Category Archives: Seniors Health

Heartburn

Heartburn is a burning sensation experienced under your breastbone after you’ve eaten something that may not have agreed with you.

What to look for

  • a burning feeling in the chest just behind the breastbone (the sternum) that occurs after eating and lasts a few minutes to several hours.

  • chest pain, especially after bending over or lying down.

  • burning in the throat-or hot, sour, or salty-tasting fluid at the back of the throat.

  • belching.

Often the symptoms may be mistaken for a heart attack but usually this condition is not nearly as dangerous. It is an irritation of the oesophagus that is caused by stomach acid. Usually sphincter at the end of the oesophagus relaxes to let food into the stomach, then contracts to close off the oesophagus from the stomach contents. If the muscle becomes weak, acid and bile from the stomach can go back into the oesophagus causing this condition.

Occasional heartburn isn’t dangerous, but chronic heartburn can indicate serious problems.

Causes

A sphincter that doesn’t tighten as it should is the basic cause of heartburn. The causes can be: too much food in the stomach (overeating) or too much pressure on the stomach (frequently from obesity or pregnancy).

The sphincter relaxes with tomatoes, citrus fruits, garlic, onions, chocolate, coffee, alcohol, and peppermint, dishes high in fats and oils, medications, especially some antibiotics.  Stress, which strains the nerves controlling the sphincter, can cause heartburn as can smoking.

Traditional Treatment

Most physicians advocate antacids for occasional heartburn. Alternative practitioners rely on herbal remedies to reduce acid and relaxation therapies to lessen stress.

The primary objective is to identify the cause of the heartburn, so it can be avoided in the future. Surgery may be required to repair the sphincter if nothing else works, but this is relatively rare.

Alternative/Natural Treatments

Herbal Therapies  – Ginger (Zingiber officinale) tea can diminish heartburn quickly, and chamomile (Matricaria recutita) tea’s calming effects is especially helpful. If your digestion system is not functioning as it should, try herbs such as agrimony and dandelion. If you have heartburn because of nervousness or anxiety, try hops, lemon balm and vervain. Ginger (Zingiber officinale) tea can diminish heartburn quickly, and chamomile (Matricaria recutita) tea’s calming effects is especially helpful. If your digestion system is not functioning as it should, try herbs such as agrimony and dandelion. If you have heartburn because of nervousness or anxiety, try hops, lemon balm and vervain.

Homeopathy – Specific heartburn symptoms often respond well to homeopathic remedies. After eating spicy foods, take Nux vomica; after rich foods take Carbo vegetabilis; and for burning pain, take Arsenicum album. Specific heartburn symptoms often respond well to homeopathic remedies. After eating spicy foods, take Nux vomica; after rich foods take Carbo vegetabilis; and for burning pain, take Arsenicum album.

Dietary Considerations

Take acidophilus Bifidus to help maintain optimum levels of the friendly intestinal flora. This will help your indigestion. Also it helps to eat smaller more regular meals including vegetables and fruit, wholegrain breads and cereals. And always chew your food properly.

Prevention

Heartburn is often preventable. Try to avoid foods which you know will cause this problem. Lying down is often not the best remedy, you should sit upright while the discomfort is evident.

When to seek further professional advice

  • you experience heartburn along with any other symptom

  • you take an antacid to relieve heartburn and do not feel relief within 15 minutes.

  • your heartburn gets worse with exercise and relieved by rest

     

Hernia

This is a protrusion through a weakness in the abdominal wall. It can be either external or internal.

What to look for

  • swelling in the abdomen or groin.

  • a heavy feeling in the abdomen that is sometimes accompanied by constipation.

  • discomfort in the abdomen or groin when lifting or bending over.

A hernia occurs when an organ or tissue squeezes through a hole or a weak spot in a surrounding muscle. The most common types are inguinal, incisional, and umbilical.

In an inguinal hernia, the intestine or the bladder protrudes through the abdominal wall in the groin. Most hernias are inguinal, and most occur in men because of a natural weakness in this area.

In an incisional hernia, a hernia can develop at the site of an operation, the muscles have not healed properly.

In an umbilical hernia, the location is near the naval. Common in newborns, it also afflicts obese women or those who have had many children.

Causes

People can be born with weaknesses that make them prone to develop a hernia. The condition can also develop from heavy lifting, strenuous exercise or a persistent cough, poor nutrition, smoking, and overexertion all can weaken muscles and make hernias develop.

Anything that causes muscle strain can then induce hernia, including obesity, lifting heavy objects, diarrhoea or constipation, or persistent coughing… Ultimately, all hernias are caused by a combination of muscle weakness and strain: A weak spot in the muscle tears under the pressure of strain, and an internal organ or tissue then pushes through the tear.

A doctor’s physical examination is often enough to diagnose a hernia. Sometimes you will be able to feel it yourself on the side of the abdomen or groin.

