susceptible than men. Both family history and genetics play a role but a newer theory is that the female hormones, oestrogen, progesterone and prolactin are also contributing in some way.

In perfect health, all parts of the immune system work together and are balanced but some 80% of women (and 50% of men) exhibit dominance in what is known as the cellular immune response over the primary or humoral immune response. What this means is that in these people, the immune system only really kicks in once a virus, bacteria or other infection has invaded the cell. The many types of autoimmune conditions are disorders where the immune system is hyperactive and treats an otherwise healthy body system as an invading enemy, by targeting the body’s own proteins. Instead of healing your body, your immune system picks out an organ or tissue and tries to destroy it. Research also suggests both men and women who are prone to autoimmune conditions are often lacking in essential minerals including zinc which is critical to healthy immune functioning, calcium and magnesium.

B

Backache

Almost all adults will suffer some form of backache during their lives, most frequently in the lower back. Back pain can be acute or chronic and is one of the most common reasons for being admitted to hospital. Although lifting/moving heavy objects is among the more common triggers, there may be underlying problems with the muscles, tendons, bones, ligaments or even organs such as the kidneys which can cause back pain. Aside from the normal wear and tear or ageing of the spine, other triggers for back problems include bad posture, poor footwear, calcium deficiency (if you take a calcium supplement you must take magnesium too), slouching when sitting and sleeping on a mattress that is too soft. Backache during pregnancy is common, but stress can also take its toll.

Bags Under The Eyes

Saggy, baggy under-eye skin is another sad fact of ageing, unless you take steps to protect and nourish the elasticity of the delicate skin around the eyes. Over time, the muscles in and around the eyelids can lose tone which is what causes bags under the eyes. The problem is exacerbated if fat and fluids accumulate in this region causing puffiness and swelling although these can also be caused by allergies or an over-consumption of salt in the diet which causes fluid retention. Smoking cigarettes can aggravate the problem.

Baldness

Androgenetic alopecia (AGA) or male-pattern baldness is the most common form of hair loss in men. This is a hereditary condition which, while still not fully understood, is linked with the action of androgens which are male sex hormones. Although women can suffer the same type of hair loss, it is not usually as extensive and does not usually happen before the onset of menopause at which point all women will experience at least some thinning of the hair.

Women may also experience more dramatic hair loss two or three months after giving birth but this is solely because hormonal changes linked with pregnancy have prevented normal hair loss meaning this is nothing to become alarmed about. A less well-known possible contributing factor to the rate of balding is the presence of a tiny species of mite called Demodex follicularum. These are present in almost all the hair follicles by middle-age but in most cases, have no impact. Some researchers suggest the real difference between those who lose their hair and those who do not lies in how the scalp reacts to the presence of these mites. For instance, if the immune system revs up to kill off the mites, it may also close down the hair follicles thus killing the hair as well.

Bedsores

Bed or pressure sores occur when pressure is exerted over bony parts of the body for long periods of time. This restricts circulation to those areas and can cause death of the cells in the underlying tissues. Bedsores are most common on the buttocks, hips, shoulder blades, sacrum and heels. Those most prone to suffering include anyone confined to a wheelchair, bed or chair. The telltale signs include an area of reddening skin where the coloration persists, even when the pressure is relieved. Other signs include swelling and hardening of tissue. Sufferers are frequently deficient in several key nutrients, including zinc, vitamins A, E, B2 (riboflavin) and C and may also be prone to acidosis.

Benign Prostatic Hyperplasia (BPH)

The prostate is a small gland, about the size of a walnut that sits at the top of the urethra at the neck of the bladder in men. While we still don’t understand its entire function, we do know that it produces various substances that are used to form semen. These include zinc, vitamins, amino acids, some enzymes and chemicals known as prostaglandins. These all help nourish sperm, trigger them to swim and make the vaginal environment less hostile. In middle age, the prostate gland starts to slowly enlarge which, in some men, may cause problems. Benign Prostatic Hyperplasia (BPH) is, as the name suggests, a benign enlargement of the prostate that starts to trigger symptoms in men aged between 45 and 50 and it is these symptoms that become more pronounced with age with around a third of all men over the age of 50 developing some form of prostate problems. Symptoms include difficulty in starting to urinate, a reduced flow of urine, incomplete emptying of the bladder, dribbling of urine, discomfort when urinating and increased frequency of urination at night. Sufferers may also report a reduced sex drive. If any of these symptoms develop, you must see your doctor who will examine the prostate to determine whether you have BPH (where the prostate gland feels large, smooth and firm); prostatitis ( prostate gland is soft to the touch and tender to pressure) or prostate cancer (where it feels hard, knobbly and painless).

Birth

Both pregnancy and birth are an exciting, emotional and stressful time, during which the mother-to-be will experience many physical, emotional and hormonal changes. It is also a time when parents want to avoid drug treatments and so turn, naturally, to alternatives including, and especially, homeopathy which is 100% safe for both mother and developing child. Expectant mothers should not take pot luck with supplementation, either nutritional or herbal remedies, but should stick instead to those ranges that have been safely formulated specifically for pregnancy.

Bites

Although nobody can really explain why it should work, taking a relatively high dose of Vitamin B1 (500mg a day) can help prevent bites, both at home and on holiday. You may be told this dose is dangerously high but the fact is, this is a non-toxic vitamin, even in much higher doses. Vitamin C works in the body as a natural anti-histamine so if you are prone to bites, taking 1000mg a day can help prevent a severe reaction and you can stop most bugs from biting in the first place by using citronella, eucalyptus or lavender oils. Remember though, essential oils should never be applied direct to the skin. Dilute them first in a base of almond oil.

Bladder Infections/Cystitis

The main symptom of a bladder infection is an urgent desire to empty the bladder. Typically, urination becomes more frequent and painful and even after emptying, there is a desire to urinate again. The urine may have a strong, unpleasant odour and may appear cloudy. Triggers which increase the risk of a bladder infection include pregnancy, sex and the use of a contraceptive diaphragm. It can also be a symptom of diabetes. Although more common in women, both sexes are prone to bladder infections and in men, they may be a sign of more serious underlying conditions, including prostate problems. Children can also suffer. If left untreated, cystitis can lead to kidney infection so in severe cases, consult a doctor.

Bleeding/Receding Gums

You may be astonished to learn that the single most prevalent disease on the planet is periodontal or gum disease and that, far from being a problem only associated with old age, an estimated 66% of younger adults have some form of this condition. Bleeding gums, especially after flossing, cleaning your teeth or eating hard food (say an apple) are a clear sign of gum disease, as are red or swollen gums, loose or separating teeth. And this is not a problem sufferers should ignore since periodontal infections can enter the bloodstream and spread to cause even more serious problems. In fact, researchers are now showing a link between gum infections and cardiovascular disease, low birth weight babies, stroke, osteoporosis and diabetes. Worse than that, since this is a bacterial infection which passes through saliva, if a member of your family has gum disease, then you are at risk too because it is infectious and contagious.

Blepharitis

Blepharitis is the inflammation of the outer edges of the eyelids and results in redness, itching, burning and sometimes, a sensation of something being stuck in the eye. Other symptoms include swollen eyelids, loss of eyelashes, excess watering and secretions that form a crust on the lids which can feel as if they have become glued together during sleep. The infection may have taken hold in either the eyelash follicle or the glands in the eyelids and may be the result of burn-out and stress, or linked with seborrhoea (dermatitis) of the face or scalp.

Bloating

Abdominal bloating is when the abdomen feels full and tight. If not caused simply by over-eating, then the main reason for it is intestinal gas but it can be a symptom of other, underlying problems such as food intolerances or digestive disorders such as Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS). The lack of digestive enzymes is one of the most common causes of bloating since these breakdown fats, proteins and carbohydrates. Ask your doctor to rule out other possible causes.

Blood Clots/DVTs

Deep Vein Thrombosis (DVT) is a condition when a blood clot forms in one or more of the deeper veins in the body. The condition often affects the legs with swelling and leg pain being the most common features however many people with DVT may not have any symptoms. The biggest concern with the formation of a blood clot in the deep veins is the risk that this clot may dislodge and shoot to the lungs. If the clot is big enough then this can be fatal. DVT’s form as a result of inactivity whether on a long plane journey or even a long ride in the car. Whilst the probabilities of DVT’s forming on plane journeys are low, there are many other risk factors which include being overweight, smoking, high blood pressure and of course long periods of inactivity.

Blood Clotting

Platelets or thrombocytes are cell-like particles, smaller than red or white blood cells, which form part of the blood’s protective mechanism for stopping bleeding. They gather at a bleeding site where they become activated for clotting becoming “sticky” and clumping together to form a plug that helps seal the blood vessel to stop the bleeding. At the same time, they release chemicals that help promote the complex clotting mechanism. Vitamin B12 (or cobalamin) is so important to healthy blood it is often known as “the red vitamin.” It plays a key role in the formation and regeneration of blood and its component parts, including those factors crucial for clotting. Copper, which the body uses to convert iron to haemoglobin, is also important for healthy blood since haemoglobin is the molecule that transports oxygen around the body via the blood vessels.

Bloodshot Eyes

Eyes become bloodshot when the small vessels on the surface of the eye become inflamed and congested with blood which is usually a result of an inadequate supply of oxygen to the cornea or tissues covering the eyes. Usually the result of eyestrain, fatigue or a poor diet, it can only occur as a result of nutritional deficiencies which, once addressed, should clear the problem. The key nutrients involved are vitamins B2 (riboflavin) and B6 (pyridoxine) and the amino acids, histidine, lysine and phenylalanine. Bloodshot eyes may also indicate capillary fragility throughout the body, high blood pressure or the presence of a blood clot.

Blurred Vision

Nearsightedness, farsightedness and astigmatism can all result in chronically blurred vision which can be corrected with glasses/contact lenses but eyestrain and fatigue can cause a temporary problem. Periodic blurring may be the result of an inadequate supply of the light-sensitive pigment in the eye called rhodopsin, or visual purple, which is made from vitamin A and protein; hence the old wive’s tale about carrots helping you to see better in the dark. Carrots are an excellent source of betacarotene which the body converts to vitamin A.

Boils

Boils or furuncles, to give them their proper medical name, erupt as a result of an infection of the deepest part of the skin’s hair follicle by the Staphylococcus aureus bacterium. Most common among children and adolescents, these tender red painful lumps usually appear on the face, buttocks, scalp or underarms.
Symptoms include itching, mild pain and localized swelling and within 24 hours, the site will be filled with contagious pus which can contaminate nearby skin causing more boils or enter the bloodstream to affect other parts of the body. A carbuncle refers to a cluster of boils that form when this contagion spreads which is also a sign of a compromised immune system. Without interference, a boil will naturally come to a head, open, drain and heal in 10 to 25 days. Interference increases the risk of leaving scar tissue.

Bones

The most fascinating thing about bone is that it is a constantly changing tissue that has several key jobs to do – as well as providing strength and stability and a framework for the body’s muscles to move against, it is also used to protect the most sensitive tissues, including the brain and the spinal cord. Many people assume that if you have enough calcium in the diet, you will build and keep a strong skeleton but this is not so because healthy bone needs other less well-known nutrients too.

The building block of new bone is a mesh of microfibres for the calcium and magnesium minerals to cling to. This mesh, called the osteoid , is itself made up of proteins, collagen, elastin and various glucosamine polymers which is why so many joint supplements include glucosamine. To build these proteins, the body needs vitamin C, vitamin B6, copper and zinc. To make the glucosamine polymers, it needs glucosamine and manganese and to activate the whole matrix, the body needs vitamin K, deficiencies of which are thought to be very widespread in the adult population. Once the matrix is built and activated, it is then impregnated with the calcium and magnesium salts used to form solid bone but one of the equally important substances involved in this process is one few people have ever heard of called ipriflavone. Synthetic versions of this agent which were made from soya are no longer on sale in the UK but the herb, red clover, is a great alternative since it is a rich source of another chemical called daidzen which the body then uses to make ipriflavone.

Bowel Health

With almost any chronic health complaint you can think of, from persistent tiredness to low libido, the place to start (and return to), again and again, is the gut because unless this part of the body is working properly, not only can you not feel 100% healthy, you will not get the maximum benefits from any supplements you are taking to get better or stay well.
You may think you interface with the world through the outside of your body – your face, your form, your skin – but the real interaction takes place inside, with the digestive tract. This system has four key functions; to receive and breakdown foods into nutrients (the process we call digestion); to absorb nutrients into the bloodstream for transport to the body’s organs and tissues; to eliminate indigestible parts of food from the body and to host the so-called “friendly” bacteria that help make the nutrients that support not only these processes but the immune system too which is why taking a daily probiotic supplement is the single best thing you can do for you overall health.

Brain

Unlike other body tissues, the brain needs a constant supply of oxygen and glucose which means any supplement you take to increase brain power needs to (a) boost or maintain the supply and uptake of these nutrients and (b) help the brain to better utilize glucose supplies. You can also use natural remedies to bolster levels of the brain chemicals (neurotransmistters) that control everything you feel and do. Vitamin C, for instance, is critical to optimum brain functioning. In fact, levels of this antioxidant nutrient in the cerebral spinal fluid (CSF) are up to five times higher than in the blood plasma and in the brain cells themselves, another five times higher than in CFS.

The principle enzyme that works to make the mood-controlling neurotransmitter dopamine relies on both calcium and vitamin C to work, which is why both these nutrients have long been used for their calming action in the body. Dopamine is eventually converted to another brain chemical, norepinephrine, which controls both mood and behaviour. Low levels of both have been linked with both depression and the inability to think clearly.

Breast Health

The human breast is a gland that contains milk ducts, lobes, fatty tissue and a network of lymphatic vessels. Breast cancer is reported to be the condition most women fear the most yet the majority of breast lumps detected will be benign cysts or fibroid masses. That said, if you detect any kind of breast lump, see your doctor straight away. It is normal for breasts to swell, become tender and feel lumpy before a period so this is not the time to examine them for lumps. Better to wait until a week after the end of your last period and make this time your regular monthly check. A woman who is accustomed to the shape and feel of her breasts will be better able to detect subtle changes and will seek advice earlier than someone who is not in the habit of self-examination.

Throughout her life, a woman’s breasts are directly affected by levels of oestrogen in the body and the risk of breast cancer has been linked with a long and higher exposure to this hormone which means the place to start with breast care, in normal health, is with keeping the hormones optimally balanced.

Breathing /Breathlessness

Laboured breathing can be a sign of a range of chronic conditions from asthma to stress but even in good health, lots of people breathe from the chest and not from the diaphragm which means they are using less than a third of the total lung capacity. Shallow breathing places more stress on the body because it cannot eliminate sufficient carbon dioxide so it is well worth re-learning how to breathe properly through relaxation or yoga techniques. Proper breathing can help increase energy levels, speed the healing process of many disorders and help relieve anxiety, stress, insomnia and mild asthma symptoms.

Bronchitis

A common and troublesome inflammation of the mucous membrane of the airways of the chest and lungs, acute bronchitis is actually a viral infection. Less severe forms can be caused by bacteria and fungal infections. Telltale symptoms include a runny nose, followed quickly by a dry, hacking cough that starts to produce phlegm after a few days at which point, the breathing will sound rattled and laboured. This is another condition that can be triggered by allergies and if the coughing is worse at night, this cause should be investigated. The condition can also cause a low-grade fever.

Bruises

A bruise is a pool of blood that has escaped from its blood vessels following an injury to one of the tiny capillaries close to the surface of the skin, caused by a thump, bump, bang or fall at that site. The blood becomes trapped under the skin causing the familiar discolouration we recognise as a bruise which disappears as the body reabsorbs the leaking blood.

A new bruise will feel tender and may be swollen too. And the reason some bruises look brown or yellow is that as they heal, and the escaped blood is reabsorbed, a little residual iron from the blood may be left over. Easy bruising may be a sign of a lack of both vitamin C, which is needed to make strong blood vessels, and vitamin K which plays a key role in the blood-clotting mechanism. Unexplained bruising may indicate an underlying health condition. Heavy smoking and heavy menstruation may be linked with unexplained bruising, also allergies, anaemia, certain cancers and haemophilia.

Burn-Out

If you have it, you’ll know it. This is the very last and most serious of the body’s three progressive reactions to chronic and continued stress or General Adaptation Syndrome (GAS). In the first stage, you expend most of your energy worrying that you cannot do everything you think you are supposed to get done. In the next phase, the mind is willing but the body is beginning to put the brakes on and in the final stage (this is the one you want to avoid) you collapse in an exhausted heap, get sick and recognize you are suffering from burn-out.

All three of these phases are controlled by the adrenal glands which regulate the hormones that dictate the body’s response to continued stress whether work deadlines, family pressures or financial troubles. While the first stage of burn-out is relatively short-lived, the second, known as the resistance phase, can go on and on and on. You will get a temporary increase in energy to keep you on your feet and even your blood pressure will increase to help you stay more alert but you will pay a high price for these adaptations when you finally succumb to exhaustion.

Burns

There are three classifications of skin burns, depending on the severity. First-degree burns affect only the outer layer of the skin, causing redness and sensitivity to the touch. Sunburn, for example, is a first degree burn. Second-degree burns penetrate to the deeper underlying layers of the skin and are characterized by redness, blistering and acute pain.

With third-degree burns, the entire thickness of the skin and possibly underlying tissues, such as muscles, are destroyed. The skin may appear red, or may be white or yellowish, leathery or black. There is no pain because the nerves in the skin have been severely damaged too. With third-degree burns, urgent medical attention is a must. To support the skin-healing process, vitamins A, C, B Complex and vitamin E are important, as is zinc. The potassium lost during the injury will also need replacing.

Bursitis

This is an inflammation of the bursa – the small fluid-filled sacs located between tendons and bones throughout the body. They help promote movement by cushioning against friction between the sharp edges of bones and other tissues. An inflamed bursa causes pain, is tender to the touch and causes a restricted range of motion. It can also appear red and swollen.

Those areas most commonly affected include the knee (also known as housemaid’s knee); shoulder, elbow, Achilles tendon and the first joint of the big toe. This kind of inflammation can also be a sign of other conditions including gout and arthritis. Infections can also exacerbate this condition.

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Candidiasis (Thrush)

We all have this organism (which is a single-celled fungus) in the genital and intestinal tracts but a healthy immune system will keep it in check. When it does run riot, it can affect different parts of the body, the most common being the mouth, ear, nose, toenails, fingernails, gastrointestinal tract and vagina. There are over 150 different strains of candida; eight of which are pathogenic to humans and all of which thrive on refined sugar so if you have an infection, this needs to be eliminated from the diet. Frequently misdiagnosed, the symptoms can include digestive problems, itching, headaches, night sweats, joint pain, bad breath, arthritis, tiredness and bladder infections. One clue to an infection is that symptoms often worsen in damp, mouldy environments and after eating foods that contain sugar or yeast. The very best anti-candida remedies not only kill off the organism causing the infection, but flush them out too, preventing unwanted side-effects of the treatment itself.

