Category Archives: Ailments: O-P

Post Traumatic Stress Disorder

Can be described as a person’s reaction to a traumatic event.

What to look for

Someone who has experienced severe trauma ( eg: war, combat, natural disaster, physical or sexual abuse or witnessed violence, such as murder or physical abuse), may display one or more of these symptoms:

  • repeated flashbacks or recurrent dreams of the event.

  • traumatic dreams, sleeping problems.

  • anger.

  • intense worry if exposed to anything resembling the event.

  • inability to relate to others.

  • physical symptoms – painheadaches, bowel problems.

  • in young children, agitated behaviour, difficulty concentrating, or developmental regression in such things as toilet training or speech.

  • no sense of a future; no expectation of having a family, career, living to old age.

Normally, if a person experiences traumatic and horrible events, they will experience fear, horror and other individual reactions. Some people do not experience much at all but this is not normally the case.

This condition is considered a mental disorder resulting from any sort of deeply shocking experience. It may occur immediately or may occur months later.

If you receive treatment, you are more likely to overcome the disorder quicker.

People with PTSD also often suffer from various physical ailments, depressiondrug abusephobias, or panic attacksas well.

Abused children will often suffer from this, as do abused partners and family members.

Causes

The cause of PTSD is severely traumatic event that initiates feelings of fear, horror, and helplessness. It depends upon the severity and duration of the exposure, whether the person will have PTSD and how long the disorder lasts, and how severe it is. If the trauma is chronic and ongoing, it is more likely that PTSD will be the result.

It is written that intense fear has physical repercussions in the part of the brain interprets fear and that this damage may contribute to the symptoms of PTSD.

It is necessary to consult a doctor or psychotherapist who will examine you and your full family history and the traumatic event before making a diagnosis.

Traditional Treatment

Antidepressant drugs, psychotherapy and reassurance are the usual treatments for PTSD.

Alternative treatments include a wide variety of techniques to help you overcome your reactions to the trauma you experienced.

Alternative/Natural Treatments

Massage –  Massage may help in relaxation and reducing stress. Try using some of the essential oils listed in Aromatherapy below.Massage may help in relaxation and reducing stress. Try using some of the essential oils listed in Aromatherapy below.

Herbal Treatments –  Calmative herbs include – chamomile and lemon balm which can be taken as a tea. Stronger herbs are valerian and skullcap – these are very beneficial for shock or extreme stress. Calmative herbs include –chamomile and lemon balm which can be taken as a tea. Stronger herbs are valerian and skullcap – these are very beneficial for shock or extreme stress.

These herbs are highly effective and should not be used for an indefinite period of time as they can become addictive and harmful. Take them under Professional supervision.

Aromatherapy –  Try sandalwood diluted in a base cream – rub this all over you so that the essential oil properties work throughout the day. You should use 4-5 drops in 15 grams of vegetable based cream. Try sandalwood diluted in a base cream – rub this all over you so that the essential oil properties work throughout the day. You should use 4-5 drops in 15 grams of vegetable based cream.

Other good oils for stress are ylang ylang, vetiver, tangerine, patchouli, marjoram, grapefruit, clary sage, bergamot, cedarwood and frankincense. See our section on aromatherapy for more information – some oils should not be used by certain people.

When to seek further professional advice

  • you or your child or other loved one shows any of the symptoms

     

Premenstrual Syndrome

This refers to a range of symptoms occurring in the lead up to their menstrual period.

What to look for

One or more of these symptoms may appear about a week before your period:

  • food cravings.

  • bloating and fluid retention.

  • breast swelling and pain.

  • acne.

  • weight gain.

  • headachesbackaches.

  • urinary disorders.

  • moodiness, anxiety, crying.

  • insomnia.

  • drowsiness and fatigue.

  • nausea and clumsiness

Some women with premenstrual syndrome can become violent and aggressive during this time.

PMS is a physical condition that typically recurs during a particular phase of the menstrual cycle. It is common for most women to experience at least one PMS symptom sometime in her life and normally it occurs more regularly. The symptoms vary with each woman.

Hormonal fluctuations can make this condition worse and more pronounced such as after childbirth, a miscarriage, an abortion. Women who discontinue birth-control pills may also experience PMS.

