Category Archives: Women’s Health

Thyroid Problems

The thyroid gland is situated in the neck and can be seen or felt as the Adam’s apple

What to look for

Hyperthyroidism:

  • weight loss despite increased appetite.

  • increased heart rate, higher blood pressure, and increased nervousness, with excessive perspiration.

  • more frequent bowel movements, sometimes with diarrhoea.

  • muscle weakness, trembling hands.

  • development of a goitre.

Hypothyroidism:

  • lethargy, slower mental processes.

  • reduced heart rate.

  • increased sensitivity to cold.

  • tingling or numbness in the hands.

  • development of a goitre.

Subacute thyroiditis:

  • mild to severe pain in the thyroid gland.

  • the thyroid feels tender to the touch.

  • pain when swallowing or turning your head.

  • appearance of these symptoms shortly after a viral infection, such as the flumumps, or measles.

If there are problems with the thyroid gland, (and it is very common), rest assured that usually it is easily cured. Most problems are mild however it is always wise to have any symptoms thoroughly checked out to rule out any other more serious illness. The thyroid produces hormones and because of this, it impacts upon all the metabolic processes within your body. The conditions most common are hyperthyroidism – too much hormone production. And hypothyroidism – insufficient hormone production.

Although the effects can be unpleasant or uncomfortable, most thyroid problems are not serious if properly diagnosed and treated.

Causes

Hyperthyroidism is the result of an overproduction of thyroid hormones. This condition can be brought on by Graves’ disease, an autoimmune disorder (see Immune Problems) or the development of toxic adenomas in the thyroid gland which all aid in the production of either too many or an imbalance of hormones.

Hypothyroidism results from an underproduction of thyroid hormones. Hypothyroidism can result when the thyroid gland has been surgically removed or destroyed by chemicals or if you are exposed to excessive amounts of iodide. It is vital that this condition be treated.

Although cancer of the thyroid gland is quite rare.

A doctor can diagnose hyperthyroidism and hypothyroidism by looking at the levels of certain hormones in your blood.

Another ways of determining whether you have thyroid problems is to monitor your temperature. To track your basal temperature accurately, you must closely follow certain guidelines: Shake the thermometer below 35°C at night and place it near you so you do not have to move much to get it in the morning.

The next morning, before you get out of bed, take your temperature via your armpit for 10 minutes while staying as still as possible. Keep records of your temperature for at least 7 days. (Women should do this during the first two weeks of the menstrual cycle, as their basal temperature may rise during the latter half).

Normal body basal temperatures fall between 37.4° C and 37.8° C. If your basal temperature is consistently low, you could be mildly hypothyroid.

Your doctor may also check for thyroid cancer.

Traditional Treatment

For thyroid disorders stemming from the over or under production of thyroid hormones, the treatment is relatively simple and lasting.

Treating hyperthyroidism requires suppressing the manufacture of thyroid hormone, while hypothyroidism demands hormone replacement.

Alternative/Natural Treatments

These treatments may assist in strengthening your thyroid.

Chinese Herbs  – Several herbal mixtures may help relieve symptoms in cases of hyperthyroidism: Several herbal mixtures may help relieve symptoms in cases of hyperthyroidism:

  • baked licorice (Glycyrrhiza uralensis) combination,

  • bupleurum (Bupleurum chinense) and dragon bone combination,

  • or bupleurum and peony combination.

You will need professional guidance.

Herbal Therapies – For relief from the symptoms of hyperthyroidism, try a combination of  bugleweed (Lycopus spp.), motherwort (Leonurus cardiaca), skullcap (Scutellaria spp.), and  hawthorn (Crataegus spp.) Once again you will need professional guidance. For relief from the symptoms of hyperthyroidism, try a combination of  bugleweed (Lycopus spp.), motherwort (Leonurus cardiaca), skullcap (Scutellaria spp.), and  hawthorn (Crataegus spp.) Once again you will need professional guidance.

