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

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Your Health Fact Sheet

Seniors Health Fact Sheets

This word literally means ‘no memory’, but for medical purposes it is used to mean a temporary loss of memory.


What to look for

Symptoms for Amnesia include the following:-

  • confusion,
  • inability to recall current location
  • do not know who familiar people are


Causes

  • a severe hit to the head area can cause post-traumatic amnesia. This type of blow is called ‘concussion’ and the characteristic of this is that the person cannot recall the actual impact to the head. They will however, usually recover and be able to recall the events leading up to the event and after.
  • physical illnesses can stop recall of memories
  • sudden emotional shock or terrible stress


Traditional Treatment

  • Rest
  • A mild sedative
  • Usually treatment of a person with amnesia is difficult.
  • Counselling or psychiatric assessment is needed


Alternative/Natural Treatment

Alternative treatments may aid this condition when used along with traditional medical assistance.

  • Herbal Therapies - Choline (member of B Group of Vitamins), Lecithin and Ginkgo biloba.
  • Aromatherapy - Rosemary oil rubbed on the temples.


Dietary Considerations

It is advisable to seek professional medical help… However any foods which are high in the B Vitamins, Magnesium, Calcium, Potassium, Iron, Yeast, Kelp, Evening Primrose Oil.


When to seek further professional advice

If the person seems disoriented and confused or mentions an inability to recall past events, or look they may be in danger it is advisable that they seek medical advice.

Amnesia

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.

Alzheimers

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 -

Gentian, dandelion, parsley, nettle, 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

These are problems to the spinal disks. Disks are the cushion of tissue located between each of the vertebrae which makes up the spine.


What to look for

Many times, there are no physical symptoms to damaged disks. However, if your disk problem directly touches or affects spinal nerves, you may have one or more of the following symptoms:

  • sharp pain in the back
  • unable to bend or straighten your back, pain.
  • gradual development of neck or lower-back pain, possibly intense on arising or when sneezing or coughing.
  • numbness or tingling in an arm or leg, and possibly a weakness in either or both legs.


Damaged spinal disks can cause agonising pain and discomfort. When you feel the pain, you need to take that as a warning and to have your body treated as soon as possible before the problem becomes worse and leads to further complications.
The disc are pads of tissue situated between each of the vertebrae which make up the spine. Each disc is made up of a tough, fibrous outer layer and a softer, jelly-like inner layer called the nucleus.


A slipped disc simply means that the tough outer layer cracks open and the softer inner layer protrudes out through the crack. If it presses on any surrounding nerves, it can cause the symptoms of a slipped disc. (see Back Care and Back Pain). This type of damage to a disk can be irreversible.


People often think that the disks are soft and flexible and this is a mistake. The disk starts off soft in childhood and gradually hardens during a lifetime.


By far the majority of disk injuries occur in the lower back. Not all slipped disks press on nerves, however, and for this reason, your doctor will usually order an x-ray to view the problem.


Causes

Injury and everyday activity can cause disk problems. Sometimes, though, there is no apparent cause.
Aging is often a cause of disk problems, as the fibrous tissue of the disk becomes harder and more brittle. Severe cases may be the result of a deficiency in collagen, the material that makes up cartilage, poor muscle tone and obesity.


Traditional Treatment

Both conventional and alternative therapies will offer pain relief, rest, steps to reduce inflammation, and measures to restore strength and normal activity. Except in severe cases, herniated disks generally heal themselves, and surgery is rarely necessary.


Doctors usually prescribe bed rest (as any movement can increase the pain and discomfort) and pain killers.
If the disk is just temporarily distorted, the potential for complete recovery is excellent. If the outer membrane actually breaks and loses some of its center, however, the damage may be permanent unless more aggressive steps are taken.


Alternative/Natural Treatments

Besides pain relief and rest, alternative therapies tend to focus on relaxation and gentle exercise.


Prevention

Yoga strengthens back muscles and relaxation to aid in preventing disk problems


When to seek further professional advice

  • you experience persistent pain in the upper or lower back
  • back pain is accompanied by fever
  • you have sudden loss of feeling or weakness in your extremities

Disk Problems

A serious lung disease where the alveoli and the narrow passages leading to these air sacs become permanently swollen with air. 


What to look for

Typical symptoms of emphysema include:

  • breathlessness, worsening over the years.
  • a chronic, mild cough, sometimes accompanied by a small amount of phlegm brought on by the slightest exertion.
  • chewing and swallowing may be hard
  • in severe cases a ‘barrel shaped’ chest.


Emphysema is a potentially fatal lung disease and is characterised by a shortness of breath followed by coughing. Emphysema is most often caused by excessive and heavy smoking.
There is no cure for this disease but seeing a Doctor may be able to help alleviate some of the symptoms.
Emphysema results when the alveoli the tiny air sacs and the narrow passages leading to them become enlarged. These sacs are responsible for taking oxygen to the bloodstream and drawing out carbon dioxide waste. But when the lungs' airways become constricted or damaged, the lung tissues lose their elasticity and become damaged and breathing becomes difficult. This is because the damage prevents the lungs from supplying the blood with enough oxygen .
This disease is most common in heavy smokers usually over 40 years of age.


Causes

The most common cause of emphysema is heavy, long-term smoking. Cigarette smoke is thought to attack the lung tissue. Smoking also has the effect of weakening the walls of the lungs airways, causing them to collapse on exhalation, trapping stale air. Smoking also causes chronic bronchitis and this in turn usually makes the emphysema worse.
Smoking causes the tiny cells called cilia to become debilitated and dysfunctional. Their job is to rid the lungs of excess mucus and other debris. Clogged with mucus, the lungs are then susceptible to viral and bacterial infections.


Traditional Treatment

Unfortunately there is no treatment yet that will give you a new set of healthy and unaffected lungs. However you can do some things that will help the symptoms and avoid the disease becoming worse.
You must consult a doctor if you have any of the above listed symptoms and continue to see him or her regularly. Your doctor may show you the correct ways to breath with this affliction.
Quitting smoking immediately and avoiding any areas where there is cigarette smoke is a vitally important step.
Start and maintain a low-impact exercise regime such as walking or swimming.
In severe cases of emphysema, at-home oxygen therapy may be necessary; In some other serious cases, surgery may be an option.


Alternative/Natural Treatments

You must never stop seeing your doctor when you have this illness. However alternative therapies often relieve your symptoms and discomfort.


Aromatherapy - This has been very successful in the treatment of emphysema. Popular essential oils for this ailment are Eucalyptus (Eucalyptus globulus), Hyssop (Hyssopus officinalis), Aniseed (Pimpinella anisum), Lavender (Lavandula officinalis), Pine (Pinus sylvestris), and Rosemary (Rosmarinus officinalis).


Chinese Herbs - The Chinese herb Ephedra (Ephedra sinica), also called Ma Huang, is a potent bronchodilator. This herb does have side effects and should only be taken under the supervision of a Professional.


Herbal Therapies - A number of herbs act as expectorants and may be appropriate in the treatment of emphysema.
Elecampane (Inula helenium), for example, is believed to help clear excess mucus from the lungs.
Mullein (Verbascum thapsus) tea is recommended for soothing the mucous membranes.
Other herbs that may help relieve shortness of breath include grindelia (Grindelia spp.), Euphorbia pilulifera, Lobelia (Lobelia inflata), Wild Black Cherry (Prunus serotina) Bark, Liquorice (Glycyrrhiza glabra), Motherwort (Leonurus cardiaca), and Aniseed (Pimpinella anisum).


Homoeopathy - To treat emphysema, a Homoeopath might recommend Antimonium Tartaricum for wheezing and congestion,


For symptoms that worsen on damp days, in stuffy rooms, or early in the morning, Ammonium carbonicum.
For symptoms that grow worse at night or in cold air and drafts, Hepar sulphuris.


Dietary Considerations

Some Health Professionals recommend avoiding foods that cause excess mucus production, such as dairy products, processed foods, and white flour products. Also eat plenty of garlic.


Personal Care

Inhaling steam can help loosen phlegm in your lungs. First, fill a sink with boiling water. Keeping your eyes closed, drape a towel over your head and inhale the steam for two to five minutes. To further ease breathing and help relieve nasal congestion, try adding a few drops of one or more essential oils to the hot water.


Prevention

Stop smoking immediately.
Although there is no cure for emphysema, you can practice some simple exercises and breathing techniques that will help you cope with the disease. See a Yoga specialist and your doctor.


When to seek further professional advice

  • you cough up dark coloured or thick mucus.
  • you have a lingering, mild cough
  • you begin to lose weight and you are not trying to
  • you regularly become breathless after simple activities.

Empyhsema

Gallstones are hard, round lumps of solid material usually composed of either cholesterol or bile.

What to look for

  • severe pain
  • indigestion.
  • fever.
  • severe nausea and vomiting.
  • jaundice.


Gallstones develop in the gall bladder (a small, organ that stores bile which a digestive juice produced by the liver. The stones may be as small as a pinhead or as large as a golf ball… They may be different consistencies and hardness. You may have several gallstones or just one.


People often have gallstones and do not realise it as there may be no obvious symptoms. When symptoms do occur, it's usually because the gallstone has moved and become lodged in the bile duct which is at the side of the gall bladder. Now the symptoms may begin especially after eating a large meal.


Causes

The responsibility of the gall bladder is to store bile, a brown or greenish fluid that helps the body break down fatty food. The bile is produced in the liver and drains from the liver to the bile duct.
When you eat a meal, the gall bladder releases its stored bile into the cystic duct. From there the fluid passes through the common bile duct and into the small intestine.


Bile consists of bile acids and cholesterol. Normally, the concentration of bile acids is high enough to break down the cholesterol in the mixture and keep it in liquid form. However, when we eat too much fat, the liver will produce extra cholesterol - too much for the bile acids to break down. As a result, some of this excess cholesterol begins to solidify into crystals, which we call gallstones.


Gallstones can develop in people who are on low fat diets as well. As the gall bladder hardly gets used, the cholesterol has more time to solidify. Other factors can cause gallstones to form by reducing the activity of the gall bladder and these include; cirrhosis, the use of oral contraceptives, and pregnancy.


Traditional Treatment

In a lot of cases people do not realise they have gallstones and therefore no treatment is necessary however it may be advisable to start procedures to alter your lifestyle a little to prevent them from ever becoming a problem. Often when the pain from gallstones becomes unbearable, doctors will recommend the removal of the gall bladder.
Some alternative treatments have also been found to be effective in alleviating the symptoms of troublesome gallstones.
Sometimes a person will have a once only attack and the stone dislodges itself and never returns. Doctors in this case will wait to see if you have any further problems.


If you have further trouble with your Gall stones, your Doctor may recommend one of several techniques.

  • Some gallstones can be dissolved through the use of a bile salt
  • A method called contact dissolution can also be used to dissolve gallstones.
  • Surgical Removal of the Gall bladder. The operation is done by ‘keyhole’ surgery and usually involved one night in hospital. It is very effective and safe.


Always limit the fat you eat after having this operation.


Alternative/Natural Treatment

These options may eliminate some of the gallstone symptoms.


Chinese Herbs - Very small gallstones may be dissolved through the ingestion of Chinese herbs such as pyrrosia leaf (Pyrrosia lingua) and rhubarb (Rheum palmatum).


Homoeopathy - A number of Homoeopathic remedies can be used to treat gallstone-related symptoms - Dioscorea, Colocynthis, or Belladonna, Berberis vulgaris, Hydrastis, or Chelidonium majus. You should consult a professional Homoeopath for exact medicine and dosages. (Go to Homoeopath page)


Bach Flower Remedies - The flower essence most recommended for this complaint is willow.


Dietary Considerations

Depending on the severity of your condition, an improved diet may help relieve gallstone symptoms.
Eat high fibre, low-fat foods and lots of raw fruits and vegetables, whole grain cereals and bran. Add fresh lemon or lemon juice to your meals. Obese people are more prone to getting this condition than people closer to their normal weight.


Prevention

A high-fibre, low-fat diet helps keep bile cholesterol from hardening. However, don't cut out fats abruptly or eliminate them altogether, as too little fat can also result in gallstone formation.
Moderate consumption of olive oil (about 2 tbsp a day) may actually lower your chances of developing gallstones.
 

When to seek further professional advice

  • you have any of the above symptoms

Gallstones

This is a condition where the pressure of the fluid in the eyeball builds up.


What to look for

Teary, aching eyes, blurred vision, occasional headaches.


  • A sudden onset of severe throbbing pain, headaches, blurred vision, redness in the eye, dilated pupils, and sometimes nausea and vomiting.
  • In infants, teary or cloudy eyes, unusual sensitivity to light, and enlarged corneas.


Chronic glaucoma, can be extremely painful and can also eventually cause damage to the retina and optic nerve leading to partial or complete blindness.


It may be well established before you notice the warning signs: You have headaches, you need new glasses, you develop tunnel vision, and eventually you develop blank spots where you can't see anything.


Causes

The eye's lens, iris, and cornea are continuously bathed and nourished by a water-based fluid called aqueous humor. This fluid is constantly being produced and consequently needs to be continually drained away. And this is what the problem is with glaucoma patients, there is an obstruction to the drainage of the fluid and as a result, pressure builds up and causes problems.  This condition can be genetic, babies can be born with a defect in the drainage system in the eye and can consequently develop glaucoma early in life.


As the optic nerve deteriorates, your field of vision narrows and you have difficulty seeing things at either side. If nerve damage continues, it can affect your central vision and lead ultimately to total blindness.


Researchers believe certain things can trigger this illness…

  • Using certain drugs,
  • a lack of collagen,
  • corticosteroid eye drops (sometimes prescribed for other eye disorders), are thought to destroy collagen balance in certain situations,
  • stress and allergies may aggravate symptoms of chronic glaucoma.


