Coping with menopause without HRT

Valeriana
Valeriana courtesy of A. Vogel

It can start in  your early 40’s (or even before) or you may be 50 or even 60. Some people sail through the menopause, particularly those women in the far east who eat a lot of soya.

While HRT is very popular it has been found to increase the likelihood of both breast cancer and ovarian cancer.

Symptoms include: hot flushes and night sweats/anxious and irritable/tiredness/vaginal dryness/bladder discomfort/muscle aches/low libido/weak pelvic floor muscles.  See also Menopause – the change, not the end

 Hot flushes          

Whether they last for a few seconds or induce sweating night and day, hot flushes are a common and debilitating symptom of menopause. If night sweats are happening regularly sleep is also interrupted.

  • Wear little or nothing at night and sleep under lightweight covers;
  • Avoid caffeine, alcohol, spicy food, hot drinks and red meat;
  • Choose foods rich in naturally occurring oestrogen: soya, golden linseeds and seeds, lentils and chick peas, as well as the supplement Red Clover.

Herbal helpers

A review of five trials found that Black Cohosh reduced hot flushes in 80 per cent of menopausal women, but it isn‘t good for women who get headaches and migraine. As an alternative you could try making a tea with a teaspoonful of chopped up fresh sage leaves and boiling water as an alternative.  It would be irresponsible not to point out that there is a question over the safety of black cohosh – that it may cause liver damage, but it has not been banned. Sometimes research leading these scares is somewhat flawed but make sure you read the label and if in doubt consult a herbalist.

Other tips

Michael Dooley suggests the yoga alternate nostril breath – breathe slowly through one nostril at a time while shutting off the other one with your thumb or finger, and retain the breath to a count of four. He claims, ‘This breathing exercise was shown in a study to enable the pituitary gland to work at its best, reducing body temperature and hot flushes.‘

Homeopathy

Homeopath and author, Beth Maceoin, recommends Pulsatilla for drenching, exhausting sweats particularly at night.

 

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Aches and pains

It‘s easy to think that there‘s something else wrong – like arthritis – when aches and pains in the joints and muscles set in. It seems like old age is creeping up far too quickly, but it‘s a normal menopausal symptom.

Maryon Stewart of The Natural Health Advisory Service suggests:

  • Magnesium, potassium, and B vitamins for muscle function;
  • Glucosamine sulphate which has been shown in several clinical studies to improve pain and joint tenderness – at a dose of 400mg three times a day;
  • Evening primrose and strong fish oils with calcium to help increase the uptake of vitamins and minerals, normalise hormone function, lubricate joints and keep the heart healthy.

There are special menopause formulas which contain many of the recommended supplements, such as Menopace and Fema 45+.

Other helpers:

  • Black Cohosh for aches and pains which feel like rheumatic pain – check the label as there has been some suggestion that too much of this herb can damage the liver
  • Nettle tea to clear out uric acid.

Instead of giving up exercise because of pain weight-bearing exercise can both ease aches and pains and build up bone mass to prevent osteoporosis – walking, tennis, jogging, and skipping are all good.

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Tiredness and insomnia

Passiflora courtesy of A.Vogel Bioforce

‘Not enough sleep, stress at home and at work, lack of exercise and a poor quality diet can all reduce energy levels,’ according to Maryon Stewart of the Women‘s Nutritional Advisory Service. ‘A healthy diet with a multi-vitamin supplement containing 20 to 30mg of zinc is helpful.‘

Expert tips:

  • Ginseng for women who are tired and run down, but choose Siberian Ginseng if anxiety is also a problem;
  • Sepia homeopathic remedy ‘for mental, emotional and physical exhaustion at times of hormonal upheaval and transition’ according to Beth Maceoin.
  • A relaxing night-time tea of Chamomile  can help induce sleep but for persistently bad nights passiflora or valerian tablets and tinctures need to be taken 30 minutes before bedtime.

 

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Anxious and irritable

It‘s not surprising that night sweats, insomnia and a host of hormonal changes leave some women frazzled, anxious and uptight!

Some recommended herbs:

  • Motherwort for anxiety accompanied by palpitations;
  • St John‘s Wort* when women are feeling low – check with doctor if taking medication as well;
  • Chamomile and lemon balm teas for calming.

