location-arrowFont Awesome Free 5.0.6 by @fontawesome - http://fontawesome.com License - http://fontawesome.com/license (Icons: CC BY 4.0, Fonts: SIL OFL 1.1, Code: MIT License)
ClockFont Awesome Free 5.0.6 by @fontawesome - http://fontawesome.com License - http://fontawesome.com/license (Icons: CC BY 4.0, Fonts: SIL OFL 1.1, Code: MIT License)
Alternate FileFont Awesome Free 5.0.6 by @fontawesome - http://fontawesome.com License - http://fontawesome.com/license (Icons: CC BY 4.0, Fonts: SIL OFL 1.1, Code: MIT License)
Mapp & Hession Pharmacy Murwillumbah King Street Chemist Greg Mapp & Paul Hession

Address Line One | Address Line Two | Address Line Three

We are passionate about providing you with all round health solutions.


Please use this resource page as your gateway to better health.  Talk to our pharmacists about ways we can collaborate to support your needs.

Your Health Fact Sheet

Diseases Health Fact Sheets

The time when a woman ceases to ovulate can cause some problems and some uncomfortable symptoms.

What to look for

  • hot flushes
  • night sweats.
  • pain during intercourse
  • increased nervousness, anxiety, or irritability.
  • increased need to urinate
  • swollen ankles
  • headaches
  • painful intercourse


Menopause refers to the time in a woman’s life when she stops ovulating and is a process not a final event. She may or may not have any symptoms.
Menopause usually occurs in women between the ages of 45 - 55 but it can happen earlier or much later.
Some symptoms are only temporary and will go in time. But more-permanent problems can also result.


Causes

It is caused by a decrease in the levels of oestrogen and progesterone. Her periods will cease over time and ovaries will slow and cease their normal functions.


Traditional Treatment

A popular yet still controversial treatment is the hormone replacement therapy. It simply replaces the oestrogen levels in the body but may still have certain side effects.


Alternative/Natural Treatments

Chinese Herbs - Some Chinese herbs - including Dong Quai (Angelica sinensis) and Asian Ginseng (Panax ginseng) - contain a form of oestrogen. Exact proportions are important - consult a Professional.


Herbal Therapies - Phytoestrogen is found in a variety of herbs and foods. Extracts and teas made from Black Cohosh (Cimicifuga racemosa) may supply beneficial amounts of Phytoestrogen.
Certain herbal creams may help relieve vaginal dryness and dry skin. Combinations of Motherwort (Leonurus cardiaca), Chaste Tree (Vitex agnus-castus), Wild Yam (Dioscorea villosa), and other herbs may help with the rapid heartbeat that comes with hot flashes.


Dietary Considerations

Eating foods high in plant estrogens, such as soy beans and lima beans, may alleviate symptoms; other sources include nuts and seeds, fennel, celery, parsley, and flaxseed oil. Some foods high in B vitamins may assist with nerves and emotional problems. These are brewer’s yeast, yeast extracts, eggs, wheatgerm, breads, wholegrains, organ meats, pulses and cereals.


Personal Care

  • Raise your calcium intake and engage in weight-bearing exercises to avoid osteoporosisand maintain general good health.
  • Take vitamin E daily to treat hot flushes and reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease.


When to seek further professional advice

  • you experience bleeding after menopause

Menopausal Symptoms

What to look for

  • dim or distorted vision, especially while reading.
  • gradual, painless loss of precise central vision.
  • blank spots in your central field of vision; straight lines that appear wavy.


Because the symptoms usually do not appear in people under 55 years of age, the disorder is often referred to as age-related macular degeneration (ARMD).


If you are over 65, macular degeneration may already affect your central vision, even though most sufferers of the disease maintain functional side, or peripheral, vision throughout life. The disorder occurs in two forms, dry and wet. The less common wet form of ARMD requires immediate medical attention; any delay in treatment may result in loss of your central vision.

Causes

Macular degeneration is scarring of the macula, a spot about 1/16 inch in diameter at the center of the retina. The macula enables you to read, watch television, drive, sew… anything that requires focused, straight-ahead vision. Although the rest of the retina can continue to process images at the sides of your field of vision, the scarring distorts or obscures part of the central image that your eye transmits to your brain.


In the dry form of ARMD, tiny yellow deposits develop beneath the macula, signalling a degeneration and thinning of nerve tissue. A small number of cases develop into the wet, or neovascular, form of ARMD, in which abnormal blood vessels grow beneath the macula. As these vessels leak blood and fluid onto the retina, retinal cells die, causing blurs and blank spots in your field of vision.


You are more susceptible to ARMD as you get older, especially if there is a history of the disorder in your family. atherosclerosis, diabetes, heart disease, high blood pressure, and nutritional deficiencies are also risk factors.
Your ophthalmologist will inspect the macula as part of a routine eye exam. A painless photographic procedure, fluorescein angiography, shows the pattern of your eye's blood vessels and can detect any abnormalities.


Traditional Treatment

Macular degeneration is not reversible, so people who develop dry ARMD typically compensate with large-print publications and magnifying lenses for everyday activities. Wet ARMD may be successfully treated with laser surgery. Both forms respond positively to ophthalmology treatment as well as to alternative remedies.


The more common dry macular degeneration cannot be cured, but it can be kept from getting worse under an ophthalmologist's care. For the wet form, a surgical procedure called laser photocoagulation destroys leaking blood vessels that have grown under the macula, halting the damaging effects to your vision. This procedure must be done before leakage from abnormal blood vessels causes irreversible damage.


Alternative/Natural Treatments

Drawing on the body's natural abilities and functions, alternative treatments attempt to restore nutrient deficiencies that can damage the macula.

Herbal Therapies - Collagen, one of the most abundant proteins in the body, plays an integral role in maintaining the strength and function of your eye tissue. The collagen structure of your retina may be strengthened and reinforced by taking bilberry (Vaccinium myrtillus) extract daily.  Dried ginkgo (Ginkgo biloba) may guard against damage to your macula by free radicals, unstable molecules found in the body that can harm cells.


Dietary Considerations

Many older people exhibit deficiencies in zinc, which normally appears in high concentrations in the retina. Speak with your doctor about taking a zinc supplement to help protect the retina from damage and improve sharpness of vision.
Antioxidants are said to fight the negative effects free radicals have on your retinal blood vessels.


Personal Care

Your eye doctor will suggest large-print reading material, magnifiers, and other aids to enhance your eyesight.
Eat more fruits and vegetables rich in vitamin C, such as citrus fruits, cauliflower, and broccoli. Snack on nuts and seeds, which contain vitamin E. Yellow vegetables containing carotene, as well as cherries, blackberries, and blueberries, all of which contain antioxidants.  Cut back on consumption of alcohol, cigarettes, and coffee, all of which may aggravate eye problems.


When to seek further professional advice

  • you exhibit any of the symptoms listed in the description section and have never seen an ophthalmologist. Ask your doctor for a referral.
  • you exhibit any of the symptoms listed in the description section and have hypertension, diabetes, or heart disease. You are in the high-risk category for the advanced wet form of macular degeneration. Any abnormality in your vision is a sign that you may be developing the disorder.
  • you have been diagnosed with age-related macular degeneration and then you discover blank spots in your field of vision, printed matter appears distorted, or straight lines appear wavy. You may be developing the advanced wet form of macular degeneration.

Macular Degeneration

Malaria is an infectious tropical disease spread by mosquitos.


What to look for

  • fever - sometimes the only symptom
  • other flu like symptoms such as - headache, fatigue, and nausea.
  • sudden chills and severe shaking.
  • profuse sweating.


Malaria is an infectious disease transmitted by mosquitoes. Almost all tropical areas (Asia, Africa and India) have malaria-transmitting mosquitos.  Early symptoms of malaria include flu like characteristics. The disease has three distinct stages - a cold stage, a hot stage and a sweating stage.


Causes

Malaria is caused by a bite from the infected Anopheles mosquito, which injects the malaria parasites into the bloodstream. Once in the bloodstream, they travel to the liver, where they multiply at a tremendous rate and begin to destroy red blood cells. This is what causes the symptoms of malaria.


There is one species of parasite which is fatal and it is highly resistant to anti-malaria drugs.
Others may lay dormant in your liver for years without making their presence known.
You will be given a blood test to determine if you have malaria.


Traditional Treatment

Left untreated malaria can be fatal. Quick and appropriate conventional treatment, however, can result in a speedy and complete recovery.


Alternative/Natural Treatments

Alternative therapies can treat the symptoms of malaria and help your body recover from conventional medications.


Herbal Therapies - Boneset (Eupatorium perfoliatum), sometimes called feverwort, was used by Native Americans and early American colonists to treat feverish illnesses, including malaria.


Homoeopathy - Remedies prescribed for malaria include Arsenicum album and Sulphur. Consult a Professional for dosages and length of treatment.


Prevention

Immunisation is the best prevention of this disease especially if you are travelling anywhere in the tropics.

  • Take a preventive antimalarial medication before, during, and after the trip.
  • Sleep under mosquito netting treated with an insecticide
  • Stay in buildings with air conditioning or screened doors and windows.
  • Stay indoors from dusk to dawn, the time when mosquitoes feed.
  • If you go out in the evening, wear long pants and a long-sleeved shirt.
  • Use a mosquito repellent


When to seek further professional advice

  • you experience the symptoms of malaria while in the affected areas of the world or up to several months after returning.

Malaria

This is a condition where the person’s moods swing wildly from elation to severe depression.


What to look for

Mood swings which are obvious and unexpected characterise this disorder. There are two strongly opposing phases the person swings from:


In the manic phase:

  • over-excited and elated
  • euphoria or irritability.
  • excessive talk; racing thoughts.
  • inflated self-esteem.
  • high energy levels
  • impulsiveness - shopping sprees, excessive spending, promiscuity
  • hallucinations and delusions


In the depressive phase:

  • depressed mood and low self-esteem.
  • overwhelming apathy.
  • sadness, loneliness, helplessness, guilt.
  • slow speech, fatigue.
  • insomnia.
  • suicidal thoughts and feelings


Manic-depression or bipolar disorder is a disturbing illness both to the sufferer and there families. It is characterised by cyclical swings between euphoria and despair. There is no set pattern to the swings between the manic phase and the depression phase and no exact frequency with which they occur. Some people are continuously in this alternating cycle, for other more fortunate people it only happens once in their life. In most instances, the patient is depressed longer than they are manic.


Much evidence suggests that the illness has a genetic basis, but its actual cause is still baffling doctors. The symptoms apparently result from chemical imbalances in the brain. This illness interrupt the patients life and that of their family, but it can also have dangerous consequences if the patient commits suicide.
The disorder usually takes one of two different types. In one type the patient has very disruptive and over-excited mania phases alternating with depression, while there is another type in which the mania phase is less pronounced and not very excessive.


In the first type, patients are likely to be very intense and often will pace about, shouting and screaming or they may flit from subject to subject rapidly. Both are thought to be genetically linked.
The symptoms of this illness can be controlled through the use of medications and other treatments.
The illness is sometimes linked to a seasonal disorder, with depression occurring in late autumn or winter and progressing to mania in the summer.


Usually the disorder starts in early adulthood, with the first episode in men likely to be manic and the first in females usually depressive. With age the occurrences of phases come more frequently and last longer


Causes

A possible cause of manic-depression is a chemical imbalance in the brain, caused by a defective gene. Among the neuro-transmitters possibly involved are serotonin and norepinephrine, these two chemicals influence mood. A low level of serotonin may produce an unstable mood while an imbalance of norepinephrine alters the direction of the mood swing. It is reported that a low level is associated with depression and a high level produces mania. This area is complex and not completely understood. In a number of cases, there is some family history of mood swings, depressive illness, or suicide which indicates that genes do play some type of role.


In most cases, manic depression will commence with no outside influence or cause, however in some cases tension or dysfunctional upbringing may stimulate an episode.


Many cases are not treated and the reason may be that patients do not want to acknowledge that anything is wrong because of the negative stigma attached to mental illness. In addition, doctors often do not recognise the symptoms and misdiagnose the illness.


In attempting to diagnose, psychiatrists will investigated the patient's history and also the family history. This is to eliminate other disorders.


The patient should go through a physical examination as well which includes a blood and urine test. The doctor may also perform a thyroid examination as medication for this illness may affect your thyroid.

Traditional Treatment

Doctors usually treat this disorder with both medication and psychiatric therapy. Hospitalisation will usually only occur in extreme cases.


You will need to be under regular supervision by your doctor so he or she can monitor your progress and the levels of the drug in your blood stream.


Alternative/Natural Treatments

Natural therapies may not always be very helpful with this disorder while the patient is having either a manic or a depressive episode. However, they can often be helpful in between occurrences.


Talk to your doctor about the benefits of magnesium. It has been reported that this mineral has the same affects as lithium (the drug most used in the treatment of manic depression). Do not ever treat yourself. This disorder should always be monitored by your doctor.


Another option is the use of some Chinese herbs. However it is vitally important that you see a Chinese Herbalist who is experienced in treating mood disorders - not all of the practitioners are.


Personal Care

If you live with a person who is manic depressive or if you have this disorder yourself, try to have a tranquil home especially when the person is having a manic episode. Getting enough sleep is very important. Loud parties, lots of television watching and loud music can bring on a manic symptom.


People who are in the manic phase often take part in risky activities and they should be watched and prevented if possible from taking risks. Food and drinks containing caffeine or any other energy lifting substance should be avoided during the manic phase as should alcohol.


When to seek further professional advice

  • you notice some of these symptoms in yourself or a family member.

Manic Depression

This is an infectious viral disease, characterised by small red dots that occur all over the body.


What to look for

There are two stages of this disease. In the first stage , your child will have cold-like symptoms such as runny nose, eyes, and mouth, cough and a husky voice. The child’s eyes may be red and watery. There may also be a high fever and sneezing.
The second stage (usually from third or fourth day), the child’s temperature falls and the characteristic rash appears. This is usually a reddish colour with raised spots. The spots group together in patches. Then the temperature rises on the day the rash appears. The skin may start to peel after 2 or 3 days.


