Category Archives: Ailments: A-B

Acne

Nearly everyone suffers from outbreaks of pimples at some point in life, making acne one of the most common skin disorders. Acne is a skin affliction usually occurring in teenagers, however quite a high percentage of adults do suffer some form of acne symptoms.’

Acne is characterised by inflammation of the sebaceous glands causing pimples, blackheads, white heads and inflammation. It occurs in both sexes, although teenage boys tend to have the most severe cases. Women are more likely than men to have mild to moderate forms into their thirties and beyond, and are somewhat more susceptible to rosacea.

What to look for…

Symptoms include a mixture of pimples, blackheads, whiteheads occurring mainly on the face, neck, upper back and chest but can sometimes occur on other areas of the body as well.

  • Blackheads are flat, dark spots in the pores of skin which are blockages of excess oil and dead skin that have darkened after being exposed to the air.
  • In whiteheads, the blockage is not visible but a small lump can be seen under the skin. This is the blockage of oil.
  • Pimples can be described as persistent inflamed red areas or swellings on the skin. These areas are often painful; they can become pus-filled. They are due to a rupture of the blocked gland under the skin.
  • If the blockage occurs slightly deeper, then very large cysts can develop. These cysts appear as red or pale lumps which can be inflamed and filled with fluid. This is a more severe form of acne.
  • Red swellings or lumps, sometimes visibly filled with pus, are pustules, which develop from blackheads or whiteheads.
  • Acne also tends to be worse in people with oily skin.

Causes

The cause of acne is not fully understood. While poor hygiene, poor diet, and stress can aggravate acne, they clearly do not cause it. Acne occurs because of a blockage in the opening of the oil glands in the skin.

It starts when tiny hair follicles become plugged with oily secretions from the skin’s sebaceous glands.

Tiny hair follicles, especially those on the face, neck, chest, and back, can become plugged with sebum and keratin. As the follicles fill up and bacteria multiply, blackheads or whiteheads form on the skin’s surface, a condition called non-inflammatory acne.

If the follicle wall breaks under pressure and sebum leaks into nearby tissue, pustules or inflammatory acne can develop. If pustules become infected, matters are further complicated: The infection can penetrate deep into the skin and create cysts, which can rupture and leave temporary or permanent scars.

Various factors appear to make certain people prone to developing acne, it can be inherited, a stressful lifestyle, and the use of oral contraceptives. Taking oral contraceptives may trigger acne in some women but actually suppress it in others, depending on the type of pill taken. Anabolic steroids taken by some bodybuilders can also lead to severe outbreaks.

However common acne vulgaris usually occurs in adolescent years as this is when there are large increases in hormone production from the sex organs and the Adrenal Glands.

During puberty, both boys and girls produce high levels of androgens – male sex hormones that include testosterone. Androgens can increase production of sebum, the substance that lubricates the skin and helps it retain moisture. There is usually only enough sebum produced to keep the skin supple and healthy.

Acne can afflict anyone who is undergoing hormonal changes for whatever reason. The inflamed redness, pimples, blackheads, whiteheads and in extreme cases, cysts are the result.

Traditional Treatment

The most important treatment is to keep the skin clean which allows the pores to breathe. Do not squeeze or touch any infected or inflamed areas as acne can produce lifelong scars.

A clean face can only be of help if the hair is also washed and away from the face. The overactive sebaceous glands cause the hair to become oily and dandruff can develop which can aggravate acne problems.

The occasional pimple or two need no treatment. Over-the-counter cover-up creams and cosmetics, if used at all, should be water based and hypoallergenic. These creams usually contain anti-bacterial antiseptics to reduce skin bacteria and keratolytics which remove any plugs of sebum blocking the follicles. These products can be very helpful for many patients.

Always follow the instructions carefully. Mild degreasing products may also be beneficial.

If you use cosmetics ensure that only water-based products are the favoured choices.

If these simple procedures do not help the problem, it is sensible to consult a doctor who may prescribe certain treatments.

To treat mild acne, your doctor may recommend a topical over-the-counter medication containing benzoyl peroxide or prescribe the anti-acne drug tretinoin (retinoic acid), a vitamin A derivative. Before applying the medication, wash the affected area with a mild oil- and scent-free soap.