Traditional Treatment

In babies, umbilical hernias frequently heal themselves within four years, making surgery unnecessary.

Usually, however surgery will be required. It is important to get your hernia seen to by a doctor because if it is left untreated, the protruding organ may become strangulated (have its blood supply cut off), and infection and tissue death may occur as a result.

Alternative/Natural Treatment

If you suspect you have a hernia you must seek conventional treatment, as natural therapies will not eliminate a hernia. Alternative treatments will however relieve the discomfort.

Homoeopathy – If the hernia is on the right side of your body, take lycopodium clavatum three times a day for a few days. For general hernias, take 6C or Calcarea fluorata in tablet or liquid. If the hernia is on the right side of your body, take lycopodium clavatum three times a day for a few days. For general hernias, take 6C or Calcarea fluorata in tablet or liquid.

Lifestyle – Gentle exercise on a regular basis tones and strengthens stomach muscles. Gentle exercise on a regular basis tones and strengthens stomach muscles.

Prevention

Take care to avoid becoming overweight by practicing good nutrition and maintaining good muscle tone through exercise. Also avoid putting unnecessary strain on abdominal muscles through lifting.

When to seek further professional advice

  • you suspect that you have a hernia.

  • you know you have a hernia, and you are nauseated and vomiting or are unable to have a bowel movement or pass gas

     

Eczema

A skin complaint characterised by redness, itch, dryness with pimples or blisters.

What to look for…

  • patches of itchy, dry, thickened skin, usually on wrists, face, and inner creases of the knees and elbows.

  • skin sores, patches of redness, scaling, sometimes small bumps or blisters that may ooze fluid.

Eczema is a form of dermatitis characterised by chronically itchy, inflamed and reddened skin.

Eczema, also known as atopic dermatitis, is generally hereditary however one person in a family could have the condition while all the other people in the family are not afflicted with it. It is most common among infants, many of whom grow out of it. Eczema is often associated with asthma, so children with that disorder may be at greater risk of skin problems. Stress or emotional upsets can often be the cause as well.

Causes

This skin complaint is often puzzling to experts. It can be caused by emotional upsets or it may have no apparent cause. Many cases of eczema are related to allergies. In sensitive people, outbreaks can be caused by ingesting certain foods, such as cow’s milk, eggs, wheat, and nuts, as well as by inhaling airborne irritants like dust mites and pollen.

Eczema is also caused by contact with irritants in common substances, such as woollen and synthetic fabrics, latex rubber, certain detergents, chlorine-based products, the mineral nickel used in plated earrings and other jewellery, and certain chemicals.

In people susceptible to eczema, it is apparent that outbreaks may be caused by a change in the way a person’s immune system copes with certain types of stress.

Traditional Treatment

Treatments are focused on relieving symptoms as it is sometimes difficult to pinpoint the actual causes of the disease. At-home remedies and over-the-counter medications are usually sufficient unless the complaint becomes unbearable or worsens in any way.

Most doctors will suggest you take warm baths to relieve the itching and to slowly remove the crusted parts.

If the eczema is allergy related, taking oral antihistamines may help. Some medications prescribed are very strong and should only be taken with care and constant supervision by your doctor.

Alternative/Natural Treatments

Alternative therapies are available to help both the symptoms of eczema and some of the causes. Only use with the supervision of a qualified and trained practitioner as some herbs may cause allergic reactions.

Aromatherapy – Essential oils of Lavender (Lavandula officinalis), Thyme (Thymus vulgaris), Jasmine (Jasminum officinale), and Chamomile (Matricaria recutita) may be capable of soothing Eczema related to allergies. Vapouriser or diluted in a carrier oil and use in massage. (see section on aromatherapy for more information). Essential oils ofLavender (Lavandula officinalis), Thyme (Thymus vulgaris), Jasmine (Jasminum officinale), and Chamomile (Matricaria recutita) may be capable of soothing Eczema related to allergies. Vapouriser or diluted in a carrier oil and use in massage. (see section on aromatherapy for more information).

Chinese Herbs – Beneficial herbs include Siler root (Ledebouriella divaricata), Chinese Foxglove (Rehmannia glutinosa), and Liquorice (Glycyrrhiza uralensis), which are said to be anti-inflammatories, and Peony (Paeonia lactiflora), which is said to affect the immune system. These herbs should only be used under the supervision of an experienced Professional. Beneficial herbs include Siler root (Ledebouriella divaricata), Chinese Foxglove (Rehmannia glutinosa), and Liquorice (Glycyrrhiza uralensis), which are said to be anti-inflammatories, and Peony (Paeonia lactiflora), which is said to affect the immune system. These herbs should only be used under the supervision of an experienced Professional.