Traditional Treatment

Treatment of chronic glaucoma requires measures to control the flow and drainage of the fluid in the eye. You can help yourself by relieving stress and maintaining collagen production. Acute glaucoma is different: If the pressure of excess fluid in the eye is not relieved quickly, the result can be blindness.
Appropriate therapy depends on the nature and stage of the ailment.
Chronic glaucoma is typically managed with eye drops.
If your chronic glaucoma does not respond to medication, or if you cannot tolerate the side effects, your doctor may recommend another treatment.


Alternative/Natural Treatments

Alternative approaches to treating glaucoma emphasise prevention and good eye maintenance. Use this ONLY in addition to conventional medicine.


Herbal Therapies - A variety of herbs have properties that may aid this complaint - Bilberry(Vaccinium myrtillus) helps maintain collagen balance and prevents the breakdown of vitamin C. This is available in tablet form or you can eat the real fruit if available.


Personal Care

Eye exercises may relieve stress and eyestrain caused by overworked eyes and many eye problems, including glaucoma.. - ask your Doctor.


Reduce alcohol and caffeine intake as these two substances may affect blood circulation to the eye.
Avoid cigarette smoke.


Dietary Considerations

Vitamin C apparently helps with this condition so therefore eat foods rich in this vitamin- cauliflower, broccoli, turnip greens, strawberries, grapefruits, and oranges.


Alternatively, you can take supplement of vitamin C daily. Eat foods rich in vitamin A such as liver, kidney, egg yolk, butter, dairy products and cod liver oil. Chromium and zinc may also deter glaucoma, as most people with the disease exhibit deficiencies of these minerals, as well as of thiamine (vitamin B1).


When to seek further professional advice

  • you have symptoms of acute glaucoma.
  • you have abnormal symptoms after taking any medication prescribed by your doctor

Glaucoma

Goiter is an enlargement of the thyroid gland in the front of the neck. Associated with the overproduction or underproduction of thyroid hormones.


What to look for

  • swelling at the base of the neck
  • If you have an overactive thyroid gland, you may also experience weight loss despite an increased appetite, an increased heart rate, elevated blood pressure, nervousness, diarrhoea, muscle weakness, and hand tremors.
  • If you have an under-active thyroid gland, you may also experience lethargy, slowed physical and mental functions, depression, loss of hair, dry skin, a lower heart rate, an intolerance to cold, constipation, easy weight gain, and tingling or numbness in your hands.


Goitres can be any one of several types of growths in the thyroid gland, located at the base of the neck. A goitre may be a temporary problem that will remedy itself over time without medical treatment, or a symptom of another, possibly severe, thyroid condition that requires medical attention.


Causes

Goitres can occur when the thyroid gland produces either too much thyroid hormone or not enough.
Most goitres are caused by iodide deficiency, a key ingredient in the manufacture of thyroid hormone. To make up for the resulting shortfall of the hormone, the gland begins to grow. If the swollen gland causes breathing problems it must be removed.


If you consume too many foods such as soybeans, rutabagas, cabbage, peaches, peanuts, and spinach a thyroid growth called a sporadic goitre, can form.


Traditional Treatment

A goitre may require no treatment, especially if it is small and has succeeded in boosting production of thyroid hormone. However, if the goitre develops because of excessive thyroid hormone production, fails to produce enough hormone, or causes discomfort, you should seek medical help.


Alternative/Natural Treatments

Alternative therapies treat goitres by attempting to boost production of thyroid hormone and correct the body's chemical imbalance.


Chinese Herbs - Notoginseng root (Panax Notoginseng) and Tang-kuei formula may help reduce the size of a goitre. Consult a Practitioner for correct dosages.


Herbal Therapies - To improve an underactive-thyroid condition, try bladder wrack (Fucus vesiculosus) three times a day. Take it in tablet form.


When to seek further professional advice

  • you have a large goitre.

Goiter

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. (see the Aromatherapy section for more information).


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

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.

Haemorrhoids

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 perniciousanaemia.
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. (Go to our Vitamins page).


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

What to look for

  • an inability to hear or distinguish some or all sounds in one or both ears.
  • a need to turn up the volume on the television or radio louder than other people find comfortable.


Hearing problems are sometimes accompanied by dizziness, earache, discharge or bleeding from the ear, ringing noise in the ear.


Hearing problems are less common in children, but if they go untreated, your child may incur social problems such as making friends.


Causes

Hearing loss may be a symptom of another underlying ailment. There are certain conditions which can lead to hearing loss - too much wax in the ears, ear infections, and a damaged eardrum, benign cysts, tumours, and objects lodged in the ear canal can also block the transmission of sounds to the inner ear.


Hearing problems can run in families. In fact, doctors estimate that half of the cases of profound deafness in children have a genetic source.
Hearing can become disturbed through prolonged exposure to loud noise.


Several infectious diseases (most notably shingles, meningitis, syphilis) can cause hearing loss. A pregnant woman who contracts German measles is more likely to give birth to a child who has hearing problems.
It is advisable to speak with your doctor and have him or her perform a medical examination of you to determine if your hearing loss is caused by another ailment or disease.


Traditional Treatment

Get The Wax Out. Treatment of your hearing problem will depend on its underlying cause. It may be as simple as clearing accumulated wax or there may be an infection which requires a course of antibiotics.
For some serious hearing ailments, the only method of treatment is a hearing aid which will improve your ability to hear.


Alternative/Natural Treatments

As with conventional treatment, alternative therapies primarily address underlying problems that may be causing temporary hearing loss.


Herbal Therapies - Several herbs may help heal ear infections that might lead to hearing problems. Garlic (Allium sativum), which is a natural antibiotic, is considered very effective. Put 1 to 3 drops of garlic oil in your ear three times daily.
Herbalists also recommend ginger (Zingiber officinale), another natural antibiotic, both in tincture and in tea form.
The anti-inflammatory properties of either Echinacea (Echinacea spp.) or goldenseal (Hydrastis canadensis) may help heal an ear infection.


Ginkgo (Ginkgo Biloba), which has been shown to improve circulation, is sometimes recommended for inner ear disturbances and partial deafness.


Homoeopathy - For acute or chronic hearing problems, homoeopaths recommend a variety of medications. Consult an experienced practitioner for specific remedies and dosages.


Dietary Considerations

Some reports suggest that hearing can be aided by -

  • reducing salt.
  • for ear infections - avoid dairy products
  • Vitamin A supplements may help


Prevention

  • Protect your hearing by wearing earplugs if you are exposed to noise levels that may be harmful to your ears.
  • Do not listen to loud music with earphones.
  • If you are at a concert and the music hurts your ears, put on earplugs or leave immediately.
  • Educate your children about the danger of loud recreational noise.
  • To lower the risk of infectious diseases that may lead to permanent hearing loss, make sure your children receive all of their immunisations.
  • If your ears tend to get severely blocked with wax frequently, have them cleared by your doctor


When to seek further professional advice

  • you notice any hearing problems
  • you experience a sudden and total hearing loss in one or both ears.
  • your ear secretes pus or fluid
  • your hearing loss is accompanied by dizziness and nausea

Hearing Problems

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. For more information, see high blood pressure, Blood Clots, and Cholesterol Problems.
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

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

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

Indigestion is a type of pain and sick feeling after eating food.


What to look for

  • heartburn.
  • gas or burping.
  • abdominal pressure and flatulence.
  • mild nausea.
  • vomiting.


We should not normally notice the digestion process. Indigestion is a term that covers a large variety of assorted stomach problems but mostly it means pain after eating food, usually accompanied by a bloated and sick feeling.
Indigestion is either a symptom of a disease or the result of eating unfavourable foods.


Indigestion may be occasional or occur daily. Though uncomfortable, indigestion itself is not life-threatening. However, this condition should not be left untreated.


Causes

This is a disorder which everyone will feel occasionally.
It has many causes such as

  • too much food consumption
  • overindulging in alcohol;
  • frequently using analgesics and other pain relievers;
  • eating while stressed;
  • eating food that does not agree with your system.
  • eating in a hurry and not chewing your food properly


Obesity and smoking are two major causes of chronic indigestion.


Traditional Treatment

There are many treatments available to help indigestion and the right one depends on your symptoms. Your doctor or Pharmacist will advise which course of action to take.


Alternative/Natural Treatments

Herbal Therapies - Various teas may calm digestive distress. To reduce stomach acidity, drink meadowsweet (Filipendula ulmaria) tea.
If you also feel stressed, add lavender (Lavandula officinalis) or chamomile (Matricaria recutita).


If bloating or gas is a problem, try a tea of peppermint (Mentha piperita), chamomile, or lemon balm (Melissa officinalis).
Certain herbs are able to help with digestion and heartburn. About 30 minutes before eating, drink 1/2 cup of tea made from goldenseal (Hydrastis canadensis), barberry (Berberis vulgaris) bark, gentian (Gentiana lutea) root, or Oregon grape (Mahonia aquifolium) root.
Ginger is another herb with properties that can aid digestion.


Dietary Considerations

Try a low fat diet with less protein from fatty foods, highly spiced foods, sugars, alcohol, tea and coffee. Do not drink too much fluid with your meals. Chew slowly. Try Acidophilus Bifidus to maintain good levels of friendly intestinal flora. Fruits that have digestive enzymes are pawpaw, kiwi fruit and pineapple. It is wise to start eating natural live yogurt as well.


Personal Care

  • Refrain from smoking.
  • For occasional indigestion with heartburn, use antacids if recommended by your doctor or try an alternative solution - see above
  • Try one or several of the herbal teas above to relieve your specific symptoms.
  • Relax during and after eating.
  • If you frequently chew gum, stop for a while to see if your symptoms dissipate.
  • Avoid the foods mentioned above to improve your digestion.
  • Drink more fluids - filtered water is best - during the day but try not to have too much fluid while eating as this can dilute the digestive enzymes.


Prevention

Indigestion is universal; it's almost impossible to avoid it forever. You can encounter it less often, however, if you watch your weight; avoid overeating or overindulging in alcohol; avoid your 'trigger' foods; and abstain from smoking.


When to seek further professional advice

  • any abdominal pain continues for more than six hours
  • you experience indigestion with any other problematic symptom
  • you have repeated bouts of severe indigestion
  • your indigestion consistently follows your eating dairy products.

Indigestion

A condition whereby the nail grows into the skin of the toe instead of over it.


What to look for

  • pain, swelling, and redness around a toenail, usually the big toe.

Ingrown nails usually affect the toenails and can be very painful.
People who have curved or thick nails are most susceptible, although anyone can suffer from ingrown nails as a result of an injury or because of shoes which do not fit properly.


Diabetics need to be aggressive in treating and preventing minor foot ailments because they can develop into serious medical problems.


Causes

Ingrown nails are most frequently caused by cutting your toenails too short or rounding the nail edges, or by wearing ill-fitting shoes that press the nail into your toe. You can also develop an ingrown nail after an injury such as stubbing your toe.


Traditional Treatment

This can be prevented by wearing shoes that fit well, and by taking proper care when you cut your toenails. Care must be taken to ensure the area does not become infected.


If this does occur, you will probably be put on a course of antibiotics and be given an ointment to help the infection.


Alternative/Natural Treatments

Herbal Therapies - Medical herbalists may suggest soaking the toe in a warm solution of calendula (Calendula officinalis) and tea tree oil.


Personal Care

  • When you cut your nails, put a small ‘V’ in the middle with the scissors. This will allow the nail to grow in towards the middle and not spade out to cause trouble.
  • soaking your foot in warm salt water and then applying an over-the-counter topical solution for ingrown nails
  • Lemon is said to act as a natural softening agent. If you want to try a natural remedy, tie a fresh lemon slice around the toe and leave it on overnight.


Prevention

Proper grooming is the first step in preventing ingrown nails.
Soak the feet first to soften the nails. Do not cut the nails with a downwards slope at the sides as this can cause the problem.


Call Your Doctor If:

  • the ingrown nail becomes infected

Ingrown Nail

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), nerolirose, 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. (See Our Herbal Page)
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

These are deposits that form in the kidney or bladder when substances which are normally dissolved in the urine turn into solids.


What to look for

  • sharp pain.
  • nausea and vomiting.
  • profuse sweating.
  • blood in urine.


If there is an infection present as well…

  • fever.
  • frequent urge to urinate.
  • painful urination.
  • cloudy urine which can be odorous.


Kidney stones are created when certain substances in urine (including calcium and uric acid) crystallise clump together. Small stones, rather like gravel, are able to pass out of the body in the urine and often go completely unnoticed with no symptoms. But larger stones irritate and stretch the ureter as they move toward the bladder, causing agonising pain and blocking the flow of urine. Sometimes a stone can be very large, in which case it remains lodged in the kidney, creating a more serious condition.


If you've had a kidney stone once, you are likely to get one again. For this reason it is vital that you attempt to prevent it through various means.


Causes

Acquiring kidney stones can be hereditary, it can also occur in people who are also suffering from gout, urinary tract infections (cystitis) and certain bowel diseases. Not drinking enough water can also cause it.
If you use antacids consistently you may be prone to kidney stones. Dietary deficiencies in vitamin B6 and magnesium, and excessive amounts of vitamin D also may be factors in the formation of stones.
Doctors will normally perform a urine/blood test on you to confirm the presence of a stone and to determine the possible cause.


Traditional Treatment

Always seek the advice of your doctor if you have the above symptoms and he or she will advise you on the best course of action. In most cases, however, bed rest and a mild medication or pain killer will help. But your doctor will need to perform a test to confirm the composition of the stone and this will indicate the best type of treatment.
If complications develop, such as an infection or total blockage the stone must be surgically removed.


Alternative/Natural Treatments

These remedies can help in relieving the pain of kidney stones.
Chinese Herbs - Practitioners of Chinese medicine sometimes prescribe star fruit (Averrhoa carambola) to help relieve pain and promote urination.


Dietary Considerations

  • Take daily supplements of vitamin B6, vitamin A and C, kelp, lecithin, silica and magnesium
  • Avoid anchovies, sardines, organ meats, chocolates, celery, grapes, green capsicum, beans, tea, strawberries, brewer's yeast.
  • Eat a low-protein diet.
  • Avoid antacids.
  • Reduce salt
  • Avoid vitamin D supplements
  • Drink plenty of filtered water every day.
  • Avoid foods containing calcium oxalate, as too much of this can cause the stones to worsen (chocolate, celery, grapes, beans, strawberries, spinach, asparagus, black tea). Ask your doctor about limited your calcium intake at this time.