Canker Sores

These are small, white swellings that appear on the tongue, the lips, the gums and the inside of the cheeks which then develop into ulcers. This is an inflammation, not an infection, and so should not be confused with cold sores which are caused by the Herpes Simplex Virus Type 1. Unlike cold sores, canker sores do not blister.

Canker sores may be the result of an abnormal immune response to normal bacteria found in the mouth and are occasionally linked to Crohn’s Disease which affects the bowels. Nutritional deficiencies, including Vitamin B12, iron, folic acid and the amino acid, lysine, have been found in some sufferers.

Capillary Fragility

Just one epithelial cell thick, the capillaries are the thin, fragile blood vessels that deliver oxygen to the body’s tissues and organs and take away metabolic waste products, including carbon dioxide. Capillaries are also involved in the release of excess body heat. Already fragile, capillaries can be further damaged as we age by the free radical molecules that the body produces as a normal by-product of metabolism.

Carbuncle

A carbuncle refers to a cluster of boils that form and spread as a result of an infection of the deepest part of the skin’s hair follicle by the Staphylococcus aureus bacterium. Most common among children and adolescents, these tender red painful lumps appear most often on the face, buttocks, scalp or underarms.

Symptoms include itching, mild pain and localized swelling and within 24 hours, the site will be filled with contagious pus which can contaminate nearby skin or enter the bloodstream to affect other parts of the body. A carbuncle is always a sign of a struggling immune system which would otherwise clear this infection.

Cardiovascular Problems

This is a general term encompassing heart problems, stroke and other related disorders of the heart and blood vessels. Still the Number 1 killer in the Western World, and no longer a problem thought to affect primarily men, cardiovascular problems need proper medical attention. The role of natural remedies in these conditions is (a) to help prevent these conditions developing or worsening and (b) to enhance and support conventional treatment with the supervision of your medical advisors.

Any disease that adversely affects the heart and disrupts circulation can lead to heart failure; the single most common cause of which is coronary artery disease which limits blood flow to the heart muscle and can lead to a heart attack. This may be a frightening diagnosis but it is not, with good management, an automatic death sentence. Lots of people diagnosed with heart failure live for many years following the diagnosis but to prevent these conditions developing in the first place, and to swing the odds of continuing to lead a productive life back in your favour after a diagnosis, it makes sense to use everything at your disposal which includes natural remedies.

Carpal Tunnel Syndrome

The carpal tunnel is the passageway through the wrist that protects the nerves and tendons that extend into the hand. The meridian nerve that passes through it is close to nine tendons and if any of these become injured, or the tissues of the tunnel itself become swollen and inflamed, this nerve will become compressed causing numbness, tingling and pain, which shoots up and down the arm and is always worse at night.

This has become the single most common occupational illness now reported and is frequently the result of repetitive movements, such as typing on a computer keyboard, causing repetitive strain injuries (RSI). Some sufferers have been shown to be deficient in vitamin B6 and by supplementing the diet with this nutrient were then able to reduce their intake of painkillers and avoid surgery.

Cataracts

A cataract is a clouding of the lens of the eye that can then cause a progressive loss of vision. When the lens thickens and becomes clouded or opaque, the eye can no longer focus or admit light properly. Cataracts are the Number 1 cause of blindness in the world and the most common form is the senile cataract which typically affects people over the age of 65. Cataracts can form as a result of a number of conditions, such as: old age, diabetes, glaucoma, smoking, genetics, trauma, and even specific types of medications. Some of the latest research studies show that cataracts can be a result of an accumulation of advanced glycation end products, or AGEs, while earlier studies show a correlation of a vitamin B2 deficiency. Other studies show that low antioxidant levels, especially of carotenoid-like compounds, can contribute to the development of cataracts.

Cellulite

The pitted, bumpy and dimpled appearance of cellulite is the result of adipose (fat) tissue projecting into the outer layers of the skin. Recent research suggests this may be related to the female hormone, oestrogen, which plays a key role in the breakdown of collagen, the substance that gives skin its elasticity and structure. Current thinking is that it is the destruction of collagen, which would normally keep fat tissue contained in well-organised structures, which results in the release of fats and toxins giving cellulite its characteristic appearance. Genetics may play a role in cellulite as may hormonal fluctuations.

Cellulitis

This is an acute and sudden inflammation of the connective tissue of the skin, caused by a staphylococcus, streptococcus or other bacterial infection breaking through the skin’s normal defensive barriers. It is most common on the face and lower legs where the infection will cause the skin to become hot, red, irritated and painful. Risk factors include insect bites and stings, other bites that break the skin, injury or trauma that breaks the skin and a history of peripheral vascular disease.

The use of immunosuppressive or corticosteroid medicines can trigger this inflammation which can also erupt as a result of recent surgical or dental procedures. Other signs of this condition include fever, chills, shaking, sweating, fatigue and aching muscles; stiff joints, nausea, vomiting, hair loss at the site of infection and a general malaise.

Chilblains

Chilblains, also known as perniosis or pernio, are caused by inflammation of the small blood vessels in the skin, in response to cold. They are most common on the cheeks, ears, fingers and toes and cause the affected parts of the skin to turn red and swell. They may itch and cause a burning sensation and can progress to blisters and even open sores. Nobody knows what causes them but the bloods of sufferers have shown abnormal proteins present which tend to sludge in cold temperatures.

Chlamydia

In the last decade, the incidence of sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) and the number of infected people seeking specialist help has doubled and the single most prevalent of these infections is Chlamydia trachomatis. Symptoms, which may appear between one and three weeks after sex with an infected partner, include genital inflammation, vaginal or urethral discharge, difficulty in urinating, a burning sensation during urination and itching around the inflamed area.

This is a serious infection which can leave women sterile. Even more alarming, a large number of those infected, both male and female, have no symptoms at all and so do not seek treatment. Chlamydia has also been found in the joints of younger woman suffering from unexplained arthritis.

Cholesterol Levels

The health risks of high cholesterol levels have been hammered home so effectively that we now all believe (wrongly) that the lower our cholesterol levels, the better. This is untrue because there are also health risks and include mood disorders, depression and a higher risk of stroke – when levels are too low. The real predictor of your risk of heart disease is the ratio of so-called good High Density Lipid (HDL) cholesterol to total cholesterol so this is the test you need to ask for.

Medics deem an ideal cholesterol level to be between 140 and 200 milligrams per decilitre (mg/dL) of blood and it is true that at levels higher than 300mg/dL, the risk of heart attack appears to double. The preferred levels of good cholesterol (HDL) to bad (LDL) are as follows: LDL should be below 130mg/dL; HDL should be above 40mg/dL and HDL should account for more than 25% of total cholesterol.

Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS)

By definition, a syndrome is a group of symptoms that occur together and characterize a specific condition but the clinical diagnostic criteria for CFS are now so stringent, many natural health practitioners believe they exclude a staggering 90% of those who actually do have the Syndrome. What all patients have in common, despite a diverse range of presenting symptoms, is depression of the hypothalamus – the master gland that controls sleep, hormone function, temperature regulation and the autonomic nervous system which, in turn, regulates blood pressure, blood flow and the movement of food through the bowel.

Circulation

Poor or impeded circulation will hamper the delivery of oxygenated blood to the body’s organs and tissues. Restricted or interrupted flow can be caused by a blood clot and by plaque or fatty deposits which cause the arteries to thicken, triggering an increase in blood pressure in order to pump enough blood to the heart. Poor circulation can also be a consequence of varicose veins which can form when the walls of the veins in the legs lose their elasticity and springiness. Smoking takes its toll on circulation. Hypertension can lead to stroke, heart failure, kidney damage and angina. Arginine is required by the body for the manufacture of nitric oxide, a compound that controls the flow of blood to every part of the body.

Cirrhosis of the Liver

This is the name given to the degenerative, inflammatory disease that leads to hardening and scarring of the liver cells. It may be the body’s most forgiving organ but eventually, the liver will not be able to function properly because the mass of scar tissue will impede the flow of blood through this organ. The single most common cause of cirrhosis of the liver is excessive alcohol consumption, although it can also be the result of infection by the hepatitis C virus (HCV) which may have been the accidental result of a blood transfusion before routine testing for HCV was introduced.

Claudication

This is the name given to the condition where, thanks to advanced atherosclerosis, the arteries supplying the legs with blood have become hardened making walking painful. The pain is a result of the muscles in the legs being starved of oxygen and the intensity of the condition is generally measured by how far the patient can walk before severe, cramping pains set in. L-arginine is the supplement form of an amino acid called arginine that the body uses as a precursor of nitric oxide which works to dilate blood vessels. In studies, claudication patients taking 6g of arginine split into two equal doses could all walk 66% further after just two weeks.

Coeliac Disease

This is a chronic digestive disease caused by an inherited intolerance to gluten; a component of wheat, rye, oats and barley. When sufferers eat wheat or related grains, the body responds to the gluten as if it is an antigen and launches an attack by the immune system which then causes swelling of the lining of the small intestines. This in turn impairs the digestive tracts ability to properly absorb other nutrients making mineral and nutritional deficiencies a serious consequence. Diarrhoea compounds the problem and food intolerances become likely. If left untreated, this condition can become life-threatening. There is no cure but natural remedies can help counter nutritional deficiencies and a gluten-free diet must be adopted to minimise the risks.

Cold Sores

Cold sores are caused by herpes simplex virus 1 (HSV1) and your first-ever sore will have appeared between three and 10 days after your first exposure to the virus. After this, it remains in the body, close to the lips and will lie there dormant until triggered again by a variety of factors including stress, fever, a cold, exposure to wind and sun, menstruation or high levels of the amino acid arginine. The virus is activated by the amino acid arginine so avoid foods that contain it including chocolate, nuts and most cereal grains. Another amino acid, called Lysine, inhibits the absorption of arginine to suppress the virus so this is a useful supplement to use, alongside topical natural remedies, if you are prone.

Colds

A common cold is an infection of the upper respiratory tract caused by a virus. Most healthy adults should succumb to no more than two colds a year and while colds are more frequent during winter, they are not caused by cold weather, rather the fact these viruses thrive better in colder conditions. There are over 200 different viruses that can trigger a cold but the most common are the rhinoviruses. Symptoms include the all-too familiar head congestion, nasal congestion, sore throat, coughing, sneezing, headache and watery eyes – symptoms that can also be caused by an allergic reaction to an allergen. Most colds will clear within ten days but occasionally can lead to more serious illness such as bronchitis or a sinus infection.

Colitis

Ulcerative colitis is a chronic condition in which the mucous membranes lining the colon become inflamed and develop ulcers which can then cause pain, bloody diarrhoea, gas, bloating and hard stools that are hard to pass. This inflammation, which may be caused by infection, stress or simply poor eating habits, can then cause the mucous lining of the colon wall to bulge into small pouch-like projections known as diverticula. Colitis is a common side-effect of the use of antibiotics which disturb the normal balance of the gut flora and allow more harmful microbes that would otherwise be held in check to proliferate. Other possible causal factors include a weakened immune system, restricted blood supply to the colon, stress and hereditary.

Colon Cleansing

A variety of herbs and nutritional supplements can be safely used to cleanse the colon of accumulated debris which can otherwise lead to the absorption of unwanted toxins, causing a range of disorders from fatigue to allergic reactions. Many nutritionists and naturopaths recommend colon cleansing but before embarking on any regimen, the first step should always be a short supervised fast.

Concentration

Scientists have proven, again and again, that Essential Fatty Acids (EFAs) play a critical role in brain functioning, including memory and concentration but herbs too can help improve focus, both in conditions such as ADD/ADHD and when brain fog is a result of tiredness, stress or simply ageing.

The herb, Rhodiola, for example, increases levels of the brain chemical, dopamine, which, as well as warding off stress, regulates those brain functions that will affect concentration. The other key herb to investigate is Melissa officinalis (Lemon Balm) which can help improve both mood and cognitive performance.

Conjunctivitis

This is an inflammation of the conjunctiva – the membrane that lines the eyelid and covers most of the white of the eye. Often called “pink eye”, the eyes can appear swollen and bloodshot and will be itchy and irritated. There are several causes, including bacterial and viral infections. If conjunctivitis is caused by the latter, then it will be highly contagious. Chemicals, make-up, swimming pool chlorine, smoke, fumes, other allergens and contact lens solutions can also trigger this condition. Pink eye can also be linked with hayfever.

Constipation

Most people, including children, will experience constipation from time to time but increasing fibre in the diet and drinking more fluids (constipation is often a result of dehydration) can help bring about a rapid resolution. However, chronic constipation can be a sign of more serious bowel disturbances, including Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS), and should be checked by your doctor.

In some cases, prescription drugs including antidepressants, heart medications, cough syrups and painkillers can cause constipation, as can the wrong kind of iron supplementation. Taking a good quality probiotic to rebuild and maintain levels of the good gut bacteria that keep the colon healthy will help prevent sluggish digestion, as will colon cleansing herbs such as Triphala. You can also easily increase the fibre passing through the gut, which will also help prevent constipation, using good quality supplementation.

Corns and Calluses

Caused by an overgrowth of skin tissue (hyperkeratosis), corns and calluses are most common on the feet but can also appear on the hands and knees. Corns, which usually form between the toes, tend to remain soft because the moisture there keeps them that way, while corns that form on the tops of the toes tend to be hard. Corns can ache and may be tender to touch. Most frequently the result of repeated friction and pressure, caused by ill-fitting footwear, they can also be the result of a bacterial infection and an acid/alkaline imbalance. Do not cut away at hardened skin areas since this can lead to infection.

Coughing

Coughing is a natural reflex mechanism used to clear foreign bodies from the respiratory passages. However, there are many different types of coughs in response to a multitude of triggers so you need to work out what you are dealing with. A dry, irritating cough, for instance, can be a symptom of infection in the nose, ear, throat or sinus passages while a loose, wet cough can be a sign of bronchitis or triggered by an allergy.

A cough that is usually worse at night is a sign of inflammation and the result of a shift in fluids, caused by lying down, which then triggers the coughing reflex. Some over-the-counter cough medicines can cause constipation and will increase the body’s demand for certain nutrients, which can be corrected through supplementation.

Crohn’s Disease

This is an autoimmune disorder and inflammatory condition that affects the intestinal lining, causing severe problems including pain, diarrhoea and rectal bleeding. There is definitely a link with food intolerances and allergies that have given rise to a pre-condition known as Leaky Gut where damaged cells in the wall of the intestine leave “gaps” which then allow larger proteins to pass through, triggering an abnormal immune response and inflammation in the gut mucosa.

Zinc has been identified as a common deficiency in sufferers as has L-glutamine, another supplement which works in the body to support the important gut-immune relationship by helping prevent the passage of bacteria and toxins across the intestinal wall. It is also used as a food source by the intestinal immune cells. Sufferers should also avoid milk since researchers now believe there may be a link between a bacterium called Mycobacterium paratuberculosis (Para-T), which causes diarrhoea in cows and which, since it is not destroyed by pasteurization, can pass to humans.

Cystitis

Cystitis is an inflammation of the bladder and/or urethra which is the tube through which urine passes from the bladder out of the body. A result of infection, bruising or irritation, the main cause is usually an infection by Escherichia coli (E. coli) which will have travelled from the anus, via the urethra, to the bladder. The main symptom is always an urgent desire to empty the bladder. Typically, urination becomes more frequent and painful and even after emptying, there is a desire to urinate again. The urine may have a strong, unpleasant odour and may appear cloudy.

Other triggers which increase the risk of a bladder infection include pregnancy, sex and the use of a contraceptive diaphragm. It can also be a symptom of diabetes. Although more common in women, both sexes are prone to bladder infections and in men, they may be a sign of more serious underlying conditions, including prostate problems. Children can also suffer. If left untreated, cystitis can lead to kidney infection so in severe cases, consult a doctor.

Cysts

A cyst is a harmless sac-like growth in the deeper layers of the skin, which is filled with a soft, whitish-brown material that sometimes oozes onto the skin surface. While we don’t know why some people get cysts and others don’t, there is often a family history and we do know that smokers are more prone to larger cysts and that these cysts are more likely to become infected. When this happens, the cyst will resemble a boil. Larger cysts are usually drained but may then recur, or they are removed completely by surgery.

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Dandruff

This is a common scalp condition that occurs when dead skin is shed, producing those tell-tale and irritating white flakes. Research now suggests that severe dandruff is the result of an over-growth of a yeast called Pityrosporum ovale which lives naturally on the skin but dandruff can also be triggered by hormone imbalances, illness and deficiencies in nutrients, including B-Complex vitamins, Essential Fatty Acids (EFAs) and selenium. Normally worse in winter, there is no “cure” as such but you can minimise the problem by using specially-formulated shampoos and taking supplements to ensure those suspected nutritional deficiencies listed above have been corrected.

Dark Circles Under the Eyes

Persistent dark circles that are not simply a sign of tiredness are caused by pigment deposits under the eye. These pigments are by-products of the breakdown of haemoglobin – the oxygen-transporting component of red blood cells – and the reason they show up in the eye area is that this is where the skin is at its most delicate, thin and fragile. In Chinese medicine, the eyes are linked with the liver and so any stress on this organ is said to affect the eyes and surrounding area. This means sufferers will also benefit from taking a daily supplement that will work to decongest an over-worked liver.

Deep Vein Thrombosis (DVT)

Sometimes referred to as “Economy Class Syndrome” this topic has really hit a mainstream nerve, generating massive interest in those supplements which, potentially, can help long-haul, frequent fliers and even concerned holiday-makers avoid the risk of a blood clot. DVT describes a thrombus (blood clot) in one of the deep veins of the body, most frequently in the leg. Symptoms include tenderness, pain, swelling, warmth and discolouration of the skin of the affected area. If you develop these symptoms, see your doctor immediately. The risk of the clot moving to the lungs is a life-threatening one.

Dehydration

Dehydration which can follow fever, diarrhoea, vomiting, acidosis and any other condition where there is a rapid depletion of body fluids, describes an excessive loss of water from the body’s tissues. It needs to be addressed because it is always accompanied by a disturbance in the balance of essential electrolytes, particularly sodium, potassium and chloride which can be corrected by proper supplementation.