Measles is highly contagious and is a very severe childhood disease. (Adults can get measles but it is rare. Immunisation is compulsory for children as this disease can have serious complications which can be fatal.


Causes

Like most viruses, measles is spread in droplets of saliva which is carried through the air when an infected child coughs or sneezes. Your child is most contagious 2 days before symptoms appear, although he is still contagious for 4 days after the rash begins.


Traditional Treatment

If you suspect that your child has measles, you should always consult your child's doctor, who will wish to monitor your child’s progress through the disease. Your child should not return to school until a week after the rash appears.
Bed rest, a soft-foods diet, and increased liquid intake are usually prescribed by most doctors until the symptoms subside.


Alternative/Natural Treatments

Always see your conventional doctor as this disease can have serious consequences if not treated.
Herbal Therapies - No herbs treat measles specifically. However, a number of preparations may help alleviate the symptoms. Teas of yarrow (Achillea millefolium), catnip (Nepeta cataria), and linden (Tilia spp.) may help reduce fever. An eyebright (Euphrasia officinalis) eyewash or a chamomile (Matricaria recutita) compress may ease the eyes.


Personal Care

  • Keep your infected child away from all other children and yourselves if you have not been immunised against measles or if you have never had the disease.
  • Calamine lotion will relieve the itching.
  • A humidifier can ease a bad cough.


Prevention

Many alternative practitioners feel it is better for an otherwise healthy child to contract measles than to be vaccinated, because fighting the illness strengthens the immune system. However, it is normally highly recommended that all children be immunised in Australia.


When to seek further professional advice

  • you think your child has measles.

Measles

Meningitis is the inflammation and infection of the meninges, the membranes covering the brain and spinal cord.


What to look for

  • fever and drowsiness.
  • severe headache usually associated with pain in the eyes.
  • stiff neck, shoulders, or back.
  • severe shooting pain down the back of the neck
  • vomiting.
  • seizures and coma.
  • in infants, a bulge in the soft spot on the skull.
  • in infants, a stiff neck and a floppy body.


There are two types of meningitis - the viral and bacterial forms. Viral meningitis is common and not as dangerous. (It is still important to consult a doctor who will confirm which meningitis strand the patient has).


The symptoms are usually flu-like and/or more severe. The other type is a bacterial form and is called meningoccal meningitis which sometimes occurs in local epidemics. This is a very serious illness and it is vital to have immediate conventional medical attention or death may occur in hours.


This illness can occur in spina bifida babies and also very young children in general.
Meningitis can be contagious among people living close together.


Causes

Bacterial meningitis is caused by any one of several bacteria. These bacteria are often spread from person to person through coughing and sneezing. Some research indicates that people are more vulnerable to bacterial meningitis after a bout of the flu or if there is already an infection present in the body at the time.


Viral meningitis can be triggered by a variety of viruses. These viruses can be spread through contact with infected rodents. Another cause is fungal often found in pigeon droppings


Confirmation of meningitis requires a lumbar puncture, or spinal tap.
Samples of your blood, urine, and secretions from your nose or ears may also be taken.


Traditional Treatment

The bacterial form of meningitis in particular is life-threatening. Immediate medical treatment is vital
If you have meningococcal meningitis, your doctor may recommend that people with whom you have been in close contact undergo preventive antibiotic treatment.


Alternative/Natural Treatments

Because meningitis is a serious and potentially fatal disease, you should use alternative treatments only after you have received emergency medical care.


Dietary Considerations

To maintain a healthy immune system and prevent recurrences of infections that can lead to meningitis, eat a low-fat, high-fibre diet, avoid sugar and processed foods. Vitamin supplements can also be helpful.


When to seek further professional advice

  • you develop the symptoms listed in the description section

Meningitis

This is sickness resulting from the motion of the vehicle in which one is travelling.


What to look for

  • sweating, dizziness, drowsiness and nausea while travelling by many forms of transportation

Although quite uncomfortable motion sickness is not a dangerous ailment. The symptoms of motion sickness usually subside either once your body adjusts to your mode of travel or shortly after the trip ends.


Causes

Motion sickness results from an imbalance of information reaching the brain from the sensory organs. Your inner ear has a balance organ inside and detects motion more readily than your eyes do. Your central nervous system reacts to this stress-producing phenomenon by activating the nausea center in your brain.


Traditional Treatment

To stop motion sickness, it is a good idea to stop doing whatever is causing the discomfort. Reading usually causes this if you are in motion. If you are prone to this ailment, prepare yourself by taking medications with you on each long trip. The symptoms of travel sickness vary from person to person although you will always experience the same symptoms and in the same order.


You may be recommended over-the-counter pills to alleviate this condition.


Alternative/Natural Treatments

Herbal Treatments - Ginger is an extremely popular and successful cure for travel sickness. It causes none of the side effects of anti-nausea drugs and can be drunk as a tea, or taken in capsule form; it should be taken on an empty stomach.


Homoeopathy - Homoeopathic remedies sometimes come in kits that contain motion sickness remedies, which can be taken before and during travel as directed.


Aromatherapy - Ginger is also useful if it is inhaled directly from the bottle or in a massage. 


Prevention

There are many strategies you can use to lower your vulnerability to motion sickness. In addition to the suggestions above, the following may help:

  • Get plenty of fresh air
  • Keep your head as still as possible focus on the horizon.
  • Don't read while in motion.
  • Eat light meals
  • Don't drink or smoke.

If nausea does set in, try eating olives or sucking on a lemon;


When to seek further professional advice

  • you are planning a trip and are concerned that you will be bothered by motion sickness.

Motion Sickness

MS is a condition which affects the central nervous system.


What to look for

The first attack is generally mild, lasts only a few days, and is followed by a long period of remission perhaps years before the next episode. Symptoms vary considerably. They include:

  • weakness, stiffness, or numbness in one or more limbs.
  • sensations of tingling, pins and needles around the limbs or the trunk of the body
  • tremors or a lack of balance or coordination.
  • blurred or double vision, or rapid, involuntary eye movement.
  • bladder or bowel incontinence.
  • fatigue.


The effects of this disease can range from relatively minor physical annoyances to major disabilities.
In normal cases, the nerves in the body are surrounded by a fatty substance called myelin, which permits the efficient transmission of electrical impulses the nerve signals. Multiple sclerosis, or MS, occurs when this protective sheath becomes inflamed sometimes causing damage to the nerves themselves. The nerves may make faulty connections with each other or not work at all. The above symptoms will occur when the transmission of electrical impulses is interrupted.


You may be a teenager when you have the first attack and it may be brief and mild - it may pass unrecognised. You could be much older when you have the next attack and it could last longer.
When the nerves are inflamed repeatedly, they become scarred (sclerosis) and this occurs too quickly to be repaired. How severe the illness is depends on the individual, and varies from person to person. Some can lead normal healthy lives, while others are confined to wheelchairs.


Multiple sclerosis is unpredictable in its on-again, off-again designs and its array of symptoms.


Causes

The cause of MS still remains a mystery however, most researchers think the immune system plays a major role. As well as this other researchers believe the disease is an inherited problem. Some say that an extreme emotional shock can trigger an immune response causing MS.


People who eat high fat diets also tend to get this disease more than others.
Some researchers suspect environmental factors. The list of possible culprits includes lead, pesticides, diesel fumes, chemicals in tap water, solvents, fumes from domestic gas water heaters, and carbon monoxide pollution.


Traditional Treatment

It is hard to diagnose and to treat MS as the symptoms vary so much.
In general, medicines are effective only in treating the symptoms of MS, and then only to a limited degree.

Certain treatments have been helpful in patients -

  • Steroid treatment
  • Diet modification
  • Avoidance of gluten
  • Physiotherapy


Alternative/Natural Treatments

There are many alternative therapies available which may provide some relief from some symptoms, however always make sure that you get Professional advice.


Lifestyle

  • Exercise is highly recommended (not during an attack and not too strenuous).
  • Yoga exercises.
  • Regularly working your muscles is advised in order to keep them from atrophying.


Dietary Considerations

Avoid certain foods that can bring on attacks in some MS sufferers: Milk and dairy products, caffeine, yeast, tomato sauce, vinegar, wine, and corn can also prove problematic.
See your Doctor and ask about special diets which may help MS sufferers (Swank Diet).


Supplements:

  • Linoleic acid, found in sunflower oil,
  • Evening primrose oil


When to seek further professional advice

  •  you or someone you know has symptoms associated with multiple sclerosis.

Multiple Sclerosis

Mumps are a very common viral infection that produces fever and swelling of the salivary glands.


What to look for

  • swollen, inflamed glands (above the angle of the jaw and occasionally under the tongue)
  • secondary inflammation of the testes, or of the ovaries or pancreas (adults and teenagers)


It is very easy to recognise when your child has the mumps. Once your child has had the mumps, the child will never get it again, having developed what is known as natural immunity. Children are required to be immunised against mumps before starting school if not already naturally immune.


Mumps is only mildly contagious and it is usually a childhood disease although adults and teenagers can contract it as well. In adults, the swelling of the testes should be checked out by your doctor because of a very slight risk of its causing sterility.


Causes

Mumps is caused by a virus and is transmitted through the air in droplets from a sneeze or cough, or by direct contact, it enters the body through the mouth or respiratory tract and then begins to affect the gland tissues.


Traditional Treatment

Call your doctor and make sure the child does not go to school until all the symptoms are gone.


Alternative/Natural Treatments

Herbal Therapies - No herbs specifically treat mumps, but to reduce swelling, try cleavers (Galium aparine) or Echinacea (Echinacea spp.).


Homoeopathy - Always consult a Professional for appropriate dosages for children. A homoeopath may recommend Belladonna, Bryonia or Phytolacca.


Dietary Considerations

Avoid dairy products and citrus juices and have your child eat light foods such as soups, vegetables, and fruits.


Personal Care

  • Keep your child quiet; confinement to bed is not required.
  • An ice pack or a heating pad applied to the swelling may relieve pain.
  • A tea made from apple juice and cloves can help relieve painful swallowing.


Prevention

Because fighting the illness strengthens the immune system, many practitioners of alternative medicine believe it is better for an otherwise healthy child to contract mumps than to be vaccinated. But always discuss this with your child's doctor.


When to seek further professional advice

  • you suspect your child has the mumps.
  • your child has the mumps and has any other symptom
  • any teenage or adult male family member with the mumps has swollen testes

Mumps

These are spasms or tight muscles. Usually in the legs.


What to look for

  • a sharp, sudden, painful spasm (or tightening) of a muscle, especially in the legs.
  • muscle hardness
  • twitching of the muscle
  • persistent cramping pains in lower abdominal muscles


Sometimes occurring when a muscle contracts with great intensity and stays contracted, refusing to stretch out again (as is usually the case).


Causes

Muscles contract or lengthen in response to our wanting to move. Imbalances in certain minerals as well as in certain hormones, body fluids, and chemicals which allow this lengthening and contracting to occur can prompt spasms and cramps. As well as this, malfunctions in the nervous system itself can also cause problems.
Excessive physical activity and hormonal imbalances depletes fluids and minerals.


Traditional Treatment

If you suffer from frequent or severe cramps, see your doctor. And severe cramps in your chest, shoulders, or arms can be symptoms of a heart attack; call immediately for medical help.


No medicinal treatment of common muscle cramps is required. Massaging a cramping. For frequent or severe cramps, your doctor will diagnose and treat the underlying cause.


Alternative/Natural Treatments

Herbal Therapies - An infusion of ginkgo (Ginkgo biloba) may help improve circulation and relieve leg spasms. An herbalist might prescribe Japanese quince (Chaenomeles speciosa) for cramps in the calves.
Aromatherapy - Try using the following essential oils in a carrier oil for massage purposes. Use them separately or in a blend (do not blend more than 3 together). Peppermint, marjoram, lemongrass, lavender, clary sage, basil and ginger.


Dietary Considerations

Nutritionists recommend taking vitamin E supplements to prevent night cramps. You may also find relief by increasing your intake of calcium.


Personal Care

To relieve a typical cramp, you need to make the muscle stop contracting, by physically either stretching it or massaging it, or both.


Prevention

Drink 6 to 8 cups of water every day. Be sure to warm up before exercising.


When to seek further professional advice

  • you experience frequent muscle cramps.
  • your muscle cramp lasts more than an hour.
  • your cramp is in your chest or arms;

Muscle Cramps

Nappy Rash is the inflammation of the skin around the nappy area.


What to look for

  • a burn-like red rash over the nappy area
  • if not treated, the rash can become infected and thrush sets in - the rash will become shiny and bright red with patches.
  • in boys, an inflamed penis.


Almost all babies develop a nappy rash at some time and it is rarely serious. Most cases do not last long and can be treated easily enough.


Your baby can get nappy rash whether you use disposable or cloth diapers; it is moisture which is the problem, not the nappy itself. Keeping your child clean and changing a nappy soon after it is soiled is the key to avoiding this problem.


Causes

This problem can be caused by:

  • Nappies left on too long
  • If cloth nappies are not washed properly and the bacteria are left in there.
  • inadequate drying of the baby's skin after a bath
  • allergic reaction to lotions or soaps
  • chemicals in the laundry detergent
  • thrush, a type of yeast infection


Traditional Treatment

Most diaper rashes respond well to home treatments and require no medical care. If your baby's rash fails to improve after three or four days, see your doctor


For an ordinary rash, the doctor may recommend an over-the-counter ointment containing zinc oxide to protect the skin. If there is a bacterial infection present, see your doctor.


Alternative/Natural Treatments

Aromatherapy - Mix 2 drops each of essential oils of sandalwood, peppermint, and lavenderin 4 tbsp of a carrier lotion or oil such as sweet almond oil; gently apply the lotion to the reddened area of skin. Do not use on babies younger than 2 weeks.  Always seek the advice of a professional with regards to the use of aromatherapy oils on young children.


Herbal Therapies - Calendula cream may relieve diaper rash.


