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Mapp & Hession Pharmacy Murwillumbah King Street Chemist Greg Mapp & Paul Hession

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Your Health Fact Sheet

Men's Health Fact Sheets

The following symptoms are associated with abuse of alcohol:


  • temporary blackouts or memory loss.
  • recurrent arguments or fights with family members or friends.
  • continuing use of alcohol to relax, to cheer up, to sleep, to deal with problems, or to feel 'normal'.
  • work, money and family problems.
  • headache, anxiety, insomnia, nausea, or other unpleasant symptoms when you stop drinking.
  • loss of appetite and insomnia.
  • attacks of trembling and sweating.
  • delirious attacks.
  • kidney trouble and peptic ulcers.
  • broken capillaries on the face; a husky voice; shaking hands; severe diarrhoea; and drinking alone, in the mornings, or in secret. These symptoms are specifically associated with chronic alcoholism.


Consumed in moderation, alcohol can be of benefit as a relaxant, can encourage the appetite and produce a feeling of well-being. However, when consumed in excess, alcohol is poisonous to human systems and is considered a drug.
Chronic alcoholism is a progressive, potentially fatal disease, characterised by an constant craving for, increased tolerance of, physical dependence upon, and loss of control over drinking alcohol.


Alcoholism can cause physical problems such as hypoglycaemia, kidney disease, brain and heart damage, enlarged blood vessels in the skin, chronic gastritis, and pancreatitis.


Alcoholism can also lead to impotence in men, damage to the foetus in pregnant women, and an elevated risk of cancer of the larynx, oesophagus, stomach, pancreas, and upper gastrointestinal tract.


Alcoholics rarely eat nutritionally adequate meals, they are likely to have nutritional deficiencies. Heavy drinkers typically have impaired liver function, and at least 1 in 5 develops cirrhosis.


Causes


The causes of alcoholism are a combination of genetic, physical, psychological, environmental, and social factors that vary among individuals. Genetic factors are considered crucial… A given person's risk of becoming an alcoholic is four to five times greater if a parent is alcoholic as children grow up copying one parent. Some children of alcohol abusers, however, overcome the hereditary pattern by becoming teetotallers.


Drinking is socially acceptable and approved cultural activity therefore some people, due to upbringing and conditioning are more inclined to become alcoholics than others.


Certain professions are more conducive alcoholism, extensive socialising and the open availability of drink are causes in these cases.


Traditional Treatment


Alcoholic’s main aim in treatment is to abstain from any form of alcohol and this is often difficult and complicated by denial.
Once the alcoholic accepts he or she has a problem and is willing to stop drinking, treatment can begin. He or she must understand that alcoholism is curable and must be motivated to change.


Treatment has two stages…

  1.  Withdrawal… sometimes called detoxification - and
  2. Recovery.


Because withdrawal does not stop the craving for alcohol, recovery is often difficult to maintain. For a person in an early stage of alcoholism, withdrawal may bring anxiety and poor sleep.


Withdrawal from long-term dependence may bring the uncontrollable shaking, spasms, panic, and hallucinations of delirium tremens (DT). If not treated professionally, people with DT have a mortality rate of more than 10 percent, so withdrawal from late-stage alcoholism should be attempted only at an in-patient centre.


Treatment may involve one or more medications. They must be used with care and supervision, since they may be addictive and can have serious side effects.


Because an alcoholic remains susceptible to becoming dependent again, the key to recovery is total abstinence. Recovery also involves education programs, group therapy, family involvement, and participation in self-help groups.


Alternative/Natural Treatments


Once an alcoholic accepts his or her condition and stops using alcohol, a number of alternative therapies can assist the recovery process.

  •  Massage - can help relax and can aid the stress of withdrawal symptoms
  •  Herbal Remedies and Nutritional supplements such as the B Complex, Vitamin C, and a multi-vitamin capsule, beta-carotene and Zinc, Magnesium and EPO. For withdrawal symptoms for herbal mixtures.
  • Various relaxation and meditation techniques
  • Nutrition and diet - eat plenty of salads and vegetables, drink fresh juices and avoid fatty foods.
  • Blood sugar levels may need stabilising - eliminating certain dietary sugars prove helpful in some cases.


Other ways to help with Alcoholism
To help in learning to live without the need for alcohol the alcoholic must…

  • Avoid people and places that make drinking the norm, and find new, non-drinking friends.
  • Join a self-help group.
  • Enlist the help of family and friends.
  • Replace your negative dependence on alcohol with positive dependencies such as a new hobby or volunteer work with church or civic groups.
  • Start exercising. Exercise releases chemicals in the brain that provide a 'natural high.' Even a walk after dinner can be tranquillising.


Dietary Considerations


Develop a healthy diet of fresh fruit and vegetables (watching for certain fruits and vegetables which may be high in sugar) and consume foods high in B and C group vitamins such as wholemeal bread, brown rice, oats, bananas, citrus fruit, broccoli and parsley.
Drink plenty of filtered water and be sure to visit a qualified dietician or medical practitioner to obtain a diet suitable for you.


When to seek further professional advice

  • you have any of the symptoms listed in the description section and are unable to stop drinking on your own. You need medical intervention to treat alcoholism.
  • you find your daily intake of alcohol increasing as you become more tolerant.
  • you drink regularly and experience chronic or periodic depression. You may be at risk of suicide.
  • you have tried to stop drinking and experienced withdrawal symptoms such as headache, anxiety, insomnia, nausea, or delirium tremens. You need medical attention by a Doctor or a treatment centre.


Alcohol Abuse

Alzheimer's disease is a disorder in which there is a progressive decaying of brain tissue. It is characterised by a decline in mental and emotional capabilities.


What to look for…

  • mood changes: depression, paranoia, agitation, anxiety, selfishness, childish behaviour.
  • disorientation, confusion, inattention, loss of memory for recent events, inability to retain new information.
  • tendency to misplace things.
  • dizziness.

Memory, comprehension, and speech deteriorate in a person affected by this disease. The person’s world begins to change as they cannot function as they once had - simple arithmetic skills are impossible and they find it hard to keep their attention on one thing for too long.
Dramatic mood swings occur ending up with the person becoming confused. Alzheimer’s patients often become lost and may quite frequently wander off causing havoc for their families. Eventually, the person may become totally introverted, not able to communicate, helpless, and incontinent. The disease is usually fatal.
Once diagnosed with the disease, the person usually lives about 7 years. However the person may continue to function for longer.


Causes


Many people develop Alzheimer's as they grow older, however the disease is not a normal process of growing old.
The gradual loss of brain function that characterises Alzheimer's disease seems to be due to two main forms of neural damage: Nerve fibres grow tangled, and protein deposits known as plaques build up in the affected tissue. Researchers are not yet sure why or how this occurs.
Another theory suggests that aluminium from cookware, for example may lead to Alzheimer's. But this has not been proven.
Too much zinc in the diet has also been sited as a possible factor but this is also debateable.
In a minority of cases, trauma may be a contributing factor. About 15 percent of Alzheimer's sufferers have a history of head injury.


Traditional Treatment


Unfortunately Alzheimer's disease is incurable. There are medications that can slow the onset of the disease, however.
Caring for an Alzheimer's patient is often very stressful for family members. Eventually, full-time nursing care will be necessary.


Alternative/Natural Treatments

The treatment of Alzheimer's with alternative remedies may help slow the progress of the disease or help with the symptoms.

  • Chelation Therapy - a non surgical way of removing the traces of accumulated metals such as aluminium in the body. This may have side effects so it is important to seek medical advice before attempting this.
  • Herbal Therapies - Ginkgo Biloba extract is said to alleviate early symptoms of Alzheimer's. Also taking a good antioxidant vitamin supplement may help in the early stages of the disease.
  • Vitamins A, B, C and E may be helpful.
  • Dietary considerations - avoid eating deep fried foods and other foods with unsaturated fats such as fast food and butter. Try to eat more fish and fruit, vegetables and steamed white meat. Avoid salt, sugar, alcohol and caffeine. Drink plenty of filtered water daily.
  • Homoeopathy - Seek Professional advice for remedies that may help in treating unusual or disruptive behaviour.


Personal Care 

  • Maintain a stable and familiar household
  • Have the patient wear an ID bracelet with a phone number on it.
  • Talk to the Alzheimer’s patient about memories or positive events that happened long ago. It will be something they can remember and recall.
  • See Organizations or professional associations that may help you and the patient cope.

Although some studies suggest a link between Alzheimer's and zinc, doctors do not recommend that you attempt to limit your daily intake. Talk to your doctor in depth about this.


When to seek further professional advice

  • Someone in your family is displaying signs of this disease.

Alzheimer's

Anaemia is a disorder of the blood in which the red blood cells are defective in some way.


What to look for

  • weakness, fatigue, and a general feeling of malaise… You may be mildly anaemic.
  • your lips look bluish, your skin is pasty or yellowish, and your gums, nail beds, eyelid linings, or palm creases are pale… You are almost certainly anaemic.
  • in addition to feeling weak and tired, you are frequently out of breath, faint, or dizzy… You may have severe anaemia.
  • your tongue burns… You may have vitamin B12 anaemia
  • your tongue feels unusually slick and you experience movement or balance problems, tingling in the extremities, confusion, depression, or memory loss… You may have pernicious anaemia.
  • other possible symptoms: headaches, insomnia, decreased appetite, poor concentration, and an irregular heartbeat.


To stay healthy, the organs and tissues of the human body need a steady supply of oxygen. anaemia, in which body tissues are deprived of oxygen, is caused by a reduction in the number of circulating red blood cells or by inadequate amounts of an essential protein called haemoglobin. The severity of anaemia can range from mild to life-threatening.
Normally, the heart pumps oxygen-depleted blood to the lungs, where haemoglobin in the red blood cells binds to oxygen collected there… Oxygen-rich blood then travels through the circulatory system to the rest of the body.
Oxygen starvation occurs if the body lacks sufficient numbers of red blood cells, which survive for only about 120 days and must constantly be replaced. Anaemia can occur if large amounts of blood are lost or if something interferes with the production of red blood cells or accelerates their destruction. Because haemoglobin is the main component of red blood cells and the carrier for oxygen molecules, anaemia also occurs if the haemoglobin supply is insufficient or if the haemoglobin itself is dysfunctional.


More than 400 different forms of anaemia have been identified, many of them rare. An anaemic person often appears pale and weak and may feel breathless, faint, or unusually aware of a pounding heart.
The disorder may arise from a number of underlying conditions, some of which may be hereditary, but in many cases poor diet is to blame. Although some forms of anaemia require supervised medical care, those stemming from improper nutrition can typically be treated at home once a physician has determined the cause.


CAUSES

Anaemia can be the result of the body’s bone marrow not making sufficient levels of red blood cells, the body destroying too many blood cells, loss of blood (through heavy periods or unnoticed bleeding) or through a Vitamin deficiency in B12, B6, folic acid and iron.
Vitamin C has also been found to be helpful for iron-deficient anaemia. The problem can be traced to dietary deficiencies. Anaemia in alcoholics arises because they fail to eat properly. Anaemia can also result when the digestive system loses its ability to absorb key vitamins and minerals.
Iron deficiency anaemia, occurs when the body does not store enough iron, the primary raw material of haemoglobin. Iron deficiency is usually a dietary problem, but in many cases other conditions complicate the picture. For example, women who lose excessive amounts of blood through heavy menstrual flows (see Menstrual Problems) may have a lower-than-average iron level. Women who are pregnant or nursing may also have low iron levels because of loss to the developing foetus or because of milk production.
Iron deficiency anaemia also afflicts people who have had surgery to remove part of the stomach, thereby impairing the ability to absorb iron.
The most common megaloblastic anaemia is the type caused by folic acid deficiency. People with this form of anaemia usually aren't getting enough folic acid in their diet. While just one cup of spinach provides enough folic acid to meet the recommended daily allowance. For some people, the problem is caused not by dietary inadequacies but by an inability to absorb sufficient amounts of folic acid.
Certain intestinal disorders, such as some inflammatory bowel diseases and Crohn's disease, as well as some drugs can interfere with folic acid metabolism. Heavy consumption of alcohol can also lower blood levels of folic acid by interfering with proper nutrition and by hindering the digestive system's ability to absorb the vitamin.
Because most people, especially those who consume meat and eggs, get plenty of vitamin B12 from their diet, anaemia linked to a vitamin B12 deficiency usually signals the body's inability to absorb the vitamin. This type of anaemia can occur in people who have had surgery along the digestive tract.
However, the most common form of B12 deficiency anaemia, known as pernicious anaemia, results when the stomach fails to produce a chemical that normally combines with vitamin B12 to aid its absorption in the small intestine. Pernicious anaemia is a rare condition that most commonly affects older people.


Traditional Treatment

Conventional remedies for anaemia range from simple dietary changes and vitamin supplements to hormone treatments and, in severe cases, surgery.
Once blood tests reveal the underlying problem, treatment is relatively simple.
WARNING: Iron is extremely toxic in large quantities. Excessive use of supplements can lead to iron overload, possibly resulting in abdominal pain, nutritional imbalances, digestive problems, or even death, especially in children.
Since vitamin B12 anaemia is almost always linked to the body's inability to absorb the vitamin through the digestive tract, regular B12 injections are the only recourse. Most people learn to self-administer B12 injections at home.
In some cases of anaemia caused by excessive blood loss, surgery is the only solution. To determine whether surgery is necessary, your doctor will run extensive tests to identify the cause of the bleeding.


Alternative/Natural Treatments

Some alternative practitioners approach the disorder through dietary modifications… Others emphasise techniques to improve circulation and digestion.
Some remedies treat anaemia by promoting better circulation, others by increasing iron absorption, stimulating digestion, or adjusting the diet to include more iron- or vitamin-rich foods.

  •  Chinese medicine

According to traditional Chinese medicine, anaemia is a symptom of a weak spleen. Treatment would involve ways to stimulate the spleen. A healthy spleen maintains the health of blood vessels and nourishes the blood itself, while a weak spleen produces deficient blood.

Asian ginseng (Panax ginseng) is useful as a general tonic to eliminate fatigue. Dong Quai(Angelica sinensis), another Asian herb, might be prescribed for women with heavy menstrual flow. For anaemic patients that have a sallow, yellowish complexion, a Chinese herbalist might recommend a combination of Dong Quai and Chinese foxglove root (Rehmannia glutinosa). For patients that have a stark white complexion, the remedy might be a mixture of ginseng and astragalus (Astragalus membranaceus).

  •  Homoeopathic -

There are a number of remedies that may be helpful in treating anaemia. You will need professional advice where this is concerned.

  • Herbal Therapies -

Gentiandandelionparsleynettle, anise, caraway, cumin and liquorice may help this condition. However it is advisable to seek the assistance of a suitably qualified practitioner.

  • Bach Flower Remedies -

Olive for exhaustion, Hornbeam for energy loss.


Dietary Considerations

Adjusting your diet to include foods which contain iron to eliminate anaemia, including… enriched breads and cereals, rice, potatoes, carrots, broccoli, tomatoes, dried beans, blackstrap molasses, lean red meat, liver, poultry, dried fruits, almonds, shellfish, deep green leafy vegetables such as spinach, asparagus, broccoli, lentils, lima beans, whole grains, mushrooms and egg yolk.
Evidence also suggests that vitamin C and copper help the body absorb iron, so drink citrus fruit juice with your meals and make sure that your daily multivitamin contains copper.
Avoid caffeinated or carbonated beverages, antacids, calcium supplements, and black tea, all of which contain ingredients that interfere with iron absorption.
If you're low on folic acid, increase your intake of citrus fruits, mushrooms, green vegetables, liver, eggs, milk, and bulking agents like wheat germ and brewer's yeast. Pumpkin is also an excellent source of folate, which is the vitamin B complex component of folic acid. Keep in mind that folic acid is destroyed by heat and light, so fruits and vegetables should be eaten fresh and cooked as little as possible.


When to seek further professional advice

  • You have any of the symptoms mentioned above
  • You have been taking iron supplements and experience symptoms such as vomiting, bloody diarrhoea, fever, jaundice, lethargy, or seizures… You may be suffering from iron overload, which can be life-threatening, especially in children



Anaemia

Baldness is the loss of hair anywhere on the body, usually on the scalp region. It is usually hereditary and affects men. However females can be affected by baldness also.



What to look for

  • thinning of hair in general, however, each hair strand becomes thinner and shorter until the roots produce nothing but fine down.
  • thinning of hair in temple region or on the top of the head usually signals male pattern baldness.
  • a patch of skin may suddenly become visible anywhere on the scalp as the hair has fallen out. It may be as small as 1cm across or it can be 10-15 cm in diameter. This condition is quite rare and can affect both men and women.
  • patches of hair can fall out anywhere on the body in either men or women
  • the person may wake up to find tufts of hair on their pillow or the loss can be more gradual
  • hair may fall out after it is coloured or bleached or you may notice it falling after the hair has been pulled back in tight pony tails or braided or even frequent tugging at it can cause it to fall out.


Causes

Male-pattern baldness is caused by hereditary factors. It is usually inherited from the mother’s side of the family and involves the presence of an active form of testosterone to set off the gene-programmed balding process. Men whose mother’s fathers became bald early in life are very likely to follow a similar pattern. Hereditary hair loss is usually gradual and permanent, beginning with a thinning of the hair at the temples and or on the crown as early as in the teenage years.
Women can experience a natural thinning of the hair after menopause because of changing hormonal levels. Women who have just had a baby can also experience thinning hair or hair loss in patches. Hormonal change in this instance is temporary and will be replaced with new hair in just a few months.


Other factors which can contribute to the loss of hair are scalp infections and persistent dandruff, poor diet, stress and sluggish circulation.
Alopecia Areata describes the condition whereby hair falls out in clumps all over the head and body. This is usually to do with emotional stress. The hair usually returns after the stress has gone away in a few weeks or months. However, despite research, there is no clear indication as to how this condition arises. It also may occur in people with certain disorders such as pernicious anaemia or diabetes. If large areas are involved and all the hair on the head is lost, this is called alopecia totalis. If the person loses all body hair as well it is called alopecia universalis. In both these conditions, regrowth is not likely.
The medical profession are still unsure what exactly causes some types of baldness.


Traditional Treatment

There is no satisfactory treatment for alopecia areata. If the areas are small, a doctor may try injecting the areas with small amounts of steroid drugs to try to trigger regrowth, but this is seldom successful.
The most common way of treating baldness has been by disguising it through the use of wigs, toupees and hair-pieces. They can be made to measure and fitted carefully.


Hair transplantation is another possible solution, although the end result does not always look natural.
A drug is available which has been found to promote hair growth on previously bald areas. This drug appears to be successful and is called minoxidil. It’s retail name is Regaine and is available on prescription. It is available also as a lotion formulation to be applied onto the scalp. It must however, be used every day to maintain the growth of hair.


Alternative/Natural Treatment

Body Work - Scalp Massage is often successful in increasing the circulation to the hair follicles. This can be performed with the essential oil of Rosemary 5 drops diluted in 15 ml of a carrier oil (preferably jojoba).


Herbal Treatments - Rinse your hair with tea made from sage and/or rosemary.


Chinese Herbal Treatments - Chinese medical practitioners believe the hair is nourished by the kidneys and the liver. These organs need to be functioning properly in order for the hair to grow properly. They recommend - Polygonum, lycium fruit, Chinese foxglove root, Chinese yam and cornus.


Meditation and relaxation techniques to decrease stress levels can be helpful.


Personal Care

Treating the hair with care, loosening tight pony tails, and other hair styles which may pull the hair out. As well as not damaging hair with bleach and other strong chemicals.
Creating a stress free environment; learning how to control stress in your life.


Dietary Considerations

  • Supplements such as the B Complex, Zinc, Silica, Chelated Multi Vitamins, Brewers Yeast, Kelp.


Baldness

The bladder is the hollow, muscular organ that lies in the pelvic region. It looks like an upside down pyramid. The bladder stores the urine that is produced in the kidneys.


What to look for

Bladder cancer may not have symptoms in the beginning, however, later on, symptoms may include:

  • blood in the urine.
  • frequent urinary tract infections, painful urination, and a need to urinate often.
  • weight or appetite loss.
  • abdominal or back pain, fever, anaemia.


The bladder is lined with specialised cells, and when it is irritated, extra layers of these cells develop. This process may increase the chance of a cell turning cancerous.


Malignant tumours begin as small lumps on the inside of the bladder, the cancer then spreads by going deeper into bladder fibre and the surrounding tissue. If left untreated the cancer will eventually invade the bloodstream and lymphatic system.
Like all cancers, the earlier it is detected the more effective the treatment will be. Sometimes bladder tumours recur, however, prompt detection and treatment means they can be stopped while they are still superficial.


Causes

Cancer is more likely to occur if the bladder has been chronically irritated. People with inborn disorders of the bladder, chronic bladder infections, or persistent cystitis are more susceptible as well as people who have benign bladder tumours.
The is a strong link with bladder cancer and carcinogens (cancer-causing substances). Such as smokers, painters, truckers, leatherworkers, machinists and metalworkers, rubber and textile workers, and people exposed to industrial dyes. It has been reported that consumption of nitrates in smoked and cured meats such as hams, may also be associated with bladder cancer, as may consumption of caffeine and saccharin.


Traditional Treatments

Treatments for cancer in general can be investigated more in the entry on ‘cancer’. There are a number of alternative therapies that may ease the pain of the disease and the side effects of conventional treatment but at this point none have been scientifically proven to cure cancer.


If detected early, superficial malignancies can usually be treated successfully. Certain bladder cancers may require the bladder to be removed. This will need to be investigated with your doctor.


After surgery, a combination of radiation and chemotherapy may be required to stop the cancer recurring. It is advisable for bladder cancer patients to have check ups regularly as these tumours may recur. If the cancer has spread surgery will not usually help. Chemotherapy would be the next option.


Complementary Therapies

Research suggests that bladder cancer is less likely among people with adequate vitamin B6, beta carotene, and selenium in their diets.


Prevention

To prevent any cancer it is strongly advisable to avoid any possible carcinogens.

  • Don't smoke and avoid frequenting places with lots of smokers to lessen the likelihood of ingesting smoke.
  • Avoid smoked or cured meats
  • Try to limit processed food intake to only occasionally.
  • If you work around carcinogenic chemicals, follow safety guidelines to avoid undue exposure.
  • Arrange regular screenings with your doctor to ensure early detection if you feel there is a chance you may be a candidate for this disease.


When to seek further professional advice

  •  you have any of the symptoms listed in the description section


Bladder Cancer

Anorexia nervosa is an eating disorder which based on a terrifying fear of becoming fat. But it is far more complex than a simple desire to lose weight.



What to look for

  • significant weight loss.
  • fear of becoming fat, even when emaciated.
  • excessive dieting and exercising
  • distorted body image.
  • abnormal food preoccupations, such as counting all calories or obsessively studying cookbooks.
  • constipation.
  • dry, sallow skin.
  • increase in facial and body hair; loss of some head hair.
  • cessation of menstrual periods.
  • suppression of sexual desire.
  • hands and feet cold at normal room temperature.
  • chronic insomnia
  • bad school results, the committing of anti-social behaviour - stealing, becoming noticeably withdrawn and destroying things.


Anorexics starve themselves as a result of the fear of gaining weight which results in major weight loss… in addition to emaciation, under-nourishment, anaemia, irregular heartbeat, brittle bones, and many other problems.
Anorexia is dangerous, and professional help should be sought early on. Prompt treatment will usually keep the condition from progressing, but some cases are very resistant to treatment and may require hospitalisation.
Although its focus is on food, anorexia is an illness of the mind. Often it begins with a relatively normal desire to lose a few pounds. But it soon becomes compulsive. Food intake is gradually minimised until eating is almost eliminated. The victim becomes obsessed with his/her body image and frequently sees herself as fat even though she is not over weight.
Ironically, she ritualises food preparation and consumption. She becomes obsessed with recipes and cooking yet will not eat the food herself. She may alternate fasting with periodic bingeing and purging (see Bulimia), particularly when she is trying to regain normal eating habits.


Anorexics tend to come from families that have high standards of achievement, and they are often perfectionists, compulsive in many aspects of their life, especially school.


Denial often accompanies their intense focus on remaining thin. Anorexics will typically refuse to admit that anything is wrong, and they become angry or defensive at expressions of concern by others.


CAUSES

While some studies indicate that genes can play a predisposing role in anorexia, most researchers believe that psychological factors are key.
Anorexics tend to have low self-esteem and feel undeserving of love. In adolescence, such feelings may be reinforced by sexual changes, fear of growing up, cultural messages that portray thin as beautiful, and pressures or tensions within the family. Extreme fasting may be an anorexic's way of attempting to exert control over her life.


Traditional Treatment

Families should call for medical assistance straight away in order to increase the weight to a safer level. Then psychotherapy, regular medical monitoring, and nutritional guidance should be the other part of any treatment program for anorexia.
Close cooperation among all health professionals involved is important. All these professionals should be experienced specifically in treating eating disorders.
Hospitalisation is usually necessary if the patient has lost more than 25 percent of normal body weight. A system of coaxing the patient to eat is usually set into place as the patient will avoid eating at all costs.
Psychotherapy is the main treatment to attempt to unravel to causes of the individuals problems and difficulties.
Supplements of zinc sulfate will aid any zinc deficiencies. Other nutritional supplements, appetite enhancers, antidepressants, and anti-anxiety drugs are often prescribed as well.


Alternative/Natural Treatments

Alternative therapies may help with some of the symptoms of anorexia, and can serve as useful additions to treatments that address nutrition and the emotional roots of the disorder. It is thought that sufferers of this complaint, have zinc deficiencies and this may be worth getting your doctor to look into.


When to seek further professional advice

If your child or person close to you engages in any of the symptoms mentioned above it is vitally important that you seek medical advice immediately.


Anorexia Nervosa

Anxiety is a state of being worried about certain real or imagined events or situations.