Dementia

This is the medical term for a progressive mental disorder characterised by a chronic disintegration of the personality, confusion, disorientation, stupor, deterioration of the intellect and a loss of control over memory, judgement and impulses. Alzheimer’s Disease is the most common form of dementia, responsible for over 60% of all cognitive dysfunction in later life. Over 50% of people aged 85+ suffer from Alzheimer’s Disease, and while scientists have yet to identify a definitive cause, there is a clear genetic link.

Researchers are also unclear as to which of the brain lesions associated with dementia are the most damaging: the plaque deposits that increasingly develop in the spaces between nerve cells or the neurofibrillary tangles that develop inside the nerve cells themselves. What we do know is that people who take antioxidant supplements (vitamins A, C, E and selenium, for example) and those who take anti-inflammatory medication suffer less degeneration than matched (equivalent) counterparts.

Dental Health

You may be astonished to learn that the single most prevalent disease on the planet is periodontal or gum disease and that, far from being a problem only associated with old age, an estimated 66% of younger adults have some form of this condition. Bleeding gums, especially after flossing, cleaning your teeth or eating hard food (say an apple) are a clear sign of gum disease, as are red or swollen gums, loose or separating teeth. And this is not a problem sufferers should ignore since periodontal infections can enter the bloodstream to create other health problems.
Researchers are now showing a link between gum infections and cardiovascular disease, low birth weight babies, stroke, osteoporosis and diabetes. Worse than that, since this is a bacterial infection which passes through saliva, if a member of your family has gum disease, then you too are at risk because it is infectious and contagious.

Depression

One medical dictionary defines depression as a mood disturbance, characterised by sadness, despair and discouragement. Of course, you do not need a medical dictionary to explain that while depression following a personal loss or tragedy is an inevitable part of the process of recovery, unexplained depression remains just that, unexplained.
Natural remedies are helpful in cases of mild to moderate depression but in more severe cases, medical assistance is advisable, leaving natural remedies to perform a supportive role as an adjunct to other medication.

Dermatitis

This is a generic term describing any inflammation of the skin which may be acute or chronic. Symptoms can include itching, scaling, flaking, thickening, weeping, crusting and colour changes to the skin but the type of eruption/outbreak really depends on the particular allergen, disease or infection causing the problem and so the best remedy will be determined by identifying the underlying cause. Typical allergens can include chemicals, perfume, cosmetics, rubber, latex, certain plants, metal alloys (especially nickel) and for some sufferers, sunlight.

Diabetes

Diabetes is a metabolic disorder characterised by the body’s increasing inability to utilise carbohydrates in the diet. Type I or insulin-dependent diabetes (IDD) is the kind that starts between childhood and the age of 35 and while natural remedies can help, they do not have the same dramatic impact as with Type II or non-insulin dependent diabetes (NIDD) which starts in adulthood.

Natural health practitioners describe adult onset or Type II diabetes as one of the most rewarding conditions to treat using natural remedies. The body needs to break down carbohydrates in the diet to form glucose which is then its main source of energy. What happens with diabetes is that either the pancreas does not produce enough of the hormone, insulin, to then convert this glucose into energy; or that the cells become, in effect, desensitised to the insulin that is being produced so that the pancreas then goes into overdrive.

The main symptoms of diabetes, which are the result of blood sugar levels that are too high, include excessive thirst, a significant increase in the frequency of urination, increased appetite, tiredness, lethargy, and weight loss. Other less characteristic symptoms include muscle cramps, tingling of the limbs, impaired or blurred vision, itchy skin, and slow wound healing. There is a genetic link, since the condition tends to run in families but it can also be triggered by pregnancy, surgery or an extreme physical and emotional shock such as being involved in a serious car accident, or even a sudden bereavement.

Diarrhoea

Diarrhoea is simply the body’s fast-track way of getting rid of toxins and other harmful substances. It is usually the result of infection although less common causes include inflammatory bowel disorders, Coeliac disease, hepatitis, cystic fibrosis or an anatomical problem with the gut. If you suspect any of these, see your doctor right away.

In most cases, diarrhoea is being caused by a viral infection of the intestinal tract, which becomes irritated and inflamed. The virus triggers the cells lining the intestines to secrete more fluids. This intensifies the peristaltic, wave-like action of the gut, which moves food along resulting in painful stomach cramps and loose, watery and frequent stools. Repeated bouts of diarrhoea may be a sign of lactose intolerance.

Digestive Disorders

In good health, digestion is simply the conversion of the food you eat into absorbable substances in the gastro-intestinal tract. This is achieved by a combination of mechanical (chewing/swallowing) and chemical breakdown of food into smaller and smaller molecules, with the assistance of glands both inside and outside the gut. The trouble is, this seemingly straightforward process is fraught with the potential to go wrong and when it does, you will certainly know about it. Naturopaths, who use a combination of herbal, nutritional and homeopathic remedies in their treatment plans, argue that digestive problems; particularly a congested gut, lie at the root of 70% of all other chronic ailments meaning any treatment has to start from the inside out.

Digestive Enzymes

You can use digestive enzymes to tackle a range of everyday problems from bad breath (caused by sluggish digestion and not poor oral hygiene) to bloating, again caused by digestive problems. However, you must make sure you use a supplement that provides all three major groups of enzymes; amylase, protease and lipase to break down the fats, carbohydrates and proteins in your food.

Diverticular Disease

With this condition, diverticular or grape-sized protrusions form in the wall of the colon, usually as a result of pressure on the bowel due to a diet that has not contained enough insoluble fibre. This is known as diverticulosis. Once diverticular form, they do not go away and while they themselves cause no symptoms, if they become infected or inflamed, then fever, chills, nausea, pain and bleeding can result. The condition then becomes diverticulitis. Most common among those with a history of frequent constipation and among the over 50s, occasional bleeding from the rectum may be the only symptom in some patients but since this is also a sign of other conditions, if this does occur, you must see a doctor.

Dry Eyes

Most common among women, especially during and after menopause, dry eyes are the result of either a deficiency in tear production or altered tear film composition. Triggering sensations of itching, burning and even the feeling of a foreign body in the eye, these symptoms are caused by a dryness of the cornea and conjunctiva. Seek out natural remedies that substitute the natural tear lubrication of the eyes as well as using essential fatty acid supplements internally.

Dry Mouth

Dry mouth or xerostomia is caused by cessation of normal salivary secretion which can itself be a sign of other conditions, including diabetes and acute infection. More frequently, it is noted as a side-effect of certain prescription drugs. The single most important natural remedy to help alleviate the problem of dry mouth is the Omega 7 essential fatty acid sourced from the sea buckthorn plant. This will work to restore a healthy and lubricated mucosal lining in the mouth.

Dysbiosis

Dysbiosis describes an imbalance of the bacteria in the digestive tract. In a healthy gut, you would expect to find around 3lbs of bacteria, with the so-called “friendly” bacteria making up around, at best, a third of the entire population. At worst, and especially after the prolonged use of antibiotics or years of poor diet choices, levels of the good bacteria that aid digestion, support the immune system and ward off pathogenic or disease-causing organisms may be so low they are virtually undetectable. Dysbiosis is frequently the underlying and often undetected cause of numerous chronic health complaints (see Related Conditions) but you can easily redress the balance of good and bad gut bacteria by taking pre- and probiotic supplements.

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Ear Infections

Most common in children, childhood ear infections may follow an upper respiratory tract infection or may be an allergic reaction to certain foods, usually dairy products. Symptoms can include a slight fever, discharge from the ear and severe, throbbing pain. Recurrent infections are a sign of compromised immunity.

Ear Wax

Cerumen is a yellowish, brownish waxy secretion (ear wax) produced by the sweat glands in the external ear canal. Excessive build-up of wax can cause discomfort, hearing loss and local irritation leading to the development of an infection. Impacted ear wax needs to be softened before it can be removed either by way of ear drops or Hopi candles.

Eczema

The medical definition of eczema is a superficial dermatitis (skin inflammation) of unknown cause. Symptoms may include scaling, flaking, itching, weeping, crusting, thickening of the skin in the affected areas and changes to the colour of the skin. Staphylococcus aureus – one of the so-called Superbugs – has been implicated in exacerbating and spreading eczema which may be triggered by stress, exposure to allergens and changes in temperature.
Since this is a multi-factor condition, a successful natural treatment program will need to include anti-allergy supplements, soothing, antibacterial skin balms for the topical treatment of an outbreak and, since many sufferers have been found to be unable to digest the milk protein, casein, support for the digestive tract.

Endometriosis

This is a very painful condition where the same type of cells that grow in the lining of the womb begin to grow outside the uterus. The theory is that these cells, which mimic cancer cells but which are not cancerous, actually migrate from the uterus. Another is that they are different types of cells that have mutated due to an error in their genetic programming. The most likely sites for endometriosis to occur are the ovaries, the fallopian tubes, the bladder, and the bowel. Symptoms range from painful periods to infertility.

High levels of the female hormone, oestrogen, are common in women with endometriosis so management of the pain and symptoms will need to start with addressing this. The B vitamins play an important role here because they generate the liver enzymes that convert oestrogen in the form of oestradiol – which causes these cells to proliferate – into a safer form called oestriol, which can be excreted. Sufferers also often have low levels of zinc which an important mineral because it helps the ovaries to function properly. The reason endometriosis is so painful is that it is an inflammatory condition. Essential Fatty Acids can help counter this by producing substances called prostaglandins which have a natural, anti-inflammatory action.

Energy Crisis

If you are feeling tired all the time, wake up feeling more exhausted than when you went to bed and if the thought of sleep is a million times more appealing than sex, then you are in the grip of an energy crisis. It is true that left to its own devices, the human body does begin to slow down after the age of 30 but that does not mean you have to spend more than half a life feeling burnt out. To really boost your energy levels you need to target your efforts at the place where energy is produced, in cells or, more specifically, in those cells organelles known as the mitochondria. This is where a substance called Adenosine triphosphate (ATP) that carries the body’s energy is made.

The two key nutritional supplements which work to boost flagging energy levels are CoEnzyme Q10 (CoQ10) and Carnitine. CoQ10 is found in every cell in the body where it plays a role in the production of energy and also works as an antioxidant to protect the tissues from otherwise damaging free radicals. Carnitine is an amino acid which the body produces naturally in its hardest-working organs, the brain, heart and kidneys. Carnitine boosts the action of CoQ10 by transporting fatty acids right into the mitochondria to be converted to energy. This means you can enhance the effect of both supplements by taking a good quality essential fatty acid supplement alongside them. Magnesium is also part of the chemical reaction that produces energy.

Epstein-Barr Virus

Residing in the salivary glands, this is a ubiquitous virus that in healthy people is shed in the oral secretions. A member of the herpes family, it has the same ability to remain dormant in the body, long after the primary infection. It “hides” in the salivary glands and the B-cells of the immune system where, unless something else has gone awry, it can usually be kept in check by the immune system’s other cells. It is responsible for the typically teenage infection glandular fever (known as kissing disease) and has also been implicated in cases of Chronic Fatigue Syndrome and Fibromyalgia where it has reactivated.

Erectile Dysfunction/Impotence

This can describe either the inability of the adult male to achieve penile erection or, less commonly, to ejaculate after achieving an erection. Several forms are recognised. Functional impotence has a psychological basis whereas anatomic impotence is caused by physically defective genitalia. Atonic impotence is the result of disturbed neuromuscular function. Poor health, advancing age, drugs, stress and fatigue can all cause impotence. Natural remedies can help boost circulation, and thus blood flow to the penis, as well as supporting the production of nitric oxide which also plays a key role in erectile functioning.

Eye Strain

As with all other body parts, the eyes need to be nourished and looked after. As well as making sure strain is not induced by too much close intense work at the computer screen or by working in inadequate lighting conditions, eye health can be supported by the use of the correct herbs and nutrients.

F

Fatigue

The single most common health complaint in the stressed-out Western World is fatigue and lack of energy; a condition that is deemed chronic when it is not rectified by a few early nights and rest. Fatigue is, of course, related to ageing, specifically ageing of the mitochondria which are those cell organelles responsible for the production of energy. There are between 500 and 2,000 mitochondria present in every cell (except red blood cells and the lens of the eye) and it is in these cellular structures that food is converted to energy. Known as the “powerhouse” of the cells, the mitochondria produce a substance called adenosine triphosphate (ATP). When you use your muscles, ATP is broken down into two other compounds: adenosine disphosphate (ADP) and inorganic phosphate and it is this process that generates energy. As we age, the mitochondria age too. They produce less and less ATP so you become like a car that is slowly running out of petrol. In younger, healthy adults, the mitochondria adapt to increased energy demands by replicating rapidly to produce more ATP.

As we age, this replication process slows down, which means we have fewer mitochondria to meet the same energy demands. These organelles attempt to keep up by increasing in size (as opposed to number) but even this is counter-productive since larger mitochondria are less efficient and actually produce less energy than their smaller, more youthful and more numerous counterparts. If fatigue is general, and not a result of an underlying condition such as adrenal stress or Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, then natural remedies can help not only protect the mitochondria from age-related damage but also increase the amount of ATP existing mitochondria are producing.

Fertility – Men

An estimated one in six couples will experience fertility problems at some point and in a third of all cases where couple are having trouble getting pregnant, doctors will reach a diagnosis of “unexplained” infertility – leaving both parties to obsess about what is going wrong, what they should be doing and who is to blame. Increasingly, people are seeking advice not only when they are having problems conceiving but even at the point when they decide they would like a baby. They are recognising, for instance, that both parents-to-be can take steps to improve the quality of both the eggs and the sperm before conception.

Fertility – Women

An estimated one in six couples will experience fertility problems at some point and in a third of all cases where couple are having trouble getting pregnant, doctors will reach a diagnosis of “unexplained” infertility – leaving both parties to obsess about what is going wrong, what they should be doing and who is to blame. Increasingly, people are seeking advice not only when they are having problems conceiving but even at the point when they decide they would like a baby. They are recognising, for instance, that both parents-to-be can take steps to improve the quality of both the eggs and the sperm before conception and, once pregnancy is confirmed, to give both pregnant mum and the growing baby the very best chance of maintaining the pregnancy to term. Pre-conception and pregnancy is not a time to take pot luck with either nutritional or herbal supplements. There may be health risks so do your homework first and make sure you use those ranges formulated specifically for fertility and pregnancy.

Fever

Fever, an elevation of body temperature, is not a disease but a symptom that may indicate the presence of disease. Although normal body temperature will vary between people, the healthy range is 97 and 99 degrees Fahrenheit. There is no need for alarm unless the body temperature rises above 102 degrees F (103 in children) because running a temperature is the body’s own way of destroying microbes. A high fever (104 degrees F or higher) will pose risks for people with underlying cardiac problems since it makes the heart beat faster and work harder which can cause irregular heart rhythms, chest pains or heart attack.

Fibroids

Most people think of these particular tumours as forming only in the womb but in fact, they are actually abnormal muscle cells and can form anywhere in the pelvic cavity. In 50% of sufferers, there are no symptoms. In the remainder, severe PMT, low blood-sugar levels, painful periods, painful sexual intercourse and bleeding between periods are all common. So, too, are anaemia, fatigue, and fertility problems. Experts are at a loss to explain why the condition is five times more common in women of African origin but most agree there could be a powerful genetic factor at work. In most cases, fibroids appear in the late 30s and 40s and then shrink after the menopause.

Fibromyalgia (FM)

This is a rheumatic autoimmune condition which is closely linked with Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS) but not the same. The key difference lies in the degree of musculo-skeletal pain that Fibromyalgia sufferers report. The current clinical definition of FM is widespread musculo-skeletal pain in all four quadrants of the body which has been present for three months, and tenderness at 11 out of 18 specific designated points on the body. Some 90 per cent of sufferers are female and the average age of onset is slightly less than 50 years. There is also often an overlap between patients with FM and gastrointestinal disorders, including irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) – some 70% of FM sufferers have IBS as well as food sensitivities – so any natural treatment needs to include support for the digestive system.

Fingernails

Nails, like hair and skin, will often mirror your general state of health. Brittle, flaking and white-flecked nails, for instance, may be a sign of zinc deficiency. Infection in or around the nails is a sign of a compromised immune system. The B vitamins are used to strengthen animal hooves and although nobody knows how or why this works, when Swiss researchers decided to see if the same held true for humans, the answer was a resounding yes. The researchers gave 2.5mg of biotin (one of the B vitamins) every day to women complaining of brittle nails. After six months, their nail thickness had increased by 25%. In another study, more than 60% of women taking a similar dose of the same supplement each day reported a dramatic improve in the condition of their fingernails and a reduction in splitting and flaking.

Flatulence

This is the medical name for the presence of an excessive amount of gas or air in the stomach and intestinal tract, causing distension of the organs and, sometimes, mild to moderate pain. Natural remedies, including probiotics, digestive enzymes and herbs such as Centaurium can quickly help remedy the problem.

Floaters

Bits of cellular “debris” floating within the eye are commonly referred to as “floaters”. They cast shadows over the retina so that in certain light conditions and against certain backgrounds, you will be seeing small specks or circles moving slowly in front of the eyes. The good news is that floaters are completely benign. Most will eventually disappear and so there is nothing to worry about. That said, if you suddenly start seeing large numbers of them, go and see your eye specialist again since this can be a sign of developing retinal detachment. Anyone working long hours on computers is at more risk of eye problems, including double vision. If this concerns you, make sure you take regular breaks and to prevent the recurrence of floaters, supplement your diet with Vitamin A.

Flu

This is a viral infection, and because the virus is clever enough to change its structure every couple of years, nobody can build a lifelong immunity following an infection. The typical symptoms are chills, fever, headache, aches, fatigue, and no appetite. The key to managing these symptoms lies in controlling any fever, getting plenty of rest, and keeping the body well hydrated with plenty of fluids.

Flushing

Flushing describes any sudden blush or reddening of the face and neck, usually accompanied by a subjective feeling of intense heat. A sustained flush across the face, especially when triggered by a change in room temperature or after eating hot foods, can be a symptom of acne rosacea and hot flushes are one of the more difficult aspects of menopause.

Food Allergies/Food Intolerances

A food allergy is when the body mistakenly identifies a food substance as a toxic invader. The immune system goes into overdrive and the body’s own white blood cells can end up doing more damage than the offending substance. A small number of people develop very severe allergic reactions and may have a violent reaction to even a tiny amount of that food.

Food intolerance is not, though, the same as a food allergy. Food intolerance is simply the inability of the body to properly digest a given food. What happens is that undigested particles of food enter the bloodstream through the gut wall and start to cause problems. The main culprits are wheat, dairy and citrus fruits and, for some sufferers, tea and coffee. What causes food intolerances in the first place is usually damage to the lining of the intestine. In perfect health, this acts like a filter allowing nutrients through and keeping toxins and undigested food particles out of the bloodstream. It has small holes which do this job. If these enlarge – and this can be caused by, say, the prolonged use of antibiotics or other infections – they stop acting as a filter. This is a condition called Leaky Gut and in many clinical trials, it has now been implicated in both asthma and eczema. Other signs of a food intolerance problem are irritable bowel syndrome, bloating and excessive tiredness.