Personal Care

At the first sign of redness, wash your baby's bottom with warm water, and dry it thoroughly. Then apply an antiseptic cream and a barrier ointment, such as sorbolene cream mixed with water, or zinc oxide, to protect the skin.
Use oilated oatmeal or raw oats in your baby’s bath. Oatmeal is very good to use on the rashes.  Change your baby's nappy as soon as it becomes soiled.  Until the rash clears up, avoid plastic pants or diaper covers, which trap moisture.


Prevention

Keep your baby dry and clean and change the baby's nappy as soon as it becomes soiled.
Do not use strong detergents and creams which may irritate your baby’s skin.
When drying nappies, hang them outside in the sun, then put in the drier for several minutes to soften them.
Keep nappies off as often as you can to let air into the area - not too often outside in the open hot sun.
Wash cloth nappies in hot water and sterilise well.
If the entire nappy area is red and irritated, the child may be allergic to your detergent. Try another brand to see if the rash clears.
The best preventive measure is to let your baby go without nappies as much as possible.


When to seek further professional advice

  • you see no improvement after four days of home treatment,
  • the rash is scaly and has a yellowish colour or is blistered
  • your son's penis is swollen and red.

Nappy Rash

Stopping inhalation of nicotine (which is the addictive substance in tobacco) causes discomfort and physical side effects in most people.


What to look for

Withdrawal symptoms in cigarette users include the following;

  • headache.
  • nausea.
  • constipation or diarrhoea.
  • falling heart rate and blood pressure.
  • fatigue, drowsiness, and insomnia.
  • irritability.
  • difficulty concentrating.
  • anxiety.
  • depression.
  • increased hunger.
  • tobacco cravings.


Withdrawal from nicotine is characterised by the above symptoms. Nicotine creates a chemical dependency, so that the body develops a need for a certain level of nicotine at all times. Unless that level is maintained, the body will begin to go through withdrawal.


Giving up nicotine is not very pleasant for most people as a consequence of the withdrawal symptoms, however they are usually completely gone in six months.


Causes

The symptoms of nicotine withdrawal are responses to the removal of a substance on which the body has become dependent.


Traditional Treatment

Your doctor may recommend a smoking cessation program such nicotine replacement packs and may also prescribe nicotine-based chewing gum to help you through withdrawal. These aids are only provided to help you wean yourself off smoking, not as a substitute for nicotine.


Alternative/Natural Treatments

Alternative therapies can offer support to tobacco users trying to quit their habit. Behaviour modification techniques that may help include meditation and guided imagery.


Herbal Therapies - Lobelia (Lobelia inflata) has actions similar to nicotine but is gentler and longer lasting. It is often used by medical herbalists in conjunction with ephedra (Ephedra sinica), a stimulant, to help tobacco users quit. Always see a professional as these herbs may have side effects that are serious.


Herbalists also often recommend the following herbs to calm the nervous system during withdrawal - chamomile (Matricaria recutita), hops (Humulus lupulus), and valerian (Valeriana officinalis).

Dietary Considerations

Supplements of Vitamin A, B complex, C and E have been successful in helping people recover from smoking. Also supplements of garlic, Echinacea, valerian.


Personal Care

Most programs will suggest you analyse your habit and the reasons why you smoke. These are beneficial as they offer insights into the underlying causes of your habit.


It is also a good idea to pick a specific day to stop smoking - at least a couple of weeks in advance and tell all your friends and family of your intention. They will be invaluable support and you will also feel obliged to give up smoking as you have told everybody of your intentions.


Your success depends upon your motivation and will to give up. Talk to yourself often and tell yourself how good you will eventually feel with a healthy body and mind. As well as this tell yourself how much money you will save as a result of not smoking - this money can go towards a luxury item you have been denying yourself.


Prevention

The best preventive step is not to start using tobacco and to educate your children to its dangers.


When to seek further professional advice

  • you are a tobacco user concerned about your health for any reason

Nicotine Withdrawal

This is a disorder in which the person needs to follow certain set patterns or routines that may be complicated or tiresome.


What to look for

You may have obsessive thoughts or compulsive behaviour or both.

For obsession:

  • involuntary and persistent thoughts that appear to be senseless, such as an overwhelming fear of dirt; persistent worry about a past event.
  • attempts to suppress such thoughts.
  • recognition that these thoughts come from one's own imagination, not from outside factors (not true for children).


For compulsions:

  • repetitive acts such as hand washing, checking and rechecking doors and locks, making sure windows are shut, tidying, repeating words.
  • recognition that the repetitive behaviour is excessive or unreasonable (may not be true for children).
  • feverish levels of thought or activity.
  • depression and distress as attempts to deal with compulsions fail.


For children:

  • mute behaviour with agitated depression.
  • withdrawal and social isolation accompanied by delusional thinking.
  • mood swings from anxiety to despair.
  • exemplary functioning in sports or school work accompanied by compulsive behaviour.


Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) is chronic and involuntary. The person often realises that they do have a problem but are unable to control themselves. For OCD patients their obsessive thoughts and actions interfere with everyday routines, jobs, and relationships.  OCD happens gradually over time and it is for this reason that people can often not realise that they are suffering from a disorder.


When OCD eventually produces symptoms that interfere with daily life, patients may try to hide their compulsions from other people and attempt to use willpower to stop.  Obsessive-compulsive symptoms are also found in Tourette's syndrome, depression, and schizophrenia.


Causes

There are a number of different possible causes for OCD. Some reports suggest that it runs in families, some say that obsessions reflect unconscious desires from a childhood stage of development, and that it is biochemical in nature.
Your doctor will evaluate you, your upbringing and examine you thoroughly.


Traditional Treatment

The most common form of treatment involves the prescription of drugs combined with behaviour therapy.
Behaviour therapy will assist in helping the person to find alternative ways of behaving that will be less distressful.


Alternative/Natural Therapies

Alternative therapies are useful for both relief and recovery.


Homoeopathy - Homoeopathic practitioners have specific prescriptions for OCD, which can be tailored to the individual. Among the remedies that may be used by an experienced homoeopath are Arsenicum album, Hyoscyamus, Medorrhinum, Nax vomica, and Pulsatilla.


Relaxation - Meditation and other relaxation techniques such as progressive muscle relaxation, yoga and t'ai chi all may be helpful.


Breathing exercises are also very helpful.


When to seek further professional advice

  • you or your child is experiencing some of the symptoms listed above
  • your child is anxious or depressed and has fears.

Obsessive Compulsive Disorder

What to look for…

A whitish or red patch of tissue instead of the normal pink flesh in the oral cavity may signal a potential pre-cancerous condition. If left untreated, the discoloured patch may grow and become painful.

The symptoms of oral cancer may include: -

  • a persistent painful lump inside the mouth area.
  • discomfort while eating, drinking, or swallowing.
  • loose teeth, or toothache or earache that does not respond to conventional treatment.
  • a swollen lymph node in the neck.


Symptoms associated with advanced oral cancer include ear pain or pain in the roof of the mouth, spasms in facial or neck muscles, or persistent bad breath.


Oral cancer refers to all cancers of the oral cavity, the lips, tongue, cheeks, mouth, gums, and oropharynx, or upper part of the throat. Although oral cancer may spread through the head and neck, it seldom spreads further than this.
Oral cancer sometimes evolves from other oral conditions but however it develops, it is most treatable if detected early.
Fortunately, changes in the oral area are often able to be felt.


Causes

There is a strong link between the use of alcohol and tobacco and the onset of oral cancer. The disease usually affects tissue that is already broken or irritated by jagged teeth, ill-fitting dentures, or habitual chewing on the inside of the cheek.
Iron deficiency has also been linked to tongue cancer in women.
It is imperative that you go to the dentist regularly for routine examinations.


Traditional Treatments

Small oral cancers respond equally well to either surgery or radiation therapy; advanced cancers are treated with both and sometimes with chemotherapy to relieve symptoms.
For recurrent cancer, radiation therapy is the primary treatment.


Complementary Therapies

For cancer, there is no real alternative to conventional medical care. Other approaches can complement, but not replace, standard treatment.


Nutrition And Diet

High doses of vitamin A may protect against oral cancer. However, this vitamin is toxic in high doses so ask your doctor about the recommended dose for yourself. You can also eat plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables as healthy sources of carotenoids.


Personal Care

During your treatments, you may have difficulty and experience some pain opening your mouth, keeping your mouth moist, and brushing your teeth.


Try drinking iced drinks, and using a soft toothbrush.
A very good mouthwash is aloe juice or cool chamomile tea.
To combat dry mouth and restore natural saliva, rinse your mouth with an acidophilus solution, available at most health food stores.


Prevention

  • Don't smoke.
  • Drink alcohol only moderately.
  • Wear properly fitting dentures.
  • Eat fresh fruits and vegetables daily.


When to seek further professional advice

  • you suffer from any of the symptoms in the above mentioned list

Oral Cancer

What to look for

Like most cancers, pancreatic cancer usually produces no symptoms until it is advanced. Symptoms that may arise are -

  • weight loss with abdominal pain - these are the common signs.
  • gradually worsening abdominal pain
  • diarrhoea, constipation, gas pains, bloating, or belching.
  • nausea, vomiting, loss of appetite.
  • jaundice
  • sudden onset of diabetes.
  • black or bloody stool.


The pancreas has two vital functions - it supplies the intestines with digestive juices, and it secretes hormones. One of these being insulin, which regulates the body's use of sugars and starches. Endocrine cells in the pancreas regulate hormones; they form clusters and are located in the tail and body sections of the gland. Exocrine cells, which are more prolific, are spread throughout the gland and help digestion.


Most pancreatic cancers start in the exocrine cells. Endocrine cell cancers are spread slower and are usually able to be treated easily. Unfortunately, early cancers are often misdiagnosed as simple digestive complaints, allowing the cancer to spread to nearby tissues and other organs and eventually into the bloodstream.
Like many other cancers, pancreatic cancer is characteristically a disease of the elderly.


Causes

The main risk factors are -

  • aging
  • smoking is the main risk factor for pancreatic cancer; a smoker is three times more likely than a non smoker to acquire the disease.
  • exposure to certain petroleum products may also increase risk.
  • Excessive dietary fat and protein may promote the disease.
  • Diabetes is also linked to pancreatic cancer.
  • hereditary pancreatitis.
  • Gardner's syndrome
  • neurofibromatosis
  • and multiple endocrine


Traditional Treatments

Because most cases of pancreatic cancer are advanced when diagnosed, cure is rarely a realistic goal.
Treatment usually aims to extend survival and relieve uncomfortable symptoms. Surgery is only an option if the cancer has not spread beyond the pancreas.


Other options for patients are radiation or chemotherapy treatments, and medication to help control the pain.


Complementary Therapies

There are ways to learn to control pain and this is where the alternative therapies may help. Besides taking prescription medication, patients can try pain control through massage, acupuncture, as well as relaxation techniques.


Prevention

  • Avoid smoking
  • Avoid working around petroleum products.


When to seek further professional advice

  • any symptoms, listed in the above section.

Pancreatic Cancer

These are inflammation and disorders of the pancreas


What to look for

For acute pancreatitis:

  • severe pain in the stomach region 12 - 24 hours after digestion of a large meal.
  • fever.
  • nausea or vomiting.
  • clammy skin.
  • abdominal tenderness.
  • fast pulse.


For chronic pancreatitis the above symptoms plus:

  • foul, bulky stools.


The pancreas has many functions. Two very important ones are insulin production (needed to regulate the sugar in the bloodstream) and producing digestive enzymes to help transport the nutrients into the body. If the pancreas becomes inflamed, the pancreatic juices become destabilised and cause the enzymes to digest pancreatic tissue.
If the symptoms of pancreatitis are not treated, you may develop cysts, abscesses, and leaks of pancreatic fluid into the abdomen, which can lead to other long-term problems.


Causes

Acute pancreatitis is associated with excessive alcohol drinking, gallstones, viral and bacterial infections, drugs, and blockage of the pancreatic duct.


More than half the people who develop chronic pancreatitis are heavy drinkers.
You are strongly advised to seek professional medical assistance if you suspect you may have this condition. Your doctor will give you an examination and possibly a blood test to help him or her diagnose your condition.


Traditional Treatment

Conventional medicine treats pancreatitis with drugs, diet, and surgery.


Alternative/Natural Treatments

Alternative treatments can be used in conjunction with conventional treatment to help improve your overall condition.


Herbal Therapies - A combination of equal parts of glycerides of fringe-tree bark (Chionanthus virginicus), balmony (Chelone glabra), and milk thistle (Silybum marianum) may help promote fat digestion; take 1 tsp of the mixture three times daily.
Dietary Considerations - Take chromium supplements to help maintain normal blood sugar levels. Supplements of vitamin C as well as vitamin B complex with extra niacin (B3) and pantothenic acid (B5). Do not drink alcohol.


Prevention

  • Limiting yourself to one or two alcoholic drinks per day may significantly lessen your chances of developing pancreatitis.
  • General health considerations such as a good diet and lifestyle, limit your stress and keep your weight in control.


When to seek further professional advice

  • you think you may have pancreatitis.

Pancreatic Problems

This disease is characterised by a premature ageing of certain brain cells which are responsible for our movement. It mostly affects the elderly.


What to look for

the disease takes hold slowly, beginning with a sense of weakness and a slight tremor of the head or hands, then gradually progressing to more generalised symptoms. These can include:

  • slow, jerky movements; a shuffling gait; and stooped posture.
  • unsteady balance.
  • continuous movement of the thumb and forefinger as if the person was rolling something between the thumb and fingers.
  • obscure speech.
  • swallowing problems.
  • in severe cases, rigid trunk and limbs; fixed facial expression and unblinking, staring eyes.


Parkinson's disease mostly affects older people. The first signs are likely to be barely noticeable, a weak or stiff limb, perhaps, or a fine trembling of one hand when it is at rest. Usually this worsens over time. Depression and other mental or emotional problems are common.


Usually the disorder begins between the ages of 50 and 65. Medication is often helpful in treating the symptoms and the condition is not life threatening usually.