When pus-filled pimples are ready to break, applying a hot towel for a few minutes may encourage the process. Infected pimples should be opened only by a nurse or doctor using surgical instruments and following antiseptic practices. Squeezing pimples yourself may lead to further infection and the possibility of permanent scars.

Conventional medicine favours drug therapies that inhibit sebum and keratin production, limit bacterial growth, or encourage shedding of skin cells to unclog pores.

Because many therapies can have potent side effects, any patient with a skin problem should proceed with caution when trying a new treatment. People with severe, persistent cases need the care of a dermatologist. However, if this course of action is chosen antibiotics can be quite helpful.

Oral antibiotics are usually left to treat the more severe cases of acne. They are of a lower dose that would be prescribed for an infection. Some forms of bacteria inflame acne and this is where antibiotics can help by removing these and settling the problem.

For moderate to severe cases, a mainstay of treatment is tetracycline, an antibiotic that is usually taken orally, sometimes in combination with topically applied tretinoin. Other useful antibiotics are oral erythromycin and clindamycin.

Another development in acne treatment is the use of medication called isotretinoin which is taken from Vitamin A. However it should only be considered in extreme cases of acne where no other treatment has been of assistance and its use must be strictly supervised by a medical practitioner. It must not be used during pregnancy or if there is any likelihood that conception has taken place. At present this drug can only be prescribed by a dermatologist. Chemical peeling and laser therapy are also avenues that could be investigated.

Patients taking anti-acne drugs should be alert to possible side effects and interactions. The drugs tretinoin and benzoyl peroxide can leave skin reddened, dry, and sensitive to sunlight. Benzoyl peroxide may inhibit the healing effects of tretinoin, so never apply them at the same time. Taking antibiotics for more than a few weeks may leave women susceptible to yeast infections.

There are surgical procedures available to eliminate the scars from acne and your medical practitioner will be able to advise on this treatment.

Alternative/Natural Treatments

Some alternative therapies have proven to be very beneficial. In addition to these therapies it is advisable to keep the skin and hair clean as in the conventional treatments mentioned above.

  • Use mild soaps designed for skin health every day

  • Use a skin scrub based on oatmeal, calendula, tea tree oil (which is a natural anti-bacterial agent), thyme orcinnamon which gently removes the top layer of the skin and open the pores. Use 2-3 times per week.

  • Avoid alcohol based skin toners

  • Herbal treatments aid in reducing excess oil production, help the system cope with the overload of bacteria, helps reduce inflammation and aids in healing

  • Expose your acne to some sunlight in moderation, but be careful to avoid overexposure.

  • Diet is vitally important and fatty or oily foods should be reduced.

  • Reduce stress by relaxing with a cup of tea made from lavender or chamomile.

  • Chinese herbal medicine for acne seeks to rid the skin of dampness and heat, which are believed to be contributing factors.

  • Many herbs are used to help heal the skin and soothe inflammation and itching. The herbs a trained naturopath or herbalist may consider are Echinacea, calendula, tea tree oil, and goldenseal.

Never use any herbal medicines on newborns without consulting your doctor.

Dietary Considerations


Most doctors now believe that acne is not a food-related problem. Some alternative therapists, however, make a change in diet the basis of treatment. While experts in both camps concede that chocolate, fats, and other suspect foods don’t cause acne, debate continues over whether they can aggravate the condition. Most Health Professionals agree that fatty or oily foods should be avoided and to eat plenty of fresh fruit and vegetables.

It is also important to drink plenty of filtered water throughout the day. Try to combine fresh food with vitamin supplements such as Vitamin A, B complex, Vitamin C and the minerals Zinc and potassium. Also useful are Lecithin,Echinacea, Garlic and Evening Primrose Oil. Always check the required doses.

When to Seek Further Professional Advice

  • If you notice your condition worsening and the infection becomes severe with the formation of larger boils, cysts or abscesses

  • If the surrounding tissue is bruised and damages as a result of squeezing the blackheads.

  • If your acne doesn’t respond in two to three months to over-the-counter remedies; you may need medical treatment

Adenoid Problems

Adenoids are lymph glands, located at the back of the nose where the air passages join those of the back of the mouth.

The lymph system is the body’s defence against infection and the lymph glands (like the adenoids) are full of infection-fighting cells. Any infection breathed in is filtered through the adenoids and usually killed. However this is not always the case.