Food Poisoning

Food poisoning is one of the most common causes of a sudden onset of diarrhoea which is the body’s fast-track way of eliminating toxins and other harmful substances. Food poisoning is always caused by the ingestion of a food contaminated by toxic substances or by bacteria that contain toxins. The different types of food poisoning include botulism, salmonella, mushroom and shellfish poisoning.

Fracture

A fracture is a break or crack of a bone. If the skin over the break remains intact, it is referred to as a closed fracture. If the bone has broken through the skin it is an open or compound fracture. Symptoms can include extreme pain and tenderness at the site of the break, swelling, a protruding bone, blood pooling under the skin, numbness, tingling or paralysis below the fracture. Seek medical attention for bone breaks and use natural remedies to accelerate the healing process.

Frozen Shoulder

Frozen shoulder, or adhesive capsulitis, is a disorder characterised by pain and loss of motion or stiffness in the shoulder. Most common among women aged between 40 and 70, the causes are not known although in some cases, it follows injury to the shoulder joint. The process involves thickening and contracture of the capsule surrounding the shoulder joint and the resulting pain is a debilitating dull ache affecting the shoulder and sometimes the top of the arm as well. The pain is usually worse if the shoulder is moved.

Doctors describe a three-stage process that can last up to 30 months. Stage 1 is the “freezing” stage where the patient develops a slow onset of pain. As the pain gets worse, the shoulder loses motion. This can last between six and nine weeks. In Stage 2, the pain slowly improves but the stiffness remains. This stage lasts between four and nine months. Stage 3 is the final “thawing” during which the shoulder motion finally returns to normal. This stage can last between five months and two years. Frozen shoulder is common among people with diabetes. Other conditions that increase the risk of frozen should include: hypothyroidism, hyperthyroidism, Parkinson’s disease, and cardiac disease or surgery.

Fungal Infections

Warmer weather is usually the key trigger of fungal infections – especially athlete’s foot – which is caused by one of two fungi, Trichophyton or Epidermophyton, both of which like to grow in the warm, moist areas between the toes. The trouble with treating any type of fungal infection with over-the-counter remedies is that while the problem appears to clear, the solution is often only temporary and so, frequently, re-infection occurs. Since fungi are so common, but not everyone develops an infection, persistent fungal infections are a sign of an imbalance in the body’s microflora and/or a weakened immune system.

G

Gallstones

The gallbladder is a 3-4in long pear-shaped organ located on the right side of the body, directly under the liver. Its primary job is to hold the bile juices that the liver needs to breakdown toxins so they can be expelled from the body. Abnormal concentration of bile acids and the cholesterol and bile salts that bile also contains can cause the formation of gallstones; a condition doctors call cholelithiasis which as many as one in ten people can suffer without even knowing it. Stones can be as small as a grain of sand or as large as a garden pea and if a gallstone is pushed out of the gallbladder to become lodged in the bile duct, then symptoms can include nausea, vomiting and pain in the upper right abdominal region. These symptoms often increase after eating fried or fatty foods. There is a risk of inflammation to the gallbladder which, if confirmed by your doctor, requires immediate medical attention.

Genital Herpes

Too embarrassing to discuss with your best friend but not something you should ignore, as with cold sores, the herpes virus hides itself deep in the DNA of the nerve cells where it can, unless triggered, remain inactive for weeks, even months. The good news is that flare-ups should become less severe over time but the triggers can be everyday factors – stress, other infections, even a trip to the dentist – which can be difficult to avoid. A Lysine supplement may help keep the virus dormant since it works to block its replication mechanism and in studies, Melissa (Lemon Balm) was shown to help herpes blisters heal more rapidly and prevent further flare-ups. To prevent repeated outbreaks, you will need to take steps to support the immune system too.

Gingivitis (Gum Disease)

You may be astonished to learn that the single most prevalent disease on the planet is periodontal or gum disease and that, far from being a problem only associated with old age, an estimated 66% of younger adults have some form of this condition. One of the most common problems is gingivitis or inflammation of the gums. Bleeding gums, especially after flossing, cleaning your teeth or eating hard food (say an apple) are a clear sign of gum disease, as are red or swollen gums, loose or separating teeth. And this is not a problem sufferers should ignore since periodontal infections can enter the bloodstream to create other health problems. In fact, researchers are now showing a link between gum infections and cardiovascular disease, low birth weight babies, stroke, osteoporosis and diabetes. Worse than that, since this is a bacterial infection which passes through saliva, if a member of your family has gum disease, then you too are at risk because it is infectious and contagious.

Glandular Fever

The Epstein-Barr Virus (EBV) is responsible for the typically-teenage disease we know as Glandular Fever, also known as “kissing disease” since, in healthy people, this virus is shed in their oral secretions. A member of the herpes family of viruses, it has the same ability to remain dormant in the body long after the primary infection. It “hides” in both the salivary glands and the B cells of the immune system where, unless something has gone wrong, it can usually be kept in check by other cells of the immune defences.

Gout

Gout was always thought of as a disease of affluence, a sign you had over-indulged by eating and drinking too much. In fact, it is a form of arthritis caused by an excess of uric acid; a by-product of a substance called purine – which is found in certain foods including meat, asparagus, anchovies, chicken and mushrooms. A fault in the way uric acid is broken down causes both it and urates (uric acid salts) to accumulate in the bloodstream and joints. This slowly destroys the joints and causes deposits of salt in the skin and the cartilage, especially in the big toe.

The number of cases of gout has doubled in the West over the last 30 years and for some people, even a small amount of the wrong food can trigger an attack. Prescription drugs are used to either increase the excretion of uric acid or slow down the rate at which urates form, but you can also use supplements and foods to help prevent further flare-ups. Cherry juice, for example, lowers uric acid levels; and celery juice, which promotes the flow of urine through the kidneys, can also relieve symptoms – so investing in a good juicer will help. Avoiding the wrong foods, particularly those high in purine, will also help. These include legumes, liver, mackerel, sardines, shrimp, sweetbreads, asparagus, bran, cauliflower, saltwater fish, meat, spinach and whole grains. Try to eat less protein and drink more fluids to help flush excess uric acid from your body. Carrying too much weight will also exacerbate the problem so keep yours in check.

Graves Disease

Graves Disease is a multi-system autoimmune disorder characterised by an over-active thyroid. Five times more common in women than men, the cause remains unknown but there is usually a strong family history. The usual age of onset is between 30 and 60 and triggers may include infection or physical and/or emotional stress. Symptoms, which are characteristic of an over-active thyroid, can include nervousness, a fine tremor of the hands, breathlessness, palpitations, increased heat intolerance, weight loss and fatigue.

H

Haemorrhoids

Haemorrhoids are badly swollen veins located both around the anus and along the very lowest portion of the colon, in the rectum. Those that are external are commonly known as “piles”. The condition is unique to humans, no other animal has this problem, and since up to 75% of all adults in the Western world will suffer from them at some time, the cause is believed to be predominantly dietary. Constipation can exacerbate the problem so make sure you tackle this and other digestive disorders as well as the haemorrhoids themselves to prevent the problem recurring.

Hair Loss

We all lose hairs – up to 50 a day – but hair loss only becomes noticeable when fewer new hairs are produced to replace the lost ones. If hair falls out in patches, the condition is known as alopecia areata. If all the hair on the scalp falls out this is alopecia totalis. If all body hair is lost, this is alopecia universalis. The single most common cause of hair loss in men and women is androgenetic alopecia (AGA), also known as male pattern baldness since it is most likely to occur in men with a family history of balding. This type of hair loss is an unexplained response to the body’s production of androgens or male sex hormones but other causes include fungal infections, thyroid problems, severe illness and the use of certain prescription medicines.

Halitosis (Bad Breath)

If your dentist cannot find an explanation for persistent bad breath then you need to turn your attention to your diet and digestive processes. A candida infection can trigger digestive disorders which in turn cause halitosis, as can an upset in the gut flora caused by taking a course of antibiotics. Dieting, alcohol abuse and fasting can also cause bad breath. If the problem is present only in the mornings, this is a result of dehydration and a reduction in the amount of saliva (which washes away bacteria) overnight. Underlying conditions which can also trigger bad breath include chronic bronchitis, sinusitis and diabetes.

Hay Fever

Hay Fever or Allergic Rhinitis is a reaction of the mucous membranes of the eyes, nose and airways to seasonal pollens and other everyday allergens including dust, feathers, animal hairs and environmental pollutants. In winter, some people will have the same reaction to moulds. When this happens, the body releases large numbers of antibodies to fight the perceived allergen but these antibodies also produce histamine which causes swelling and irritation to the body’s own tissues triggering the typical symptoms including itchy, red eyes, a watery discharge from the eyes and nose, sneezing and tiredness. Although similar to cold symptoms, the key difference is that the nasal discharge caused by hay fever is clear and watery, while the discharge caused by a cold is usually thick and yellowy.

Headaches

Virtually everyone gets a headache at one time or another and anti-inflammatory natural remedies such as the herb, boswellia, can help relieve the symptoms by opening up the blood vessels that are constricting to cause the pain. Check for magnesium deficiency since magnesium relaxes muscles and nerves allowing vital oxygen and nutrient supplies to the brain. Stress and tension headaches are the most common but are usually less severe than migraine headaches. Congestion caused by infection, whether ear, throat, sinus or chest infection, can also trigger a headache.

Heart Disease

Still the Number 1 killer in the Western World, and no longer a problem thought to affect primarily men, cardiovascular problems need proper medical attention. The role of natural remedies in these conditions is (a) to help prevent these conditions developing or worsening and (b) to enhance and support conventional treatment with the supervision of your medical advisors.
Any disease that adversely affects the heart and disrupts circulation can lead to heart failure; the single most common cause of which is coronary artery disease which limits blood flow to the heart muscle and can lead to a heart attack. This may be a frightening diagnosis but it is not, with good management, an automatic death sentence. Lots of people diagnosed with heart failure live for many years following the diagnosis but to prevent these conditions developing in the first place, and to swing the odds of continuing to lead a productive life back in your favour after a diagnosis, it makes sense to use everything at your disposal which includes natural remedies.

Heavy/Painful Periods

The medical term for menstrual cramps is dysmenorrhea – which means painful menstruation. This is one of the most common gynaecological complaints with more than half of all females suffering at some point in their lives. A period can last from two or three to seven or eight days. On average, the equivalent volume of a quarter cup of blood is lost with each menstrual cycle. The cycle itself can range from 21 to 35 days, although the average is 28 days. What is happening during menstruation is that the rich lining of the womb that the body had prepared to nurture a fertilised egg is shed. Any woman suffering from severe pain during menstruation should see the doctor to rule out possible underlying causes such as an ectopic pregnancy, endometriosis, ovarian cysts, pelvic inflammatory disease or fibroids.

Females who suffer from cramping have been shown to produce greater levels of prostaglandins – the hormones secreted by the uterine lining – and this can be exacerbated by a diet that is rich in saturated fats from meat and dairy products. Period pains will also be made worse by any underlying digestive disorder, especially constipation. Heavy periods are always a result of an imbalance between the key female hormones so no natural treatment will really work unless this underlying problem is addressed first.

High Blood Pressure/Hypertension

Blood pressure is the term used to describe the amount of force required for the heart to pump blood around the body. While this may peak during physical or emotional stress, under normal conditions, your blood pressure should remain within a narrow range of normal limits. Hypertension or high blood pressure is a cardiovascular disease characterized by an elevation of blood pressure above arbitrary values considered normal for people of the same sex and similar age, racial and environmental background.

When blood pressure is raised, the heart must work harder to pump enough blood to all the body’s tissues. In the vast majority of people with hypertension, no single cause is identified and around a third of all sufferers will have high blood pressure without knowing it which is why it is sometimes known as the “silent killer”. Symptoms, if there are any, can include headaches, sweating, breathlessness, dizziness and visual disturbances. The good news is that this is a condition that is not only easy to detect, it is not too difficult to manage and bring back under control.

High Cholesterol

The health risks of high cholesterol levels have been hammered home so effectively that we now all (mistakenly) believe that the lower our cholesterol levels, the better. Nothing could be further from the truth since there are also health risks – including moods disorders, depression and a high risk of stroke – when cholesterol levels are too low. The real predictor of your risk of heart disease if you are sticking with monitoring cholesterol levels is the ratio of so-called “good” High Density Lipid (HDL) to total cholesterol and so this is the test you should ask your doctor for. HDL should account for around 25% of total cholesterol.

Hives

Hive or urticaria is a skin condition characterised by sudden outbreaks of itchy red welts on the skin. It can affect any part of the body and will usually disappear within a few hours or a couple of days. Usually, an outbreak is a sign of an allergic reaction and the body’s response to histamine produced by antibodies to fight the perceived allergen. Occasionally, hives can be caused by either a viral or bacterial infection and, in recent years, researchers have established a link between candida (thrush) and hives.

Homocysteine Levels

Homocysteine is an amino acid and a normal by-product of metabolism, levels of which have now been shown to be about forty times more accurate as a predictor for the risk of heart disease than cholesterol levels. Raised homocysteine levels have been found in around 40% of patients suffering from heart disease yet around 80% of all fatal heart attacks occur in men who do not have high cholesterol levels. In good health, the body not only makes but then detoxifies homocysteine by converting it back to methionine (from which is was produced in the first place) or by breaking it down even further to form a harmless substance called cystathionine.

Factors that can interfere with this process include either (a) a genetic fault in one of the enzymes responsible for this conversion and breakdown or (b) a deficiency in any of the nutrients needed to activate these enzymes in the first place. The key three nutrients that we now know are crucial to detoxifying homocysteine are Folic Acid, vitamin B6 and vitamin B12, which all act synergistically in this process.

Hormones/Hormone Imbalances

All the glands in the body are secretory organs and those that secrete hormones directly into the bloodstream make-up what is known as the endocrine system. These are the pineal, pituitary, thyroid, parathyroid, thymus, adrenals, pancreas and gonads (ovaries and testes) so you can see that any malfunction with any of these glands will affect hormone levels and, depending on which gland and which hormones are affected, can trigger a range of problems from infertility to menopausal symptoms, stress to weight problems.

Hormones are, in effect, highly sensitive chemical messengers which is why, when things go awry, natural healers prefer the use of plant hormones (or phytoestrogens) rather than synthetic ones. This is because the natural versions have only one-thousandth of the potency and thus a much weaker, more subtle action in the body. The plant Red Clover, for example, contains at least 100 different chemicals, including isoflavones; those substances that are chemically-similar albeit much weaker to the female hormone, oestrogen. This is why, for instance, this remedy is a key component of supplements designed to help rebalance hormones in menopause.

Hot Flushes

Although the average age for onset of the menopause in the UK is 51, most women will start to experience hormonal changes and symptoms – including hot flushes – up to 15 years before being diagnosed as menopausal. In these earlier perimenopausal years (from around the age of 35), the changes may not be so dramatic but they will still affect how a woman looks and feels about herself.

Hot flushes are often among the first signs a woman has that her ovaries, which are starting to effectively shut down, are producing less oestrogen. Conventional hormone replacement therapy (HRT) works by rebuilding levels of the female hormones but since it can also increase the risk of breast cancer, more and more women are seeking safer alternatives. Stress will exacerbate hot flushes so you will also need to investigate remedies than can help counter this adverse effect. Flower essences can help address the emotional issues associated with a changing body and lifestage.

HRT (Hormone Replacement Therapy)

Conventional hormone replacement therapy (HRT) works by rebuilding levels of the female hormones but since it can also increase the risk of breast cancer, more and more women over the age of 50 are seeking safer alternatives. Most experts believe that if HRT is used on a short term basis (less than 5 years), the benefits far outweigh the risks. Even if you decide to continue with HRT, there are natural remedies that may help lower the associated health risks by changing the “pathway” by which synthetic hormones are first processed and then disposed of by the body.

Human Papilloma Virus (HPV)

The Human Papilloma Virus (HPV) is responsible for a range of conditions, including genital warts and the everyday ones that appear on other parts of the body. It has also been highly implicated in changes to the cervix which, if undetected and untreated, may lead to cervical cancer. An estimated 80% of all women are infected by HPV within four years of becoming sexually active and, while only certain strains of this virus have been linked with cervical cancer, 90% of all cervical carcinomas are now believed to be caused by it. If you are being monitored for changes to the cervix by your doctor, then use natural remedies as an adjunct to the conventional tests and treatments recommended.

Hypertension/High Blood Pressure

Blood pressure is the term used to describe the amount of force required for the heart to pump blood around the body. While this may peak during physical or emotional stress, under normal conditions, your blood pressure should remain within a narrow range of normal limits. Hypertension or high blood pressure is a cardiovascular disease characterized by an elevation of blood pressure above arbitrary values considered normal for people of the same sex and similar age, racial and environmental background.

When blood pressure is raised, the heart must work harder to pump enough blood to all the body’s tissues. In the vast majority of people with hypertension, no single cause is identified and around a third of all sufferers will have high blood pressure without knowing it which is why it is sometimes known as the “silent killer”. Symptoms, if there are any, can include headaches, sweating, breathlessness, dizziness and visual disturbances. The good news is that this is a condition that is not only easy to detect, it is not too difficult to manage and bring back under control.

Hypoglycemia (Low Blood Sugar Levels)

Hypoglycaemia or low blood sugar describes a condition where there is an abnormally low level of glucose (sugar) in the blood. Symptoms can include fatigue, dizziness, heart palpitations, nausea, blurred vision, headaches, an inability to concentrate, sweet cravings, insomnia, night sweats and a feeling of weakness in the legs. If any or all of these symptoms appear just a few hours after eating sweets or fats then see your doctor for a diagnosis to rule out other underlying causes including thyroid and pituitary problems, kidney disease and pancreatitis. Although hypoglycaemia can be inherited, it is more usually the result of poor dietary choices and other conditions, including excess drinking of alcohol and smoking.

Hypotension/Low Blood Pressure

Blood pressure is the term used to describe the amount of force required for the heart to pump blood around the body. While this may peak during physical or emotional stress, under normal conditions, your blood pressure should remain within a narrow range of normal limits. Hypotension or low blood pressure is a cardiovascular disease characterized by a lowering of blood pressure below arbitrary values considered normal for people of the same sex and similar age, racial and environmental background. Low blood pressure can cause fainting spells, dizziness, dimming vision, paleness and a general feeling of weakness.