For insomnia because of hyperthyroidism, you could try a combination of valerian (Valeriana officinalis) andpassionflower (Passiflora incarnata) in a tincture and take just before bedtime.

Lifestyle

Aerobic exercise for 15 to 20 minutes a day is excellent for maintaining good thyroid function.

Dietary Considerations

For hypothyroidism, avoid cabbage, peaches, soybeans, spinach, peanuts, and radishes, as these foods can interfere with the manufacture of thyroid hormones. Supplements of vitamin Cvitamin Eriboflavin (vitamin B2)zinc,niacin (vitamin B3)pyridoxine (vitamin B6), and tyrosine might help boost thyroid production.

However, if you have hyperthyroidism, eating the foods listed above might help lower your body’s production of thyroid hormone.

Yoga  –  This form of exercise may help keep the thyroid in top conditionThis form of exercise may help keep the thyroid in top condition

When to seek further professional advice

  • you experience any of the symptoms above

     

Toxic Shock Syndrome

Toxic Shock Syndrome is a sudden and dangerous condition started by the release of toxins caused by the staphylococci bacteria.

What to look for

  • high fever.

  • low blood pressure

  • vomiting and/or diarrhoea.

  • a rash resembling a sunburn with peeling skin on fingers and toes.

  • dizziness or mental confusion.

It usually affects menstruating women, especially those who use super absorbent tampons. This is a potentially fatal disease if left untreated.

A few women actually died from this disease in the 1970’s because they used super absorbent tampons and left them in too long.

A woman who has recently given birth is also at increased risk for developing toxic shock as well as anyone exposed to Staphylococcus aurous bacteria while recovering from surgery, a burn, or an open wound.

If you have had toxic shock syndrome you are likely to suffer a recurrence sometime in your life. The reason for this is unclear but it is wise to know the symptoms and seek help if they start.

If you are menstruating and have a high fever with vomiting, especially if you have been wearing tampons, you must get medical help right away. Remove your tampon or diaphragm straight away.

Causes

The primary cause of toxic shock syndrome is a toxin produced by the bacterium Staphylococcus aureus. This bacteria can reside in the vagina under normal circumstances.

Exactly why and how Staphylococcus aureus causes this disease is not completely understood but for the disease to occur two things are necessary. First, the bacteria need an environment in which they can grow rapidly and release toxins and then the toxins must have a way of getting into the bloodstream.

A tampon, it is believed is a perfect medium for the bacteria to grow.

The toxins then only have to enter the bloodstream for the disease to develop.

Traditional Treatment

Toxic shock syndrome requires immediate hospital care – 
Call 000 immediately.

Prevention

When using tampons, make sure that you do not leave them in too long. Change them every few hours. Also stick to the least absorbent ones. If you can tolerate sanitary napkins – use them instead. You should always use sanitary napkins at night.

When to seek further professional advice

  • you have the symptoms listed above

     

Sexually Transmitted Diseases

These are a wide range of different disease which are all acquired as a result of having sexual intercourse with a person who has already contracted the infection.

What to look for

 

 

  • a white, yellow, green, grey, or blood-streaked discharge that may have a strong smell.

  • genital and/or anal itching.

  • a rash, blisters, sores, lumps, bumps, warts on or around the genitals.

  • burning during urination.

  • swollen lymph glands in the groin.

  • pain in the groin or lower abdomen.

  • vaginal bleeding.

  • testicular swelling.

  • flu like symptoms.

  • painful intercourse.

See also AIDSChlamydiaGenital HerpesGenital WartsGonorrhoeaSyphilis, Trichomoniasis.

Sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) are common and contagious diseases.

As the name of this group of diseases implies, these infections can be contracted by means of vaginal, anal, or oral sex. You are at high risk if:

  • you have more than one sex partner.

  • you don’t use protection while having sex.

  • you share needles if injecting drugs.

Most sexually transmitted diseases can be cured or controlled if they are treated early. But you may not realise you have an STD until it has damaged your reproductive system, vision, heart, or other organs. Also, having an STD weakens the immune system and leaves you more vulnerable to other infections.