What to look for

  • heart palpitations.
  • tics or twitches
  • recurring headaches or migraine
  • indigestion and bowel irregularity
  • sense of impending doom.
  • inability to concentrate.
  • muscle tension; muscle aches.
  • diarrhoea.
  • chest pain.
  • dry mouth.
  • excessive sweating.
  • undereating or overeating.
  • insomnia.
  • irritability.
  • breathlessness; hyperventilation.
  • loss of sex drive. (See impotence.)


For school-age children:

  • fear of being away from home.
  • refusal to go to school.
  • fear of strangers.
  • unnecessary worry.


Anxiety is a normal human response. Sudden intense stress or fear questions our survival instinct, causes a chemical and a physical response… Which is all to do with the way the body prepares to deal with danger.
Adrenalins and cortisone are released in the bloodstream; heart rate quickens; breathing becomes shallow and rapid; muscles tense; sugar is released by the liver; and the mind goes on full alert. But when anxiety is not tied to an identifiable threat or is more severe and long-lasting than warranted, it is a clinical disorder.

Many different anxiety disorders are recognized. Among them are

  • Phobias (fear of certain situations, such as confining spaces, or of particular things, such as insects);
  • Panic attacks (a sudden onset of extreme fear or tension, for no evident reason);
  • Obsessive-compulsive disorder (persistent, irrational thoughts, such as a dread of infection, or repetitive behaviour, such as checking that doors are locked);
  • Posttraumatic stress disorder (prolonged anxiety after a traumatic event); and
  • Generalised anxiety (an inexplicable feeling of apprehension that may last for months).


Anxiety disorders can vary greatly in their severity, they may be mild or completely debilitating. The incidence of the different disorders also varies: Phobias, panic attacks, and obsessive-compulsive disorder, for example, occur less frequently than generalised anxiety (which afflicts twice as many women as men). The disorders usually become noticeable during the teen years or early adulthood and are considerably more common among adults than children.
Some anxieties are very difficult to treat; others respond well to medications, psychotherapy, and alternative therapies.
What does not work is self-treatment with alcohol or recreational drugs to alleviate the symptoms. Many sufferers choose this path, but ultimately it will only make the condition worse.


CAUSES

Anxiety can be caused by a recognisable stress such as a bad accident, a death, or the loss of something important to us… In such cases, adjustments to the situation, along with the passage of time, will have a healing effect. In other cases, the stress is invisible a buried memory of some unhappy or frightening event in childhood, lurking below the surface of the conscious mind and revealing its presence in anxiety.

  • Hereditary factors may play a role in some individuals becoming prone to anxiety. Food sensitivities and allergies may also contribute to anxiety, although more research must be done to certify this connection. In addition, anxiety frequently follows a sudden withdrawal from alcohol, tobacco, or other drugs.


The first step is to ensure the stress symptoms are not the result of another disease or disorder. Check with your Medical Practitioner.


Traditional Treatment

Anxiety can be treated with conventional medications, psychotherapy, and many alternative approaches.
Psychotherapy aims at identifying conflicts and other stresses that may lie at the roots of anxiety. Behaviour modification, a therapy that concentrates on changing patterns of behaviour can help the patient with coping with anxiety, as can cognitive therapy, which concentrates on changing ways of thinking and mental processes.
Medication is useful for alleviating the symptoms of anxiety and is often prescribed in conjunction with other therapies.


Alternative/Natural Treatments

Many alternative practices and treatments can relieve the symptoms of anxiety. Meditation, exercise (especially aerobic exercise), and relaxation techniques are among the most effective.
Chinese medicine uses various herbal preparations that can serve as a tonic for the whole system and reduce stress.
Taking regular massages will be extremely beneficial as it relaxes the whole body and mind.

Other popular choices to reduce anxiety are…

  • Aromatherapy - Bergamot (in a burner or massage), Lavender (Massage, burner or bath), Neroli (massage), Vetiver (burner), Ylang Ylang (massage, bath or burner)
  • Bach Flower Remedies - Agrimony helps if you hide your worry behind a ‘happy face’, white chestnut leads to insomnia and is needed if you continually have mental arguments with yourself and unwanted thoughts - you may find it hard to concentrate on you daily happenings because of this worry. If you are over protective of your family, worry incessantly about what could happen to them and friends (to the point of making them concerned about these imagined happenings) you could take red chestnut. If you are worried about justice and fairness happening and are over-involved in causes etc - try vervain.
  • Herbal therapies - You may be recommended to astragalus, bilberry, catnip, hops,kava, passionflower, peppermint, valerian, lemon balm, motherwort (if anxiety occurs with palpitations), scullcap, yarrow. There are also various herbal formulas available and it is strongly advisable to consult with a qualified herbalist or naturopath for assistance.
  • Homoeopathy - If the anxiety is the result of a sudden shock, try Aconite. Ignatia it is the 'grief remedy,' said to benefit someone who is upset by a sudden loss. Gelsemium is recommended for stage fright or anxiety over your performance. If none of these prove effective, Ask for professional advice.
  • Mind/body medicine - such as meditation, Tai Chi and relaxation exercises. Daily exercise can be very helpful and enjoyable
  • Magnesium supplements may be helpful, especially if you suffer from muscle spasms. Be careful with the amounts that you take.
  • Avoid alcohol, and reduce or eliminate your consumption of sugar and caffeine.
  • Try to avoid activities you do not enjoy or find relaxing and pursue activities that you do enjoy.


Dietary Considerations

Try to sustain a healthy mix of fresh fruit and vegetables, low-fat diet with plenty of filtered water and exercise.


When to seek further professional advice

  • If your anxiety seems more extreme than the situation warrants.
  • If your anxiety inhibits normal activities.
  • Your anxiety persists for many weeks.
  • Your symptoms suddenly become severe or uncontrollable. You may be experiencing a panic attack.

Anxiety

Bladder Infections are an inflammation of the urinary bladder which results in a prickling pain, which quickly becomes a burning, scalding sensation during urination.



What to look for

  • a burning sensation when urinating;
  • frequent need to urinate with little result
  • urine with a strong, foul odour and sometimes a dark brown/orange colour.
  • in the elderly: lethargy, incontinence, mental confusion.
  • In severe cases, these symptoms may be accompanied by fever and chills, abdominal pain, or blood in the urine.


Cystitis is a common condition which affects women much more than men. Women’s physiological make up makes it all too easy for bacteria to travel from the bowel opening to the urethra (this is the tube coming out of the bladder). This relatively short passageway, only about an inch and a half long, makes it easier for bacteria to migrate into the bladder.
Bladder infections are not serious if treated promptly. But recurrences are common in susceptible people and can lead to kidney infections, which are more serious and may result in permanent kidney damage. So it's very important to treat the underlying causes of a bladder infection and to take preventive steps to avoid recurrences.
In elderly people, bladder infections are often difficult to diagnose because the symptoms are less specific and are frequently blamed on aging. Older people should be checked for this complaint if they have these specific symptoms.


Causes

Most bladder infections are caused by various strains of 'E. coli', the bacteria commonly found in the intestines. Women sometimes get bladder infections as a direct result of intercourse, which can push bacteria up into the bladder through the urethra.


Some women contract the infection, dubbed 'honeymoon disease' almost every time they have sex. Bacteria then rapidly reproduce in the stagnant urine left in the bladder. Some people develop symptoms of a bladder infection when no infection actually exists. These disorders are usually benign but are difficult to treat.


While they can be quite uncomfortable and potentially serious if complications set in, the bladder infections that most women get, clear up quickly and are relatively harmless.  In men, however, a bladder infection is almost always a symptom of an underlying disorder and is generally regarded as cause for more concern.  Hormonal imbalances can affect the balance of acidity and alkalinity in the urine and this can affect the likelihood of an attack of cystitis.


The contraceptive diaphragm or cap may lead to an attack of cystitis as leftover amounts of urine can get trapped in it and become a breeding ground for bacteria. Also the contraceptive pill affects the hormonal system and has been shown to make women using it more susceptible to common ailments such as thrush which can also trigger cystitis.
Bladder infections usually can be diagnosed readily with a urine test.


Traditional Treatment

Mild bladder infections often clear up quickly in response to simple home remedies. But if you experience no relief within 24 hours, you should consult a physician for more aggressive treatment. Do not just ignore the problem and hope it goes away.
Bladder infections are treated with a wide variety of antibiotics to clear up the infection and by increased intake of fluids to flush out the urinary tract. The antibiotic your physician prescribes and the number of days you will need to take it will depend on the type of bacteria that are causing the infection.


After the treatment has run its course, you may be asked to come in for a follow-up urine test to make sure your bladder is free of all signs of infection.  People with frequently recurring bladder infections are often prescribed low daily doses of antibiotics for an additional six months or longer. Patients whose infections are related to sexual activity may be given a small dose of antibiotics to take each time they have intercourse.


Alternative/Natural Treatments

If begun promptly at the first hint of burning during urination, alternative means of treatment can be very successful in relieving the symptoms of a bladder infection. But if these methods do not bring relief within 24 hours, you should call your doctor for antibiotic treatment. Consult with your doctor if you wish to continue with alternative methods while on the antibiotics to speed up the recovery process.


Herbal Therapies - Cranberry is the most popular herbal remedy for cystitis sufferers. It comes in tablet or capsule form and should be taken as per the bottle description or professional recommendation.
Another herb useful in treating bladder infections is nettle, which has been shown to have anti-inflammatory properties.
Women who are prone to bladder infections after sexual activity can help prevent recurrences by washing their perineal area with a medicinal solution of the herb goldenseal before and after intercourse.


Homoeopathy - Depending on the symptoms, Homoeopaths recommend a number of different remedies to help relieve the pain of a bladder infection. Here are three of the most commonly prescribed…

  • If the urge to urinate is very strong and the burning is intense - Cantharis.
  • If you experience painful cramping with urination or your urine is very dark or bloody - Mercurius corrosivus.
  • For women whose infections are brought on by sexual contact - Staphysagria.Seek professional help for exact dosages.


Aromatherapy - Adding certain essential oils to the bath can alleviate the symptoms of this problem. Try putting in a 5 - 6 drops of the essential oils of juniper, eucalyptus, sandalwood, pine, parsley, cedarwood, chamomile, or cajuput.
You can also try a massage oil made with 1 oz carrier oil and 5 drops each of any combination of the herbs mentioned. Massage daily, rubbing the oil over your lower back, abdomen, stomach, and hips. (see the aromatherapy entry for more information).


Dietary Considerations

Both conventional and alternative practitioners agree that drinking plenty of water to keep you urinating frequently and to flush out your urinary tract thoroughly is one of the most effective means of combating a bladder infection. However, you should avoid beverages that might irritate the urinary tract and aggravate the burning. Culprits include alcohol, coffee, black tea, chocolate milk, carbonated beverages, and citrus juices.
Until clear of the infection, you should also avoid potentially irritating foods such as citrus fruits, tomatoes, vinegar, sugar, chocolate, artificial sweeteners, and heavily spiced dishes. Wait 10 days after the burning is gone before reintroducing these foods and drinks one at a time into your diet.  Eat a balanced diet in general.


Supplements of vitamin C and vitamin may also aid recovery. But check with your Doctor before taking the supplements. Vitamin C increases the acidity of urine, which hampers the growth of bacteria but can also interfere with the action of some antibiotics, making them less effective.


Personal Care

  • Drink cranberry juice daily and take Cranberry Tablets to relieve the symptoms
  • Saline drinks may help relieve the burning in the area
  • Always wipe from front to back when going to the toilet
  • Urinate as soon as possible when you feel the urge, and make sure you empty your bladder completely each time.
  • urinate immediately after intercourse - it flushes out any bacteria that have got into the urethra
  • Wear cotton underwear and loose, nonbinding clothing that does not trap heat and moisture in the crotch.
  • Drink plenty of water.
  • If you use a diaphragm for birth control, make sure it is well fitted and don’t leave it in too long.


When to seek further professional advice

  • you have the pain and burning sensation more than 24 hours after you begin trying self-help treatments. Untreated, bladder infections can lead to more serious conditions.
  • painful urination is accompanied by vomiting, fever, chills, bloody urine, or abdominal or back pain; it may indicate potentially life-threatening kidney disease, a bladder or kidney tumor, or prostate infection. Seek medical help immediately.
  • the burning is accompanied by a discharge from the vagina or penis, a sign of sexually transmitted disease, pelvic inflammatory disease, or other serious infection. See your doctor without delay.


Bladder Infections

Blood pressure is pressure in the arteries as the heart pumps blood around the body.


What to look for

  • There are generally no symptoms for high blood pressure as the early stages of hypertension may take a few years to develop
  • A higher than normal blood pressure. Normal for young and middle aged adults is a pressure of 120/80. A pressure of 140/90 is definitely something to be concerned about. If the pressure is 160/95 it requires treatment.
  • Blackouts, a minor stroke are indications that your blood pressure is too high and can be fatal if it is not treated.
  • swollen ankles
  • shortness of breath
  • headaches, dizziness and nose bleeds


Traditional Treatment

Your doctor will give you a thorough examination to check if your blood pressure is the result of another disease such as Cushing’s disease or kidney problems however, usually there is no immediate cause for the high blood pressure.
It is advisable that if over weight, the patient try to stay within your recommended weight level. Also try to avoid salt in your diet and reduce stress levels in your lifestyle. Exercise is also recommended.


If you have a stressful job, some doctors will advise you to give it up and take some time off to rest completely.  These lifestyle changes quite often bring the blood pressure down considerably.


A doctor will prescribe medication for you if the above approaches and lifestyle changes still do not bring the blood pressure down. Some of these drugs will have side effects which can be serious. Your doctor will know which drugs should be given to you and will explain all the side effects to you. The doctor will keep a close check on the patient to take the blood pressure and watch for possible side effects.


Alternative/Natural Treatments

Body/Mind Work - Yoga, Meditation and other relaxation techniques can help relax the patient and lower the stress levels.
Herbal Remedies - Hawthorn, dandelion and linden, garlic and ginger are helpful for blood pressure problems.
 

Dietary Considerations

  • Eat less salt - best of all try to avoid it altogether (use herbs, garlic and ginger instead)
  • Avoid heavily salted food (such as packaged food)
  • Try to eat more dairy products - low fat one only. You may be low on calcium.
  • Avoid too much alcohol as this can raise blood pressure.
  • Give up smoking as this can harden the arteries and cause coronary heart disease.


When to seek further professional advice

  • if your blood pressure is over the recommended level
  • if you have any of the symptoms listed above
  • if you are on medication for high blood pressure and are suffering any side effect - see your doctor immediately.


Blood Pressure

Breast problems can include breast pain or masses or lumps within the breast.


What to look for

  • tenderness, pain or swelling in one or both breasts, most likely caused by premenstrual swelling.
  • pain accompanied by redness and warmth or a discharge from the nipple; this may indicate an infection or a benign growth or breast cancer.
  • a lump that is movable may be a cyst or a fibroadenoma.
  • a lump that is hard, is not movable, or feels attached to the chest wall, with or without pain, perhaps with dimpling or puckering of the breast; this may be a sign of breast cancer.


Breast can change for a number of different reasons such as puberty, age, monthly with onset of the periods. Most changes in your breast are perfectly normal and no cause for concern. However, you may experience any of several conditions that require medical attention. Especially breast pain or lumps.


Starting at puberty, you should examine your breasts every month, so that you become familiar with their structure - you know what they look like and feel like so you can detect any changes that occur and have them checked out by a doctor.

Premenstrual changes can cause temporary thickening that disappears after the period, so it is best to check your breasts about a week after your period. If you are no longer menstruating, examine your breasts monthly on a day you will remember. Look for dimpling or puckering, and using light pressure, check for lumps near the surface and firm pressure to explore deeper tissues. Check each nipple to see if there is any discharge. If there is discharge - consult your doctor.
Mammograms (specialised breast x-ray) can reveal tumours too tiny to be felt by hand. These tests should be done every 2 year from the age of 35 then increasing the frequency to once a year at age 50. If you have a family history of breast cancer, especially in your mother or sister, your physician may advise a different schedule.


Breast Pain And Lumps

Breast pain can have many causes, including the normal swelling of breast tissue during the menstrual cycle. Other causes include infection or injury; growths, including cancer; and perhaps diet.
The general swelling of breast tissue with the menstrual period can be painful, but it is not dangerous, and no treatment is necessary if you can tolerate the discomfort.


Breast lumps include cysts, adenomas, and papillomas. They are all different sizes and shapes and can be in different places within the breast. It is quite common for women to have lumps in their breasts, (or fibroadenosis), which is sometimes associated with hormonal changes related to the menstrual cycle. Most lumps are benign and do not signal cancer; however, any time you find a new or unusual lump, have your doctor check it to make sure it is not cancerous or pre-cancerous.
Cysts, which can be large or small, are benign fluid-filled sacs. They may be very painful. The best tool for distinguishing a cyst from a solid tumour is ultrasound; a needle biopsy may also be done.
Infection in the breast produce the same symptoms you would see elsewhere in your body, except that in your breast, infections tend to become walled off from surrounding tissue, producing small abscesses. This may give them the appearance of cysts. Infections occur almost exclusively in breast-feeding mothers. If you suspect you have an infection, see your doctor.
Cysts may produce pain, but breast cancer rarely does - although pain does not rule out the possibility of cancer.


Traditional Treatment

Practitioners of both conventional and alternative medicine use diet and nutrition to prevent and treat monthly swelling of the breasts. It is a good idea to maintain a healthy weight and eat a balanced diet. Avoid salt at this time as it can contribute to fluid retention. For some women, eliminating caffeine and related substances, can alleviate breast pain.
In recent years, some conventional doctors have suggested vitamin E supplements, to treat breast pain not caused by cancer. In addition, a conventional physician may suggest relieving pain with an analgesic or general pain reliever.
If the pain still persists your doctor may prescribe other drugs to help.
If you suffer from breast lumps, a doctor may insert a needle into the cyst and draw the fluid out and examine it. This also rids you of the cyst. If however the fluid is bloody the doctor will want to investigate this further. It may be an indication of cancer.
Fibroadenomas can be diagnosed only by biopsy. Surgical removal, usually in a same-day surgical procedure, is considered the only treatment.
Some conventional doctors recommend eliminating caffeine and saturated fats to shrink breast cysts.
Breast infections are treated with antibiotics. If an abscess exists, your doctor may also make a small incision to drain it. If this doesn't work, minor surgery is the next step.


Alternative/natural Treatments

In addition to conventional dietary changes and supplements, naturopaths will treat breast pain with higher doses of nutritional supplements and with herbs.
Herbal Therapies - Evening primrose oil and Vitamin E may be helpful for this problem.
Personal Care - It is often helpful to warm the area with a warm washer or compress.


Dietary Considerations

  • Because fat in the diet is associated with oestrogen production, you can reduce oestrogen levels in your body by eating a low-fat diet.
  • Eat a low fat, high fibre diet and avoid stress for long periods.


When to seek further professional advice

  • you notice any kind of new or unusual lump in your breasts, especially one that remains throughout your menstrual cycle.. Have your doctor check any lump.

Breast Problems

A fungal disease which affects many parts of the body, but is particularly likely to affect warm, damp areas.

What to look for

  • Discharge
  • itching and burning in the affected areas
  • infection in the mouth causes small white patches on the gums, lips and inside the cheeks. These may be painful.
  • diarrhoea or constipation, adverse reactions to certain foods, depression, anxiety, irritability, inability to concentrate, chronic fatigue, headaches and recurring cystitis. (more chronic candidiasis)


Causes

Candida is caused from the actual Candida bacteria which is an organism which is often on the skin or in the gut of most people. If the patient starts to get symptoms, it is because that another problem has caused the bacteria to flourish more than usual. (Except in vaginal thrush - it can be healthy and still be afflicted with thrush).
The elderly may get Candida in the mouth. This is usually caused by ill fitting dentures, cuts or abrasions.
Babies are prone to getting thrush in their mouth areas and this is quite normal.
Re-occurring thrush in women can because of reinfection from a sexual partner or because of the continued use of contraceptive pill.


Traditional Treatment

In the case of vaginal infection, pessaries and creams are available and usually help to control the problem.
Mouth infections are usually treated orally. If systematic infection has been diagnosed, it is essential to us treatment which can get to the bloodstream.


Alternative/Natural Treatment

This condition is usually kept in check by other ‘friendly’ bacteria, but if a person is ill, run-down, or being treated with antibiotics, the fungus can grow. The virus does not live in acid environments therefore douse the area in vinegar solution. Tea tree oil can also be useful.

Echinacea, comfrey or golden seal, barberry, thyme and rosemary are very useful herbs for this condition. You will need professional help on these herbs and the required doses.


Dietary considerations

It is important to build up your immune system so it can fight off any overgrowth of the virus. Avoid sugar and refined carbohydrates and foods which contain yeast. Eat plenty of live yoghurt and try supplements of acidophilus. Vitamin E and Evening Primrose Oil are helpful as well. Garlic tablets are good as well.


When to seek further professional advice

Thrush can usually be controlled by topical creams and alterations to the diet.


Candida

So you have done the pinch test and yes, there is no getting away from the fact that there are unwanted dimples and bulges on your legs. Cellulite is the culprit for all those lumps and dimples on our thighs, hips, stomach and butts. Well, be assured that this annoying problem is not only troubling you but a high percentage of women today.


Cellulite is caused by uneven distribution of fat deposits under the skin and is most common in females! The bad news is that most of us will develop it at some time regardless of what we eat or don't eat and how often we work out. Once you have cellulite you will find that it is very difficult to budge.


There are four stages in cellulite development, and you may start on any of the stages:

  • Normal cellulite - thighs, butts and stomach are smooth when standing or lying down. It is only when you do the 'pinch test' that you notice the folding and uneveness in the skin.
  • Early Cellulite - Skin on the areas is smooth when standing or lying but after the pinch test you will notice the dimples and fat pockets.
  • Medium Cellulite - Skin is still smooth when you are lying down but when you stand up, pitting, bulging and unevenness can be noticed.
  • Advanced Cellulite - The 'mattress phenonomen' is evident if you stand or lie down.


There are many apparent remedies for this condition but we believe that it is best to be very wary of any claims to cure this problem. Some practitioners believe that the following may help the condition, there is usually no harm in trying!


Massage

Gentle self massage with your hands or a bristle brush supposedly helps stimulate circulation. Always be gentle and massage towards the heart. It can be useful to add some diluted aromatherapy oils such as grapefruit and fennel.


Weight Loss and Exercise

Even if these two do not shift the cellulite, they will be of benefit to your body regardless (if you are overweight). Try to lose weight gradually and sensibly. Eat from the five main food groups and see your health practitioner about ensuring that the proper nutrients are eaten while dieting.
Fat intake should only be approximately 25% of your daily food intake. Eat lots of fresh foods and fruits, vegetables, whole grains, seeds, raw nuts, skinless poultry and fish. There have been good reports about the benefits of raw juices. Of course try to avoid all highly refined carbohydrates.
Proper exercise is beneficial to all aspects of your body and lifestyle (not just the cellulite). Exercise regularly (after a doctor's check up) and start off slowly.


Herbal Formulas

A lot of products have been given a lot of publicity lately. They claim to remove and prevent cellulite in just 8 weeks.
The makers say that after taking for 8 weeks, it will eliminate the visible signs of cellulite. They state you do not even have to exercise or make any other changes in your life. Apparently, the product works by increasing the blood flow to the fat deposits under the skin in the prone areas and it also increase the metabolic rate.
This idea of taking a pill and having your cellulite go away is very appealing to most women, but does it really work??
The makers have not had to go through the rigorous testing that prescription and over the counter drugs have had to go through and they also have a very potent marketing department. They apparently conducted two test in Italy but the results were not published in any scientific magazine or journal, so you make up your own mind.


Cellulite

As with most cancers, cervical cancer causes no pain or other symptoms in its early stages. The first identifiable symptoms of the disease are likely to include:

  • watery or bloody vaginal discharge.
  • vaginal bleeding after intercourse, between menstrual periods, or after menopause; periods may be heavier and last longer than normal.


If the cancer has spread symptoms may include:

  • difficult and painful urination and possible kidney failure.
  • blood in urine.
  • dull backache or swelling in the legs.
  • diarrhoea, or pain or bleeding from the rectum upon defecation.
  • fatigue, loss of weight and appetite, and general feeling of illness.


The cervix is the neck of a woman's womb. In some women, healthy cells enter an abnormal phase called dysplasia; although these cells are not cancerous, they can become so. When dysplastic cells turn malignant some may invade the lining of the cervix itself, spread to nearby tissue, and enter the bloodstream or lymphatic system.
It usually takes many years for dysplasia to become carcinoma, and from there it often takes months or sometimes even years for cervical cancer to become invasive. Because of this long time factor, and also because of the Pap smear, cervical cancer is becoming less threatening. When caught early, it is curable.


Causes

Many cases of cervical cancer are linked to sexually transmitted viral infections, such as genital herpes and some strands of the human papilloma viruses (HPV) that often cause genital warts.
But these are not always indicative of the likelihood of developing these types of cancers as many women who have a sexually transmitted viral infection do not develop cervical cancer, while others who get cancer have never had such infections.
Slightly more at risk are women who began having sexual intercourse before age 18, have had many sexual partners, have had several full-term pregnancies, or have a history of sexually transmitted disease. Genetics can also play a role in the development of cervical cancer.


Cervical cancer is also more common among women who smoke. Women with weaker immune systems, caused by other diseases, by treatments, or by organ transplants are more vulnerable to cervical cancer. Women who are obese or who use birth-control pills may be at slightly increased risk.


Every woman should have an annual Pap smear, which tests a cervical cell sample for abnormalities. This screening test can usually detect abnormal cells 95 percent of the time, often long before the disease produces symptoms.
If your Pap smear is abnormal your doctor will advise on the next steps and may also refer you to a specialist for treatments.


Traditional Treatments

Most cases of cervical cancer are cured by a combination of surgery, chemotherapy, and radiation therapy. (See Cancer for more information on therapies).