I

Immune Function

Your immune system accounts for approximately 1 per cent of your body’s 100 trillion cells but what marks immune cells out as being so extraordinary is the fact they are not confined to a single space or organ, but are mobile units able to travel and act at sites far from their origin in the bone marrow. Immune system cells mature in the thymus, spleen and lymph glands and while there are different types of immune cells, they all share the common goal of seeking out and destroying those substances, dead or alive, that should not be present in the body. In essence, the immune system has a three-fold brief:

To recognize substances which are foreign to the body; to respond quickly enough with a counter-attack to neutralize any invader; to remember previous invasions so that if the same thing happens again, the response time is even faster. To achieve this, the immune system and its component parts must function as a highly complex information super-highway comprised of not just these organs and cells but also chemical messengers known as cytokines and neuropeptides. Together, all these component parts must maintain a healthy state of dynamic equilibrium to enable the immune system to respond rapidly and adjust to an ever-changing environment.

The basic premise of any natural approach to your health is that there is no point embarking on a treatment regimen for chronic health problems which ignores the critical role of an immune system that may need rebuilding. In light of this, there are five key factors which will do the most harm to your body’s natural defences and weaken its ability to protect you. These are: Stress, Infection, Trauma, Toxins and Nutritional Deficiencies and you will not maintain strong defences if you ignore the impact of these.

Impotence/Erectile Dysfunction

This can describe either the inability of the adult male to achieve penile erection or, less commonly, to ejaculate after achieving an erection. Several forms are recognised. Functional impotence has a psychological basis whereas anatomic impotence is caused by physically defective genitalia. Atonic impotence is the result of disturbed neuromuscular function. Poor health, advancing age, drugs, stress and fatigue can all cause impotence. Natural remedies can help boost circulation (and this blood flow to the penis) as well as supporting the production of nitric oxide which also plays a key role in erectile functioning.

Indigestion/Dyspepsia

Anyone who has experienced this vague feeling of discomfort after eating will already know the symptoms can include heartburn, nausea and bloating, alongside an uncomfortable feeling of fullness. Indigestion is often also a sign of other underlying conditions and so ask your doctor to rule out the presence of ulcers or gallbladder problems which can cause the same symptoms. Indigestion is almost always made worse by stress so investigate remedies to support healthy digestion and to relieve stress.

Infection

An infectious disease is defined as one that can be transferred from one human being to another; or from animals to humans by either direct or indirect contact. Stress also plays a critical role in determining whether, after exposure, you succumb to infection. You will have noticed, for example, that when you are more stressed, you are more prone to everyday infections that at other times would have passed you by thanks to a strong immune system. The fascinating science of the link between the mind and the body’s ability to resist disease is known as psychoneuroimmunology.

Infertility – Men

An estimated one in six couples will experience fertility problems at some point and in a third of all cases where couple are having trouble getting pregnant, doctors will reach a diagnosis of “unexplained” infertility – leaving both parties to obsess about what is going wrong, what they should be doing and who is to blame. Increasingly, people are seeking advice not only when they are having problems conceiving but even at the point when they decide they would like a baby. They are recognising, for instance, that both parents-to-be can take steps to improve the quality of both the eggs and the sperm before conception.

Infertility – Women

An estimated one in six couples will experience fertility problems at some point and in a third of all cases where couple are having trouble getting pregnant, doctors will reach a diagnosis of “unexplained” infertility – leaving both parties to obsess about what is going wrong, what they should be doing and who is to blame.

Increasingly, people are seeking advice not only when they are having problems conceiving but even at the point when they decide they would like a baby. They are recognising, for instance, that both parents-to-be can take steps to improve the quality of both the eggs and the sperm before conception and, once pregnancy is confirmed, to give both pregnant mum and the growing baby the very best chance of maintaining the pregnancy to term. Pre-conception and pregnancy is not a time to take pot luck with either nutritional or herbal supplements. There may be health risks so do your homework first and make sure you use those ranges formulated specifically for fertility and pregnancy.

Inflammation

Inflammation is the body’s protective response to irritation or injury and can be acute or chronic. The key symptoms signaling an inflammatory response include redness, pain, swelling and heat coming off the affected area. Conventional painkilling drugs for inflammatory conditions fall into two categories (1) non-steroid anti-inflammatories (NSAIDs), which come with a pretty nasty list of side-effect including gastric irritation, and (2) the so-called Cox-2-inhibitors which, although originally promoted as being less harsh than NSAIDs, are not without their side-effects too. The good news is that there are lots of natural Cox-2-inhibitors which work just as well as over-the-counter painkillers such as aspirin and ibuprofen with no side-effects at all so it makes sense to investigate these when you are suffering any condition in which inflammation and its associated pain is a key symptom.

Insomnia and Sleeplessness

Common sense might tell you this but it is still worth noting that studies by the Sleep Research and Treatment Centre at the Department of Psychiatry, Pennsylvania State University College of Medicine, have confirmed that the leading cause of insomnia in otherwise healthy adults is an over-active central nervous system, associated with increased levels of stress hormones.

Insomnia that persists for three weeks or more is deemed chronic not that a medical definition is any consolation when you are desperate to get to sleep. Prescription sleeping pills may be tempting but you will not get a refreshing night’s sleep and will suffer grogginess and other side-effects the following morning. Instead, try to tackle the underlying stress triggering the problem. If, for example, you wake in the early hours of the morning sweating and cannot get back to sleep, investigate the recommended remedies for adrenal stress. Do not use alcohol to help you get to sleep. Again, you will not wake feeling refreshed and, in addition, excessive drinking depletes vital nutrients including magnesium and the B vitamins.

Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS)

Probably the single most common digestive disorder, Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) can affect children, as well as adults, and can be triggered by stress, as well as eating certain foods you may have developed an intolerance to. The symptoms, which can alternate between constipation and diarrhoea, can make many sufferers a prisoner in their own homes but this need not be the case because natural remedies really do work to help manage this embarrassing condition.

Itching

Extreme itching can be a sign of certain types of anaemia and if this is likely, please ask your doctor for a check-up. Otherwise, itching is more usually a symptom of other more common conditions including eczema and other forms of dermatitis; an allergic reaction to, say, an insect bite, or, in the case of prickly heat, a reaction to warmer weather. Skin infections, including scabies, head lice in children and mites, can also trigger itching and the urge to scratch the skin.

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Jaundice

Jaundice is a yellowing of the skin and eyes caused by a build-up of bilirubin, the yellowish/brown substance resulting from the breakdown of old red blood cells. In good health, the liver will remove this waste but if this does not happen, an accumulation occurs triggering the tell-tale yellowing of the skin and whites of the eyes. Jaundice can cause a darkening of the urine, a lightening of the stools and may be accompanied by fluid retention in the trunk of the body, fatigue, nausea, skin rashes and vomiting. Since it is not a disease itself but a sign of one of a number of liver or blood disorders, a visit to the doctor for a diagnosis is crucial.

Jet Lag

If you have ever flown long-haul into a different time zone then you will have already experienced jet-lag and the unnerving brain fog that can make you feel like a space cadet in the first few days after your arrival or return home. Natural remedies really can help support the body’s circadian rhythm and its associated brain biochemistry which determines when you sleep and when you wake. You will also need to investigate those remedies which can support energy production while your body adjusts to a new time zone and, equally important, the digestive processes which can be just as disturbed by travelling as your sleep cycle.

Joint Problems

The skeleton, muscles, tendons, ligaments and other components of the joints together make up the musculo-skeletal system and while Western populations may be living longer, they are also living with more chronic health complaints, the majority of which affect the joints and its working parts. Musculo-skeletal disorders have, in fact, become the single biggest cause of pain and disability because, although these body parts thrive on use, the wrong kind of use such as sitting for long hours from the age of five on hard chairs and at desks that are too high or too low, will generate musculo-skeletal imbalances that will have serious repercussions in later life.

When it comes to investigating natural remedies to support the joints and relieve the pain of joint problems when they do kick in, we really are spoilt for choice. Better still, many of these are remedies that science has now been investigating for 20 even 30 years which means we can report that research, explain how and why these remedies work and give specific, well-documented information on therapeutic dosages.

The only thing to remember once you decide on the right joint supporting/pain-relieving remedies for your particular problem is that they will not work if you take them for a week and then leave them to gather dust on the bathroom shelf. Tackling these kinds of problems with natural remedies is a commitment but one that hundreds of thousands of patients can testify will pay dividends if you stick to the right remedies and take the recommended dosages.

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Ketosis

Ketosis is the medical term for the abnormal accumulation of ketones in the body as a result of an excessive breakdown of fats caused by a diet that contains no carbohydrates or not enough to prevent this happening. In other words, this is a health risk if you adopt something like the Atkins Diet which bans carbohydrate foods. Instead of metabolising carbohydrates for energy, the body has to metabolise fatty acids leading to the formation of and accumulation of ketones. It will also rob other tissues of missing vital nutrients to maintain its output of energy production. This is a key feature of starvation (although it can sometimes occur in pregnancy and diabetes mellitus) and, if not treated or if taken to an extreme by, for instance, sustained crash dieting, can lead to coma and even death. Starving the body of carbohydrates can suppress the immune system and damage vital organs. It can even lead to a heart attack.

Kidney Stones

Kidney stones or renal calculi are one of the most painful of all health complaints. They are the result of an accumulation of mineral salts that can lodge anywhere along the course of the urinary tract and while most will eventually (and very painfully) pass of their own accord, doctors will usually recommend intervention. The key then, when you are investigating natural remedies, is to work out what you can use to stop them forming, particularly if you have already suffered. Although there are four different types of kidney stones – calcium stones composed of calcium oxalate, uric acid stones, struvite stones composed of magnesium ammonium phosphate and cystine stones – the majority (about 80%) are calcium oxalate. Keeping the body hydrated is crucial because mild, chronic or recurrent dehydration increases the risk of stone formation.

A diet that is too high in refined carbohydrates, especially sugar, also increases the risk since this forces the pancreas to release insulin which, in turn, triggers the release of calcium into the urine. Kidney stones are now 10 times more common than they were at the start of the 20th century and if you have already had one, you have a 20-50% chance of getting another one in the next 10 years which should be motivation enough to start using the remedies that can help to lower these risks.

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Lactose Intolerance

Lactose Intolerance is the inability to digest lactose or the sugar present in milk. It is caused by a lack of or deficiency of lactase; the enzyme manufactured in the small intestine that splits lactose into glucose and galactose. When someone with lactose intolerance consumes milk or other dairy products, some or all of the lactose they contain remains undigested, retains fluid and ferments in the gut triggering abdominal pain and cramping, bloating and gas.

These symptoms will usually appear between 30 minutes and two hours after eating dairy products. If you are a sufferer, it is important to check your prescription medicines since many pills, including some birth control pills and stomach medicines, are formulated using lactose as a filler.

Leaky Gut Syndrome

In a healthy gut, the lining of the intestines generates new cells faster than any other tissue in the body. When working properly, these cells form a semi-permeable lining, which acts like a filter, allowing essential nutrients to pass but blocking toxins and other nutrients which would otherwise cause an allergic reaction if allowed to pass into the bloodstream. Damage to the intestinal lining – usually caused by poor dietary choices, alcohol, bacterial or parasitic infections and prescription drugs – can increase the permeability of the lining giving rise to a condition known as Leaky Gut Syndrome.

This problem is now believed to be at the root of many auto-immune conditions, including inflammatory bowel disease and even arthritis. Researchers have also found higher gut permeability in both children and adults suffering from asthma and eczema than in those not prone to these conditions. Candida also increases gut permeability. Once a Leaky Gut has developed, the regular consumption of everyday foods can cause an allergic and inflammatory response.

Leg Cramps

Leg cramps are usually the result of nutritional deficiencies such as magnesium, electrolyte imbalances in the body’s fluids and/or circulatory changes. They can also be caused by the additional strain placed on the legs by obesity and excess weight. Usually, a muscle contracts when it is used and then stretches out when the motion is completed or when another muscle moves it in the opposite direction. If a muscle contracts with great intensity and then does not stretch out again, you will feel the pain of a muscle cramp. Most cramping is worse at night. Other triggers include standing for long hours in jobs where this is unavoidable e.g. hairdressing, shop-keeping but sitting or lying in the same position for long periods of time can also cause cramping.

Liver Damage

The condition of your liver is critical to your overall health and well-being. In fact, naturopaths, who treat health problems without resorting to allopathic drugs, drawing instead from a range of disciplines including homeopathy, herbalism, nutrition and detoxification programmes, believe almost all chronic health problems are caused by colon and liver congestion.
The theory is that when a liver becomes congested, toxins, which would otherwise have been screened and removed in the body’s waste products, are free to circulate around the body via the blood, causing damage to its tissues and other organs. Signs of a congested liver include frequent headaches, digestive problems, insomnia, feeling sluggish when you wake up in the morning and, in more extreme cases, a yellowish tinge to the skin. The liver is the only organ in the body capable of regenerating itself so if you do suspect liver congestion and take steps to use natural remedies to support this organ, your efforts will pay dividends with more energy and vitality.

Low Blood Pressure (Hypotension)

Blood pressure is the term used to describe the amount of force required for the heart to pump blood around the body. While this may peak during physical or emotional stress, under normal conditions, your blood pressure should remain within a narrow range of normal limits. Hypotension or low blood pressure is a cardiovascular disease characterized by a lowering of blood pressure below arbitrary values considered normal for people of the same sex and similar age, racial and environmental background. Low blood pressure can cause fainting spells, dizziness, lightheadedness, dimming vision, paleness and a general feeling of weakness.

Low Energy

If you are feeling tired all the time, wake up feeling more exhausted than when you went to bed and if the thought of sleep is a million times more appealing than sex, then you are in the grip of an energy crisis. It is true that left to its own devices, the human body does begin to slow down after the age of 30 but that does not mean you have to spend more than half a life feeling burnt out.

To really boost your energy levels you need to target your efforts at the place where energy is produced, in cells or, more specifically, in those cells organelles known as the mitochondria. This is where a substance called Adenosine triphosphate (ATP) that carries the body’s energy is made. The two key nutritional supplements which work to boost flagging energy levels are CoEnzyme Q10 (CoQ10) and Carnitine. CoQ10 is found in every cell in the body where it plays a role in the production of energy and also works as an antioxidant to protect the tissues from otherwise damaging free radicals. Carnitine is an amino acid which the body produces naturally in its hardest-working organs, the brain, heart and kidneys. Carnitine boosts the action of CoQ10 by transporting fatty acids right into the mitochondria to be converted to energy. This means you can enhance the effect of both supplements by taking a good quality essential fatty acid supplement alongside them. Magnesium is also part of the chemical reaction that produces energy.

Low Libido

If you are suffering from this, then you already know it. The key to getting back on track with your sex drive, and both herbal and nutritional remedies really can help, lies in tackling the underlying cause of the disruption which can be as varied as a hormonal imbalance to chronic stress.

Low Sperm Count

It takes three months to form a mature sperm, and researchers believe it is during this developmental stage that sperm is most at risk from environmental toxins. Sperm count in the West has slumped by 50% in the last five decades and one theory is that substances called xeno-oestrogens, produced by chemicals used in the environment may be responsible. Since you cannot avoid these altogether, switching to organic foods and refraining from storing leftovers in plastic containers or under clingfilm can reduce contact.

The first priority in protecting mature sperm is to avoid over-heating the testicles. Men with low sperm count should not take hot baths or wear tight underclothing – both of which can adversely affect sperm motility. So can excessive drinking and smoking, especially the latter which scientists have confirmed can damage sperm DNA. Nutritional deficiencies can affect sperm health with zinc the single more important nutrient to a man’s reproductive system. Antioxidants such as vitamin E and selenium can help prevent cell damage caused by toxins and several amino acids, but especially L-arginine and L-taurine have been shown to play a critical role in the formation of healthy sperm.

Lumbago

Lumbago is the everyday term for muscle pain in the lower back, near the pelvis. This is common in pregnancy when the abdominal muscles stretch to accommodate the growing uterus which, in turn, makes the back muscles shorter and tighter. Accident and injury, as well as poor posture can trigger back pain but what is often over-looked is that in many cases, there is also a deeper-seated psychological component such as depression or stress which should also be addressed to help not only a full recovery but to prevent recurrence of the problem.

Lupus Disease

Lupus is an autoimmune disease which can cause either recurring, red round patches of skin rash (discoid lupus) or inflammation in the joints, tendons, connective tissue and other organs (systemic lupus).It affects mostly young women in their late teens to early 30s and there is often a family history of the disease. Smoking will exacerbate the condition and many sufferers are intolerant to dairy products – especially cow’s milk – which contains casein, a protein that has immune-stimulating properties. Autoimmune simply means that instead of protecting the body, the immune system is triggered by something to attack it. The perceived allergen may be an everyday environmental pollutant for example, and the conventional treatment is steroids, which suppress this aberrant immune activity.

Lyme Disease

Lyme Disease was first recognized in the United States in 1975, following a mysterious outbreak of juvenile rheumatoid arthritis near the rural community of Lyme, Connecticut. In 1982, microbiologists identified the infectious agent as an organism called Borrelia burgdorferi, which lives in the guts of ticks, mosquitoes, fleas and mites. This discovery has, since then, generated a lot of excitement in the natural health world about the idea that this could be the organism responsible for over 300 chronic health complaints, including rheumatoid arthritis, Chronic Fatigue Syndrome and even Parkinson’s disease.

The reason for all the excitement is that it is not “alternative” practitioners making this link, but medical microbiologists who have concluded this organism is far more prevalent than previously thought and often overlooked by doctors when making a diagnosis of persistent, chronic health complaints. This theory is further supported by UK trials which have demonstrated that squirrels, pheasants and deer all act as suitable hosts to transfer this infection throughout the tick population and that infected ticks now populate many parts of the UK from the remotes Isles of Scotland to London parklands. In other words, even if you are a confirmed city-dweller, you may still be more at risk than you imagined.

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Macular Degeneration

This is the leading cause of loss of vision among the over-55s and is caused, as the name suggests, by the degeneration of the macula which is that portion of the retina responsible for fine vision. The associated loss of vision can appear suddenly or may progress slowly.

Prescription drugs, including steroids and trycyclic antidepressants can accelerate macular degeneration, but so can exposure to everyday pollutants, including allergens, household cleaners, tobacco smoke and sprays. Forget chomping through mountains of carrots (although carrots, celery and parsley all supply nutrients to the eyes).

The two key agents for maintaining good eyesight are the plant chemicals, lutein and zeaxanthin. Diets containing high levels of both have been linked to a much lower risk of a range of eyesight problems, including macular degeneration and cataracts, in later life.

