Category Archives: Seniors Health

Macular Degeneration

What to look for

  • dim or distorted vision, especially while reading.

  • gradual, painless loss of precise central vision.

  • blank spots in your central field of vision; straight lines that appear wavy.

Because the symptoms usually do not appear in people under 55 years of age, the disorder is often referred to as age-related macular degeneration (ARMD).

If you are over 65, macular degeneration may already affect your central vision, even though most sufferers of the disease maintain functional side, or peripheral, vision throughout life. The disorder occurs in two forms, dry and wet. The less common wet form of ARMD requires immediate medical attention; any delay in treatment may result in loss of your central vision.

See Vision Problems

Causes

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

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

You are more susceptible to ARMD as you get older, especially if there is a history of the disorder in your family. atherosclerosis, diabetesheart diseasehigh blood pressure, and nutritional deficiencies are also risk factors.

Your ophthalmologist will inspect the macula as part of a routine eye exam. A painless photographic procedure, fluorescein angiography, shows the pattern of your eye’s blood vessels and can detect any abnormalities.

Traditional Treatment

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

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

Alternative/Natural Treatments

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

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

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

Dietary Considerations

Many older people exhibit deficiencies in zinc, which normally appears in high concentrations in the retina. Speak with your doctor about taking a zinc supplement to help protect the retina from damage and improve sharpness of vision.

Antioxidants are said to fight the negative effects free radicals have on your retinal blood vessels.

Personal Care

Your eye doctor will suggest large-print reading material, magnifiers, and other aids to enhance your eyesight.

Eat more fruits and vegetables rich in vitamin C, such as citrus fruits, cauliflower, and broccoli. Snack on nuts and seeds, which contain vitamin E. Yellow vegetables containing carotene, as well as cherries, blackberries, and blueberries, all of which contain antioxidants.

Cut back on consumption of alcohol, cigarettes, and coffee, all of which may aggravate eye problems.

When to seek further professional advice

  • you exhibit any of the symptoms listed in the description section and have never seen an ophthalmologist. Ask your doctor for a referral.

  • you exhibit any of the symptoms listed in the description section and have hypertension, diabetes, or heart disease. You are in the high-risk category for the advanced wet form of macular degeneration. Any abnormality in your vision is a sign that you may be developing the disorder.

  • you have been diagnosed with age-related macular degeneration and then you discover blank spots in your field of vision, printed matter appears distorted, or straight lines appear wavy. You may be developing the advanced wet form of macular degeneration

     

Kidney Infections

Occurs when bacteria or other infectious organisms enter the kidneys and cause infection.

What to look for

  • continuous pain that usually begins in the back above the waist and spreads down into the groin.

  • rapidly rising fever

  • frequent urge to urinate, even though the bladder is empty.

  • cloudy or bloody urine.

  • severe nausea or vomiting.

Kidney infections cause the kidney to swell and become inflamed.

This ailment can be extremely dangerous and should always be treated. If they are left untreated, they can lead to permanent kidney damage or blood poisoning.

Causes

Kidney infections are usually caused by the bacteria that reside in the large intestine. In a number of cases the infection starts in the bladder and spreads to the kidney.

The use of catheters can also increase the risk of kidney infections.

Your doctor may perform a urine/blood test on you to determine if you have an infection as well as the cause.

Traditional Treatment

If you suspect that you have a kidney infection, do not hesitate to seek immediate medical treatment; as delay in clearing the body of infection can lead to serious complications.

Usually antibiotics and bed rest are often all that is required to bring an acute kidney infection under control within 48 hours. Your physician will also ask you to drink large quantities of water to help flush out the bacteria from your urinary tract.

Only in rare cases are people hospitalised, usually to ensure that they get enough fluids and antibiotics.

Alternative/Natural Treatments

Because kidney infections are so serious, most naturopaths will insist that you seek conventional medical care. If you decide to use alternative treatments in addition to conventional ones make sure you communicate to your doctor which supplements and herbs you are thinking of starting.

Dietary Considerations

Until you are cured of the infection, avoid foods that might irritate the urinary tract and put undue stress on the kidneys. Food to avoid are alcohol, coffee, salt, black tea, chocolate, carbonated beverages, citrus fruits, tomatoes, spicy foods, vinegar, artificial sweeteners, and sugar are all considered potential irritants. (See also Bladder infections/Cystitis.)

Prevention

Because most kidney infections start in the bladder, prevention begins with keeping bacteria out of the entire urinary tract.

  • Clean yourself thoroughly after using the toilet. Women should wipe from front to back to avoid spreading bacteria to the opening of the urethra.

  • Urinate as soon as possible when you feel the urge and empty your bladder completely.