Women with genital warts and mild dysplasia should be carefully monitored for signs of cancer but usually require no immediate treatment. You should continue to have pap smears every 6 months to ensure the condition does not worsen. Severe dysplasia, and mildly invasive cancers are normally treated surgically.


If cancer has spread deep into the cervix or to organs close by, hysterectomy (removal of the cervix, uterus, and possibly other organs) is imperative. If cancer spreads beyond the pelvic area, radiation therapy and perhaps chemotherapy suppress the spread but rarely result in cure. It is important to have regular check ups if you have had cervical cancer or severe dysplasia.


Complementary Therapies

Research is currently being done in the field of nutrition and diet. Some evidence suggests that folic acid and beta carotene help eliminate pre-cancerous and cancerous conditions of the cervix. Patients with these conditions may benefit from supplements of vitamin B6. Ask your doctor about other dietary recommendations or nutritional supplements.


Prevention

  • If you are a woman over age 18, or are under 18 and sexually active, have a pelvic exam and Pap smear yearly.
  • Speak with your doctor about the benefits of different types of contraception - some may be less of a risk than others with relation to cervical cancer.


When to seek further professional advice

  • abnormal bleeding, discharge, or any other symptoms last more than two weeks without explanation.

Cervical Cancer

The cervix is at the neck of the uterus (womb), is about 2.5 cm long and has a small break through it.


What to look for

  • vaginal discharge.
  • painful intercourse.
  • vaginal bleeding, sometimes during or after intercourse.
  • unusually heavy menstrual periods.
  • crampy pelvic pain or a feeling of heaviness.


Many cervical problems have no symptoms.  The cervix is the part that connects the uterus to the vagina. At its center is the external opening of the cervix, that provides an exit for tissue of the uterus and blood during menstruation and allows sperm to enter. On the uterine side is the cervical canal, a narrow, inch-long passageway leading into the uterus. During childbirth the cervix thins and gradually opens, or dilates, to allow for the delivery of the child.
The part of the cervix that protrudes into the vagina is covered with pink tissue. The part that extends into the cervical canal is covered with red, mucus-producing tissue.


Cervicitis is the inflammation of the cervix. Symptoms include a discharge that is grayish, green, white, or yellow. Other symptoms may include pain during intercourse or backache.


Another common condition of the cervix is cervical erosion. Cervical erosion occurs when the cells on the inside of the cervix start to grow on the outside. There are usually no symptoms, although occasionally the conditions may cause a whitish or slightly bloody vaginal discharge.


Other conditions involving the cervix include cervical stenosis (partial or total narrowing of the cervix, which can lead to obstruction) and cervical incompetence, the premature opening of the cervix during pregnancy, which creates a high risk of miscarriage.


Cysts and polyps may form on the cervix. Cervical cysts occur without symptoms and require no treatment. Cervical polyps are also usually harmless, although they may cause irregular bleeding and discharge. Polyps can be removed surgically because of the uncomfortable presence of irregular bleeding and they may affect fertility.
Genital warts can also infect the cervix. These warts are caused by the human papilloma virus, and there are many subtypes, several of which are associated with an increased risk of cervical cancer.


Dysplasia is another potentially serious cervical condition. It describes the abnormal development of cervical cells. Dysplasia is considered a pre-cancerous condition because, if untreated, it leads to cervical cancer in 30 to 50 percent of cases. Although cervical dysplasia strikes women of all ages, it most commonly afflicts women aged 25 to 35. The only way to detect the condition is with a Pap smear test.


Causes

The causes of cervical problems are many and varied. Cervicitis may be to do with sexually transmitted diseases such as gonorrhoea, syphilis or Chlamydia. In some instances a difficult childbirth can cause an infection.
What causes cervical erosion is not always clear however, the friction of intercourse appears to be a factor as well as the contraceptive pill and IUD.


Cervical polyps often develop after an infection as the body grows new cells to cover the old, inflamed ones or they can develop due to hormonal changes.


Cervical warts are caused by the human papilloma virus (HPV), which is transmitted by sexual contact.
Cervical dysplasia is caused by a subtype of the human papilloma virus, which also causes cervical cancer, but not everyone who is exposed to the virus develops dysplasia or cancer, indicating that other factors are also at work.


The first test used to diagnose cervical problems is the Pap smear, a simple procedure in which cells are collected from the cervix and examined under a microscope. If the Pap smear indicates a pre-cancerous or cancerous condition, a cervical biopsy (removal of tissue from the cervix for examination) will also be done.


Traditional Treatment

Some harmless cervical problems, such as erosion and cysts, often require no treatment. Other conditions can be treated with both alternative and conventional methods. For dysplasia or cancer, however, you should always seek conventional treatment.
Conventional medical treatments for cervical problems depend on the condition.
Cervicitis is usually treated with an antibiotic or sulfur drug. Your doctor will probably recommend that you refrain from intercourse until the infection has cleared up to keep it from spreading.
If necessary, cervical cysts and polyps can be removed surgically in your doctor's office. Surgery to remove blockage caused by cervical stenosis is usually done in the hospital.
Mild cases of cervical dysplasia are treated with laser surgery, which uses a high-energy beam of light to destroy the affected tissue. If you have recurring dysplasia that fails to respond to treatment, you should be screened for HIV infection.


Alternative/Natural Treatments

Alternative treatments may help to heal minor cervical problems when used along with traditional medicine.
Herbal Remedies - Goldenseal douches are recommended for cervicitis and cervical erosion.

Prevention

  • Practice sexual abstinence or use condoms during sexual intercourse
  • Use barrier methods of birth control (condoms, diaphragms, or cervical caps) when having sex. Such methods offer some protection against sexually transmitted diseases, which can lead to cervical problems.
  • To help prevent cervicitis, eat plenty of fresh vegetables and fruits. These foods are rich in vitamin C, beta carotene (vitamin A), folic acid, and other nutrients that strengthen the immune system and help fight off some infections.
  • Stop smoking

When to Seek Professional Advice

  • You should seek a medical diagnosis if you have any of the above symptoms.



Cervical Problems

In Men:
  • a whitish yellow discharge from the penis.
  • a frequent urge to urinate
  • burning sensation while urinating.
  • redness at the tip of the penis.


In women:

  • no symptoms, or mild discomfort that you may mistake for menstrual cramps.


This disease is very common throughout the world.  Chlamydia can be cured easily by antibiotics as long as the patient realises that they have the disease. Women usually do not know that they are infected until they develop serious complications. Men will tend to notice it sooner as there is an obvious discharge from the tip of the penis.


If you are sexually active and a woman who is not in a monogamous relationship or previously was not in a relationship of this type, ask your doctor to test you for Chlamydia when you next go for a pap smear. This is especially important if you are pregnant or planning to have a baby.


Causes

Chlamydia is caused by Chlamydia Trachomatis, a microscopic organism that has the characteristics of both a virus and a bacterium. the disease is spread by vaginal or anal sex, and if you touch your eyes with a hand that has been contaminated (it can also be spread by flies), you may also develop conjunctivitis.


If you suspect you have chlamydia, your doctor may want to test your cervical fluid or penile discharge.


Traditional Treatments

In most cases of Chlamydia, the cure rate is 95 percent, the treatment is with antibiotics. However, because most women don't know they have the disease until it has caused serious complications such as pelvic inflammatory disease, sexually active women should be tested for Chlamydia once a year.


Alternative/Natural Treatments

You must always take the medication that your doctor prescribes for you with this disorder. Never attempt to treat Chlamydia yourself or self diagnose. Natural remedies may help relieve the symptoms and speed recovery however, it is imperative that you seek the assistance of your doctor.


Chinese Herbs - A typical prescription may include 10 to 20 herbs, such as Chinese foxglove root (Rehmannia glutinosa) and dong quai (Angelica sinensis). It is best to see a Chinese Herbalist for an accurate prescription for you.
Herbal Therapies - Saw palmetto (Serenoa repens), which contains berberine and stimulates the immune system, is useful in treating genital infections, especially in men. You may drink it as a tea or take capsules.


Dietary Considerations

Fasting for short periods under the care of a qualified practitioner can be of assistance when trying to fight off infection as it cleanses the system. In addition to taking antibiotics prescribed by your physician, you might consider fasting for one to three days. Be sure to ask your doctor’s advice before beginning a fast.


Juices that may help to rid your body of toxins cranberry and celery-parsley-cucumber. To increase your body's resistance to this infection, supplement your daily diet with vitamin E and zinc.


To restore healthy intestinal flora after you have taken antibiotics, try eating yogurt with live Lactobacillus acidophilus cultures, or take 1/2 tsp Lactobacillus acidophilus powder, 1 tsp Bifidobacterium powder, and 1/2 tsp Lactobacillus bulgaricus in a glass of water, three times a day. The preparations are also available in capsules and tablets.


Prevention

Always use a condom to prevent transmission of Chlamydia. Women whose partners have symptoms of Chlamydia should be tested as well.


When to seek further professional advice

  • you develop any of the symptoms listed above;
  • you are a woman and you experience high fever and other flu like symptoms, along with severe pelvic pain, bleeding after intercourse, severe nausea, or recurring back pain.

Chlamydia

Constipation refers to hard, inadequate, incomplete, or infrequent bowel movements.


What to look for

  • hard stools that are difficult or painful to pass.
  • no bowel movements in three days for adults, four days for children.
  • nausea, anxiety, headache and general discomfort


Your food is normally passed along the intestines by muscle action called peristalsis. Constipation is simply interference with this process.


How many times you have bowel movements is entirely dependant on what and how often you eat, your lifestyle and the type of person you are. There is no ‘right’ amount of bowel movements, however if there is a gap of about 3 days since your last movement, and this is not normal for you, you may have constipation.


Causes

There are a number of possible causes of this condition -

  • your lifestyle
  • not eating enough fibre or
  • drinking enough water,
  • not getting enough exercise,
  • avoiding going to the toilet when you know you need to.
  • Emotional and psychological problems.
  • Persistent, chronic constipation may also be a symptom of more serious disorders, including irritable bowel syndrome, diverticulitis, colorectal cancer, diabetes, Parkinson's disease, multiple sclerosis, and depression.


Children can become victims of constipation especially when starting school or a new venture. Bottle-fed babies tend to have more constipation than breast-fed babies. Being sensitive to pain, children may avoid the toilet if they have minor splits or tears in the anus from straining or other irritations.


Constipation tends to be more pronounced during pregnancy. Constipation in the elderly usually occurs for lack of dietary fibre and lack of exercise. Some drugs and vitamin supplements can cause constipation, as can some dietary iron and calcium supplements.


Traditional Treatment

Your constipation is generally helped by changing your diet to include more fibre and if necessary, taking a laxative. However, be aware that the prolonged use of laxatives is not desirable and may lead to a dependency. If it is more severe, other action may have to be taken.


Alternative/Natural Treatment

Alternative practitioners will attack this problem by encouraging the patient to correct their lifestyle. This will include such things as dietary changes to include more fibre, drinking plenty of filtered water and exercising regularly.


Exercise - Exercise at anything you enjoy doing as long as it is safe and gets your heart working. Usually for about 20 - 30 minutes per day. However, if you have not exercised in a while you may have to work up to this length of time.


Herbal Therapies - You can purchase potentially useful herbal remedies. Try small amounts to test the effect they have on you or take them as recommended by a Professional. Liquorice, aniseed and valerian root with chickweed.


Homoeopathy - There are specially prepared remedies that may assist you.


Dietary Considerations

You should start with increasing the amount of fibre in your diet and this is not difficult. Eat more raw fruits and vegetables, especially peas, beans, and broccoli, bran cereals, whole-wheat bread, and dried fruits such as raisins, figs, and prunes. These foods are rich in vitamins and minerals as well! Avoid red meat, chicken, milk and cheese
Otherwise, try a fibre supplement.. But remember to have lots of water with these.
Another way to treat constipation is to drink a glass of warm water with the juice of a whole lemon in it after waking up in the morning.


To Sum Up

  • Eat more fibre. Some good sources are bran and other whole-grain cereals, raw or cooked dried fruits like raisins and prunes, cooked dried beans, popcorn, and nuts.
  • Drink six to eight glasses of filtered water daily, in addition to your regular beverages with meals.
  • Go to the toilet at the same time every day (preferably after a meal) and take enough time to let your bowels move fully. If you need to move your bowels at other times, don't stop yourself.


When to seek further professional advice

  • you have lower abdominal pain when trying to pass stools
  • you have blood in your stools;
  • your constipation develops after you start a new prescription drug or take vitamin or mineral supplements you may need to discontinue or change dosage.
  • you or your child has been constipated for two weeks, with recurrent abdominal pain
  • you are elderly or disabled and have been constipated for a week or more; you may have an impacted stool.

Constipation

Depression is a state of feeling ‘down’ which lasts for a long but indefinite period of time.


What to look for

For major depression, you may experience four or more of the following:

  • persistent sadness, pessimism.
  • feelings of guilt, worthlessness, helplessness, or hopelessness.
  • loss of interest or enjoyment in nearly every aspect of life.
  • lack of concentrating.
  • insomnia or oversleeping.
  • weight gain or loss.
  • fatigue, lack of energy.
  • loss of interest in sex
  • physical symptoms such as headaches, backaches, stomach troubles, constipation and blurred vision
  • anxiety, agitation, irritability.
  • thoughts of suicide or death.
  • slow speech; slow movements.
  • drug or alcohol abuse, a drop in school performance, difficulty concentrating (In children and adolescents)


We all feel down at times for different reasons. But ongoing depression is another matter.  Depression can last from a few weeks to 6 months or more.


Major depression, or depressive illness, is a serious condition that can lead to an inability to function or even to suicide. Sufferers experience not only a depressed mood but also more harmful symptoms such as those listed above. It is a cyclical illness, so though most patients recover from their first depressive episode, the recurrence rate is high.
Major depression often appears unexpectedly, is seemingly unprovoked, and often disappears unexpectedly as well, usually in 6 to 12 months. Because of its disabling effects or the possibility of suicide, major depression needs treatment.


Causes

There are many cause of depression. Depressive reaction, or 'normal depression,' occurs as a result of a particular event for example, when a family member dies.


Depressed moods can also be a side effect of medication, hormonal changes (such as before menstrual periods or after childbirth), or a physical illness, such as the flu or a viral infection.


Although the exact causes of major depression are unknown, researchers currently believe that both forms are caused by a malfunction in the brain chemical (these chemicals help monitor and regulate moods).


The elderly who suffer from depression are often misdiagnosed as having senile dementia which is incurable. This is unfortunate as depression is treatable and there is a high success rate once properly diagnosed.


You should consult a psychiatrist in order to be properly diagnosed if you have any of the above symptoms.


Traditional Treatment

There are many therapies, both conventional and alternative, that are available for depression. Treatments may vary according to the cause of the depression and its severity. Conventional methods include psychotherapy, antidepressant drugs, and electroconvulsive therapy (ECT).


Electroconvulsive therapy (ECT) or electric shock treatment is still rather controversial but has been refined over the last 20 years. This form of therapy should only be considered once all other options have been explored.


Alternative/Natural Treatments

Many alternative therapies are effective but should only ever be thought of as complementary to conventional medical treatments.


In addition to your conventional therapies you might want to investigate yoga and acupuncture both having had some success with other people suffering from depression.


Aromatherapy - Aromatherapy may ease mental fatigue and help with sleep. The essential oils that may benefit depression are basil, clary, jasmine, rose, and chamomile (Matricaria recutita). The oil may be inhaled, put in a bath, or on the edge of your pillow (1 or 2 drops).


Chinese Herbs - There are a number of Chinese Remedies for depression - see a Professional for advice on the one that will suit you.


Exercise - Exercise should be a part of any therapy for depression; it improves blood flow to the brain, elevates mood, and relieves stress.


Herbal Therapies - An experienced herbalist will recommend a particular combination of herbs tailored to your specific symptoms. St Johns Wort is a popular choice for depression.


Bach Flower Remedies - Gentian for those of you who are easily discouraged, gorse for feelings of hopelessness and despair, wild rose for apathy and mustard for depression for unknown reasons. (see our section on Bach Flower Remedies).


Dietary Considerations

Because depressive symptoms are exacerbated by nutritional deficiencies, good nutrition is important.
Try supplements such as B complex, potassium, zinc. L-tryptophan, L- tyrosine, Lecithin, ginseng and valerian.


Prevention

Proper diet, exercise, vacations, no overwork and stress, doing things you enjoy all help keep the blues at bay.


When to seek further professional advice

  • you or your child has suicidal thoughts


NOTE: There is a distinct difference between feeling 'depressed' and having a depressive illness. If you have low spirits for a while, don't be concerned. However, if you feel you can't lift yourself out of your misery, seek help.

Depression

This is a condition where there is an abnormally high level of sugar in the blood.


What to look for

The symptoms vary depending on which type of diabetes is the cause:

  • excessive thirst and appetite.
  • increased urination both in the frequency and amount passed.
  • weight loss.
  • fatigue.
  • nausea, perhaps vomiting.
  • blurred vision.
  • in women, frequent vaginal infections and perhaps the cessation of menstruation.
  • in men, impotence.
  • in men and women, yeast infections.


Type 1 diabetes:

  • Very thirsty, hungry, and tired. Need to urinate often. Unintentional, rapid weight loss. May have stomach pain.


Type 2 diabetes:

  • No noticeable symptoms usually or may have unspecific symptoms such as fatigue, blurry vision, or frequent infections. May be thirsty and urinate often.


Gestational diabetes:

  • Symptoms are rare; may feel tired.


Causes

In diabetes sufferers, there is too much glucose in the blood (glucose is made when the food we eat is being digested). Glucose is then converted into energy as it travels through the bloodstream. Diabetes causes this natural process to fail because of a lack of one of the body’s hormones - insulin.


Insulin keeps the level of sugar in the blood down to normal levels. Insulin is made and released when necessary from the pancreas. Insulin lets glucose enter the cells and be used for energy. Insulin is absent in diabetes sufferers. Therefore, glucose stays in the bloodstream and cannot be used for energy.


High glucose levels in the blood can cause many complications and any treatment is aimed at reducing the amount in the blood.  Your doctor is able to diagnose diabetes through a urine test.


Treatment for both forms of diabetes mellitus requires adjustment of insulin levels in the body and strict management of diet and exercise. By paying close attention to the content and timing of your meals, you can minimise or avoid the 'seesaw effect' of rapidly changing blood sugar levels, which can require quick changes in insulin dosages.


Traditional Treatment

Diabetes is treated with food planning, oral medications, and/or insulin injections. Treatment methods for the different types of diabetes are:

  • Type 1 diabetes: Daily insulin injections, food plan, and exercise.
  • Type 2 diabetes: Food plan, exercise, and sometimes oral medications or insulin injections.
  • Gestational diabetes: Food plan, exercise, and sometimes insulin injections.

With your doctor’s supervision , you must work at maintaining your diet and lifestyle to keep this condition in control. You can avoid the disease’s serious symptoms if you are able to do this yourself. Also try to keep to healthy weight
If you have type 1, you need to closely monitor your blood sugar levels every day to prevent an attack of hypoglycaemia. This occurs when the levels of blood sugar are too low to fulfil your body's energy needs. Hypoglycaemia is not dangerous if you can recognise the symptoms.


Hyperglycaemia, or high blood sugar, can bring on a serious diabetic condition known as ketoacidosis, in which the blood becomes increasingly acidic from the accumulation of toxic by-products. This can occur if they do not have enough insulin or if the insulin and glucose levels are not properly balanced or if the body suddenly comes under shock or stress or illness. The symptoms are - nausea, excessive thirst, wanting to urinate frequently, feeling weak, abdominal pain, rapid deep breathing.
Long-term problems caused by diabetes are - eye damage, problems with the nervous system, kidneys, and cardiovascular and circulatory systems. Cuts and sores heal more slowly for people with diabetes, and diabetics are also prone to gum problems, urinary tract infections, and mouth infections such as thrush. Heart disease, ciruclatory problems, strokes, kidney failure are also potential threats to the diabetic.


For some Type 2 diabetics, diet and exercise are usually sufficient to keep the disease under control, however you must see your doctor regularly and if you have any change of symptoms.
Exercise should be an important part in the diabetics daily program - see your doctor before starting anything strenuous.


Alternative/Natural Treatments

You should always be under the supervision of a medical doctor, however here are some alternative treatments which can be used in addition to your conventional treatment.
Chinese Herbs- Chinese herbal medicines, including ginseng root (Panax ginseng), are frequently used to alleviate some symptoms of diabetes; consult a practitioner for a comprehensive treatment plan.
Herbal Therapies - Check to make sure herbs are appropriate for your particular condition.
Remember: If you need insulin to manage your diabetes, there is no herbal substitute for the hormone.
Blueberry (Vaccinium myrtillus) leaves in a decoction may lower blood glucose levels and help maintain the vascular system. This remedy may also help to keep the blood vessels of the eye from haemorrhaging if you develop diabetic retinopathy.
Supplementing the diet with fenugreek (Trigonella foenum-graecum) seeds has been shown in clinical and experimental studies to reduce blood glucose and insulin levels while lowering blood cholesterol.
Garlic (Allium sativum) may lower blood pressure as well as levels of blood sugar and cholesterol.
Ginkgo (Ginkgo biloba) extracts have been used to help vision in patients. Other reported benefits of ginkgo include reducing the risk of heart disease, hypertension, and elevated cholesterol levels.
Onion (Allium cepa) may free up insulin to help metabolise glucose in the blood.


Dietary Considerations

It is vitally important to maintain a balanced meal plan so get your doctor to help you devise one to suit you.
Diabetics should avoid sugar, as it can lower the body's glucose tolerance and worsen circulatory problems. Nutritionists also emphasise the importance of certain foods, vitamins, and minerals.


When to seek further professional advice

  • you have any of the above symptoms more than usual


Diabetes

Some of the many things you can expect during your pregnancy.


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 trimester - 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.
Chiropractic. See a licensed chiropractor for treatment.
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.   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. Acupuncture may be effective.

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 bed head up a little as well.
After meals, drink tea made from chamomile, ginger, or fennel .

HAEMORRHOIDS

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 can also be 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. 


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. 
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.

General Pregnancy Problems

Genital Herpes is a highly contagious, sexually transmitted disease caused by a viral infection.


What to look for

  • numbness, tingling, itching or burning in the genitals.
  • burning sensation while urinating or having intercourse.
  • painful or frequent urination
  • watery blisters in the genital area.


This is a very common and highly contagious sexually transmitted disease. It is currently incurable but it is not fatal.
Usually, herpes spreads only if the infected person is experiencing an outbreak of blisters. However, even people with no symptoms can sometimes spread it; it can also be spread through oral sex if one partner has a cold sore on their mouth (cold sores are caused by the herpes virus).
The first outbreak is usually the most extensive and painful, and can last from five days to three weeks. Some people never have another attack, others do have more throughout their lives.


Causes

Genital herpes is caused by a virus that invades the body upon sexual contact with another herpes carrier. After symptoms disappear, the virus travels to deep nerve centers at the base of the spinal cord near the buttocks. When reactivated, the virus moves out along the nerves, resulting in a new outbreak.
Very sick or stressed people have the most attacks and there are many types of stimuli or stress may reactivate the virus, including sunburn, sexual intercourse, allergic reactions to foods or medications and menstruation.


Traditional Treatment

There is no cure for herpes, but there are ways to relieve the discomfort and promote recovery.


Alternative/Natural Treatments

It is a good idea to investigate the alternative treatments available as well as utilising conventional medicine as these additional therapies are often successful in relieving the symptoms and preventing future outbreaks.


Chinese Herbs - A doctor of Chinese medicine will prescribe a formula tailored to your needs. It may include herbs such as Gentiana (Gentiana scabra) and Dong Quai.


Herbal Therapies - Echinacea (Echinacea spp.) and garlic (Allium sativum) are thought to strengthen the body's defenses against viral infection. Research also suggests that liquorice(Glycyrrhiza glabra), eliminates the herpes virus. Drink herbal teas or take capsules as directed.


Homoeopathy - A Homoeopath will prescribe a specific combination of remedies that may include Rhus toxicodendron, Sepia, Natrum Muriaticum, Hepar sulphuris, and Thuja Occidentalis.


By reducing stress, you can prevent outbreaks.


Personal Care

  • Apply diluted lemon juice, vitamin E, or tea tree oil (Melaleuca spp.) to dry up sores.
  • Use zinc sulfate ointment to heal sores.
  • Soothe lesions with baking soda compresses.
  • Add 3 tbsp salt to a warm bath; follow with a cold bath.


Dietary considerations

The amino acid lysine prevents the herpes virus from living. Avoid arginine-rich foods such as peanuts, cashews, and chocolate. Lysine-rich foods include beef, lamb, fish, milk, and cheese.
You can also take lysine in capsule form daily to help prevent outbreaks. In addition, vitamin E may decrease pain and speed the healing of lesions.


Prevention

If an infected partner is having a herpes outbreak, don't have intercourse, even if you use a condom.
Always use a condom with a person who has the disease as the symptoms may still be present.
Don't practice oral sex if one of you has a cold sore.


When To Seek Further Professional Advice…

  • you have any of the symptoms listed above.


Genital Herpes

What to look for


  • painless flesh-colored or white growths on the vulva, anus, or penis that may develop a cauliflower-like appearance.
  • growths that are itchy or mildly sore.
  • sometimes there are no symptoms


Women who are pregnant and people with weak immune systems are more susceptible to this infection.  Genital warts are contagious, you should see a doctor if you discover any such growths.  Although the warts are harmless in themselves, there appears to be some link between genital warts and cervical cancer. Therefore you should have a pap smear regularly to note any changes in the virus.


Causes

Genital warts are caused by the same virus that causes other warts on the hands and feet etc - the human papilloma virus, or HPV.


Traditional Treatment

Although there is no cure for genital warts, they are easily controlled and should not disrupt your life. Nearly all warts go within six months to two years. Nonetheless, genital warts should not be left untreated as they are highly contagious and can come back later on.