Memory Support

Unlike other body tissues, the brain needs a constant supply of oxygen and glucose. This is relevant to anyone interested in natural remedies because it means you need to be investigating those agents that work to (a) boost or maintain oxygen uptake, such as gingko biloba or (b) help the brain to better utilise glucose.

Vitamin C is also crucial to healthy brain functioning and memory support. The amount of this antioxidant nutrient in the cerebral spinal fluid (CSF) is 3-4 times higher than that in the plasma, and in brain cells, levels can be 3-5 times higher than in the CFS. In animal trials investigating memory support, rats whose diets were supplemented with acetyl-L-carnitine and alpha lipoic acid performed better in memory tests and had better cellular metabolic activities and more energy according to researchers who reported that every rodent fed this supplemented diet looked and behaved more like a younger animal compared with those fed a diet without these supplements.

Acetyl-L-carnitine is one of the more extensively-researched nutrients that has been shown in trials to help prevent brain ageing.

Menopause

It may be an inevitable “rite of passage” but for many women approaching menopause, the thought of sleepless nights, hot flushes and unwanted weight gain is enough to motivate a thorough investigation into those natural remedies that can support the body through these changes and help alleviate the associated symptoms. The drop in oestrogen levels which occurs during menopause is believed to leave women more at risk of both osteoporosis and cardiovascular problems so any comprehensive approach should include an investigation of remedies to protect against these risks.

During times of stress and change, the liver, which is the body’s primary organ of detoxification can become over-burdened so this should also be a consideration. And, as the ovaries begin to shut down, some of their work is taken on by the hormone-controlling adrenal glands so again, a comprehensive approach to a natural regimen that really will work should address this additional burden on these hardworking glands.

Migraines

Migraines are severe, painful, throbbing headaches that may be accompanied by nausea, dizziness, visual disturbances and sensitivity to light. They tend to affect women more than men – three out of every four sufferers are female – and occur most frequently first thing in the morning, reaching their peak and intensity of pain within an hour of the onset of symptoms.
Typical triggers include food allergens, especially chocolate and caffeine, but fluctuations in levels of the female hormone, oestrogen, may also be a trigger for some sufferers since many women get migraines around the time of menstruation. Natural remedies can be highly effective in helping to reduce the number of migraine episodes, the severity of the pain and the other associated symptoms.

Morning Sickness

Morning sickness is so common it affects up to 50% of women between the sixth and 12th week of pregnancy. It can occur at any time of day (unlike the name suggests) and is usually the result of either hormonal fluctuations or low blood sugar.

The two key nutrients that can quickly help to relieve nausea are vitamins C and K. Vitamin K is found in chlorophyll so taking a daily dose of wheatgrass would help. Severe vomiting and nausea that continues after the twelfth week of pregnancy is called hypermesis gravidarum. This abnormal vomiting can cause dehydration, acidosis and malnutrition and affects 1 in 300 pregnancies. The reasons for this condition are not yet clear although it has been associated with abnormally high hormone levels.

Constipation, which is also common in early pregnancy, will exacerbate morning sickness. The reason this happens is that the same hormone which the body relies on to maintain the pregnancy also slows down the intestines in order to increase the absorption of nutrients for the growing foetus.

Mouth Ulcers

Mouth ulcers can be triggered by one of the more common chemicals found in many toothpastes, sodium lauryl sulphate (SLS) which is a foaming agent frequently used in shampoos too. Switching to non-chemical toothpastes can help prevent recurring mouth ulcers which are actually the result of infection and subsequent inflammation of the delicate lining inside the mouth. To tackle an existing ulcer, use a topical spray that will help soothe this inflammation. To prevent further outbreaks, take steps to support the immune system. Recurrent mouth ulcers can also be a sign of other serious underlying medical complaints so ask your GP for a check-up to rule these out.

Muscle Cramps

Usually, a muscle contracts when it is used and then stretches out when the motion is completed or when another muscle moves it in the opposite direction. If a muscle contracts with great intensity and then does not stretch out again, you will feel the pain of a muscle cramp. The problem is more prevalent among older than younger people and most cramping is worst at night when it will tend to affect the legs, especially the calf muscles, and the feet. Muscle cramping may be caused by an imbalance in the body’s levels of electrolytes; minerals such as potassium, calcium and magnesium and by a deficiency in vitamin E. Other factors can include underlying conditions including allergies, arthritis, dehydration and hormone fluctuations. Physical over-exertion such as standing, sitting or lying for a long time in the same position will exacerbate the problem.

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Nail Problems

Nails, like the skin, reveal a lot of information about the body’s internal health. Changes or abnormalities in the nails are often the result of underlying nutritional deficiencies or other hidden conditions. White bands, across the nails, for instance, indicate a lack of protein while hangnails can be a sign of a lack of Folic acid, vitamin C and protein. Dry, brittle nails indicate a lack of vitamin A and calcium, while fragile nails, marked with horizontal or vertical ridges signal a lack of the important B vitamins. White flecks across the nail bed are a sign of lack of zinc and the growth of fungus, either under or around the nails, suggests a deficiency of the so-called “friendly” bacteria in the gut which can easily be remedied by taking a good-quality probiotic. Biotin has been shown in clinical trials to help strengthen nails by up to 25% and reduce splitting and other irregularities.

Nasal Polyps

Polyps are benign (non-cancerous) growths of varying sizes that can grow on stalk-like structures on the epithelial lining of different parts of the body including the nose. Nasal polyps usually form in the back of the nose, close to the spaces that open into the sinuses. These can cause bleeding and may interfere with normal breathing. People who suffer from hayfever and other nasal allergies are most prone to nasal polyps, as are people who over-use nose drops and nasal sprays.

Nausea

The medical definition is a sensation accompanying the urge, but not always leading to vomiting. Common causes include seasickness and other motion sicknesses, early pregnancy, intense pain, emotional stress, gallbladder disease, food poisoning and various enteroviruses. The two key nutrients that can quickly help to relieve nausea are vitamins C and K. Vitamin K is found in chlorophyll so taking a daily dose of wheatgrass would help. Nausea may be accompanied by pallor, cold and clammy skin, increased salivation, diarrhoea and swallowing movements.

Nosebleeds

Nosebleeds are caused by a rupture of the small blood vessels of the septum; the fleshy middle partition of the nose. Unless a nosebleed follows a blow to the head – in which case, see your doctor – there is no need to panic. The damage can be a result of too vigorous nose-blowing, anti-social nose-picking, sneezing, coughing or even an extreme emotional response to shock and upset.

The trick to stopping a nosebleed is to get the blood to clot. To do this, sit the patient in an upright position, tilt the head back, ask him or her to keep the mouth open and, with your thumb and fingers, apply pressure to the lower half of the nose. Imagine that you are squeezing each side of the septum and try to hold this position for 10 minutes to get the blood to clot. If this does not work, and the nose is still bleeding after 20 minutes then see the doctor. To prevent recurring nosebleeds, use supplements that work to strengthen the tiny blood vessels that are rupturing too easily.

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Obesity

Obesity, which is simply an excess of body fat compared with what would be considered the normal weight for a person’s age, sex, build and height, will put undue stress on the body, including the back, legs and internal organs and carries many increased health risks as a consequence. Obesity increases the body’s resistance to insulin and susceptibility to infection, put sufferers at a higher risk of developing coronary artery disease, diabetes, gallbladder disease, high blood pressure, kidney problems, stroke and other serious conditions that can result in early death.

Ironically, nutritional deficiencies can compound the problem since when there is an inadequate intake of certain, essential nutrients, the body cannot adequately burn or utilise fat which will then accumulate in the body. The traditional three-pronged approach to weight management via the use of natural remedies concentrates on the use of diuretic herbs and nutrients to reduce water retention; the use of lipotropic vitamins, which can help reduce cholesterol and fat and finally, the use of natural appetite suppressants which should only ever be considered a useful adjunct to a commitment to lifestyle and dietary changes that will tackle the problem in the long term.

Oral Contraceptives

The use of the contraceptive pill with herbal remedies, especially St John’s Wort (for mild to moderate depression) and Agnus Castus or Chasteberry (for rebalancing hormones) is currently contraindicated. This is because certain remedies will alter the way the body processes synthetic hormones thus compromising protection against pregnancy. That said, taking antibiotics carries the same risk so consult your doctor for extra protection if you are prescribed a course while relying on the pill to prevent pregnancy. As with all prescription drugs, the pill can also deplete the body of certain nutrients including vitamin C. This is because oestrogens work in the body to increase elimination of this nutrient. The pill also lowers levels of tyrosine, an amino acid that acts as a precursor to the brain chemicals (neurotransmitters) that help control mood and emotional state. The upshot of this interaction may be an increased risk of anxiety disorders for women using oral contraceptives. Taking the pill may also reduce levels of Folic Acid and may also increase your risk of gum disease.

Osteoarthritis

Probably the most common of all the joint diseases, osteoarthritis is believed to affect up to a third of the 45- to 65-year-old age group and 75% of those older than this. It affects the hips, knees or spine and the primary cause is age-related degeneration of the joint cartilage which should work to both protect joints and enable bones to move without friction. When cartilage wears away, it leaves the bone endings exposed, which can then cause pain, stiffness and deformities (including swelling) of the joints. There are many natural remedies that help to alleviate pain without the gastric discomfort associated with many anti-inflammatory drugs.

Osteomalacia

Known as rickets in children, osteomalacia as it is called in adults is caused by a deficiency in vitamin D which may be caused by too little exposure to sunlight which triggers the synthesis of this nutrient in the skin. A lack of vitamin D affects the body’s ability to absorb calcium and phosphorous – both nutrients that are important for building and maintaining strong bones. Early symptoms include nervousness, painful muscle spasms, legs cramps and numbness in the extremities. The problem can lead, ultimately, to bone malformations giving rise to knock-knees, bowed legs and scoliosis of the spine. This condition can also indicate serious underlying conditions, including chronic renal failure, so consult with your doctor for confirmation of the diagnosis.

Osteoporosis

Known as the “silent” epidemic or killer because bone loss occurs with no symptoms, osteoporosis is the term used to describe a generalized loss of bone in both sexes. Over the age of 50, one in two women and one in eight men will suffer a fracture linked to loss of bone density. There are now reckoned to be two types of osteoporosis. Type I is linked with a midlife loss of hormones (oestrogen in women, androgen in men) and Type II is the inevitable age-related loss of bone density that starts from the age of 30.

Bone weakness, loss of height and back pain are some of the symptoms that may manifest but, generally, you will only know you have this problem when a simple fall results in an osteoporotic fracture or you request a bone density scan. Vitamin K, which is used to build new bone, is critical. Studies of osteoporotic female patients have shown they have 75% lower levels of this crucial bone-building nutrient than other women.

Otitis media/Ear Infection

This is the medical term for an infection of the middle ear caused by bacteria or viruses which penetrate the area causing a build-up of fluids and inflammation. As the fluid builds, sufferers will feel a sensation of pressure often accompanied by throbbing earache, a feeling of fullness in the ear and, when severe, fever and a high temperature.

A severe middle ear infection can cause perforation of the eardrum in which case the pain will suddenly ease. If this happens, there will be a discharge of bloody fluid from the ear accompanied by hearing loss. Recurring ear infections indicate a compromised immune system so investigate remedies to support the body’s natural defences to resist bacterial or viral invasions.

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Pain

Our experience of pain may be subjective but the one thing we all agree on is that our instinct, when we feel pain, is to find relief and make it stop; making pain, and its alleviation, the number-one reason any of us seek medical advice. Since the body cannot communicate with us in any other way, it is, of course, also the single most important symptom signaling the presence of disease, trauma, tissue injury or just the fact something is not right. There are two categories of pain – acute which is generally easily treated and short-lived, and chronic which is a more wide-spread problem and which can be so debilitating it usually results in low mood and other more serious psychological disorders, including depression.

Panic Attacks

Panic attacks are, in effect, a manifestation of extreme anxiety, where the symptoms can include shortness of breath, feeling smothered, heart palpitations, shaking, a fear of going mad or losing control, dizziness, sweating, sleep disturbance and chest pain. The chest pain is a frightening experience and it is not uncommon for sufferers to fear they have a serious medical condition to face.

A panic attack will last around 20 minutes, with symptoms peaking halfway through. If you are a sufferer, it is important to see your doctor to rule out other causes and put your mind at rest, then try to work out just what is triggering this extreme response. Researchers have now linked chronic anxiety, which is the single most common mental disorder encountered in clinical practice, with a higher risk of other health conditions, including digestive disorders, especially constipation, so you will need to investigate remedies for these associated problems.

Parasites

Whether it’s the children coming home from school with an infestation of threadworms, or picking up a tropical infection when travelling, parasites, however much we don’t like to think about them, are part of the risks of everyday life. To tackle any existing parasitic infection, a three-pronged attack is needed. First, you need to kill off the organism, then expel it and finally, take steps to prevent re-infection. Herbal remedies can help you to successfully complete all three steps. Using natural remedies to give additional support to the immune system during times when your risk of exposure to parasites is higher, such as when you travel to high risk areas, also makes good sense.

Parkinson’s Disease

Parkinson’s Disease is a condition of mid- to later life, although some 30% of patients report recognizable symptoms before the age of 50. Typically, these symptoms include tremor at rest, rigidity, a stooped posture, a “masked” face and urinary dysfunction. The late Pope John Paul II hit the headlines when it was revealed he used papain – a mix of enzymes sourced from the papaya fruit, to help manage the symptoms of this disease but the single most important natural remedy to consider is a nutritional one called nicotinamide dinucleaotide hydrogen (NADH). The theory is that this substance, which is present in every cell in the body, helps the brain make dopamine, which is relevant here since this disease is characterized by the loss of dopaminergic neurons.

In hospital trials involving over 800 patients, half of whom were given NADH intravenously and half of whom received the medication in capsule form, only 20% failed to report significant clinical improvement. The researchers also noted that the younger patients, and those with shorter durations of the disease, responded better than older patients who had been afflicted for longer. Platelets taken from the mitochondria of Parkinson’s patients have been shown to have lower levels of Co-enzyme Q10 when compared with normal controls and, in animal studies, this agent has been shown to protect the dopaminergic neurons of mice injected with a chemical that would otherwise significantly damage these cells.

Pelvic Inflammatory Disease (PID)

This term is used to describe an ascending infection of the endometrium and/or Fallopian tubes and can cause fertility problems later on if not dealt with promptly. In fact, it has become the leading cause of infertility worldwide and is now considered responsible for the increase in ectopic pregnancies (the risk is eight times higher after just one episode of PID), where the fertilized embryo cannot travel to the womb for implantation but becomes trapped in a blocked Fallopian tube that has been damaged by infection. Women who have a contraceptive IUD or coil fitted are also more at risk of PID.

In the early stages, symptoms include painful intercourse, a malodorous vaginal discharge and recurrent pain in the lower back and abdomen. If not treated, acute symptoms include abdominal pain occurring soon after a period, increased vaginal discharge, uterine tenderness and heavy bleeding. Since you must seek medical treatment, you will be likely to be taking antibiotics, which means you will need to take a probiotic, as well as those natural remedies that work as anti-inflammatories.

Peptic Ulcers

A peptic ulcer is a spot where the lining of the stomach or small intestine and the tissues beneath – and sometimes part of the stomach muscle itself – become eroded, leaving an internal, open wound. This happens when the stomach has failed to provide adequate protection against the digestive acids and enzymes the body needs to breakdown foods and it is these agents that, in effect, start to digest the stomach itself. The surrounding tissue usually becomes swollen and irritated and symptoms include chronic burning or gnawing stomach pain that kicks in about an hour after eating or at night and which is relieved by eating, vomiting, taking antacids or drinking a large glass of water.

Stress and anxiety were once thought to be the main trigger but researchers have now shown stomach ulcers are the result of an infection by the Helicobacter pylori (H. pylori) bacteria, which can live on the lining of the stomach and small intestine, combined with the presence of stomach acid. H. pylori can damage the lining and also the mucous layer that would otherwise protect the tissues from the digestive acids. Since stress increases the production of stomach acids, it is still a key factor in treatments and preventing recurrence. The long-term use of aspirin and non-steroid anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) can also increase stomach acidity and increase the risk of a stomach ulcer.

Periodontal Disease

You may be astonished to learn that the single most prevalent disease on the planet is periodontal or gum disease and that, far from being a problem only associated with old age, an estimated 66% of younger adults have some form of this condition. One of the most common problems is gingivitis or inflammation of the gums. Bleeding gums, especially after flossing, cleaning your teeth or eating hard food (say an apple) are a clear sign of gum disease, as are red or swollen gums, loose or separating teeth. And this is not a problem sufferers should ignore since periodontal infections can enter the bloodstream to create other health problems. In fact, researchers are now showing a link between gum infections and cardiovascular disease, low birth weight babies, stroke, osteoporosis and diabetes. Worse than that, since this is a bacterial infection which passes through saliva, if a member of your family has gum disease, then you too are at risk because it is infectious and contagious.

Perimenopause

Never heard of it? You’re not alone. Most females aged 35 and over will have experienced some of the symptoms of perimenopause even if they have never heard the name. Sudden weight gain, erratic periods, mood swings, hot flushes and insomnia are all signs of the hormonal changes that can start some fifteen years before full menopause kicks in.

Period Pains/Premenstrual Tension (PMT)

The medical term for menstrual cramps is dysmenorrhea , which means painful menstruation. This is one of the most common gynaecological complaints with more than half of all females suffering at some point in their lives. A period can last from two or three to seven or eight days. On average, the equivalent volume of a quarter cup of blood is lost with each menstrual cycle. The cycle itself can range from 21 to 35 days, although the average is 28 days. What is happening during menstruation is that the rich lining of the womb that the body had prepared to nurture a fertilised egg is shed.

Women suffering from severe pain during menstruation should see the doctor to rule out any underlying causes such as an ectopic pregnancy, endometriosis, ovarian cysts, pelvic inflammatory disease or fibroids. Females who suffer from cramping have been shown to produce greater levels of prostaglandins – the hormones secreted by the uterine lining – and this can be exacerbated by a diet that is rich in saturated fats from meat and dairy products. Period pains will also be made worse by any underlying digestive disorder, especially constipation.

Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS)

Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS) is believed to affect up to one in 10 women, many of whom will not even know they have it until, for example, they run into problems trying to get pregnant. A hidden hormonal disorder, it can be difficult to diagnose since half of all sufferers have almost no symptoms, while other must put up with a range of embarrassing, seemingly unrelated problems, including unexplained weight gain, skin problems including adult acne, excess facial hair and bloating. Research has also shown women with PCOS are at higher risk of developing diabetes and cardiovascular problems. The result of an over-production of the male hormone, testosterone, and an inability to control blood sugar levels, PCOS is an inherited condition and there is no cure.