  • Do not wear synthetic underwear that traps heat in the crutch area.

  • Drink plenty of liquids.

  • Drink cranberry juice everyday. Research suggests that cranberries have properties that help fight off urinary tract infections. (See Bladder Infections.) you may even wish to take cranberry tablets.

Women:

  • Empty your bladder after intercourse to flush any bacteria

  • If you use a diaphragm, make sure that it fits properly and only leave it in for the required time – no longer.

  • Avoid using scented soaps, bubble baths, and vaginal deodorants.

When to seek further professional advice

  • you have symptoms that lead you to think you have a kidney infection,

  • you notice blood in your urine

     

Incontinence

Is the inability to control the passing of urine.

What to look for

  • inability to control urination.

The condition often reflects an underlying disorder and is usually treatable, even in the elderly. Often it was thought that it was a age related condition and inevitable result of getting older. It must be treated however, in order for it to improve.

Incontinence can lead to bladder or urinary tract infections if not treated or if the problem still persists. In those instances where treatment doesn’t work there are pads and protection available which can aid your comfort.

Causes

Sometimes there is a continuous leaking of urine as the muscles within this area are unable to contract to hold it back and a person does not know when they need to go to the toilet. This can be the consequence of diabetes in men.

At other times, simple actions such as coughing, sneezing or exercising can cause incontinence problems. The urethra is weak and cannot resist a sudden increase in bladder pressure.

When the bladder is full in other people, it simply contracts and they have no control over the sudden urge to go to the toilet. This can occur in healthy people as well as those with other illnesses involving the central nervous system, such as strokeAlzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease, and multiple sclerosis.

A slipped disk, surgery or pregnancy can also contribute to this condition.

Incontinence is a potential side effect of many diuretics, sedatives, antidepressants, antihistamines, and other medications. Talk to your doctor.

Traditional Treatment

Do not worry about this ailment as in most cases it can be cured or, at the very least, greatly improved with treatment. Both conventional and alternative medicine have effective strategies for dealing with the problem. If you wish, you can try alternative methods first. However, if the condition persists or worsens, see a doctor for a full evaluation and diagnosis.

Many doctors may suggest and show you muscle strengthening exercises to help your incontinence. These treatments are safe and effective.

If your doctor decides you need medication for your condition, the drug he or she prescribes will depend on the cause of the incontinence.

Special devices called pessaries are available for women.

If none of these treatments work, your doctor may recommend surgery. Ask you doctor to describe the various options available to you and to explain any possible side effects as well.

If your incontinence cannot be cured or controlled, you can learn to manage the problem with the help of some specially designed aids that are available.

Complimentary Treatments

These treatments are aimed at strengthening the pelvic muscles to give you more support in this area.

Chinese Herbs – Chinese practitioners may make a mixture of several herbs to treat this condition. They believe herbs that help the body retain fluid are a beneficial treatment for incontinence. Chinese practitioners may make a mixture of several herbs to treat this condition. They believe herbs that help the body retain fluid are a beneficial treatment for incontinence.

Herbal Treatments – Where there is a lack of bladder control, use corn silk combined with agrimony. Where there is a lack of bladder control, use corn silk combined with agrimony.

Homoeopathy – Depending on the cause of the condition, homoeopaths have numerous remedies to treat incontinence. Some that are often prescribed include: Depending on the cause of the condition, homoeopaths have numerous remedies to treat incontinence. Some that are often prescribed include:

  • for stress incontinence, particularly in the elderly, Causticum, which is said to restore vitality to aging tissue.

  • for stress and urge incontinence, particularly when a person is rising from a prone position, Pulsatilla, is thought to restore the urinary parts of the body to proper functioning.

There are additional remedies available.

Dietary Considerations

Maintain your ideal weight.

Avoid constipation by increasing the amount of fibre and water in your diet; eat more whole-grain foods and fruits and vegetables.

Avoid alcohol, caffeine, sugar, spicy foods, and acidic fruits and juices – all of which can irritate the bladder and trigger leaks.

Personal Care

 

 


  • Avoid constipation.

  • Do pelvic exercises daily (see women’s health).

  • Retrain yourself to urinate at longer intervals

  • Don’t smoke.

  • If you are a woman incontinence, try crossing your legs when sneezing or coughing.

When to seek further professional advice

  • you develop incontinence after an illness or after taking a new medication.

  • self-help remedies for controlling your urination are not working.

Indigestion

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

What to look for

  • heartburn.

  • gas or burping.

  • abdominal pressure and flatulence.

  • mild nausea.

  • vomiting.

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

Indigestion is either a symptom of a disease or the result of eating unfavourable foods.

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

Causes

This is a disorder which everyone will feel occasionally.