Never attempt to get rid of genital warts with over-the-counter remedies. Instead, let your doctor remove warts with a chemical 'paint'.


Alternative/Natural Treatments

Because genital warts are contagious, you should see a doctor before looking at any other type of treatment.


Chinese Herbs - A doctor of Chinese medicine will give you a unique herbal prescription to cleanse your liver and build up your immune system. Ingredients may include Chinese foxglove root (Rehmannia glutinosa) and gentiana (Gentiana scabra).


Herbal Therapies - To help heal warts, apply garlic (Allium sativum), or the juice of a sour apple, a dandelion stalk, a fresh pineapple, or fresh green figs. Calendula (Calendula officinalis) juice applied to the area may be beneficial as well. All have properties that are therapeutic to skin conditions.


Homoeopathy - A Homoeopathic physician will prescribe a treatment to strengthen your immune system. Some Homoeopaths may recommend that you apply Thuja Occidentalis tincture to the warts. Sabina, taken orally, is another common remedy.


Dietary Considerations

To prevent infections from recurring, eat plenty of foods that contain vitamins A and C, which help the body fight off infections, and folic acid, which strengthens the immune system. (Broccoli and spinach are good sources).


Personal Care

  • Apply tea tree oil (Melaleuca spp.) to warts to help them heal.
  • Eat a balanced diet with plenty of fruits and vegetables.


Prevention

The best way to prevent genital warts is to use condoms.


When to seek further professional advice

  • you develop any of the symptoms listed in the description section


Genital Warts

Gout is the inflammation of the joints caused by too much uric acid in the system



What to look for

  • sudden, intense pain in a joint usually the big toe
  • swelling, inflammation, and a feeling that the joint is very hot.
  • usually strikes unexpectedly and may recur


Without warning and, for some reason, in the middle of the night, it strikes, an intense pain in a joint, most often the big toe, but sometimes other joints, including knees, elbows, thumbs or fingers. Attacks of gout can be unexpected and excruciatingly painful. The attacks may return without notice in weeks, months or other intervals.


Gout usually strikes middle aged men who are overweight or suffering from high blood pressure.
Gout is the body's reaction to irritating crystalline deposits in the space between the bones in a joint. In spite of the extreme pain at onset, gout responds well to prompt treatment; mild cases may be controlled by diet alone.


Chronic attacks of gout, however, may require long-term medication to prevent damage to bone and cartilage, as well as deterioration of the kidneys because of excess uric acid production.


Chronic gout sufferers may feel tiny, crystals of uric acid slats settle in the joints, skin and kidneys. In the kidneys, they can lead to painful and potentially dangerous kidney stones.


Causes

Gout is brought on by an excessively high level of uric acid in the blood. Uric acid is essential to the digestive process, and the excess is filtered through the kidneys and eliminated in urine. If the body produces too much uric acid or fails to excrete it, crystals of sodium urate become concentrated in the joints and tendons, causing inflammation, pressure, and severe pain.

Factors that can cause this problem include…

  • Injury,
  • a surgical procedure,
  • periods of stress,
  • or reactions to alcohol and certain drugs, including antibiotics.
  • Gout may also occur in the presence of some tumours or cancers.
  • Gout may also accompany psoriasis or anaemia.

Susceptibility to gout can be inherited, and repeat attacks are common if the body's uric acid level is not kept under control.


Traditional Treatment

To relieve the strong pain associated with this disease is the first requirement. Any pressure on the affected joint worsens the pain so it is advised to keep the joint bare.


You must keep the uric acid levels under control to prevent continuous attacks. Ask your doctor for a suitable treatment. You will need to go back for your doctor to monitor the levels of uric acid regularly.


If you do not have this condition treated, you will do damage to your kidneys.


Alternative/Natural Treatments

Non-conventional approaches to treating gout begin with reducing the immediate pain and inflammation, then continue with therapies to control excessive uric acid production.


Aromatherapy - Juniper oil is helpful if applied using a compress to the affected area. Do not use this oil if you are pregnant, or if you have liver or kidney disorders. Rosemary can be used in a compress or in massage oil. Do not use this essential oil if you are pregnant, epileptic or have high blood pressure. 


Herbal Therapy - Drink an infusion of 2 tsp celery seed or Gravelroot in a cup of water, three times a day, to stimulate elimination of uric acid. Speak with your Pharmacist or Naturopath about taking charcoal tablets for this condition.


Homoeopathy - Mixed homoeopathic remedies may include dilute doses of Arnica, Ladum, Urtica urens, Benzoicum acidum, Lycopodium, and Pulsatilla.


Dietary Considerations

Your doctor will probably recommend that you cut out certain protein-rich foods. You should drink plenty of liquids but avoid alcohol. You will need to remain within your recommended weight range.


Vegetarians rarely get this disorder which goes to show that diets which include meat and animal fats are more likely to cause gout.


Diets for preventing attacks of gout in people showing a genetic vulnerability to the disease usually eliminate red meat and meat extracts; yeast; organ meats; shellfish and certain kinds of preserved fish, including sardines, herring, and anchovies.
Foods that appear to suppress the immediate symptoms of gout include complex carbohydrates, particularly from cereals, fruits, and leafy green vegetables. Simple carbohydrates, such as those in refined sugar, are likely to increase uric acid production and should be avoided.


Several authorities report favourable results in treating the pain of chronic gout by having patients eat fresh or canned cherries or drink cherry juice.


Drinking plenty of clear, non-alcoholic fluids (fresh fruit juices) - particularly good is celery juice, herbal teas, or water helps to dilute the urine and promote excretion of uric acid through continued flushing of the kidneys.


When to seek further professional advice

  • severe pain in a joint recurs or lasts more than a few days

Gout

This is a strain in the groin area of the body (where the torso meets the legs).

What to look for

  • pain and stiffness in the groin region


By definition, the groin is where your torso joins your legs. It is a place where a lot of body movement takes place. Especially in relatively active people.


The effect of a strain to these key muscles and tendons is sudden and often debilitating. The pain is immediate and intense and often you must rely on help to be moved to a more suitable place to rest.


Causes

The immediate cause of a groin pull is bruising or tearing the muscles that run from the pelvis down the thighs. Groin pulls are usually caused by overexertion, lifting heavy objects improperly, or failing to warm up before a strenuous activity. Another cause may be that you have had an accident.


Traditional Treatment

A minor groin pull will generally heal itself with rest. If the muscle tissue is actually torn, the healing process may take a week or more. Surgery may be necessary in very severe cases.
To reduce the swelling and inflammation of your groin strain, apply an ice pack as quickly as possible after the injury. You should rest and also take an aspirin for the pain.


Alternative/Natural Treatments

Massage - A qualified masseuse can perform massage on this area for you.


Aromatherapy - Blend 3 drops of peppermint and 3 drops of marjoram to 15gm of base cream or massage oil. Apply to the affected area via a soft massage.


Homoeopathy - Arnica is the Homoeopath’s first-aid remedy for muscle injuries. Rhus toxicodendron and Ruta may also be useful for muscle strains.


Personal Care

  • Rest.
  • Apply a cold pack for 10 minutes on and 10 off until the pain goes.
  • Avoid exertion


Prevention

Always do warm up exercises before doing strenuous exercise or activity.


Groin Strain

Gonorrhea is a bacterial infection of the genito-urinary tract and, occasionally, the rectum, pharynx, and eyes.


What to look for

  • a puslike discharge that may be yellowish, cloudy, green, white, or bloodstained.
  • frequent need to urinate and burning while urinating.
  • severe pelvic and lower abdominal pain.
  • constant urge to move bowels (anal gonorrhoea).
  • nausea, vomiting, fever, chills.
  • pain during intercourse. 
  • reddened, irritated tip of penis.
  • severe sore throat, pain on swallowing (pharyngeal gonorrhoea).


Women usually do not realise they have this disease until it is in the later stages. Men however will notice very quickly and have one or more of the above symptoms. The disease is extremely contagious and if you suspect either you or your partner has been infected - see a Doctor immediately.


Even if you have no symptoms, you should ask your doctor to perform a gonorrhoea test once a year. This is especially important for women who are pregnant or plan to be.


Causes

Gonorrhoea is caused by a bacterium, which is transmitted sexually.


Traditional Treatment

Because gonorrhoea is a contagious disease with serious consequences, you must seek conventional medical treatment first. Your doctor may prescribe an antibiotic.


Alternative/Natural Treatments

In addition to conventional treatment, a number of alternative therapies may speed healing.


Chinese Herbs - To cleanse your system, a doctor of Chinese medicine may prescribe an herbal formula tailored to your body's needs. This might include gentiana (Gentiana scabra), Chinese foxglove root (Rehmannia glutinosa), dong quai (Angelica sinensis), bupleurum (Bupleurum chinense), and liquorice (Glycyrrhiza uralensis).
Herbs such as Coptis (Coptis chinensis) are helpful in strengthening the urinary and reproductive systems.


Herbal Therapies - Calendula (Calendula officinalis), myrrh (Commiphora molmol), and thuja (Thuja occidentalis) may reduce the inflammation and discharge that accompany gonorrhea - use these herbs as a tea or douche.
Pipsissewa (Chimaphila umbellata), may also help, as could uva ursi (Arctostaphylos uva-ursi), goldenseal (Hydrastis canadensis), and burdock (Arctium lappa).


Homoeopathy - A Homoeopathic physician may want to attack the gonorrhoea bacteria with antibiotics and then prescribe a remedy to strengthen your immune system and prevent recurrences.


At-Home Remedies

  • Take hot baths to help reduce pain and inflammation.
  • Eat a balanced diet, including live-culture yogurt.
  • Supplement antibiotic therapy with the herbs listed above.
  • Use ice packs to reduce abdominal pain.


Dietary Considerations

If your doctor approves, try fasting for one to three days to clean out your system. Drink the juices of pomegranate and cranberry or a mixture of celery, parsley, and cucumber to flush out toxins from the urinary tract. Because antibiotics destroy beneficial intestinal bacteria as well as pathogenic kinds, eat yogurt containing live cultures or take acidophilus supplements.


Prevention

Always use a condom. If your partner develops symptoms, both of you should be tested and treated by a doctor.


When to seek further professional advice

  • you have any of the symptoms listed in the description section.



Gonorrhea

Haemorrhoids resemble varicose veins located on the rectum.


What to look for

  • bright red anal bleeding
  • tenderness or pain during bowel movements.
  • painful swelling or a lump near the anus.
  • anal itching.
  • a mucous anal discharge.


Haemorrhoids are varicose veins of the rectum however, because they are situated in such a sensitive position, they are painful. The veins in this area swell causing irritation when bowel movements pass by them. When these swollen veins bleed, itch, or hurt, they are known as haemorrhoids, or piles. There are two types - internal and external haemorrhoids.
People with internal haemorrhoids usually cannot feel too much pain as the sensitive veins are situated higher up inside the anal canal away from the nerve endings. They will however, bleed occasionally when the person passes a movement. People with this complaint have usually had the problem on and off for years and are quite used to the symptom of bleeding.
If the haemorrhoids prolapse, or enlarge and protrude outside the anal sphincter they will become visible as a lump of skin. There will also be pain associated with prolapsed haemorrhoids. They usually withdraw into the rectum on their own; if they don't, they can be gently pushed back into place.


External haemorrhoids lie inside the anus and are usually painful. If an external haemorrhoid prolapses to the outside (usually when passing a stool) you can see and feel it. If blood clots form within prolapsed external haemorrhoids, an extremely painful condition called a thrombosis is the result. If an external haemorrhoid becomes thrombosis, it may turn purple or blue, and possibly bleed. Even though they look frightening, thrombosis haemorrhoids are usually not serious and will resolve themselves in about a week.


If you suffer from anal bleeding or pain of any sort it can be quite frightening and should be examined by a doctor. Haemorrhoids are a very common cause of anal bleeding and are rarely dangerous but a definite diagnosis from your Doctor is mandatory.


Causes

It is not certain exactly what causes haemorrhoids. But experts believe that if the veins are weaker it may be due to genetic factors.
If you do have weaker veins in this area, pressure or straining will cause them to swell and become prone to pain. Sources of this pressure include obesity, pregnancy, standing or sitting for long periods, liver disease, straining from constipation or diarrhoea, coughing, sneezing, vomiting.


What you eat is important in controlling this condition. People who consistently eat a high-fibre diet are unlikely to get haemorrhoids, whereas those who prefer a diet high in refined foods may suffer from them. A low-fibre diet or inadequate fluid intake causes constipation, which creates haemorrhoids by straining when having a bowel movement and also producing hard stools which can irritate the swollen veins even further.


Traditional Treatment

Your doctor may examine the area to diagnose this complaint. If you do have haemorrhoids, unfortunately they do not usually go away completely without some kind of treatment. They do ‘right’ themselves so that living with them is bearable.
Diet is considered the basis from which to start any type of treatment for this condition. You may find immediate relief if you change your diet to include predominantly high-fibre foods and avoid refined, junk type foods.
In addition to dietary changes, if your haemorrhoids flare up, you can sit in a warm salt bath to soothe the area and reduce the swelling.


There are other treatments if the simple procedures above do not relieve your pain. Injections, banding , cauterisation and surgery are available. You may wish to discuss these other options with your doctor.


Alternative/Natural Treatments

The following treatments are available to treat the discomfort of haemorrhoids. If symptoms persist, contact your doctor.


Herbal Therapies - Applied twice daily, pilewort (Ranunculus ficaria) ointment can reduce the pain of external haemorrhoids. Also try psyllium husks to decreas itchiness and bleeding.


Homoeopathy - More than a dozen remedies can help haemorrhoid pain. Choosing the right one requires Professional help.


Massage - Speak to a fully qualified massage practitioner who may use techniques to help with constipation and relief of your problem.


Aromatherapy - This blend will help reduce the pain and pressure - 3 drops of cypress, 2 drops of sandalwood essential oils in 5 teaspoons of calendula base carrier oil. Apply the mixture to the affected area twice a day.


Dietary Considerations

Staying on a high-fibre diet may help haemorrhoids almost immediately. Eat as few refined foods as possible. Drink plenty of filtered water each day as well. Also reduce your salt intake. Researchers that certain supplements may also help such as - B complex, C, E, Mineral complex, Calcium, fluoride, lecithin, pollen, Rutin and Bioflavonoids.


Personal Care

  • Try not to sit for hours at a time - be sure to take breaks.
  • Insert petroleum jelly just inside the anus to make bowel movements less painful.
  • The application of witch hazel, on irritated haemorrhoids to reduce pain and itching.
  • Do not scratch haemorrhoids
  • See your doctor about which pain killers you are able to have with this condition
  • Bathe regularly to keep the anal area clean
  • Keep breathing while performing tasks which require exertion.
  • Learn to lift properly - breath constantly and lift with your legs, not your back and stomach
  • Eat plenty of fresh fruit and vegetables
  • Get plenty exercise


Prevention

A high fibre diet and plenty of the essentials such as filtered water, exercise, fruit and vegetables will do the trick.


When to seek further professional advice

  • you bleed from the anus for the first time
  • if the bleeding is persistent and becomes more severe
  • if your normal bowel movement changes for more than 2 weeks.
  • if there is persistent pain in the anal region
  • if the blood from this area is dark.

Haemorroids

What to look for

  • in men, thinning hair on the scalp, a receding hairline.
  • in women, thinning of hair in general, but mainly at the crown.
  • in children or young adults, sudden loss of patches of hair; known as alopecia areata.
  • complete loss of all hair on the body; a rare disorder called alopecia universalis.
  • children can deliberately rub or pull out hair, a disorder called trichotillomania.
  • excessive shedding of hair, but not complete baldness, associated with various illnesses and drug treatments, rapid weight loss, anaemia, stress, or pregnancy.


The structure, colour and texture of human hair varies widely from person to person depending on a range of different factors such as sex, age, race and genes. However, when thinning of the hair or baldness appear, it is not normal and we need to look for a cause.


Hair is made up of a protein called keratin, produced in hair follicles in the outer layer of skin. As follicles produce new hair cells, old cells are being pushed out through the surface of the skin. The average adult head has about 100,000 hairs, and loses up to 100 of them a day; so finding a few stray hairs on your hairbrush is not necessarily a problem.


In men, a receding hairline and gradual disappearance of hair from the crown is called male pattern baldness. In women, female pattern baldness is typically a general thinning over the entire scalp, with the most extensive hair loss at the crown. This does not usually occur in women until later on in life, if at all.


Alopecia areata is a sudden loss of hair in patches usually occurring in children and young adults. This disorder may result in complete baldness, but in about 90 percent of cases the hair returns, usually within a few years.


With alopecia universalis, all body hair falls out and the likelihood of regrowth is slight, especially when it occurs in children.
Tearing out one's own hair, a disorder known as trichotillomania, is seen most frequently in children.


Causes

Doctors do not know why certain hair follicles are programmed to have a shorter growth period than others. An individual's genes, from both male and female parents, unquestionably influence that person's predisposition to male or female pattern baldness.


Temporary hair loss can occur when you have suffered, a high fever, a severe illness, thyroid disorders, iron deficiency, general anaesthesia, drug treatments, hormonal imbalance, or extreme stress, and in women following childbirth. In these conditions, a large number of hair follicles suddenly go into a resting phase, causing hair to thin noticeably.
Drugs that can cause temporary hair loss include chemotherapeutic agents used in cancer treatment, anticoagulants, retinoids used to treat acne and skin problems, beta-adrenergic blockers used to control blood pressure, and oral contraceptives.
Hair loss can also be caused by burns, x-rays, scalp injuries, and exposure to certain chemicals (including those used to purify swimming pools, and to bleach, dye, and perm hair). Normal hair growth usually returns once the cause is eliminated.
The causes of alopecia areata, a disorder that often strikes children or teenagers, remain unexplained. In most cases the hair grows back, although it may be very fine and possibly white before normal coloration and thickness return. A stressful event may trigger this illness off and it is slightly more common with certain disorders such as diabetes and pernicious anaemia.
Although too-frequent washing, permanent waves, bleaching, and dyeing hair do not cause baldness, they can contribute to overall thinning by making hair weak and brittle. The hair usually grows back after the cause is stopped.


Traditional Treatment

Most people turn to wigs, hairpieces, and hair-weaving to hide their baldness.
A drug is available which has been found to promote hair growth on previously bald areas. This drug appears to be successful and is called minoxidil. It’s retail name is Regaine and is available on prescription. It is available also as a lotion formulation to be applied onto the scalp.


It must however, be used every day to maintain the growth of hair. It is also very expensive. The effects are most promising in younger people who are just beginning to show signs of balding or who have small bald patches.
The medication is applied to balding spots twice a day and must be continued daily. More than 50 percent of users claim that it can thicken hair and slow hair loss, but it is not considered effective in men who already have extensive male pattern baldness.


Although most cases of alopecia areata are resolved naturally, some doctors try to speed recovery with corticosteroids applied topically or injected in the scalp. Cortisone taken orally may stimulate new hair growth, but the effect is likely to be temporary.


Hair transplantation is another option available to people with hair loss.


Alternative/Natural Treatments

Despite claims to the contrary, no alternative therapies can reverse normal balding, although some may encourage reversal of temporary hair loss and improve damaged hair. Certain relaxation techniques are helpful in calming stressful people.


Chinese Medicine - In Chinese medicine, hair is thought to be nourished by the blood, which is influenced by the liver and kidneys. Chinese medicines for the hair are intended to help and nourish these organs and promote new hair growth; they include such herbs as polygonum (Polygonum multiflorum), lycium fruit (Lycium barbarum), Chinese foxglove root (Rehmannia glutinosa), Chinese yam (Dioscorea opposita), and cornus (Cornus officinalis).


Herbal Therapies - For temporary or partial hair loss from a known cause, herbalists recommend stimulating hair follicles and improving blood circulation in the scalp to encourage new hair growth. Try massaging your scalp with essential oil of rosemary (Rosmarinus officinalis) or rinsing your hair with tea made from sage (Salvia officinalis) or nettle tea.


Homoeopathy - Many homoeopathic remedies are thought to be effective for hair loss, particularly thinning caused by pregnancy, stress, or emotional trauma. Consult a homoeopathic professional for more advice.


Massage- Massage improves circulation and helps supply more blood to the scalp, which in turn improves the health of your hair and scalp.


A few drops of vitamin E oil massaged into the scalp is recommended to strengthen fragile hair and help prevent dry, flaky skin. Or use the oils mentioned above.
(Emotional or physical stress may be a factor in some cases of hair loss. Yoga and meditation may help in these cases).


Dietary Considerations

Hair loss can result from a poor diet. It is advisable that you start back on a balanced diet and consult your doctor about supplemental vitamins A, B complex, and C, as well as iron and zinc. 


Prevention

Be careful with your hair and do not over wash or treat it. If your hair is very oily, you may want to wash it every day, but shampooing too often can strip your hair of its natural oil.


When to seek further professional advice

  • you suspect that you or your child has alopecia areata, or that your child has trichotillomania; both conditions should be evaluated by a doctor.
  • you suffer an unexplained loss of hair on any part of your body.

Hair Loss

Hamstring muscles allow you to flex your knees and bend your legs.


What to look for

  • sharp pain in the back of the thigh, during or immediately after sports or other strenuous activity which causes problems in walking, sitting or any other activity.
  • swelling.


All your movements rely on these muscles. The muscles actually run along the back of the thigh to the knee.
Anyone can ‘pull’ a hamstring muscle, however, if you are a professional athlete, a dancer or work in another physical occupation you are more prone.


It is important with this type of injury to stop when you feel the pain and rest. If you keep working the injured muscle, problems can develop and your recovery will be hampered.


Causes

A pulled hamstring is invariably the result of overburdening or tearing the muscle fibres. You can simply stretch the muscle too far and this can be mended easily or the muscle belt can be torn which is more serious. When the muscle becomes separated from the connective tendons, it is a much more serious injury.
It is always best to see a doctor to be assured the damage is minimal.


Traditional Treatment

Like other strains, a hamstring pull generally heals itself.
The established recovery procedure for muscle strain is RICE: 
Rest, 
Ice, 
Compression, and 
Elevation.
Your doctor may also recommend a pain killer.


Alternative/Natural Treatments

Massage - by a trained therapist will help to relax and tone your muscles.
Aromatherapy - For tension in your hamstrings try this blend of essential oils - 3 drops of peppermint, 3 drops of marjoram in 15 gm of base cream or 15 ml massage oil. Apply this to the effected area - massaging gently.
Homeopathy - Arnica is the homeopath's first-aid remedy for muscle injuries. It can be taken orally and applied as a salve to the painful area. Rhus toxicodendron and Ruta are also remedies for muscle strains.


Dietary Considerations

Good natural sources of vitamin C, essential for tissue building, are citrus fruits and potatoes. Potassium and calcium for bones are found in bananas, leafy greens, and low-fat dairy products.
To help your muscles operate at their best, drink plenty of water or a sports beverage before and after every workout.


Prevention

The best way to avoid muscle strains is to keep your body in good condition and avoid pushing yourself too hard at work or play.
Always warm up before starting any sports or physical activity.


When to seek further professional advice

  • you feel pain shooting down the back of your leg when you cough.
  • you have chills or fever as well as the muscle pain.
  • your leg hurts when you walk and stops hurting when you are at rest.

Hamstring Injury

A hangover occurs as a result of consuming too much alcohol - your body becomes dehydrated.

What to look for

  • headache, nausea, dizziness, irritability, thirst, and fatigue - usually on awakening.
  • in some cases, tension, paleness, tremor, vomiting, heartburn, unsteady gait, and loss of appetite.


Causes

A hangover is usually caused by dehydration of the body tissue. As alcohol is a powerful diuretic, it causes the body to lose fluid and certain vitamins and minerals at a fast rate. This, together with the effect of irritants in the fermented drinks such as red wine, beer and other drinks creates nausea, vomiting, extreme tiredness and headache.


Traditional Treatment

Time is the only cure for the occasional hangover. In almost all cases, however, you can ease hangover symptoms. Beware if you suffer frequent hangovers - you may have an alcohol abuse or dependency problem. If this is the case you should seek professional help.


Most doctors recommend taking a general pain killer, for the headache; drinking plenty of filtered water to help your body cope with the dehydration; and eating light foods.


Alternative/Natural Treatment

Herbal Therapies - White willow (Salix alba) bark, which contains a natural form of salicylate, the active ingredient in aspirin, may help relieve a headache. Chamomile (Matricaria recutita) tea may aid nausea.


Personal Care - Drink several glasses of water to rehydrate your body. Cold compresses on your head or the back of your neck may also bring relief.


Homeopathy - Some homoeopathic medicines come in kits that include remedies for the occasional hangover. For nausea, try Nax vomica.


Dietary Considerations

Vitamin C, taken before and after drinking, is thought to help your body clear the alcohol from your system.


PREVENTION

Moderation is the key to preventing a hangover. Never drink on an empty stomach and drink alcohol slowly with glasses of water in between. By drinking slowly, you give your body time to get rid of the alcohol before it enters the blood and your brain. The less you weigh, the less alcohol you should consume.


When to seek further professional advice

  • you are concerned that you have developed a dependency on alcohol.

Hangover

A Heart Attack happens when something has blocked the flow of blood into your heart, and a part of your heart has died.


What to look for

  • a dull or heavy pain in the center of the chest
  • breathlessness, dizziness, nausea, chills, sweating, weak pulse.
  • cold and clammy skin, grey pallor, a severe appearance of illness.
  • fainting

Sometimes there are no symptoms.


The heart relies on its own blood supply to provide it with oxygen and nutrients so it can function properly. If the supply of oxygen to a certain part of the heart is interrupted, that area of the heart stops functioning. If an attack lasts too long, the starved heart tissue dies. This event defines heart attack, otherwise known as myocardial infarction.