What to look for…

 

Adenoid-related problems produce symptoms in the ears, nose, and throat. Most common in children between 4 and 8 years old. Any of the following may be indicative of adenoid problems:

  • Interruption of normal breathing patterns during the night

  • snoring

  • nasal voice

  • dry throat due to breathing through the mouth – continually asking for drinks

  • secretions from the nose during the day combined with a cough at night, caused by sinus drainage

  • recurring ear infections

  • coughs from increased pus or discharge in back of throat; a collection of this may cause morning vomiting.

  • Chest infections may occur

The adenoids, play a special role during childhood… By making antibodies, they help the young child’s body fight respiratory tract infections.

From the time your child is three until around the age of seven, the adenoids grow so that they can give extra protection to the lungs and chest. After about the age of eight, they usually begin to disappear until adolescence when they have usually gone.

You may have grown up in an era when removing the adenoids and tonsils was standard practice and may have undergone one of these procedures yourself. But because doctors now understand more clearly the role of the adenoids in fighting infection, the chances of your child’s undergoing an adenoidectomy are much more remote… usually limited to the most severe cases.

Causes

 

The primary reason for chronic adenoid problems is structural… The adenoids grow so large that they block the nasal passages. But infection or irritation, perhaps caused by allergies, can also cause problems by making the adenoids swell. Usually a younger child is more exposed to infections.

Traditional Treatment

 

Adenoid problems are difficult to diagnose because the symptoms can point to any number of conditions and it is hard to tell even by examination if enlarged adenoids are the cause.

Three types of medicines may help in treating adenoids

  1. Decongestants – available over the counter

  2. Antihistamines – available over the counter

  3. Antibiotics – available only on prescription.

As a last resort if the above medications have not helped and alternative therapies have not helped the adenoids may be removed by a surgeon .

Consult your doctor before undertaking any medication for the ailment.

Alternative/Natural Treatments

 

Alternative therapists usually seek an allergy-related cause first. Always take your child to a professional for evaluation and treatment… At-home care can only alleviate the symptoms. Natural therapists will also seek to strengthen the immune system with a natural, wholefood diet enriched with Vitamin C.

  • Herbal Treatments – Echinacea is believed to help fight infection. (Get professional advice for appropriate dosages). Garlic is often helpful as well as other herb cleavers sometimes in combination with Echinacea to fight infection and inflammation in the lymphatic system.

  • Homoeopathic Remedies – You should get professional advice for remedies appropriate to the condition as well as to yourself.

The following at home remedies may alleviate some symptoms, but they will not clear up the underlying condition. Always seek help from a professional when your child has a chronic problem.

  • For children with allergies, reducing or eliminating environmental irritants can make your child more comfortable. Using a vaporiser may aid the condition

  • A humidifier may help a congested child.

  • An over-the-counter decongestant may temporarily alleviate stuffiness.

Dietary Considerations

 

Because chronic adenoid problems give rise to other problems, you should consult a Health Professional for remedies and diets appropriate to the condition as well as to your child. Your Pharmacist will monitor your child’s progress and change remedies if they do not bring relief in a short time.

When to Seek Further Professional Advice

 

Left untreated, enlarged adenoids can lead to chronic sinusitis, and in severe cases, a complaint in which the child stops breathing for seconds at a time during the night.

If your child is not breathing properly at night, you notice your child has breathing problems or breathing through their mouth and if you notice recurrent ear conditions and infections

AIDS – Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome

Known as Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome AIDS occurs after the immune system has been destroyed by HIV virus.

HIV attacks the immune system by killing off the white blood cells in the blood known as the T-Cells. It is these cells that signal to the body’s defence system when an invasion of bacteria or viruses has occurred. As a result the body produces anti-bodies which attack and destroy harmful bacteria and viruses.

AIDS patients are vulnerable to infections and cancers and it is these infections and cancers which cause death. HIV changes the structure of the cells it attacks.

What to look for…

 


The following are common symptoms to look for-

  • Unexplainable fatigue.

  • Swollen lymph nodes.

  • Fevers that lasts more than 10 days.

  • Night sweats.

  • Unexplained weight loss.

  • Purplish or discoloured lesions on skin that do not go away.

  • Persistent, unexplained cough or sore throat.

  • Shortness of breath.