It has many causes such as

  • too much food consumption

  • overindulging in alcohol;

  • frequently using analgesics and other pain relievers;

  • eating while stressed;

  • eating food that does not agree with your system.

  • eating in a hurry and not chewing your food properly

Obesity and smoking are two major causes of chronic indigestion.

Traditional Treatment

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

Alternative/Natural Treatments

Herbal Therapies – Various teas may calm digestive distress. To reduce stomach acidity, drink meadowsweet (Filipendula ulmaria) tea.

If you also feel stressed, add lavender (Lavandula officinalis) or chamomile (Matricaria recutita).

If bloating or gas is a problem, try a tea of peppermint (Mentha piperita), chamomile, or lemon balm (Melissa officinalis).

Certain herbs are able to help with digestion and heartburn. About 30 minutes before eating, drink 1/2 cup of tea made from goldenseal (Hydrastis canadensis), barberry (Berberis vulgaris) bark, gentian (Gentiana lutea) root, or Oregon grape (Mahonia aquifolium) root.

Ginger is another herb with properties that can aid digestion.

Dietary Considerations

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

Personal Care

  • Refrain from smoking.

  • For occasional indigestion with heartburn, use antacids if recommended by your doctor or try an alternative solution – see above

  • Try one or several of the herbal teas above to relieve your specific symptoms.

  • Relax during and after eating.

  • If you frequently chew gum, stop for a while to see if your symptoms dissipate.

  • Avoid the foods mentioned above to improve your digestion.

  • Drink more fluids – filtered water is best – during the day but try not to have too much fluid while eating as this can dilute the digestive enzymes.

Prevention

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

When to seek further professional advice

  • any abdominal pain continues for more than six hours

  • you experience indigestion with any other problematic symptom

  • you have repeated bouts of severe indigestion

  • your indigestion consistently follows your eating dairy products.

     

     

Jaundice

Jaundice is a yellowing of the skin and eyes – it is not a disease but a symptom of a disorder.

What to look for

  • a yellowish or greenish tinge to the skin.

  • yellowing of the whites of the eyes

  • dark-coloured urine.

  • in some cases, generalised itching.

Jaundice, a yellowing of the skin and whites of the eyes, is not a disease itself but a symptom of an underlying disorder.

Bilirubin, a substance which is involved in the breakdown of red blood cells, accumulates in the bloodstream and causes the yellow discolouration. In a normal healthy body, bilirubin and bile (a digestive juice) mix and pass safely out of the body through the digestive tract. But if the liver is not functioning properly or the passage of bile is obstructed (perhaps by gallstones), bilirubin backs up into the blood. Jaundice can signify a more serious problem.

Causes

This disorder can happen to newborns in which case it is fairly normal as the liver has to suddenly function on its own and it has a few teething problems. In rare cases, excessive amounts of bilirubin can damage the child’s brain. So even though it is normally harmless in these cases, it must still be checked out by your doctor.

If the jaundice is the result of a disorder, it is usually more serious. The liver malfunctioning (in the case of cirrhosis ) can cause this problem.

Other factors or conditions that can disrupt liver function and lead to jaundice include hepatitis, certain drugs and toxins, pregnancy, and congestive heart failure. In some cases, gallstones can also cause it.

If jaundice shows up in school-age children or adults, the doctor may take a blood sample to check for liver damage.

Traditional Treatment

Usually the best way to treat this disorder is to pinpoint the cause. Your doctor will examine you and give you an indication of what is going wrong with your liver.

If your baby has jaundice as a result of an illness he or she will have to be hospitalised and treated accordingly.

Treatment for illness-related jaundice in older children and adults will depend on the cause.

Alternative/Natural Treatment

The underlying cause must be known before any treatment can occur.

Chinese Herbs – A Chinese practitioner may treat jaundice with various combinations of herbs. These remedies must be prepared only by a trained professional. A Chinese practitioner may treat jaundice with various combinations of herbs. These remedies must be prepared only by a trained professional.

Herbal Therapies – Various herbs, including dandelion (Taraxacum officinale), vervain (Verbena officinalis), and milk thistle (Silybum marianum), are used for this complaint. Various herbs, including dandelion (Taraxacum officinale), vervain (Verbena officinalis), and milk thistle (Silybum marianum), are used for this complaint.

Homoeopathy – A number of homoeopathic remedies are appropriate for treating jaundice; the exact prescription will depend on the underlying cause. Consult a homoeopath for the preparations and dosages that are right for you. A number of homoeopathic remedies are appropriate for treating jaundice; the exact prescription will depend on the underlying cause. Consult a homoeopath for the preparations and dosages that are right for you.