If you think you are about to have an attack never wait until it is over before seeking help. Most attacks last for several hours. The signs of the heart attack may be no more than breathlessness, faintness, or nausea; and in some cases there are no symptoms. But most heart attacks produce some pain. The pain of a severe attack has been likened to a giant fist enclosing and squeezing the heart. If the attack is mild, it may be mistaken for heartburn. The pain may be constant or intermittent.
Usually heart attack patients have been suffering angina previous to the attack (the pain is very similar and brought on by exertion or excitement and lasts only a few minutes and the heart is not permanently damaged).


Sometimes there are no warning signs.
There are possible complications that can occur while in hospital with a heart attack - stroke, congestive heart failure, formation of blood clots in the legs or heart, and aneurism in a weakened heart chamber.
It will usually take around three months to fully recover from a heart attack.


Causes

Most heart attacks are the result of coronary heart disease, condition that clogs arteries with fatty deposits. It may also be blood clots which form on top of the fatty deposits which actually cause the heart attack.


Certain triggers will lead to a heart attack in certain persons. The predominant ones are high blood pressure, high cholesterol, obesity, smoking, and an inactive lifestyle. Stress, exertion and excitement can act as triggers for an attack.
Men over the age of 50 with a family history of heart disease are predisposed to heart attack.


Traditional Treatment

This condition must be treated by traditional medicine. Alternative remedies are however helpful in patient recovery and prevention.


Heart attack victims are usually hospitalised in special coronary care units for at least 3 days. Special drug therapy is used and the patient may have to be operated on.


The patient will be monitored closely for a period of time and administered the appropriate medications and drugs.
Gentle exercise is recommended while patients are recovering, but nothing that requires too much exertion.
Long-term recovery from heart attack requires extreme adjustments: Habits such as smoking, heavy drinking, and eating high-fat foods have to go.


As a preventive measure, most heart attack survivors take a daily aspirin tablet to thin the blood. Other drugs may also be prescribed, depending on the individual case.


Alternative Choices

Herbal Therapies - Of the many herbs used to treat chronic heart conditions, hawthorn(Crataegus laevigata) is perhaps most valuable as it dilates coronary arteries and improves the function in the heart. Hawthorn also is thought to speed recovery from an attack.


There are other herbs that are used to treat heart conditions, such as raw garlic, lime flowers (linden) and nettle. 

Bach Flower Remedies - Try willow and holly essences - 4 drops on the tongue, up to 4 times daily.


Lifestyle

Regular aerobic exercise greatly enhances efforts to prevent or recover from heart attack. However you must be extremely careful not to over exert yourself. Exercise under supervision while in the recovery phase.
Reducing stress by training the mind and body to relax may help prevent heart attack and can aid in recovery.


Dietary Considerations

to reduce the possibility of further heart attacks, it is advisable to eat a low fat diet with very little salt, sugar, alcohol in order to reduce cholesterol, control blood pressure, and weight. Eating magnesium-rich foods such as nuts, beans, bran, fish, and dark green vegetables may help prevent heart attack.


Antioxidants supposedly help with heart disease as well as supplements such as B complex, C, E, chromium, calcium, potassium, Evening Primrose Oil, and garlic.


Personal Care

  • You can still be fairly active - just be careful.
  • Do not take birth-control pills if you have had a heart attack
  • Get a pet. Pet owners recover more quickly from heart attacks


Prevention

  • Try to relax and control negative volatile emotions such as anger.
  • Talk with your doctor about taking an aspirin daily.


When to seek further professional advice

  • you or someone you are with shows signs of a heart attack.
  • you suffer from angina (chest pain) and begin to experience pain that is similar but does not respond to medication; this may indicate that a heart attack is under way.
  • your angina attacks become more frequent and severe
  • you are taking aspirin to prevent heart attack and your stool appears black and tarry.


Heart Attack

What to look for


  • tight, suffocating chest pain, often associated with angina and heart attack.
  • sensations of fluttering, thumping, pounding, or racing of the heart, known as palpitations.
  • shortness of breath.
  • fluid retention in the legs, ankles, abdomen, lungs, or heart.
  • light headedness, weakness, dizziness, or fainting spell


Please be aware that sometimes heart disease has no symptoms or the symptoms may be the result of another condition.


The most common types of heart disease are following -


Heart Arrhythmia’s - Arrhythmia’s are irregularities in the heart's normal beating pattern.


Coronary Heart Disease - This is the most common heart problem and is characterised by blocked coronary arteries resulting in a reduced blood flow and oxygen to the heart. This blockage could have started from the time you were very young and just became progressively worse over the years.  This type of heart disease is very concerning as it can lead to heart failure, angina, attacks and death.


There are no exact known causes of coronary heart disease, however there are certain risk factors responsible for the development of the disease.

  • it runs in families
  • it is more common in men
  • people over the age of 40 are more likely to get this disease
  • Diabetics are also more prone to heart disease.
  • smoking significantly increases the chances of coronary heart disease
  • being overweight
  • having high cholesterol
  • leading a sedentary life
  • stress


Heart Valve Disease - The heart depends on four valves to keep the blood flowing in the right direction. Diseases of the valves is not quite as prevalent these days due to nutrition awareness. A faulty valve may not open or close properly. A defective valve may have been present from birth or the valves may be inflamed.


Pericardial Disease - Any disease of the pericardium, the fibrous membrane in which the heart sits, is classified as pericardial disease. One of the more common is an inflammatory condition called pericarditis. It is usually caused by viral infection. Pericarditis often subsides on its own, but it also responds to anti-inflammatory drugs such as aspirin.
Primary Myocardial Disease (Cardiomyopathy) - This is a heart muscle disease which makes the muscle become weak and flabby so that the heart gets bigger as the muscle wall dilates under the strain. Usually it is unknown what causes this disease.


Congenital Heart Disease - The development of the heart inside the womb is a very complicated and intricate process and can occasionally go wrong. In this case, a baby is born with heart defects, and the exact reason why this occurs is hard to fathom.
Genetic abnormalities or infections contracted during pregnancy by the mother may also result in congenital heart disease for the child.


Causes

You will have to describe your symptoms to your doctor in order for him or her to diagnose which heart disease you have, if any. An examination will then take place along with listening to the heart itself for clues.
If heart disease is suspected, further tests will be performed.


Traditional Treatment

It is best to seek conventional medical treatments if there is any suspected heart disease. Alternative remedies should also be used but as supplements or in addition to your conventional treatment.
The basis of conventional care is the use of drugs and surgery as well as to help make the correct changes to your diet and lifestyle.


Alternative/Natural Treatments

Alternative medicine preaches prevention as its mainstay.


Relaxation - Focus on techniques to help the body to relax and reduce stress and consequently avoid, control or prevent heart disease. Relaxation reduces stress, and stress has been identified as a likely risk factor for coronary heart disease.


Chinese Medicine - Practitioners of traditional Chinese medicine generally view heart disease as arising from heart weakness or blocked energy flow. Depending on the symptoms, standard treatment would involve prescribed herbal remedies plus massage, acupuncture, and dietary recommendations.


Herbal Therapies - The plant world is full of herbs that can affect the heart. The therapeutic properties of some have been tested and trialed with positive results.


The effects of others, such as motherwort (Leonurus cardiaca) and yarrow (Achillea millefolium), are not as well researched yet perhaps no less effective. Certain herbs, such as foxglove (Digitalis purpurea) and lily of the valley (Convallaria majalis), contain compounds that make them particularly potent. Because of their potentially dangerous side effects, they should be administered only by a Professional.
Hawthorn (Crataegus laevigata) is a highly effective heart healer. However, any herbal treatment of the heart should be supervised by a Health Professional and approved by your doctor.


Homoeopathy - Homoeopathic remedies may complement, but should not replace, prescribed medication for chronic heart conditions. A homoeopath would be able to advise on the best preparation for your particular condition.
Bach Flower Remedies - Certain flower essences are reputed to be beneficial in the treatment of heart disease. These are - holly and willow.


Lifestyle

You should make certain adjustments to your lifestyle if you want to avoid this disease:

  • If you smoke, quit.
  • exercise
  • drink alcohol in moderation


Dietary Considerations

It is vitally important that your diet is low in fat and salt, high in fibre.
There are also specific vitamins, minerals, and nutrients, such as magnesium, potassium, niacin (vitamin B3), many other B-complex vitamins, vitamin E, coenzyme Q10, L-carnitine (an amino acid), and the fatty acids in fish oils, that specifically protect against heart and arterial disease.


Prevention

  • Eat more fruits, vegetables, and grains, and fewer foods that are salty, high in fat, or fried.
  • Exercise regularly
  • Drink alcohol in moderation, if you do drink.
  • Don't smoke.
  • Learn to control stress.


When to seek further professional advice

  • you experience unusual chest pain, particularly if it persists or recurs.
  • if your heat beat is consistently irregular .
  • you become suddenly dizzy, light headed, weak, or faint.

Heart Disease

Heartburn is a burning sensation experienced under your breastbone after you’ve eaten something that may not have agreed with you.


What to look for

  • a burning feeling in the chest just behind the breastbone (the sternum) that occurs after eating and lasts a few minutes to several hours.
  • chest pain, especially after bending over or lying down.
  • burning in the throat—or hot, sour, or salty-tasting fluid at the back of the throat.
  • belching.


Often the symptoms may be mistaken for a heart attack but usually this condition is not nearly as dangerous. It is an irritation of the oesophagus that is caused by stomach acid. Usually sphincter at the end of the oesophagus relaxes to let food into the stomach, then contracts to close off the oesophagus from the stomach contents. If the muscle becomes weak, acid and bile from the stomach can go back into the oesophagus causing this condition.
Occasional heartburn isn't dangerous, but chronic heartburn can indicate serious problems.


Causes

A sphincter that doesn't tighten as it should is the basic cause of heartburn. The causes can be: too much food in the stomach (overeating) or too much pressure on the stomach (frequently from obesity or pregnancy).
The sphincter relaxes with tomatoes, citrus fruits, garlic, onions, chocolate, coffee, alcohol, and peppermint, dishes high in fats and oils, medications, especially some antibiotics. Stress, which strains the nerves controlling the sphincter, can cause heartburn as can smoking.


Traditional Treatment

Most physicians advocate antacids for occasional heartburn. Alternative practitioners rely on herbal remedies to reduce acid and relaxation therapies to lessen stress.
The primary objective is to identify the cause of the heartburn, so it can be avoided in the future. Surgery may be required to repair the sphincter if nothing else works, but this is relatively rare.


Alternative/Natural Treatments

Herbal Therapies - Ginger (Zingiber officinale) tea can diminish heartburn quickly, and chamomile (Matricaria recutita) tea's calming effects is especially helpful. If your digestion system is not functioning as it should, try herbs such as agrimony and dandelion. If you have heartburn because of nervousness or anxiety, try hops, lemon balm and vervain.
Homeopathy - Specific heartburn symptoms often respond well to homeopathic remedies. After eating spicy foods, take Nax vomica; after rich foods take Carbo vegetabilis; and for burning pain, take Arsenicum album.


Dietary Considerations

Take acidophilus Bifidus to help maintain optimum levels of the friendly intestinal flora. This will help your indigestion. Also it helps to eat smaller more regular meals including vegetables and fruit, wholegrain breads and cereals. And always chew your food properly.


Prevention

Heartburn is often preventable. Try to avoid foods which you know will cause this problem. Lying down is often not the best remedy, you should sit upright while the discomfort is evident.


When to seek further professional advice

  • you experience heartburn along with any other symptom
  • you take an antacid to relieve heartburn and do not feel relief within 15 minutes.
  • your heartburn gets worse with exercise and relieved by rest.

Heartburn

This is a protrusion through a weakness in the abdominal wall. It can be either external or internal.


What to look for

  • swelling in the abdomen or groin.
  • a heavy feeling in the abdomen that is sometimes accompanied by constipation.
  • discomfort in the abdomen or groin when lifting or bending over.


A hernia occurs when an organ or tissue squeezes through a hole or a weak spot in a surrounding muscle. The most common types are inguinal, incisional, and umbilical.


In an inguinal hernia, the intestine or the bladder protrudes through the abdominal wall in the groin. Most hernias are inguinal, and most occur in men because of a natural weakness in this area.


In an incisional hernia, a hernia can develop at the site of an operation, the muscles have not healed properly.
In an umbilical hernia, the location is near the naval. Common in newborns, it also afflicts obese women or those who have had many children.


Causes

People can be born with weaknesses that make them prone to develop a hernia. The condition can also develop from heavy lifting, strenuous exercise or a persistent cough, poor nutrition, smoking, and overexertion all can weaken muscles and make hernias develop.


Anything that causes muscle strain can then induce hernia, including obesity, lifting heavy objects, diarrhoea or constipation, or persistent coughing… Ultimately, all hernias are caused by a combination of muscle weakness and strain: A weak spot in the muscle tears under the pressure of strain, and an internal organ or tissue then pushes through the tear.
A doctor's physical examination is often enough to diagnose a hernia. Sometimes you will be able to feel it yourself on the side of the abdomen or groin.


Traditional Treatment

In babies, umbilical hernias frequently heal themselves within four years, making surgery unnecessary.
Usually, however surgery will be required. It is important to get your hernia seen to by a doctor because if it is left untreated, the protruding organ may become strangulated (have its blood supply cut off), and infection and tissue death may occur as a result.


Alternative/Natural Treatment

If you suspect you have a hernia you must seek conventional treatment, as natural therapies will not eliminate a hernia. 


Alternative treatments will however relieve the discomfort.


Homoeopathy - If the hernia is on the right side of your body, take lycopodium clavatum three times a day for a few days. For general hernias, take 6C or Calcarea fluorata in tablet or liquid.


Lifestyle - Gentle exercise on a regular basis tones and strengthens stomach muscles.


Prevention

Take care to avoid becoming overweight by practicing good nutrition and maintaining good muscle tone through exercise. Also avoid putting unnecessary strain on abdominal muscles through lifting.


When to seek further professional advice

  • you suspect that you have a hernia.
  • you know you have a hernia, and you are nauseated and vomiting or are unable to have a bowel movement or pass gas.

Hernia

This is the inability in men to be able to have sexual intercourse.


What to look for

The most obvious symptom is the failure to have an erection. However there are some other factors to consider -

  • if your impotence appears only occasionally it is not usually a serious problem as this is quite common.
  • develops gradually and persistently, there is probably a physical cause
  • develops abruptly, but you still have early-morning erections and are able to have an erection while masturbating, the problem is likely to be psychological.

Impotence, the inability to attain or maintain an erection of the penis adequate for the sexual satisfaction of both partners, can be devastating to your self-esteem as well as your partners. It can affect nearly all males at some time or another.


Causes

There are a number of supposed causes of impotence in men.
The normal aging process can tend to slow a mans ability to sustain an erection. However, experts believe that the cause is more often physical.


The stiffness of an erection is caused by increased blood flow to the penis. Therefore, conditions that block the blood flow to the penis such as atherosclerosis or diabetes can hinder erections. Another vascular cause may be a faulty vein, which lets blood drain too quickly from the penis.


The nervous system has a controlling influence on the male erection, therefore certain prescription drugs which interfere with the nerves (or have this as a side effect) can cause impotence. Among the possible culprits are stimulants, sedatives, diuretics, antihistamines, and agents to treat high blood pressure, cancer, or depression. In addition, alcohol, tobacco, and illegal drugs, such as marijuana, may contribute to impotence.


With younger men, psychological problems are the likeliest reason for impotence.
Tension and anxiety may arise from poor communication with the sexual partner or a difference in sexual preferences. The sexual difficulties may also be linked to a low self esteem, depression, rejection by parents or peers, or sexual abuse in childhood.


Traditional Treatment

As men age it does take a little longer to become aroused, but if the problem you are having is persistent and severe, seek medical help.
There is a vacuum inflating device that is an option usually for elderly men and your doctor will inform you of the procedure involved.
Another treatment is the injection of testosterone but it is difficult to know how much as each man is different. Ask your doctor about this.
For blood-vessel problems, vascular surgery to open arteries leading to the penis benefits up to half the patients who opt for this treatment.
Men can opt for a penile implant however this should be after all else has failed.
If the cause is judged to be psychological, you could see a qualified counsellor to help you ascertain the underlying causes and help remedy your situation.


Alternative/Natural Treatments

Many alternative therapies promote the good health and relaxation needed for a satisfying sex life.


Aromatherapy - Essential oils of clary, sandalwood, and ylang-ylang encourage relaxation and feelings of sensuality. Add 2 drops of each to 4 tsp of massage oil or to a warm bath.


Chinese Herbs - Practitioners believe that too much anxiety can cause energy stagnation in the liver. Golden chamber, a combination of herbs, sometimes with cibot root added, is often prescribed.


Herbal Therapies - Ginkgo, Damiana, and Ginseng are sold in many formulations as sexual stimulants.


Personal Care

  • Try to keep your focus and mind off ‘getting an erection’ while being intimate with your partner. Try to keep the pressure off yourself.
  • Moderate exercise helps relax the body, give you more energy, and stimulate sexuality.
  • Stress or anxiety diverts blood from the sexual organs. Try to relax.


When to seek further professional advice

  • if you are anxious about the problem
  • impotence persists

Impotence

Is the inability to control the passing of urine.


What to look for

  • inability to control urination.


The condition often reflects an underlying disorder and is usually treatable, even in the elderly. Often it was thought that it was a age related condition and inevitable result of getting older. It must be treated however, in order for it to improve.
Incontinence can lead to bladder or urinary tract infections if not treated or if the problem still persists. In those instances where treatment doesn't work there are pads and protection available which can aid your comfort.


Causes

Sometimes there is a continuous leaking of urine as the muscles within this area are unable to contract to hold it back and a person does not know when they need to go to the toilet. This can be the consequence of diabetes in men.
At other times, simple actions such as coughing, sneezing or exercising can cause incontinence problems. The urethra is weak and cannot resist a sudden increase in bladder pressure.


When the bladder is full in other people, it simply contracts and they have no control over the sudden urge to go to the toilet. This can occur in healthy people as well as those with other illnesses involving the central nervous system, such as stroke, Alzheimer's disease, Parkinson's disease, and multiple sclerosis.
A slipped disk, surgery or pregnancy can also contribute to this condition.  Incontinence is a potential side effect of many diuretics, sedatives, antidepressants, antihistamines, and other medications.  Talk to your doctor.


Traditional Treatment

Do not worry about this ailment as in most cases it can be cured or, at the very least, greatly improved with treatment. Both conventional and alternative medicine have effective strategies for dealing with the problem. If you wish, you can try alternative methods first. However, if the condition persists or worsens, see a doctor for a full evaluation and diagnosis.


Many doctors may suggest and show you muscle strengthening exercises to help your incontinence. These treatments are safe and effective.  If your doctor decides you need medication for your condition, the drug he or she prescribes will depend on the cause of the incontinence.  Special devices called pessaries are available for women.  If none of these treatments work, your doctor may recommend surgery. Ask you doctor to describe the various options available to you and to explain any possible side effects as well.  If your incontinence cannot be cured or controlled, you can learn to manage the problem with the help of some specially designed aids that are available.


Alternative/Natural Treatments

These treatments are aimed at strengthening the pelvic muscles to give you more support in this area.


Chinese Herbs - Chinese practitioners may make a mixture of several herbs to treat this condition. They believe herbs that help the body retain fluid are a beneficial treatment for incontinence.


Herbal Treatments - Where there is a lack of bladder control, use corn silk combined with agrimony.


Homoeopathy - Depending on the cause of the condition, homoeopaths have numerous remedies to treat incontinence. Some that are often prescribed include:

  • for stress incontinence, particularly in the elderly, Causticum, which is said to restore vitality to aging tissue.
  • for stress and urge incontinence, particularly when a person is rising from a prone position, Pulsatilla, is thought to restore the urinary parts of the body to proper functioning.


There are additional remedies available.


Dietary Considerations

Maintain your ideal weight.  Avoid constipation by increasing the amount of fibre and water in your diet; eat more whole-grain foods and fruits and vegetables.  Avoid alcohol, caffeine, sugar, spicy foods, and acidic fruits and juices - all of which can irritate the bladder and trigger leaks.


Personal Care

  • Avoid constipation.
  • Do pelvic exercises daily (see women’s health).
  • Retrain yourself to urinate at longer intervals
  • Don't smoke.
  • If you are a woman incontinence, try crossing your legs when sneezing or coughing.


When to seek further professional advice

  • you develop incontinence after an illness or after taking a new medication.
  • self-help remedies for controlling your urination are not working.

Incontinence

Infertility is the inability to conceive a child after a year or more of sexual intercourse without contraception.


What to look for

If after a period of unprotected intercourse, the couple cannot conceive, this is infertility. It can be because of either partner or both.
This can be very distressing for many couples and is taken as a sign of inadequacy. Please keep in mind being infertile does not necessarily indicate sterility.


Causes

Infertility in men can be the result of low sperm production, no sperm or sperm which do not swim as they should do as well as a tubes blockage.
In women, infertility can be caused by a failure to ovulate due to a hormone failure. Interruption of an egg's progress through the fallopian tube from ovary to uterus may also be a cause.
Women’s age is a factor: as after 35 years of age it is often more difficult to conceive. Being overweight, or underweight, can also play a role.
In both men and women, fertility can be diminished by psychological factors, such as anxiety and depression, and by environmental agents.


Treatment

Your doctor will perform many tests on both partners to determine the cause of the infertility.
There are not ways to increase the chances of conception.
Couples are often advised to have intercourse just before ovulation.
Ovulation can be induced with the use of fertility drugs or hormones.
Certain disorders occurring in men can be treated with a doctors help.
IVF (in vitro fertilisation) is an option for couples who are infertile. The egg is fertilised outside the woman's body, then placed in the womb or fallopian tube.


Alternative/Natural Treatments

A variety of alternative treatments may enhance fertility.

  • Relaxation Techniques - Stress can often hinder conception and there are different relaxation techniques can reduce stress which sometimes contributes to infertility.
  • Dietary Considerations - Zinc is important for fertility in both sexes; a supplement may help. Vitamin C has been shown to aid men whose sperm clump together, and it may improve sperm count. Ask for professional advice with regards to the appropriate doses.
  • The diet of both partners should include plenty of fresh vegetables and fruit and a high potency multi-vitamin. Men need more vitamin C. Reduce the amount of caffeine and alcohol as they make the system more acidic.
  • Herbal Treatments - As mentioned above, Zinc is often recommended as well as vitamin E. Take goldenseal, raspberry leaf or red clover tea.


Personal Care

For women:

  • Don't douche.
  • After intercourse, remain lying down for a few minutes.
  • Avoid becoming too tired or too stressed.


For men:

  • Avoid excessive alcohol.
  • Stay healthy; a bad cold or flu can depress sperm count for up to three months.
  • Keep testicles cool; avoid saunas, hot tubs, and close-fitting underwear.


When to seek further professional advice

  • · you desire a child but have not conceived after a year of trying

Infertility

Difficulty in getting to sleep, interrupted sleep, or waking up too early.


What to look for

  • inability to fall asleep.
  • waking up throughout the night.
  • waking up too early.


Insomnia is a rather common complaint and can be a short term problem where there is a temporary disturbance of one's normal sleeping pattern. Short-term insomnia, usually lasts two or three weeks, and can accompany worry or stress and typically disappears when the apparent cause is resolved. It is not harmful but it can become a habit - hard to break.
Chronic insomnia is a more complex disorder in which the cause must be isolated by a doctor. This form of insomnia can have potentially serious effects especially upon the immune system.


Causes

Most commonly, insomnia is caused by stress, worry and depression. However other causes include excessive caffeine consumption, terrible pain, abuse of alcohol or drugs and poor sleeping habits such as napping during the day.
Physical ailments can interfere with your sleep, especially disorders of the heart, lungs, kidneys, liver, pancreas, and digestive system. Other important physical causes include heartburn and breathing disorders. Insomnia often accompanies menopause. Abnormal blood sugar levels can cause people suffering from diabetes or hypoglycaemia to wake up during the night.
Sedentary behaviour and keeping an erratic schedule can contribute to insomnia. Over-the-counter drugs and prescription medications can interfere with sleep.


Traditional Treatment

Transient insomnia usually disappears when you return to a regular sleep pattern. Short-term insomnia, which may be caused by the items listed above, may be treated with natural sleep aids or medication.
If your insomnia is more serious, your doctor will need to examine you and try to identify the cause. It may be necessary that you see other experts in this field as well.
There are medications available to enable you to sleep, however, doctors are hesitant to prescribe them in all cases as they can be highly addictive.
 

Alternative/Natural Treatments

Usually people who are unable to sleep need help to relax and take their mind off their problem. Alternative therapies attempt to relax the individual.


Aromatherapy - A relaxant effect may be provided by oils of chamomile (Matricaria recutita), lavender (Lavandula officinalis), neroli, rose, and marjoram. Add a few drops to your bathwater or sprinkle a few drops on a handkerchief and inhale.


Massage - Can promote relaxation and better sleep.


Herbal Therapies - Half an hour before bedtime, drink a calming herbal tea made with chamomile (Matricaria recutita), St.-John's-wort (Hypericum perforatum), lime blossom, passionflower (Passiflora incarnata), or hops (Humulus lupulus).
For insomnia from nervous tension, use vervain or scullcap (Scutellaria lateriflora). Valerian(Valeriana officinalis) is highly effective as well.


Homoeopathy - A homoeopathic practitioner may prescribe Nax vomica for insomnia caused by anxiety or restlessness, Ignatia for grief, or Muriaticum acidum for emotional problems. Other remedies are available, depending on the type of insomnia that is suffered.


Lifestyle - Exercise three or four times a week will help you sleep better and give you more energy.


Meditation and yoga - Can reduce tension and promote better sleep.


Dietary Considerations

Calcium and magnesium taken 45 minutes before bedtime have a tranquillising effect. As well as natural formulas such as valerian.  Avoid coffee, tea, cola drinks and alcohol.
High or low blood sugar can disrupt sleep patterns so avoid sweets and soft drinks before bed.
Warm milk may help in putting the restless person to sleep but do not drink too much as it is reported to be mucus forming.