  • Persistent colds, diarrhoea, yeast infections

  • Easy bruising or bleeding that cannot be explained.

A diagnosis of AIDS should not be taken as an immediate death sentence. With proper care the AIDS sufferer may stave off the worst symptoms and live a productive life for many years.

Acquired immune deficiency syndrome (AIDS) is not a single disease in itself. Rather, a severely impaired immune system leaves the AIDS sufferer highly susceptible to a whole host of infections and diseases. AIDS is thought to be caused by the human immune deficiency virus (HIV), which is spread through infected semen, vaginal fluids, and blood. Contrary to popular belief, AIDS is not a highly contagious disease. The only way you can get it is to have unprotected vaginal, oral, or anal sex with an infected partner or to share tainted blood through IV-drug use or transfusions.

Risk Groups

At greatest risk for AIDS are people who have sex without using condoms and infants born to AIDS-infected mothers. Also at great risk are male and female intravenous-drug users who share needles, and people who received blood transfusions or clotting factors between 1977 and 1985, prior to the establishment of standard AIDS screening of donated blood.

You also need not worry about catching AIDS if you live with someone who has it. HIV cannot be transmitted by toilet seats or objects handled by people who have AIDS.

Traditional Treatment

If you feel you have contracted the virus you should have a test as soon as possible. Within a few weeks of infection, your body should be producing antibodies to the virus, which your doctor can detect in blood tests. However, your body may take as long as 35 months to produce a detectable level of antibodies, so if you think you’ve been infected, particularly if you’re in a high-risk group, you should be tested for the disease every 6 months.

It is extremely important that you notify your sexual partners of your diagnosis. They too must be tested and treated.

Almost everyone who develops full-blown AIDS eventually succumbs to the disease, but antibiotic and antiviral drugs can prolong life for several years. In any event, you should never try to treat yourself for this life-threatening illness:

Always seek the advice of a qualified practitioner. And beware of claims made for “miracle” cures. They simply don’t exist.

Currently there are several hundred human studies to test drugs for the treatment of AIDS and related conditions. These include antiviral drugs, drugs that modify the immune system, anti-infective drugs, and anti-cancer drugs.

Although a number of vaccines to prevent AIDS are under investigation, scientists have had difficulty finding one that works.

Alternative/Natural Treatments

Combined with medical treatment, many alternative therapies have been successful in improving the patient’s quality of life. By law, alternative therapists are not permitted to treat AIDS/HIV patients.

Although, if you have the support of your doctor, these remedies may be of benefit in relieving some of the symptoms. AIDS patients have responded well to nutritional programs aimed at improving their immune system function. Also any program which aims to relax the patient and decrease stress has been beneficial.

Again, beware of any treatment that claims to be a “miracle” cure.

  • Regular massages

  • Try some Bach flower remedies –

  • Mimulus (for fear of illness or death,

  • Sweet Chestnut (for despair),

  • Pine (for guilt),

  • Willow (for resentment).

Chinese herbs help to boost the immune system. However it is vital to see a professional and fully qualified practitioner. Some suggested herbs are –

  • Green Tea,

  • some Ginseng,

  • Maitake mushroom and

  • Shiitake mushroom.

  • Use of certain Aromatherapy oils to reduce stress levels

  • A healthy diet with moderate exercise

  • Herbs such as…

  • Echinacea,

  • Astragalus,

  • Cat’s Claw,

  • Chaparral,

  • Liquorice (root),

  • European Mistletoe and

  • Garlic help the immune system.

As well as

  • Aloe vera (juice consumed orally),

  • the minerals Zinc and Germanium,

  • the vitamin A derivative – Beta Carotene,

  • Selenium,

  • Lactobacillus acidophilus,

  • Coenzyme Q10 can often help.

As well as this you may want to investigate the benefits of taking extra Vitamin A and B12 and C. However, always speak with your doctor as Vitamin A can be toxic in high doses.

  • Heat therapy – raising the body’s temperature above normal levels – with medical supervision may help control the HIV virus.

  • Mind/body work with a psychologist or counsellor

  • Also Yoga and meditation may be of benefit

  • Try joining a support group

Also some ideas to help yourself at home:-

 


  • eat nutritious, balanced meals to bolster your immune system.

  • take vitamin supplements such as the ones mentioned above.