CAUSES

Chlamydia, Gonorrhoea, and syphilis are caused by bacteria, while AIDS, genital herpes, genital warts, and hepatitis B are caused by a virus. The pathogens that cause STDs are found in bodily secretions such as semen, blood, vaginal fluids, and sometimes saliva. Most of the organisms are spread by either sexual or personal contact.

If you are in a risky group always have regular tests.

Traditional Treatment

Never attempt to treat an STD yourself. These diseases are contagious and dangerous. You must see a doctor.

Bacterial STDs can be cured with antibiotics if treatment begins early enough. Viral STDs cannot be cured, but you can manage symptoms with medications. There is a vaccine to prevent hepatitis B, but it will not help if you have already contracted the disease.

Alternative/Natural Treatments

See entries for specific sexually transmitted diseases for information on alternative therapies. But remember always seek conventional medical help first.

Personal Care

  • Douche with vinegar, yogurt, or lemon juice solutions to relieve vaginal distress.

  • Take zinc and vitamins AC, and E to boost your immune system.

  • Practice relaxation techniques to ease stress.

  • Take warm baths and analgesics.

  • Ask your doctor or Pharmacist about other over-the-counter remedies.

PREVENTION

Always avoid sex with anyone who has genital sores, a rash, a discharge, or other disease symptoms. If you are in a high-risk group you should:

  • Use condoms and water-based lubricants. Remember that condoms are not 100 percent effective at preventing disease.

  • Wash before and after intercourse.

  • Get a vaccination for hepatitis B.

  • Avoid sharing towels or items of clothing.

When to seek further professional advice

  • you have any of the symptoms listed in the description section

     

Osteoporosis

This is a crippling disease affecting both men and women caused by a lack of calcium.

What to look for

The condition may cause no symptoms at all or alternatively these may occur:-

  • backache.

  • a gradual loss of height and a stooped back.

  • fractures and breaks occur easily.

  • loss of bone in the jaw.

Osteoporosis is a condition that causes a person’s bones to become thin and weak. Possible problems to watch for are hip fractures, blood clots or pneumonia.

Women are usually more susceptible to this disease as their bones are lighter and less dense. And among women, usually osteoporosis affects fair and small people.

Causes

The most common cause is age. From about 35 years of age onwards, all people’s bone structure changes and becomes less dense. There are debates continuing about triggers which speed up the process of bone deterioration.

There are a number of lifestyle changes you can make to minimise the likelihood of it occurring. (discussed further on).

  • poor bone formation from childhood

  • calcium intake

  • increased bone loss due to sensitivity to the parathyroid hormone.

  • at menopause, the fall in oestrogen lessens the amount of calcium drawn from the nutrients you eat.

  • a diet high in protein from flesh foods, sugar, caffeine, alcohol and cigarettes and salt.

It is possible for you to have your bones tested and this is highly recommended for people of all ages. Ask our pharmacist about this.

Traditional Treatment

Conventional treatment centres around drugs and physical supports.

Your doctor may prescribe certain pain killers to ease the discomfort, as well as hot compresses and easy massage.

However, to prevent it in the first place, your doctor may recommend you go on hormone replacement therapy (HRT). Studies have shown that women who take long-term HRT within a few years of menopause keep their bone density and have fewer hip and wrist fractures while they are taking it than women who do not.

As a preventive measure your doctor may suggest that you increase the amount of calcium in your diet or perhaps take calcium supplements along with Vitamin D.

Also low impact exercise is usually recommended to keep your bones supple and too much weight off them.

Alternative/Natural Treatments

Like conventional techniques, alternative therapies focus on building and retaining strong bones.

Chinese Herbs – Chinese practitioners recommend several herbs for preventing bone loss – the most popular are dong quai (Angelica sinensis) and Asian ginseng (Panax ginseng). You will need professional advice for appropriate dosages. Chinese practitioners recommend several herbs for preventing bone loss – the most popular are dong quai(Angelica sinensis) and Asian ginseng (Panax ginseng). You will need professional advice for appropriate dosages.