Aromatherapy oils can also be relaxing – put a few drops in a bath or preferably in a massage!

  • Lavender, rose and geranium oils
  • Ylang ylang on a tissue to ease depression;
  • Lavender oil can be rubbed into the skin – test it first – on the throat either side of the thyroid where it gets absorbed by the carotid artery and carried to the brain.

Other calming tips:

  • Valerian or passiflora herbs for calming;
  • Nux vom homeopathic remedy which according to Beth Maceoin, ‘Is good for anyone who sleeps badly, has headaches and craves tea, coffee, alcohol or cigarettes to keep them going.‘
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Loss of libido

There‘s so many reasons for loss of libido at this stage of life – for men and women. Young children, relationship problems, depression, overuse of prescription drugs, plenty of stress at work and home, and hormonal changes all contribute.

Now we have so many herbs at our disposal you can find some to boost sex drive (forget the Viagra!):

  • Damiana used by the Maya of Central America
  • The Chinese Horny Goat Weed;
  • The Inca‘s Maca from Peru and Korean Ginseng, which should not be used by anyone with high blood pressure.
  • Bush Flower Remedies‘ Sexuality

Aromatherapy‘s great for sensual mood building with oil burners or massage. Some oils have an aphrodisiac quality:

  • Neroli
  • Sandalwood
  • Ylang ylang
  • Patchouli
  • Jasmine
  • Rose

The Romans used to scatter rose petals over the beds of newly weds and orange blossom was used to crown brides and calm and relax them before wedding nights.

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Pelvic floor muscles

 
Having children,  intercourse and just getting old all serve to make the pelvic floor muscles weaker. This can result in incontinence, dribbling or discomfort if the walls of the vagina are collapsing on to the bladder or bowel – prolapse.

There are conventional ways of dealing with weak pelvic floor muscles, but even doctors aren’t particularly keen on surgery and it’s such a delicate part of the body that the consequences aren’t always great and the problem isn’t necessarily solved. There are various gadgets that appear that you can put inside the vagina, but quite frankly the best solution is pelvic floor exercises.

They are so easy to do and so discreet that you can practise them while you’re driving, sitting on a train, in the bath, lying in bed or anywhere! Pilates and Yoga are both good for strengthening these muscles, and it is often worth asking the teacher for specific exercises.

Vaginal dryness

A dry vagina is due to the thinning of the mucous membrane and the fact that lubricating fluid is no longer produced. It can lead to painful intercourse and a general feeling of discomfort and the problem may be worse in very hot weather.

Doctors offer pessaries and creams that contain oestrogen, but they do ask if you have breast cancer in the family. If you prefer to avoid taking oestrogen a natural plant-based moisturiser can be just as effective.  A phytoestrogen diet as highlighted above definitely helps as well.

Author of Natural Medicine, a Practical Guide to Family Health, homeopath, Beth Maceoin recommends:

  • Avoid tight jeans and nylon underwear
  • Don‘t use scented soaps or bath foams
  • Do have regular sexual activity! ‘It maintains lubrication and suppleness of the genital area and orgasm with the associated rush of blood and muscular contraction plays an essential part in maintaining moisture and flexibility of the vagina!’

Helpful products

There are some very helpful products on the market at long last to help women with this problem. Some of them are lubricants to use when anticipating making love, while others are pessaries and vaginal gel which are inserted into the vagina overnight to make it more moist generally.  There are also some supplements taken as oral capsules which may prevent the area from drying up.

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Bladder discomfort

Vaginal dryness and prolapse or weak pelvic floor muscles can contribute to bladder discomfort and sometimes it’s really hard to know what is the cause. Another possibility is that the lack of oestrogen in the body can also cause cystitis – eating soya which contains phytoestrogens could help.If the bladder is being squashed by the walls of the vagina it may produce a dragging pain rather like period pain and can lead to considerable discomfort. Without having surgery there isn’t much that can be done except Pelvic Floor Muscle exercises (see above).Vaginal dryness needs to be addressed as well because it can mean that the vagina tissues tear during intercourse, causing infection which spreads to the bladder.If infection in the bladder is a regular problem there are many things that can be tried including:

Uva ursi, a herbal remedy which soothes bladder infections

Compounds in cranberries (proanthocyanidins – PACs) attach themselves to bacteria (which are mainly E-coli) preventing them from adhering to cells in the bladder – try supplements or Ocean Spray’s Cranberry Plus Grape, Apple and Cranberry Juice which contains no artificial sweeteners or sugar.