  • try acupressure exercises to relax.

  • take up meditation or yoga to relieve stress.

  • try to maintain a positive attitude.

  • follow a moderate exercise program approved by your doctor.

  • try inhaling or bathing with oils of tea tree and garlic.

  • ask a knowledgeable practitioner about herbs such as St.-John’s-wort.

When to seek further professional advice

If you have more than one of the symptoms listed in the description section of this condition or if you think you may have contracted the disease

Alcohol Abuse

What to look for…

The following symptoms are associated with abuse of alcohol:

  • temporary blackouts or memory loss.

  • recurrent arguments or fights with family members or friends.

  • continuing use of alcohol to relax, to cheer up, to sleep, to deal with problems, or to feel “normal”.

  • work, money and family problems.

  • headacheanxietyinsomnia, nausea, or other unpleasant symptoms when you stop drinking.

  • loss of appetite and insomnia.

  • attacks of trembling and sweating.

  • delirious attacks.

  • kidney trouble and peptic ulcers.

  • broken capillaries on the face; a husky voice; shaking hands; severe diarrhoea; and drinking alone, in the mornings, or in secret. These symptoms are specifically associated with chronic alcoholism.

Consumed in moderation, alcohol can be of benefit as a relaxant, can encourage the appetite and produce a feeling of well-being. However, when consumed in excess, alcohol is poisonous to human systems and is considered a drug.

Chronic alcoholism is a progressive, potentially fatal disease, characterised by an constant craving for, increased tolerance of, physical dependence upon, and loss of control over drinking alcohol.

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

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

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

Causes

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

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

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

Traditional Treatment

Alcoholic’s main aim in treatment is to abstain from any form of alcohol and this is often difficult and complicated by denial.

Once the alcoholic accepts he or she has a problem and is willing to stop drinking, treatment can begin. He or she must understand that alcoholism is curable and must be motivated to change.

Treatment has two stages…

1. Withdrawal… sometimes called detoxification – and

2. Recovery.

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

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

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

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

Alternative/Natural Treatments

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

  • Massage – can help relax and can aid the stress of withdrawal symptoms

  • Herbal Remedies and Nutritional supplements such as the B ComplexVitamin C, and a multi-vitamin capsule,beta-carotene and ZincMagnesium and EPO. For withdrawal symptoms for herbal mixtures.

  • Various relaxation and meditation techniques

  • Nutrition and diet – eat plenty of salads and vegetables, drink fresh juices and avoid fatty foods.

  • Blood sugar levels may need stabilising – eliminating certain dietary sugars prove helpful in some cases.

Other ways to help with Alcoholism

To help in learning to live without the need for alcohol the alcoholic must…

  • Avoid people and places that make drinking the norm, and find new, non-drinking friends.

  • Join a self-help group.

  • Enlist the help of family and friends.

  • Replace your negative dependence on alcohol with positive dependencies such as a new hobby or volunteer work with church or civic groups.

  • Start exercising. Exercise releases chemicals in the brain that provide a “natural high.” Even a walk after dinner can be tranquillising.

Dietary Considerations

Develop a healthy diet of fresh fruit and vegetables (watching for certain fruits and vegetables which may be high in sugar) and consume foods high in B and C group vitamins such as wholemeal bread, brown rice, oats, bananas, citrus fruit, broccoli and parsley.

Drink plenty of filtered water and be sure to visit a qualified dietician or medical practitioner to obtain a diet suitable for you

When to seek further professional advice

  • you have any of the symptoms listed in the description section and are unable to stop drinking on your own. You need medical intervention to treat alcoholism.

  • you find your daily intake of alcohol increasing as you become more tolerant.

  • you drink regularly and experience chronic or periodic depression. You may be at risk of suicide.

  • you have tried to stop drinking and experienced withdrawal symptoms such as headache, anxiety, insomnia, nausea, or delirium tremens. You need medical attention by a Doctor or a treatment centre

Allergies

An allergy is a sensitivity to a substance which does not normally cause people any problems.

What to look for

Symptoms generally show up in the part of the body which are exposed to the allergen…

  • Sneezingwheezing, nasal congestion, and coughing indicate asthma, or drug or respiratory allergies.

  • Itchy eyes, mouth, and throat are symptoms of respiratory allergies.