Causes

There is no conclusive research as yet, however, there is speculation that PMS is the result of a hormonal imbalance.

It has also been suggested that a deficiency in a particular hormone may be responsible for PMS. Some say it may be biochemical.

Dietary deficiencies, including a lack of vitamin B6 and essential fatty acids, could be a possible cause. One type of PMS, characterised by headache, dizziness, heart pounding, increased appetite, and a craving for chocolate, is thought to be the result of a magnesium deficiency brought on by stress.

Traditional Treatment

A lot of women do not treat their PMS and live through it. There are treatments which are able to relieve the symptoms and give you some comfort.

Some doctors prescribe various hormones to relieve symptoms. This treatment is controversial and may not work with all women.

Because there are risks associated with hormonal treatments, many doctors prefer approaches that emphasise a good diet, regular exercise, and other lifestyle changes such as those described below.

Alternative/Natural Treatments

A wide variety of alternative treatments may help relieve PMS symptoms. Try them and see which one works for your particular symptoms.

Aromatherapy – To relieve anxiety and irritability, try lavender or chamomile oil; parsley or juniper oil may also be helpful. Add several drops to a warm bath. To relieve anxiety and irritability, try lavender or chamomile oil; parsley orjuniper oil may also be helpful. Add several drops to a warm bath.

To relieve breast tenderness, try adding 6 to 8 drops of geranium oil to a warm bath.

Chinese Herbs –  For relief from PMS symptoms, Chinese herbalists sometimes recommend dong quai, which is believed to help balance the body’s hormones and have a tonic effect on the uterus and other female organs. For relief from PMS symptoms, Chinese herbalists sometimes recommend dong quai, which is believed to help balance the body’s hormones and have a tonic effect on the uterus and other female organs.

Dietary Considerations

Dietary changes have been shown to effectively reduce PMS symptoms in some women. Try reducing your intake of caffeine, sugar, salt, fat, honey, dairy products, and white flour, which studies have shown can sometimes aggravate PMS symptoms. Eat more fresh fruit and vegetables, wholegrain bread and cereals.

Some PMS symptoms may improve when vitamin B6 or magnesium is increased in the diet. Consult an experienced naturopath.

Some research has indicated that a dietary deficiency in fatty acids may contribute to PMS. Many women report that taking evening primrose oil (Oenothera biennis), a substance that contains essential fatty acids, is effective.

Herbal Therapies –  Herbalists recommend a wide variety of herbs to help alleviate the many symptoms of PMS. Among the ones most often used are Chaste tree, Dandelion and Skullcap.Herbalists recommend a wide variety of herbs to help alleviate the many symptoms of PMS. Among the ones most often used are Chaste tree, Dandelion andSkullcap.

Bach Flower Remedies –  To aid anger or irritability take impatiens, willow, beech or the rescue remedy. If concentration is the problem, take scleranthus during the second half of your cycle to restore hormone levels. If you feel jealous against a mate or another person try holly. To aid anger or irritability take impatiens, willow, beech or the rescue remedy. If concentration is the problem, take scleranthus during the second half of your cycle to restore hormone levels. If you feel jealous against a mate or another person try holly.

Homoeopathy –  For relief from your specific PMS symptoms, consult an experienced homoeopath for individualised remedies and dosages. For relief from your specific PMS symptoms, consult an experienced homoeopath for individualised remedies and dosages.

Lifestyle  –  Studies have shown that regular exercise lessens PMS symptoms. Getting adequate sleep is also important for the successful treatment of PMS.

Personal Care

 

  • Stick to a healthy diet (see above)

  • Exercise regularly.

  • Reduce stress and increase sleep.

  • Take recommended vitamin supplements.

  • Increase relaxation techniques such as calming hobbies, warm baths with favourite aromatherapy oils in them (perhaps the ones suggested above), try to get a massage or facial.

  • Use a hot-water bottle to ease backaches and muscle aches

  • Abstain from alcohol before your period.

When to seek further professional advice

  • your symptoms are severe enough to interfere with your normal functions

     

Prostate Cancer

As with most cancers, early prostate cancer does not cause noticeable symptoms. If the cancer causes the prostate to swell or if the cancer spreads you will notice –

  • a frequent need to urinate.