The conventional treatment is to prescribe the contraceptive pill to control the more obvious symptoms – including heavy periods and adult acne – but many practitioners now believe this can actually make the condition itself worse. With PCOS, the ovaries are covered with a string of tiny, fluid-filled cysts which make the excess testosterone. This hormone is usually carried in the bloodstream by a substance called sex hormone-binding globulin. Without it, there are runaway or “free” testosterone molecules which then bind in the wrong places, including under the skin where they cause acne and excess facial hair.

One of the most common symptoms of PCOS is a tendency to put on weight and when your weight increases, the amount of sex hormone binding globulin, which is made by the liver, decreases. This why reducing your weight is a crucial part of managing the condition. You may not be able to cure PCOS but you can certainly manage the symptoms using a combination of natural remedies.

Prebiotics

With a probiotic, you use live bacteria to replenish levels of those organisms that live naturally in the gut where they help with digestion and prevent an overgrowth of more harmful organisms. With a prebiotic, you go back a nutritional step and selectively feed up the good bacteria that already exist in the digestive tract. To understand why pre- and probiotics have an important role and enormous potential in nutritional health you have to look at the microbiology of the gut.

In a normal, healthy digestive tract, you would expect to find around 3lb of bacteria. At best, the so-called “friendly” ones make up a third of this population. At worst, and especially after the prolonged use of antibiotics or years of a diet that is too high in refined foods and sugar, levels of the good bacteria may be so low they are virtually undetectable. When this happens, it is called dysbiosis – a condition that many natural health practitioners will argue lies at the root of more than 70% of all illnesses, including common and chronic complaints such as digestive disorders, acne, food allergies and intolerances, Chronic Fatigue and depression.

Prebiotics act as a food for only those strains of bacteria that keep the gut healthy. Clinical trials on humans have already shown this works using substances called oligosaccharides as prebiotics. As the name suggests, these substances are sugars derived from plants including garlic, onions, wheat, oats and soyabeans. The best-known is Fructo-oligosaccharide, usually shortened to FOS. FOS is not degraded or absorbed in the upper intestinal tract and so can survive the normally hazardous passage through the digestive system to reach the colon. However, it would be a struggle to eat enough of these foods in a normal diet to get any significant effect, which is why you need to consider supplementation. The reason FOS are so effective is that they only promote levels of the good bifidobacteria strain. This strain is able to thrive, when other microorganisms show no change, because it has a potent enzyme called Beta-fructosidase, which can easily breakdown the FOS molecules for digestion by the bacteria.

Pregnancy

Pregnancy lasts, on average, 40 weeks from the date of the last menstrual period and is divided into three parts of three months each called trimesters. A pregnant woman can expect to go through many physical, emotional and hormonal changes, a process she can support with the use of natural remedies. Evening Primrose, for example, will keep the skin supple and prevent stretch marks. It can also protect against Brain Fog which is a feeling of vagueness that affects lots of women in later pregnancy.

A less well-known substance that does the same is docosahexanoic acid (DHA) which is normally derived from fish oils. This is vital for the development of the baby, especially during the last trimester when there is rapid growth of the child’s brain. The baby cannot make its own DHA and so gets its supply from the mother. Supplementing the diet with a good probiotic during pregnancy can protect the unborn child from eczema. Research suggests the effects of this are long-lasting, reducing the risk of eczema by 40% among at-risk four-year-olds. Iron deficiency is one of the most common nutritional deficiencies during pregnancy and is most likely to develop during the second trimester. If this mineral is in short supply, the baby will take what it needs from the mother’s reserves so if you are feeling tired, look pale and have a rapid heart rate this may be the explanation. you may be lacking iron. It is important, though, to remember that iron supplements should only be taken if a deficiency has been diagnosed.

Most women know to start taking Folic acid to reduce the risk of spinal tube defects in their baby even before they conceive. What is less well- known is that Vitamin B12 works together with folic acid and a lack of this vitamin in the pregnant mother has been identified as another risk factor for neural tube defects. Some researchers now suggest that B12 should also be supplemented to further reduce the risk of neural tube defects. Zinc is also important, especially if you know you are having a boy since a male child takes five times more zinc from the mother’s diet than a girl.

A good general multivitamin and mineral is beneficial during pregnancy but it is critical to use one that is formulated specifically for pregnant/lactating women because the doses of the active agents will fall well within the current safe dosage guidelines.

Probiotics

With a probiotic, you use replacement live bacteria to replenish levels of those organisms that live naturally in the gut where they help with digestion and prevent an overgrowth of more harmful organisms. To understand why probiotics have an important role and enormous potential in nutritional health you have to look at the microbiology of the gut.

In a normal, healthy digestive tract, you would expect to find around 3lb of bacteria. At best, the so-called “friendly” ones make up a third of this population. At worst, and especially after the prolonged use of antibiotics or years of a diet that is too high in refined foods and sugar, levels of the good bacteria may be so low they are virtually undetectable. When this happens, it is called dysbiosis – a condition that many natural health practitioners argue lies at the root of more than 70% of all illnesses, including common and chronic health complaints such as acne, digestive disorders, food allergies and intolerances, Chronic Fatigue and depression.

Probiotic health drinks and live yoghurts can help rebuild levels of the good gut bacteria that help make nutrients and support the immune system but unless you take a supplement, you cannot always be sure of getting a daily therapeutic dose or what strain of bacteria you are ingesting.

Prostate Problems

The prostate is a small gland that surrounds the neck of the bladder and urethra (the tube that carries urine from the bladder) in men. It is the size of a grain of rice at birth but grows to a walnut-size in adulthood when its job is to contribute to the seminal fluid that surrounds the sperm. If this gland begins to swell and enlarge, usually because of infection, it puts pressure on the urethra. This is the condition known as Benign Prostatic Hyperplasia (BPH), and it affects half of all men aged 50 and 80% of those in their eighties.

The symptoms include needing to urinate more often, straining to pass water, and having less control over this process – especially dribbling at the end. At its most severe, this condition can make it impossible to urinate and will cause a urinary tract infection that could lead to kidney failure so it is not a condition to ignore. Drugs can help but some are linked to be responsible for impotence.

The better news is that herbs and nutrients really can help manage symptoms without unwanted side-effects. In one trial, men taking 159mcg a day of selenium were reported to have three times less risk of developing prostate problems than those taking just 86mcg a day. Daily zinc supplements (at least 15mg a day) have also helped the prostate return to near normal in 70% of sufferers who agreed to take part in a trial that continued over several months. As far back as 1941, 19 men who were given essential fatty acid (EFA) supplements all reported an improved libido, a reduction in the enlargement of the prostate and, for 69% of those taking part, a cessation of the urge to urinate during the night.

Psoriasis

Psoriasis is the result of a defect in the skin, which causes cells to multiply 1,000 times faster than normal skin cells. These extra cells then pile up to cause the silvery scaling that is the hallmark of this condition. One theory about the underlying causes of psoriasis is that the body cannot metabolize saturated fats from meat products properly. Sufferers have also been found to be lacking in both vitamin A and Zinc.

The skin is not just a protective wrapping, it is the body’s largest, living organ, and the best place to tackle all skin complaints is from the inside out. That can mean changing the diet to avoid certain foods, such as the gluten in wheat, which can exacerbate the problem, and taking even more care with the products being used to wash the skin and keep it clean. Vitamin D, which the body makes when exposed to natural light especially sunshine, can also help. Sufferers should also take steps to support digestion and liver functioning. In 50% of all cases, the problem is inherited and while there is no magic cure, there are lots of things that will help you manage the symptoms and, eventually, keep the skin clear.

R

Raynaud’s Disease

Raynaud’s disease, which affects an estimated 10 million Britons, is the result of the constriction of the small arteries (arterioles) in the fingers and toes which can then go into spasm, causing skin to turn pale or blue and the fingers and toes to go numb. It can also affect the nose, cheeks and tips of the ears, which will all throb, tingle and even swell when the circulation returns to normal. Most common in younger women, it usually happens after exposure to the cold and so tends to only be a problem during winter months. A deficiency in magnesium, which can also result in spasms in the blood vessels, can cause similar symptoms to Raynaud’s Disease which is why, although there are no clinical trials to support the theory, nutritionists will recommend a daily dose of 200-600mg of this mineral.

Reflux

Gastro-esophageal reflux disease, commonly referred to as GERD, is a condition in which the liquid content of the stomach regurgitates (backs up, or refluxes) into the oesophagus. The liquid can inflame and damage the lining of the oesophagus because it contains stomach acids and digestive enzymes. The symptoms include heartburn, regurgitation and nausea and the conventional treatment is medication which works to reduce the acid content of the stomach.

Repetitive Strain Injury (RSI)

The carpal tunnel is the passageway through the wrist that protects the nerves and tendons that extend into the hand. The meridian nerve that passes through it is close to nine tendons and if any of these become injured, or the tissues of the tunnel itself become swollen and inflamed, this nerve will become compressed causing numbness, tingling and pain, which shoots up and down the arm and is always worse at night.

This has become the single most common occupational illness now reported and is frequently the result of repetitive movements, such as typing on a computer keyboard, causing repetitive strain injuries (RSI).Some sufferers have been shown to be deficient in vitamin B6 and by supplementing the diet with this nutrient were then able to reduce their intake of painkillers and avoid surgery.

Restless Leg Syndrome

Millions of people have trouble sleeping because of this condition, the causes of which remain a mystery. What happens is that once in bed, sufferers find their legs start to jerk, twitch and kick involuntarily. A link has been made between Restless Leg Syndrome and painful night-time leg muscle cramps which means one of the remedies you should investigate is magnesium which acts as a muscle relaxant.

Rheumatism/Rheumatoid Arthritis

Rheumatoid arthritis is an autoimmune disease in which the synovial membranes in the joints become inflamed, resulting in swelling and pain. This condition affects about one per cent of the population; with women affected two or three times more than men. It usually appears between the ages of 25 and 50 and while most sufferers learn to manage their symptoms, in one out of 10 cases the condition will become so bad it is deemed disabling.

Rhinitis

This is the medical term for an inflammation of the mucous membranes of the nose, usually accompanied by a swelling of the mucosa and a nasal discharge. The condition can be complicated by sinusitis and is an allergic response. A yeast infection will exacerbate the symptoms and taking antibiotics on a regular basis may also be a contributing factor. Hormonal disturbances, thanks to the contraceptive pill or HRT, will also make the condition worse.

Ringworm

Tinea, to give it its proper medical name, is a group of fungal skin diseases caused by dermatophytes of several kinds. The condition is characterized by itching, scaling and sometimes, painful lesions. It is spread by direct contact between humans and even between humans and domestic dogs and cats. Any topical treatment should be supported by additional remedies to strengthen the immune system and rebuild the population of healthy bacteria in the gut to better help the body resist re-infection.

Sarcoidosis

This is a disease which tends to develop in young adults. It happens when abnormal collections of inflammatory cells called granulomas form in the body’s different organs, especially the lungs. Some doctors believe it is a legacy of infection. Others suggest it is an abnormal immune response.

Many sufferers have no symptoms at all and the condition is only discovered by accident when it shows up on a chest X-ray taken for different reasons. In other patients, symptoms can include fever, weight loss and aching joints. Sarcoidosis is rarely fatal and usually burns itself out within two years. In fact, more than two-thirds of those with lung sarcoidosis, for example, will have no symptoms at all after nine years. The conventional treatment is steroids, but these come with side-effects. Since another theory is that this is an autoimmune disease, investigate remedies for these types of conditions.

Scabies

Scabies is a parasitic infection that causes a persistent, itchy rash. It is caused by a tiny mite that burrows into the top layer of the skin to lay its eggs. This then results in groups of small red lumps. The affected skin becomes dry and scaly and the itching can be very intense, especially at night. If you give in to the urge to scratch and end up breaking the skin, you then run the risk of a secondary bacterial infection setting in. Scabies is highly contagious and spreads by direct skin-to-skin contact. The areas most likely to be affected are the buttocks, genitals (in men), nipples (in women), wrists, armpits and the skin between the fingers and toes.

Scarring

A scar, or cicatrix to use the medical term, is a tissue that is pale, avascular, contracted and firm and follows the earlier phase of skin healing characterised by redness and softness. Use natural remedies, including vitamin E in liquid form, Rosa Mosqueta or Tamanu Oil, to help fade scars whether they are the result of injury, adult acne or surgery.

Sciatica

This condition is the result of inflammation of the sciatic nerve which runs through the thigh and leg. Characterised by pain and tenderness, it can be caused by back problems, including a slipped disk protruding from the vertebrae and pressing on these nerves which are the longest in the body. They are responsible for transmitting all signals from the lower body and any pressure on them will, typically, result in a shooting pain, usually in the leg and foot. Some sufferers will experience extreme numbness making them incapable of walking; others may have a tingling sensation in the toes or numbness in the leg or foot.

Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD)

Twice as common in women than men and most likely to start in your thirties, Seasonal Affective Disorder or SAD is now said to affect up to 20% of the adult population, making the winter months miserable for many of those sufferers. The main symptom is depression, but other tell-tale signs of this condition include developing an increased appetite with strong cravings for carbohydrates and sweets, weight gain, fatigue, wanting to sleep for longer and get up later, plus an energy slump in the afternoons.

SAD has now been linked by researchers with a decrease in the levels of those hormones and brain chemicals that control both mood and sleeping patterns which means that you can use a number of alternative remedies which trigger an increased production of these substances to try and redress this imbalance.

Sebaceous Cyst

Sebaceous cysts are skin growths that contain a mixture of sebum (oil) and skin proteins. They generally appear as small, slowly-growing swellings on the face, scalp or back and, in fact, a whitehead spot is actually a tiny sebaceous cyst. These cysts feel firm but moveable when you touch them and only hurt if they become infected. If this happens, then redness and more swelling may occur and they will then hurt if you touch them. Sebaceous cysts are benign but if infection does set in, an abscess may then form.

Seborrhea

Seborrhea, or seborrheic dermatitis, is characterized by scaly patches of skin that result from a disorder of the skin’s oil-secreting sebaceous glands. Most common on the scalp, face and chest, it can appear on other parts of the body and may or may not be itchy. In babies, this condition, (which is most common in infants and then again, in middle-age) is known as cradle cap. The causes remain unknown but key nutritional deficiencies, including vitamin A and biotin, may play a role. It may also be triggered by the yeast organism, Pityrosporum ovale, which normally lives in the hair follicles without causing problems. In adults, stress and anxiety will exacerbate the problem which can often run in families. The presence of other skin disorders, including acne and psoriasis, also increases the risk of developing seborrhoea.

Shingles

Shingles or herpes zoster is an infection that produces a very painful eruption of fluid-filled blisters. It is caused by the same virus that causes chickenpox and enters the cranial or spinal nerves where it stays latent until activated by a minor infection, local trauma, stress, nutritional deficiencies, food intolerances or exposure to sunlight.

The symptoms that signal an outbreak can include chills, fever, nausea, diarrhoea or problems with urination and, while most of us think of this as an older person’s disease, it is increasingly affecting younger adults. While antiviral drugs may be given to shorten the duration of the skin eruption (and aspirin or codeine may be prescribed for the temporary relief of pain in adults), there is no drug that can eliminate the virus itself. Studies indicate that Bromelain; an enzyme found naturally in pineapples is as effective as some anti-viral drugs in enhancing immune function and tackling the herpes virus.

Applying vitamin E to the skin can help relieve pain and reduce scarring. During an outbreak, eat lots of citrus fruits including oranges, grapefruit, lemons and limes. A weakened immune system is the primary cause of shingles.

Sinus Problems

Chronic sinusitis, (i.e. repeated infections), is associated with an allergic response either to food or the environment. Symptoms can include nasal congestion and discharge, loss of the sense of smell, fever, chills and headaches, pain, tenderness, redness and swelling over the affected area. When the condition is chronic, you may also suffer with earache, toothache, pain in the face, bad breath and a non-productive cough. In 25% of cases, there is an underlying dental infection – but any factor that causes swelling and fluid retention of the mucous membranes of the sinuses can block drainage and result in bacterial infection. Alcohol, dust, pollen, hot spicy foods and even petrol fumes can all exacerbate the problem, so try and eliminate or avoid them.

Smell – Loss Of

Loss of smell may be linked to other conditions, including sinus problems and a cold, but may also signal a lack of crucial minerals, especially zinc. If you are afflicted, you should also consider supporting the digestive processes since it may be that while the diet is providing adequate nutritional intake, impaired digestion is causing malabsorption of those nutrients that are key to the functioning of this sense.

Smoking

The key to stopping smoking is not to give up when each attempt to quit fails (each time you stop, it will be for longer) and to get all the help you can. You will also do yourself a big favour if you avoid other smokers and places where people do smoke until you are sure you really have beaten an addiction many doctors believe to be just as powerful and insidious as heroin.

It takes three months for all traces of nicotine to leave your system. After that, any cravings you suffer are psychological. It helps to know this – because when you do feel you must smoke, you know it is your mind playing tricks and that the craving will pass. There are lots of herbal formulations that will help curb the cravings and other remedies formulated specifically to support smokers who want to stop through the different phases of withdrawal. Smoking cigarettes makes the body more acidic (acidosis) so take steps to counter this.

If you do not plan to stop smoking, make sure you take a good quality antioxidant supplement to help flush toxins from the body.

Spider Veins/Thread Veins

Just one epithelial cell thick, the capillaries are the thin, fragile blood vessels that deliver oxygen to the body’s tissues and organs and take away metabolic waste products, including carbon dioxide. Capillaries are also involved in the release of excess body heat. Already fragile, capillaries can be further damaged as we age by the free radical molecules that the body produces as a normal by-product of metabolism. Spider or thread veins are chronically-dilated capillaries near the surface of the skin. Most common on the backs of the legs and the face, they are harmless and will rarely cause problems although most sufferers will find them distressing for cosmetic reasons.

Stiffness

Stiffness is often the first sign of developing joint problems and is a key symptom of osteoarthritis; probably the most common of all the joint diseases which is thought to affect up to a third of the 45- to 65-year-old age group and 75% of those older than this. It affects the hips, knees or spine and the primary cause is age-related degeneration of the joint cartilage which should work to both protect joints and enable bones to move without friction. When cartilage wears away, it leaves the bone endings exposed, which can then cause pain, stiffness and deformities (including swelling) of the joints.