Exercise – Studies have shown that exercises reduce bone loss and help prevent osteoporosis. Studies have shown that exercises reduce bone loss and help prevent osteoporosis.

Herbal Therapies – Herbalists believe that the use of some herbs can help slow the progression of this condition. Herbs traditionally used for the prevention of osteoporosis include horsetail (Equisetum arvense), alfalfa (Medicago sativa), licorice (Glycyrrhiza glabra), marsh mallow (Althaea officinalis), and sourdock (Rumex crispus). Herbalists believe that the use of some herbs can help slow the progression of this condition. Herbs traditionally used for the prevention of osteoporosis include horsetail (Equisetum arvense), alfalfa (Medicago sativa), licorice (Glycyrrhiza glabra), marsh mallow (Althaea officinalis), and sourdock (Rumex crispus).

Ask about progesterone creams made from the wild Mexican yam; they may stimulate bone formation.

Homoeopathy – In addition to a calcium-rich diet and exercise, homoeopaths recommend treatments they believe help the body absorb calcium. Remedies are likely to include Calcarea carbonica, Calcarea phosphorica, Calcarea fluorica, and Silica. You will need professional assistance for remedies and dosages. In addition to a calcium-rich diet and exercise, homoeopaths recommend treatments they believe help the body absorb calcium. Remedies are likely to include Calcarea carbonica, Calcarea phosphorica, Calcarea fluorica, and Silica. You will need professional assistance for remedies and dosages.

Dietary Considerations

The most obvious addition to your diet is calcium whether this is via more calcium rich foods (low-fat dairy, broccoli, cauliflower, salmon, tofu, and leafy green vegetables) or supplements. According to The Australian Wellbeing booklet on Osteoporosis, people with a history of weaker bones should be consuming approximately 1000 milligrams per day increasing this to 1500 mg per day around the menopause time.

To help the body absorb calcium, some practitioners suggest taking vitamin D and magnesium supplements.

In addition to eating calcium-rich foods you should also avoid acid rich foods such as red meats, soft drinks and grains. Excessive amounts of alcohol and caffeine should be avoided.

Prevention

  • Eat foods rich in calcium

  • Avoid foods that can interfere with your body’s absorption of calcium (listed above)

  • Do exercises for 30 to 45 minutes at least three times a week (always check with your doctor before starting any exercise program).

  • have your digestive system examined as calcium may not be absorbed properly in your system. Eat plenty of aloe vera juice and acidophilus yogurt

  • Stop drinking coffee and cola

  • Stop smoking immediately

  • Do not smoke.

  • Avoid antacids containing aluminium

     

Ovarian Cancer

As with most cancers, ovarian cancer rarely produces symptoms in its earliest stages, however, these warning signs eventually develop –

  • vague digestive disturbances, such as mild indigestion, bloating, feeling of fullness, or loss of appetite.

  • diarrhoea, constipation, or increased urination.

  • pain or swelling in the abdomen, or pain in the lower back.

  • vaginal bleeding between menstrual periods or after menopause.

Symptoms of advanced ovarian cancer include severe nausea, vomiting, pain, and weight loss.

Beside the uterus are the two ovaries, each only the size of an almond, which produce eggs and female hormones. The ovaries may develop abnormal growths such as cysts- these are always benign, as are many ovarian tumours. It can occur at any age, even in childhood, but is most common after menopause.

Like most cancers, ovarian cancer is very rarely detected in its early stages and has to spread significantly before diagnosed. It is imperative that the cancer is detected as early as possible.

Causes

It is reported, that most women who suffer from ovarian cancer have no family history of the disease, yet a woman is more susceptible to the disease if her mother or sister has had ovarian, breast, or uterine cancer. Other factors which may increase a woman’s vulnerability to the disease are:-

  • not having any or many children,

  • delaying having children until the thirties or over

  • having trouble conceiving

  • a diet of saturated fats – these foods contain oestrogen which allows ovarian cancers to grow faster.