Herbal Therapies – Evidence suggests that Evening Primrose Oil (Oenothera biennis) may effectively treat itching associated with Eczema. However, people with liver disease or high cholesterol should use this treatment only under medical supervision, and pregnant women should not use it at all because of its effect on oestrogen and progesterone levels. Evidence suggests that Evening Primrose Oil (Oenothera biennis) may effectively treat itching associated with Eczema. However, people with liver disease or high cholesterol should use this treatment only under medical supervision, and pregnant women should not use it at all because of its effect on oestrogen and progesterone levels.

Burdock (Arctium lappa) root and Dandelion (Taraxacum officinale) root may also be effective. Chamomile (Matricaria recutita) ointment soothes dry, flaky skin and helps inflammation and itching.

Do not take any of these herbs for longer than 
one month without supervision.

Homoeopathy – A Homoeopathic remedy to soothe inflamed skin that patients can apply safely at home is topical Calendula ointment. Do not attempt to treat eczema with other Homoeopathic remedies, however, without consulting a qualified Homoeopath. A Homoeopathic remedy to soothe inflamed skin that patients can apply safely at home is topical Calendula ointment. Do not attempt to treat eczema with other Homoeopathic remedies, however, without consulting a qualified Homoeopath.

Your Homoeopath with examine you thoroughly and make a recommendation in accordance with your symptoms and lifestyle.

During Homoeopathic treatment, Eczema may actually get worse before it gets better, so professional supervision is important.

At-Home Remedies – Try to learn to relax and avoid becoming overly stressed as this can be a trigger to your problem. Lavender oil can be helpful to relax. Try to learn to relax and avoid becoming overly stressed as this can be a trigger to your problem. Lavender oil can be helpful to relax.

  • To soothe itchiness, try a warm bath followed by an application of topical ointment such as calendula

  • Watch your diet.

Dietary Considerations

If Eczema is caused by allergic reaction, your diet will be of utmost importance. As mentioned previously, avoid cow’s milk, eggs, wheat flour, and nuts, also to limit red meat. Eat foods rich in zinc and vitamins A and C such as wholegrains, seeds, fresh fruit, and vegetables (red, yellow and green.)

You may benefit from a zinc supplement. Ask your Doctor or our Pharmacist to assess your particular case.

Prevention

Try not to wean your baby off breast milk too early as doctors suggest that this can cause Eczema to develop.

Avoid triggering food allergies that might bring on Eczema.

Babies should also be protected from potential allergens.

When to seek further professional advice

  • you have any of the symptoms above flare up

  • the inflammation does not respond within a week to treatment with over-the-counter creams. A Physician may suggest more aggressive forms of treatment.

  • you develop blisters filled with pus

  • you have a bout of Eczema and are exposed to anybody with a viral disease

     

Emphysema

A serious lung disease where the alveoli and the narrow passages leading to these air sacs become permanently swollen with air.

What to look for

Typical symptoms of emphysema include:

  • breathlessness, worsening over the years.

  • a chronic, mild cough, sometimes accompanied by a small amount of phlegm brought on by the slightest exertion.

  • chewing and swallowing may be hard

  • in severe cases a ‘barrel shaped’ chest.

Emphysema is a potentially fatal lung disease and is characterised by a shortness of breath followed by coughing. Emphysema is most often caused by excessive and heavy smoking.

There is no cure for this disease but seeing a Doctor may be able to help alleviate some of the symptoms.

Emphysema results when the alveoli the tiny air sacs and the narrow passages leading to them become enlarged. These sacs are responsible for taking oxygen to the bloodstream and drawing out carbon dioxide waste. But when the lungs’ airways become constricted or damaged, the lung tissues lose their elasticity and become damaged and breathing becomes difficult. This is because the damage prevents the lungs from supplying the blood with enough oxygen .

This disease is most common in heavy smokers usually over 40 years of age.

Causes

The most common cause of emphysema is heavy, long-term smoking. Cigarette smoke is thought to attack the lung tissue. Smoking also has the effect of weakening the walls of the lungs airways, causing them to collapse on exhalation, trapping stale air. Smoking also causes chronic bronchitis and this in turn usually makes the emphysema worse.

Smoking causes the tiny cells called cilia to become debilitated and dysfunctional. Their job is to rid the lungs of excess mucus and other debris. Clogged with mucus, the lungs are then susceptible to viral and bacterial infections.

Traditional Treatment

Unfortunately there is no treatment yet that will give you a new set of healthy and unaffected lungs. However you can do some things that will help the symptoms and avoid the disease becoming worse.

You must consult a doctor if you have any of the above listed symptoms and continue to see him or her regularly. Your doctor may show you the correct ways to breath with this affliction.

Quitting smoking immediately and avoiding any areas where there is cigarette smoke is a vitally important step.

Start and maintain a low-impact exercise regime such as walking or swimming.

In severe cases of emphysema, at-home oxygen therapy may be necessary; In some other serious cases, surgery may be an option.