Avoid sugar and yeast – often the problem can be linked to Candida – see Candida in this section and eat plenty of fresh vegetables, wholegrains and pulses.

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Further information:

British Institute f

Cannabis for multiple sclerosis?

Hydrotherapy bath at Park Attwood

The debate about cannabis has brought to mind how many people with Multiple Sclerosis found that the herb eases the discomfort and helps them to live a normal life.  However, the fact that GPs are now prescribing CBD (cannabis oil) doesn’t mean that they will get it because it is solely available for children with severe epilepsy.  CBD which is somewhat less potent is now on sale in health food stores though.  This has probably more to do with cost than any other sensitivities, so it seems grossly unjust.

Multiple sclerosis is a degenerative disease of the nervous system affecting some 100,000 people in Britain and 3 million worldwide. It is incurable and potentially life-threatening and is more likely to affect women than men.

The average age at which symptoms start is from mid 20’s to mid 30s but it can develop at any time from the teens up to the mid 60’s.

  • MS is an autoimmune disease which means that instead of defending the body from infection and illness, the immune system actually attacks healthy cells and tissues.

The disease occurs when there is damage to the thin membrane or myelin sheath which surrounds the nerve tracts in the brain and spinal cord. The inflamed sheath loses some of its covering and hard scar tissue or lesions form. Damage to these nerves means that the right signals do not reach various parts of the body nor are the right signals sent back.

As a result the muscles become weak and this may affect mobility, eyesight, bladder and bowel control, speech, and cause pain, numbness and tingling in all parts of the body. Symptoms vary from person to person and it is helpful to treat a person as an individual rather than as an MS case.

People’s experience of MS is often very different and some are confined to wheelchairs while others live a relatively normal life holding down a job and having a family.

Cannabis is controversial

Cannabis has been used in healing for over 2,000 years and smoked recreationally by young people since the 1960s. However,  there is much controversy about the fact that young people who smoke too much cannabis may be susceptible to mental illness. And, it should be recognised, that the cannabis available in the 21st Century is far stronger than anything smoked in the 60s and 70s.

There is growing sympathy with the claims that cannabis can help MS and cancer sufferers, people with rheumatoid arthritis but its prescription is severely limited at this stage.  Years ago I interviewed many people who smoked it to relieve their symptoms. From time to time they were charged by the police, but they felt that it was worth it to feel better.

Complementary therapies for MS

No one therapy is the right one but people may benefit from any or several:
• aromatherapy
• homeopathy
• reflexology
• physiotherapy
• yoga
• qi gong
• tai chi
• hypnotism
• oxygen therapy
• counselling
• meditation
• nutrition
• hydrotherapy
• acupuncture
• healing
• Alexander Technique.

Tips for healthy eating:

All conditions improve with a healthy (preferably organic) diet made up of plenty of fruit and vegetables and Omega 3s and 6s in oily fish such as herring, mackerel, sardines, salmon and tuna, and sunflower, pumpkin and sesame oils and linseeds (or flaxseed).

There are some foods that should be avoided:

• Instant coffee
• Saturated fats – butter, cream, full cream milk, full fat cheese, red meat, peanuts
• Trans fats – these are in some processed foods and are made when vegetable oils are turned into solids (read labels on food or stick to fresh foods). See Trans Fats

There are other foods that are particularly good for MS sufferers including:

 
• Sunflower, pumpkin, and sesame seeds and linseeds (or flaxseed)
• Brazil nuts and fish for their selenium content

 

Homeopathy, Acupuncture and Yoga helped me

Jane was a P.E. teacher when she was diagnosed with MS in 1983. She retrained as a business studies teacher but was forced to give up work six years later after a very bad MS attack.

She tried some 40 different ways of helping her MS and finally settled on three: homeopathy, yoga and acupuncture.

‘I used to have an attack every year for 11 years. It was like a creeping paralysis where my energy plummeted, my muscles would fall off me, I had chronic fatigue and it took so long to recover.

Jane takes three homeopathic remedies, Lureticum, Tuberculinium and Psorinum which all come under the nosode heading – a category of homeopathic remedies which are prepared from disease products.