  • Stomach ache, frequent indigestion, and heartburn and diarrhoea are signs of food sensitivities.

  • Irritated, itchy, reddening, or swelling skin is associated with drug, food, and insect sting allergies.

  • Stiffness, pain, and swelling of joints may indicate food or drug allergies.

Allergies come in a variety of forms and vary in severity from mildly bothersome to life-threatening.

Most allergic reactions are not serious, but some, such as anaphylaxis, can be fatal. In this case the patient’s air passages swell and close and the blood pressure falls abruptly.

Only a few allergies can be cured outright, but a variety of conventional and alternative treatments are available to relieve the symptoms. If your allergy is severe, it is vital that you visit a conventional medical doctor and get immediate treatment on an emergency basis.

Causes

No one knows why some people develop them, but heredity seems to play a role in their development.

The immune system protects the body from foreign substances – known as antigens – by producing antibodies and other chemicals to fight against them. Usually, the immune system ignores benign substances, such as food, and fights only dangerous ones, such as bacteria.

A person develops an allergic reaction when the immune system cannot tell the good from the bad and releases a type of chemical called histamine to attack the harmless substance as if it were a threat. Histamine produces many of the symptoms associated with allergies. Substances that may trigger allergic reactions, known as allergens, range from pollen to pet faeces to penicillin.

Allergies come in many distinct forms and are typically grouped in general categories according to the types of substances that cause them or the parts of the body they affect.

Skin allergies: There is three types of allergic reactions affecting the skin.

  1. Eczema – inflamed, dry, cracked skin covered in pimples or blisters, itch.

  2. Contact Dermatitis – a type of eczema affecting adults, caused by direct, topical exposure to allergen.

  3. Hives – red irritating swelling, which can last for days.

 

Respiratory allergies: Such as Hayfever with typical symptoms include itchy eyes, nose, and roof of mouth or throat, along with nasal congestion, coughing, and sneezing.

Reactions are caused by the pollens of ragweed, grasses, and other plants whose pollen is spread by the wind. But the same symptoms can be produced by other airborne substances that you inhale. These can include moulds, dust, and animal dander. Mould allergies are caused by airborne spores.

Asthma:

Asthma has various causes, but the chief ones are allergies to pollen, mould spores, animal dander, and dust mites.(See Asthma.)

Food allergies:

It is sometimes difficult to pinpoint the specific allergens responsible for a food allergy, because reactions are often delayed or may be caused by food additives or even by eating habits. However, approximately 90 percent of food allergies are caused by proteins in cow’s milk, egg whites, peanuts, wheat, or soybeans.

Other common food allergens include berries, shellfish, corn, beans, yellow food dye No. 5, and gum Arabic (an additive in processed foods).

The classic symptoms of food allergies include stomach cramps, diarrhoea, and nausea. In more severe cases, there may be vomiting, swelling of the face and tongue, and respiratory congestion, as well as dizziness, sweating, and faintness.

Insect sting allergies:

Some studies speculate that people who have other allergies (food, drug, or respiratory) may be more susceptible to insect sting allergies, which affect about 15 percent of the population. Venom in stings of bees, wasps, hornets, yellow jackets, and fire ants is a common allergen. (See Insect and Spider Bites.)

Traditional Treatment

The best treatment for all allergies is to avoid the allergen that trigger them, but this can be difficult. It is especially important to avoid any foods which may trigger attacks.

The basic medications for respiratory allergies are antihistamines, which counteract the histamine chemicals that cause the allergic reactions. They come as tablets, liquid medicine, nose drops or eye drops and also as injections.

Prescription corticosteroid drugs may also be used for the severe symptoms of skin allergies.

In emergency situations… when Anaphylactic shock occurs – injections of epinephrine are used to dilate bronchial passages. Immunotherapy, or allergy shots, may cure some allergies by introducing small amounts of the offending allergens in order to help the body learn to deal with them.

These drugs are not cures they simply relieve the symptoms.

Your doctor can perform a prick test so he or she will be able to tell you which substances to avoid exposure to.

Eczema is quite often controlled by ensuring that the skin is kept supple and moist (use a moisturising cream).

Drug allergies: Once again avoid any drug which may cause a reaction and of course if you have a reaction contact a medical practitioner urgently.