Causes

In most instances, Parkinson’s disease is caused by untimely ageing of brain cells. These cells normally coordinate the muscle activity which allows us to perform specific types of movement. This allows us to do such things as swing our arms when we walk, move our facial muscles and in the positioning of limbs before we stand up or walk. Problems happen when the brain cells that allow the body to perform these tasks die off prematurely.


Traditional Treatment

Most treatments aim at restoring the proper balance of the brain cells affected by this disorder. Drugs are the standard way of doing this, but neurosurgeons have had some success with experiments involving operative procedures.
Symptoms can be effectively controlled for years with medication.
Some treatments focus on the effects of the disorder rather than the causes. Physiotherapists may be able to help with muscle strength and body alignment.


Alternative/Natural Treatments

Conventional medicines are widely acknowledged as the best treatments for Parkinson's disease. However, many of the alternative therapies mentioned below can be very helpful for relieving symptoms or easing tight muscles. Always talk to your doctor first.


Body Work - Massage has had good results with Parkinson’s patients.
Yoga is an ideal form of exercise for Parkinson's patients because of its slow movements.


Chinese Herbs - Taken several times a day, combinations that include rhubarb (Rheum palmatum), peony (Paeonia officinalis), liquorice (Glycyrrhiza uralensis), and magnolia bark (Magnolia officinalis) are said to stop tremors and relax stiff muscles. Because using Chinese herbs is complicated, You will need professional advice for correct dosages.


Herbal Therapies - Passionflower (Passiflora incarnata) has been shown to reduce tremor when taken in combination with levodopa.
Daily doses of evening primrose oil (Oenothera biennis) may reduce tremors.


Homoeopathy - A trained homoeopath might prescribe a single remedy, a series, or a combination of remedies for the many different symptoms of Parkinson's.


Dietary Considerations

See your doctor who will be able to speak with you about an appropriate diet. Also supplements such as B complex, E, Choline, Inositol, Magnesium, Calcium, Potassium and Ginseng. 
Avoid spicy foods.


Personal Care

Look at appropriate furniture and fittings that will make it easier for the Parkinson’s patient to move around.


When to seek further professional advice

  • you suspect either yourself or a friend or family member has the disease.

Parkinsons Disease

These are Warts on the soles of the feet.


What to look for

  • bumpy growths on the soles of the feet shaped like a pyramid with the point on the surface or above it.
  • pinpoint bleeding from warts when they are scratched.
  • pain in the soles of the feet when standing or walking.


Plantar warts are tough growths that appear on the soles of the feet. Normal standing and walking creates extreme pain as the pressure forces them into the foot. Like all warts, they are harmless and will eventually go away even without treatment, but in most cases they are too painful to ignore. Plantar warts that grow together in a cluster are known as mosaic warts.


Causes

Plantar warts are caused by a virus that enters the skin through tiny cuts or abrasions. The warts may not appear for weeks or months after the initial exposure. Plantar warts are contagious and normally spread in public places such as swimming pools, gyms or communal showers.


Traditional Treatment

you can take your pick from numerous remedies both conventional and alternative. Deciding how to treat your plantar wart may depend on your ability to tolerate the pain that the various treatments can inflict. Conventional treatment focuses on removal, while alternative approaches emphasise gradual remission. Never scrape or cut a wart yourself.
Your doctor may use several different options in removing the wart. Burning, freezing and surgical removal are more aggressive options for more severe conditions.


Alternative/Natural Treatments

From the alternative viewpoint you will need to enhance your immune system in order to stop re-occurrences of the wart virus as well as applying other substances directly onto the wart to remove it.


Aromatherapy - Two drops of essential lemon oil in 10 drops of cider vinegar may help remove plantar warts: Apply daily and cover during the day with an adhesive bandage, but leave the wart exposed at night.
Or you can put a drop of tea tree oil on the centre of the wart daily and bandage it. Continue treatment until the wart goes away, which may take several weeks.  You can try strengthening your immune system by massaging your legs with the essential oils of rosemary (Rosmarinus officinalis), geranium (Pelargonium odoratissimum), or juniper(Juniperus communis), or a blend of any two, using long strokes from ankles to thighs.


Herbal Therapies - Various herbal remedies are recommended for removing warts. Whichever herbal remedy you try, first protect the surrounding skin with petroleum jelly and cover the treated wart with a clean bandage. Repeat daily until the warts are gone.

  • Apply the juice from dandelion stems morning and evening.
  • Put a clove of raw garlic or a drop or two of garlic oil on the wart twice daily.
  • Apply a few drops of yellow cedar, available in either oil or tincture form, to the wart twice daily.


Dietary Considerations

Improve your diet in order to stop recurrences of the virus. Foods high in vitamin A (such as… eggs, cold-water fish, onions, garlic, and dark green and yellow vegetables such as broccoli, cabbage, Brussels sprouts, squash, and carrots) will help sustain your immune system, as will yogurt.


Supplements of Vitamin A, E zinc, potassium, chloride, calcium, L-Lysine, freeze-dried liver tablets and garlic.


Personal Care

  • Try an over-the-counter topical medication that contains salicylic acid, which is best absorbed by the skin after a bath, a shower, or a soak in warm water. Protect the healthy skin around your warts with petroleum jelly or nail polish.
  • Cut or scrape off some of the white material from the inside of a banana peel, preferably from a green banana, since it is said to have more of the enzymes that help fight the wart-causing virus. Apply a piece of the material to the wart before going to bed, and cover with first-aid tape. Repeat nightly until the condition improves.
  • Apply vitamin E twice daily or vitamin A nightly; open a capsule of the vitamin, apply the oil to the wart, and cover with a bandage. Continue applications until the wart goes away.


Prevention

Protect yourself against exposure to the virus that causes plantar warts by wearing thongs, or rubber swimming shoes whenever you visit a public pool or use a communal shower.


When to seek further professional advice

  • the area becomes red, hot, painful, and tender after treatment

Plantar Warts

Describes the inflammation of the pleura (the membrane of the lungs).


What to look for
Pleurisy:

  • pain in the chest


Pleural Effusion:

  • shortness of breath.
  • a dry cough.


You will find it very difficult and painful to breathe if you have this condition and if you do not have it treated immediately, could turn into pleural effusion. These two conditions are not diseases and only happen as a result of an underlying disease.
A number of conditions (most commonly congestive heart failure but including chest injuries, viral infections, rheumatoid arthritis, pneumonia, tuberculosis and cancer) can irritate the pleura.


Pleurisy and pleural effusion are generally only as serious as the underlying disease. Seek medical attention immediately if you haven’t already.


Causes

Each lung is surrounded by the double-layered pleura. Normally these membranes are in constant contact with each other as the lung moves in and out in the act of breathing. There is a small space between these two layers that allows this movement. But when the layers become inflamed their surfaces rub together disturbingly with every breath, sneeze, and cough. This condition is known as pleurisy.


Pleural effusion occurs when excess fluid seeps into the pleural space. The added fluid puts tremendous pressure on the lungs, reducing their mobility and causing shortness of breath. This excess fluid can, in some cases of pleural effusion, become infected, causing a condition known as empyema.


Your doctor will be able to diagnose pleurisy with a physical examination which may have to be confirmed by an X-Ray.


Traditional Treatment

It is usual for your doctor to treat the disease which has caused pleurisy or pleural effusion first. In some cases of pleural effusion, however, excess fluid must be drained.


Your doctor may prescribe antibiotics and/or anti-inflammatory drugs as well as a diuretic to help drain the fluid in the case of effusion.


Alternative/Natural Treatments

Alternative treatments are helpful in relieving the symptoms caused by this condition. However, you should first consult a conventional doctor for your initial treatment.


Dietary Considerations

Large doses of vitamin C and vitamin A may be recommended by your naturopath. But always consult your conventional doctor first for a proper diagnosis of the ailment.


When to seek further professional advice

  • you are experiencing any of the symptoms listed in the description section

Pleurisy

This is the inflammation of the substance of the lungs.


What to look for

  • cough - either with phlegm or without it.
  • ever (with pain on coughing or taking a deep breath occasionally)
  • Loss of appetite and weight
  • In children, laboured and rapid breathing, sudden onset of fever, cough, wheezing, and bluish skin are general signs of pneumonia.


Pneumonia is the relatively common inflammation caused by various viral, bacterial, and fungal infections.


In response, the lungs become congested with fluids and cells that leak from the affected tissue. There are generally three types :-

  1. Lobar Pneumonia - if the inflammation is limited to one lobe of one lung;
  2. Bronchopneumonia - inflammation spreading from the bronchi to other parts of one or both lungs.
  3. Double Pneumonia - if both lungs are inflamed.


It usually lasts about 2 to 3 weeks, however you may feel fatigued for quite a few weeks after the condition has cleared.
Viral pneumonia is generally mild while bacterial pneumonia’s are more complex and serious.
Pneumonia is a common complication of many illnesses, and like the common cold and flu, can be transmitted from one person to another.


Causes

Viruses and bacteria normally cause this disease.
Pneumonia can be mild and treatable at home or you may need to be hospitalised, therefore it is vital that a doctor diagnose the condition.


Traditional Treatment

It is imperative that the patient recover quickly as problems can occur if the disease remains for too long. All treatments include bed rest and ridding the body of any infections and phlegm in the lungs.
If you have a mild case of viral pneumonia, you can probably recover at home after getting a diagnosis from your doctor.
If you have bacterial pneumonia, your doctor may prescribe an antibiotic.


Alternative/Natural Treatments

If you are diagnosed as having pneumonia, various alternative therapies may help ease your symptoms and hasten your recovery.


Aromatherapy - Recovery from pneumonia may be helped if you add the essential oils of eucalyptus (Eucalyptus globulus), lavender (Lavandula officinalis), tea tree (Melaleuca spp.), or pine to a vapouriser or blend in a carrier oil for massage purposes.


See the Aromatherapy section for more information on the essential oils. Not all people can use all the oils.


Herbal Therapies - Since clearing the lungs of phlegm is an important part of the healing process, using traditional herbal expectorants to promote coughing can aid recovery. Liquorice (Glycyrrhiza glabra), wild black cherry (Prunus serotina) bark, coltsfoot (Tussilago farfara), lobelia (Lobelia inflata), and horehound (Marrubium vulgare) are good herbs to use for this purpose - See Our Herbal Section for more information on these and other herbs. You will need to see a Professional for specific dosages and preparations.


Eating raw garlic (Allium sativum) or three garlic capsules three times a day is said to help your body fight infection. Echinacea (Echinacea spp.) may help you recover from infection.


Homoeopathy - Some recommended over-the-counter homoeopathic remedies are Bryonia,Phosphorus, and Arsenicum album; follow label directions.


Dietary Considerations

  • Vitamin C may offer substantial benefits in fighting pneumonia if started within two days of onset.
  • drink plenty of fluids and filtered water
  • vitamin A, for not more than two weeks, may help support your respiratory and immune systems.
  • eat plenty of fresh fruit and vegetables
  • Zinc supplements, may also help your immune system fight infection. •
  • Vitamin E daily may help support damaged lung tissue.
  • If you are on antibiotics it is wise to also take Lactobacillus acidophilus supplements or natural acidophilus yogurt


Prevention

  • Avoid smoking and exposure to tobacco smoke
  • Don't drink large amounts of alcohol


When to seek further professional advice

  • your symptoms indicate you have any form of pneumonia

Pneumonia

This is excess mucus that has lodged itself in the throat instead of disappearing through the nasal passages and out the nose.


What to look for

  • a flow of mucus that runs down the back of your throat, different consistencies and often associated with a sore throat, a cough and.
  • sniffing, snorting, or swallowing of nasal mucus.


Post nasal drip is a consequence of respiratory problems and usually goes once the respiratory condition has cleared up. Mucus is a normal product of the nasal passages, but when too much is produced it lodges itself in the throat.
When the condition becomes chronic, mucus can drip into the bronchial tubes causing extensive coughing and phlegm.


Causes

The cause can be related to an allergy especially when the mucus is watery rather than thick and other symptoms are apparent such as itching eyes, nose and palate.


If post nasal drip involves thick mucus along with normal cold and flu symptoms, you probably have a common cold.
Thick yellow or greenish mucus can indicate a bacterial or viral respiratory infection. Sinus can be the problem whenever thick nasal mucus and post nasal drip are accompanied by fever and congestive pain in the face, it is probably.
Women who use hormone replacement therapy or oestrogen-based birth-control drugs are also at risk of this condition.


Traditional Treatment

Your treatment will depend on the cause of the problem. See your doctor who can give you a correct diagnosis.
Over-the-counter medications can often help but only temporarily - always consult your Doctor or Pharmacist.


Alternative/Natural Treatments

These treatments will want to work on the underlying cause and to relieve the symptoms you have.


Aromatherapy - Inhaling steam can help clear nasal passages. Add essential oils of eucalyptus (Eucalyptus globulus), tea tree (Melaleuca spp.), rosemary (Rosmarinus officinalis), or peppermint (Mentha piperita) to the water in a humidifier during the day, and use the essential oil of lavender (Lavandula officinalis) in the evening for a better night's sleep. Go To Our Aromatherapy Section for more information on these and other oils.


Chinese Herbs - Chinese medicine relies on mixtures of traditional herbs brewed in water and drunk at prescribed intervals. The Minor Blue Dragon Combination is recommended to reduce nasal drainage. Consult a Professional for the correct amounts of each herb to use for your condition.


Herbal Therapies - Eyebright (Euphrasia officinalis) may help dry up postnasal drip.
Homoeopathy - For postnasal drip associated with symptoms of a common cold, try Nax vomica three or four times a day for two days. For other kinds of postnasal drip, a Homoeopath will prescribe a remedy for your particular symptoms.


Personal Care

  • Drink lots of water
  • Humidify the air around you, especially in winter.


When to seek further professional advice

  • you have treated the condition with an over-the-counter decongestant for more than a week without success

Post Nasal Drip

This is any condition where there is inflammation of a vein. It can refer to superficial veins in the legs or deep veins in the muscles of the leg or pelvis.


What to look for

For superficial phlebitis:

  • a hard, red vein visible in your leg; it may be warm and tender.
  • fever is possible and sleepless nights as the pain worsens.
  • a throbbing or burning sensation beneath the skin's surface.