  • difficulty starting or stopping the urinary stream and a burning sensation when urinating or ejaculating.

  • a weak or interrupted urinary stream.

  • blood in urine or semen.

Eventually, if the condition is left untreated –

  • dull pain or stiffness in the pelvis, lower back, or upper thighs.

  • loss of weight and appetite, fatigue, nausea, or vomiting.

The prostate is a gland is only found in the male reproductive system. This walnut sized gland helps produce semen, the thick fluid that carries sperm cells. It is located close to the bladder and problems in the prostate ultimately will affect the bladder as well. Prostate function is regulated by testosterone, a male sex hormone produced mainly in the testicles.

This disease is more common in men later in life. There are many men who surprisingly have cancerous cells in their prostate and that do not know it. The cancer may or may not spread. It can also lie dormant for many years, cause no obvious problems and or health threats. If however, it starts to become activated and spreads, it is a dangerous threat.

It is generally fatal if it spreads beyond the prostate gland itself.

A malignant tumour may grow through the prostate gland and spread cancer cells to surrounding tissue, including the rectum and bladder. The cancerous cells may also invade the lymphatic system or bloodstream and then spread to the bones, liver, lungs, and other organs.

Doctors have identified a certain protein that is evident in cancerous prostates. If high levels of this protein are found in cancerous tissue samples, the prostate cancer is unlikely to spread, or metastasise; if there is none of the protein, the cancer is likely to spread.

Cancer that has not spread beyond the prostate gland can usually be cured.

Causes

Prostate cancer affects mainly elderly men. Men with relatives who have prostate cancer are more likely to die of it than others. It is not known for sure what causes this disease but experts agree that diet contributes to the risk. Men who consume great amounts of fat (particularly from red meat and other sources of animal fat) are most likely to develop symptoms of advanced prostate cancer.

Fats can stimulate production of testosterone and other hormones, and testosterone speeds the growth of prostate cancer and can cause dormant prostate cancer cells into activity. Eating meat can also be detrimental to the cancerous cells if cooked at high temperatures, they can contain carcinogens. (See the entry on cancer).

There is no scientifically proven link between prostate cancer and

  • an active sex life

  • masturbation

  • use of alcohol or tobacco

  • circumcision

  • infertility

  • infection of the prostate

  • an enlarged prostate gland

Traditional Treatments

Doctors know which prostate cancers are the most in need of treatment. It is advisable to seek several opinions with regard to your condition.

Depending on many factors, your treatment may include a combination of radiation therapy, surgery, and hormone therapy.

The standard operation involves the removal of the prostate and nearby lymph nodes. Speak with your doctor about the implications and side effects that this may entail in your particular case.

All prostate cancer patients need to be examined regularly to ensure the problem does not return.

Complementary Therapies

As fat has been implicated in the development of prostate cancer, it is highly advisable that men eat a low-fat, high fibre diet. This is particularly advisable for those with family history of the disease.

Studies indicate that men with chronic deficiencies of vitamin A or selenium are prone to advanced prostate cancer. Always speak with your doctor before taking these nutrients as they can be toxic in high doses. Good natural sources of vitamin A include most green and yellow fruits and vegetables, as well as liver, lamb.

At-Home Care

Some men may experience fatigue, diarrhoea, uncomfortable urination, dry skin, nausea, and other unpleasant side effects. Ask your doctor how best to control these side effects. Rest frequently if you need to, eat light snacks throughout the day rather than having three large meals, and avoid clothes that irritate your skin. (For more information, see Cancer).

Prevention

Eat more fish, poultry, fresh vegetables, fruits, and low-fat dairy products. Eat less red meat; remove skin from chicken before cooking; and cut down on butter, margarine, and oils.

To avoid carcinogens created when cooking meats, try poaching or roasting, not frying or barbecuing.

When to seek further professional advice

  • You have any of the symptoms listed above

     

Prostate Problems

These include problems occurring in the prostate such as cancer, prostatitis or enlargement of the prostate.

What to look for

For an enlarged prostate:

 

 

  • difficulties in urination (including a weak or intermittent stream, getting up frequently at night, straining, dribbling, or inability to empty the bladder).