When to seek further professional advice

  • you notice jaundice in your infant

  • you notice jaundice in yourself, in another adult, or in a school-age child

     

     

Gallstones

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

What to look for

  • severe pain

  • indigestion.

  • fever.

  • severe nausea and vomiting.

  • jaundice.

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

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

Causes

The responsibility of the gall bladder is to store bile, a brown or greenish fluid that helps the body break down fatty food. The bile is produced in the liver and drains from the liver to the bile duct.

When you eat a meal, the gall bladder releases its stored bile into the cystic duct. From there the fluid passes through the common bile duct and into the small intestine.

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

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

Traditional Treatment

In a lot of cases people do not realise they have gallstones and therefore no treatment is necessary however it may be advisable to start procedures to alter your lifestyle a little to prevent them from ever becoming a problem. Often when the pain from gallstones becomes unbearable, doctors will recommend the removal of the gall bladder.

Some alternative treatments have also been found to be effective in alleviating the symptoms of troublesome gallstones.

Sometimes a person will have a once only attack and the stone dislodges itself and never returns. Doctors in this case will wait to see if you have any further problems.

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

  • Some gallstones can be dissolved through the use of a bile salt

  • A method called contact dissolution can also be used to dissolve gallstones.

  • Surgical Removal of the Gall bladder. The operation is done by ‘keyhole’ surgery and usually involved one night in hospital. It is very effective and safe.

Always limit the fat you eat after having this operation.

Alternative/Natural Treatment

These options may eliminate some of the gallstone symptoms.

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

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

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

Dietary Considerations

Depending on the severity of your condition, an improved diet may help relieve gallstone symptoms.

Eat high fibre, low-fat foods and lots of raw fruits and vegetables, whole grain cereals and bran. Add fresh lemon or lemon juice to your meals. Obese people are more prone to getting this condition than people closer to their normal weight.

Prevention

A high-fibre, low-fat diet helps keep bile cholesterol from hardening. However, don’t cut out fats abruptly or eliminate them altogether, as too little fat can also result in gallstone formation.

Moderate consumption of olive oil (about 2 tbsp a day) may actually lower your chances of developing gallstones.

When to seek further professional advice

  • you have any of the above symptoms


Hair Loss

What to look for

  • in men, thinning hair on the scalp, a receding hairline.

  • in women, thinning of hair in general, but mainly at the crown.

  • in children or young adults, sudden loss of patches of hair; known as alopecia areata (this also can occur in adults).

  • complete loss of all hair on the body; a rare disorder called alopecia universalis.

  • children can deliberately rub or pull out hair, a disorder called trichotillomania.

  • excessive shedding of hair, but not complete baldness, associated with various illnesses and drug treatments, rapid weight loss, anaemiastress, or pregnancy.

The structure, colour and texture of human hair varies widely from person to person depending on a range of different factors such as sex, age, race and genes. However, when thinning of the hair or baldness appear, it is not normal and we need to look for a cause.

Hair is made up of a protein called keratin, produced in hair follicles in the outer layer of skin. As follicles produce new hair cells, old cells are being pushed out through the surface of the skin. The average adult head has about 100,000 hairs, and loses up to 100 of them a day; so finding a few stray hairs on your hairbrush is not necessarily a problem.

In men, a receding hairline and gradual disappearance of hair from the crown is called male pattern baldness. In women, female pattern baldness is typically a general thinning over the entire scalp, with the most extensive hair loss at the crown. This does not usually occur in women until later on in life, if at all.

Alopecia areata is a sudden loss of hair in patches usually occurring in children and young adults. This disorder may result in complete baldness, but in about 90 percent of cases the hair returns, usually within a few years.

With alopecia universalis, all body hair falls out and the likelihood of regrowth is slight, especially when it occurs in children.

Tearing out one’s own hair, a disorder known as trichotillomania, is seen most frequently in children.

Causes

Doctors do not know why certain hair follicles are programmed to have a shorter growth period than others. An individual’s genes, from both male and female parents, unquestionably influence that person’s predisposition to male or female pattern baldness.

Temporary hair loss can occur when you have suffered, a high fever, a severe illness, thyroid disorders, iron deficiency, general anaesthesia, drug treatments, hormonal imbalance, or extreme stress, and in women following childbirth. In these conditions, a large number of hair follicles suddenly go into a resting phase, causing hair to thin noticeably.

Drugs that can cause temporary hair loss include chemotherapeutic agents used in cancer treatment, anticoagulants, retinoids used to treat acne and skin problems, beta-adrenergic blockers used to control blood pressure, and oral contraceptives.