Alternative/Natural Treatments

You must never stop seeing your doctor when you have this illness. However alternative therapies often relieve your symptoms and discomfort.

Aromatherapy –  This has been very successful in the treatment of emphysema. Popular essential oils for this ailment are Eucalyptus (Eucalyptus globulus), Hyssop (Hyssopus officinalis), Aniseed (Pimpinella anisum), Lavender(Lavandula officinalis), Pine (Pinus sylvestris), and Rosemary (Rosmarinus officinalis).

Chinese Herbs –  The Chinese herb Ephedra (Ephedra sinica), also called Ma Huang, is a potent bronchodilator. This herb does have side effects and should only be taken under the supervision of a Professional.

Herbal Therapies – A number of herbs act as expectorants and may be appropriate in the treatment of emphysema.

Elecampane (Inula helenium), for example, is believed to help clear excess mucus from the lungs.

Mullein (Verbascum thapsus) tea is recommended for soothing the mucous membranes.

Other herbs that may help relieve shortness of breath include grindelia (Grindelia spp.), Euphorbia pilulifera, Lobelia (Lobelia inflata), Wild Black Cherry (Prunus serotina) Bark, Liquorice (Glycyrrhiza glabra), Motherwort (Leonurus cardiaca), and Aniseed (Pimpinella anisum).

Homoeopathy – To treat emphysema, a Homoeopath might recommend Antimonium Tartaricum for wheezing and congestion,

For symptoms that worsen on damp days, in stuffy rooms, or early in the morning, Ammonium carbonicum.

For symptoms that grow worse at night or in cold air and drafts, Hepar sulphuris.

Dietary Considerations

Some Health Professionals recommend avoiding foods that cause excess mucus production, such as dairy products, processed foods, and white flour products. Also eat plenty of garlic.

Personal Care

Inhaling steam can help loosen phlegm in your lungs. First, fill a sink with boiling water. Keeping your eyes closed, drape a towel over your head and inhale the steam for two to five minutes. To further ease breathing and help relieve nasal congestion, try adding a few drops of one or more essential oils to the hot water.

Prevention

Stop smoking immediately.

Although there is no cure for emphysema, you can practice some simple exercises and breathing techniques that will help you cope with the disease. See a Yoga specialist and your doctor.

When to seek further professional advice

  • you cough up dark coloured or thick mucus.

  • you have a lingering, mild cough

  • you begin to lose weight and you are not trying to

  • you regularly become breathless after simple activities

     

     

     

Cataracts

A cataract is the clouding of the lens in the eye. The lens is normally clear.  It is not a film over the lens.

What to look for

  • hazy vision.

  • impaired vision at night; difficulty in discerning movements, details, or objects.

  • blinding or uncomfortable glare from automobile headlights or bright sunlight.

  • seeing halos around lights.

  • unexpected improvement in near vision.

  • double or triple vision in one eye only.

  • in an advanced case, a milky white or opaque appearance to the normally transparent lens of the eye

  • painful inflammation and pressure within the eye (very advanced case).

The lens of the human eye focuses light so that you can see objects clearly at various distances. It has no blood supply of its own; therefore, when it is damaged it cannot form new cells and responds by becoming opaque, forming a cataract. The cataract causes a gradual and painless loss of vision.

Despite how common the disease is, it is actually one of the less serious eye disorders, because surgery can restore the lost sight in most cases.

Causes

The most common cause is aging. If this is the case, the centre of the lens will be affected first. There is vision for several years until the whole lens is affected.

Some people are born with cataracts due to an injury or disease while in the womb.

Exposure to bright sunlight can react with the protein in the lens and create cataracts earlier than usual as well as cigarette smoke, air pollution, vitamin deficiencies, and heavy alcohol consumption. A low level of calcium in the blood can cause this complaint, sudden increases in blood sugar levels in young people can result in a clouding of the lens. They can develop as a result of accidents, sports injuries and exposure to electromagnetic, microwave or infra-red radiation.  Short-sightedness can also contribute to the development of cataracts.

By shining a pen-light on your pupil, your doctor may detect the cataract. Using special instruments and techniques, your ophthalmologist will identify its precise character, location, and extent.

Traditional Treatment

You will need to visit an optometrist who can diagnose cataracts and give you the best advice about relief. At present the only corrective treatment for a developed cataract is surgery. However, both conventional and complimentary therapies are seeking ways to prevent cataract formation.

Cataract surgery is one of the most successful of all operations.

The operation, usually performed under local anaesthesia on an outpatient basis, is safe, fast, and nearly painless.

The single most important thing you can do to prevent cataract development is to avoid bright sunlight outdoors by wearing sunglasses that filter out UVB. Dark glasses that do not filter out UVB can actually increase your risk, because your pupils widen to adjust to the decreased light, thus exposing your eyes to more of the dangerous UVB radiation.