For acute prostatitis:

  • frequent, difficult urination.

  • a burning sensation or pain when urinating.

  • high fever.

  • aches and pains.

  • blood in the urine.

For chronic prostatitis:

  • frequent, difficult urination.

  • dull pain in the pelvis and genital area.

  • painful ejaculation and sexual dysfunction.

The prostate is a walnut-sized gland found in males that surrounds the male urethra at the bottom of the bladder. It has a dual role – to produce an exact portion of the seminal fluid that carries sperm and to control the flow of urine from the bladder. Symptoms can be urinary or sexual in nature.

Prostate problems occur in two forms: enlargement of the prostate and prostatitis which is a bacterial infection. Prostatitis can be either acute sudden and severe or chronic, milder but persistent.

The signs of prostate enlargement generally appear after the age of 45. Typically, the first indication is a need to urinate at night, with the urge gradually increasing over time. Other urination problems may develop.

Prostate enlargement is extremely common and it is safe to say that most men will experience some form of it as they grow older. But always have this checked by your doctor as it can also be a sign of prostate cancer. (see prostate cancer entry).

A less common problem is prostatitis which can occur in younger men or without symptoms of enlargement. Acute prostatitis may produce fever, chills, and lower back pain. chronic prostatitis generally brings milder versions of those symptoms and may also cause painful ejaculation, urethral discharge, or sexual dysfunction.

Causes

The enlargement condition seems to worsen with age and is a result of decreasing levels of testosterone and increasing levels of other hormones in the blood. This results in the enlargement.

Prostatitis is usually the result of an infection that has spread into the prostate gland. The infection can be sexually transmitted.

Men are hesitant to have these conditions checked out and it is this that can cause the problems to become dangerous. If symptoms indicate prostate enlargement, a doctor will want to determine whether the growth of the gland is benign or malignant (prostate cancer).

Traditional Treatment

If you suffer from prostate enlargement consult your doctor about all the different options available.

Surgery is only used as a last resort and when there is no other option.

A course of antibiotics is usually successful in eliminating prostatitis.

Always do self checks to monitor the progress and to ensure that there are not other causes for concern. If you are in doubt always speak with your doctor.

Alternative/Natural Treatments

Herbal Therapies –  Some herbs that may help include – saw palmetto and horsetail, anise, clivers, nettle, ginseng and couch grass for benign enlargements. (See Our Herbal Section)Some herbs that may help include – saw palmetto and horsetail, anise, clivers, nettle, ginseng and couch grass for benign enlargements. (See Our Herbal Section)

Homoeopathy – Numerous medications are available to the homoeopathic practitioner for treating prostatic enlargement and prostatitis.  You will need Professional Advice for which is best for you. Numerous medications are available to the homoeopathic practitioner for treating prostatic enlargement and prostatitis.  You will need Professional Advice for which is best for you.

Dietary Considerations

Good nutrition and lifestyle may help the prostate enlargement.

  • Zinc – oysters, wheat bran, whole oatmeal, pumpkin seeds, and sunflower seeds.

  • Vitamins C and E may promote prostate health.

  • The amino acids glycine, alanine, and glutamic acid

  • Essential fatty acids – ask our pharmacist for advice.

Prevention

To prevent a recurrence of chronic prostatitis and promote prostate health:

  • Take warm baths.

  • Drink more water.

  • Avoid prolonged bicycle riding, horseback riding, or other exercises that irritate the region below the prostate.

  • Take supplements of zinc and vitamin C.

When to seek further professional advice

  • your symptoms lead you to suspect an enlarged or infected prostate.

In addition, an enlarged prostate can be a sign of cancer

 

Psoriasis

Psoriasis is a skin condition whereby areas are covered in pink or red coloured patches with white scales.

What to look for

  • deep pink, raised patches of skin with white scales appearing anywhere on the body except the face.

  • pitting and thickening of the fingernails and toenails.

The skin cells multiply much faster than normal, healthy cells and the overproduction of these cells is what causes the raised patches of skin.

Psoriasis tends to run in families. It is not contagious and is common among people with fair skin.

