Posts Tagged ‘Natural Health’

A short Synacthen test is a blood test performed for the investigation of adrenal insufficiency.

The adrenal glands are small cone shaped glands which sit above each kidney. They rmake and release stress hormones like adrenalin and cortisol which are released to enable us to ‘fight or flee’. When the adrenals have been weakened they simply do not function properly – they’re fatigued. The main reason with poorly functioning adrenals is stress: worry, fear, anxiety, panic all the things that we experience almost daily in this 21st century lifestyle we all lead.

How the adrenals are weakened:

Adrenals can also be weakened by the use of stimulants – caffeine being a big culprit. In the short term, coffee makes us feel better from the stimulation it gives. Over time, however, the constant stimulation drains the adrenals which leads to fatigue, irregular blood sugar, anxiety and even sleep disruption. Sugar and refined foods and carbohydrates are other culprits which deplete the body of B vitamins and drain the adrenals.

A short synacthen test is not a readily available routine blood test – but is a good way of investigating the efficiency of the adrenal glands and it’s a test I feel people who suspect they have adrenal fatigue should be aware of.

It’s best performed in the morning as the cortisol responses between the morning and the late afternoon differ (by as much100 nmol/L at 30 min sample post Synacthen).

Blood needs to be taken 3 times during a one hour period to be prepared to spend to spend some time with the phlebotomist! It may be a good idea to have someone with you also as blood sugar levels would be quite depleted post test.

An excellent book on the subject of adrenal fatigue is: Adrenal Fatigue: The 21st Century Stress Syndrome by Dr James L. Wilson who has also formulated a nutritional supplement to help this condition.

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I’ve been going to the Vitality Show in London consecutively for the last 7 years. As a complementary practitioner I like to keep up to date on what’s new and available and the show, for me, is both fun and informative. I meet many therapists and it provides a basis for my continuing research.

Having just returned home from this year’s show, I was very disappointed. Not only was it down-sized (from Olympia to Earls Earls Court 1), it was also heavily geared towards sports clothes, hair and beauty and many of the therapy workshops (aura readings, colour therapies, reflexology, Ayurvedic treatments, herbs and supplement stands) had disappeared, possibly due to the high costs of exhibiting there. This was a shame

However, I was delighted when I actually stumbled across what I feel is a gem of a company: Mercy Oil Products. Mercy Oil products are produced from the seeds of plants and contain hundreds of precious and nutritious substances which include vitamins, minerals, high levels of essential fatty acids, amino acids and highly medicinal active components. They provide a natural healing remedy for immunodeficiency and opportunistic infections. I would encourage anyone who is interested to keep a look out for these products and do their own research.

The company’s leading product is Mercy Oil – an oil produced from the seeds of the Black Cumin flower (Nigella Sativa).

Black Cumin seed oil has been used for thousands of years by various cultures and civilizations around the world as an organic nutritional treatment, aiding good health and well-being.

The unique healing properties of Mercy Drinking Oil lie in the traditional way it is produced. Great care and time are taken to grow the Black Cumin plants in a mountainous climate of clean air and rich soil with as little pollution as possible.

The special extraction process which is used enhances Mercy Drinking Oils’ medicinal qualities without damaging the organic nutritional elements that the plant seeds have taken from the earth.

Since the 1960s, doctors around the world started researching and proving Black Cumin Seed oil’s many medicinal benefits, publishing their findings in respected and peer reviewed medical journals. Watch this space as I’ll be reviewing my findings.

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The link between progesterone and the menopause is highlighted by the fact that women in industrialised countries have a hard time with menopausal symptoms compared to women in rural societies. Dr. P. Ellison of Harvard University studied oestrogen levels in various ecological and cultural populations and found that oestrogen levels in western women are abnormally high. This can be due to a number of factors:

  • the food consumed (particularly animals fed oestrogen to fatten them)
  • the crops sprayed with pesticides (most of which are oestrogenic)
  • the Pill and HRT
  • drinking recycled water which has not had the oestrogen removed
  • using cosmetics which are made with liquid paraffin and oestrogenic antioxidants.

An understanding of the effects of a lack of progesterone is vital to understanding that progesterone can play an enormously beneficial role in helping to go through menopause without too many adverse affects. By naturally opposing the action of oestrogen, the symptoms of oestrogen dominance are lessened and in some cases eliminated. The easiest method to apply progesterone is in a cream form.