Dietary Considerations

 

Antioxidants, which reduce free radicals (unstable chemical compounds) that can damage lens protein, may offer some protection against cataract development by lessening or retarding protein deterioration in the lens brought on by environmental factors.

Naturopaths may recommend a diet high in fruits and vegetables containing antioxidants such as beta carotene(vitamin A), selenium, and vitamins C and E, including citrus fruits, spinach, sweet potatoes, carrots, and broccoli.  It is best to consult with your health care practitioner to ascertain the best course of action for your particular case.

When to seek further professional advice

  • You develop any of the symptoms mentioned above.

Cholesterol

Cholesterol is a crystalline fatty alcohol found especially in animal fats, blood and nerve tissue and bile.

What to look for

A high level of cholesterol in the blood does not have obvious symptoms but it can be a risk for other circulatory conditions that do have recognisable symptoms.

  • Obesity and diabetes.

  • impotence

Cholesterol is a paradox: Everyone needs it, but you can have too much which can prove to be fatal. A naturally occurring fat, cholesterol performs functions which are vital to the body such as cell building, insulating nerves, and producing hormones. The liver makes all the cholesterol the body normally needs, but because this substance is found in all animal products, you get a new stock of it whenever you eat meat and dairy foods. For people genetically predisposed to cholesterol problems, a diet high in saturated fats is the chief cause of high cholesterol levels.

There are two basic types of cholesterol – HDL and LDL – high and low density lipoproteins respectively. Low-density lipoprotein (LDL) is a larger, less dense particle that tends to remain in the body. Excessive amounts of LDL cholesterol can overload the circulatory system and it can leave deposits in blood vessels that eventually block them and lead to heart disease.

Causes

Hereditary does play a part in having or not having cholesterol. If you have a predisposition to cholesterol and eat a heavy saturated fat diet, you are more likely to have cholesterol and the related diseases.

A laboratory test to determine your blood cholesterol level is now a routine part of most physical checkups.

Traditional Treatment

Your doctor, Pharmacist as well as many Health Professionals will all say the same thing with regards to diet – Adopt a diet low in fat and cholesterol, lose weight, exercise regularly, and if you smoke, quit.

There are cholesterol reducing drugs available however they are expensive and can produce serious side effects.

Alternative Treatments

Alternative therapists offer a range of natural ways to control your cholesterol levels. All can be pursued independently, many in conjunction with drug therapy.

Chinese Medicine – Traditional Chinese healers treat various forms of chronic heart disease, along with factors like high cholesterol, a herbal therapy that uses polygonum (Polygonum multiflorum). You should professional advice for an appropriate prescription. Traditional Chinese healers treat various forms of chronic heart disease, along with factors like high cholesterol, a herbal therapy that uses polygonum (Polygonum multiflorum). You should professional advice for an appropriate prescription.

Herbal Therapies – A highly valued remedy for fighting high cholesterol is gugulipid (Commiphora mukul). A highly valued remedy for fighting high cholesterol is gugulipid (Commiphora mukul).

Other herbs reputed to have cholesterol-lowering properties include alfalfa (Medicago sativa), turmeric (Curcuma longa), Asian ginseng (Panax ginseng), and fenugreek (Trigonella foenum-graecum).

Lifestyle – Exercise several times a week can help this complaint. Exercise several times a week can help this complaint.

Dietary Considerations

Avoid saturated fats and dietary cholesterol. Experts recommend a diet with between 30 and 20 percent of your daily calories from fat. Animal fat should be avoided. Eat more vegetables, fruits, and grains, which are cholesterol free, virtually fat free, and rich in fiber.

Garlic and onion are believed to lower cholesterol.

Prevention

  • Watch your weight.

  • Eat wisely

  • Exercise regularly

  • Don’t smoke.

  • Get your cholesterol checked regularly and monitor your progress

Make Healthy Food Your Ally

Replace saturated fats that are solid at room temperature, with olive or grape seed oil. Eating moderate amounts of such foods as nuts, seeds, and avocados may actually lower LDL cholesterol. Eating grapes may help reduce blood cholesterol.

Do not eat too many eggs per week as one egg yolk contains almost an entire daily recommended allowance of cholesterol. Vitamins, minerals, and nutrients that have reputed cholesterol-reducing properties include vitamins EC, and A (beta carotene), zinc. Add rice, bran, artichokes, shiitake mushrooms, and chili peppers to your salads and foods as these all may help lower cholesterol.

When to seek further professional advice

  • You develop any of the symptoms listed above

     

Circulatory Problems

This is problems to do with circulation. (Is the closed network of blood vessels in the body).

What to look for

  • aching legs

  • bulging, bluish vessels in an aching leg.

  • a painful vein.