Hair loss can also be caused by burns, x-rays, scalp injuries, and exposure to certain chemicals (including those used to purify swimming pools, and to bleach, dye, and perm hair). Normal hair growth usually returns once the cause is eliminated.

The causes of alopecia areata, a disorder that often strikes children or teenagers, remain unexplained. In most cases the hair grows back, although it may be very fine and possibly white before normal coloration and thickness return. A stressful event may trigger this illness off and it is slightly more common with certain disorders such as diabetes and pernicious anaemia.

Although too-frequent washing, permanent waves, bleaching, and dyeing hair do not cause baldness, they can contribute to overall thinning by making hair weak and brittle. The hair usually grows back after the cause is stopped.

Traditional Treatment

Most people turn to wigs, hairpieces, and hair-weaving to hide their baldness.

A drug is available which has been found to promote hair growth on previously bald areas. This drug appears to be successful and is called minoxidil. It’s retail name is Regaine and is available on prescription. It is available also as a lotion formulation to be applied onto the scalp.

It must however, be used every day to maintain the growth of hair. It is also very expensive. The effects are most promising in younger people who are just beginning to show signs of balding or who have small bald patches.

The medication is applied to balding spots twice a day and must be continued daily. More than 50 percent of users claim that it can thicken hair and slow hair loss, but it is not considered effective in men who already have extensive male pattern baldness.

Although most cases of alopecia areata are resolved naturally, some doctors try to speed recovery with corticosteroids applied topically or injected in the scalp. Cortisone taken orally may stimulate new hair growth, but the effect is likely to be temporary.

Hair transplantation is another option available to people with hair loss.

Alternative/Natural Treatments

Despite claims to the contrary, no alternative therapies can reverse normal balding, although some may encourage reversal of temporary hair loss and improve damaged hair. Certain relaxation techniques are helpful in calming stressful people.

Chinese Medicine – In Chinese medicine, hair is thought to be nourished by the blood, which is influenced by the liver and kidneys. Chinese medicines for the hair are intended to help and nourish these organs and promote new hair growth; they include such herbs as polygonum (Polygonum multiflorum), lycium fruit (Lycium barbarum), Chinese foxglove root (Rehmannia glutinosa), Chinese yam (Dioscorea opposita), and cornus (Cornus officinalis).

Herbal Therapies – For temporary or partial hair loss from a known cause, herbalists recommend stimulating hair follicles and improving blood circulation in the scalp to encourage new hair growth. Try massaging your scalp with essential oil of rosemary (Rosmarinus officinalis) or rinsing your hair with tea made from sage (Salvia officinalis) ornettle tea. For temporary or partial hair loss from a known cause, herbalists recommend stimulating hair follicles and improving blood circulation in the scalp to encourage new hair growth. Try massaging your scalp with essential oil ofrosemary (Rosmarinus officinalis) or rinsing your hair with tea made from sage (Salvia officinalis) or nettle tea.

Homoeopathy – Many homoeopathic remedies are thought to be effective for hair loss, particularly thinning caused by pregnancy, stress, or emotional trauma. Consult a homoeopathic professional for more advice. Many homoeopathic remedies are thought to be effective for hair loss, particularly thinning caused by pregnancy, stress, or emotional trauma. Consult a homoeopathic professional for more advice.

Massage- Massage improves circulation and helps supply more blood to the scalp, which in turn improves the health of your hair and scalp. Massage improves circulation and helps supply more blood to the scalp, which in turn improves the health of your hair and scalp.

A few drops of vitamin E oil massaged into the scalp is recommended to strengthen fragile hair and help prevent dry, flaky skin. Or use the oils mentioned above.

(Emotional or physical stress may be a factor in some cases of hair loss. Yoga and meditation may help in these cases).

Dietary Considerations

Hair loss can result from a poor diet. It is advisable that you start back on a balanced diet and consult your doctor about supplemental vitamins A, B complex, and C, as well as iron and zinc.   (Go to our Vitamins page).

Prevention

Be careful with your hair and do not over wash or treat it. If your hair is very oily, you may want to wash it every day, but shampooing too often can strip your hair of its natural oil.

When to seek further professional advice

  • you suspect that you or your child has alopecia areata, or that your child has trichotillomania; both conditions should be evaluated by a doctor.

  • you suffer an unexplained loss of hair on any part of your body


     

Hearing Problems

What to look for

  • an inability to hear or distinguish some or all sounds in one or both ears.

  • a need to turn up the volume on the television or radio louder than other people find comfortable.

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

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

Causes

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

Hearing problems can run in families. In fact, doctors estimate that half of the cases of profound deafness in children have a genetic source.

Hearing can become disturbed through prolonged exposure to loud noise.