New research conducted by Wallace and Kelsey published in “Human Reproduction”, indicates that it might be possible to show the approach of menopause by a scan of the ovaries. Currently blood hormone levels are used to try to determine this, but these are notoriously inaccurate as it is common practice to only check oestrogen levels, not progesterone. The patient generally needs to specifically request this despite the fact that progesterone and menopause are inextricably connected. As the symptoms of menopause are caused by a lack of progesterone and too much oestrogen, the standard ‘oestrogen only’ test is of little help.

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Readers of my blogs will know that I have suffered from adrenal stress and have looked into a number of ‘alternative cures’. I’ve looked into and talked about Macca but I never actually got around to using it because I discovered Ashwagandha first. I’ve been using Ashwagandha for several months and I do believe it’s gone a long way in helping me. I’m starting to feel ‘normal’ again.

What is it?
Ashwagandha (meaning: strength of a horse) is a known herb in Ayurvedic medicine. Found in India, it’s an evergreen shrub the roots of which are used medicinally. It has a reputation for improving strength, energy and stamina.
It’s an adaptogenic herb suitable for long-term use (avoid if you’re pregnant or breast-feeding).

Ashwagandha is an adaptogen: a class of herbal medicines that improve energy and help the body adapt to stress. It relaxes the nervous system and increases strength and stamina. Excellent for promoting restful sleep; its antioxidant effects help immunity and increase white blood cell count and reduces arthritic pain and inflammation.

Research published in the journal of Phytomedicine (2000) found Ashwagandha was ‘comparable to some orthodox drugs for treating anxiety and depression’.

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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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Don’t underestimate the effects of stress on the body. I’ve been battling (unknowingly) the effects of adrenal stress for a long time and am finally emerging through it!

The adrenal glands are two tiny pyramid-shaped pieces of tissue above each kidney. They produce certain regulatory hormones and chemical messengers:

Adrenaline is manufactured in the interior of the adrenal gland (adrenal medulla), and cortisol is made in the exterior portion of the gland(adrenal cortex). The cortex also secretes androgens, estrogens, and progestins. Cortisol, commonly called hydrocortisone, is the most abundant – and one of the most important. Cortisol helps handle longer-term stress situations.

In addition, the two primary adrenal hormones, adrenaline and cortisol, along with others, help control body fluid balance, blood pressure, blood sugar, and other central metabolic functions.

In the heightened nervous state of adrenal burnout, the body overproduces adrenaline, cortisol and other stress hormones. Constant stress and poor nutrition can weaken the adrenal glands. Eventually, this causes the adrenal glands, the front line in the stress reaction, to show wear and tear and become depleted. This can also lead to impairment in the thyroid gland, which can cause a further decline in energy level and mood and is one of the reasons why many people have thyroid glands that don’t work well.

When stress continues for a prolonged period of time, the adrenal glands can deplete the body’s hormonal and energy reserves, and the glands may either shrink in size or enlarge (hypertrophy). The overproduction of adrenal hormones caused by prolonged stress can weaken the immune system and inhibit the production of white blood cells that protect the body against foreign invaders (in particular lymphocytes and lymph node function).

Adrenal dysfunction can disrupt the body’s blood sugar metabolism, causing weakness, fatigue, and a feeling of being run down. It can also interfere with normal sleep rhythms and produce a wakeful, unrelaxing sleep state, making a person feel worn out even after a full night’s sleep.

Testing for Adrenal Health

In order to determine the health of your adrenal glands you need to have a simple test (saliva testing being more accurate than blood tests)

Adrenal stress is extremely debilitating – I know I’ve been through it!

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When stress, injury, illness or disease is present there is a state of imbalance in the body and vital energy pathways are disturbed or blocked, preventing the mind and body from functioning effectively.

As a natural health therapist, I am passionate about complementary therapies and their effect on the mind, body and spirit. I regard taking responsibility for one’s own health as an important part of healing and so I actively involve patients in their treatment.

Many complementary therapies are based on the idea that the body naturally strives to maintain a state of balance, known as homeostasis and my treatments aim to stimulate this natural healing ability in the body.

Learn more about the therapies I offer and try one today!

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