Women who have several children, who breast-feed their infants, or who use birth-control pills are at less of a risk. This may be because these women ovulate less frequently.

Annual pelvic examinations help detect ovarian cancer early.

Traditional Treatments

See Cancer for further information about some of the conventional treatment options below.

Surgery is usually the treatment given for ovarian cancer. Normally, the two ovaries and the other reproductive organs are removed. If the woman is young and has only a small tumour in one ovary, she may have just the diseased ovary removed. The second can be removed later to prevent recurrence.

In many patients, cancer remains after surgery. Most patients receive chemotherapy then, which can prolong survival and may result in cure. Once remission occurs, follow-up examinations are essential.

Complementary Therapies

Creating a healthy immune system is vitally important for all people with cancer. Get plenty of regular exercise, enough sleep, and essential vitamins and minerals by eating fresh fruits and vegetables. Cut down on dairy products, meats, and other high-fat foods.

Various herbs with demonstrated immune-enhancing properties may complement standard treatment, but check with your doctor before using them.

Antioxidants have been touted as a possible prevention aid for cancer.

Prevention

If you are in the high-risk category for ovarian cancer, ask your doctor about current recommendations for routine blood screening. For women at extremely high risk, a doctor may recommend having the ovaries removed to prevent the diseases.

When to seek further professional advice

  • you have unexplained abdominal pain or vaginal bleeding, especially if these occur with the more general symptoms listed in the description section. Do not allow such symptoms to continue undiagnosed for more than two weeks

     

Ovary Problems

These can be infection, cysts, lumps or cancer of the ovaries.

What to look for

  • feeling of fullness or pressure on one side of the abdomen.

  • abdominal pain during intercourse.

  • sharp abdominal pain.

  • irregular vaginal bleeding or absent menstrual periods.

  • increase in facial or body hair.

  • irregularities in bowel movements or urination.

Many small benign ovarian cysts and tumours produce no symptoms.

About the size of a walnut the ovaries rest in the curve of your fallopian tubes, attached to each side of the uterus. Each ovary contains thousands of eggs. In most women, once a month one or more eggs ripens and begins to grow in a small cyst like structure known as a follicle. When the egg is mature, it is released (ovulation) and goes down to the uterus.

The ovaries also produce the hormones oestrogen and progesterone. While the egg is maturing, the follicle releases oestrogen to help thicken the lining of the uterus in case the egg is fertilised and grows into an embryo. Progesterone is also released. If no pregnancy occurs, the level of progesterone decreases, menstruation occurs, and the cycle repeats itself.

There are problems can develop in the ovary. It can become infected, sometimes alone but more often as part of an infection that involves other pelvic organs (see the entry called pelvic inflammatory disease). Cysts and tumours can also form on the ovaries. Most often these are benign, or non-cancerous, and produce no symptoms.

Most benign ovarian cysts and tumours disappear after a few menstrual cycles, some are quite large and can be uncomfortable. Sometimes the growths disrupt the production of ovarian hormones, causing irregular bleeding or an increase in body hair, or they press on the bladder, leading to more frequent urination. Some rupture and can cause infection.

Causes

Ovarian infections are most frequently caused by sexually transmitted diseases. Some ovarian cysts are the result of a follicle that continues to grow and fill with fluid long after the egg has been released. They quite often will disappear of their own accord. They may cause extensive pain if they rupture or become twisted and their blood supply is cut off.

Your doctor will give you a complete physical and pelvic exam to determine if you have a problem in the ovaries.

Traditional Treatment

Always seek the opinion of your doctor with regards to problems with your ovaries as growths can possibly be cancerous. Treatment for an ovarian problem depends on the problem. Treating ovarian cysts is often unnecessary as they normally disappear on their own.

Alternative/Natural Treatments

Always see your doctor first and have a pelvic examination to ensure you do not have any malignant growths which are causing you problems. Alternative treatments for ovary problems should be used only as supplements to conventional treatment methods.