When to seek further professional advice

  • you think you have kidney stones;
  • you are experiencing any pain or difficulty with urination
  • you notice blood in your urine

Kidney Stones

What to look for

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


Because the symptoms usually do not appear in people under 55 years of age, the disorder is often referred to as age-related macular degeneration (ARMD).
If you are over 65, macular degeneration may already affect your central vision, even though most sufferers of the disease maintain functional side, or peripheral, vision throughout life. The disorder occurs in two forms, dry and wet. The less common wet form of ARMD requires immediate medical attention; any delay in treatment may result in loss of your central vision.

Causes

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


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


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


Traditional Treatment

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


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


Alternative/Natural Treatments

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

Herbal Therapies - Collagen, one of the most abundant proteins in the body, plays an integral role in maintaining the strength and function of your eye tissue. The collagen structure of your retina may be strengthened and reinforced by taking bilberry (Vaccinium myrtillus) extract daily.


Dried ginkgo (Ginkgo biloba) may guard against damage to your macula by free radicals, unstable molecules found in the body that can harm cells.


Dietary Considerations

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


Personal Care

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


When to seek further professional advice

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

Macular Degeneration

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


What to look for

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

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


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


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


Causes

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


Traditional Treatment

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


Alternative/Natural Treatments

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


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


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


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


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


Dietary Considerations

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


Personal Care

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


When to seek further professional advice

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

Parkinsons Disease

This is the inflammation of the substance of the lungs.


What to look for

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


Pneumonia is the relatively common inflammation caused by various viral, bacterial, and fungal infections.
In response, the lungs become congested with fluids and cells that leak from the affected tissue. There are generally three types :-

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


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


Causes

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


Traditional Treatment

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


Alternative/Natural Treatments

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


Aromatherapy - Recovery from pneumonia may be helped if you add the essential oils of eucalyptus (Eucalyptus globulus), lavender (Lavandula officinalis), tea tree (Melaleuca spp.), or pine to a vapouriser or blend in a carrier oil for massage purposes.
See the Aromatherapy section for more information on the essential oils. Not all people can use all the oils.


Herbal Therapies - Since clearing the lungs of phlegm is an important part of the healing process, using traditional herbal expectorants to promote coughing can aid recovery. Liquorice (Glycyrrhiza glabra), wild black cherry (Prunus serotina) bark, coltsfoot (Tussilago farfara), lobelia (Lobelia inflata), and horehound (Marrubium vulgare) are good herbs to use for this purpose - See Our Herbal Section for more information on these and other herbs. You will need to see a Professional for specific dosages and preparations.  Eating raw garlic (Allium sativum) or three garlic capsules three times a day is said to help your body fight infection. Echinacea (Echinacea spp.) may help you recover from infection.


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


Dietary Considerations

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


Prevention

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


When to seek further professional advice

  • your symptoms indicate you have any form of pneumonia

Pneumonia

What to look for

  • difficulties in breathing.
  • cough.
  • chills and fever.
  • fatigue.


Respiratory problems may also be accompanied by:

  • rapid breathing.
  • shortness of breath.
  • pain in the chest.
  • slight headache.
  • overall despondency.
  • common cold symptoms: runny nose, sore throat, and sneezing.


There are different types of respiratory problems. There are respiratory infections, such as the common cold, pneumonia, and tuberculosis, lung diseases, such as asthma, bronchitis, and emphysema and other types of lung diseases related to a person’s line of work, such as asbestosis.


Causes

Respiratory infections can be mild (when you have a cold) all the way through to more serious illnesses such as pneumonia. They are caused by viruses or bacteria.


Lung diseases have different causes. Asthma can be aggravated by allergens, irritants, or excessive exercise and emphysema is caused by excessive smoking.


Other lung diseases can be brought on by workplace substances such as asbestos.
Have your doctor investigate your symptoms to enable a proper diagnosis to be done.


Traditional Treatment

Many respiratory infections usually go away on their own in a week to 10 days and there are a range of conventional and alternative treatments available.
If you have a bacterial respiratory infection, your doctor will probably prescribe an appropriate antibiotic.


Alternative/Natural Treatments

Alternative therapies have been known to be very helpful in relieving symptoms of respiratory problems. Always consult a Naturopath for treatment. (See also the section on coughs and cold for more information).
Start these treatments as soon as you see the first symptom.


Aromatherapy - A steam inhalation can reduce congestion, and if the temperature is quite hot, it will also kill cold germs on contact. Choose eucalyptus, wintergreen, or peppermint. Place a few drops of the oil in a bowl and pour in boiling water. Place a towel over your head, lean over the bowl to create a steam tent, and breathe the vapours. (see our section on Aromatherapy for more information).


Herbal Therapies - Taken at the first sign of symptoms, Echinacea can reduce a cold's severity, often even preventing it from becoming a full infection. Echinacea stimulates the immune response, enhancing resistance to all infection. It's available in capsules at our pharmacy.
Goldenseal helps clear mucus from the throat. Horseradish capsules also helps rid the body of excess mucus.
Garlic shortens a cold's duration and severity. Any form seems to work: capsules or tablets, oil rubbed on the skin, or whole garlic roasted or cooked in other foods. It is a potent and powerful healing herb.


Homoeopathy - Cold symptoms often respond well to homoeopathic remedies. Some examples are BryoniaArsenicum album, and Allium cepa to name a few. Ask our Pharmacist for advice.


Personal Care - The best remedies for most respiratory problems are bed rest, plenty of filtered water and hot drinks such as herbal teas, humidity or steam, and fever or pain medications and supplements of Vitamin C, Echinacea and Garlic.


Dietary Considerations - Start your ‘attack’ on the cold virus before winter even commences to get your body in tip top shape to be able to fight any virus that comes along. Ensure you are eating plenty of fresh fruit and vegetables, wholegrain breads and cereals, garlic, and onions. Plenty of filtered water and natural fruit and vegetable juices.
Spicy foods are thought to help the drainage of mucus. Try to avoid mucus forming foods such as dairy products, limit these foods and try to have low fat versions. Also less eggs, starches and sugar. Good nutrition is essential for resisting and recovering from a cold.


Eat in a balanced way. Take supplements as needed to ensure you are receiving the recommended dietary allowances for vitamin A, the derivative of vitamin A - betacarotene, the vitamin B complex (vitamins B1, B2, B5, B6, folic acid), and vitamin C, fish liver oils, as well as the minerals zinc and copper.


When to seek further professional advice

  • you have a common cold or cough that lasts for more than 10 days and that is not relieved by over-the-counter medications.
  • you have a high fever, chills, pain in your chest, and a cough that brings up bloody mucus.
  • you have difficulty breathing.

Respiratory Problems

Restless leg syndrome is a neurological characterised by a tingling feeling or crawling sensation deep in the legs, which gives patients an urge to move their legs to relieve the discomfort.


What to look for

  • tingling sensation in the legs, accompanied by an irresistible urge to move the legs to relieve the sensation.

There is no definite cure for restless leg syndrome. People who suffer from the syndrome feel a tingling or crawling sensation in their legs and have an overwhelming need to move their legs. The ailment sometimes the arms.
Although restless leg syndrome is not fatal, it can be very uncomfortable. Both medication and lifestyle changes offer ways for sufferers to cope.


Causes

Restless leg syndrome is believed to be a genetic neurological condition brought on by a chemical imbalance in the brain. Caffeine may increase the symptoms. The syndrome has also been linked to iron or folic acid deficiencies, especially in people with kidney disease.


Traditional Treatment

Always speak to your doctor about this ailment as there are medications that relieve the discomfort.
If you are otherwise in good health, he or she may start you on a course of drug therapy.


Alternative/Natural Treatments

Some sufferers have found that alternative therapies can help lessen or relieve the physical discomfort associated with the condition.


Homoeopathy - If the patient’s leg movements are trembling and twitching, with the patient becoming very anxious and drinks small amounts quite often, then usually arsenicum album is prescribed.
Causticum is prescribed if the restlessness of the lower limbs is worse in bed in the morning and night. If the person cannot keep their legs still and the legs feel heavy to them, they would have medorbinum. Restless legs while the person is seated try Rhus toxicodendron.


Dietary Considerations

You may have deficiencies that could be contributing to your symptoms, take vitamin E, a multivitamin with iron, or a B-complex vitamin supplement. As well as this, folic acid maybe lacking in your system.


Personal Care

  • Avoid stimulating activities up to three hours before bed
  • To reduce stress soak your feet in cool water.


When to seek further professional advice

  • you are experiencing any of the symptoms listed in the description section for the first time.

Restless Leg Syndrome

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

Sciatica

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.

Scoliosis

Shingles is a painful condition caused by the herpes zoster virus, in which a line-like rash develops around the body.


What to look for

  • slight fever, chills, upset stomach.
  • pain and tenderness usually on one side of your face or body.
  • tingling, itching, or prickling skin followed by an inflamed red rash.
  • blisters.
  • deep burning, aching, or stabbing pain, which may be continuous or intermittent.


Shingles can last for several weeks. However, it usually only occurs once.
The pain can continue for months or even years in rare cases.


Causes

The same virus that causes chickenpox, causes shingles- herpes zoster. People who have had chickenpox are immune to this virus again unless their immune system is adversely affected by a serious illness or stress or trauma. It can occur in some people and not in others.


Traditional Treatment
Treatment can only relieve the symptoms, it cannot halt the disease. Your doctor will prescribe the appropriate medications for you.


Alternative/Natural Treatments

There are various natural treatments available to you.


Herbal Therapies - Dabbing or sponging lesions with a solution of lemon balm or calendula may reduce inflammation. You can also try three daily applications of a commercially prepared gel made from an extract of liquorice, which appears to interfere with virus growth.


Another very popular ointment is one based on St. John’s wort. Taking goldenseal, vervain and Echinacea also helps strengthen the immune system.


Dietary Considerations

Supplements of Vitamin A, B complex, Magnesium, Zinc are often helpful (See our Vitamins Section). To alleviate symptoms once the disease has begun, take the amino acid L-lysine, but only for one week. Studies have shown that this works best if you avoid foods containing the amino acid arginine, such as chocolate, cereal grains, nuts, and seeds.


Personal Care

  • Keep the affected area clean, dry, and exposed to air.
  • Do not scratch or pick blisters.
  • Calamine lotion helps relieve itching. Vitamin E oil, gel from the Aloe Vera plant will soothe the skin as well.


When to seek further professional advice

  • you suspect an outbreak is beginning.
  • if you get shingles on your face.
  • the affected area re-infected with bacteria.
  • your rash lasts longer than 10 days without improvement.

Shingles

Tinnitus

Tinnitus a sensation of ringing in the ears or the head.


What to look for

  •  a noise in the ears, such as ringing. It may come and go or be continuous.
  • hearing loss occasionally.


With tinnitus, the noise heard can be so soft that the person can hear it only when trying to sleep or so loud that it is audible at all times.
Tinnitus is very common and can be quite annoying for people afflicted with it. Sometimes the noise is so disturbing that the person cannot sleep or carry on a normal conversation.


Sometimes infections or blockages in the ear can cause this condition and it is a simple matter of treating the cause. However there may be instances when the ringing does not cease once the infection or blockage is removed.


Causes
There are many things which can cause tinnitus, such as…

  • Too much wax in the ear
  • Infections
  • A hole in the eardrum
  • A tumour or growth
  • Too much exposure to loud noise - this is the most common cause. (You only have to be exposed to a loud concert to experience tinnitus instantly. The noise can last for days afterwards. )
  • Certain medications can cause tinnitus.
  • High blood pressure
  • Allergies
  • Anaemia
  • Underactive thyroid.


Traditional Treatment

Speak with your doctor to have the condition examined. There may be an illness that is causing it which needs to be treated.
If the tinnitus is still there after all other ailments have been treated, there are a few more things you can do to help the condition…

  • Get your doctor to clean out your ears - there may be excess wax inside them.
  • There are certain medications available which may help.
  • Hearing aid type devices which mask the annoying sound of tinnitus.


Alternative/Natural Treatments

Herbal Therapies - Ginkgo has been found useful in minimising the distress of tinnitus. Don't expect immediate results from ginkgo; you may need to take the remedy for several weeks before experiencing any relief.


Homoeopathy - Several homoeopathic remedies are prescribed for tinnitus. You may be prescribed one of the following:

  • If the noise is a buzzing or hissing sound, Chininum sulphuricum.
  • If the noise is a ringing sound with no other symptoms, Kali iodatum.
  • If the noise is a roaring sound and is accompanied by some hearing loss, Salicylicum acidum.
  • If roaring sounds are accompanied by a tingling sensation and by the feeling that the ears are blocked, Carboneum sulphuratum.


Lifestyle

Regular exercise that increases blood circulation to the head may help bring some relief from tinnitus.
Hypnosis has been known to work for some tinnitus sufferers.


Dietary Considerations

To improve blood circulation to your ears, reduce the saturated fat and cholesterol in your diet. And keep eating a healthy diet of fruits and vegetables.
Vitamin B12 and vitamin A supplements may be at least partially effective against tinnitus.


Personal Care

  • Avoid loud noises
  • Avoid alcohol, smoking, and caffeine.
  • Lessen the salt in your diet.
  • If you have trouble sleeping buy a white noise tape or CD which will cover up the unwanted noise in your ears.
  • Avoid too much aspirin.


When to seek further professional advice

  • you have tinnitus;
  • the noise is accompanied by pain, dizziness or pus in the ear.

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.
Go to our Vitamins Section.

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.

Varicose Veins

What to look for

  • Blurred vision when you are looking at distant objects.
  • Blurred vision when you are looking at close objects.
  • Vertical or horizontal lines that appear blurry.
  • Flashing-lights or spots in your eyes.
  • problems deciphering between red and green in dim light.
  • Difficulty distinguishing objects in dim light.