‘I used to take these when I started to go downhill and once I even halted an attack completely with nosodes. I had dreadful side effects from steroids – a hyperactive thyroid, my skin would get so thin it scraped off in the bath, I was weak and kept collapsing. These do not give me any side effects so I have given up all drugs now and I haven’t even had to take the nosodes for 47 weeks.

‘I started yoga 13 years ago and now do it daily. The breathing in yoga is particularly beneficial and I also meditate. My condition is much better, my energy is markedly improved, I no longer have the brain fatigue which was so depressing and I haven’t needed antidepressants since I started doing it. Things that used to bother me don’t now.

 

CASE STUDY: Acupuncture is my 100 per cent lifeline

Peter was 42 when he started falling over a lot. As sales manager for a company he had been in Scotland on business. ‘I went into the motorway services to go to the loo on the trip home and the next thing I knew I was waking up in bed. That was the end of my working life.

‘I had MS attacks every 18 months and a number of different symptoms, but three years ago I started going blind. At this point I visited Richard Blackwell and started having acupuncture. Fairly soon after my sight came back and now I go every week to see him.

‘Richard completely eliminated the severe pain I was having in my neck and shoulders, and it never came back again. Another time he put a pair of needles at an angle between my scalp and skull. The effect was remarkable – the burning sensation that I had permanently on the skin on my feet and legs was switched off and stayed that way for 24 hours. Unfortunately the needles were so painful that I haven’t been able to repeat it.

‘Acupuncture is my 100 per cent lifeline. It is far more important than anything that Western medicine can provide.’

The Northern College of Acupuncture is on 01904 343305, www.chinese-medicine.co.uk

Exercise helps me

Susie, 48, spent the first 10 years of her illness in her 20s feeling frightened, confused and ashamed, but a trip to the Peto Institute in Hungary changed her life. She now walks with a stick, feels fit and healthy and oozes enthusiasm. She owns and runs The Cornell Centre, a health and fitness centre for everyone but with its own special MS programme, and she has written a book and made an exercise video.

‘I had been told by the doctors in England just to rest. At Peto I discovered that exercise made me feel much better. The doctors there taught me to use my brain while doing simple exercise – for instance to count while doing leg lifts.

‘When I got back from Hungary I wanted other people to benefit from what I had learnt so I started a clinic. Over the years I have developed the programme and also trained in reflexology, aromatherapy, anatomy and physiology, clinical homeopathy.

‘The gym is full of healthy people and those in wheelchairs too. All our MS members get a full physical assessment before they start on the programme. Once you are labelled with MS by the medical profession they never look at you again. If I had found my programme 25 years ago I wouldn’t have a problem now.’

The Cornell Centre can offer nutritional evaluation, MS assessment, exercise programmes, advice and nutritional therapy, 01245 268098, www.susiecornell.com

 

USEFUL CONTACTS:

The Multiple Sclerosis Society provides support for anyone with MS, fundraising activities and information on research, 0808 800 8000, www.mssociety.org.uk

Multiple Sclerosis Therapy Centres, gives details of all centres in the UK that offer high dose oxygen therapy, physio and counselling for MS people: www.msntc.org.uk

BOOKS:

Multiple Sclerosis (Natural Ways), Richard Thomas
Cooking Without Made Easy, Barbara Cousins
The Complete MS Body Manual, Susie Cornell

Click on the Amazon ad on the right of the page to buy these books.

Don’t get SAD (Seasonal Affective Disorder)

moon winterWe’ve had such a lovely summer, but it is clocks back time again – so the nights are longer and darker.  Winter blues affect some 17 per cent of Britons*, while 7 per cent experience  SAD (Seasonal Affective Disorder).   Winter blues can mean feeling extra tired, lacking in energy and feeling low.
 
Symptoms of SAD include:

• Depression – low self-esteem, misery, despair, hopelessness, numbness,apathy
• Constant fatigue
• Disturbed sleep patterns with early morning waking
• Lack of energy
• Craving for sweet foods and carbohydrates – consequent weight gain
• Mood swings
• Anxiety and inability to cope with stress
• Loss of libido
• Lowered immune system so more prone to colds
• Bursts of activity in spring and autumn

People who get SAD tend to live far north of the equator (Britain, Scandinavia, Alaska, Iceland), because of the long nights and short days.  They are more likely to be pre-menopausal women than anyone else.