Stress

You know you are stressed when the mind is willing but the body feels like giving up, when you never seem to get to the end of your “to-do” list and when you lie awake at night worrying until the alarm goes and you have to drag yourself out of bed in the morning to face another grinding day. Life should not be like this and since stress is either at the root cause or an exacerbating factor in almost any health problem you care to think of, if you don’t tackle it head-on, you are not going to enjoy optimum health or the energy boost that comes with it.

Even if you believe stress starts in the mind, rest assured it does not stay there. Researchers have shown, for example, how the very stress of hospitalization effectively down-regulates the immune response of chemotherapy even before treatment has begun; in other words the very act of being taken to a place of sickness increases your risk of sickness before the doctors lay a finger on you. If you know you are in a stressful job or any other stressful situation, ask yourself whether the rewards are worth such serious risks to your health and make the changes you need to make before it is too late.

Stroke

A stroke, which is also called a cerebrovascular accident, is the death of brain tissue following a lack of blood flow and thus insufficient oxygen to the brain. There are generally two underlying causes. With the more common ischemic stroke (85-90 per cent of all cases) the blood supply has been cut off due to atherosclerosis or a blood clot has blocked a blood vessel. In a haemorrhagic stroke, a blood vessel has burst, preventing the normal flow and allowing blood to seep into part of the brain and destroy it.

A stroke usually damages only one side of the brain but it will be the opposite side of the body that is affected (because the nerves in the brain cross-over: nerves on the right-hand side of the brain control the left-hand side of the body and vice versa). Individuals with cardiac disease have twice the risk of a stroke compared with healthier, “matched” individuals. High levels of homocysteine have also been linked with a higher risk of stroke.

Styes

A stye is a bacterial infection within the oil gland on the edge of the eyelid. Because the tissues of the eye become inflamed from the infection, the stye appears like a small pimple which gradually comes to a head, opens and drains. Recurring styes can be a sign of a vitamin A deficiency.

Sugar Cravings

The brain needs a constant supply of glucose for energy. A drop in levels can lead to low mood and feelings of weakness and fatigue in men, woman and children, but sugary sweet foods are not the answer since these trigger blood-sugar highs followed by rapid blood-sugar lows, resulting in mood swings. The best way to stave off sugar cravings and maintain a more even mood throughout the day is to eat more foods from the lower range of the Glycaemic Index (GI). This is a ranking of how quickly carbohydrate foods affect blood-sugar levels. The lower the ranking the slower and more sustained the release of glucose and energy.

Sunburn

Sunburn is usually a first-degree burn where the skin turns red or pink and becomes swollen and painful. Second and third degree burns – where the skin blisters and blackens – need urgent medical attention. Sunburn is always caused by over-exposure to the sun’s ultraviolet (UV) rays. There are two types – UVA and UVB. Both will damage the skin; UVB rays attack the outer layer, while UVA go even deeper to damage the collagen that gives skin its elasticity. Although UVA rays do not cause sunburn, far from being harmless, the UVA wavelength is more closely associated with malignant melanoma and premature ageing than UVB.

Sunstroke

Sunstroke can result from over-exposure to the sun. It is characterized by a high temperature and altered level of consciousness. Emergency treatment measures should include cooling the body down, rehydration by drinking lots of water and the use of a calming agent until the symptoms have passed.

Surgery

If you are having an operation then you know your body is going to suffer tissue damage and bruising and that you will need to support the tissue repair and wound-healing processes. You are more likely to get an infection as a result of a hospital visit than from anywhere else so it makes sense to support the immune system before your hospital date. Your liver and digestive systems are also going to take a serious battering from the hospital tests, antibiotics, anaesthetics, painkiller and sleeping pills that are routinely prescribed. You will also need to investigate remedies to help reduce bruising, accelerate wound-healing and help minimize scarring.

Syndrome X

In 1988, US endocrinologist Gerald Reaven who had studied insulin resistance for some twenty years made an important connection. He realized that sometimes, this disorder was part of a group of related symptoms which had the worrying effect of increasing a person’s risk of both heart disease and diabetes. He coined the term Syndrome X to describe this cluster of symptoms which includes: insulin resistance, glucose intolerance, obesity, blood-fat abnormalities and hypertension.

The underlying causes for this disease are poor nutrition, sedentary lifestyle, obesity and genetics. The best thing you can do is to change your diet and lifestyle.

T

Teeth

Although derived from modified bone, teeth are typically classed as part of the digestive system because they are used to cut and grind food in the mouth for ingestion. You can use natural remedies to help protect your teeth from everyday stains and to increase gum resistance to infection and plaque. You may be astonished to learn that the single most prevalent disease on the planet is periodontal or gum disease and that, far from being a problem only associated with old age, an estimated 66% of younger adults have some form of this condition.

One of the most common problems is gingivitis or inflammation of the gums. Bleeding gums, especially after flossing, cleaning your teeth or eating hard food (say an apple) are a clear sign of gum disease, as are red or swollen gums, loose or separating teeth. And this is not a problem sufferers should ignore since periodontal infections can enter the bloodstream to create other health problems. In fact, researchers are now showing a link between gum infections and cardiovascular disease, low birth weight babies, stroke, osteoporosis and diabetes. Worse than that, since this is a bacterial infection which passes through saliva, if a member of your family has gum disease, then you too are at risk.

Tendonitis

This is the name given to any inflammation of a tendon which is usually the result of injury. Conventional treatment may include rest, corticosteroid injections, application of heat or ice or some form of structural support.

Tennis Elbow

Lateral humeral epicondylitis is the medical term for the condition commonly known as tennis elbow which is an inflammation of the lower end of the humerus at the elbow joint, usually caused by the repetitive flexing of the wrist against resistance. It may result from athletic activity or the manual manipulation of tools or other equipment. The associated pain radiates from the elbow joint.

Thread Veins

Just one epithelial cell thick, the capillaries are the thin, fragile blood vessels that deliver oxygen to the body’s tissues and organs and take away metabolic waste products, including carbon dioxide. Capillaries are also involved in the release of excess body heat. Already fragile, capillaries can be further damaged as we age by the free radical molecules that the body produces as a normal by-product of metabolism. Thread or Spider Veins are chronically-dilated capillaries near the surface of the skin. Most common on the backs of the legs and the face, they are harmless and will rarely cause problems although most sufferers will find them distressing for cosmetic reasons.

Thrombosis

This is an abnormal condition in which a clot (thrombus) forms within a blood vessel. Symptoms include pain, warmth around the area of the clot and swelling. This is not a condition to self-treat. You must see your doctor. But if you have a history or known pre-disposition, you can use natural agents to help lower the risks of a clot forming.

Thrush

We all have candida, a single-celled fungus that can cause thrush in the genital and can infect the intestinal tracts but a healthy immune system will keep it in check. When it does run riot, it can affect different parts of the body, the most common being the mouth, ear, nose, toenails, fingernails, gastrointestinal tract and vagina.

There are over 150 different strains of candidiasis; eight of which are pathogenic to humans and all of which thrive on refined sugar so if you have an infection, this needs to be eliminated from the diet. Frequently misdiagnosed, the symptoms can include digestive problems, itching, headaches, night sweats, joint pain, bad breath, arthritis, tiredness and bladder infections. One clue to an infection is that symptoms often worsen in damp, mouldy environments and after eating foods that contain sugar or yeast. The very best anti-candida remedies not only kill off the organism causing the infection, but flush them out too, preventing unwanted side-effects of the treatment itself.

Thyroid Problems

The thyroid gland produces hormones which regulate growth, maturation and the body’s metabolism. An over-active thyroid produces too much of these hormones, the symptoms of which can include insomnia, disturbed bowel movements, increased appetite accompanied by weight loss, high blood pressure, nervousness and a faster heartbeat.

The main complaint of those suffering from an under-active thyroid is exhaustion. Since the thyroid gland controls energy production, the metabolism of sugars and fats, the conversion of vitamin A into beta-carotene, your heart rate, your blood pressure, your rate of breathing, mental alertness and the libido, it is no wonder when it malfunctions, that you feel so very low. Do not self-treat but ask your doctor for a diagnosis.

Tinnitus

The ringing, hissing and buzzing in the ears, which are typical symptoms of tinnitus, make it a disruptive influence for sufferers – and while it may not be easy to determine the cause, there are many lifestyle factors that will exacerbate the condition. Loud noise, poor circulation, food sensitivities, and stimulants such as caffeine and nicotine can all make it worse. While permanent, severe tinnitus is very hard to treat, the use of herbal remedies such as Gingko biloba and supplements such as zinc and vitamin B12 have been shown to help relieve the symptoms.

Tiredness

Tiredness and general fatigue is the single most common health complaint in the stressed-out Western World where the problem is deemed chronic when it is not rectified by a few early nights and rest. Slowing down and finding yourself more tired is, of course, related to ageing, specifically ageing of the mitochondria which are those cell organelles responsible for the production of energy. There are between 500 and 2,000 mitochondria present in every cell (except red blood cells and the lens of the eye) and it is in these cellular structures that food is converted to energy. Known as the “powerhouse” of the cells, the mitochondria produce a substance called adenosine triphosphate (ATP).

When you use your muscles, ATP is broken down into two other compounds: adenosine disphosphate (ADP) and inorganic phosphate and this is the process that generates energy. As we age, the mitochondria age too. They produce less and less ATP so you become like a car that is slowly running out of petrol. In younger, healthy adults, the mitochondria adapt to increased energy demands by replicating rapidly to produce more ATP. With ageing, this replication process slows down, which means we have fewer mitochondria to meet the same energy demands. These organelles attempt to keep up by increasing in size (as opposed to number), but even this is counter-productive since larger mitochondria are less efficient and actually produce less energy than their smaller, more youthful and more numerous counterparts.

If tiredness is general, and not a result of an underlying condition such as adrenal stress, thyroid problems or Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, then natural remedies can help not only protect the mitochondria from age-related damage but also increase the amount of ATP existing mitochondria are producing.

Tonsillitis

Tonsillitis is an inflammation of the tonsils which are actually accumulations of lymphatic tissue on the right and left sides of the upper throat. It is caused by either bacterial or viral infections and repeated bouts are a sign that the immune system, which should be able to resist such infections, is compromised.

Ulcerative Colitis

This is a chronic and painful disorder in which the mucous membranes lining the colon become inflamed and develop ulcers causing bloody diarrhoea, pain, gas, bloating and, sometimes, harder stools. The colon has to work harder to push these stools through which can then cause the mucous lining of the colon wall to bulge out into small pouch-like projections called diverticula. The causes remain unknown although poor dietary choices, stress, a bacterial infection and food allergies may be playing a role. Associated nutritional deficiencies include iron.

Urethritis

Where cystitis is an infection of the bladder, urethritis is an infection of the urethra, the small tube that drains urine from the bladder. It is more common in women but can affect men where it may be a sign of an underlying prostate problem or may be the result of sexual contact.

V

Vaginal dryness

When a group of women suffering this problem adopted a treatment plan which increased the amount of soya in their diet and then added supplements of flaxseed oil and red clover, doctors noticed the vaginal tissues changed, for the better, in just ten weeks. The results were impressive enough to be reported in the British Medical Journal.

Varicose Veins

Varicose veins are caused by a weakness in the walls of the blood vessels. They are four times more common in women, will often develop during pregnancy and may also run in families. Haemorrhoids, which are usually the result of excessive straining during bowel movement due to constipation, are actually varicose veins in the anus and rectum and so will respond to the same treatment. Both standing and sitting for long periods will exacerbate the problem, but herbs and supplements can be very successful in keeping the symptoms under control.

Verrucas/Warts

These foot warts, also known as plantar warts, are caused by the human papillomavirus (HPV). The virus invades the skin, causing the cells to multiply rapidly and form raised lumps. The body cannot kill off the virus and so instead, walls off these lumps, which are highly contagious. Verrucas can be very tender to the touch and the constant pressure of walking on them can, eventually, make even walking painful. Most children pick up verrucas from swimming pools and school changing rooms. Children with cuts or grazes on the soles of their feet are particularly vulnerable.

Vertigo

Vertigo is the name given to a false sensation of moving or spinning, accompanied by nausea and a loss of balance. The most common cause is, of course, motion sickness especially in the back of a moving car or rocking boat. The reason some people suffer and not others depends on the sensitivity of the lining of the inner ear which communicates with that part of the brain that controls balance and equilibrium. Chinese sailors would chew on raw ginger root to stop sea sickness and in a study involving some 80 modern naval cadets, researchers found that taking just 1g of powdered ginger before embarkation reduced the symptoms of seasickness, including dizziness by almost 40% and slashed the frequency of vomiting by over 70%.

Vitiligo

Vitiligo is a skin disorder characterised by the progressive widening of an area of de-pigmented (white) skin. A relatively rare disorder, it is caused by the destruction of melanocytes, the cells that produce the melanin pigment which darken the skin and is thought to affect up to 4% of the world’s population. One theory is that it is an autoimmune disease. Others suggest nutritional deficiencies or a fungal infection may be the root cause. On the nutritional front, studies of people suffering from this condition have shown low levels of folic acid, vitamin B12 and vitamin C. A treatment plan which included high doses of folic acid or vitamin B8 (1-10mg a day), plus 1g of vitamin C daily and intramuscular injections of vitamin B12 (1,000mcg every two weeks) produced a marked re-pigmentation in a small number of sufferers who stuck with this program for several months.

Vomiting

Vomiting is much more common in children than adults. Infants will often vomit and regurgitate food, especially in response to over-feeding but excessive vomiting may be a sign of a problem with the digestive tract in which case you should seek medical advice.

Toddlers and older children may vomit in response to food intolerances or allergy, food poisoning, overeating or an infection. If overeating is the cause, the regurgitated food will be undigested and the child will immediately feel better for emptying the stomach. Vomiting due to a bacterial or viral infection is usually accompanied by a fever. Even a heavy cough or cold can cause vomiting because congested mucous has seeped into the stomach. In this case, the vomit will be a watery mix with mucous.

Maintaining fluid levels is important as dehydration is the biggest risk linked with vomiting, a problem which will be exacerbated if the vomiting is accompanied by diarrhoea.

W

Warts

Warts are small growths caused by the human papilloma viruses (HPV) of which there are at least 60 different known strains. They can appear singly or in clusters and are most common on the hands, fingers, elbows, forearms, knees, face and the skin around the nails. Usually, they occur on skin that is continually exposed to friction, trauma or abrasion. This is a highly contagious virus and warts can easily spread to other parts of the body where there is a break in the skin. In men, a wart on the face, for example, can be spread by shaving nicks.

Weight Management

Long-term weight loss that can be sustained requires a commitment to eating less of the wrong foods, more of the right foods and taking more exercise, especially as you age, to burn off excess calories. The traditional three-pronged approach to weight management via the use of natural remedies concentrates on the use of diuretic herbs and nutrients to reduce water retention; the use of lipotropic vitamins, which can help reduce cholesterol and fat and finally, the use of natural appetite suppressants which should only ever be considered a useful adjunct to a commitment to lifestyle and dietary changes that will tackle the problem in the long term.

Wound Healing

Lots of natural agents can be used to support and even accelerate tissue healing. One of the key nutritional wound-healing agents, for example, is vitamin B5 which the body uses to make infection-fighting antibodies. On the herbal side, manuka honey has such potent infection-fighting properties that a super-strength version is now used in hospital wards in Australia to keep wounds clean and protect them from the risk of infection.

Y

Yeast Infection

We all have candida, a single-celled fungus that can cause yeast infections in the genital and intestinal tracts but a healthy immune system will keep it in check. When it does run riot, it can affect different parts of the body, the most common being the mouth, ear, nose, toenails, fingernails, gastrointestinal tract and vagina.

There are over 150 different strains of candidiasis; eight of which are pathogenic to humans and all of which thrive on refined sugar so if you have an infection, this needs to be eliminated from the diet. Frequently misdiagnosed, the symptoms can include digestive problems, itching, headaches, night sweats, joint pain, bad breath, arthritis, tiredness and bladder infections. One clue to an infection is that symptoms often worsen in damp, mouldy environments and after eating foods that contain sugar or yeast.

The very best anti-candida remedies not only kill off the organism causing the infection, but flush them out too, preventing unwanted side-effects of the treatment itself.

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This content is not intended to replace conventional medical treatment. Any suggestions made and all herbs listed are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease, condition or symptom. Personal directions and use should be provided by a clinical herbalist or other qualified healthcare practitioner.

Shabir Daya | , ,
  • Sarah Feakins

    Hi Shabir, my sister is 12 weeks pregnant and her midwife has recommended that she take a multi-vitamin. We would really appreciate any recommendations you can offer under the circumstances. Many thanks, Sarah

  • http://www.victoriahealth.com/ Victoria Health

    Hi Sarah, I would recommend that your sister uses Vital Essence 2 by Zita West which is recommended for the second trimester from week 13 to week 28. Here is the direct link to it.

    https://www.victoriahealth.com/product/Vital-Essence-2/3371/brand/Zita-West-Products/243 Shabir

  • Sarah Feakins

    Thank you Shabir, I have added this to my basket. Can I just ask, is it ok for my sister to carry on taking Mega Probiotic ND?

  • http://www.victoriahealth.com/ Victoria Health

    Hi Sarah, although Mega Probiotic ND would generally be regarded as safe for use during pregnancy, it does have eight strains some of which have not been scientifically studied for the safety during pregnancy. It is for this reason that I would prefer the use of human strains of beneficial bacteria using a supplement called AnteNatal Bioflora by Biocare. Here is the link to the supplement – https://www.victoriahealth.com/product/AnteNatal-BioFlora/10394 Shabir

  • patricia watts

    Hi Last November is was diagnosed with Graves Disease and put on medication. My hair feels like cotton wool and my skin has become very sensitive. I have been told i can take a vitamin supplement by the consultant as i will be on meds for at least the rest of 2015. Can you recommend a decent vitamin ? Also a good body lotion and something to put in the bath.Even the water makes my skin itch when i get out. I live in London so i know the water is hard. Thank You

  • http://www.victoriahealth.com/ Victoria Health

    Hi Patricia, Graves Disease can result in inflammation within the body including the scalp so yes indeed you would benefit from the use of a good multinutrient that does not have added iodine within the formulation such as Amazing Grass Original Green Superfood (very small amount of natural iodine from green foods) and topically I would recommend that you use Connect Spray by Phylia de M which contains fulvic acid, the unique molecule that “feeds” the hair follicles.
    As far as a good body lotion is concerned with reference to dry and very dry skin, please use Miracle Lotion by Century Systems which contains a whole blend of oils and herbs to restore natural oils within skin. The herbs within the formulation will ease itching however for the bath please consider the use of Magnesium Oil Original Soak which is excellent for all dry skin conditions and because magnesium relaxes muscles and nerves, this will ease the itching considerably. Shabir