(Also see Cataracts, Eye Problems, Glaucoma).


The most common complaint concerning eye sight are…

  • Near-sightedness,
  • Far-sightedness, and
  • Astigmatism.


These are refraction disorders. As well as this other common disorders are retinal detachment, colour blindness, and night blindness.


Causes

Nearsightedness, or myopia occurs when images are focused in front of the retina instead of on it as in normal vision. Consequently, objects in the distance appear blurred. You may find that you have to sit very close to blackboards to see what is written on them properly and you have difficulties seeing to the front in large auditoriums.
The opposite of nearsightedness is far-sightedness, or hyperopia. With this disorder, the lens of the eye focuses images behind the retina, making nearby objects appear blurry.


Astigmatism, happens when the eye lacks a single point of focus. This can be the result of an abnormality within the lens. Some objects may appear blurry while others clear.
Retinal detachment is not always painful but you definitely must seek medical attention as soon as possible because eventually it can cause blindness.
Colour blindness is when people see colours normally in bright light but cannot tell the difference between reds and greens in dim light.
If you experience difficulties seeing properly at night, you may have a deficiency in vitamin A,or a disease of the liver or retina.


Traditional Treatment

If you are having difficulties with your vision, it is wise to seek the advice of an optometrist who will perform eye test. If the eye test reveals that your vision is impaired, you may need to buy a pair of prescription glasses or contact lenses.
Disorders such as cataracts, macular degeneration, and retinal detachment require surgery.
For astigmatism, the accepted prescription is a lens that will correct the uneven cornea. You will normally have a choice between glasses and contact lenses.
Some cases of retinal detachment can be corrected with laser surgery, which has a high rate of success.


Alternative/Natural Treatments

Alternative remedies rely on correcting mineral and vitamin deficiencies that may contribute to vision problems.


Herbal Therapies - A daily dose of bilberry is reported to be useful for improving the flow of blood in the vessels of the eye, particularly for people with night blindness and nearsightedness.


Homoeopathy - If you develop eyestrain - Ruta is the most prescribed herb.


Dietary Considerations

To help strengthen the retina, people with night blindness can take vitamin A. Zinc may be helpful for night blindness. It is said to aid in adaptation to darkness and to strengthen the retina. Selenium, magnesium, and vitamin C supplements are antioxidants reported to prevent deterioration of the retina.


Personal Care

Take some time out to rest your eyes if they feel tired or overworked. Lie down in a dark room and cover your eyes with a cool washer or cucumber on each eye - this can be very soothing.


Prevention

Resting your eyes when they are overworked is the first line of defence against vision problems. A well-balanced diet will help your eyes stay healthy and your vision sharp. Take the supplements listed above to improve vision. Stay clear of cigarette smoke and avoid pollution.


  • Rest your eyes occasionally when doing close work.
  • Blink regularly.
  • Changing the focus periodically is good when driving long distances.
  • Breathe deeply for several minutes. Roll your head around with a circular motion while stretching your neck and shoulders, then turn your head from side to side and up and down, repeating several times.


When to seek further professional advice

  • you experience symptoms of retinal detachment
  • you become unusually sensitive to bright light
  • your contact lenses become uncomfortable
  • a cut or blow to your eye affects your vision

Vision Problems

What to look for

  • a whistling sound and laboured breathing.

Wheezing usually occurs in hayfever sufferers, respiratory infections, bronchitis or emphysema and asthma. Less commonly people who suffer cystic fibrosis will wheeze. You should see a regular doctor if you suffer from wheezing.


Causes

If you are breathing through bronchial passages that are narrow or constricted due to a build up of mucus, you may experience difficulties and are likely to make whistling sounds which are a characteristic of wheezing. Because you are having difficulties in breathing, you may become worried and this makes your breathing worse.


Traditional Treatment

You must see a conventional medical doctor to determine the cause of your wheezing and receive treatment for it.


Alternative/Natural Treatments

Many natural complementary therapies for asthma may be effective for wheezing. Chinese medicine, reflexology, and herbal therapies are all reputed to help this condition. Talk to us for assistance.
Go to our section for Asthma as well.


When to seek further professional advice

  • wheezing is accompanied by a fever
  • breathing is so difficult that you feel that you are suffocating.


Wheezing

Wind is a build up of excessive gas in the stomach or intestines which can cause cramps and discomfort.


What to look for

  • abdominal bloating and pain.
  • belching.
  • flatulence


Gas is a normal part of your digestive process, however it can still be painful and embarrassing. You can usually prevent and treat gas and gas pains without professional care, but if you have other symptoms, you should consult with a doctor to find out if you have a more serious health problem.


Causes

Usually when we eat too fast or eat foods that are raw (such as vegetables, fruits etc) or if we eat under stress, or eat too quickly we may become flatulent. As well as this, eating too much fats can cause this problem.
If you eat high-fibre foods, the partially digested parts of these foods will pass into your intestines, where bacteria begin a fermentation process that produces gas. A gastrointestinal infection may also produce intestinal gas.


Treatment

You can usually treat gas and gas pains without the active involvement of a doctor. Usually changes in what you eat will be of great benefit to you. If that does not help, there are over-the-counter preparations which may provide relief. Alternative medicines offer a wide variety of treatments.
Moderate exercise after meals can help move gas through your system more quickly.
If you are lactose intolerant, lactase supplements can help you digest milk products more effectively.


Alternative/Natural Treatments

There are many alternative therapies for gas problems.


Herbal Therapies - Teas made with peppermint (Mentha piperita), chamomile (Matricaria recutita), or fennel (Foeniculum vulgare) may also relieve gas pains.


Homoeopathy - Carbo vegetabilis is the most commonly used homoeopathic remedy, but Lycopodium is used as well. Nax vomica is used for gas associated with constipation, and Chamomilla is preferred for gas in infants. Talk to us about which is most suitable for you.


Lifestyle
Regular exercise stimulates digestion and promotes the reabsorption and expulsion of gas.


Dietary Considerations

  • Increase your fibre intake and try avoiding beans, peas, and fermented foods such as cheese, soy sauce, and alcohol.
  • Drink fewer carbonated drinks.
  • Avoid mixing proteins and carbohydrates at the same meal.
  • Do not overeat,
  • eat fewer different food items at one sitting.
  • For people who are lactose intolerant, replacing cow's milk with soy milk may help.
  • Supplements of charcoal, ginger as well as peppermint tea help


PREVENTION

One of the main methods of preventing gas and gas pains is also the primary treatment: Avoid foods that generate gas in your system.


When to seek further professional advice

  • you have persistent, unexplained bloating for more than three days
  •  you have severe abdominal pain
  • you are flatulent, are losing weight

Wind

An aneurism is a permanent ballooning in the wall of an artery. The pressure of blood passing through can force part of a weakened artery to bulge outward, forming a thin-skinned blister or sac.


What to look for

Although most aneurisms have no symptoms, in some cases the following symptoms may occur:

  • Severe ripping or pulsing type of pain, or a lump anywhere in your body where blood vessels are found.
  • Pain in the abdomen or lower back extending into the groin and legs may indicate an abdominal aneurism, which can sometimes be seen or felt as a throbbing lump and may be accompanied by weight loss or loss of appetite.
  • A pain in the chest, hoarseness, persistent coughing, and difficulty swallowing may indicate a thoracic aneurism.
  • A throbbing sensation or lump directly behind the knee may indicate a peripheral aneurism… The knee is a common site for this type of aneurism, especially in smokers.
  • A severe headache or very bad migraine accompanied by radiating neck pain, may indicate a dissecting or rupturing berry aneurism in the head. Dissecting aneurisms, most commonly characterised by severe pain, can also occur elsewhere in the body and are always an emergency situation.

The gravest threat an aneurism poses is that it will burst and cause a stroke or life-threatening haemorrhage…. But even if it doesn't rupture, a large aneurism can impede circulation and promote unwanted blood-clot formation.


CAUSES

Any condition that causes arterial walls to weaken or deteriorate can result in an aneurism. The most common culprits are atherosclerosis and high blood pressure. Penetrating wounds and infections can also lead to an aneurism. Some types, such as berry aneurisms, are the result of congenital, or inherited, weakness in artery walls.
Research has shown smoking and a high fat diet may cause or worsen this problem.


Traditional Treatment

The only way to get rid of an aneurism is to have it surgically removed… often a risky procedure, but highly effective when successful. Sometimes, however, surgery is impossible, or it may pose more danger than the aneurism. Careful monitoring and drug therapy may then be the best course. See your doctor.


Alternative/Natural Treatments

The following treatments… all primarily intended to prevent aneurisms and should be pursued along with, not instead of, your doctor's orders.

  • Homeopathy - a professional homeopath will recommend the best course of action for this problem.
  • Mind/Body Therapy - massage, yoga and meditation can be particularly helpful for this problem.
  • Herbal Treatments - garlic, fish oils, tea made of linden, hawthorn and nettle as well as a chamomile tea can be of help.


Dietary Considerations

Dietary changes that lower blood pressure and slow atherosclerosis may help prevent an aneurism from developing. A low fat diet is necessary.


When to seek further professional advice

If you are suffering from any of the above symptoms or you suspect you have an aneurism.

Aneurism

Angina can occur when the heart is not getting enough oxygen. This is usually because the blood supply to the heart is blocked or because the heart is being overworked and therefore needs more oxygen than usual. The heart can usually function normally at rest but not when physically exerted.


What to look for

  • pain that is crushing, constricting, strangling, suffocating, sharp, or burning… It is normally felt in the chest but may also occur in other areas such as the jaw or abdomen. Location and specific sensations vary from person to person but are usually consistent from one attack to the next.
  • pain that occurs with exertion or excitement and recedes with rest.
  • pain usually only lasts for a few minutes
  • weakness, sweating, shortness of breath, anxiety, palpitations, nausea, or light-headedness… Symptoms that may or may not be associated with an angina attack.
  • patients who have had angina attacks may go on to have full blown heart attacks and vice versa


Of the many types of angina, stable, or classical, angina, triggered by exertion and receding with rest is the most common.
If you have stable angina, you should be able to predict what sort of activity will bring on an attack. Another type, unstable angina, is a more acute condition; it occurs unpredictably, even during rest, and should be interpreted as a warning sign of more serious heart trouble.


Alone, angina causes no permanent damage because the heart is only temporarily deprived of oxygen. But if your angina worsens, you should know that you are at a greater risk of heart attack. Be especially concerned if you develop unstable angina, and consult a doctor.


CAUSES

The main underlying cause of angina is coronary artery disease which describes the disease which the arteries become blocked by fatty deposits and blood is prevented from flowing through them. Angina can also result from other diseases that put exertion upon the heart unnecessarily, such as anaemia, aortic valve disease (see heart disease), heart arrhythmias, and hyperthyroidism.


Stable angina is sometimes called 'exertional' angina because it is triggered by activities that make the heart beat rapidly such as physical activity, such as heavy lifting, sexual activity to eating a large meal.
Other triggers are emotional excitement cold weather, both of which stimulate the heart.


Certain risk factors for heart disease and coronary artery disease make the development of angina more likely.

  • These include high blood pressure,
  • stress,
  • high cholesterol
  • smoking,
  • obesity,
  • diabetes,
  • and a family history of heart disease.


Traditional Treatment

Drugs may alleviate angina symptoms, but fundamental changes in diet and lifestyle are an important part of any angina treatment program. Before taking any drug, review its properties and your medical history carefully with your Doctor and Pharmacist.


Many drugs should not be mixed with other drugs or natural medicines, and you also need to be sure your Doctor knows of any pre-existing medical conditions you may have.


If you have angina, your doctor will undoubtedly mention the importance of an overall healthy lifestyle that includes proper diet, exercise, weight management, and no smoking.


Most angina patients also take prescribed medication. There are three main classes of angina drugs…

  • Nitrates,
  • Beta-adrenergic blockers and
  • Calcium channel blockers.


Physicians often use a combination of these to treat angina.
If drug therapy does not work Angioplasty or bypass surgery may be considered. Angioplasty, a catheter technique that widens blocked arteries, has become a relatively routine procedure. Bypass surgery, which diverts blood flow around clogged arteries, is reserved for very severe cases.


Alternative/Natural Treatments

Always consult a doctor if you think you may have angina. The alternative therapies below may help relieve symptoms or prevent attacks, but they should be considered as complements to, rather than substitutes for, conventional medical care.


  • Herbal Therapies - Hawthorn is an excellent long-term tonic for angina because it simultaneously dilates coronary arteries and calms the heart. Raw garlic is said to help control blood cholesterol levels. Tea (made from lime flowers - linden, hawthorn and nettle) may reduce blood pressure and make the blood vessels stronger. Chamomile tea is also helpful.
  • Homoeopathy - For immediate relief during an acute attack, Cactus grandiflorus is recommended. Among the long-term remedies that might be prescribed to you are Nax vomica and Arsenicum album. However, do not self-administer herbal remedies – seek the advice of a qualified Herbalist or Naturopath.
  • Lifestyle - Stay clear of carbon monoxide and cigarette smoke, avoid alcohol or drink only sparingly while on angina medication because of possible adverse reactions. Very gentle aerobic exercise may beneficial for angina patients. Build stamina gradually, and exercise inside during cold weather. Be sure to consult your doctor before embarking on an exercise program.
  • Mind/Body Medicine - If you are stressed or easily upset find ways to relax your mind and body. You may find relief through yoga, or meditation.


Dietary Considerations

Consider a low fat diet to decrease the fatty deposits around your arteries. Eat less saturated fats and cholesterol.


Personal Care at Home

  • Use more pillows to raise your head up while you sleep to lessen the likelihood of a night attack
  • An aspirin a day, with your doctor's permission, may reduce the risk of heart attack and unstable angina.
  • Spend at least an hour digesting heavy meals… exertion after eating is known to cause attacks.
  • Be careful when starting an exercise regime as this is known to create angina attacks.
  • Stop smoking, as it greatly aggravates angina.
  • Do not take birth-control pills if you have angina. Estrogens are associated with increased risk of blood clots.