Why it happens

Light deprivation is the main cause of SAD and in some people it causes a deficiency in serotonin and dopamine – chemicals the brain needs to control mood, appetite, sleep and sexuality.

The main cause of SAD is believed to be a drop in levels of serotonin, a brain chemical or neurotransmitter, responsible for:

• hunger   • thirst   • sexual activity   • sleep patterns   • moods    • body temperature   • (indirectly) the production of hormones.

Daylight triggers the hypothalamus gland in the brain to produce serotonin, so lack of daylight leads to reduced levels.At night the pineal gland which is attached to the brain releases the hormone melatonin (a derivative of serotonin) giving the signal to the brain that it is night time and that it is time to sleep. Similarly, during the day when light hits the retina in the eye signals are sent to the brain to bring about change in the pineal, adrenal, pituitary and thyroid glands.

However, if it is dark more often than it is light there is too much melatonin being released and may account for tiredness, lethargy and fatigue in SAD sufferers.

Light boxes

One of the best ways of dealing with SAD is to use a light box, which can be rigged up in the workplace with a minimum of half an hour recommended twice a day. Dawn simulator alarm clocks also help people to wake up with a ‘natural’ dawn when the mornings are dark.

Doctors and complementary therapists alike recommend light therapy.

 How SAD affects our appetite

Comfort eating helps to relieve depression and many people with SAD crave sugary snacks and stimulants like caffeine. These give a temporary lift but blood sugar levels plummet afterwards and cravings become worse. When someone gets trapped into a low blood sugar cycle they tend to put on weight because they are constantly craving and consuming foods and drinks which are high in sugar.

Change of diet

A change of diet to boost serotonin levels, cut down cravings for sugary foods, and eat more healthily is the best way to lose weight and gain confidence to try and avoid getting SAD every winter.   A diet high in proteins helps to boost serotonin levels because proteins contain tryptophan, an amino acid, which is converted by the body firstly into 5HTP and then into serotonin.

High protein foods include:

  • Fish, turkey, chicken
  • Beans – kidney, borlotti, lima and aduki, lentils,
  • Eggs
  • Cottage cheese
  • Bananas
  • Avocados
  • Wheatgerm, oats, quinoa.

Herbal medicine: St John’s Wort (use the code HSoul1 for 5% discount) has been proven to improve some symptoms – 900 mcg a day is recommended from mid-October through the winter. It is essential to consult a GP or registered medical herbalist before taking St John’s Wort  because it contra-indicates some medicines and can cause side-effects when used at the same time as light therapy.

One natural remedy that can be very good for SAD is a type of algae, Blue Green Organic Klamath Algae, (use the code HSoul1 for 5% discount)  which is abundant in minerals and contains a natural (feel-good) endorphin and plenty of antioxidants.

 

If in doubt contact: The National Institute of Medical Herbalists, www.nimh.org.uk

Other recommended therapies:

• Acupuncture
• Reflexology
• Homeopathy
• Nutritional therapy
• Yoga
• Counselling
• Hypnotherapy

See Complementary Therapies for more information.

*According to an ICM Online Omnibus Survey conducted for Lumie of 2,000 people in the UK.

Painful, heavy, irregular periods?

woman very attractiveAnyone whose periods are extremely painful every month, who has stopped having periods or who is suffering from heavy periods should see a doctor. Complementary therapies and self-help tips can be a solution once serious problems, such as endometriosis, fibroids, or cancer, have been ruled out.  Complementary therapies can, however,  help for both endometriosis and fibroids (see Hysterectomies – are they really necessary?).

Painful periods

Many women experience pain at the start of their periods – back pain, low abdomen pain, feeling sick and sweaty, exhausted and feeling generally unwell.

Periods can be painful for a variety of reasons but if they are consistently causing you considerable pain it is essential to visit a doctor and be examined to ensure that nothing serious is wrong such as endometriosis or pelvic inflammatory disease. Once you are sure that there are no other problems some self-help can ease some of the symptoms.