Personal Care

  • Be sure your bedroom is quiet and dark.
  • Earplugs
  • eye shades may help.
  • relax in a warm bath, listen to soft quiet music just before bed
  • try some Aromatherapy oils put on just before bed such as Marjoram.
  • do not stress if you wake up in the middle of the night, perhaps try to do some light reading to get back to sleep.
  • Ensure you have enough ventilation and you feel comfortable in your room


Remember, a few nights of poor sleep do no long-term harm. Even if you toss and turn trying to get to sleep, you are probably getting more periods of sleep than you think.
 

When to seek further professional advice

  • you experience disturbed sleep for more than a month without apparent cause.
  • your insomnia is associated with an event
  • your sleep medication is no longer effective.
  • you never seem to get enough sleep.

Insomnia

A condition which causes abdominal pain and disturbs bowel action.


What to look for

  • constipation or diarrhoea shortly after meals, usually accompanied by cramps or bloating and gas.
  • abnormal bowel movements.


Your digestive system seems totally out of control. Either you can't stay out of the bathroom, or your stomach is tied in knots. Your bowel movements alternate between loose and hard.
Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) is the most common of all digestive disorders. The symptoms mentioned above usually follow the consumption of foods. Whatever the specific symptoms, your digestion seems normal but your bowel movements become abnormal and stay that way for several weeks or longer.


Causes

As part of the digestive process, the intestines move food through the intestinal tract by contractions called peristalsis. Irritable bowel syndrome occurs when peristalsis becomes irregular and awkward, disrupting the normal digestive process resulting in smaller ill-formed motions and a feeling that you have not quite emptied your bowels. IBS usually strikes without warning, and most sufferers have bowel movements more frequently than normal, although some become constipated.
There is no known cause of IBS. However many authorities consider stress is the culprit and even depression. While others are adamant that food sensitivities and allergies are the cause.


Overeating, or binge eating, is known to aggravate IBS, as is too much fat in the diet.
Lactose intolerance, eating irregularly or too quickly, and smoking may all be factors in IBS. Some sugar substitutes, antibiotics and other drugs may have diarrhoea as their side effect.


Traditional Treatment

Doctors focus mainly on relief of symptoms as the cause of the ailment is still a mystery.
Your diet may by examined first of all and if it is inadequate, your doctor may suggest a more balanced and healthy one for you.


Alternative/Natural Treatments

Various herbal and dietary remedies may be effective in preventing or soothing the discomfort of diarrhoea and constipation.


Exercise - try to get routine exercise as this can get your system moving as well as relaxing the body.


Herbal Therapies - To calm an overactive gastrointestinal tract, peppermint oil capsules are a favourite of many people. Try peppermint tea. Infusions of chamomile (Matricaria recutita), marsh mallow (Althaea officinalis) root, bayberry (Myrica spp.), or slippery elm (Ulmus fulva) also are soothing to the intestinal tract and can be made the same way. 
Ginger is another herb reputed to be beneficial for this problem.  Try plain yogurt daily to get your digestive tract in order.


Homoeopathy - Ignatia may be helpful if you are having spasms of pain and diarrhoea after emotional upsets. If you are passing offensive-smelling gas and mucus in the motions, take Mercurius vivus. I f sudden cramp like pains are relieved by bending over, take Colocynthis. If your stools are soft but you have to strain to pass them, try Nax vomica.


Lifestyle - A number of techniques have been found helpful for this complaint, including training in muscle relaxation.
Of all the relaxation techniques, the most familiar may be hypnotherapy. A practitioner uses the power of suggestion to teach a patient in a hypnotic state how to relax the smooth muscles of the intestines. Guided imagery, often taught by yoga instructors and massage therapists may also teach you new ways to relax yourself.


Dietary Considerations

Certain foods may contribute to IBS by irritating your gastrointestinal tract. Fatty foods are very hard for some people’s digestive systems to handle and consequently can cause this problem Other known irritants to some people's digestive tracts are eggs and dairy products, spicy foods, and coffee, especially decaffeinated.
Increase the amount of fibre in your diet by eating more fresh fruit and vegetables.
A diet rich in grains such as oats, fresh fruit and vegetables, cooked dried beans. Live yoghurt helps this condition.


When to seek further professional advice

  • you discover blood in your stools
  • you have a fever, or you have been losing weight unexpectedly
  • you have mucus in your stools

Irritable Bowel Syndrome

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

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.

Sciatica

This condition occurs as a result of a slipped disc or other reasons



What to look for

  • pain radiating through your buttock, down the back of your thigh and leg, often to your foot. Activity may make it worse.

The disc may bulge because of normal working activity or lifting, housework or washing. The disc presses on a nerve in the spinal column and the sharp pain may be felt down the leg and through the buttocks.


Causes

Pressure on a sciatic nerve may be due to a slipped disc or a number of other reasons such as poor posture, muscle strain, pregnancy, being overweight. The sciatic nerve may also be inflamed due to arthritis.


Traditional Treatment

Your doctor may suggest several types of pain killers to alleviate the pain.


Alternative/Natural Treatments

Herbal Therapies - Teas made from white willow bark or meadowsweet may relieve joint pain; try black cohosh for muscle spasms.


Other herbs which may relieve sciatica are St John’s wort, Jamaican dogwood, calendula and yarrow.
If your pain is severe, use ointment containing rue. Rub well on the affected areas 3 times per day.


Homoeopathy - For stiffness that is worse in the morning and at night but improves with heat, try Rhus toxicodendron. For severe shooting pain extending from your lower back to your ankles that worsens with motion, consider Bryonia. Make sure that you get professional advice for proper dosages and courses of treatment.


Dietary Considerations

High doses of calcium and magnesium at bedtime, with vitamin C, may be beneficial. Taking vitamin B6 three times a day for one week only may also help. You will need Professional guidance on taking supplements.


Personal Care

The following remedies might help reduce pain.

  • Apply ice to the affected area
  • Rest as much as you can and try a hard board under your mattress for more support.
  • Lie in a warm bath for 25 minutes with your favourite Aromatherapy oil. Some suggestions are peppermint, marjoram and lavender.
  • During periods of acute pain, don't pick up anything heavy.


Prevention

  • Sleep on a firm mattress on your back or side; avoid sleeping on your stomach.
  • Make sure your chair has firm back support - do not slouch and make sure your feet are flat on the floor.


When to seek further professional advice

  • the pain is severe and doesn't respond to over-the-counter analgesics;
  • the pain persists for more than three or four days


Scoliosis

Scoliosis is an excessive backwards or sideways curvature of the spine.

What to look for

  • the entire body seems to tilt to one side.
  • the shoulders, hips and legs appear uneven.
  • from the front the ribs appear more prominent.


Scoliosis is a progressive sideways curvature of the spine. People with scoliosis have an S bend curve to their spine.
This is not usually a painful condition but it can cause problems later on if not treated such as - arthritis, disk and other back problems. In severe cases the heart and lungs are affected.


Causes

it is not known exactly what causes this condition but genetics may play a part according to researchers. Children who have suffered from diseases of the muscles, bones, or nervous system, such as polio or cerebral palsy, may also develop scoliosis.


Traditional Treatment

The standard treatments for scoliosis are exercise, orthopaedic bracing, and in severe cases, surgery. It is important for treatment to begin early.


Alternative/Natural Treatments

Only conventional medical treatment seems to help these patients at this stage. It is vital that your child wear the brace as instructed in order for the treatment to be successful. It may be hard for them, and they will need your support and the support of other family members and friends. Help your child adhere to exercise programs written by your physical therapist or doctor in order to keep their muscles toned and supple.


When to seek further professional advice

  • you see any of the symptoms listed in the description section.

Sexual Dysfunction

Shis is the inability of either or both partners to fully enjoy sexual intercourse.



What to look for

For men, you may have a sexual problem if you:

  • ejaculate prematurely
  • do not ejaculate.
  • are unable to have sustain an erection; 
  • feel pain during intercourse.
  • lack sexual desire consistently


For women, you may have a sexual problem if you:

  • lack sexual desire consistently.
  • have difficulty achieving orgasm.
  • feel anxiety or pain during intercourse.
  • feel vaginal or other muscles contract involuntarily before or during sex.
  • have inadequate lubrication.


It can be traumatic for couples who are unable to fully enjoy sexual intercourse. The affects this can have upon the relationship itself can be distressing as well as the implications it may have for the conception of children.
This type of problem is common. And while it is not often fatal, it can drain both partners emotionally and cause stress and anxiety. It is wise to seek professional help for this problem.


Men are often anxious and feel under pressure to perform and to ‘give’ their partner an orgasm. If this does not happen, he may feel inadequate.
Another common sexual problem for men is premature ejaculation, in which orgasm occurs before or immediately after the penis enters the vagina.


Although quite rare, it is possible for men to consistently ejaculate too late.
The inability to experience pleasure from sex is a common problem for a woman. This should be talked over with a therapist and your partner.


Another similar problem is when woman can become aroused but does not achieve an orgasm. But the common fact is that women often find it difficult to orgasm particularly without stimulation of the clitoris.
Occasionally a woman will experience pain during intercourse. This may be a physical problem, an infection, or psychological.


Causes

There are many things which can affect sexual performance and functioning. Physical illnesses, drugs, alcohol are common culprits. Other more deep-rooted causes include a poor self-image, past traumatic events, guilt, depression, fatigue, certain religious beliefs, or being in a dysfunctional relationship or even problems within the relationship.
The causes of premature ejaculation are usually psychological. And this area needs to be explored to uncover the underlying fears.


Painful intercourse for men is usually physical - an infection, or an allergic reaction to something.
Problems with female arousal and orgasm may have either physical or psychological causes. Among the most common are day-to-day friction towards one's partner and inadequate stimulation.
Pain during intercourse can occur for any number of reasons and should be investigated by your doctor to rule out any possible illness or disease.


Traditional Treatment

Communication is vital when there is a sexual dysfunction in the relationship. Both are involved and both need to know exactly what is happening with the other partner.
A procedure for halting premature ejaculation has been very successful with a considerable number of couples. When you are about to ejaculate, withdraw from your partner’s vagina or ask her to stop stimulating you and gently squeeze the head of your penis to curb the orgasm. Keep going after about half a minute.


You may also wish to speak with a therapist about this problem to rule out any psychological reasons for ejaculating early.
When a man lacks sexual desire, the cause may be physical illness, fatigue, hormonal abnormality, or medications. There may also be psychological causes which a therapist may help identify.  A therapist can help women who do not feel any sexual desire. This involves both partners. It is vital to speak with a qualified and experienced therapist who you feel rapport with.
For painful intercourse in postmenopausal women, reduced lubrication can easily be corrected with over-the-counter creams.
For pain during intercourse in pre-menopausal women, first make sure there is adequate stimulation and lubrication. Also consult your doctor is pain persists after this.


Alternative/Natural Treatments

Some problems with sexual function are normal. Others are not and do require assistance from either a doctor or a sex therapist or counsellor.


Aromatherapy - For relaxation, soak in a warm bath; add 5 drops of essential oil of lavender or sweet orange, lime and ylang ylang. 


Yoga and meditation provide relaxation and can relieve anxiety. Massage is extremely helpful and sensual.


Herbal - A lack of iodine in the system can cause a lack of desire for sex as well as impotence - this is available in kelp. Carotene (the natural derivative of vitamin A) is also an important substance for sexual desire.


Chinese Herbs - The Chinese have used Ginseng for thousands of years as a general tonic for anything related to sexual functioning. It is available in tablet, fluid or extract form. It is also available in teas but it is of doubt how much genuine ginseng would be in the tea. You should be very careful how much of this herb is taken.


When to seek further professional advice

You or your partner has:

  • concerns about your sexual life.
  • pain during intercourse.
  • been exposed to sexually transmitted diseases.
  • been sexually abused.
  • a prolonged erection unaccompanied by sexual desire.

Sexually Transmitted Diseases

These are a wide range of different disease which are all acquired as a result of having sexual intercourse with a person who has already contracted the infection.

What to look for

  • a white, yellow, green, grey, or blood-streaked discharge that may have a strong smell.
  • genital and/or anal itching.
  • a rash, blisters, sores, lumps, bumps, warts on or around the genitals.
  • burning during urination.
  • swollen lymph glands in the groin.
  • pain in the groin or lower abdomen.
  • vaginal bleeding.
  • testicular swelling.
  • flu like symptoms.
  • painful intercourse.


Sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) are common and contagious diseases.


As the name of this group of diseases implies, these infections can be contracted by means of vaginal, anal, or oral sex. You are at high risk if:

  • you have more than one sex partner.
  • you don't use protection while having sex.
  • you share needles if injecting drugs.

Most sexually transmitted diseases can be cured or controlled if they are treated early. But you may not realise you have an STD until it has damaged your reproductive system, vision, heart, or other organs. Also, having an STD weakens the immune system and leaves you more vulnerable to other infections.


CAUSES

Chlamydia, Gonorrhoea, and syphilis are caused by bacteria, while AIDS, genital herpes, genital warts, and hepatitis B are caused by a virus. The pathogens that cause STDs are found in bodily secretions such as semen, blood, vaginal fluids, and sometimes saliva. Most of the organisms are spread by either sexual or personal contact.
If you are in a risky group always have regular tests.


Traditional Treatment

Never attempt to treat an STD yourself. These diseases are contagious and dangerous. You must see a doctor.
Bacterial STDs can be cured with antibiotics if treatment begins early enough. Viral STDs cannot be cured, but you can manage symptoms with medications. There is a vaccine to prevent hepatitis B, but it will not help if you have already contracted the disease.


Alternative/Natural Treatments

See entries for specific sexually transmitted diseases for information on alternative therapies. But remember always seek conventional medical help first.


Personal Care

  • Douche with vinegar, yogurt, or lemon juice solutions to relieve vaginal distress.
  • Take zinc and vitamins  A, C and E to boost your immune system.
  • Practice relaxation techniques to ease stress.
  • Take warm baths and analgesics.
  • Ask your doctor or Pharmacist about other over-the-counter remedies.


PREVENTION

Always avoid sex with anyone who has genital sores, a rash, a discharge, or other disease symptoms. If you are in a high-risk group you should:

  • Use condoms and water-based lubricants. Remember that condoms are not 100 percent effective at preventing disease.
  • Wash before and after intercourse.
  • Get a vaccination for hepatitis B.
  • Avoid sharing towels or items of clothing.


When to seek further professional advice

  • you have any of the symptoms listed in the description section.

Snoring

This can be described as heavy breathing which sounds like snorting when asleep.


What to look for

  • Unusual breathing patterns during sleep.

Snoring is usually harmless although very annoying for the person who has to hear it. It can be loud and continuous throughout the whole time a person is asleep. Or it can occur only in certain positions. It can vary in pitch and intensity or be the same every night. Each case is individual. However, sometimes snoring can be a dangerous medical condition called obstructive sleep apnoea.


If you have this condition, you stop breathing during the time you are asleep. There is not enough oxygen getting in the blood this can cause tiredness or if prolonged can cause death. Go to your doctor if you think you have this problem.


Causes

Snoring is involuntary. It happens when the snorer breathes through their mouth and the muscles of the soft palate relax. The passages are narrowed and as the air is drawn into the lungs, the soft palate vibrates.


Usually this happens when the muscles that allow breathing become too relaxed. This can be due to too much alcohol, medications, an overly soft or large pillow; sleeping on your back, poor muscle tone or obesity.


It can also be a physical problem you may have been born with.


Asthma and smoking can also lead to obstruction and snoring.


Traditional Treatments

It is always wise to visit your doctor to rule out any possible major disorders. However, normally snoring is something that you can fix at home by eating well, losing weight if you need to and giving up smoking. Drinking less alcohol will help as well.
Surgery is a possibility but only when the obstruction is severe.


Alternative/Natural Treatments

If you have allergic reactions, asthma, or any other respiratory problems, refer to the appropriate entries for alternative treatments which have proven to be quite successful.


Herbal Treatments - If sinusitis is the cause, try horseradish and garlic tablets everyday. Do not exceed the recommended doses.


Aromatherapy - Steam inhalation may open up the airways a little and enable you to sleep better at night. Put 3-4 drops of your favourite Aromatherapy essential oil. Otherwise try cedarwood, Rosemary or lavender.


Prevention

  • Keep to your ideal weight
  • Make sure you eat early in the night and do not drink alcohol before going to sleep.
  • Stop smoking.
  • Sleep on your side.


When to seek further advice from a professional

  • you live with a snorer and you notice there are times when his breathing actually stops.

Sports Injuries

Occur when stress is placed on bones or muscles as a result of sports activities.

What to look for…

There are different types of sports injuries.

  • Dislocation - when bones separate and ligaments tear at a joint.
  • A fracture (usually at ankle, hand, wrist or collarbone)can be either simple or compound. Simple fractures occur when the broken bone remains beneath the surface of the skin. Compound fractures are when the bone protrudes through the skin.
  • Most sports require people to use their shoulder muscles and joints. Injuries are common in this area.
  • Tennis elbow involves the outer elbow. (see section on tennis elbow).
  • Lower-back injuries are very common in sports that require a great deal of bending up and down. (see back problems)
  • Groin strain is another common sports problem and may result from intense movement of the legs.
  • Quite commonly, knees are subjected to jumping and other strains.
  • Leg injuries (shin splints and tendonitis) as well as fractures occur if you constantly run, walk or stand for long periods.


Symptoms include:

  •  Any pain, tenderness, swelling or discomfort.
  • Pain, tenderness, swelling and deformity may indicate a fracture.
  • Pain, restricted movement, strange appearance as well as swelling in a joint indicate a possible dislocation.
  • Pain in the elbow.
  • Pain below the kneecap may be a sign of tendonitis.


Traditional Treatment

Sports injuries are treated with the purpose of relieving the pain associated with them, to repair bones get you back on your feet.

Rest, ice, compression and elevation are important for most minor sports injuries.
Injuries such as tendonitis usually need you to rest and commence a physio program to keep the area flexible and strong.
It is important to visit your health care practitioner to be diagnosed and offered immediate help.


At-Home Remedies

  • Replacing your lost fluids by drinking lots of filtered water.
  • Ice packs reduce swelling.
  • To relieve cramping, elevate the affected area to direct blood flow toward the heart. Gently stretching the muscle will usually stop a cramp. (See also muscle cramps).
  • A nice hot bath with your favourite aromatherapy oils can do wonders for tired and sore muscles.
  • Rest, ice, compression and elevation are vital for most sports injuries.


Prevention

Most people should consult their health care practitioner before starting any exercise program (especially if you have a heart or other medical condition or you are over the age of 40).
Warming up before starting your sports activity is vital to condition your muscles. This includes some slow walking, light rebounding, then stretching. You should take part in your chosen sport at least 3 to 4 times per week to maintain your fitness levels.


When to Seek Further Professional Advice

  • You notice any of the symptoms listed above.

Sprains & Strains

Sprains and strains are common injuries of the ligaments and muscles.


What to look for

Sprains, which affect joints, and strains which affect muscles, usually occur after an accident.


For a sprain:

  • pain in the joint.
  • swelling of a joint.
  • difficulty moving a joint.


For a strain:

  • sharp pain at injury, followed by stiffness, tenderness, and in some cases, swelling.


Sprains and strains are among the most common injuries. A sprain is the tearing of ligaments, the tissue that connect bones to one another at a joint. The most common sprains are ankles, wrists and thumbs. A strain damages muscle tissue either stretching or tearing it.


These injuries are not fatal and can usually heal themselves. If the injury is more severe it may require surgical repair. This type of damage may weaken the muscles or bones and make them susceptible to injuries in the future. 



Causes

Any accident or occurrence that stresses the joints or muscles beyond their normal tolerance. A new sport or activity, a fall, lifting heavy objects and being overweight.


Traditional Treatment

Your doctor will wish to treat the pain to make it bearable as well as the swelling. You will need to rest the area as much as possible.


Most sprains and strains heal in two to three weeks. Doctors routinely prescribe rest, ice, compression, and elevation immediately following the injury, along with a pain killer. He or she may apply bandages or suggest you use crutches to support the limb while it is healing.


Alternative/natural Treatments

Alternative therapies may help relieve the pain and swelling associated with sprains and strains.


Chinese Herbs - A practitioner of Chinese medicine may use a poultice of gardenia (Gardenia jasminoides), flour, and wine to reduce swelling and promote healing. Massage with the extracted oil of safflower flower (Carthamus tinctorius) is believed to improve circulation, which encourages healing.


Homoeopathy - The anti-inflammatory action of homoeopathic preparations of Arnica, taken orally, may relieve pain.


Dietary Considerations

Vitamin C, beta carotene (vitamin A), zinc, vitamin E, and selenium often help speed recovery of sprains and strains.


Hot water bottles applied to the area will help eventually.


Herbal Treatments - For sprains, immediately apply ice to the area, elevate the affected limb, Rest it and apply arnica as a cream or tincture, or a compress of both arnica and comfrey root. Apply directly on the swelling.


Vitamin C and horsetail will help the healing of muscle tissue.


Prevention

Always warm up before doing anything strenuous or when you are going to lift something heavy. Keep strong and fit so your muscles can accept more strenuous activity.


When to seek further professional advice

  • the pain, swelling, or stiffness does not improve in two to three days.
  • you can't move or bear weight on an injured joint.
  • the bones are not aligned properly.

Stress

Stress can be said to be our physical or emotional reactions to outside stimuli that is beyond what is normally experienced by us.


What to look for

  • Physical symptoms may include headache, fatigue, insomnia, digestive changes, neck or backache, loss of appetite, or overeating, increased use of tobacco or alcohol, tics or twitches.
  • Psychological symptoms may include tension or anxiety, anger, reclusiveness, pessimism, lack of concentration, resentment, increased irritability, feelings of cynicism, performance problems.

We need to have a certain level of stress in our lives, as it inspires us to move ahead, to accomplish tasks and it motivates us to action. However, when there is more stress in our lives that we are able to cope with, the negative symptoms of stress may become apparent.
When we feel intense stress or fear, a hormone called adrenalin secretes from the adrenal glands above the kidneys. This hormone gets us ready to take action against the ‘enemy’. Our heart beats faster, our blood pressure rises, and our muscles will tense up.
Different people have different levels of stress that they can cope with. The stress may not even be apparent to us.
If we allow the stress to continue, it can eventually cause numerous problems within our body such as ulcers, fatigue, skin diseases and it puts stress on our immune system.


Causes

When life throws more things at us than we are able to cope with at a certain time, we are under stress. It could be related to our occupation, family life, a loss of someone close, money problems, conflict or even positive events. Other causes are internal: illness, loneliness, pain, or emotional conflict. The different stresses in our life accumulate and we reach a point when we show the effects of not coping with it.
You should be able to identify the triggers of stress in your life so as to teach yourself to be prepared and to learn how to best handle it.


Traditional Treatment

Often talking your problems over with someone helps you to see things from a different slant. This can be helpful in finding a solution which you did not think of before.
Otherwise, your doctor may be able to prescribe certain forms of medication for you. Remember, some are addictive and you should beware.
Your doctor may suggest a counsellor to pinpoint events or conditions that are stressful to you, and to devise ways of reducing the stress they cause.


Alternative/Natural Treatments

Any therapy that promotes relaxation and clarity are helpful with this condition.


Aromatherapy - Essential oil of lavender, sandalwood, and tangerine can help reduce stress: Try 5 drops of each in a bath.


Massage - This helps relax your whole body and mind. Use the following essential oils - lavender, sandalwood, tangerine, bergamot, cedarwood, clary sage, Frankincense or grapefruit.

Herbal Therapies - A traditional response to stress is to drink a cup of hot tea. Some herbalists suggest chamomile, passionflower, valerian, or ginseng tea.


Lifestyle - If you feel stressed, try exercising to use up the hormones released.


Dietary Considerations

Eat more fresh fruit and vegetables, and filtered water. Less caffeine drinks such as coffee and tea. Plenty of sleep and exercise.


Personal Care

  • exercise
  • Breathe deeply and fully.
  • try yoga to learn to relax and refocus.
  • Meditation creates relaxation.


Prevention

  • get an enjoyable hobby or interest.
  • get plenty of exercise that you enjoy and rest.
  • watch a funny movie, listen when people tell funny jokes.
  • Count to 10 and take a deep breath before reacting to a potentially stressful event. This old wives tale can actually help you keep your calm.


When to seek further professional advice

  • your stress in unbearable and persistent.

Stroke

Occurs when the blood supply to the brain is stopped.


What to look for

  • abrupt loss of vision, energy, coordination, sensation, speech.
  • weaknesses or paralysis down one side of the body, loss of balance.
  • sudden and severe headache followed rapidly by loss of consciousness.


Our brain must be continually supplied with blood through the arteries. If the blood supply stops for some reason, the result is very serious. Disruptions of blood flow to the brain are known as stroke. There are two types - a cerebral infarction and a cerebral haemorrhage.


A cerebral infarction occurs when an artery is blocked, halting the flow of blood to the brain. The second basic type of stroke is cerebral haemorrhage which occurs when there is bleeding into the brain. As blood flows into the brain, the build up of pressure results in agonising headache, sometimes followed by loss of consciousness.
Depending on where the brain has been damaged and how badly it has been affected, the patient usually recovers but they may have a physical weakness as a result of the stroke.


Causes

A cerebral infarction occurs as a result of a blocked artery.  The arteries become blocked over the years and this produces slow blood flow to the brain.


Cerebral haemorrhages usually occur as a result of weak arteries or aneurisms in the brain that rupture. High blood pressure is the cause of weak arteries in most cases.
The causes you are able to prevent or charge are - high blood pressure, high cholesterol, a sedentary lifestyle, obesity, the abuse of stimulant drugs such as amphetamines, smoking, use of birth-control pills, and stress.


Traditional Treatment

If you have had a stroke or have any similar symptoms, you must be examined and diagnosed by a neurologist or a doctor.
Victims of stroke are hospitalised and given the appropriate medication.
Your doctor will describe the lifestyle changes that will need to be made by yourself.