For deep phlebitis:

  • potentially no symptoms.
  • pain deep inside the leg and swelling in the ankle


Often this condition is followed by thrombosis (clotting of the blood). Therefore phlebitis followed by thrombosis is called thrombophlebitis. These painful clots may partially or fully block blood flow in affected veins.
The superficial phlebitis is the most common form of phlebitis and occurs in veins near the skin's surface usually in the legs. This is usually harmless although painful and uncomfortable.


Deep phlebitis, on the other hand, is less common and more dangerous as it affects the internal veins of the legs. These clots tend to be larger and more able to loosen and travel to other areas. It is also possible for you not to realise you have this problem and it may go untreated.


Causes

The most common cause of phlebitis is varicose veins. Injury can cause phlebitis if a vein is bumped or hurt. Anyone immobilised, such as after surgery, is also vulnerable because blood is not flowing as strongly and clots form more easily. The condition can afflict the elderly, because circulatory problems that can trigger phlebitis tend to worsen with age.
Phlebitis can also develop in response to infection or trauma of some kind.


Doctors have reported that several types of people are at risk. They are women in general, pregnant women, contraceptive pill users and people whose blood tends to clot too easily are at higher risk. People who are significantly overweight, have a sedentary lifestyle, and smoke have also been linked to phlebitis.


Traditional Treatment

Superficial phlebitis can often be treated at home but be sure to get your doctor’s opinion on your specific case. Deep phlebitis, however, often requires a short stay in the hospital. Regardless of which type you have, if you smoke, stop. Also try to use another form of contraception besides birth control pills if you suffer from this condition.


Your doctor will recommend appropriate medication to relieve your symptoms. You can buy special support stockings which often help in relieving some of the pain.
If you're diagnosed with deep phlebitis, you will be hospitalised. Your doctor will advise of the appropriate course of treatment best for you.


Alternative/Natural Treatments

Some alternative therapies may help with superficial phlebitis. Consult the appropriate practitioners who are experienced in treating phlebitis and other circulatory problems - Acupuncturists, Chinese Herbalists, Homoeopaths and Naturopaths.


Dietary Considerations

If you smoke - give this up immediately, it can only make matters worse for you. Also eat more oily fish such as salmon and tuna, fruit and vegetables, fibre and spicy foods. Also drink plenty of filtered water. Try not to stand for long periods of time and do some gentle exercise once the condition subsides a little.


Personal Care

For superficial phlebitis, there are things at home you can do to ease the pain and help you heal:
Get plenty of rest while you have the condition.
When you lie down, boost your legs up so they are 6 to 12 inches above your heart level.
Apply a heating pad or pack to swollen areas for relief.


When to seek further professional advice

  • you suspect you have phlebitis; you need proper diagnosis and treatment.
  • symptoms of superficial phlebitis do not dissipate within a week
  • you notice lumps, high fever, or extreme pain or swelling throughout a limb.

Phlebitis

A Phobia is an intense dread of a certain situation or an object.


What to look for

Phobias are anxiety disorders. Three main types of phobias exist:

  1. Specific phobias - a fear of an individual object or situation
  2. Social phobia - fear of social situations in which you may be scrutinised
  3. Agoraphobia - fear of being away from home


If you feel compelled to avoid an object or situation in which you feel threatened or fearful you may have a phobia. You may understand that you fear is irrational and extreme but you can’t stop feeling this way and the pressure of knowing this may make you more anxious.


The most common type of phobia from the list above are specific phobias. They can include such objects or situations as parties, school, dentists, driving, water, flying, snakes, fat, age, high places, and enclosed spaces. Even though a phobic person will acknowledge that their fear is extreme, this knowledge does not lessen their fear. It is usually not the object or the situation that they are fearful of, it is the possible outcome.


A person with agoraphobia can be fearful of three main things…

  1. fear of leaving home,
  2. of being alone, and
  3. of being in a situation where one cannot suddenly leave or obtain help.

A person with social phobia has a fear is of being humiliated, examined or condemned in public. They avoid public speaking, parties, and any social event. Possible physical side effects may be blushing, palpitations, sweating, tremors, stuttering, or faintness. A person whose phobia is left untreated may become withdrawn, depressed, and socially incapacitated.


CAUSES

Some specific phobias can be explained by early traumatic events, but the majority have no obvious cause. Most are thought to be produced when an underlying fear is displaced onto an unrelated object.
Agoraphobia may develop in response to repeated panic attacks. Social phobia may develop in childhood, but the cause is unknown.


Traditional Treatment

Depending on the severity of the person’s phobia, the condition can usually be treated so that the person can eventually be able to live normally and be able to control their fears.
For specific phobias, treatment by systematic desensitisation therapy is highly successful. This usually happens step by step and in the safety of a known and safe place. The person will be able to eventually accept the ‘fearful object or situation’ if exposed to it gradually.


Treating social phobia usually involves slow exposure to social situations. The person may become actively involved in role playing and rehearse their actions and reactions. Individuals are taught to lower their anxiety and are encouraged to be less self-critical.
The best treatment for agoraphobia is to gradually move out into the places and situations that trigger anxiety. It must occur slowly and gradually and in the company of a professional therapist or a trusted friend. The person will gradually reduce their anxiety upon being exposed to triggers.


Alternative Choices

Phobias are difficult to treat by yourself. Always seek the help of a professional person.


Aromatherapy - Studies have shown that essential oil of lavender (Lavandula officinalis) can bring relief from anxiety. A popular blend is 2 drops each of lavender and bergamot, 1 drop of petitgrain and 2 drops of ylang ylang put into a warm bath or vaporised in a burner. You can also put the blend of oils onto a handkerchief and use while you are out.


Herbal Therapies - Valerian (Valeriana officinalis) tea or capsules may ease anxiety. Do not use this herb for long periods of time, as it may become addictive in certain individuals. Also use under Professional supervision.


Relaxation - Numerous relaxation techniques, including yoga and meditation, can help reduce the anxiety that surrounds phobias.


Personal Care

By taking one small step at a time, most phobic people can eliminate their fears.

  • Feel free to ask for questions about a feared object or situation: Is it safe? Will it hurt me?
  • Practice shifting your thoughts in a positive direction.


Prevention

  • Do regular deep breathing and relaxation exercises, especially when anxiety starts to rise.
  • Regular exercise helps burn up adrenaline, which accompanies panic attacks.
  • Avoid alcohol, barbiturates, and antianxiety drugs whenever possible. Also avoid caffeine.


When to seek further professional advice

  • you have a phobia that interferes with a normal social or working life.

Phobias

What to look for


  • tenderness, tingling, or numbness in one part of your body, often a limb.
  • pins and needles, burning, or tearing pain where a nerve is being irritated


Most of us have experienced the numbness of a limb when we realise we have been lying on it the wrong way. The numbness we feel eventually gives way to ‘pins and needles’ a tingling sensation in the affected area. In fact any pressure applied to a nerve by the surrounding tissue will produce this discomfort and will interrupt the nerve's functioning.
The pinching can occur for many reasons… pregnancy, lying on the area, an injury, repetitive motions, or joint disease, to name just a few. Nerves passing over bones are particularly vulnerable.


The most typical pinched nerves are the ones which extend down the arms or legs, the nerves in your feet and between your disks in the spine as well as the nerve which travels from your spine to your foot 
A pinched nerve is usually healed within a few days to a week with treatment. More chronic cases can leave permanent problems.
 

Causes

Pressure on a peripheral nerve from the surrounding tissue causes inflammation of the nerve.
Another common cause of nerve irritation is a damaged spinal disk commonly known as a slipped disk, Heavy lifting, obesity, and contact sports can contribute to the problem.


Traditional Treatment

You may need to stop or reorganise the activity which is the cause of your uncomfortable condition. Your doctor may suggest wearing a splint, brace, or some other support and may also recommend a physical therapist to help you reinforce the muscles in the affected area.


Alternative/Natural Treatments

Herbal Therapies - Try a tea combining equal parts of St.-John's wort (Hypericum perforatum), skullcap (Scutellaria lateriflora), and Siberian ginseng (Eleutherococcus senticosus).
Homoeopathy - For low-back pain that feels better when warmth is applied, try Rhus toxicodendron. Taking Arnica when your back pain follows an injury may lessen symptoms. Professional advice is required for proper dosages.


Dietary Considerations

Taking lecithin with meals may help regenerate nerves. Nerve impulse conduction may benefit from calcium chelate.


Prevention

Try to avoid the tasks that you know are going to aggravate the condition. When avoidance is impossible, perform the motions for short periods of time with breaks in between.


When to seek further professional advice

  • the pain persists for several days and does not respond to over-the-counter analgesics; OR if the pain is so severe you cannot move or perform the most basic task.

Pinched Nerve

Can be described as a person’s reaction to a traumatic event.


What to look for

Someone who has experienced severe trauma ( eg: war, combat, natural disaster, physical or sexual abuse or witnessed violence, such as murder or physical abuse), may display one or more of these symptoms:

  • repeated flashbacks or recurrent dreams of the event.
  • traumatic dreams, sleeping problems.
  • anger.
  • intense worry if exposed to anything resembling the event.
  • inability to relate to others.
  • physical symptoms - pain, headaches, bowel problems.
  • in young children, agitated behaviour, difficulty concentrating, or developmental regression in such things as toilet training or speech.
  • no sense of a future; no expectation of having a family, career, living to old age.


Normally, if a person experiences traumatic and horrible events, they will experience fear, horror and other individual reactions. Some people do not experience much at all but this is not normally the case.
This condition is considered a mental disorder resulting from any sort of deeply shocking experience. It may occur immediately or may occur months later.


If you receive treatment, you are more likely to overcome the disorder quicker.
People with PTSD also often suffer from various physical ailments, depression, drug abuse, phobias, or panic attacks as well.
Abused children will often suffer from this, as do abused partners and family members.


Causes

The cause of PTSD is severely traumatic event that initiates feelings of fear, horror, and helplessness. It depends upon the severity and duration of the exposure, whether the person will have PTSD and how long the disorder lasts, and how severe it is. If the trauma is chronic and ongoing, it is more likely that PTSD will be the result.
It is written that intense fear has physical repercussions in the part of the brain interprets fear and that this damage may contribute to the symptoms of PTSD.


It is necessary to consult a doctor or psychotherapist who will examine you and your full family history and the traumatic event before making a diagnosis.


Traditional Treatment

Antidepressant drugs, psychotherapy and reassurance are the usual treatments for PTSD.
Alternative treatments include a wide variety of techniques to help you overcome your reactions to the trauma you experienced.


Alternative/Natural Treatments

Massage - Massage may help in relaxation and reducing stress. Try using some of the essential oils listed in Aromatherapy below.


Herbal Treatments - Calmative herbs include - chamomile and lemon balm which can be taken as a tea. Stronger herbs are valerian and skullcap - these are very beneficial for shock or extreme stress.


These herbs are highly effective and should not be used for an indefinite period of time as they can become addictive and harmful. Take them under Professional supervision.


Aromatherapy - Try sandalwood diluted in a base cream - rub this all over you so that the essential oil properties work throughout the day. You should use 4-5 drops in 15 grams of vegetable based cream.


Other good oils for stress are ylang ylang, vetiver, tangerine, patchouli, marjoram, grapefruit, clary sage, bergamot, cedarwood and frankincense. See our section on aromatherapy for more information - some oils should not be used by certain people.


When to seek further professional advice

  • you or your child or other loved one shows any of the symptoms.

Post Traumatic Stress Disorder

Psoriasis is a skin condition whereby areas are covered in pink or red coloured patches with white scales.


What to look for

  • deep pink, raised patches of skin with white scales appearing anywhere on the body except the face.
  • pitting and thickening of the fingernails and toenails.


The skin cells multiply much faster than normal, healthy cells and the overproduction of these cells is what causes the raised patches of skin.
Psoriasis tends to run in families. It is not contagious and is common among people with fair skin.
Outbreaks are triggered by the immune system and can affect other parts of the body, particularly the joints. This condition is usually not dangerous although it may be stressful and embarrassing and with appropriate treatment, symptoms generally subside within weeks.


Causes

A variety of factors, ranging from emotional stress to infection, can accelerate an episode of psoriasis.
Excess alcohol consumption, incorrect diets, injured skin, obesity, and certain drugs can aggravate psoriasis.


Traditional Treatment

This condition is not curable but it usually responds well to treatments. A standard treatment recommended by many doctors is to soak in a warm bath for 10 to 15 minutes, then immediately apply a topical ointment such as petroleum jelly, which helps your skin retain moisture. Your doctor may recommend another medication which is a little stronger.
Treatment with capsaicin may also be effective. Because capsaicin can burn and severely damage the skin if used incorrectly, try this only under a doctor's supervision.


Alternative/Natural Treatments

If conventional treatments for psoriasis are not working for you, ask your doctor about the potential benefits of the following alternatives.


Aromatherapy - Mix together 4 drops of essential oil of cedarwood and 2 drops of juniper or lemon in 1 tbsp almond , jojoba or olive oil. Apply the mixture to your scalp and leave it on overnight under a shower cap. Shampoo and rinse thoroughly in the morning. Lavender is also recommended if the above oils are unsuitable.
Repeat three times a week until the symptoms clear. Since some people are sensitive to essential oils, place a drop on your skin for 30 minutes to be sure you have no adverse reactions.


Herbal Therapies - Burdock (Arctium lappa) root, dandelion (Taraxacum officinale) root, and Oregon grape (Mahonia aquifolium) are said to help reduce symptoms of psoriasis.
Evening primrose oil may soothe itching associated with psoriasis.
Mix tinctures of burdock, scullcap, sourdock, and cleavers in equal parts;
A rinse made of dried rosemary and sage offers another alternative to tar-based shampoos.


Homoeopathy - Don't try to choose homoeopathic remedies on your own to treat a chronic, systemic condition such as psoriasis.