When to seek further professional advice

  • if an attack lasts more than 10 minutes; this may be a heart attack. Call 000 or your emergency number now.
  • you think this may be your first angina attack; you need to find out for sure.
  • attacks have become more intense, frequent, prolonged, and unpredictable; these are signs of unstable angina.
  • you are taking your prescribed medication and notice side-affects.

Angina

This is an inflammation of the joints and it’s causes are varied. There are two main types of arthritis - rheumatoid arthritis and osteoarthritis.


What to look for

  • Osteoarthritis - Stiffness and pain when the joint is moved after time the pain becomes continuous. The joints which bear the weight are the worst affected - hips, knees, lower back, big toes. (Being overweight can make the condition worse).
  • Rheumatoid Arthritis - Painful swelling, inflammation, and stiffness in the arms, legs, wrists, or fingers in the same joints on both sides of the body, especially on awakening.
  • Fever, joint inflammation, tenderness, and sharp pain, chills, could be associated with an injury, illness.
  • In children, intermittent fever, loss of appetite, weight loss, anaemia, or blotchy rash on the arms and legs may signal juvenile rheumatoid arthritis.


Osteoarthritis happens when the cartilage in a joint ceases to act as a shock absorber and becomes eroded by the movement of the joint. There is a systematic loss of bone tissue in the joint. It tends to come on slowly over time and may not be noticeable in some people, although an accident or fracture can also cause it. More common in people over 45. It is the most common form of arthritis.


Rheumatoid arthritis is slightly more serious… It gradually becomes worse over time. The inflammation of the joints can eventually become deformed or be destroyed. It can strike anybody between the ages of 25 and 55.


CAUSES

Although the mechanism of osteoarthritis is unknown, some people appear to have a genetic predisposition to degenerative bone disorders. In rare cases, congenital bone deformation appears at an early age. Misuse of anabolic steroids can also bring on early osteoarthritic degeneration.


Each of the two major types of arthritic conditions has its own apparent causes...

  • Rheumatoid arthritis… The cause of rheumatoid arthritis is not fully understood. Some researchers think it may be some sort of auto-immune disorder. Another theory suggests that it is an immune reaction to a viral infection somewhere in the body or hereditary.


  • Osteoarthritis… This common degenerative joint disease is part of the aging process. The condition may be associated with broken bones and can develop in young adults from wear and tear on the body's load-bearing joints, often as a result of athletic activity. In cases of osteoarthritis, the cartilage and bone cannot repair themselves sufficiently to keep up with the damage.


Traditional Treatment

If you think you may have some form of arthritis, do not ‘just put up with it’. Your doctor can give you a series of tests including a blood test which can detect the presence of the infection.
Sometimes arthritic damage can be slowed or stopped, but in most cases the damage continues as the disease runs its course, regardless of whether drugs or other therapies are used to relieve the symptoms.


The duration and intensity of the actual pain and discomfort depend on the type of arthritis how severe the condition is. The recovery can take a short time for otherwise healthy people or may take years for older patients.
For localised pain, stiffness, and immobility, medication is used to relieve pain and inflammation, rest should be taken to let injured tissues heal themselves, and exercise to rebuild mobility and strength.


To reduce pain and inflammation in mild cases of rheumatoid arthritis and osteoarthritis, your Pharmacist and/or doctor will probably prescribe a over the counter non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug. Physicians may combine these drugs with regimens of heat, rest and exercise, physical therapy, and physical aids such as canes or walkers. Controlled application of deep heat and ultrasound can also soothe affected joints. Your Pharmacist will be able to assist you with these.
In more advanced cases, your Doctor may recommend corticosteroid injections to ease the pain and stiffness of affected joints.


In cases of arthritic complications from injury or infection, specific therapy will depend on the nature and seriousness of the underlying condition. The major concern is for healing the affected area before more serious complications occur. Treatment of infectious arthritis typically involves large intravenous doses of antibiotics as well as drainage of excess fluid from the joints.


Various forms of surgery may be needed to reduce the discomfort of arthritis or to restore mobility. Synovectomy is the removal of damaged connective tissue lining a joint cavity, and allows the body to regenerate new, healthy tissue in its place. This operation is most common in the knee.


In cases of severe arthritic damage to the neck or foot, bones can be surgically removed or fused. Although movement is limited after such surgery, the operations relieve excruciating pain and help prevent further damage to nerves or blood vessels.


If arthritic pain and inflammation become truly unbearable, or arthritic joints simply refuse to function, the answer may lie in surgical replacement. Today, hip and shoulder joints as well as smaller joints in elbows, knees, and fingers can be replaced with reliable artificial joints made of stainless steel and plastic.


Because one of the hardest parts of arthritis is being able to cope with the pain, many doctors recommend training in pain management, including cognitive therapy.


Alternative/Natural Treatments

Many people use natural therapies in a bid to ease arthritic pain as traditional treatments have not helped substantially. Arthritis sufferers should be extremely cautious, however, about practices that claim to 'cure' the disease. Furthermore, what appears to work for one person under a given set of circumstances may not work at all for someone else.


  • Body Work - In combination with other treatments, massage around affected joints or compassionate touching by a doctor or other practitioner may have a comforting effect on those who suffer from arthritis.


  • Herbal Therapies - try guaiacum, dandelion root, comfrey, black cohosh, burdock, fennel seed, meadowsweet or corn silk in teas, tablets or other herbal mixtures. A great juice for this condition is celery juice made fresh.


  • Homoeopathy - For chronic osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis, remedies will be prescribed after consultation.


  • Yoga - may help relax the mind and body.


Personal Care

A balanced program of rest and gentle exercise is highly recommended for both forms of arthritis, with swimming being the best as it takes the weight off the affected areas.
Warmth (from hot water bottles or heat lamps or a warm bath) can help relieve the pain and cold packs or compresses of water can be good for serious attacks.


Regular exercise is important to keep the joints mobile. People with weakened, badly deformed fingers from rheumatoid arthritis benefit from specially designed utensils and door and drawer handles; people suffering weakness in the legs and arms from osteoarthritis can use special bathroom fixtures, especially tub rails and elevated toilet seats. Once again ask you Pharmacist about these.


Dietary Considerations

Avoiding specific foods may stop arthritic symptoms, especially… grains, nuts, meats, eggs, and dairy products, alcohol, tea and coffee.
Avoid plants in the nightshade family… tomato, potato, eggplant, and capsicum.
Eat more fish (especially tuna and salmon) avocado, fresh fruit and vegetables, whole grain breads and cereals, brown rice and plenty of filtered water. Generally low-fat, low-protein vegetarian diets may ease the pain and inflammation of rheumatoid arthritis.


Vitamin therapy may relieve certain arthritic symptoms…

  • Beta carotene (vitamin A) has an antioxidant effect on cells, neutralising destructive molecules called free radicals.
  • Vitamins C, B6, B3 and E, as well as Zinc. Vitamin C may also be advised for people taking aspirin, which depletes the body's vitamin C balance.
  • Niacin (vitamin B3) may also be helpful, although excessive use may aggravate liver problems.


Always take vitamin supplements under professional guidance, since overdoses of some vitamin compounds can have side effects or undesirable interactions with drugs.
Some therapists recommend cherries or dark red berries to stimulate the production of collagen, essential to cartilage repair.


When to seek further professional advice

  • the pain and stiffness come on quickly, whether from an injury or an unknown cause;
  • the pain is accompanied by fever;
  • you notice pain and stiffness in your arms, legs, or back after sitting for short periods or after a night's sleep;
  • a child develops pain or a rash on armpits, knees, wrists, and ankles, or has fever swings, poor appetite, and weight loss

Arthritis

What to look for


  • persistent aching or stiffness anywhere along your spine, from the base of the neck to the hips.
  • sharp, localised pain in the neck, upper back, or lower back, especially after lifting heavy objects or engaging in other strenuous activity.
  • chronic ache in the middle or lower back.


Back aches are a major health issue in the community today.
The spine supports our upper body and is the pivot for all movement. The spinal column is an extraordinary mechanism, providing the stability we use to stand upright and the flexibility we need for active movement. The spine, or backbone, is actually a miraculous piece of machinery consisting of 33 vertebrae (24 of them flexible) with shock absorbing pads in between them.


A healthy spine is S-shaped when viewed from the side, curving back at the shoulders and inward at the neck and small of the back. As well as being the body's main structural member, it houses the spinal cord. The intricate sensory network that runs through the vertebrae to transmit feeling and control movement throughout the entire body.


Causes

Back pain is caused by inflammation of the joints, or the bruising of muscles and ligaments by some means. More commonly thought, back problems are related to posture. Problems can occur when we stand in a slumped position, or sit hunched or sleep on a too soft mattress. Being overweight magnifies back problems.
Backache can also be due to a physical defect in the spinal column or as the result of another disease or condition in some other part of the body. It can even be psychological.


Most of our back troubles happen because of bad habits, generally developed over a long period of time…

  • Poor posture;
  • Overexertion in work and play;
  • Sitting incorrectly at the desk or the steering wheel;
  • Pushing, pulling, and lifting things carelessly.


Sometimes the effects are immediate, but in many cases back problems develop over time.
One of the most common types of back pain comes from straining the bands of muscles surrounding the spine. Although such strains can occur anywhere along the spine, they happen most often in the curve of the lower back.
The majority of the population today is more sedentary than our ancestors used to be, a high proportion of people spend the better part of their working day sitting at desks, at work stations, or in cars and trucks. These recent changes in human behaviour have had a profound and largely negative impact on human physiology.


People who walk a lot or do physical labour develop good muscle tone in their backs and legs. People who sit most of the day lose that muscle tone, and their backs are the first place to show it. However this can be improved significantly by starting exercise programs to strengthen the back muscles.


Lumbago

The most common form of backache is lumbago. It can occur quite suddenly or develop over hours or even days and is caused by lifting or twisting, following an injury or over use or there may not be any apparent reason for the pain. The result is a tearing of the ligaments an inflammation of the joints between the vertebrae.


Slipped Disc

The disc are pads of tissue situated between each of the vertebrae which make up the spine. Each disc is made up of a tough, fibrous outer layer and a softer, jelly-like inner layer called the nucleus.
A slipped disc simply means that the tough outer layer cracks open and the softer inner layer protrudes out through the crack. The disc protrusion happens where the outer layer of the disc is weakest, (usually just in front of the nerve roots which emerge from the spinal cord at each vertebrae level).


If the person has a slightly narrow spinal canal, the protruding disc material presses on the nerve root at that level and causes the symptoms of a slipped disc. Most affected discs are in the lower back region. When the disc presses on a nerve root, symptoms occur in the area that the nerve root supplies.
Symptoms in the back include a severe backache, painful muscle spasms with more pain when moving and relief when lying flat.


Wear and Tear

Spinal discs can be subject to normal wear and tear and can actually wear away. This is very painful and disabling. This is usually a result of normal aging processes.


Disease

Cancer of the vertebrae is very rare, but it can spread to bones from other sites in the body. This disease is extremely serious and makes the patient feel very run down and unwell and should be confirmed by an X-ray or bone scan.
Sometimes, however, backache occurs for no apparent reason. Weak muscles can cause back pain as muscles cannot stand normal lifting and general movement. Stress or tension can also aggravate the pain. A condition called fibrositis causes chronic backache from localised muscle tension, which may in turn be psychosomatic in origin. Whatever the reason, the pain is still horrible.


Pregnancy commonly brings on back pain, as do injuries from physical sports, accidents, and falls.


Traditional Treatment

When you visit your doctor he or she will want to know if the back pain is associated with any other problems such as abdominal pain, nausea, vomiting etc. Doctors usually test your range of mobility to identify the type of back problem you have. Blood and urine tests will make sure the pain is not due to an infection or other systemic problem. X-rays are used in pinpointing broken bones or other skeletal defects, and can sometimes help locate problems in connective tissue.
It is important to rest, relieve the pain and slowly restore mobility and any treatment that is undertaken will focus on these stages.


The basic treatment for relieving back pain from strain or minor injury is immediate bed rest with an ice pack and a pain reliever or another non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug to reduce pain and inflammation. After the inflammation subsides, applying heat can soothe and restore muscles.


Continuous bed rest can actually do more harm than good as a program of regular exercises is needed to keep the back muscles working. Physiotherapists can help in this area and also give advice as to which exercises are appropriate for each individual case. A chiropractor can help manipulate the back. Bed rest and pain killers are the best remedy for patients with slipped discs.


Alternative/Natural Treatments

Natural therapies have been successful in aiding patients with back problems.

  • Body Work - massage by a trained professional. Yoga may also helpful.


  • Herbal Therapies - Angelica Root. For general pain relief, drink infusions of white willow (Salix alba) or vervain (Verbena officinalis). For inflammation, try teas - lobelia(Lobelia inflata), yarrow (Achillea millefolium), cramp (Viburnum opulus), or white willow. Valerian (Valeriana officinalis), available as a tincture and in capsules, is particularly recommended as a muscle relaxant and sedative


  • Homoeopathy - Over-the-counter remedies that are usually very helpful are Arnica for bruised or sore muscles, Bryonia and Rhus toxicodendron for sharp pain that gets worse when you move, and Nax vomica for persistent backache.


Prevention

  • Practicing good posture
  • Exercise regularly - swimming especially
  • Don’t stay in the one position for too long. Stand up and stretch after you have been sitting for a while or crouch for a few moments if you have been reaching up.
  • lift correctly with your legs, not your back. Do not bend at the waist to lift.
  • Support your lower back when sitting. Buy a special cushion if necessary, particularly for driving
  • Try and sleep on your side - ensure you have a firm mattress.


Dietary Considerations

Eat more fresh fruit and vegetables, wholemeal bread, pasta, brown rice low fat dairy food. Fish and plenty of filtered water.