Insect sting allergies: Avoidance is the best treatment, but immunotherapy may cure insect sting allergies. If you are extremely allergic and likely to go into anaphylactic shock, your doctor will prescribe an emergency kit, which you must carry with you at all times.

Alternative/Natural Treatments

Since allergies can be difficult to diagnose, and are in many cases incurable, alternative remedies for them have become quite popular. But if you have a severe allergy, or in case of an emergency, you must see a conventional physician.

  • Aromatherapy – you must try to identify the trigger. But the following essential oils dabbed on the pulse points of the wrist and neck or on a handkerchief may help you. 3 drops of the following clovelemon and myrtle with 2 drops of chamomile in 15 ml carrier oil. Go to Aromatherapy entry for more information.     

  • Chinese herbs – Ephedra (Ephedra sinica) acts like the decongestant epinephrine, which opens up the lungs’ airways. However only use under the supervision of a qualified Chinese medical practitioner.

  • Herbal Therapies – Infusions of chamomileelder flowereyebrightgarlic, goldenrod, nettle and yarrow have anti-mucus and anti-inflammatory effects.

  • Homeopathy – For a runny nose, itchy throat, and sneezing, Arsenicum album may be prescribed, for chronic thick mucus, Pulsatilla, for a runny nose, sore upper lip, and itchy eyes, Allium cepa. It is wise to seek professional advice for correct dosages.

Dietary Considerations

Eat more fresh fruit and vegetables, filtered water and avoid commonly allergic foods such as chocolate, milk cheese, eggs, fish, wheat, artificial flavours. Avoid stress and pollution. Also plenty of exercise and fresh clean air.

PREVENTION

Respiratory allergies: Install a high-efficiency air cleaner to help remove pollen and mould spores, and use an air conditioner in your home and car during warm seasons to keep pollen out; regularly clean damp areas with bleach to kill moulds.

Consider hiring a special cleaning service to rid furniture and upholstery of dust mites. Isolate (or, if you can stand it, get rid of) your pets and keep them outside as much as possible. Regular baths for your pet will help reduce dander. If you are going on holiday remember there is much less pollen at the seaside than in the country.

When to seek further professional advice

  • you have violent stomach cramps, vomiting, bloating, or diarrhoea;

  • breathing becomes difficult or painful; you may be experiencing asthma, another serious allergic reaction, or a heart attack. Get emergency medical treatment.

  • you suddenly develop skin welts, with intense flushing and itching; your heart may also be beating rapidly. Get emergency medical treatment

Alzheimer’s disease

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.

What to look for…

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. – 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. – 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 ABC and E are helpful. ABC and E are 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. – 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.- 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

Amnesia

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.

  • Counseling or psychiatric assessment is needed

Alternative/Natural Treatment

  • 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,CalciumPotassiumIron, Yeast, KelpEvening 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

Anaemia

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

What to look for

  • weakness, fatigue, and a general feeling of malaise… You may be mildly anaemic.

  • your lips look bluish, your skin is pasty or yellowish, and your gums, nail beds, eyelid linings, or palm creases are pale… You are almost certainly anaemic.

  • in addition to feeling weak and tired, you are frequently out of breath, faint, or dizzy… You may have severe anaemia.

  • your tongue burns… You may have vitamin B12 anaemia.

  • your tongue feels unusually slick and you experience movement or balance problems, tingling in the extremities, confusion, depression, or memory loss… You may have pernicious anaemia.

  • other possible symptoms: headaches, insomnia, decreased appetite, poor concentration, and an irregular heartbeat.

To stay healthy, the organs and tissues of the human body need a steady supply of oxygen. anaemia, in which body tissues are deprived of oxygen, is caused by a reduction in the number of circulating red blood cells or by inadequate amounts of an essential protein called haemoglobin. The severity of anaemia can range from mild to life-threatening.

Normally, the heart pumps oxygen-depleted blood to the lungs, where haemoglobin in the red blood cells binds to oxygen collected there… Oxygen-rich blood then travels through the circulatory system to the rest of the body.

Oxygen starvation occurs if the body lacks sufficient numbers of red blood cells, which survive for only about 120 days and must constantly be replaced. Anaemia can occur if large amounts of blood are lost or if something interferes with the production of red blood cells or accelerates their destruction. Because haemoglobin is the main component of red blood cells and the carrier for oxygen molecules, anaemia also occurs if the haemoglobin supply is insufficient or if the haemoglobin itself is dysfunctional.