Lifestyle - The skin, the largest organ in the body, often mirrors turmoil within, so it's not surprising that many psoriasis patients have a history of high anxiety, low self-esteem, and stress-related problems.
Many techniques help psoriasis patients by addressing the psychological roots and consequences of the disease. In particular, hypnotherapy, any of a number of relaxation techniques and psychotherapy may be effective.
Try to relax and take part in activities which you enjoy and that make you feel good. Try to avoid high levels of stress.


Dietary Considerations

Fish oil is usually extremely beneficial to sufferers - try a fish-oil capsule containing EPA four times a day.
Vitamin A, Vitamin D, Vitamin Customer and E, Calcium, Magnesium, Lecithin, linseed oil, Kelp, Garlic and Evening Primrose Oil.
Be careful with the doses and always take supplements under Professional supervision.
Vitamin B complex may promote healthy skin and rubbing concentrated vitamin E ointment into your scalp two or three times a week can be helpful.
Some research has suggested that eating too much citrus fruit can aggravate psoriasis, and that psoriasis patients, like eczema patients, cannot metabolise fatty acids. To help prevent flare ups, adopt a diet high in fish and raw vegetables, and low in fatty meats and acidic fruits.


Personal Care

  • For scalp psoriasis, wash your hair with a coal-tar shampoo or with a mixture of cedarwood and juniper or lemon oils.
  • Expose areas of inflamed skin to the morning or afternoon sun but be extremely careful to not stay out too long and put sunscreen on all the other parts of your body.
  • Regular exercise will help your entire system.


When to seek further professional advice

  • your skin inflammation does not respond to any form of treatment.

Psoriasis

Menstrual Problems

What to look for

Menstruation occurs when an ovary releases an egg, at this time the lining of the uterus grows and becomes flooded with blood. If the egg is not fertilised, the ovary releases progesterone, which causes menstrual flow. This happens every 28 days until interrupted by pregnancy or ended by menopause.


Menstrual Synchrony

The symptoms of the onset of the period varies in each woman. As well as this your own period may vary occasionally. This is usually normal, but at times this can be the result of something more serious.
The three main categories of menstrual irregularities are lack of period, painful periods, and heavy periods. The following explains these problems and what you can do about them.


LACK OF PERIOD

Although often no cause for concern, can be a sign of an underlying problem. Menstruation may not start at puberty or for some reason periods stop during your adult life. If your periods have never occurred it may be hormonal problems, or it may signal (in very rare cases) ill formed or non-existent ovaries.


If your periods have just stopped, it might indicate, that you have low levels of oestrogen in your body. Or it may signal a lack of progesterone. Of course if your periods have ceased it may also indicate that you are pregnant. Stress can also cause problems in this area as can Anorexia nervosa. Sports injuries can have the same effect as can ovarian cysts. Excessive exercise and very low body fat is also a cause.


Traditional Treatment

Treatment for a lack of periods is usually simply waiting to see if nature takes its course. For a girl who exercises strenuously or who is very thin, a doctor might advise a lighter training regimen or an effort to gain weight. Treatment for anorexia nervosa might also be necessary. Always see your doctor if you are worried.


If your periods have stopped - look at all the possibilities. If you think stress may be to blame, take steps to reduce stress in your life. If you are underweight, your doctor will advise you to gain some weight and try to maintain it. If you have been diagnosed with some other condition that may be causing amenorrhoea (such as endometriosis or an ovarian cyst) seek treatment for that. Always see your doctor.


Alternative/Natural Treatments

Herbal Therapies - To help initiate menstrual flow, make a tincture of one part chaste tree (Vitex agnus-castus), two parts blue cohosh (Caulophyllum thalictroides), and two parts mugwort leaf (Artemisia argyi); take 2 ml three times daily until menstrual flow begins.


Dietary Considerations

Try taking supplements of or eat foods rich in zinc (fish, poultry, lean meats) and vitamin B complex (brewer's yeast, wheat germ), C, E, magnesium, calcium, potassium, iron, evening primrose oil.
Aromatherapy - Try either Fennel, Geranium or Rose to regulate your period. Put several drops into a carrier oil and massage clockwise into your abdomen. Do not use Fennel on epileptics or near them. Do not use Fennel during pregnancy. 


PAINFUL PERIODS

This slightly unpleasant problem is however, usually quite normal. There are occasions when painful periods can signify a more serious condition.


Causes

Doctors are unsure of the exact cause of painful periods, however it may be the result of an excess of prostaglandins, a substance released from the cells lining the womb.
This condition may, however, also be caused by an underlying condition, such as endometriosis, an infection, or growths in the uterus.


Traditional Treatment

Analgesics such as aspirin can relieve mild discomfort, but if your pain is more intense, try an analgesic available over-the-counter. See your doctor if this treatment does not remedy the condition.


Alternative/Natural Treatments

Most of the alternative therapies for menstrual cramps focus on promoting the relaxation of tense muscles or on reducing tension in general.


Aromatherapy - Chamomile in a carrier oil rubbed on the lower abdomen, back and legs is usually very helpful.


Herbal Therapies - To relieve cramps, drink a hot tea of 2 tsp cramp bark (Viburnum opulus) simmered for 15 minutes in 1 cup water; use this three times a day. Bilberry (Vaccinium myrtillus) and bromelain will also relax muscles. Dong quai (Angelica sinensis) and feverfew (Chrysanthemum parthenium) can relax uterine muscles; feverfew may work as well. Valerian (Valeriana officinalis) helps relax cramping muscles; however, it should be used only for a limited time. Consult a Professional. 


Evening primrose oil (Oenothera biennis) applied over painful areas can also bring relief, but don't use it if there's a chance you may get pregnant.
Tension, anxiety, and painful spasms may be relieved with treatments of black haw (Viburnum lentago), skullcap (Scutellaria baicalensis), and black cohosh (Cimicifuga racemosa).


Dietary Considerations

Rather than three large meals, try eating a balanced diet consisting of small meals throughout the day and avoid sugar, salt, and caffeine. You may get relief from a multivitamin supplement containing vitamin B complex, calcium, and magnesium. Avoid caffeine and other stimulants.


HEAVY PERIODS

Menstrual flow that lasts longer than about eight days, saturates tampons within an hour, or includes large clots of blood can usually be classified as a heavy period.
Hormonal imbalances, endometriosis, a pelvic infection, use of an IUD, or uterine growths can often be the cause of heavy periods. Problems with ovulation, low levels of progesterone, or an excess of prostaglandins can also cause heavier periods.


Traditional Treatment

Usually treatment consists of iron or folic acid tablets to prevent anaemia and other deficiencies. Analgesics for the pain and hormones to correct any imbalance in your hormone levels..
There is a minor surgical procedure that your doctor can perform which often relieves the symptoms of heavier periods. You should ask your doctor for more information about this course of action.


Alternative/Natural Treatments

Aromatherapy - Practitioners of aromatherapy find that oils of geranium, juniper (Juniperus communis), and cypress, rubbed on the abdomen, may bring relief for sufferers of heavy menstrual flow. 
Herbal Therapies - Tea made from yarrow (Achillea millefolium) may help control bleeding. You may also benefit from taking a tincture made of equal parts life root (Senecio aureus), shepherd's purse (Capsella bursa-pastoris), and wild cranesbill (Geranium maculatum).


Personal Care

  • calcium and magnesium have known to stop uterine muscle cramps and to lessen the flow.
  • Take a warm, relaxing bath.
  • Take analgesics
  • Drink herbal teas containing yarrow to help control bleeding.


Prevention

Try to keep within your normal weight range.
Take a multivitamin supplement including vitamins A, B complex, C, and E, as well as calciumand iron.


When to seek further professional advice

  •  you have heavy menstrual flow that fills a tampon or sanitary napkin within an hour.
  • you experience sharp abdominal pain before periods or during intercourse.

Obesity

This is a term given to people who are more than 20% over their ideal body weight.


What to look for

  • weighing 20 percent more than your ideal body weight.


Simply put, if you consume more calories than you burn, you will gain weight. Some people will tend to burn far more calories than others because their bodies metabolism’s are different.
If you are obese it is a very good idea for you to try hard to lose weight as being overweight can put you in a vulnerable position as far as serious conditions are concerned.
It is not easy for an obese person to lose their weight and keep it off but it is not impossible. You may need to keep a constant watch on your diet, exercise programs and lifestyle in general.


Causes

The most common causes for obesity are :-

  • poor diet.
  • insufficient exercise,
  • heredity.
  • diabetes.
  • thyroid problems.
  • emotional problems - depression can cause people to turn to food for comfort
  • very rarely - congenital syndromes.


You can aggravate the problem considerably by smoking, drinking alcohol, and leading a sedentary lifestyle, including watching TV. Try to avoid the temptation to sit and stare at the television most of your spare time. This is good in moderation but can be detrimental when it takes up most of your day.


Traditional Treatment

There are numerous things people can do to lose weight, but the pivotal factor is always discipline and control. Other factors come into play as well such as family conditioning and genes.


Weight-loss programs are available and are often quite successful so long as you do not regain the pounds after a few months.
An exercise regime is vital to any weight loss attempt. Without it a person may gain back all the weight that they lost.
Simply reducing calories will not work on it’s own because the body starts its automatic defence program and slows down your metabolism even more.


Upon starting a weight loss program, consult your doctor about determining a good general target for your caloric intake and then maintain that level. Eat a low-fat, low-sugar, high-fibre diet. Do not forget to include an exercise program to your daily regime. You do not have to run a marathon, a walk around the block will be a good start.


In some instances your doctor may recommend that you supplement your lifestyle and dietary changes with a drug that suppresses appetite. This is something that you will need to discuss with him or her. Remember there are natural appetite suppressants that are effective as well.


On rare occasions a doctor may suggest a surgical procedure. But it will only be beneficial long term if you are determined to work at keeping the weight off and maintaining the new weight with proper diet and exercise.
Ask your doctor about other surgical alternatives.


Before you consider surgical options, try to reduce your weight by learning to control what you eat, how you react to food in general, and your leisure time (watching television versus taking a walk). Think about consulting some professionals such as a dietician, naturopath, your doctor and a private exercise trainer, and a counsellor.


Alternative/Natural Treatments

Use these alternatives in addition to your new lifestyle of regular exercise, improved diet and leisure activities.


Chinese Medicine - Talk to a practitioner of Chinese medicine who will advise you on the best course of action. The preparations recommended will depend on your own circumstances and lifestyle.


Herbal Therapies - To stimulate your metabolic rate, try kelp. Dandelion may flush out the kidneys, boost metabolism, and offset a craving for sweets. There are also fat metabolising preparations available.


Lifestyle

  • Avoid smoking.
  • Avoid alcohol
  • Take up some form of exercise and increase it gradually over time. It is especially good if you can do something in which you enjoy.


Dietary Considerations

Watch your diet and eat plenty of fresh fruit and vegetables, complex carbohydrates, such as potatoes and pasta, as well as chicken and fish.
Try to avoid carbonated drinks (even low calorie varieties- as it is reported that they are not at all good for you), fruit juices, and milk with six to eight glasses of filtered water.
Always remember to include your exercise regime in your weight-loss program.


Prevention

Take one day at a time and try your hardest to stick to your new lifestyle. Keep picturing and visualising the way you would like to look and feel. Remember though, if you do slip up and eat things that are not on your diet list - do not beat yourself up or slip into your old patterns of living. You can do this and you will feel so much better for it.


Remember:-

  • Eat three or four smaller meals and try to avoid having your largest meal at night time when you are normally more sedentary.
  • Eat a high-fibre, low-fat diet.
  • Avoid activities such as watching television, and get into a regular exercise routine.
  • Don't turn to calorie-counting diets or diets that require you to fast or deprive yourself of normal helpings of food for extended periods of time as this may become too much for you and you will give it up.
  • Try rewarding yourself with things other than food, such as a new item of clothing, jewellery, a book on health etc.


When to seek further professional advice

  • you suspect you weigh 20 percent more than your ideal body weight.
  • you've lost weight many times but always gain it back.

Osteoporosis

This is a crippling disease affecting both men and women caused by a lack of calcium.


What to look for

The condition may cause no symptoms at all or alternatively these may occur:-

  • backache.
  • a gradual loss of height and a stooped back.
  • fractures and breaks occur easily.
  • loss of bone in the jaw.

Osteoporosis is a condition that causes a person’s bones to become thin and weak. Possible problems to watch for are hip fractures, blood clots or pneumonia.
Women are usually more susceptible to this disease as their bones are lighter and less dense. And among women, usually osteoporosis affects fair and small people.


Causes

The most common cause is age. From about 35 years of age onwards, all people’s bone structure changes and becomes less dense. There are debates continuing about triggers which speed up the process of bone deterioration.
There are a number of lifestyle changes you can make to minimise the likelihood of it occurring. (discussed further on).

  • poor bone formation from childhood
  • calcium intake
  • increased bone loss due to sensitivity to the parathyroid hormone.
  • at menopause, the fall in oestrogen lessens the amount of calcium drawn from the nutrients you eat.
  • a diet high in protein from flesh foods, sugar, caffeine, alcohol and cigarettes and salt.

It is possible for you to have your bones tested and this is highly recommended for people of all ages. Ask our pharmacist about this.


Traditional Treatment

Conventional treatment centres around drugs and physical supports.  Your doctor may prescribe certain pain killers to ease the discomfort, as well as hot compresses and easy massage.  However, to prevent it in the first place, your doctor may recommend you go on hormone replacement therapy (HRT). Studies have shown that women who take long-term HRT within a few years of menopause keep their bone density and have fewer hip and wrist fractures while they are taking it than women who do not.  As a preventive measure your doctor may suggest that you increase the amount of calcium in your diet or perhaps take calcium supplements along with Vitamin D.  Also low impact exercise is usually recommended to keep your bones supple and too much weight off them.


Alternative/Natural Treatments

Like conventional techniques, alternative therapies focus on building and retaining strong bones.


Chinese Herbs - Chinese practitioners recommend several herbs for preventing bone loss - the most popular are dong quai (Angelica sinensis) and Asian ginseng (Panax ginseng). You will need professional advice for appropriate dosages.


Exercise - Studies have shown that exercises reduce bone loss and help prevent osteoporosis.