Everybody may experience circulatory problems infrequently. Many people, however, must cope with this sensation on a daily basis. This condition, called intermittent claudication, is caused by lack of blood to the affected area. This can be due to hardening of the arteries. There are many other forms of circulation problems as well. Most circulation conditions can be treated at home or with a doctor’s supervision.

Circulation starts with vessels known as arteries which carry blood filled with oxygen from the heart to the rest of the body; veins return blood with no oxygen to the heart. These vessels can become blocked and this is when circulatory problems arise. These problems can start in a number of ways.

Causes

There is usually more than one cause to circulatory problems. Hardening of the arteries can become more prolific with age. Women are more likely than men to develop varicose veins. Hereditary plays a part as does the type of lifestyles people lead.

Other risk factors for poor circulation are smoking, obesity, and prolonged periods of sitting or standing. Women taking the contraceptive pill are more prone to circulatory problems, as are people with diabetes.

Traditional Treatment

There is a great deal the patient can do for themselves at home to improve circulation. If these do not succeed, many other options are available to those who suffer from circulatory problems. Take the time to learn about your options, then decide which treatment program will work best for you.

Of course the cause of the circulatory problem will have to be diagnosed by your doctor before suggesting a treatment.

Normally a treatment consisting of…

  • regular aerobic exercise

  • good balanced nutrition.

  • to lose weight if obesity is the problem

  • and to stop old habits that interfere with circulation such as smoking.

  • aspirin can also aid swelling

For more severe cases, treatment options range from drug therapy to surgery.

Alternative/Natural Treatments

Many non-conventional treatments for poor circulation attempt to strengthen and widen the blood vessels to get more blood circulating throughout the system.

Body/Mind Treatments – Yoga – can help blood flow and help to alleviate the discomfort caused by poor circulation.

Water Treatments – A long soak in a warm bath, followed by a brisk rub with a towel dipped in cold water, can ease general discomfort caused by poor circulation.

You might add a solution of thyme leaves or larch needles to the bathwater for a stimulating effect.

Soak cold feet in a warm footbath for 15 minutes.

To promote circulation in the legs, alternate hot and cold footbaths (1 to 2 minutes in hot water, 30 seconds in cold water) for 15 minutes.

Herbal Therapies – An extract of the small, thorny hawthorn (Crataegus oxyacantha) tree promotes circulation by dilating blood vessels, particularly coronary arteries. And ginkgo (Ginkgo biloba) has a well-documented record of medicinal success.

Studies show that concentrated extracts from the leaves of the ginkgo tree may help improve circulation by dilating the arteries. If you have a blood-clotting disorder, consult a doctor before using ginkgo, since the plant can, in some people, suppress the blood’s clotting ability. Ginkgo has also been shown to cause mild side effects, including excitability and digestive problems. (see the section on herbs for more information).

Cayenne (Capsicum frutescens) and ginger (Zingiber officinale) may stimulate circulation by dilating arterioles and capillaries near the skin’s surface. Butcher’s-broom (Ruscus aculeatus) is believed to alleviate swelling and inflammation caused by many circulatory disorders. Butcher’s-broom can be prepared and eaten much like its cousin, asparagus, or brewed into a tea.

Chinese Herbal Treatments – Taken orally, Gotu Kola (Centella asiatica) appears to benefit circulation.

Dietary Considerations

As a general rule, your diet should be low in fat and high in fibre. Eat more whole grains and fresh fruits and vegetables. Avoid caffeinated drinks.

If you suffer from hardened arteries, eat more fish. For dessert, try pineapple, it is very good for the circulation.

Healthful doses of certain vitamins and minerals may also improve your circulation. vitamin Cvitamin E, and niacin, all of which are believed to have a dilating effect on blood vessels, may help to get the blood flowing and make walking less painful. However, consult a doctor or nutritionist before using niacin, as it can cause uncomfortable flushing.Magnesium supplements also may help dilate the vessels and alleviate arterial spasms.

Personal Care

  • Regular exercise

  • If you are taking birth-control pills, switch to another form of contraception.

  • Stop smoking.

  • Dress warmly in winter especially keep your feet warm

When to seek further professional advice

  • you experience sudden and severe pain

  • you develop skin ulcers, skin discolouration, or sores that don’t heal

     

     

Conjunctivitis

Conjunctivitis is the inflammation of the conjunctival membrane (the delicate skin which covers the white of the eye underneath the eyelids.

What to look for

  • A gritty feeling in the eye, just under the eyelids

  • Burning itchy eyes that discharge a heavy, sticky pus

  • Tears, a swollen lymph node

  • Redness, intense itching

  • Eyelids may stick together upon waking in the morning as mucus has dried on the eyelashes and lids overnight.

It is possible to have some of these symptoms in differing combinations depending on the type of cause of the conjunctivitis.

