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Archive for February, 2009

This time last year I was preparing my 10,000 word dissertation as part of my health sciences degree. Despite the fact that I loved every minute of that course I was going through a bad time with my health. I was feeling exhausted. Not everyone jumps out of bed in the morning full of the joys of spring, but I was waking up and peeling myself out of bed and most mornings I would wake up with headaches that would not budge for days on end. Most weekends I couldn’t find the strength to get dressed and were spent sleeping on the sofa. Although I managed to get through the working week and cook a meal in the evenings that was all I could manage. The dishes had to be left till morning. My digestion started to play up – something I’d never had problems with before. Blood tests revealed nothing ‘abnormal’. As a therapist, I was helping others to heal themselves yet I couldn’t help myself – I didn’t know which way to turn.

By complete coincidence and at a doctor’s suggestion I tried an anti-candida diet for two weeks to see if this made any different to my digestion. During those two weeks I noticed a difference and accepted that I had candida. A cocktail of vitamins, minerals and amino acids helped kill the candida and opened my eyes to the fact that candida is prevalent in most people. When the immune system is thrown out of balance (stress, diabetes, antibiotics) the environment in the intestines is such that it encourages growth of bad bacteria and hence candida attacks.

Doctors don’t recognise the condition of candidiasis and indeed there is no real accurate test (other than a live blood sample) but a quick and simple way for you to find out if you have candida if you suspect this is to spit into a see-through tumbler of water first thing in the morning. If the spittle develops legs like a spiders which travel down to the bottom of the glass, then the chances are you have candida.

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Did you know that a lot of information can be obtained from your feet? A trained therapist can tell whether you’re a hard worker (a ‘cart horse’), someone who likes to be pampered (a ‘princess’ type) or someone who hogs the limelight and wants recognition for their merits! It’s true.

Look at your feet – how do you feel about them? I’ve received some very interesting answers to that question which tell me a lot about how the person sees themself.

Feet reading is indeed a fascinating subject. Here’s some more information to whet your appetite:
A very short little toe – someone who has had to grow up too quickly
High arches – someone who is independent with strong inner resources
Second toe longer than the other toes – someone who has natural leadershp qualities

Even a bunion can be indicative of someone who bends over backwards to help othes!

Interesting, eh?

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The environment within the stomach should be incredibly acidic – we’re talking battery acid here – in order for effective digestion to occur. The job of the (hydrochloric) acid in the stomach is to release minerals from food, help with the absorption of nutrients such as calcium and iron, break down food proteins and kill bacteria and parasites, thus controlling the unwanted microorganisms in the digestive tract.

Hypochlorhydria and achlorhydria are conditions in which the production of hydrochloric acid in the digestive juices of the stomach is low or absent. Symptoms of low stomach acid include: heartburn, acid reflux, belching and gas. So if you thought that your symptoms were due to too much acid and that the right thing to do is to take antacid supplements (which reduce or neutralize acidity) then think again – that could be the wrong thing to do!

Without sufficient amounts of either stomach acid, digestive symptoms as well as a bacterial imbalance and nutrient deficiencies can arise.

Hypochlorhydria has been associated with:
Candidiasis
• Hip fracture, possibly due to reduced calcium absorption
• Reduced absorption of vitamins and nutrients
• Carcinoid tumors in the digestive tract

Symptoms of hypochlorhydria include:

• Diarrhea
• Anemia
• Abdominal discomfort or bloating
• Reflux

Treatments include: improved eating habits such as sitting down whilst eating and taking the time to chew thoroughly, avoiding stress around meal times, and supplementing with hydrochloric acid, probiotics, digestive enzymes and/or herbs to aid digestion are generally recommended

Some natural remedies include: grapefruit seed extract, garlic, oregano oil. In Ayurvedic medicine Ginger, Tulsi (Holy Basil) and Trikatu are considered a digestive tonic and improve gastric function.

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I get extremely cross when people think that progesterone is simply a female sex hormone – it’s not just that! So, you can imagine what I told my male friend when he came to me for advice about his anxiety and migraines, then turned to me and said “ I don’t want to turn into a woman”! Progesterone is commonly thought of as a ‘female’ sex hormone. This is misleading as it is vital for sustaining not just health but life itself in all mammals of both sexes.

As a man gets older testosterone is converted into di-hydrotestosterone (DHT), which some believe is the cause of benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH) and cancer.

Oestrogen levels also increase as a man gets older. Oestrogen is known to stimulate cell growth. Reading between the lines, because as yet, there is no definitive study done on this, it appears to be the increased oestrogen level which is the problem and not the two testosterones. As progesterone is a powerful counter-balance for estrogen, progesterone for men is essential.

If in fact testosterone were the culprit, then men aged ±22 would have the highest incidence of BPH and cancer, as testosterone levels are at their highest point in the early 20’s, but of course they don’t. From the early twenty’s to the late twenty’s testosterone makes it’s greatest drop, thereafter it continues to decline, but at a slower rate.

Progesterone also down regulates the action of oestrogen if used in a sufficiently high dose. The endogenous oestrogen made by humans is now being supplemented by synthetic oestrogens found in the environment. They are now found in food, air, water, plastics, skin care products, no one can avoid them. Some authorities speculate this is the cause of the increase in problems such as hyperplasia or cancers of any hormonally sensitive tissues, such as the prostate, endometrium, cervix and breasts. So, despite often being, erroneously, thought of as a ‘female’ hormone progesterone for men is essential to preserve masculinity!

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After a series of, how shall I put it, life’s ‘hiccups’ I was left feeling ….well…not quite myself. I have always thought of myself as a strong independent person – ‘superwoman’ – doing anything and everything, being everywhere, so when I found myself drained of all my energy, barely managing to get to work each day, sleeping every weekend, tired and emotional, I knew something was wrong; I did not recognise myself ….this was not me! The usual blood tests revealed nothing and I felt frustrated that as a healer and therapist I was able to help others yet unable to heal myself. By a series of events I ‘found’ an amazing nutritionist based in South Africa and through a series of elimination tests and a hair analysis, I discovered I had Candida, low progesterone and severe adrenal fatigue. Ok, it wasn’t a death sentence but I was really upset and angry that I’d allowed myself to get into that state of ill health. To cut a long story short, I firstly tackled the Candida (more about this at a later date) with vitamins, minerals and amino acids, I started to take natural progesterone (which I’ll never be without) and it took an extremely long time but I finally feel I’ve cracked the adrenal fatigue issue (not with Maca, which I mentioned below, but with Ashwaghanda and I’d like to discuss this wonderful herb at a later time).

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Well, I can categorically say that even after completing a health sciences degree in which I was awarded a first class honours, this adult teaching course is the most challenging thing I’ve ever done. Six weeks intensive training on the principles and methods of teaching – a challenge indeed. But It’s almost at an end and it has equipped me with new knowledge, new skills and a new confidence in myself and my abilities. I hope that this qualification if open up a new set of opportunities as I travel on life’s journey.

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