Taking a painkiller may be the answer to relieving the pain but it isn’t removing the cause. Periods may be painful because of other factors such as deficiency in certain nutrients, being overweight, or a general unhealthy state. By improving diet and general health it is possible that periods will settle down and not cause any problems. However, from around 40 onwards in the peri-menopausal stage periods do change and may become heavier and more painful. Similarly at the start of having periods a young girl often experiences a lot of pain which goes away as she gets older.

Nutrition

It might seem a touch repetitive but healthy eating benefits the body in so many ways and can considerably improve periods for women. To find out more about eating healthily look in Nutrition/You Are What You Eat.

A healthy diet consists of:

  • organic fruit and vegetables
  • wholegrains like brown rice
  • pulses such as lentils
  • nuts and seeds
  • oily fish – herrings, mackerel, tuna, salmon and sardines
  • (organic) chicken and turkey
  • plenty of water – preferably filtered or spring water

Deficient in vitamins or minerals?

Few women have enough nutrients in their diet, however healthily they eat, and therefore the body is not in a fit state to cope with periods often causing pain and other symptoms at that time of the month.

A staggering 96 per cent of women aged 19 to 24 and 91 per cent 19 to 64 year old women have well below the recommended intake of iron, according to research by the Food Standards Agency and Dept of Health. The figures are also very low for magnesium, copper, calcium, zinc, iodine, folic acid, Vitamin A and other vitamins. Therefore it is well worth taking a multivitamin which is specifically for women of menstruating age.

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Aromatherapy oils

  • Clary sage is a very pungent aromatherapy oil that can do wonders for period discomfort – just a few drops in a bath with lavender oil can soothe period pain in the lower abdomen and back.
  • A few drops of lavender, clary sage and chamomile oil in an egg cup of carrier oil such as almond oil massaged into the lower belly can also ease pain.
  • In her book Aromatherapy for Women Maggie Tisserand suggests one drop of clary sage in a glass of water with honey to ease pain – we are wary about suggesting this because ingestion of aromatherapy oils is not advised, but having tried it and found it extremely soothing it’s worth passing on.
  • You can make up a mixture in 30ml of massage oil (olive oil, jojoba oil, or almond oil) of two drops of peppermint oil, 10 drops of clary sage oil, two of chamomile and five of geranium.
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Peppermint oil Tisserand Aromatherapy 9ml £5.50
Geranium oil Tisserand Aromatherapy 9ml £8.50
Jojoba oil Tisserand Aromatherapy 100ml £9.60
Almond oil Absolute Aromas 100ml £3.60
***Please click here to order from the Nutri Centre***

Self-help

  • Warmth is great for soothing pain – so snuggle up with a hot water bottle.
  • Contrary to old-fashioned thinking doing some exercise actually improves pain rather than making it worse.
  • Drink chamomile tea to calm the system.
  • Relaxation is helpful for persistently uncomfortable periods – consider Yoga and/or Meditation – see Therapies and Mind Body Spirit/Mind/Live Long, Stay Young

Complementary therapies

These may help for all kinds of problems with periods and once you have been checked out medically to ensure that there is nothing serious wrong it is worth trying any of these:

  • Acupuncture
  • Cranial osteopathy
  • Reflexology
  • Homeopathy
  • Herbal medicine
  • Chinese Herbal Medicine
  • Naturopathy
  • Nutrition

For information about these and how to find practitioners look at Therapies

Heavy periods

Women are very aware when their periods have changed and they are having to use more sanitary wear than normal.

This can be due to the onset of menopause but it is always worth a visit to the doctor to rule out any serious problems. Until recently most women with heavy periods had their wombs removed – it is worth reading the article in the Women’s Health section on Hysterectomies as many have been performed unnecessarily and there are alternative ways of dealing with some problems such as fibroids.

An Aromatherapy Mix

Make up a mixture of 30 drops of cypress oil, three drops of rose oil, 25 of chamomile and 20 of geranium and mix together. Then put five or six drops of the mixture into your bath, making sure the oil has properly dispersed – some people mix it with milk to make it disperse better.

No periods

It’s important to ensure the obvious reasons why periods might stop – that you’re not pregnant!

Otherwise they can stop because of losing too much weight, high stress levels or illness. Therefore it is vital that you see a doctor to rule out serious health problems or pregnancy!

Irregular Periods

Again there may be many reasons for irregular periods but is worth a look at lifestyle.

Are you drinking too much, smoking and not eating regularly and healthily?