Herbal Therapies - Herbalists believe that the use of some herbs can help slow the progression of this condition. Herbs traditionally used for the prevention of osteoporosis include horsetail (Equisetum arvense), alfalfa (Medicago sativa), liquorice (Glycyrrhiza glabra), marsh mallow (Althaea officinalis), and sourdock (Rumex crispus).  Ask about progesterone creams made from the wild Mexican yam; they may stimulate bone formation.


Homoeopathy - In addition to a calcium-rich diet and exercise, homoeopaths recommend treatments they believe help the body absorb calcium. Remedies are likely to include Calcarea carbonica, Calcarea phosphorica, Calcarea fluorica, and Silica. You will need professional assistance for remedies and dosages.


Dietary Considerations

The most obvious addition to your diet is calcium whether this is via more calcium rich foods (low-fat dairy, broccoli, cauliflower, salmon, tofu, and leafy green vegetables) or supplements. According to The Australian Wellbeing booklet on Osteoporosis, people with a history of weaker bones should be consuming approximately 1000 milligrams per day increasing this to 1500 mg per day around the menopause time.


To help the body absorb calcium, some practitioners suggest taking vitamin D and magnesiumsupplements.
In addition to eating calcium-rich foods you should also avoid acid rich foods such as red meats, soft drinks and grains. Excessive amounts of alcohol and caffeine should be avoided.


Prevention

  • Eat foods rich in calcium
  • Avoid foods that can interfere with your body's absorption of calcium (listed above)
  • Do exercises for 30 to 45 minutes at least three times a week (always check with your doctor before starting any exercise program).
  • have your digestive system examined as calcium may not be absorbed properly in your system. Eat plenty of aloe vera juice and acidophilus yogurt
  • Stop drinking coffee and cola
  • Stop smoking immediately
  • Do not smoke.
  • Avoid antacids containing aluminium.


Ovarian Cancer

As with most cancers, ovarian cancer rarely produces symptoms in its earliest stages, however, these warning signs eventually develop -
  • vague digestive disturbances, such as mild indigestion, bloating, feeling of fullness, or loss of appetite.
  • diarrhoea, constipation, or increased urination.
  • pain or swelling in the abdomen, or pain in the lower back.
  • vaginal bleeding between menstrual periods or after menopause.


Symptoms of advanced ovarian cancer include severe nausea, vomiting, pain, and weight loss.


Beside the uterus are the two ovaries, each only the size of an almond, which produce eggs and female hormones. The ovaries may develop abnormal growths such as cysts- these are always benign, as are many ovarian tumours. It can occur at any age, even in childhood, but is most common after menopause.


Like most cancers, ovarian cancer is very rarely detected in its early stages and has to spread significantly before diagnosed. It is imperative that the cancer is detected as early as possible.


Causes

It is reported, that most women who suffer from ovarian cancer have no family history of the disease, yet a woman is more susceptible to the disease if her mother or sister has had ovarian, breast, or uterine cancer. Other factors which may increase a woman’s vulnerability to the disease are:-

  • not having any or many children,
  • delaying having children until the thirties or over
  • having trouble conceiving
  • a diet of saturated fats - these foods contain oestrogen which allows ovarian cancers to grow faster.


Women who have several children, who breast-feed their infants, or who use birth-control pills are at less of a risk. This may be because these women ovulate less frequently.


Annual pelvic examinations help detect ovarian cancer early.


Traditional Treatments

Surgery is usually the treatment given for ovarian cancer. Normally, the two ovaries and the other reproductive organs are removed. If the woman is young and has only a small tumour in one ovary, she may have just the diseased ovary removed. The second can be removed later to prevent recurrence.


In many patients, cancer remains after surgery. Most patients receive chemotherapy then, which can prolong survival and may result in cure. Once remission occurs, follow-up examinations are essential.


Complementary Therapies

Creating a healthy immune system is vitally important for all people with cancer. Get plenty of regular exercise, enough sleep, and essential vitamins and minerals by eating fresh fruits and vegetables. Cut down on dairy products, meats, and other high-fat foods.


Various herbs with demonstrated immune-enhancing properties may complement standard treatment, but check with your doctor before using them.


Antioxidants have been touted as a possible prevention aid for cancer.


Prevention

If you are in the high-risk category for ovarian cancer, ask your doctor about current recommendations for routine blood screening. For women at extremely high risk, a doctor may recommend having the ovaries removed to prevent the diseases.


When to seek further professional advice

  • you have unexplained abdominal pain or vaginal bleeding, especially if these occur with the more general symptoms listed in the description section. Do not allow such symptoms to continue undiagnosed for more than two weeks.

Ovary Problems

These can be infection, cysts, lumps or cancer of the ovaries.


What to look for

  • feeling of fullness or pressure on one side of the abdomen.
  • abdominal pain during intercourse.
  • sharp abdominal pain.
  • irregular vaginal bleeding or absent menstrual periods.
  • increase in facial or body hair.
  • irregularities in bowel movements or urination.


Many small benign ovarian cysts and tumours produce no symptoms.


About the size of a walnut the ovaries rest in the curve of your fallopian tubes, attached to each side of the uterus. Each ovary contains thousands of eggs. In most women, once a month one or more eggs ripens and begins to grow in a small cyst like structure known as a follicle. When the egg is mature, it is released (ovulation) and goes down to the uterus.


The ovaries also produce the hormones oestrogen and progesterone. While the egg is maturing, the follicle releases oestrogen to help thicken the lining of the uterus in case the egg is fertilised and grows into an embryo. Progesterone is also released. If no pregnancy occurs, the level of progesterone decreases, menstruation occurs, and the cycle repeats itself.


There are problems can develop in the ovary. It can become infected, sometimes alone but more often as part of an infection that involves other pelvic organs (see the entry called pelvic inflammatory disease). Cysts and tumours can also form on the ovaries. Most often these are benign, or non-cancerous, and produce no symptoms.


Most benign ovarian cysts and tumours disappear after a few menstrual cycles, some are quite large and can be uncomfortable. Sometimes the growths disrupt the production of ovarian hormones, causing irregular bleeding or an increase in body hair, or they press on the bladder, leading to more frequent urination. Some rupture and can cause infection.


Causes

Ovarian infections are most frequently caused by sexually transmitted diseases. Some ovarian cysts are the result of a follicle that continues to grow and fill with fluid long after the egg has been released. They quite often will disappear of their own accord. They may cause extensive pain if they rupture or become twisted and their blood supply is cut off.
Your doctor will give you a complete physical and pelvic exam to determine if you have a problem in the ovaries.


Traditional Treatment

Always seek the opinion of your doctor with regards to problems with your ovaries as growths can possibly be cancerous. Treatment for an ovarian problem depends on the problem. Treating ovarian cysts is often unnecessary as they normally disappear on their own.


Alternative/Natural Treatments

Always see your doctor first and have a pelvic examination to ensure you do not have any malignant growths which are causing you problems. Alternative treatments for ovary problems should be used only as supplements to conventional treatment methods.


Herbal Therapies - Herbalists recommend Blue Cohosh (Caulophyllum thalictroides) as a good all round tonic for the female reproductive organs.


Dietary Considerations

A vegetarian diet is recommended by most naturopaths to help prevent and treat ovarian cysts, especially carrots, dark-green leafy vegetables, and lemons.
Others prescribe supplements of zinc and vitamins A, E, and C. as well as supplements of evening primrose oil because they are believed to help regulate the body's hormone levels.


When to seek further professional advice

  • you experience sudden sharp or severe abdominal pain.
  • you notice any significant increase in facial or body hair
  • your menstrual periods become irregular or stop altogether

Panic Attack 

These are times of immense anxiety and/or stress, with or without triggers which can occur again and again.



What to look for

If you have four or more of the following, you are having a panic attack:

  • restlessness
  • shortness of breath
  • palpitations.
  • sweating.
  • shaking.
  • a feeling of choking.
  • chest pain or discomfort.
  • nausea.
  • dizziness or faintness.
  • a fear of going crazy.
  • a fear of dying.
  • numbness or tingling.
  • chills or hot flushes.
  • insomnia


If you have recurrent panic attacks, you fear having more attacks or change your behaviour because of such attacks, you may have panic disorder.


Unfortunately there are no definite causes of this. If you have had a panic attack you may live in fear on having another one, and this causes you more anxiety.


Many people with panic disorder relate an attack to what they were doing when it occurred. However the cause of the panic attack may not be that simple. 

Causes

The underlying cause of panic disorder is not clear. There is evidence of a genetic, phobic and a biochemical basis.
Panic disorder may begin after a serious illness or accident, the death of a close friend, separation from the family, or the birth of a baby. Attacks may also accompany the use of certain illegal drugs. Most often, however, a panic attack comes 'out of the blue'; it may even begin during sleep.


Traditional Treatment

Treatment must be based on each individual case as the cause of panic attacks is not clear.
Psychotherapy offers support and helps to minimise the fearfulness of symptoms of the disorder. This is often enough to control the disorder, however if more attacks result, the patient may require additional measures.


Alternative/Natural Treatments

A number of alternative techniques may help reduce anxiety.


Aromatherapy - Studies have shown that essential oil of lavender (Lavandula officinalis), neroli (citrus aurantium) and petitgrain (citrus aurantium) can relieve anxiety and stress. Dab these on wrists or use in bath. 


Body Work - Yoga can relax the body and help with the anxiety that patients experience between panic attacks.


Herbal Therapies - A number of herbs function as relaxants and tranquillisers and may soothe anxiety. Try a tea made from scullcap, valerian, vervain, or lemon balm.


Hypnotherapy - Hypnosis is effective for many patients with anxiety or phobias, partly because the therapy itself brings deep relaxation.


Dietary Considerations

Magnesium has a tranquillising action. Speak with your doctor about taking this mineral. Avoid caffeine and other stimulants, alcohol, and sugar.


Prevention

You can take steps to lessen the chance of attacks and learn to manage them better.

  • Learn to recognize a panic attack. And use self-talk to walk yourself through it. Speak nicely to yourself.
  • Try not to be so critical of yourself and remember that you will improve and that it does take time.


When to seek further professional advice

  • you think you have panic disorder.


Prostate Cancer

As with most cancers, early prostate cancer does not cause noticeable symptoms. If the cancer causes the prostate to swell or if the cancer spreads you will notice -

  • a frequent need to urinate.
  • difficulty starting or stopping the urinary stream and a burning sensation when urinating or ejaculating.
  • a weak or interrupted urinary stream.
  • blood in urine or semen.


Eventually, if the condition is left untreated -

  • dull pain or stiffness in the pelvis, lower back, or upper thighs.
  • loss of weight and appetite, fatigue, nausea, or vomiting.


The prostate is a gland is only found in the male reproductive system. This walnut sized gland helps produce semen, the thick fluid that carries sperm cells. It is located close to the bladder and problems in the prostate ultimately will affect the bladder as well. Prostate function is regulated by testosterone, a male sex hormone produced mainly in the testicles.


This disease is more common in men later in life. There are many men who surprisingly have cancerous cells in their prostate and that do not know it. The cancer may or may not spread. It can also lie dormant for many years, cause no obvious problems and or health threats. If however, it starts to become activated and spreads, it is a dangerous threat.
It is generally fatal if it spreads beyond the prostate gland itself.


A malignant tumour may grow through the prostate gland and spread cancer cells to surrounding tissue, including the rectum and bladder. The cancerous cells may also invade the lymphatic system or bloodstream and then spread to the bones, liver, lungs, and other organs.


Doctors have identified a certain protein that is evident in cancerous prostates. If high levels of this protein are found in cancerous tissue samples, the prostate cancer is unlikely to spread, or metastasise; if there is none of the protein, the cancer is likely to spread.


Cancer that has not spread beyond the prostate gland can usually be cured.


Causes

Prostate cancer affects mainly elderly men. Men with relatives who have prostate cancer are more likely to die of it than others. It is not known for sure what causes this disease but experts agree that diet contributes to the risk. Men who consume great amounts of fat (particularly from red meat and other sources of animal fat) are most likely to develop symptoms of advanced prostate cancer.


Fats can stimulate production of testosterone and other hormones, and testosterone speeds the growth of prostate cancer and can cause dormant prostate cancer cells into activity. Eating meat can also be detrimental to the cancerous cells if cooked at high temperatures, they can contain carcinogens. 


There is no scientifically proven link between prostate cancer and

  • an active sex life
  • masturbation
  • use of alcohol or tobacco
  • circumcision
  • infertility
  • infection of the prostate
  • an enlarged prostate gland


Traditional Treatments

Doctors know which prostate cancers are the most in need of treatment. It is advisable to seek several opinions with regard to your condition.


Depending on many factors, your treatment may include a combination of radiation therapy, surgery, and hormone therapy.
The standard operation involves the removal of the prostate and nearby lymph nodes. Speak with your doctor about the implications and side effects that this may entail in your particular case.


All prostate cancer patients need to be examined regularly to ensure the problem does not return.


Complementary Therapies

As fat has been implicated in the development of prostate cancer, it is highly advisable that men eat a low-fat, high fibre diet. This is particularly advisable for those with family history of the disease.


Studies indicate that men with chronic deficiencies of vitamin A or selenium are prone to advanced prostate cancer. Always speak with your doctor before taking these nutrients as they can be toxic in high doses. Good natural sources of vitamin A include most green and yellow fruits and vegetables, as well as liver, lamb.


At-Home Care

Some men may experience fatigue, diarrhoea, uncomfortable urination, dry skin, nausea, and other unpleasant side effects. Ask your doctor how best to control these side effects. Rest frequently if you need to, eat light snacks throughout the day rather than having three large meals, and avoid clothes that irritate your skin. 


Prevention

Eat more fish, poultry, fresh vegetables, fruits, and low-fat dairy products. Eat less red meat; remove skin from chicken before cooking; and cut down on butter, margarine, and oils.


To avoid carcinogens created when cooking meats, try poaching or roasting, not frying or barbecuing.


When to seek further professional advice

  • You have any of the symptoms listed above, or you need help in recognising the prostate cancer signs to enable you to examine yourself.