Several infectious diseases (most notably shingles, meningitis, syphilis) can cause hearing loss. A pregnant woman who contracts German measles is more likely to give birth to a child who has hearing problems.

It is advisable to speak with your doctor and have him or her perform a medical examination of you to determine if your hearing loss is caused by another ailment or disease.

Traditional Treatment

Get The Wax Out. Treatment of your hearing problem will depend on its underlying cause. It may be as simple as clearing accumulated wax or there may be an infection which requires a course of antibiotics.

For some serious hearing ailments, the only method of treatment is a hearing aid which will improve your ability to hear.

Alternative/Natural Treatments

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

Herbal Therapies – Several herbs may help heal ear infections that might lead to hearing problems. Garlic (Allium sativum), which is a natural antibiotic, is considered very effective. Put 1 to 3 drops of garlic oil in your ear three times daily. Several herbs may help heal ear infections that might lead to hearing problems. Garlic (Allium sativum), which is a natural antibiotic, is considered very effective. Put 1 to 3 drops of garlic oil in your ear three times daily.

Herbalists also recommend ginger (Zingiber officinale), another natural antibiotic, both in tincture and in tea form.

The anti-inflammatory properties of either Echinacea (Echinacea spp.) or goldenseal (Hydrastis canadensis) may help heal an ear infection.

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

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

Dietary Considerations

Some reports suggest that hearing can be aided by –

  • reducing salt.

  • for ear infections – avoid dairy products

  • Vitamin A supplements may help

Prevention

  • Protect your hearing by wearing earplugs if you are exposed to noise levels that may be harmful to your ears.

  • Do not listen to loud music with earphones.

  • If you are at a concert and the music hurts your ears, put on earplugs or leave immediately.

  • Educate your children about the danger of loud recreational noise.

  • To lower the risk of infectious diseases that may lead to permanent hearing loss, make sure your children receive all of their immunisations.

  • If your ears tend to get severely blocked with wax frequently, have them cleared by your doctor

When to seek further professional advice

  • you notice any hearing problems

  • you experience a sudden and total hearing loss in one or both ears.

  • your ear secretes pus or fluid

  • your hearing loss is accompanied by dizziness and nausea

     

     

Heart Attack

A Heart Attack happens when something has blocked the flow of blood into your heart, and a part of your heart has died.

What to look for

  • a dull or heavy pain in the centre of the chest

  • breathlessness, dizziness, nausea, chills, sweating, weak pulse.

  • cold and clammy skin, grey pallor, a severe appearance of illness.

  • fainting

Sometimes there are no symptoms.

The heart relies on its own blood supply to provide it with oxygen and nutrients so it can function properly. If the supply of oxygen to a certain part of the heart is interrupted, that area of the heart stops functioning. If an attack lasts too long, the starved heart tissue dies. This event defines heart attack, otherwise known as myocardial infarction.

If you think you are about to have an attack never wait until it is over before seeking help. Most attacks last for several hours. The signs of the heart attack may be no more than breathlessness, faintness, or nausea; and in some cases there are no symptoms. But most heart attacks produce some pain. The pain of a severe attack has been likened to a giant fist enclosing and squeezing the heart. If the attack is mild, it may be mistaken for heartburn. The pain may be constant or intermittent.

Usually heart attack patients have been suffering angina previous to the attack (the pain is very similar and brought on by exertion or excitement and lasts only a few minutes and the heart is not permanently damaged).

Sometimes there are no warning signs.

There are possible complications that can occur while in hospital with a heart attack – stroke, congestive heart failure, formation of blood clots in the legs or heart, and aneurism in a weakened heart chamber.

It will usually take around three months to fully recover from a heart attack.

Causes

Most heart attacks are the result of coronary heart disease, condition that clogs arteries with fatty deposits. It may also be blood clots which form on top of the fatty deposits which actually cause the heart attack.

Certain triggers will lead to a heart attack in certain persons. The predominant ones are high blood pressure, high cholesterol, obesity, smoking, and an inactive lifestyle. Stress, exertion and excitement can act as triggers for an attack.

Men over the age of 50 with a family history of heart disease are predisposed to heart attack.

Traditional Treatment

This condition must be treated by traditional medicine. Alternative remedies are however helpful in patient recovery and prevention.

Heart attack victims are usually hospitalised in special coronary care units for at least 3 days. Special drug therapy is used and the patient may have to be operated on.

The patient will be monitored closely for a period of time and administered the appropriate medications and drugs.

Gentle exercise is recommended while patients are recovering, but nothing that requires too much exertion.

Long-term recovery from heart attack requires extreme adjustments: Habits such as smoking, heavy drinking, and eating high-fat foods have to go.