It is important to seek professional help for all of these problems – initially from a doctor and if the problem is not resolved or you do not wish to take prescription drugs, try seeing a qualified practitioner in any of the following (always check their qualifications):

  • Homeopathy
  • Herbal Medicine
  • Reflexology
  • Nutrition
  • Chinese Herbal Medicine

For information about the relevant associations and how to find practitioners look at Therapies

CONTACTS:

Natural Health Advisory Service Ltd,  01273 487366 ,  www.naturalhealthas.com.

Dr Marilyn Glenville has clinics in London and Tunbridge Wells: 08705 329244  www.marilynglenville.com. Postal consultations available.

Save your skin in the sun

The best summer most of us have ever seen has enabled us to live like the continentals. Day after day of hot weather has been good for those who have respect for the sun, but has caused many people to end up in hospital through over-exposure.

There’s a mixed message about the sun – the skin needs exposure to the sun to make that vital Vitamin D which is essential for healthy bones and teeth,  immune system and cognitive function – pretty important!  Yet we have been receiving a message for years that too much sun (and exposure to sunbeds) can cause skin cancer. View Skin Cancer Rates High in the UK.

For a great  natural range of sun care products go to Neals Yard Remedies – click here or on the ads on the right.

The problem starts when we are young and we think we’re invincible, and despite what they say, we still love a tan.  Children’s skin is more at risk than adults and it is from a young age that we need to be protected – so why not take a leaf out of the Australians’ book? The Slip, Slap, Slop campaign A very successful advertising campaign in Australia was Slip Slap Slop: • Slip on a T-shirt • Slap on a cap • Slop on the sunscreen!

Why the sun is good for us

No wonder people get fed up with conflicting messages but it is true that exposure to the sun without sunscreen enables the skin to manufacture Vitamin D. It is also a fact that many of us are deficient in Vitamin D, according to recent research. Vitamin D helps to maintain healthy bones and teeth, and regulates calcium and phosphorus levels which ensure good muscle function.  Read more in Vitamin D deficiency due to lack of sun.

This doesn’t therefore mean that spending hours in the sun without sunscreen is a good idea when it’s exceptionally hot. Good judgement helps most of us to know how much sun is enough depending on the temperature outside. But of course children cannot make this decision for themselves and are usually so busy playing that they don’t think about it. There are other reasons why too much sun isn’t that good for us – everyone has seen people who have tanned so much that their skin becomes tough, old and wrinkly. Also too much sun on a very hot day can bring on sunstroke which results in headaches, dehydration and sickness and can be dangerous.

Sunscreen yes – chemicals no! Once you become keen to avoid pesticides in your food, and start looking at cosmetics to see what they contain, you become aware of what’s in sun creams.  There are a range of different chemicals in them including  phthalates, PABA, BPA and parabens. There are also said to be chemicals in them that mimic or disrupt hormones and these can be in the ‘parfum’, a cocktail of chemicals or oxybenzone.

 

One of the worst chemicals is parabens which is usually found in well known brands of sun tan lotion. It appears in many different forms: methyl paraben, ethyl paraben, butyl paraben, propyl paraben, and propul paraben. Research studies found that propyl paraben has been found to decrease sperm production and traces of parabens have been found in human breast tissue. There are now plenty of healthier alternatives which are good for the skin, make it moist and also prevent sunburning. Given that it’s not a good idea to spend hours and hour in hot sun, these sunscreens are perfectly adequate. Parfum too is a strange term that covers a whole gamut of fragrance chemicals, the names of which are not listed. People with allergies often have a reaction to parfum. It’s perfectly possible to buy sunscreens that use natural ingredients up to about 46 F.  Some contain essential oils, several contain aloe vera. They smell great, they work and they keep your skin soft and protected, without allowing harsh chemicals into the bloodstream – particularly suitable for kids.

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Featured products
Aloe Vera Sun Lotion SPF25 Aloe Pura 200ml £11.99
Mineral Suncare Broad Spectrum SPF 30 Jason Natural 113g £10.57
Children’s Sun Lotion Lavender SPF 25 Green People 150ml £12.49
Hydrating After Sun Lotion Green People 200ml £10.99
Aloe Vera After Sun Aloe Pura 200ml £7.27
Use this code to get 5% discount from www.superfooduk.com:  HSoul1