The conjunctiva, the delicate skin just underneath your eyelids, becomes inflamed for various reasons. This condition usually clears itself up after a few days. Conjunctivitis can be highly contagious but it is not serious if detected early.

Bacterial conjunctivitis (pinkeye), usually infects both eyes and produces a heavy discharge of mucus.

Allergic conjunctivitis produces tears, itching, and redness in the eyes, and sometimes an itchy, runny nose.

Occasionally babies develop conjunctivitis in one eye . See your doctor immediately.

Causes

The most common cause of conjunctivitis is by a bacterial or viral infection or by an allergic reaction. If you do not eat well and are under stress, this condition can also be brought on. Children sometimes contract conjunctivitis after acold or sore throat.

Conjunctivitis may occur if the baby’s tear ducts are not completely formed or if the infant is exposed to bacteria while being born.

Traditional Treatment

Remedies prepared at home are usually sufficient to keep the eyes clean and prevent the condition from spreading.

If your conjunctivitis is from infection, the doctor will probably prescribe a course of antibiotics in the form of eye-drops or ointment.

Allergic conjunctivitis is not treated with antibiotics but with drops containing anti-allergy drugs.

Alternative/Natural Treatments

These types of remedies sooth the irritations and itching associated with conjunctivitis.

Herbal Therapies – Using an eyecup, wash the eye several times a day with a recommended solution. In each case, cool and strain the eyewash before using. Using an eyecup, wash the eye several times a day with a recommended solution. In each case, cool and strain the eyewash before using.

Echinacea is useful as a blood purifying and immune system strengthening supplement.

Homeopathy – Depending on your symptoms you could be recommended to…

  • Apis for stinging eyes and red, puffy eyelids,

  • Argentum nitricum for bloodshot eyes and a gritty feeling, for bloodshot eyes and a gritty feeling,

  • Pulsatilla for itchy eyes with a sticky, yellow discharge, for itchy eyes with a sticky, yellow discharge,

Personal Care – Always wash the affected areas and be careful that you keep your towels and washers separate from others to avoid spreading the condition. To relieve bacterial or viral conjunctivitis, apply a warm compress for 5 to 10 minutes, three to four times a day. Always wash the affected areas and be careful that you keep your towels and washers separate from others to avoid spreading the condition. To relieve bacterial or viral conjunctivitis, apply a warm compress for 5 to 10 minutes, three to four times a day.

For allergic conjunctivitis, use a cool compress. If the condition does not improve in five days, call your doctor.

Dietary Considerations

Try taking Echinacea tablets for this condition

Prevention

Bacterial and viral conjunctivitis are highly contagious. Unless you take preventive measures, the condition may spread to your other eye or to other people.

  • Wash your hands often and well.

  • Keep your hands away from the infected eye.

  • Do not share washers, towels, pillowcases, or handkerchiefs with other family members and change your items after each use.

  • Do not use other people’s eye cosmetics.

If your child gets pinkeye, keep him or her out of school for a few days.

When to seek further professional advice

  • you physically injure your eye.

  • your eyes become red when you wear contact lenses.

  • the redness in your eye is affecting your vision

  • your conjunctivitis frequently recurs or appears to be getting worse after a week of home treatment.

  • your newborn baby’s eyes are inflamed and are not producing tears

     

     

     

     

     

     

Constipation

Constipation refers to hard, inadequate, incomplete, or infrequent bowel movements.

What to look for

  • hard stools that are difficult or painful to pass.

  • no bowel movements in three days for adults, four days for children.

  • nausea, anxietyheadache and general discomfort

Your food is normally passed along the intestines by muscle action called peristalsis. Constipation is simply interference with this process.

How many times you have bowel movements is entirely dependant on what and how often you eat, your lifestyle and the type of person you are. There is no ‘right’ amount of bowel movements, however if there is a gap of about 3 days since your last movement, and this is not normal for you, you may have constipation.

Causes

There are a number of possible causes of this condition –

  • your lifestyle

  • not eating enough fibre or

  • drinking enough water,

  • not getting enough exercise,

  • avoiding going to the toilet when you know you need to.

  • Emotional and psychological problems.

  • Persistent, chronic constipation may also be a symptom of more serious disorders, including irritable bowel syndrome, diverticulitis, colorectal cancer, diabetesParkinson’s diseasemultiple sclerosis, and depression.

Children can become victims of constipation especially when starting school or a new venture. Bottle-fed babies tend to have more constipation than breast-fed babies. Being sensitive to pain, children may avoid the toilet if they have minor splits or tears in the anus from straining or other irritations.

Constipation tends to be more pronounced during pregnancy. Constipation in the elderly usually occurs for lack of dietary fibre and lack of exercise. Some drugs and vitamin supplements can cause constipation, as can some dietary iron and calcium supplements.