Alternative/Natural Treatments

Alternative treatments can be marvellous adjuncts to conventional treatments with stroke patients.
Several techniques can help restore mobility, circulation, and ease other symptoms associated with stroke. Among these are shiatsu, and massage.


Herbal Therapies - A number of scientific studies have shown that ginkgo increases blood flow also reduces blood-clot formation.


Lifestyle

It is vital that you commence regular aerobic exercise - swimming, walking or anything safe and gentle that you feel comfortable with.
People at high risk for stroke should not smoke and should eat a low-fat diet and not take contraceptive pills.


Dietary Considerations

To prevent strokes, your diet should be rich potassium, magnesium, vitamin E, and the essential fatty acids contained in fish oils. Some studies suggest that selenium may also protect against stroke. Fresh fruit and vegetables. Avoid alcohol, caffeine and smoking at all costs.


Prevention

Eat a low fat, salt and cholesterol diet, exercise regularly; keep to your ideal weight; monitoring blood pressure and cholesterol levels; and do not smoke.


When to seek further professional advice

  • you or someone with you shows any of the signs of stroke

Testicular Cancer

What to look for…

The earliest warning signs of testicular cancer usually include:

  • a change in their size or shape.
  • swelling or thickening of the testicles.
  • a firm, smooth, painless, slow-growing lump in a testicle.
  • a feeling of testicular heaviness.


Other symptoms of testicular cancer may include:

  • urinary problems.
  • an abdominal mass or abdominal pain.
  • persistent coughing, possibly with blood-tinged sputum.
  • shortness of breath.
  • loss of weight or appetite
  • fatigue
  • lower-back pain
  • tenderness in the nipples or breast enlargement.
  • very rarely, infertility.


The two testicles, or testes, are glands on a man that produce his hormones and sperm. They hang behind a man's penis in the scrotum. Although Testicular cancer is rare, it is the most common type of cancer in men between the ages of 15 and 35.
Almost all testicular cancers begin in the testicles themselves rather than spread there from another organ. Testicular cancer can spread slowly or rapidly but can easily spread throughout the body to the lungs, the liver, bones, and possibly the brain.
Fortunately, most cases of this type of cancer are treatable, highly curable and are not fatal.


Causes

It is not known exactly what causes testicular cancer. Some men who develop this type of cancer have been born with an undescended testicle. Some researchers believe this type of cancer is hereditary. It is said that men with fertility problems are more likely to develop benign testicular tumours. There are other possible risk factors…

  • a sedentary lifestyle
  • early puberty
  • previous mumps
  • testicular injury
  • overexposure to pesticides or radiation


It is a very good idea to go through the process of self-examination at least once per month. If you do not know what to look for, go to your doctor to have him explain to you how to examine yourself. If you do have testicular cancer, the affected testicle will be removed and analysed to see what type of cancer it is. There will also be examinations to see if the other testicle is affected.


Traditional Treatments

Because it is required for diagnosis, surgical removal of a testicle is unavoidable. If cancer is found, a second operation is performed, and these two operations are often enough to cure limited testicular cancer. Very severe cases are treated with chemotherapy as well. Nearly all testicular cancer patients are cured, but they are urged to have frequent follow-up examinations.


Complementary Therapies

Although conventional medicine is highly successful at curing testicular cancer, simply learning that you have cancer can be emotionally traumatic and stressful. Many patients find counselling helpful.


Prevention

Regular exercise is said to help prevent testicular cancer. Other research suggests that correcting an undescended testicle surgically before a boy turns 10 reduces the cancer risk.
Most important, however, is regular testicle self-examination.


When to seek further professional advice

  • you detect any sort of unusual lump or swelling in the scrotum.

Toxic Shock Syndrome

Toxic Shock Syndrome is a sudden and dangerous condition started by the release of toxins caused by the staphylococci bacteria.

What to look for

  • high fever.
  • low blood pressure
  • vomiting and/or diarrhoea.
  • a rash resembling a sunburn with peeling skin on fingers and toes.
  • dizziness or mental confusion.


It usually affects menstruating women, especially those who use super absorbent tampons. This is a potentially fatal disease if left untreated.


A few women actually died from this disease in the 1970’s because they used super absorbent tampons and left them in too long.


A woman who has recently given birth is also at increased risk for developing toxic shock as well as anyone exposed to Staphylococcus aurous bacteria while recovering from surgery, a burn, or an open wound.
If you have had toxic shock syndrome you are likely to suffer a recurrence sometime in your life. The reason for this is unclear but it is wise to know the symptoms and seek help if they start.


If you are menstruating and have a high fever with vomiting, especially if you have been wearing tampons, you must get medical help right away. Remove your tampon or diaphragm straight away.


Causes

The primary cause of toxic shock syndrome is a toxin produced by the bacterium Staphylococcus aureus. This bacteria can reside in the vagina under normal circumstances.


Exactly why and how Staphylococcus aureus causes this disease is not completely understood but for the disease to occur two things are necessary. First, the bacteria need an environment in which they can grow rapidly and release toxins and then the toxins must have a way of getting into the bloodstream.


A tampon, it is believed is a perfect medium for the bacteria to grow.  The toxins then only have to enter the bloodstream for the disease to develop.


Traditional Treatment

Toxic shock syndrome requires immediate hospital care - 
Call 000 immediately.


Prevention

When using tampons, make sure that you do not leave them in too long. Change them every few hours. Also stick to the least absorbent ones. If you can tolerate sanitary napkins - use them instead. You should always use sanitary napkins at night.


When to seek further professional advice

  • you have the symptoms listed above.



Uterine Cancer

This is cancer of the uterus or the uterine linings - the endometrium.


What to look for…

Uterine cancer causes no symptoms at onset. They will usually become noticeable as the malignancy begins to grow. But there are some women with uterine cancer who experience no symptoms until the disease spreads to other organs.
The most likely symptoms are:

  • abnormal vaginal bleeding - heavier than normal periods or bleeding in between periods. (if you have had menopause, any bleeding will be abnormal, unless you are on HRT).
  • vaginal discharge.
  • an enlarged uterus.
  • unexpected weight loss;
  • weakness and pain in the lower abdomen, back, or legs. (This occurs once the cancer has spread to other organs).


The uterine lining (the endometrium) in women thickens every month as it prepares to receive a fertilised egg. If no egg is fertilised, the extra tissue and blood are expelled through menstruation. There are a number of conditions that can affect the uterus. These conditions may or may not be cancerous.


Benign problems include fibroid tumours on the uterine wall and women who have them are not at more of a risk for uterine cancer. Endometriosis is the most serious benign uterine condition, and in some women it evolves into uterine cancer.
The most common place in the uterus for cancers to develop are in the endometrium. This is called endometrial cancer or carcinoma. It is most dangerous if left untreated when it can penetrate the uterine wall and invade the bladder, vagina, fallopian tubes, ovaries or rectum or other organs. Fortunately, endometrial cancer grows slowly and usually is detected before spreading very far.


Causes

Women whose risk of getting uterine cancer is high include postmenopausal women who began menstruating early and went through menopause late, are obese, diabetic, or have high blood pressure, have few or no children, are infertile, have irregular menstrual periods, or endometrial hyperplasia.


Susceptibility to endometrial cancer is also linked to how much the endometrium has been exposed to oestrogen without progesterone. Oestrogen stimulates cell division, while progesterone suppresses it. With a high level of cell division, the chance of cancer increases. Women on HRT should be monitored regularly for uterine cancers.
Pap smears should be regularly performed as these may detect some uterine cancers before symptoms develop. Otherwise, uterine cancer is usually diagnosed by the appearance of symptoms.


Traditional Treatments

Conventional medicine is usually successful in curing most women of uterine cancer. The type of treatment will vary depending on the stage of the cancer.


Surgery is standard treatment for uterine cancer that has not begun to metastasise, or spread. The usual treatment for early endometrial cancer is total hysterectomy, which means the uterus, cervix, ovaries, and fallopian tubes are all removed. If the disease has begun to spread beyond the uterus, the patient is given radiation therapy after surgery, in the hope of wiping out the remaining cancer cells.


Patients with widespread (metastatic) uterine cancer are usually given hormone therapy to slow the cancer's growth. Chemotherapy or radiation might also be given to reduce the size and number of metastatic tumours. Such treatment is rarely curative but can prolong life and relieve symptoms. If it destroys tumours in the other organs, and the cancer is confined to the uterus or close surrounding areas, surgery may then be undertaken.
Patients in remission need checkups every few months for several years. If cancer recurs, it quite often happens within three years.
Caught early, recurrent cancer may be cured with aggressive radiation therapy or further surgery. 


Complementary Therapies

There are many support groups to join if you are needing extra help in dealing with this disease. Counselling also may be very helpful for you at this time.


Prevention

Have a Pap smear and pelvic exam annually. If you are of child bearing age, discuss the pros and cons of taking birth-control pills with your doctor.
It is also advisable to exercise regularly and eat sensibly to become as healthy as you can. (See Cancer entry for more information on this illness).
It is reported that certain vitamins and minerals such as antioxidants may have anticancer properties.


When to seek further professional advice

  • you experience abnormal vaginal bleeding or discharge. Abnormal bleeding is not a symptom of menopause. It should be brought to your doctor's attention immediately.

Vaginal Problems

These are problems that occur in the vagina (a part of the female reproductive system connected to the cervix).



What to look for

  • your vulva is swollen and itchy.
  • you have white areas on your vulva.
  • there is more vaginal discharge than normal, it smells, burns or itches.
  • abnormal bleeding.


The vagina is like a channel which connects the cervix to the outside area called the vulva. It generates mucus and secretions automatically. It does not need our help to clean it, the secretions flow down along with other dead cells and substances. Discharge is normal and occurs in most women. It is usually clear or white in colour.


Common problems which occur in the vagina region are yeast infections, vaginitis (inflammation), bacterial vaginosis, sexually transmitted diseases, abnormal discharge and vaginal infections.


Bacterial vaginosis commonly occurs in the reproductive years. There may be a fishy-smelling discharge, but there may be no symptoms at all. Ask your doctor to investigate this possibility during your pap smear.


Yeast infections produce cottage-cheese-like discharge. They are very common and most women have or will experience them during their lifetime.


Vaginal infections are not serious usually; sexually transmitted infections such as Gonorrhoeaand Chlamydia have been found to be associated with other complications.


Vaginal cancer, can be very serious and can spread to other areas. 


Causes

Stress may cause a change in the vaginal bacteria which can create vaginitis.
Vaginal yeast infections are caused by the Candida fungus. The use of antibiotics can make this infection occur.


Traditional Treatment

Conventional treatment is a must in diagnosing possible vaginal problems.
You will need to be examined and your doctor may prescribe the appropriate medications and/or antibiotics to treat the ailments.


Alternative/Natural Treatments

The following are supplemental therapies that, along with your physician's prescribed treatment, may ease your recovery.


Herbal Therapies - Eat more fresh garlic as it has properties and may be effective in treating vaginitis and vaginal yeast infections.
If itching or minor irritation is a symptom of your vaginitis, bathe with an infusion of fresh chickweed for relief. To reduce inflammation calendula (Calendula officinalis) is often effective.


Homoeopathy - Certain remedies aid certain types of vaginal discharges -
A smelly, yellow discharge with burning, swelling, and soreness may be treated with Kreosotum;
A white or yellow discharge, for itching and Sepia is recommended;
A thick, creamy yellow-green discharge Pulsatilla.


These problems can become serious so if the treatment does not help, see your doctor.


Lifestyle

You may need to avoid using tampons while you have vaginal problems as this can exacerbate the condition. Also avoid sexual intercourse while you have vaginitis or yeast infections.


Dietary Considerations

Natural acidophilus yogurt is brilliant for ridding the vagina of yeast infections. You can also apply it directly to the area and insert it into the vagina for relief.  Always wipe from front to back to avoid spreading infection.


Prevention

A good diet, plenty of filtered water, good hygiene and adequate protection during intercourse will help your system avoid getting vaginitis.


When to seek further professional advice

  • you have excessive bleeding not at the time of your period or abnormal sharp pain along with fever.

Conception is a lot more complicated than the act of joining the sperm with an egg. The timing and conditions must be right to ensure that it is successful. People naturally assume that conception will take place soon after they stop taking ‘the pill’ - it is a presumed natural and straightforward event.

Each time a man ejaculates, he produces sperm. However, for women it is usually only once that she will be ready to conceive in the month. Usually a fortnight before the first day of your period, you will produce a single egg from your ovaries. The egg swims to the fallopian tubes and lives there for approximately 12 hours. If it is not fertilised at this time, it dies and is absorbed back into the cells of the tube and the cycle starts again.


If you have sexual intercourse around the time you ovulate there is a big chance of conception taking place. Once ejaculation has occurred, the sperm (there could be up to 1000 million of them) separate from the seminal fluid and move up towards the cervix. The strong sperm survive this journey and the weaker ones die.


The vagina is quite an acid environment for the sperm and it takes resilient ones to withstand it. By the time the sperm reach the fallopian tubes, there are only two thousand left. The sperm struggle and fight to be the one to fertilise the egg when it is released. The one that connects with the egg is the fittest and strongest and this is natures way of ensuring that unhealthy or damaged sperm are not able to fertilise an egg.


Fertilisation occurs when a sperm penetrates the outer surface of the egg. Once the egg is fertilised, the tail drops off and the rest of the sperm die. The egg and sperm each with there own genetic information now combine together and form a single nucleus.


All this genetic information will determine the sex and characteristics of your child. The nucleus divides into two and over the next 3 days will continue to divide until there are 64 cells.  As this is happening, the egg travels through the fallopian tube towards the uterus. After the seventh day, the egg is able to snuggle into the lining of the uterus - now it can be nurtured and a pregnancy can start.  Once this happens conception is complete. The egg can be nourished by the blood supply in the uterine lining. At this time the ovary is informed that fertilisation has occurred and it stops ovulation and the body also ceases menstruation.


Twins

Occasionally however, the egg divides into separate halves, instead of doubling the cells in a single cell. The two separate embryos will be identical twins as they started off from the same egg and sperm. Non-identical twins will occur when two egg cells are released at ovulation and are fertilised by two different sperm.


Most couples find it reasonably easy to conceive, however sometimes it may take up to two years or so before it occurs. Other couples have great difficulties in conceiving and the problem can be with either partners or both.


Conception

Varicose Veins

These are veins that are swollen, lengthened and obvious just below the skin.



What to look for

  • prominent dark blue veins, especially in the legs and feet.
  •  your legs may ache


Varicose veins are usually fairly obvious and bulge out from under your skin. They usually affect your legs. Varicose veins can be superficial or deep. Superficial veins are visible and swollen. They are painful and can affect your circulation but usually harmless.


Deep varicose veins can be the cause of blood clots and inflammation as they form deeper within the leg.


Causes

People who suffer from varicose veins are thought to have defective valves in the leg. This is a result of too much blood pressure which makes the veins swell. The swollen veins then cause the valves not to seal properly. We rely on the valves to circulate the blood to the heart properly. If they do not function properly, the blood can’t keep flowing and starts to pool in the vein causing the swollen veins that are part of this condition.


There are certain triggers that increase the likelihood of varicose veins.

  • constipation
  • pregnancy
  • obesity
  • too much standing
  • injury


Traditional Treatment

If you have a less severe case you do not need to see your doctor and can treat the condition at home. Support pantihose are usually very helpful and you should leave them on all day. They will support the veins in your legs.
Your doctor may suggest taking a pain killer for the pain of varicose veins. If you notice no signs of having this condition but still have the pain associated with it - call your doctor immediately.


There are numerous options available for this condition - ask your doctor to tell you about them.


Alternative/Natural Treatments

Natural therapies can help your system cope with varicose veins and also prevent more from occurring.


Aromatherapy - Oil of rosemary massaged gently into an affected area may help stimulate circulation by causing capillaries to dilate.
Oils of cypress (3 drops), sandalwood (3 drops) , peppermint (1 drop) and chamomile (1 drop) may soothe swelling and inflammation and help relieve pain - use a base carrier oil of calendula (5 teaspoons).
See the section on Aromatherapy for more information - certain people should not have particular essential oils.


Massage - Regular massage from a trained massage therapist can significantly alleviate discomfort associated with varicose veins.


Herbal Therapies - Many herbs have been beneficial in the treatment of varicose veins, and some have undergone extensive scientific study. Ginkgo (Ginkgo biloba), hawthorn (Crataegus laevigata), and bilberry (Vaccinium myrtillus) are all reported to strengthen blood vessels and improve peripheral circulation.


For the skin irritation linked with varicose veins, try a lotion made of distilled witch hazel (Hamamelis virginiana).
To separate the build-up of protein called fibrin that makes skin near varicose veins hard and lumpy, try eating more cayenne (Capsicum frutescens), garlic (Allium sativum), onion, ginger(Zingiber officinale), and pineapple, which contains bromelain, an enzyme that promotes breakup of fibrin.


Homoeopathy - Homoeopath remedies are often used to treat varicose veins.


Pulsatilla is one remedy that is commonly prescribed.


Lifestyle

Take up regular aerobic exercise - this is beneficial for circulation.
Take a hot bath followed by a cold bath to relieve the pain from varicose veins. You can also do the same thing with foot spas.
Yoga' s stretching and relaxation techniques can be particularly beneficial for varicose veins.


Dietary Considerations

To rid yourself of varicose veins and to prevent them from forming, it is wise to reorganise your diet to include lots of low fat foods and plenty of fresh fruit and vegetables. A diet low in fat and high in fibre is best.


Drink plenty of filtered water as well. Also reduce the amount of salt, alcohol and cut out cigarettes totally. It is important to keep your weight at your ideal level as extra body fat puts strain on your legs and veins.


Vitamins B, C and E are helpful. As is magnesium, zinc, calcium fluoride, rutin and bioflavonoids, lecithin , kelp and garlic.

Personal Care
Take some rest if your routine requires that you remain for long periods of time on your feet. Try to avoid high heels as this can also aggravate the problem.


Prevention

  • Exercise regularly.
  • Eat well. Drink plenty of water. Take supplements listed above.
  • Rest often and do stretching exercises if you are on your feet a lot.
  • If you smoke, quit.
  • If you're pregnant, sleep on your left side rather than on your back to lessen the pressure on your pelvic muscles.


When to seek further professional advice

  •  the pain and swelling becomes extremely severe.
  •  you have red varicose veins.
  • ·you cut a varicose vein - see a doctor immediately.


If breastfeeding is not appropriate for you or your life, it is possible to bottle-feed. Mothers who wish to bottle-feed their babies should use a commercial infant formula.  These formulas are very similar nutritionally to breast milk. Your baby should grow and become strong and healthy in a similar way to breastfed babies.


There are many different varieties available and you can choose between ones based on cow’s milk or soya bean. Read the label carefully before making up the feed and contact your family doctor about how much or how often to feed your baby.
The advantages are that other people can help feed your baby which can be great for working mums.

Here are a few tips for a happy, healthy bottle-fed baby:

*  It is advisable to give your baby an infant formula until he is about 12 months of age or until he is eating regular meals.

*  Always sterilise the bottles and teats, and boil any water used for the milk mixture.

*  Check the expiry date on the formula.

*  Use formula within one month of opening the can.

*  Hold your baby close to you every time you give him the bottle.

*  Never leave your baby alone while feeding and don’t prop up your baby’s bottle while feeding.

*  Burp your baby during and after a feed.

*  When your baby has finished feeding throw away any left over milk, then rinse the bottle and teat with cold water. Do this immediately after each feed.

*  Your baby doesn’t need to finish all the milk in a bottle at each feed.

*  If formula based on cow’s milk appears to upset your baby, try milk based on soya bean. Speak with your doctor or our Pharmacist.


Young babies will usually take about 60 to 120mL of milk at each feed. They usually feed about every 3 or 4 hours.
As your baby gets older, he will gradually take more at each feed until he reaches about 180 to 250mL.


Bottle Feeding Considerations

This is one of most important things you can do for yourself and your new baby. However it is not always easy to get started, it is not necessarily instinctive. 

Here are a few tips for you:

*  Start early - within the first few hours.

*  Make sure someone experienced (a midwife) shows you how to do it properly.

*  Feed your child from both breasts

*  Make yourself comfortable before you begin

*  You will have plenty of mild if you eat a variety of foods each day as well as lots of filtered water

*  Demand feed your baby right away

*  Feed the baby for however long he or she wants to feed. However make sure your baby is actually swallowing and that the position is correct.

*  If your nipples are sore, something needs readjusting - his position or attachment.

*  Do not use milk from the bottle in addition to your breastmilk as this may lessen your supply. It could also encourage your child to prefer sucking on the teat and not your nipple

*  Feeding at night helps your milk supply and may help you sleep better.

*  Do not put any creams, lotions or ointments on your nipples. They emit a smell which attracts your baby.


Why Breastfeed?

*  Human breast milk is made for human babies, it is the most perfect food for them to have. It’s the right kind of milk for your baby.

*  Breast feeding brings about a special close feeling between mother and baby. The breast is a comfort to a baby when the child is not feeling well or experiencing some discomfort.

*  It is safe. The mother’s milk, especially the first milk (colostrum) has antibodies in it which helps protect the baby from many diseases and disorders.

*  Reduces the risk of SIDS (Sudden Infant Death Syndrome).

*  It is convenient. Mothers who breast feed don’t have to bother with sterilising bottles and teats or worry about the milk spoiling in warm weather.

*  It is nutritious. Breast milk contains all of the nutrients needed by the baby for the first 4 or 6 months of life. These nutrients are in the right amounts and in easily digested form.

*  Breast feeding is encouraged for the first year but after 4-6 months solids may also be introduced.

*  Breast feeding helps the mothers’ womb resume to normal shape faster.

*  It is cheaper.

*  The best advice about breast feeding is for you to be relaxed and calm, and enjoy your new baby. If you are having any problems breast feeding, seek help from your doctor or midwife.


Problems with breastfeeding

Blocked milk ducts:
Sometimes this can occur when the breast hasn’t emptied fully, you are not nursing your child in the correct position, missing feeds or the child is not nursing for long enough periods. Your breasts may feel uncomfortable. You can try to express some milk yourself.


Engorgement:
This can occur when your breasts are too full. This usually occurs when the milk first comes in. You can usually relieve it by having a warm shower and expressing some of the milk.
Sometimes the breasts are too tight for the baby to feed properly - just express a little before feeding to soften them up.


Sore nipples:
If your baby is not sucking correctly on your nipples, they can become sore. They will heal quickly if the position is corrected. If your nipples are cracked or blistered, feed on the other side. Nipples tend to heal quickly, so try to keep going with your breast feeding.


Too little milk:
Usually people worry about this for no reason. If your baby looks well, has clear skin and eyes, is wetting 7 - 8 nappies per day, having some bowel movements and is putting on weight you should be assured that you are feeding him or her enough. The more the breast is sucked and the more milk is withdrawn from it, the more milk there will be produced.


Is there anything You should be aware of?

Please see your doctor before taking any medications, these days you are able to breastfeed while taking a variety of medications but it is best to be sure. You definitely should not be smoking or have your baby anywhere near a smoker.


Weaning

This must be done properly and not rushed as you may stress yourself and your baby. Breastfeed for at least three months as it can give your child a good healthy start in life.  To avoid having to wean from a bottle as well, wean your child off breastmilk when he or she is ready to drink from a cup. This is usually when they are about 6 to 9 months old. However, there are no hard rules and if you and your child are both happy breastfeeding, continue to do so.


Take your time in weaning - ideally it should be done over 3 or 4 weeks.  Start to replace a feed with milk from a cup.
If your child puts up a fight or looks miserable with the idea. Do not push it - just give your breast again and try again at another feed. If however this continues, you and your partner will need to be a little firmer and not give your breast as an alternative. Eventually the child will accept this. They may still wish to breastfeed morning and night however, for a while.

Breast Feeding Considerations

What is it?

Acute abdominal pain probably caused by abnormal bowel functions and wind.


What to look for

Colic is thought to occur when the bowel in a baby contracts more regularly than an adult’s slower peristaltic movements. It is characterised by:

*  loud screaming lasting for hours, three or more days a week and the baby is usually difficult to comfort.

*  crying for long periods after a baby has been fed.

*  while crying, the baby draws his knees up over his stomach as if he has a stomach ache.

*  bowel movement or wind at the beginning or end of crying episodes.


It is very common for children to experience colic and although uncomfortable for the child and exhausting for the parents it is a relatively harmless condition that ends after the child is 4 months old.


Causes

The cause of colic is not known. Experts attribute it to any number of things, including an infant's immature digestive system, weaning the child too early, allergies, hormones in breast milk, and overfeeding. It is worsened when the baby cries as he or she takes in extra air which can exacerbate the problem.


Traditional Treatment

There is no actual cure for colic, although you can often find relief from many at-home remedies have proved helpful in soothing colicky babies. Always try to be calm and curb your anxiousness as this can inadvertently be communicated to your child and it will make the condition worse.


Do not ever punish a child with colic. If you feel you cannot cope, leave someone else with the child for a few moments while you relax calm yourself.


If you suspect your child has colic, call your paediatrician. After ruling out possible medical causes of prolonged crying, most doctors recommend simple remedies you can perform at home.


Some encourage parents to talk with other parents for support. Give the baby something safe to suck, this will distract them from the pain. Also rhythmic rocking or walking with the baby is soothing.


Alternative/Natural Treatments

Herbal Remedies - Teas made with herbs containing carminative oils, which reduce inflammation in the bowels and lessen gas production, may help a colicky child.  (Try teas made of chamomile, lemon balm, peppermint, or dill).


Homoeopathy - Homoeopathic medicine offers several over-the-counter colic remedies that are considered safe to use without prior consultation with a Homoeopath. Seek help from a professional if your child does not respond to a remedy within 24 hours.


Aromatherapy - Try massaging your child’s stomach with chamomile or peppermint in a clockwise direction. Never give aromatherapy oils to children younger than 2 weeks. (see our section on aromatherapy).