Herbal Therapies – Herbalists recommend Blue Cohosh (Caulophyllum thalictroides) as a good all round tonic for the female reproductive organs. Herbalists recommend Blue Cohosh (Caulophyllum thalictroides) as a good all round tonic for the female reproductive organs.

Dietary Considerations

A vegetarian diet is recommended by most naturopaths to help prevent and treat ovarian cysts, especially carrots, dark-green leafy vegetables, and lemons.

Others prescribe supplements of zinc and vitamins A, E, and C. as well as supplements of evening primrose oilbecause they are believed to help regulate the body’s hormone levels.

When to seek further professional advice

  • you experience sudden sharp or severe abdominal pain.

  • you notice any significant increase in facial or body hair

  • your menstrual periods become irregular or stop altogether

     

Pain Chronic

Pain that tends to last longer than 6 months can be termed chronic.

What to look for

The condition may include weakness, numbness, tingling, or other sensations, along with sleeping difficulties, a lack of energy, and depression. Some common forms of chronic pain are:

  • this type of pain can include headaches, muscle, back or joint pain that is enduring and debilitating or uncomfortable.

This type of pain can be sporadic, continuous, uncomfortable or Chronic pain can be mild or agonising.

The areas described above are the most common, however chronic pain can also include Achilles problems, sinus, other forms of degenerative joint disease, carpal tunnel syndrome, and localised pain.

The state of your mind has a lot to do with your perception of pain. And your state of mind is influenced by the surroundings you find yourself in and your attitudes as well. The psychological effect pain can have on us is substantial. Persistent severe pain can erode our natural threshold to pain and cause our personality to alter as a result. We can tend to perceive the pain as worse than it actually is or that it is becoming worse and worse. The immune system may also become affected adversely from persistent pain.

Causes

The causes of chronic pain are many and varied, some possible causes are as follows:-

  • aging (may affect bones and joints)

  • nerve damage and injuries that fail to heal properly.

  • Back pain

  • being overweight

  • curvature of the spine

  • to a traumatic injury

  • or to no obvious physical cause.

Disease can also be the underlying cause of chronic pain.

Sometimes it is a very difficult thing to pinpoint the exact cause of the pain as any possibility alludes healers and doctors. A process of elimination is then commenced to find the cause.

Traditional Treatment

People who suffer from chronic pain may need professional help.

The aim in many cases is not only to alleviate pain but also to teach the chronic sufferer how to come to terms with pain and function in spite of it. The first step in many cases is to wean the patient from a dependence on pain killing medications.

Other methods used by pain specialists include relaxation techniques to control brain-wave activity, behaviour-modification therapy to revise the way pain is perceived, acupuncture, hypnotherapy, meditation, and other forms of alternative therapy.

Over-the-counter pain killers can control milder cases of musculoskeletal pain and reduce inflammation.

Your doctor may prescribe stronger drugs if these others do not help.

Alternative Choices

A broad array of alternative options exists to address chronic pain.

Aromatherapy – Mix together the following essential oils with a carrier oil such as sweet almond, apricot kernel, or jojoba oil, and massage the blend into your skin at the site of the pain: lavender (Lavandula officinalis) to reduce inflammation and relax muscles; eucalyptus (Eucalyptus globulus) to bring down swelling and accelerate healing; ginger (Zingiber officinale) to relieve pain and stiffness associated with arthritis and other types of degenerative joint disease.   See Our Aromatherapy Section. Mix together the following essential oils with a carrier oil such as sweet almond, apricot kernel, or jojoba oil, and massage the blend into your skin at the site of the pain: lavender (Lavandula officinalis) to reduce inflammation and relax muscles; eucalyptus (Eucalyptus globulus) to bring down swelling and accelerate healing; ginger (Zingiber officinale) to relieve pain and stiffness associated with arthritis and other types of degenerative joint disease.   See Our Aromatherapy Section.

Massage – Massage therapy may provide temporary relief of muscle tension, stiffness, and spasms. Massage therapy may provide temporary relief of muscle tension, stiffness, and spasms.