Traditional Treatment

Your constipation is generally helped by changing your diet to include more fibre and if necessary, taking a laxative. However, be aware that the prolonged use of laxatives is not desirable and may lead to a dependency. If it is more severe, other action may have to be taken.

Alternative/Natural Treatment

Alternative practitioners will attack this problem by encouraging the patient to correct their lifestyle. This will include such things as dietary changes to include more fibre, drinking plenty of filtered water and exercising regularly.

Exercise – Exercise at anything you enjoy doing as long as it is safe and gets your heart working. Usually for about 20 – 30 minutes per day. However, if you have not exercised in a while you may have to work up to this length of time.

Herbal Therapies – You can purchase potentially useful herbal remedies. Try small amounts to test the effect they have on you or take them as recommended by a Professional. Liquoriceaniseed and valerian root with chickweed

Homoeopathy – There are specially prepared remedies that may assist you.

Dietary Considerations

You should start with increasing the amount of fibre in your diet and this is not difficult. Eat more raw fruits and vegetables, especially peas, beans, and broccoli, bran cereals, whole-wheat bread, and dried fruits such as raisins, figs, and prunes. These foods are rich in vitamins and minerals as well! Avoid red meat, chicken, milk and cheese

Otherwise, try a fibre supplement.. But remember to have lots of water with these.

Another way to treat constipation is to drink a glass of warm water with the juice of a whole lemon in it after waking up in the morning.

To Sum Up

  • Eat more fibre. Some good sources are bran and other whole-grain cereals, raw or cooked dried fruits like raisins and prunes, cooked dried beans, popcorn, and nuts.

  • Drink six to eight glasses of filtered water daily, in addition to your regular beverages with meals.

  • Go to the toilet at the same time every day (preferably after a meal) and take enough time to let your bowels move fully. If you need to move your bowels at other times, don’t stop yourself.

When to seek further professional advice

  • you have lower abdominal pain when trying to pass stools

  • you have blood in your stools;

  • your constipation develops after you start a new prescription drug or take vitamin or mineral supplements you may need to discontinue or change dosage.

  • you or your child has been constipated for two weeks, with recurrent abdominal pain

  • you are elderly or disabled and have been constipated for a week or more; you may have an impacted stool

     

     

     

Corns and Callouses

A corn is a localised area of hard, horny skin which forms as a result of constant rubbing or pressure. A calluses are larger versions.

What to look for

Corn…

  • an area of hard, thick skin, which may look a yellow colour

  • Corns between the toes can be soft

Callus…

  • A callus is an area of hard, dead skin up to an inch wide on the soles of the feet, the palms of the hands, or any area subject to friction.

Corns and calluses are formed to protect the skin against friction or pressure. Corns generally occur on the toes and balls of the feet, while calluses can develop on hands, feet, or anywhere there is friction.

Causes

These are likely to develop whenever there is pressure or excessive wear on the skin. Most are caused by ill-fitting shoes. If your child develops a callus that has no clear source of pressure, it may be hereditary. Feet spend most of their time in a closed, moist environment ideal for breeding bacteria; staph infections can start when bacteria enter corns through breaks in the skin and cause the infected corn to give off fluid or pus.

Calluses are usually easy to fix.

Traditional Treatment

When the friction or excess pressure is gone, the callus or corn will usually disappear as well. Always wear shoes that fit you well, and usually leather will mould with the foot better than synthetic materials.

You can buy over the counter ointments and topically applied corn plasters, however be careful of the healthy tissue surrounding the corn. Oral antibiotics are available if your corn is infected.

It is a good idea to scrap the excess dead skin with a sharp scraper or scalpel knife. Do this until you can see the soft skin underneath. Be very careful not to scrape away too much skin as this can cause bleeding or introduce infection

Alternative/Natural Treatments

Herbal Therapies – Apply a calendula (Calendula officinalis) salve two or three times a day to corns or calluses to soften tissue and prevent inflammation.

Personal Care – The best solution to this problem is to remove the cause of the friction, but until you do that you can follow the remedies below for good results.

  • Soak yourself in a bath to soothe and soften the skin, then use a pumice stone to rub over the corn..

  • Apply hydrocortisone cream or a calendula-based ointment to a cracked callus. Aloe cream is also good for soothing and healing the skin.

  • Elevate your feet and expose them to fresh air whenever possible.

  • When you go to sleep, place a crushed comfrey leaf over the corn and put on an old sock. Repeat for 3 nights.

Prevention

Buy appropriate and comfortable shoes and beware of tight, high heels. If you wear high or otherwise constricting shoes for fashion reasons, try to take them off whenever possible during the day to give your feet a rest. You can also wear other more comfortable shoes to and from work.

When to seek further professional advice

  • you cut a corn or callus

  • a corn discharges pus or clear fluid; it is infected or ulcerated.

  • you develop a corn and you suffer from diabetes, Atherosclerosis, or other Circulatory Problems