At-Home Remedies -

*  Be consistent with the ways in which you pacify the child

*  Give your baby things to distract him or her.

*  Motion can relieve colic. So take them for a walk, or drive or gently rock them.

*  White noise may soothe your child.

*  Wrap the child snugly in a blanket to provide a sense of security and comfort.

*  Use a warm water bottle to sooth the pain

*  Ask a relative or friend to take over when you feel yourself getting frustrated or exhausted.


When to seek further professional advice

*  your baby has never had colic before

*  bouts of colic are accompanied by fever, diarrhoea, vomiting, or constipation.

*  your baby's crying sounds painful, not fussy - indicating injury or illness is causing the distress.

*  your baby is older than three months and still acting colicky; behavioural problems or illness may be the cause.

*  your colicky child fails to gain weight and is not hungry, which suggests illness.

*  you're exhausted or fear stress might lead you to hurt your baby.


Colic

Four to Six Months Old

Your baby will be ready to start to eat solid food at about four to six months of age. You can prepare this yourself. There are good reasons for starting your child on solids at this age:

*  Baby may still be hungry after a milk feed;

*  It lets babies get to know different tastes and textures;

*  Babies need to learn how to swallow solid food.

*  Chewing also helps in the development of muscles in preparation for speech.

*  The iron stored by the liver since birth will be diminishing.


You can give your child the following quite safely 

*  Good quality natural fruit juice - 30 to 60 mL daily.

*  Cereal - Start with rice cereal with added iron. Mix about 1 to 2 teaspoons of cereal with a small amount of breast or formula milk in a dish. Make it thick like porridge and give to your baby at the same time each day. It may take a while for your baby to become used to this new taste sensation. You could also use a little mashed pasta, rice or other cereal food as the first solid food.  Don't add sugar or honey.  Always reed the cereal to your baby with a spoon.  Don't use baby biscuits, as they have to much sugar in them.

*  Fresh fruits - such as ripe banana, pear, pawpaw, rockmelon, peach or avocado.

*  Cooked fruits - try apple and pear. Try to grate harder fruits and vegetables.

*  Canned fruits - unsweetened or fruits in their own juices are the best and the easiest to use.

*  Cooked Vegetables (fresh is preferable) such as potato carrots zucchini broccoli pumpkin sweet potato marrow.  To cook - steam vegetables. Then mash, blend or sieve them.  Don’t add salt, Vegemite, Marmite or Promite or margarine or butter to vegetables.

*  Rice porridge

*  If your baby is under 6 months you may start with rice porridge and later add vegetables to rice porridge.

*  If your baby is over 6 months, you may add minced meat or fish as well.

*  Yoghurt - Use natural yoghurt and if needed, add fruit.


Helpful Hints

*  Always test the temperature of the food on the inside of your wrist before giving it to baby

*  It is not necessary to use salt

*  Always give solids after baby’s milk.

*  Don’t bombard your child with too much new food too soon. Give your baby only one new food every few days

*  If your baby doesn’t like a new food, that’s all right. Wait for a few days and try again.

*  It sometimes takes a while for babies to learn to eat from a spoon. Use a small teaspoon without sharp edges.


How much food does Your baby need?

Start baby with 2-4 teaspoons of solids at each meal and increase to roughly half a cup by 6 months, or according to your baby’s appetite.  

Do not become worried if your child won’t eat solids or won’t eat everything you give him. All babies are different - some need more food than others and some do not need to start solids until six months.  Do not force your child to eat, he will eat when he is hungry.


Six to Eight Months Old

At this age your baby needs to begin to learn how to chew even if he does not have teeth. Solids should play an increasingly important role in nutrition from now on.

*  Cereal - continue on using iron-fortified baby cereals at least until 9 months. Vita-Brits, Weet-Bix or porridge could be started after 9 months.

*  Egg yolk - You may also give your baby the yolk of an egg. Only give a little at a time until your baby gets used to it. You give it to your baby mixed with vegetables, or from a finger of toast dipped into yolk, or give just the plain yolk.

*  Vegetables - spinach, silver beet and green beans.

*  Meat

*  fish, steamed - make sure there is no skin or bones

*  chicken, finely chopped or pureed.

*  brains, mashed.

*  roast meat or steak - thin flakes scaped off the meat.

*  lamb’s fry.

*  Babies often enjoy chewing on a rusk.

*  Fruit juice - 60 to 12mls daily.


Teething usually starts between 6 and 9 months of age. They usually like to have something in their mouth to ease the pain and discomfort - a rusk is great.  They will also enjoy feeding themselves using their fingers or a safe spoon. They also love chewing on foods such as cooked carrot, celery, green beans, pumpkin; meat, fish, chicken, cheese; pieces of ripe banana, peach, pear, small pieces of orange, apple; sandwiches, toast.


Nine to Twelve Months Old

Babies at this age should be eating most of the same foods as you. But your should be cutting it up in small pieces or mashing it.

*  vegetables

*  fruit

*  pasta dishes

*  potato

*  bread

*  pudding

*  meat, fish, chicken

*  whole egg

*  rice dishes

Raw apple, celery or carrot should be grated.  Do not add extra salt or sugar to your baby’s food.  Don’t give fried foods.

*  Snack foods - Babies often like to munch on something between meals. Healthy options are pieces of soft fruit, plain cracker biscuits, toast or bread.


Avoid the following - sweet biscuits, sugary foods, sweetened fruit drinks, cordials and soft drinks, salty packet chips and crisps, nuts, peanuts, hard lollies, uncooked carrot or celery and whole peas.


Drinking from a cup

Between 6 and 9 months, your baby can start to learn to drink from a cup.  To help him/her learn, give him/her an unbreakable cup to play with and show him how to put it to his/her mouth. Then, add a little water, juice or milk and let him/her learn to use it.  It takes most babies some time to learn to drink from a cup. Don’t worry if he/she makes a mess.


One-year-olds

Each day your baby needs these foods to continue to grow to be strong and healthy:

*  Milk - either breast milk or 4 small cups

*  Wholegrain cereal, bread, rice or pasta - 3 servings

*  Yellow or dark green vegetables - 1 serving

*  Juice - 1 small cup

*  Other fruits and vegetables - 2 servings

*  Meat, fish, chicken, eggs, cheese or legumes - 1 or 3 servings

*  Filtered water to drink

If you are breast feeding, continue to breast feed for as long as you and your baby want to.  If bottle feeding, it’s a good idea to start taking your baby off the bottle by twelve months and offer milk from a cup.

*  Snacks - Most toddlers cannot eat very much at each meal and they get hungry between meals. So they like snacks. Some good ideas are:  pieces of fruit, fruit juice, peanut butter on plain cracker biscuits or bread, small pieces of cheese or cold meat, small cups of milk.  Avoid all sweet, refined or fatty snack foods.


Fluids and Vitamins

Water

It is good to offer your baby water regularly. They may not want it however. Do not add sugar or honey to the baby’s water.


Vitamins

Breast milk and recommended infant formulas contain all the vitamins your baby needs for the first 4 to 6 months.


Fruit juice

When baby is 4-6 months of age, you may wish to give some diluted fruit juice, especially in hot weather.

*  30mL fresh fruit juice in 30mL of cool boiled water.

*  Do not use syrup fruit juices.

Feeding Your Baby Considerations

It is normal for you and your child to come into contact with bacteria and viruses on a regular basis. Some of these microbes can cause serious problems.
Immunisation protects your baby from serious diseases and illnesses. It is safe and easy to administer.


How immunisation can help…

When you are vaccinated, your body responds by creating antibodies that defend it against that disease in the future. It builds up a defence system that destroys the bacteria and viruses before they cause illness.


Which diseases shoould you be immunised against…

Whooping Cough (pertussis) - this is an infectious disease spread by coughing and sneezing. Breathing becomes difficult with distinctive coughing spasms. This can be fatal for children and babies.


Diphtheria - this is a bacterial infection spread by droplets from the nose. The bacteria produces a toxin which spreads throughout the body and causes heart failure or paralysis.


Polio - a virus of the gastrointestinal area. A serious disease which is not under control however it can make another appearance if children are not vaccinated from it.


Tetanus - caused by a bacteria made toxin which is found in soil and animal manure. Serious side effects are spasms, lockjaw, breathing problems and convulsions.


Mumps - virus spread by saliva. Is serious if complications set in - such as swollen brain and infertility.


Measles - caused by a virus. Highly infectious and spread by coughing and droplets from nasal passages. Can have serious side effects and complications can cause encephalitis or pneumonia.


Rubella (German measles) - dangerous if spread to pregnant women. Therefore very important to have your child immunised against it.


Hib - a bacterial infection that can cause other more serious diseases in children and infants.


Hepatitis B - this immunisation is available for your baby. It is a virus that attacks the liver and can be the cause of liver cancer.


These diseases are very serious and can often be fatal. Your child needs protection from them from an early age.


When does Your Child need to be immunised …

Age and what to get immunised against…
2 months diphtheria, tetanus, whooping cough, polio, Hib.
4 months diphtheria, tetanus, whooping cough, polio, Hib
6 months diphtheria, tetanus, whooping cough, polio, Hib
12 months measles, mumps, rubella
18 months diphtheria, tetanus, Hib
4 - 5 years diphtheria, tetanus, whooping cough, polio
10-16 years measles, mumps, rubella, hep B
one month later hep B (2nd dose)
six months later hep B
15-19 diphtheria, tetanus
every 10 years diphtheria, tetanus


Are there any side effects involved…

  • a slight fever
  • a sore arm
  • feeling a little unwell

Are there times when you should not have your baby immunised…

Not many… Always tell your doctor if your child has a fever and is quite sick, is having any form of treatment that can affect their immune system, has a disease such as AIDS/HIV, Leukaemia, cancer. Your doctor will be able to recommend the appropriate course of action.


IMPORTANT NOTE: - There are some who worry that the whooping cough immunisation may cause brain damage in children. There have been studies conducted which show that this is probably not the case. If it were true, the chances would be less than one in a million. However, it is reported that for every 300 children who are not immunised against whooping cough and are unfortunate enough to catch the disease, two will probably develop encephalitis (inflammation of the brain) and one will die.


This points out that it is more important to get your child immunised.
Reference: The Australian Immunisation Handbook, 6th edition.


Immunisation

Infertility is the inability to conceive a child after a year or more of sexual intercourse without contraception.


What to look for

If after a period of unprotected intercourse, the couple cannot conceive, this is infertility. It can be because of either partner or both.  This can be very distressing for many couples and is taken as a sign of inadequacy. Please keep in mind being infertile does not necessarily indicate sterility.


Causes

Infertility in men can be the result of low sperm production, no sperm or sperm which do not swim as they should do as well as a tubes blockage.


In women, infertility can be caused by a failure to ovulate due to a hormone failure. Interruption of an egg's progress through the fallopian tube from ovary to uterus may also be a cause.  Women’s age is a factor: as after 35 years of age it is often more difficult to conceive. Being overweight, or underweight, can also play a role.

In both men and women, fertility can be diminished by psychological factors, such as anxietyand depression, and by environmental agents.


Treatment

Your doctor will perform many tests on both partners to determine the cause of the infertility.  There are not ways to increase the chances of conception.  Couples are often advised to have intercourse just before ovulation.  Ovulation can be induced with the use of fertility drugs or hormones.  Certain disorders occurring in men can be treated with a doctors help.
IVF (in vitro fertilisation) is an option for couples who are infertile. The egg is fertilised outside the woman's body, then placed in the womb or fallopian tube.


Alternative/Natural Treatments

A variety of alternative treatments may enhance fertility.

  • Relaxation Techniques - Stress can often hinder conception and there are different relaxation techniques can reduce stress which sometimes contributes to infertility.


  • Dietary Considerations - Zinc is important for fertility in both sexes; a supplement may help. Vitamin C has been shown to aid men whose sperm clump together, and it may improve sperm count. Ask for professional advice with regards to the appropriate doses.


  • The diet of both partners should include plenty of fresh vegetables and fruit and a high potency multi-vitamin. Men need more vitamin C. Reduce the amount of caffeine and alcohol as they make the system more acidic.


  • Herbal Treatments - As mentioned above, Zinc is often recommended as well as vitamin E. Take goldenseal, raspberry leaf or red clover tea.


Personal Care

For women:

  • Don't douche.
  • After intercourse, remain lying down for a few minutes.
  • Avoid becoming too tired or too stressed.


For men:

  • Avoid excessive alcohol.
  • Stay healthy; a bad cold or flu can depress sperm count for up to three months.
  • Keep testicles cool; avoid saunas, hot tubs, and close-fitting underwear.


When to seek further professional advice

  • · you desire a child but have not conceived after a year of trying

Infertility

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

Eczema


Eczema can quite often occur in babies up to about 4 months of age. It is usually milder than the type that occurs in adults. Your baby’s cheeks become rough and scaly and this can also occur in your child’s eyebrows and hair (cradle cap).
If infection sets in, the skin can become scaly, develop cracks and redness and weep.  Caused by overactivity of the sweat glands. This is usually grown out of in the first 6 months. You should stop using soap in his bath, ask your pharmacist about alternatives.


If the rash is particularly bad, you should limit the bathing to 2 times per week. Do not use baby creams and lotions.
Moisturise the skin with sorbolene cream. Your doctor may prescribe a very mild steroid cream which you can add to the sorbolene cream and apply to your baby’s skin. This is perfectly safe and will usually sooth the pain. A natural option is chamomile applied on babies head - do not use on children under 2 weeks old and always use one drop diluted in carrier oil. (see our section on Aromatherapy).


Cradle cap

Is a type of eczema, a build up of natural oils. This causes a dry scaly crust on your baby’s head. Petroleum jelly (vaseline) can help soften the scales and allow their removal.


Oral thrush

Baby’s immune system have not fully developed and can not often withstand infection of the candida albicans fungus. It most often occurs in their mouth. It will look like white milk curds stuck to the inside of the mouth. They will not be removed or scraped off however.  Thrush can be painful but more than likely your child will tolerate it. Your will need to speak to your doctor or pharmacist about specific products which will remove the thrush.


Also treat your nipples if breastfeeding as it can spread to you. You must also sterilise all feeding equipment and anything else your baby puts in his or her mouth. Change your sterilisation equipment you use for your feeding equipment often when your child has thrush.


Reflux

This can happen often in new babies. It occurs when your child vomits up most of the food swallowed. It is caused by a poorly formed valve between the gullet and the stomach. The valve usually rights itself as the child becomes older.


This can be a worrying time for parents as they worry if their child is putting on enough weight. The problem with reflux occurs when the vomiting becomes very regular and annoying, your baby does not put on weight. Usually the child will grow out of this problem in the first few months.


A few helpful hints are to adjust the baby’s resting position. Put the cot up at the head end about 30 degrees.


Bowel motions of a newborn


For breastfed children…
Your baby may have many motions per day or only one every few days. The motion may be yellow, green, brown or a combination of these. The consistency may be pasty, fluid or seedy. It will not normally be hard in texture.
If your child is passing hard stools, this is not normal. Another thing to look out for is overly fluid stools that resemble urine. See your doctor if this happens.

For bottle-fed children…
Bottle-fed babies will usually have more firmer stools and pass them more frequently - four times per day to once every couple of days. The colour of the stool will be more red-brown and green. They may become constipated or just simply pass harder stools.
If your child is passing watery stools - check with your doctor and take a sample of the stool with you.


Some Common Baby Problems

You will know when you are about to give birth because both you and your body will display some warning signs such as -

  • an urge to clean up the house in readiness for the arrival of the baby.
  • you may feel energetic and unsettled - wanting to keep on the move.
  • you may feel excited, anxious or nervous about the birth
  • you could lose some weight just before the birth
  • your baby could stop moving as it’s room in the womb is restricted from the position it has taken up towards your pelvis.
  • possibly a backache
  • diarrhoea
  • The ‘show’ - a small discharge of blood and mucus from your vagina
  • your waters will break - this is the sac that holds the amniotic fluid surrounding your baby.


If you have a constant flow of blood from your vagina - this is not normal and you should see your doctor immediately.


The First Stage

Your uterus tightens and relaxes its muscles to start your cervix opening up. At first they will be only slight. Your baby’s head moves towards the cervix, helping it to open.


Contractions may vary with each woman. In an ideal situation contractions which last 20 - 30 seconds will occur every 20 - 30 minutes. Some women do not notice the contractions until they are about 10 minutes apart.


Your cervix gradually dilates (opens). When it is about 3 cm dilated you are said to be in established labour. At this time your midwife or doctor will examine your vagina and check for any complications and other routine observations. As your cervix opens, your contractions will come more frequently and they will last longer. Your cervix will need to be 10cm wide before it is fully open.


Eventually your contractions begin to get much closer together and they can be quite painful and strong. This is the transition period. At this time you will more than likely be quite irritable, nauseous, trembling and you may feel a strong urge to push.
If your waters haven’t broken yet, this could be when they do. Your baby is nearly ready to be born.


The Second Stage

The second stage is usually a relief for many women as this is when the pushing can start.
The cervix is fully dilated and you will feel an urge to push the baby out. Your baby is moving down the birth canal. Your contractions will be lasting for about 5 or 6 seconds. This part of the process may last about an hour for first time mothers.
Once the baby’s head can be seen from the vagina, it is almost over. Resist the urge to keep pushing hard as you will rip the area between your vagina and anus - the perineum.


Try to breathe in short breaths to deliver your baby’s head. Once the head is out just let the rest of the body come out naturally.


Tell the doctors in advance that you want the child placed onto your stomach before the umbilical cord is cut. This helps with the bonding of the child to you. Hold the child as soon as you can.


The Third Stage

This is the delivery of the afterbirth or placenta. This is controlled by the doctor or midwife. Your uterus will continue to contract to get rid of this, but you will not be able to feel it. Sometimes the doctors will give you an infection to hurry this up to reduce the risk of serious bleeding after birth.
Most mothers will experience some mucus or bleeding from the vagina for a few weeks after childbirth.



The Birth

Week by week changes you will experience... And developments in your womb.


Week 1:

Development of the Zygote
Day 1. During sexual intercourse Approx 300-500 millions sperm are deposited in the female genital tract... But only about 300-500 reach the area of fertilization. Fertilization occurs closest to the ovary. This is in the widest part of the fallopian tube. Once a sperm penetrates the egg, the surface of the egg changes to prevent multiple fertilization. The sperm and the egg begin to fuse together.
Day 2. The sex is determined after the sperm and egg have fused. The cell eventually splits into two cells. This two-cell stage occurs about 30 hours after fertilization.
Day 3. About 3 days after fertilizationThe 12- and 16- cell stages occur . This small clump of cells is referred to as the morula.
Day 5. About the fifth day the morula finally enters into the uterus. Fluid begins to enter until a single cavity is formed. When this cavity is formed, the embryo is called the blastocyst.
Day 7. Around day 6... Implantation into the uterine wall begins . The uterine lining is in a secretory phase at this point. The wall becomes spongy as the glands and arteries become coiled.


Week 2 - 4

Approx 22 days after conception your baby will have developed a heart beat, and is on its way to developing the digestive tract, sensory organs, and neural tube.The neural tube is what eventually becomes the Central Nervous System, consisting of the spinal cord and brain.
By the end of the first month of your pregnancy, your baby is smaller than a grain of rice.
What You might be Experiencing...

  • frequent urination possibly with vomiting
  • sleepiness
  • flatulence
  • nausea
  • absence of menstruation
  • emotional changes similar to PMS
  • tenderness and fullness of breasts
  • bloating
  • heartburn
  • food cravings
  • indigestion,
  • fatigue
  • constipation

It is highly possible that you do not know that you are pregnant during the first couple weeks. However, It is possible that you will experience some of the signs of pregnancy.


Week 4

The embryo is attached to the lining of the uterus and is about 3 mm in length. You could see it with your eyes.


Week 5

The amniotic sac will have been formed.


Week 6

The embryo is not recognisable as a human being. But it has a spinal column, a large head and arms and legs. The sockets for its eyes have been formed. It is 1.3 cm long.
You may start to experience some symptoms such as breast tenderness and morning sickness.


Week 8

The embryo has all his or her major organs. The toes, fingers and features on the face are in the process of forming. The embryo is now considered a foetus. It is now more recognisable as a human. The length is about 2.5 cm.


Week 10

Fingers and toes are now webbed, the head remains larger than the body part. It has blood circulating through it.


Week 12

The uterus can just be felt above the pelvis. The foetus is about 7.5 cm long. It is more active. Nails and genitals are starting to appear.
You probably do not suffer from morning sickness any more.


Week 14

Your nipples may darken in colour and your breasts may stop feeling quite so tender. You will probably start to show from this time onwards.


Week 16

The foetus is moving vigorously but you may not be able to feel it.


Week 20

The uterus will have reached to level of your navel. You will now be able to feel the movements. The foetus now measures about 21 cm and is covered with fine hair. Eyelashes and eyebrows now have developed.


Week 24

Your foetus eyelids separate. Its length is about 33 cm


Week 28

The uterus reaches about halfway between the navel and the breastbone. If the foetus was born now, it could survive. It measures 37cm. The head is now reasonably in proportion to the body.


Week 32

The foetus is still very active. Most babies will have their head in the birth position.


Week 36

In most women, having babies for the first time, the head will have descended into the pelvic cavity and the uterus descends from under the rib cage as the baby’s head has moved down into the pelvis. It is about 46 cm.


Week 40

Pregnancy is full term. You can now breath easier, although you still may have pressure on your bladder.



Week by Week

The First Signs

  • A missed period

The first and most obvious sign that you may be pregnant is a missed period. This however may be caused by other factors or it may simply be late.


  •  Lighter periods

Some women continue to get their periods for a couple of months but they are lighter.


  • Sore breasts

This can be a symptom in women who normally get sore breasts before their period. By six weeks, all women will experience an increase in the size of their breasts.


  • Morning sickness

In the first six to twelve weeks, most women experience nausea or vomiting. It can be uncomfortable at any time of day.


  • Frequent Urinating

You may find that you need to go to the toilet more often.


  • Tastes in the mouth change

Some women may have a strange taste in their mouth and may even notice a dislike for alcohol, coffee, cigarette smoke and meat products.


  • Emotionally Volatility

The hormones may wreak havoc on you at first and you may experience moodiness and stronger emotions than normal. If you experience any anxiety that lasts longer than the first trimester - speak with your doctor who may refer you to a counsellor for additional therapy.


Changes during the pregnancy

You will experience many physical changes during your pregnancy and many may come as a surprise to you. It is always best to be prepared for the changes so you are better able to cope with them and control them.


  • Vaginal Discharge

this may increase during pregnancy. It is normal and does not usually require medical attention. If you notice it changing in odour or it becomes irritating - speak with your doctor.


  • Constipation and heartburn

you will be experiencing an increase in the hormone progesterone which can affect the bowel and make it slower.


  • Backache

this can become worse as the pregnancy continues on. Try to avoid high heeled shoes. Do not lean back to counteract the extra weight in your belly - this will put added pressure on your back.


  • Haemorrhoids or piles

the blood flow from your legs and pelvis is blocked by pressure from the baby . If you are constipated, this can make it worse.


  • Varicose veins

may appear for the first time. If you wear support stockings, they may not appear at all. Keep moving around as this can help the circulation.


  • Scarring on the abdomen

commonly called stretch marks, these fine scars may also come on your buttocks, thighs and breasts. There are many natural products on the market that may be able to prevent them from forming or becoming too noticeable. Ask our pharmacist about them.


  • Breast changes

will occur throughout your pregnancy. They may be tender and the nipples may grow and become darker in colour. They may eventually become more painful as more blood flows to them. Eventually prolactin is produced and this encourages the breast to make milk.

You may notice your breasts ‘leaking’ at around 5 to 6 months. After about five months your breasts should not grow much bigger.


  • Your belly

will increase and this can be a problem for women who have always tried hard to maintain their weight at a slim level. You will put on extra weight besides the baby as your body prepares for the pregnancy and the birth.


What to eat during your pregnancy…

You should be eating a nutritious and varied diet in pregnancy as this is the best way of caring for yourself and your baby. You should not eat ferociously throughout your pregnancy in an effort to ‘eat for two’ as this will do more harm than good and make it difficult for you to give birth.


The following food groups provide you with the vitamins, minerals and protein you will need for a healthy pregnancy and baby.

  • Vegetables and fruits.
  • Breads, cereals, pasta and rice (wholegrain ).
  • Milk about 900 ml daily or if you cannot tolerate milk or want to try something less fattening natural yoghurt about 200g, unprocessed cheese 35g or cottage cheese 300g. Ask your doctor about a supplement if you do not want to eat dairy products. This will give you your required Calcium.
  • Lean proteins like fish, chicken, eggs, meat, liver, kidneys, nuts and pulses. Be aware that if you are only eating nuts and pulses for protein you will not be getting the iron, vitamin B12 or zinc which is required.
  • Also ensure you are eating adequate Folic acid - present in liver, kidneys, green leafy vegetables, broccoli, nuts, brewers yeast, avocado and peas. Do not cook your vegetables until they are soft as this can destroy folic acid.


What do you need to avoid during pregnancy?

  • ·Most medications may affect your unborn child - always check with your pharmacist or doctor before taking any drug either legal or otherwise.
  • Alcohol - the occasional wine or beer will do no harm, but do not drink excessively. Do not drink spirits.
  • Smoking - should be avoided and do not let anybody smoke in your presence.
  • Caffeine - limit your intake to one per day.
  • Soft cheeses - contain bacteria.
  • Raw/'Blue' meat.
  • Excessive exercise - although continue to do gentle exercises.


What about sex?

Some people think that having sex will hurt the baby. Normally sex is safe throughout the whole pregnancy. Sometimes you may not feel like having sex due to the discomforts and tiredness. But this usually does not last long.

Some women find that they become more sexual during this time in their lives and feel more sexy. If however, you have had complications with pregnancies in the past or are worried see your doctor about your concerns.


Your Pregnancy