More than 400 different forms of anaemia have been identified, many of them rare. An anaemic person often appears pale and weak and may feel breathless, faint, or unusually aware of a pounding heart.

The disorder may arise from a number of underlying conditions, some of which may be hereditary, but in many cases poor diet is to blame. Although some forms of anaemia require supervised medical care, those stemming from improper nutrition can typically be treated at home once a physician has determined the cause.

CAUSES

Anaemia can be the result of the body’s bone marrow not making sufficient levels of red blood cells, the body destroying too many blood cells, loss of blood (through heavy periods or unnoticed bleeding) or through a Vitamin deficiency in B12, B6, folic acid and iron.

Vitamin C has also been found to be helpful for iron-deficient anaemia. The problem can be traced to dietary deficiencies. Anaemia in alcoholics arises because they fail to eat properly. Anaemia can also result when the digestive system loses its ability to absorb key vitamins and minerals.

Iron deficiency anaemia, occurs when the body does not store enough iron, the primary raw material of haemoglobin. Iron deficiency is usually a dietary problem, but in many cases other conditions complicate the picture. For example, women who lose excessive amounts of blood through heavy menstrual flows (see Menstrual Problems) may have a lower-than-average iron level. Women who are pregnant or nursing may also have low iron levels because of loss to the developing foetus or because of milk production.

Iron deficiency anaemia also afflicts people who have had surgery to remove part of the stomach, thereby impairing the ability to absorb iron.

The most common megaloblastic anaemia is the type caused by folic acid deficiency. People with this form of anaemia usually aren’t getting enough folic acid in their diet. While just one cup of spinach provides enough folic acid to meet the recommended daily allowance. For some people, the problem is caused not by dietary inadequacies but by an inability to absorb sufficient amounts of folic acid.

Certain intestinal disorders, such as some inflammatory bowel diseases and Crohn’s disease, as well as some drugs can interfere with folic acid metabolism. Heavy consumption of alcohol can also lower blood levels of folic acid by interfering with proper nutrition and by hindering the digestive system’s ability to absorb the vitamin.

Because most people, especially those who consume meat and eggs, get plenty of vitamin B12 from their diet, anaemia linked to a vitamin B12 deficiency usually signals the body’s inability to absorb the vitamin. This type of anaemia can occur in people who have had surgery along the digestive tract.

However, the most common form of B12 deficiency anaemia, known as pernicious anaemia, results when the stomach fails to produce a chemical that normally combines with vitamin B12 to aid its absorption in the small intestine. Pernicious anaemia is a rare condition that most commonly affects older people.

Traditional Treatment

Conventional remedies for anaemia range from simple dietary changes and vitamin supplements to hormone treatments and, in severe cases, surgery.

Once blood tests reveal the underlying problem, treatment is relatively simple.

WARNING: Iron is extremely toxic in large quantities. Excessive use of supplements can lead to iron overload, possibly resulting in abdominal pain, nutritional imbalances, digestive problems, or even death, especially in children.

Since vitamin B12 anaemia is almost always linked to the body’s inability to absorb the vitamin through the digestive tract, regular B12 injections are the only recourse. Most people learn to self-administer B12 injections at home.

In some cases of anaemia caused by excessive blood loss, surgery is the only solution. To determine whether surgery is necessary, your doctor will run extensive tests to identify the cause of the bleeding.

Alternative/Natural Treatments


Some alternative practitioners approach the disorder through dietary modifications… Others emphasise techniques to improve circulation and digestion.

Some remedies treat anaemia by promoting better circulation, others by increasing iron absorption, stimulating digestion, or adjusting the diet to include more iron- or vitamin-rich foods.

  • Chinese medicine

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

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

  • Homoeopathic –

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

  • Herbal Therapies –

Gentiandandelionparsleynettle, anise, caraway, cumin and liquorice may help this condition.

  • 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

Aneurism

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.

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 – For a small, relatively benign aneurism, a professional homeopath might recommend Baryta carbonica.

  • 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

Angina

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 (see thyroid problems).

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 Nux vomica and Arsenicum album.

  • 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.

You may wish to take a program of vitamins such as the B complexE and Pantothenic Acid.

 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