Outbreaks are triggered by the immune system and can affect other parts of the body, particularly the joints. This condition is usually not dangerous although it may be stressful and embarrassing and with appropriate treatment, symptoms generally subside within weeks.

Causes

A variety of factors, ranging from emotional stress to infection, can accelerate an episode of psoriasis.

Excess alcohol consumption, incorrect diets, injured skin, obesity, and certain drugs can aggravate psoriasis.

Traditional Treatment

This condition is not curable but it usually responds well to treatments. A standard treatment recommended by many doctors is to soak in a warm bath for 10 to 15 minutes, then immediately apply a topical ointment such as petroleum jelly, which helps your skin retain moisture. Your doctor may recommend another medication which is a little stronger.

Treatment with capsaicin may also be effective. Because capsaicin can burn and severely damage the skin if used incorrectly, try this only under a doctor’s supervision.

Alternative/Natural Treatments

If conventional treatments for psoriasis are not working for you, ask your doctor about the potential benefits of the following alternatives.

Aromatherapy –  Mix together 4 drops of essential oil of cedarwood and 2 drops of juniper or lemon in 1 tbsp almond , jojoba or olive oil. Apply the mixture to your scalp and leave it on overnight under a shower cap. Shampoo and rinse thoroughly in the morning. Lavender is also recommended if the above oils are unsuitable. Mix together 4 drops of essential oil of cedarwood and 2 drops of juniper or lemon in 1 tbsp almond , jojoba or olive oil. Apply the mixture to your scalp and leave it on overnight under a shower cap. Shampoo and rinse thoroughly in the morning. Lavender is also recommended if the above oils are unsuitable.

Repeat three times a week until the symptoms clear. Since some people are sensitive to essential oils, place a drop on your skin for 30 minutes to be sure you have no adverse reactions.

Herbal Therapies – Burdock (Arctium lappa) root, dandelion (Taraxacum officinale) root, and Oregon grape (Mahonia aquifolium) are said to help reduce symptoms of psoriasis. Burdock (Arctium lappa) root, dandelion (Taraxacum officinale) root, and Oregon grape (Mahonia aquifolium) are said to help reduce symptoms of psoriasis.

Evening primrose oil may soothe itching associated with psoriasis.

Mix tinctures of burdockskullcap, sourdock, and cleavers in equal parts;

A rinse made of dried rosemary and sage offers another alternative to tar-based shampoos.

Homoeopathy –  Don’t try to choose homoeopathic remedies on your own to treat a chronic, systemic condition such as psoriasis. Don’t try to choose homoeopathic remedies on your own to treat a chronic, systemic condition such as psoriasis.

Lifestyle –   The skin, the largest organ in the body, often mirrors turmoil within, so it’s not surprising that many psoriasis patients have a history of high anxiety, low self-esteem, and stress-related problems.

Many techniques help psoriasis patients by addressing the psychological roots and consequences of the disease. In particular, hypnotherapy, any of a number of relaxation techniques and psychotherapy may be effective.

Try to relax and take part in activities which you enjoy and that make you feel good. Try to avoid high levels of stress.

Dietary Considerations

Fish oil is usually extremely beneficial to sufferers – try a fish-oil capsule containing EPA four times a day.

Vitamin A, Vitamin D, Vitamin Customer and E, Calcium, Magnesium, Lecithin, linseed oil, Kelp, Garlic and Evening Primrose Oil.

Be careful with the doses and always take supplements under Professional supervision.

Vitamin B complex may promote healthy skin and rubbing concentrated vitamin E ointment into your scalp two or three times a week can be helpful.

Some research has suggested that eating too much citrus fruit can aggravate psoriasis, and that psoriasis patients, like eczema patients, cannot metabolise fatty acids. To help prevent flare ups, adopt a diet high in fish and raw vegetables, and low in fatty meats and acidic fruits.

Personal Care

  • For scalp psoriasis, wash your hair with a coal-tar shampoo or with a mixture of cedarwood and juniper orlemon oils.

  • Expose areas of inflamed skin to the morning or afternoon sun but be extremely careful to not stay out too long and put sunscreen on all the other parts of your body.

  • Regular exercise will help your entire system.

When to seek further professional advice

  • your skin inflammation does not respond to any form of treatment