Call Your Doctor If

  • you feel numbness, tingling, or loss of control in your arms or legs;
  • the pain in your back extends downward along the back of the leg;
  • the pain increases when you cough or bend forward at the waist;
  • the pain is accompanied by fever; you may have a bacterial infection.
  • you have dull pain in one area of your spine when lying in or getting out of bed
  • The muscle starts to spasm and throb.

Back Care

These are reddened painful skin caused by the loss of blood supply to the skin due to continuous pressure on the affected parts.


What to look for

  • a painful and swollen red patch of skin, on any part of the skin which is pressed against something with pressure for a period of time.
  • a raw, open sore.

Bedsores are common among those people who are bedridden.


Causes

Bedsores are caused by the loss of blood supply to the skin due to continuous pressure on the affected parts. The areas usually affected are the heels, ankles, knees, base of the spine, buttocks, hips, elbows and shoulders. They begin being red and sore and can quickly turn into a slow healing, painful open sore.
Care must be taken to keep the patient with bedsores dry at all times as the bedsores can easily become infected if the skin is left damp. The people most prone to bedsores are those with diabetes, who are underweight, overweight, paralysed, people with poor circulation or heart problems.


Traditional Treatment

The normal treatment for bedsores is to clean the wound, remove any dead skin, and cover the area with a dressing that does not stick to the damaged skin.
To prevent bedsores from occurring try at all costs to avoid putting excess pressure on any one area of the skin for too long. Anyone who is bedridden must be turned regularly by a nurse. A soft material such as sheepskin can be placed under pressure points to help lessen the likelihood of bedsores developing.


Alternative/Natural Treatments

Alternative treatments can relieve pain. The patient must also be moved often.

Herbal Therapies -
Comfrey ointment promotes healing. To ease minor inflammation, apply a marsh mallow (Althaea officinalis) root ointment; or try a poultice made from slippery elm (Ulmus fulva) bark, marsh mallow root, and echinacea (Echinacea spp.) blended with a small amount of hot water. Two drops of essential tea tree oil (Melaleuca spp.) in a cup of water makes an infection-fighting rinse.


Dietary Considerations

People with bedsores need to drink plenty of water. Certain vitamins and minerals, especially vitamins A, C, E, and B complex, and zinc, will benefit their skin. Vitamin C in particular has been shown to be effective in healing bedsores.


Personal Care at Home

Care always needs to be taken when caring for the elderly or invalids at home.

  • Make sure the person confined to bed or a wheelchair moves his body as often as possible when awake.
  • Proper cushioning is vital to prevent bedsores.


Prevention

As mentioned previously, people confined to wheelchairs or beds should move frequently as well as be completely dry to avoid bedsores. Moisturiser should be used to keep the skin supple and their sheets should be clean and dry. Also a healthy diet will help their skin stay in good condition.


When to seek further professional advice

  • the sore produces a discharge or pus.

Bed Sores

Blood Clots are when blood which thickens or masses or lumps together and stops circulation.


What to look for

Our blood clots as part of a normal, healthy protective process however if any of the symptoms below occur blood clotting may be the cause…

  • Unexpected and remote pain in an arm or leg which can also include pins and needles sensation, numbness, or a cold feeling below the pain. Gangrene (tissue death) may occur if this is not seen to and treated.
  • A hard, bluish lump in a vein.
  • Sudden blindness in one eye may be due to a blood clot blocking a retinal artery.
  • Violent dizziness, or vertigo, that impairs your ability to stand or walk may be caused by a small blood clot blocking a cerebral artery.


Our blood flows normally and freely through our veins and arteries and will clot as a normal, healthy defensive process. This is how any bleeding is stopped and our healing can begin.
It is desirable, even vital, when a blood vessel is injured, but clot formation inside a healthy blood vessel is not normal and can be fatal. These types of clotting can indicate heart disease or venous diseases such as phlebitis.


A clot that forms in the heart, blood vessel or vein and blocks circulation is called a thrombus. Tiny thrombi develop on blood vessel walls to heal minute injuries, then normally dissolve. If they don't dissolve, they tend to slow the circulation and flow with the blood.
When thrombosis occurs in one of the coronary arteries of the heart, a patient has a heart attack. If it occurs in the brain the patient has a stroke, in the leg vein can cause phlebitis and if it occurs in the artery supplying a limb, gangrene may be the result.
 

Causes

Abnormal clotting results usually from one of the following - coronary heart disease, artery disease, prolonged immobilisation in which the blood clots because of poor circulation, after major surgery, pregnancy, taking the contraceptive pill, or it may be associated with cancer.


Some individuals however may be more susceptible to this condition than others in which their blood clots more readily and easily than others.
Blood will coagulate inside blood vessels if vessel walls are damaged or if circulation becomes unusually sluggish, as in atherosclerosis.


Traditional Treatment

Your doctor should prescribe drugs to help with this condition as well as aspirin. Blood clots may be removed during another heart operation but surgery to remove blood clots is rare and only performed in severe cases.


Alternative/Natural Treatments

Always inform your doctor before starting any other herbal remedies to ensure they will not interfere with your prescribed medication.


Body/Mind - Massage may be very helpful if the blood clot is due to poor circulation. This should always be performed by a trained professional


Herbal Therapies - Cayenne and ginkgo, Turmeric, bilberry, ginger, grape-skin extract, and gugulipid, an extract of myrrh, Garlic and onion, as is bromelain, a pineapple enzyme.


Dietary Considerations

Eat more oily fish such as tuna and sardines, fresh fruit and vegetables, fibre filtered water. Certain vitamins and minerals may also act as natural anticoagulants. Ask for advice about supplemental vitamin E and magnesium to prevent abnormal clots from forming.


Prevention

  • Stick to the above recommended dietary lifestyle
  • Try to stay within your recommended weight range by exercising regularly and carefully.
  • Some doctors recommend daily doses of aspirin for patients at risk of abnormal clotting. But always do this under supervision of your doctor.


When to seek further professional advice

  • you have angina or have any symptoms associated with stroke.
  • you experience sensory impairment.

Blood Clots

Bronchitis is the inflammation of the main bronchial tubes of the lungs caused by a bacterial or viral infection.


What to look for

Acute bronchitis:

  • initially a head cold, running nose, fever and chills,
  • aching muscles
  • back pain
  • hacking cough.
  • yellow, white, or green phlegm, usually appearing 24 to 48 hours after a cough.
  • fever, chills.
  • soreness and tightness in chest.
  • some pain below breastbone during deep breathing.


Chronic Bronchitis:

  • persistent cough producing yellow, white, or green phlegm (for at least three months of the year, and for more than two consecutive years).
  • wheezing, some breathlessness.


Generally Bronchitis occurs more often in winter, in damp, cold climates and places that are heavily polluted. Bronchitis is an upper respiratory disease in which the mucous membrane in the lungs' upper bronchial passages becomes swollen.
As the irritated membrane swells and grows thicker, it narrows or shuts off the tiny airways in the lungs, resulting in coughing spells accompanied by thick phlegm and wheezing. The disease comes in two forms: acute and chronic.
Acute bronchitis is responsible for the hacking cough and phlegm that sometimes accompany an upper respiratory infection; in most cases the infection is viral in origin. If you are otherwise in good health, the mucous membrane will return to normal after you've recovered from the initial lung infection, which usually lasts for several days.


Like the lung disease emphysema, chronic bronchitis, is a serious long-term disorder that requires regular medical treatment.
If you are a smoker and come down with acute bronchitis, it will be difficult for you to recover since as you continue smoking, you do so much damage to the cells, known as cilia, to prevent them from working properly. This often leads to chronic bronchitis. If you smoke heavily the cilia can stop working altogether. Clogged with mucus, the lungs are then vulnerable to viral and bacterial infections, which over time distort and permanently damage the lungs' airways.
Acute bronchitis is very common .


Causes

Acute bronchitis is generally caused by lung infections; Chronic bronchitis may be caused by one or several factors. Repeated attacks of acute bronchitis, which weaken and irritate bronchial tubes over time, can result in chronic bronchitis. Industrial pollution is another culprit. But the chief cause is heavy, long-term cigarette smoking.


Traditional Treatment

Conventional treatment for both acute and chronic bronchitis may consist of antibiotics, aspirin and a cough syrup and a good deal of bedrest in a warm room. In severe cases of chronic bronchitis, supplemental oxygen may be necessary. Remember to drink lots of water.


If you have chronic bronchitis, your lungs are already damaged and the obstruction of the airways is not easily helped. Bronchodilator drugs may be given to relieve any such obstruction, as well as physiotherapy to help the patient get rid of any sputum. Oxygen therapy may be required as well.

Flu vaccinations are available against most strands of flu and pneumonia.


Do not take an over-the-counter cough suppressant to treat chronic bronchitis unless told to do so by your doctor. As the coughing assists in getting rid of any excess phlegm. In fact, your doctor may even prescribe an expectorant if your cough is relatively dry. Tell your doctor if you notice any changes in your phlegm.
The best course of action is to remove anything that irritates the condition. If you are overweight, your doctor may insist that you diet to avoid putting excessive strain on your heart.
If you smoke, your doctor will urge you to quit.


Alternative/Natural Treatments

A number of alternative therapies can be used to complement a conventional doctor's care. You must however continue to use conventional medical care.


Aromatherapy - Essential oils such as eucalyptus,hyssop, aniseed, lavender, pine, and rosemary may help ease breathing and relieve nasal congestion.


Inhaling deeply through your nose, breathe the aroma from a few drops of one or more of these oils dabbed on a handkerchief, try a steam inhalation or sniff directly from the bottle. 


Chinese Herbs - The Chinese herb ephedra (Ephedra sinica) is a potent bronchodilator. Only use this herb under the supervision of an experienced practitioner. Do not use ephedra if you have high blood pressure or heart disease. Always seek the advice of a qualified practitioner.


Herbal Therapies - There are a wide variety of herbal formulas that help this condition, It is wise to get professional advice before choosing the herbs.


Coltsfoot may relax constricted or spasming bronchial tubes and gently help to loosen phlegm.
To treat acute bronchitis, hyssop may be used.


Herbal expectorants include aniseed (Pimpinella anisum), elecampane (Inula helenium), and garlic (Allium sativum).


Homoeopathy - For acute and chronic bronchitis, try the following -
for fever, cough, and tightness in the chest, use Aconite.
For loose white phlegm, cough, and irritability, use Kali bichromicum.
For loss of voice, cough, thirst, and sore throat, use Phosphorus.


Dietary Considerations

To strengthen the immune system and protect against infection, nutritionists often recommend vitamins A, B complex, C, and E, along with the minerals selenium and zinc. Some experts suggest that you also avoid mucus-producing foods, found mainly in the dairy group (although goat's milk generally causes less mucus production than cow's milk), as well as in refined starches (white- flour-based products) and processed foods.

For chronic bronchitis:
Avoid exposure to paint or exhaust fumes, dust, and people with colds. Consider using a vaporiser or inhaling steam over a sink full of hot water. Dress warmly in cold, dry weather.


When to seek further professional advice

  • your cough is very persistent and severe, you may be causing damage to your lungs.
  • changes in your mucus and your symptoms last longer than a week
  • you display symptoms of acute bronchitis and have chronic lung or heart problems or are infected with the virus that causes AIDS
  • you have great difficulty breathing.

Bronchitis

Bunions are an abnormal enlargement at the joint between the foot and the beginning of the big toe, which is the result of pressure.


What to look for

  • an angular protrusion at the side of the foot behind the big toe, sometimes accompanied by hardened skin or a callus.
  • swelling, redness, unusual tenderness, or pain at the base of the big toe and in the ball of the foot, especially if the area becomes shiny and cool to the touch.

A bunion is an unnatural bump or bend in the bone that forms the ball of the foot at the base of the big toe. The result is an unsightly swelling at the inside of the foot, sometimes pushing the big toe inward so it overlaps one or more other toes.
Because a bunion occurs at the joint where the toe bends in normal walking, your entire body weight rests on it at each step. While most bunions don't affect normal walking, they can be extremely painful.


Causes

Bunions are caused by wearing shoes which are too tight for your toes. Foot problems typically develop in early adulthood, becoming more pronounced as the foot spreads with aging. Bunions can be hereditary and occur along with other problems associated with weak or poor foot structure, as well as with corns and calluses. Bunions sometimes develop with arthritis.
Most of the time, bunions are so obvious from the pain and the unusual shape of the toe that further diagnosis is unnecessary.


Traditional Treatment

Relieving a bunion's discomfort generally consists of steps to reduce pain and inflammation, followed by measures to prevent recurrence.
Your doctor may recommend an over-the-counter pain remedy, or may prescribe a specific medication to relieve the swelling and inflammation. A warm footbath or spa may also help relieve the immediate pain and discomfort, as may an analgesic cream containing a chili-pepper extract.
If your bunion isn't persistently painful and you catch it early, wearing well-made, well-fitting shoes may be all the therapy you need.
In some cases, a specialist can prescribe shoes with specially designed insoles and uppers that take the pressure off affected joints and help the foot regain its proper shape.


Alternative/Natural Treatments

Various therapies for reducing pain and inflammation can be used effectively on bunions.
Homoeopathy - Following an examination of your feet, you can be prescribed remedies that may relieve the pain of a bunion. .
Herbal Treatments - Try drinking nettle tea everyday for some relief. Also a warm poultice using rosemary, mustard or calendula oil followed by an ice pack can be soothing.


Personal Care

  • When a bunion causes sore feet, a hot compress or soaking in warm water will ease the pain.


Prevention

Always wear well fitted shoes in childhood to avoid problems later on. Exercising your feet can strengthen them, particularly if you learn to pick up small objects with your toes.


When to seek further professional advice

  • When you discover any of the symptoms mentioned above

Bunions

Cataracts are the clouding of the lens in the eye.


What to look for

  • hazy vision.
  • impaired vision at night; difficulty in discerning movements, details, or objects.
  • blinding or uncomfortable glare from automobile headlights or bright sunlight.
  • seeing halos around lights.
  • unexpected improvement in near vision.
  • double or triple vision in one eye only.
  • in an advanced case, a milky white or opaque appearance to the normally transparent lens of the eye
  • painful inflammation and pressure within the eye (very advanced case).