As a preventive measure, most heart attack survivors take a daily aspirin tablet to thin the blood. Other drugs may also be prescribed, depending on the individual case.

Alternative Choices

Herbal Therapies – Of the many herbs used to treat chronic heart conditions, hawthorn (Crataegus laevigata) is perhaps most valuable as it dilates coronary arteries and improves the function in the heart. Hawthorn also is thought to speed recovery from an attack. Of the many herbs used to treat chronic heart conditions, hawthorn (Crataegus laevigata) is perhaps most valuable as it dilates coronary arteries and improves the function in the heart. Hawthorn also is thought to speed recovery from an attack.

There are other herbs that are used to treat heart conditions, such as raw garlic, lime flowers (linden) and nettle. For more information, see high blood pressureBlood Clots, and Cholesterol Problems.

Bach Flower Remedies – Try willow and holly essences – 4 drops on the tongue, up to 4 times daily. Try willow and holly essences – 4 drops on the tongue, up to 4 times daily.

Lifestyle

Regular aerobic exercise greatly enhances efforts to prevent or recover from heart attack. However you must be extremely careful not to over exert yourself. Exercise under supervision while in the recovery phase.

Reducing stress by training the mind and body to relax may help prevent heart attack and can aid in recovery.

Dietary Considerations

to reduce the possibility of further heart attacks, it is advisable to eat a low fat diet with very little salt, sugar, alcohol in order to reduce cholesterol, control blood pressure, and weight. Eating magnesium-rich foods such as nuts, beans, bran, fish, and dark green vegetables may help prevent heart attack.

Antioxidants supposedly help with heart disease as well as supplements such as B complexCEchromium,calciumpotassiumEvening Primrose Oil, and garlic.

Personal Care

  • You can still be fairly active – just be careful.

  • Do not take birth-control pills if you have had a heart attack

  • Get a pet. Pet owners recover more quickly from heart attacks

Prevention

  • Try to relax and control negative volatile emotions such as anger.

  • Talk with your doctor about taking an aspirin daily.

When to seek further professional advice

 

 

  • you or someone you are with shows signs of a heart attack.

  • you suffer from angina (chest pain) and begin to experience pain that is similar but does not respond to medication; this may indicate that a heart attack is under way.

  • your angina attacks become more frequent and severe

  • you are taking aspirin to prevent heart attack and your stool appears black and tarry

     

Heart Disease

What to look for

  • tight, suffocating chest pain, often associated with angina and heart attack.

  • sensations of fluttering, thumping, pounding, or racing of the heart, known as palpitations.

  • shortness of breath.

  • fluid retention in the legs, ankles, abdomen, lungs, or heart.

  • light headedness, weakness, dizziness, or fainting spells.

Please be aware that sometimes heart disease has no symptoms or the symptoms may be the result of another condition.

The most common types of heart disease are following –

Heart Arrhythmia’s – Arrhythmia’s are irregularities in the heart’s normal beating pattern.

Coronary Heart Disease – This is the most common heart problem and is characterised by blocked coronary arteries resulting in a reduced blood flow and oxygen to the heart. This blockage could have started from the time you were very young and just became progressively worse over the years. This is the most common heart problem and is characterised by blocked coronary arteries resulting in a reduced blood flow and oxygen to the heart. This blockage could have started from the time you were very young and just became progressively worse over the years.

This type of heart disease is very concerning as it can lead to heart failure, angina, attacks and death.

There are no exact known causes of coronary heart disease, however there are certain risk factors responsible for the development of the disease.

  • it runs in families

  • it is more common in men

  • people over the age of 40 are more likely to get this disease

  • Diabetics are also more prone to heart disease.

  • smoking significantly increases the chances of coronary heart disease

  • being overweight

  • having high cholesterol

  • leading a sedentary life

  • stress

Heart Valve Disease – The heart depends on four valves to keep the blood flowing in the right direction. Diseases of the valves is not quite as prevalent these days due to nutrition awareness. A faulty valve may not open or close properly. A defective valve may have been present from birth or the valves may be inflamed. The heart depends on four valves to keep the blood flowing in the right direction. Diseases of the valves is not quite as prevalent these days due to nutrition awareness. A faulty valve may not open or close properly. A defective valve may have been present from birth or the valves may be inflamed.

Pericardial Disease – Any disease of the pericardium, the fibrous membrane in which the heart sits, is classified as pericardial disease. One of the more common is an inflammatory condition called pericarditis. It is usually caused by viral infection. Pericarditis often subsides on its own, but it also responds to anti-inflammatory drugs such as aspirin. Any disease of the pericardium, the fibrous membrane in which the heart sits, is classified as pericardial disease. One of the more common is an inflammatory condition called pericarditis. It is usually caused by viral infection. Pericarditis often subsides on its own, but it also responds to anti-inflammatory drugs such as aspirin.

