With winter coming, I have emails from readers fretting about sore, dry, crepey, even flaky skin, on both faces and bodies – particularly legs. You need a two-way approach here, with skincare plus food and supplements. Products are all available from Victoria Health.
- Eat omega-3 rich oily fish (eg salmon, mackerel, tuna, sardines), flax seeds (ground or slightly roasted), dark green leafy vegetables, avocados, walnuts, whole organic milk.
- Keep skin hydrated by supplementing with hyaluronic acid (HA) – known as ‘nature’s sponge’ for its ability to attract and hold water – which also helps joints. And take skin ceramides, which help maintain healthy skin lipid (fat) levels. Try Hyaluronic Acid Capsules High Strength by NHS Labs, £35 for 30 vege-caps, and Skin Restoring Ceramides by Life Extension, £25 for 30 liquid capsules (one daily). I’ve had rave reviews for both.
- For faces, fan mail floods in weekly for Nude Replenishing Night Oil, which was the highest-scoring product ever in the Beauty Bible trials. £44 for 15 ml from Victoria Health, or on special offer with a full-size 100ml Nude Cleansing Facial Oil for £49, (saving £17).
- For silkifying bodies, Seven Wonders Miracle Lotion is my all-time favourite; with herbs, aloe vera and sweet almond oil, it makes an immediate difference. £14.50 for 237 ml from £14.50.
The Lowdown on Testosterone Therapy
Jane Fonda says she takes testosterone to boost her sex drive. How does it help loss of libido in older women – and how can I get it?
The male hormone testosterone occurs in women too, produced by the ovaries and adrenal glands. It plays a role in stimulating desire for love-making as well as in bone strength and ovarian function. Consultant gynaecologist Mr Michael Dooley (thepoundburyclinic.co.uk) says testosterone replacement therapy (TRT), usually as pills or gels, can help some women but must be prescribed by a doctor. Your GP may refer you to a local gynaecologist.
Menopause itself doesn’t usually cause loss of libido: Contrary to myth, many women feel sexier and have more orgasms after the menopause –possibly because the ratio of testosterone to oestrogen swings towards testosterone as oestrogen drops.
But TRT is only licensed to treat loss of libido if you have had your ovaries removed: (This significantly diminishes testosterone levels.) The only other licensed TRT is a treatment for osteoporosis in women lacking testosterone.
TRT may, however, be given for some cases of hypoactive sexual desire disorder: This is at your doctor’s discretion and reactions are mixed, according to netdoctor.co.uk. TRT may also help new mums experiencing ‘post-baby coolness’, which is probably due to the hormonal upheaval.
It won’t work if there are other problems, though: Many older women suffer painful vaginal dryness, which can be helped by topical oestrogen from your doctor or a lubricant such as Yes Organic Lubricant, (£10.30 for 75ml from Victoria Health). Relationship difficulties can also be a passion-killer, so do seek help if necessary (counselling and sex therapy from Relate.org.uk). Other common problems to discuss with your doctor are anaemia and diabetes.
TRT can have side effects: The most common are signs of masculinisation (including a deeper voice, increased hair growth on chin and upper lip, thinning scalp hair); also swelling of the clitoris, acne, insomnia, breast pain and weight gain. Most are reversible when treatment stops. There are some concerns that TRT may increase the risk of breast and endometrium (womb lining) cancer so the prescribing doctor should carefully monitor patients.
Your testosterone levels should be checked first: Side effects are more likely if you take too much, so it’s important to make sure the dose is correct. Mr Dooley checks levels again after six weeks.
Leader of the Backpack
One in every 1000 school-age children suffers juvenile arthritis (JA). A big problem they confront daily is heavy school bags (often with fiddly fastenings). Rucksacks are a great solution because they distribute the load evenly so when the charity Arthritis Care asked me to be a judge in the first ever competition to design the ideal rucksack for pupils with JA, I was delighted to accept. The other judges are Neil Betteridge, CEO of Arthritis Care, chiropractor Dominic Cheetham, a young person with JA and a teacher. Any child/teen aged 11-16 can enter online at arthritiscare.org.uk where they’ll find a basic rucksack template to work on. The winner’s bag will be made up as a prize (and hopefully taken up by a company), and given out by Dick and Dom star Kelly-Anne Lyons, Arthritis Care’s champion for young people, who developed arthritis in her teens.
Don’t Panic – Be Appy
Panic attack sufferer Jane Anderson-Hawkes has developed an iPhone app – BeatPanic – with her partner, a mental health nurse. A series of flash cards, with simple messages focused on breathing, guides you through a panic attack or raised anxiety state. Users rate it highly. Just 69p from iTunes. Also compatible with iPad and iPod.