The lens of the human eye focuses light so that you can see objects clearly at various distances. It has no blood supply of its own; therefore, when it is damaged it cannot form new cells and responds by becoming opaque, forming a cataract. The cataract causes a gradual and painless loss of vision.
Despite how common the disease is, it is actually one of the less serious eye disorders, because surgery can restore the lost sight in most cases.


Causes

The most common cause is aging. If this is the case, the centre of the lens will be affected first. There is vision for several years until the whole lens is affected.
Some people are born with cataracts due to an injury or disease while in the womb.
Exposure to bright sunlight can react with the protein in the lens and create cataracts earlier than usual as well as cigarette smoke, air pollution, vitamin deficiencies, and heavy alcohol consumption. A low level of calcium in the blood can cause this complaint, sudden increases in blood sugar levels in young people can result in a clouding of the lens. They can develop as a result of accidents, sports injuries and exposure to electromagnetic, microwave or infra-red radiation.


By shining a pen-light on your pupil, your doctor may detect the cataract. Using special instruments and techniques, your ophthalmologist will identify its precise character, location, and extent.


Traditional Treatment

At present the only corrective treatment for a developed cataract is surgery. However, both conventional and alternative therapies are seeking ways to prevent cataract formation.
Cataract surgery is one of the most successful of all operations.


The operation, usually performed under local anaesthesia on an outpatient basis, is safe, fast, and nearly painless.
The single most important thing you can do to prevent cataract development is to avoid bright sunlight outdoors by wearing sunglasses that filter out UVB. Dark glasses that do not filter out UVB can actually increase your risk, because your pupils widen to adjust to the decreased light, thus exposing your eyes to more of the dangerous UVB radiation.


Dietary Considerations

Antioxidants, which reduce free radicals (unstable chemical compounds) that can damage lens protein, offer protection against cataract development by lessening or retarding protein deterioration in the lens brought on by environmental factors.
Naturopaths recommend a diet high in fruits and vegetables containing antioxidants such as beta carotene (vitamin A), selenium, and vitamins C and E, including citrus fruits, spinach, sweet potatoes, carrots, and broccoli.


When to seek further professional advice

  • You develop any of the symptoms mentioned above.

Cataracts

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

Cholesterol is a crystalline fatty alcohol found especially in animal fats, blood and nerve tissue and bile.


What to look for

A high level of cholesterol in the blood does not have obvious symptoms but it can be a risk for other circulatory conditions that do have recognisable symptoms.

  • Obesity and diabetes.
  • impotence


Cholesterol is a paradox: Everyone needs it, but you can have too much which can prove to be fatal. A naturally occurring fat, cholesterol performs functions which are vital to the body such as cell building, insulating nerves, and producing hormones. The liver makes all the cholesterol the body normally needs, but because this substance is found in all animal products, you get a new stock of it whenever you eat meat and dairy foods. For people genetically predisposed to cholesterol problems, a diet high in saturated fats is the chief cause of high cholesterol levels.


There are two basic types of cholesterol - HDL and LDL - high and low density lipoproteins respectively. Low-density lipoprotein (LDL) is a larger, less dense particle that tends to remain in the body. Excessive amounts of LDL cholesterol can overload the circulatory system and it can leave deposits in blood vessels that eventually block them and lead to heart disease.


Causes

Hereditary does play a part in having or not having cholesterol. If you have a predisposition to cholesterol and eat a heavy saturated fat diet, you are more likely to have cholesterol and the related diseases.
A laboratory test to determine your blood cholesterol level is now a routine part of most physical checkups.


Traditional Treatment

Your doctor, Pharmacist as well as many Health Professionals will all say the same thing with regards to diet - Adopt a diet low in fat and cholesterol, lose weight, exercise regularly, and if you smoke, quit.
There are cholesterol reducing drugs available however they are expensive and can produce serious side effects.


Alternative Treatments

Alternative therapists offer a range of natural ways to control your cholesterol levels. All can be pursued independently, many in conjunction with drug therapy.


Chinese Medicine - Traditional Chinese healers treat various forms of chronic heart disease, along with factors like high cholesterol, a herbal therapy that uses polygonum (Polygonum multiflorum). You should professional advice for an appropriate prescription.


Herbal Therapies - A highly valued remedy for fighting high cholesterol is gugulipid (Commiphora mukul).

Other herbs reputed to have cholesterol-lowering properties include alfalfa (Medicago sativa), turmeric (Curcuma longa), Asian ginseng (Panax ginseng), and fenugreek (Trigonella foenum-graecum).


Lifestyle - Exercise several times a week can help this complaint.


Dietary Considerations

Avoid saturated fats and dietary cholesterol. Experts recommend a diet with between 30 and 20 percent of your daily calories from fat. Animal fat should be avoided. Eat more vegetables, fruits, and grains, which are cholesterol free, virtually fat free, and rich in fiber.


Garlic and onion are believed to lower cholesterol.


Prevention

  • Watch your weight.
  • Eat wisely
  • Exercise regularly
  • Don’t smoke.
  • Get your cholesterol checked regularly and monitor your progress


Make Healthy Food Your Ally

Replace saturated fats that are solid at room temperature, with olive or grape seed oil. Eating moderate amounts of such foods as nuts, seeds, and avocados may actually lower LDL cholesterol. Eating grapes may help reduce blood cholesterol.
Do not eat too many eggs per week as one egg yolk contains almost an entire daily recommended allowance of cholesterol. Vitamins, minerals, and nutrients that have reputed cholesterol-reducing properties include vitamins E, C, and A (beta carotene), zinc. Add rice, bran, artichokes, shiitake mushrooms, and chili peppers to your salads and foods as these all may help lower cholesterol.


When to seek further professional advice

  • You develop any of the symptoms listed above.

Cholesterol Problems

Pain that tends to last longer than 6 months can be termed chronic.


What to look for

The condition may include weakness, numbness, tingling, or other sensations, along with sleeping difficulties, a lack of energy, and depression. Some common forms of chronic pain are:

  • this type of pain can include headaches, muscle, back or joint pain that is enduring and debilitating or uncomfortable.


This type of pain can be sporadic, continuous, uncomfortable or Chronic pain can be mild or agonising.
The areas described above are the most common, however chronic pain can also include Achilles problems, sinus, other forms of degenerative joint disease, carpal tunnel syndrome, and localised pain.


The state of your mind has a lot to do with your perception of pain. And your state of mind is influenced by the surroundings you find yourself in and your attitudes as well. The psychological effect pain can have on us is substantial. Persistent severe pain can erode our natural threshold to pain and cause our personality to alter as a result. We can tend to perceive the pain as worse than it actually is or that it is becoming worse and worse. The immune system may also become affected adversely from persistent pain.
 

Causes

The causes of chronic pain are many and varied, some possible causes are as follows:-

  • aging (may affect bones and joints)
  • nerve damage and injuries that fail to heal properly.
  • Back pain
  • being overweight
  • curvature of the spine
  • to a traumatic injury
  • or to no obvious physical cause.


Disease can also be the underlying cause of chronic pain.
Sometimes it is a very difficult thing to pinpoint the exact cause of the pain as any possibility alludes healers and doctors. A process of elimination is then commenced to find the cause.
 

Traditional Treatment

People who suffer from chronic pain may need professional help.
The aim in many cases is not only to alleviate pain but also to teach the chronic sufferer how to come to terms with pain and function in spite of it. The first step in many cases is to wean the patient from a dependence on pain killing medications.


Other methods used by pain specialists include relaxation techniques to control brain-wave activity, behaviour-modification therapy to revise the way pain is perceived, acupuncture, hypnotherapy, meditation, and other forms of alternative therapy.
Over-the-counter pain killers can control milder cases of musculoskeletal pain and reduce inflammation.
Your doctor may prescribe stronger drugs if these others do not help.
 

Alternative Choices

A broad array of alternative options exists to address chronic pain.


Aromatherapy - Mix together the following essential oils with a carrier oil such as sweet almond, apricot kernel, or jojoba oil, and massage the blend into your skin at the site of the pain: lavender (Lavandula officinalis) to reduce inflammation and relax muscles; eucalyptus (Eucalyptus globulus) to bring down swelling and accelerate healing; ginger (Zingiber officinale) to relieve pain and stiffness associated with arthritis and other types of degenerative joint disease.


Massage - Massage therapy may provide temporary relief of muscle tension, stiffness, and spasms.


Herbal Therapies - Capsicum, the active ingredient in cayenne (Capsicum frutescens), is believed to increase blood flow to joint tissues, thereby reducing inflammation.  An over-the-counter ointment made with cayenne may bring temporary relief of osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis, although it is very hot and should be used for only short periods.

Infusions of black cohosh (Cimicifuga racemosa) or evening primrose oil (Oenothera biennis) may also lessen inflammation. Rubbing a dilution of peppermint (Mentha piperita) oil on the affected area may have a temporary numbing effect.


Topically applied dilutions of wintergreen (Gaultheria procumbens) oil, which contains a substance similar to what is found in aspirin, may have an analgesic effect. Geranium(Pelargonium odoratissimum) and white willow (Salix alba) bark are also natural painkillers. Chamomile (Matricaria recutita) may also be helpful.


You must take special precautions if you are pregnant. Always seek the advice of a qualified practitioner.


Homoeopathy - Try Rhus toxicodendron for joint, back, and arthritic problems that feel worse when first rising in the morning and become better with warmth. Persistent pain may be relieved by Kali bichromicum. Calcarea fluorica. Sepia may be good for lower-back pain that is worsened by sitting.


Topical homoeopathic creams that have Arnica as a main ingredient can help with muscle and joint pain.


Lifestyle

You should take some time out when you feel the pain, however too much rest in also not going to do your problem much good - it can actually make your muscles weaker and cause more pain eventually.



Research has shown that regular exercise can diminish pain in the long run by improving muscle tone, strength, and flexibility and also release the body’s natural pain killers to help you. Try low impact types of exercise.


Visualisation may be another worthwhile pain-controlling technique - seek out places in your area that teach this very worthwhile technique.
Hypnotherapy and self-hypnosis may help you block or transform pain through refocussing techniques.
Relaxation techniques such as meditation or yoga are also very helpful for chronic pain sufferers.


Dietary Considerations

Certain supplements have been known to help tremendously with chronic pain. These are:- DL-Phenylalanine (amino acid), Valerian, white willow bark.
See the entry for rheumatoid arthritis and allergies for dietary considerations and foods to eat and avoid.
At-Home Remedies
Remember 'RICE'
- Rest
- Apply ice to the affected area
C - Compress the area
E - Elevate the area.

  • Take herbal remedies suggested by a qualified herbalist
  • Do some low-impact exercise.


When to seek further professional advice

  •  your pain continues for several weeks and doesn't respond to over-the-counter products or rest.

Chronic Pain

This is problems to do with circulation. (Is the closed network of blood vessels in the body).


What to look for

  • aching legs
  • bulging, bluish vessels in an aching leg.
  • a painful vein.


Everybody may experience circulatory problems infrequently. Many people, however, must cope with this sensation on a daily basis. This condition, called intermittent claudication, is caused by lack of blood to the affected area. This can be due to hardening of the arteries. There are many other forms of circulation problems as well. Most circulation conditions can be treated at home or with a doctor’s supervision.


Circulation starts with vessels known as arteries which carry blood filled with oxygen from the heart to the rest of the body; veins return blood with no oxygen to the heart. These vessels can become blocked and this is when circulatory problems arise. These problems can start in a number of ways.


Causes

There is usually more than one cause to circulatory problems. Hardening of the arteries can become more prolific with age. Women are more likely than men to develop varicose veins. Hereditary plays a part as does the type of lifestyles people lead.
Other risk factors for poor circulation are smoking, obesity, and prolonged periods of sitting or standing. Women taking the contraceptive pill are more prone to circulatory problems, as are people with diabetes.


Traditional Treatment

There is a great deal the patient can do for themselves at home to improve circulation. If these do not succeed, many other options are available to those who suffer from circulatory problems. Take the time to learn about your options, then decide which treatment program will work best for you.


Of course the cause of the circulatory problem will have to be diagnosed by your doctor before suggesting a treatment.
Normally a treatment consisting of…

  • regular aerobic exercise
  • good balanced nutrition.
  • to lose weight if obesity is the problem
  • and to stop old habits that interfere with circulation such as smoking.
  • aspirin can also aid swelling


For more severe cases, treatment options range from drug therapy to surgery.


Alternative/Natural Treatments

Many non-conventional treatments for poor circulation attempt to strengthen and widen the blood vessels to get more blood circulating throughout the system.


Body/Mind Treatments - Yoga - can help blood flow and help to alleviate the discomfort caused by poor circulation.
Water Treatments - A long soak in a warm bath, followed by a brisk rub with a towel dipped in cold water, can ease general discomfort caused by poor circulation.


You might add a solution of thyme leaves or larch needles to the bathwater for a stimulating effect.
Soak cold feet in a warm footbath for 15 minutes.
To promote circulation in the legs, alternate hot and cold footbaths (1 to 2 minutes in hot water, 30 seconds in cold water) for 15 minutes.


Herbal Therapies - An extract of the small, thorny hawthorn (Crataegus oxyacantha) tree promotes circulation by dilating blood vessels, particularly coronary arteries. And ginkgo(Ginkgo biloba) has a well-documented record of medicinal success.
Studies show that concentrated extracts from the leaves of the ginkgo tree may help improve circulation by dilating the arteries. If you have a blood-clotting disorder, consult a doctor before using ginkgo, since the plant can, in some people, suppress the blood's clotting ability. Ginkgo has also been shown to cause mild side effects, including excitability and digestive problems. (see the section on herbs for more information).