Primary Myocardial Disease (Cardiomyopathy) – This is a heart muscle disease which makes the muscle become weak and flabby so that the heart gets bigger as the muscle wall dilates under the strain. Usually it is unknown what causes this disease. This is a heart muscle disease which makes the muscle become weak and flabby so that the heart gets bigger as the muscle wall dilates under the strain. Usually it is unknown what causes this disease.

Congenital Heart Disease – The development of the heart inside the womb is a very complicated and intricate process and can occasionally go wrong. In this case, a baby is born with heart defects, and the exact reason why this occurs is hard to fathom. The development of the heart inside the womb is a very complicated and intricate process and can occasionally go wrong. In this case, a baby is born with heart defects, and the exact reason why this occurs is hard to fathom.

Genetic abnormalities or infections contracted during pregnancy by the mother may also result in congenital heart disease for the child.

Causes

You will have to describe your symptoms to your doctor in order for him or her to diagnose which heart disease you have, if any. An examination will then take place along with listening to the heart itself for clues.

If heart disease is suspected, further tests will be performed.

Traditional Treatment

It is best to seek conventional medical treatments if there is any suspected heart disease. Alternative remedies should also be used but as supplements or in addition to your conventional treatment.

The basis of conventional care is the use of drugs and surgery as well as to help make the correct changes to your diet and lifestyle.

Alternative/Natural Treatments

Alternative medicine preaches prevention as its mainstay.

Relaxation – Focus on techniques to help the body to relax and reduce stress and consequently avoid, control or prevent heart disease. Relaxation reduces stress, and stress has been identified as a likely risk factor for coronary heart disease. Focus on techniques to help the body to relax and reduce stress and consequently avoid, control or prevent heart disease. Relaxation reduces stress, and stress has been identified as a likely risk factor for coronary heart disease.

Chinese Medicine – Practitioners of traditional Chinese medicine generally view heart disease as arising from heart weakness or blocked energy flow. Depending on the symptoms, standard treatment would involve prescribed herbal remedies plus massage, acupuncture, and dietary recommendations. Practitioners of traditional Chinese medicine generally view heart disease as arising from heart weakness or blocked energy flow. Depending on the symptoms, standard treatment would involve prescribed herbal remedies plus massage, acupuncture, and dietary recommendations.

Herbal Therapies – The plant world is full of herbs that can affect the heart. The therapeutic properties of some have been tested and trialed with positive results. The plant world is full of herbs that can affect the heart. The therapeutic properties of some have been tested and trialed with positive results.

The effects of others, such as motherwort (Leonurus cardiaca) and yarrow (Achillea millefolium), are not as well researched yet perhaps no less effective. Certain herbs, such as foxglove (Digitalis purpurea) and lily of the valley (Convallaria majalis), contain compounds that make them particularly potent. Because of their potentially dangerous side effects, they should be administered only by a Professional.

Hawthorn (Crataegus laevigata) is a highly effective heart healer. However, any herbal treatment of the heart should be supervised by a Health Professional and approved by your doctor.

Homoeopathy – Homoeopathic remedies may complement, but should not replace, prescribed medication for chronic heart conditions. A homoeopath would be able to advise on the best preparation for your particular condition.Homoeopathic remedies may complement, but should not replace, prescribed medication for chronic heart conditions. A homoeopath would be able to advise on the best preparation for your particular condition.

Bach Flower Remedies – Certain flower essences are reputed to be beneficial in the treatment of heart disease. These are – holly and willow. Certain flower essences are reputed to be beneficial in the treatment of heart disease. These are – holly and willow.

Lifestyle

You should make certain adjustments to your lifestyle if you want to avoid this disease:

  • If you smoke, quit.

  • exercise

  • drink alcohol in moderation

Dietary Considerations

It is vitally important that your diet is low in fat and salt, high in fibre.

There are also specific vitamins, minerals, and nutrients, such as magnesiumpotassium, niacin (vitamin B3), many other B-complex vitamins, vitamin E, coenzyme Q10, L-carnitine (an amino acid), and the fatty acids in fish oils, that specifically protect against heart and arterial disease.

Prevention

  • Eat more fruits, vegetables, and grains, and fewer foods that are salty, high in fat, or fried.

  • Exercise regularly

  • Drink alcohol in moderation, if you do drink.

  • Don’t smoke.

  • Learn to control stress.

When to seek further professional advice

 

 


  • you experience unusual chest pain, particularly if it persists or recurs.

  • if your heat beat is consistently irregular .

  • you become suddenly dizzy, light headed, weak, or faint.