Pelvic Inflammatory Disease

This describes an infection in a woman’s pelvic region.


What to look for

With acute pelvic inflammatory disease (PID):

  •  severe pain in the lower abdomen
  • vaginal discharge
  • fever

With chronic PID:

  • recurrent pain in the lower abdomen,
  • backache
  • irregular periods
  • pain during intercourse.
  • infertility.
  • heavy, unpleasant-smelling vaginal discharge.


If not treated promptly PID can become very serious and often fatal.
PID can be either acute or chronic. Acute PID comes on suddenly and is usually severe. Chronic PID is an infection that may cause only recurrent mild pain and sometimes backache. Some women have no obvious symptoms.


Causes

PID is caused by bacteria from contaminated semen that swim from the vagina into the uterus. Most cases of PID used to be caused by the organism responsible for the sexually transmitted disease gonorrhoea, or by chlamydia. Recently, researchers have linked other organisms to PID.
The risk of PID increases after childbirth, miscarriage, abortion, the insertion of an (IUD) for contraception.
Your doctor will give you a pelvic examination and if there is an infection, he or she will take a sample for examination.


Traditional Treatment

Because PID is such a serious ailment, you must consult your doctor who will recommend the best course of action.


Alternative/Natural Treatments

Only use alternative methods during or after conventional treatment to help speed recovery.
Herbal Therapies - To help fight PID infection, herbalists recommend Echinacea (Echinacea spp.), meadowsweet, goldenseal, St John’s Wort or calendula (Calendula officinalis). Blue Cohosh (Caulophyllum thalictroides) and false unicorn root (Chamaelirium luteum).


Dietary Considerations

To strengthen your immune system and help speed your recovery, eat plenty of whole foods.
Vitamin supplements may also enhance your immune system. Especially, vitamin A, vitamin C,and vitamin B complex.


PREVENTION

  • Use contraception (condoms, diaphragm, or a cervical cap with spermicides).
  • Avoid putting anything in your vagina for two to three weeks after an abortion, a miscarriage, or a D and C and for six weeks after childbirth. - no intercourse, douching, and no tampons.
  • Do not use an IUD.
  • If you have a history of pelvic infections or have several sexual partners, use barrier methods of contraception and avoid intercourse during your menstrual period.
  • Get prompt treatment for any sexually transmitted disease.


When to seek further professional advice

  • you experience sudden abdominal pain
  • you experience any abnormal menstrual bleeding
  • you experience a vaginal discharge that is foul-smelling

Premenstrual Syndrome

Refers to a range of symptoms occurring in the lead up to their menstrual period.


What to look for

One or more of these symptoms may appear about a week before your period:

  • food cravings.
  • bloating and fluid retention.
  • breast swelling and pain.
  • acne.
  • weight gain.
  • headaches, backaches.
  • urinary disorders.
  • moodiness, anxiety, crying.
  • insomnia.
  • drowsiness and fatigue.
  • nausea and clumsiness


Some women with premenstrual syndrome can become violent and aggressive during this time.


PMS is a physical condition that typically recurs during a particular phase of the menstrual cycle. It is common for most women to experience at least one PMS symptom sometime in her life and normally it occurs more regularly. The symptoms vary with each woman.


Hormonal fluctuations can make this condition worse and more pronounced such as after childbirth, a miscarriage, an abortion. Women who discontinue birth-control pills may also experience PMS.


Causes

There is no conclusive research as yet, however, there is speculation that PMS is the result of a hormonal imbalance.
It has also been suggested that a deficiency in a particular hormone may be responsible for PMS. Some say it may be biochemical.
Dietary deficiencies, including a lack of vitamin B6 and essential fatty acids, could be a possible cause. One type of PMS, characterised by headache, dizziness, heart pounding, increased appetite, and a craving for chocolate, is thought to be the result of a magnesiumdeficiency brought on by stress.


Traditional Treatment

A lot of women do not treat their PMS and live through it. There are treatments which are able to relieve the symptoms and give you some comfort.
Some doctors prescribe various hormones to relieve symptoms. This treatment is controversial and may not work with all women.
Because there are risks associated with hormonal treatments, many doctors prefer approaches that emphasise a good diet, regular exercise, and other lifestyle changes such as those described below.


Alternative/Natural Treatments

A wide variety of alternative treatments may help relieve PMS symptoms. Try them and see which one works for your particular symptoms.
Aromatherapy - To relieve anxiety and irritability, try lavender or chamomile oil; parsley or juniper oil may also be helpful. Add several drops to a warm bath.
To relieve breast tenderness, try adding 6 to 8 drops of geranium oil to a warm bath.
Chinese Herbs - For relief from PMS symptoms, Chinese herbalists sometimes recommend dong quai, which is believed to help balance the body's hormones and have a tonic effect on the uterus and other female organs.


Dietary Considerations

Dietary changes have been shown to effectively reduce PMS symptoms in some women. Try reducing your intake of caffeine, sugar, salt, fat, honey, dairy products, and white flour, which studies have shown can sometimes aggravate PMS symptoms. Eat more fresh fruit and vegetables, wholegrain bread and cereals.
Some PMS symptoms may improve when vitamin B6 or magnesium is increased in the diet. Consult an experienced naturopath.
Some research has indicated that a dietary deficiency in fatty acids may contribute to PMS. Many women report that taking evening primrose oil (Oenothera biennis), a substance that contains essential fatty acids, is effective.


Herbal Therapies - Herbalists recommend a wide variety of herbs to help alleviate the many symptoms of PMS. Among the ones most often used are Chaste tree, Dandelion and Scullcap.


Bach Flower Remedies - To aid anger or irritability take impatiens, willow, beech or the rescue remedy. If concentration is the problem, take scleranthus during the second half of your cycle to restore hormone levels. If you feel jealous against a mate or another person try holly.


Homoeopathy - For relief from your specific PMS symptoms, consult an experienced homoeopath for individualised remedies and dosages.


Lifestyle - Studies have shown that regular exercise lessens PMS symptoms. Getting adequate sleep is also important for the successful treatment of PMS.


Personal Care

  • Stick to a healthy diet (see above)
  • Exercise regularly.
  • Reduce stress and increase sleep.
  • Take recommended vitamin supplements.
  • Increase relaxation techniques such as calming hobbies, warm baths with favourite aromatherapy oils in them (perhaps the ones suggested above), try to get a massage or facial.
  • Use a hot-water bottle to ease backaches and muscle aches
  • Abstain from alcohol before your period.


When to seek further professional advice

  •  your symptoms are severe enough to interfere with your normal functions.

These are some of the things that you can expect during your pregnancy.


What to look for:

Your pregnancy is divided into three sections or trimesters:

  1. from the start of your last period to week 14;
  2. weeks 14 - 28; and
  3. week 28 to birth.


You can expect some or all of these conditions in a normal pregnancy:

  • in the first trimeste- your period will stop; you may notice a strange taste in your mouth; increased need to urinate; minor weight gain; enlarged breasts; morning sickness or nausea.
  • in the second trimester - more weight gain; stretching of the abdominal wall and pelvis; backache, constipation, heartburn, and foetal movement.
  • in the third trimester - swollen limbs from fluid retention; leaking breasts; constipation; haemorrhoids; insomnia.


Pregnancy is a time of tremendous changes both physically and emotionally. These changes may come as a surprise or shock, but if you know in advance what is going to happen to you, you will be more prepared.  Now is the time for you to start seeing a qualified doctor specialising in conception and childbirth. He or she will step you through what to expect as your baby grows, the labour and how to cope with a newborn.


You must strive to keep as well as possible throughout your pregnancy. That means you need a balanced diet, appropriate exercise, plenty of rest, and a stress-free environment.  Never smoke or drink alcohol while you're pregnant, and avoid all drugs except those prescribed by your doctor.


We have listed some of the common complaints that are felt during your pregnancy and the treatments that you can have to ease them. If you are concerned about anything you are experiencing, do not hesitate to call your doctor.


ABDOMINAL PAIN
To relieve pains or cramps particularly, use a hot water bottle on the affected areas. You can also gently massage the areas with lavender oil. If you exercise regularly, you will strengthen and tone your abdominal muscles.


BACKACHE
Do not gain too much extra weight as this can put extra pressure on your back as well as hinder the birth. Do the appropriate exercises. Try not to take medications to relieve the pains; instead, use a hot water bottle. Special exercises to strengthen abdominal muscles can also help reduce backache.
Also be very particular about your posture - don’t slouch or lean too far back. Lie down or sit down wherever possible later on in the pregnancy. Wear special shoes or shoe inserts.
Sleep on a firm mattress.
Be careful when lifting heavy loads.
Massage... Sit backward on a straight chair. Lean over the back with your head resting on your crossed arms. Have someone massage with lavender oil.


BREAST DISCOMFORT
If your breasts leak fluid, use nursing pads in your bra. Wear a bra that gives your enlarged breasts proper support.


CONSTIPATION
Increased hormone levels can cause your digestive system to slow down and this causes constipation. To keep stools soft and bowel movements regular, get plenty of dietary fibre. Avoid using over-the-counter laxatives. Drink lots of fluids and exercise regularly.


CONTRACTIONS
Mild, painless uterine contractions usually start sometime after the 20th week of pregnancy. If they cause discomfort, try changing positions. If contractions start coming at regular intervals, notify your doctor.


CYSTITIS

See your doctor about the appropriate treatment for any urinary infection. However either drinking cranberry juice every day or taking the supplements can prevent this from occurring. (See also Urinary Problems.)
Always check with your doctor before taking any new supplements.


DIZZINESS AND FAINTNESS
Always try to work and place yourself where there is free air available such as near windows and doorways. Stand up or get out of bed slowly. If you're in a crowd and start feeling dizzy, step away and get some fresh air; if possible, lie down with your feet elevated or sit with your head between your knees.


EDEMA
Do not gain too much weight during your pregnancy. Try to avoid too much salt as this causes you to retain fluid. Put your feet up whenever possible. Wear support pantihose and avoid standing for long periods. Wear shoes that fit well and give good support - not high heals.


FATIGUE
Get a full night's sleep and rest with your feet up for at least 15 minutes several times a day. This can also be the result of a lack of iron in your system. If you notice you have cravings for red meat, spinach and eggs, see your doctor.


HEADACHES
Make sure you get enough rest - in fact these headaches are best treated by sleep, eat regularly, and drink six or more glasses of water daily. Avoid over-the-counter painkillers;
Try techniques such as yoga or meditation. Drink herbal teas and gently massage your temples with lavender oil.


HEARTBURN
Eat smaller, less spicy meals, avoid, greasy, sugary, and acidic foods. Stick to a bland, high-fibre diet, drink lots of fluids, and exercise daily. Don't lie down right after a meal. You may wish to raise the bedhead up a little as well.
After meals, drink tea made from chamomile, ginger, or fennel.


HEMORRHOIDS
Haemorrhoids may develop but they usually disappear after the birth. Avoid getting constipated. Eat a high-fibre diet to keep your movements soft, drink lots of fluids, and don't strain during bowel movements. To relieve haemorrhoidal itching or pain, try a warm bath. If they persist see your doctor who may prescribe a special cream.


LEG PAINS AND CRAMPS
Wear support hose during the day, and elevate your feet when resting, if possible. Have your legs massaged with lavender oil. Use a hot water bottle. If painful cramps persist, ask your doctor about calcium or magnesium supplements. It is comforting to know that they won’t last long.


MORNING SICKNESS
You may feel nauseated at any time of the day during the first trimester. Eating frequent light meals rather than three large meals. Keep your diet low in sweet and fatty foods. Drink plenty of fluids, and eat fresh fruits and vegetables, which are high in water content. Do not take antacids, but try vitamin B6.
Aromatherapy... Add the essential oils of lavender and mandarin to your bath. Peppermint and sandalwood are also good for nausea. Put on a handkerchief and inhale the scent.
Herbal teas are also very good.


MOUTH AND GUM DISCOMFORT
See your dentist before you get pregnant if possible or at least early in your pregnancy for a checkup and cleaning. Brush your teeth and tongue at least twice a day, and floss regularly.
Supplemental vitamin C, calcium, and coenzyme Q10 will strengthen your own teeth and ultimately your baby's. Always check with your doctor before taking supplements.


NASAL CONGESTION OR NOSEBLEEDS
Petroleum jelly or vasoline inserted in each nostril may help. Otherwise see your doctor if it becomes too uncomfortable. This problem should not last too long.


SKIN CHANGES
Chloasma, a darkening of the pigmentation on your face can be alarming but be rest assured it will disappear after the baby is born. It is best to stay out of the sun and to wear sunblock.
Lubricate dry skin around your abdomen with a moisturising cream and especially vitamin E cream; stretch marks usually fade and decrease after the birth.


TASTE CHANGES
It is normal to have cravings for strange foods during your pregnancy. Use mouthwash often; chewing gum or mints may to get rid of the strange tastes in your mouth. Iron supplements may leave a bad taste in your mouth.


VAGINAL DISORDERS
A thin, mild-smelling discharge is normal in pregnancy. Use sanitary napkins, but do not douche without your doctor's approval.  If your discharge is red or brown call your doctor immediately. Vaginal itching and soreness may indicate an infection, which requires treatment by your doctor.  Thrush is very common in pregnancy and may disappear without treatment after the baby is born. But if it is uncomfortable there are a number of home treatments that may help you. (See also Vaginal Problems.)


VARICOSE VEINS
Pregnancy puts extra strain on your legs. You can get the most benefit from wearing support pantyhose or stockings.
Exercise regularly, but don't stand for long periods. Raise your legs above hip level when sitting, if possible. Lie on your side in bed, or put a pillow under your feet. (See also Varicose Veins.)
Ask your doctor or a nutritional specialist about taking vitamin C supplements to strengthen blood vessels.


VISION CHANGES
If your eyes swell or change shape from fluid retention and hard contact lenses become uncomfortable, switch to soft lenses or glasses.


When to seek further professional advice

  • you have severe nausea and vomiting
  • you have vaginal spotting or bleeding.
  • you have a fever and chills, backache, or blood in your urine.



Pregnancy Problems