Cayenne (Capsicum frutescens) and ginger (Zingiber officinale) may stimulate circulation by dilating arterioles and capillaries near the skin's surface. Butcher's-broom (Ruscus aculeatus) is believed to alleviate swelling and inflammation caused by many circulatory disorders. Butcher's-broom can be prepared and eaten much like its cousin, asparagus, or brewed into a tea.
Chinese Herbal Treatments - Taken orally, Gotu Kola (Centella asiatica) appears to benefit circulation.


Dietary Considerations

As a general rule, your diet should be low in fat and high in fibre. Eat more whole grains and fresh fruits and vegetables. Avoid caffeinated drinks.
If you suffer from hardened arteries, eat more fish. For dessert, try pineapple, it is very good for the circulation.
Healthful doses of certain vitamins and minerals may also improve your circulation. vitamin C, vitamin E, and niacin, all of which are believed to have a dilating effect on blood vessels, may help to get the blood flowing and make walking less painful. However, consult a doctor or nutritionist before using niacin, as it can cause uncomfortable flushing. Magnesiumsupplements also may help dilate the vessels and alleviate arterial spasms.


Personal Care

  • Regular exercise
  • If you are taking birth-control pills, switch to another form of contraception.
  • Stop smoking.
  • Dress warmly in winter especially keep your feet warm


When to seek further professional advice

  • you experience sudden and severe pain
  • you develop skin ulcers, skin discolouration, or sores that don’t heal.


Circulation Problems

This is a liver disease characterised by a gradual annihilation of the liver cells. These cells are progressively replaced with fibrous tissue, which then leads to hardening.


What to look for …

Usually no symptoms appear until the disease has entered the late stages as the disease tends to come on gradually. When they occur, symptoms can include:

  • nausea, vomiting, and loss of appetite.
  • unusual gain or loss of weight.
  • yellow coloration of the skin and eyes (see Jaundice).
  • dark urine.
  • bloody, black stools, or unusually light-colored stools.
  • vomiting of blood.
  • thinning hair
  • abdominal swelling.
  • itching.
  • swollen feet or legs.
  • red palms.
  • sleep disturbances and confusion.
  • fatigue or loss of stamina.
  • enlarged breasts in men.
  • loss of sex drive and menstrual problems in women.
  • spider like blood vessels on chest and shoulders.
  • in severe cases, mental disturbances


With Cirrhosis, the liver eventually loses ability to function as required. With severe damage, the patient cannot function mentally and coma and possibly death can result. As well as this, because the blood cannot flow through the liver due to the scarring, it collects in the veins and they may burst under the enormous pressure. In some cases this pressure becomes so great that the vessels rupture.
Once the liver is damaged through cirrhosis, it cannot be cured except through a liver transplant. It can often be helped in the early stages though.


The wellness of the liver is important as it has many duties to perform for the proper functioning of the body. The liver is the largest of the body organs and performs the following essential functions-

  • detoxifies and rids the body of harmful chemicals, alcohol, caffeine by acting like a filter.
  • produces bile which it stores in the gall bladder. Bile is then released into the small intestine as needed to help break down fatty foods.
  • regulates the composition of the blood
  • traps old red blood cells
  • helps remove virus and bacteria (it performs this function as part of the immune system).


With so many tasks to perform it is essential to have a fully functioning and healthy liver however, it can still function but not quiet as effectively. The liver possesses an amazing ability to repair itself, especially if the cirrhosis is caught in the early stages and the causes of it’s malfunction have been removed.


The parts of the liver that are scarred will never be returned to normal. If the causes of cirrhosis are not removed and more and more cells are affected, the rest of the healthy cells are left to do all the work - this is where problems will become obvious. This is why it's important to identify the underlying causes as soon as possible and begin taking steps to eliminate them.


Causes

The most common cause of Cirrhosis is the excessive consumption of alcohol over a long period. Other possible causes include viruses, genetic deficiencies, prolonged obstruction of bile flow, and long periods of exposure to drugs and other toxic substances.


The link between alcohol and cirrhosis is well documented. Studies show that while moderate drinking may actually help prevent strokes and heart disease, heavy drinking has a clearly harmful effect on the liver.
Excessive drinking almost inevitably causes some liver damage, but it does not always lead to cirrhosis however the liver can become inflamed. This only lasts for a week or two but can eventually lead to Cirrhosis. Even light drinkers who go on a binge for several days can develop a condition known as fatty liver which causes the cells of the liver to become swollen. This condition can be painful and can cause the eyes to take on a yellow appearance.


Hepatitis is the next most common cause of cirrhosis after alcoholism the most frequent cause of cirrhosis is hepatitis, which inflames the liver.


Traditional Treatment

Treating the cause of cirrhosis is the best way to recovery from this disease.
Remedies are dependant on the cause of the disease and what stage it is up to. If alcohol is the cause of your cirrhosis you must stop drinking immediately. If you continue to drink after you have been diagnosed with cirrhosis, there is more chance of the condition becoming fatal.


Liver transplants are available to people as a last resort and there are certain people who are not permitted to undergo this operation. People whose cirrhosis is due to alcohol abuse must abstain from alcohol for a period of time before this operation will be performed.


Alternative/Natural Treatments

Chinese Medicine - Various Chinese herbs, used in combination, may promote healthy liver function. However, self-medication can be dangerous; remedies should be prescribed only by a Professional.


Herbal Therapy - Milk thistle (Silybum marianum) is believed to promote healthy liver function. However, consult a Professional before using this remedy.


Homoeopathy - Certain Homoeopathic remedies, including Taraxacum officinale and Chelidonium majus, may help improve the efficiency of healthy liver cells in cases of cirrhosis. Consult a Professional for their proper use.


Dietary Considerations

Good nutrition can help the liver. Freshly squeezed juices from carrots, beetroot and celery, carrot and apple, grapefruit and pear juice. Eat more leafy green vegetables, tossed salads including cabbage rocket lettuce, dandelion and thistle leaves with a dressing of olive oil and lemon juice. Alfalfa sprouts, beans, broccoli, brussel sprouts and all the range of leafy Chinese and English spinach’s.


Protein is needed for the healthy functioning of the liver but it is important to monitor how much you are consuming - too little is as bad as too much. Check with a doctor or nutritionist for the amount of protein that's right for you.
Also check with your doctor about the taking of high doses of vitamins as these can be harmful to your liver. (The liver has to filter substances that are taken into the body).


Prevention

  • Do not drink to excess and if you have been diagnosed with Cirrhosis stop drinking immediately.
  • Avoid uncooked shellfish.
  • Avoid mixing alcohol and drugs.
  • Avoid exposure to industrial chemicals, which can enter the bloodstream and cause liver damage.
  • Maintain a healthy diet.
  • Be careful to avoid contracting hepatitis.


When to seek further professional advice

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

Cirrhosis

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

A corn is a localised area of hard, horny skin which forms as a result of constant rubbing or pressure. A calluses are larger versions.


What to look for 
Corn...

  • an area of hard, thick skin, which may look a yellow colour
  • Corns between the toes can be soft


Callus...

  • A callus is an area of hard, dead skin up to an inch wide on the soles of the feet, the palms of the hands, or any area subject to friction.


Corns and calluses are formed to protect the skin against friction or pressure. Corns generally occur on the toes and balls of the feet, while calluses can develop on hands, feet, or anywhere there is friction.


Causes

These are likely to develop whenever there is pressure or excessive wear on the skin. Most are caused by ill-fitting shoes. If your child develops a callus that has no clear source of pressure, it may be hereditary. Feet spend most of their time in a closed, moist environment ideal for breeding bacteria; staph infections can start when bacteria enter corns through breaks in the skin and cause the infected corn to give off fluid or pus.
Calluses are usually easy to fix.


Traditional Treatment

When the friction or excess pressure is gone, the callus or corn will usually disappear as well. Always wear shoes that fit you well, and usually leather will mould with the foot better than synthetic materials.


You can buy over the counter ointments and topically applied corn plasters, however be careful of the healthy tissue surrounding the corn. Oral antibiotics are available if your corn is infected.


It is a good idea to scrap the excess dead skin with a sharp scraper or scalpel knife. Do this until you can see the soft skin underneath. Be very careful not to scrape away too much skin as this can cause bleeding or introduce infection.


Alternative/Natural Treatments

Herbal Therapies - Apply a calendula (Calendula officinalis) salve two or three times a day to corns or calluses to soften tissue and prevent inflammation.


Personal Care - The best solution to this problem is to remove the cause of the friction, but until you do that you can follow the remedies below for good results.

  • Soak yourself in a bath to soothe and soften the skin, then use a pumice stone to rub over the corn..
  • Apply hydrocortisone cream or a calendula-based ointment to a cracked callus. Aloe cream is also good for soothing and healing the skin.
  • Elevate your feet and expose them to fresh air whenever possible.


Prevention

Buy appropriate and comfortable shoes and beware of tight, high heels. If you wear high or otherwise constricting shoes for fashion reasons, try to take them off whenever possible during the day to give your feet a rest. You can also wear other more comfortable shoes to and from work.


When to seek further professional advice

  • you cut a corn or callus
  • a corn discharges pus or clear fluid; it is infected or ulcerated.
  • you develop a corn and you suffer from diabetes, Atherosclerosis, or other Circulatory Problems.

Corns & Calluses

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

Dermatitis is a red and itching inflammation of the skin


What to look for

Contact dermatitis (an allergic reaction)

  • A red rash that is restricted to the area of skin exposed to an irritant.


Nummular dermatitis

  • Red, itchy, circular lots of weeping, scaly, or encrusted skin, common in older people who have dry skin or live in dry environments.


Seborrheic dermatitis

  • Greasy, yellowish scales on the scalp and eyebrows, behind the ears, and around the nose; in infants it is called cradle cap.


Stasis dermatitis

  • Scaling, greasy-looking, sometimes ulcerated skin appearing inside the lower legs and around the ankles.


Atopic dermatitis, or eczema

  • Extreme, persistent itchiness.


Dermatitis simply means skin inflammation, but it includes a wide range of sicknesses. In nearly all cases the early stages are distinguished by dry, red, itchy skin, although later stages may include crusty scales or blisters that ooze fluid.


Causes

The following are the most common general types of dermatitis and their typical causes:
Contact dermatitis

  • pink or red rash, which may or may not itch.
  • causes include contact with poison ivy, poison oak, and poison sumac, and certain flowers, herbs, fruits, and vegetables irritates some people. detergents, soaps, chlorine, some synthetic fibres, nail polish remover, antiperspirants. The inflammation is often caused by cosmetics and skin-care products.


Nummular dermatitis

  • Living in a dry environment or taking very hot showers can cause this condition,
  • stress.


Seborrheic dermatitis

  • a biotin deficiency in infants (where it is known as cradle cap)
  • or with overproduction and blockage of oil glands in adults.
  • stress
  • common in AIDS patients.


Stasis dermatitis

  • poor circulation.


Atopic dermatitis,

  • Eczema is usually hereditary
  • allergies, asthma, and stress.


Traditional Treatment

The cause of dermatitis must first be identified and removed before treatment can get under way.
Most mild skin inflammations respond well to warm baths followed by application of petroleum jelly or over-the-counter hydrocortisone cream.


Seborrheic dermatitis may respond to coal-tar-based shampoo; avoid sunlight immediately after using it, as it can cause sunburn on the scalp. Once irritants causing contact dermatitis are identified, avoid them and obviously the condition will improve.


To help dry the sores of nummular dermatitis, soak the area in salt water, then apply a corticosteroid cream.
If you suffer from stasis dermatitis, wear support stockings and rest often with your legs elevated to help improve circulation.
To reduce inflammation and heal the irritation of most types of dermatitis, your doctor may recommend over-the-counter or prescription cream.


Alternative/Natural Treatments

Alternative therapies are good for relief of symptoms of this chronic disease.


Herbal Therapies - Always seek the assistance of a Professional. But here are some tried and true herbs that have been successful in relieving some patients.


Burdock (Arctium lappa) boosts the immune system and helps reduce inflammation.
Some practitioners believe evening primrose oil (Oenothera biennis) works as well as corticosteroids for itchy skin and has fewer potential side effects.
Topical ointments made with calendula (Calendula officinalis) or chamomile (Matricaria recutita) are effective for treating many types of dermatitis.
You can make a herbal remedy by mixing tinctures of nettle (Urtica dioica), cleavers (Galium spp.), and either goldenseal (Hydrastis canadensis) or myrrh (Commiphora molmol) in equal parts.
You can also make a tea from fresh nettles or fresh cleavers.


Homoeopathy - For benign, short-term skin problems, an over-the-counter Calendula cream may soothe the inflammation. Taking Rhus toxicodendron three or four times a day may relieve the itching of contact dermatitis.


Dietary Considerations

doctor may suggest vitamin B complex, Vitamin A and zinc which may aid in skin healing, while vitamin E ointment can help relieve itching and dryness. Always have your doctor check the doses of all supplements you take to avoid over dosing.


At-Home Remedies

  • For dryness, rub petroleum jelly or olive oil on affected areas after a bath, or use a topical ointment containing aloe or zinc.
  • Avoid eating potential allergens. You may get help from supplemental vitamins A, B complex, and E, as well as zinc.
  • If you suspect an allergy to a chemical or cosmetic, try an at-home patch test. Apply a small amount of the suspected irritant to a spot on your arm or back for seven days. If you have a reaction, you know it is a potential irritant.


Prevention

The best way to prevent a rash caused by contact with toxic plants like poison ivy is to wash the exposed skin with soap and water as soon as possible after contact. If you feel you are at risk, consider these preventive steps:

  • Use a humidifier at home and at work.
  • Wear natural loose-fitting.
  • Avoid plated jewellery.
  • Be careful choosing watches with tight plated watchbands as these can cause problems by rubbing on your sensitive skin.
  • Supplement your diet with vitamins A, B complex, and E, and zinc.
  • Lubricate your skin after a bath using an unscented, preservative-free lotion or ointment such as sorbolene cream.


When to seek further professional advice

  • if your skin has pus or is oozing
  • if your skin does not respond to your treatment
  • if your skin is affected and you are exposed to anybody with a viral skin infection such as cold sores etc.


Dermatitis