Herbal Therapies – Capsicum, the active ingredient in cayenne (Capsicum frutescens), is believed to increase blood flow to joint tissues, thereby reducing inflammation. Capsicum, the active ingredient in cayenne (Capsicum frutescens), is believed to increase blood flow to joint tissues, thereby reducing inflammation.

An over-the-counter ointment made with cayenne may bring temporary relief of osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis, although it is very hot and should be used for only short periods.

Infusions of black cohosh (Cimicifuga racemosa) or evening primrose oil (Oenothera biennis) may also lessen inflammation. Rubbing a dilution of peppermint (Mentha piperita) oil on the affected area may have a temporary numbing effect.

Topically applied dilutions of wintergreen (Gaultheria procumbens) oil, which contains a substance similar to what is found in aspirin, may have an analgesic effect. Geranium (Pelargonium odoratissimum) and white willow (Salix alba) bark are also natural painkillers. Chamomile (Matricaria recutita) may also be helpful.

You must take special precautions if you are pregnant.

Homoeopathy – Try Rhus toxicodendron for joint, back, and arthritic problems that feel worse when first rising in the morning and become better with warmth. Persistent pain may be relieved by Kali bichromicum. Calcarea fluorica.Sepia may be good for lower-back pain that is worsened by sitting. Try Rhus toxicodendron for joint, back, and arthritic problems that feel worse when first rising in the morning and become better with warmth. Persistent pain may be relieved by Kali bichromicum. Calcarea fluorica. Sepia may be good for lower-back pain that is worsened by sitting.

Topical homoeopathic creams that have Arnica as a main ingredient can help with muscle and joint pain.

Lifestyle

You should take some time out when you feel the pain, however too much rest in also not going to do your problem much good – it can actually make your muscles weaker and cause more pain eventually.

Research has shown that regular exercise can diminish pain in the long run by improving muscle tone, strength, and flexibility and also release the body’s natural pain killers to help you. Try low impact types of exercise.

Visualisation may be another worthwhile pain-controlling technique – seek out places in your area that teach this very worthwhile technique.

Hypnotherapy and self-hypnosis may help you block or transform pain through refocussing techniques.

Relaxation techniques such as meditation or yoga are also very helpful for chronic pain sufferers.

Dietary Considerations

Certain supplements have been known to help tremendously with chronic pain. These are:- DL-Phenylalanine (amino acid), Valerian, white willow bark.

See the entry for rheumatoid arthritis and allergies for dietary considerations and foods to eat and avoid.

At-Home Remedies

 

 


Remember “RICE”

– Rest – Rest

  – Apply ice to the affected area  – Apply ice to the affected area

C  – Compress the area  – Compress the area

E  – Elevate the area.  – Elevate the area.

  • Take herbal remedies suggested by a qualified herbalist

  • Do some low-impact exercise.

When to seek further professional advice

  • your pain continues for several weeks and doesn’t respond to over-the-counter products or rest

     

Pelvic Inflammatory Disease

This describes an infection in a woman’s pelvic region.

What to look for

With acute pelvic inflammatory disease (PID):

  • severe pain in the lower abdomen

  • vaginal discharge

  • fever

With chronic PID:

  • recurrent pain in the lower abdomen,

  • backache

  • irregular periods

  • pain during intercourse.

  • infertility.

  • heavy, unpleasant-smelling vaginal discharge.

If not treated promptly PID can become very serious and often fatal.

PID can be either acute or chronic. Acute PID comes on suddenly and is usually severe. Chronic PID is an infection that may cause only recurrent mild pain and sometimes backache. Some women have no obvious symptoms.

Causes

PID is caused by bacteria from contaminated semen that swim from the vagina into the uterus. Most cases of PID used to be caused by the organism responsible for the sexually transmitted disease gonorrhoea, or by Chlamydia. Recently, researchers have linked other organisms to PID.

The risk of PID increases after childbirth, miscarriage, abortion, the insertion of an (IUD) for contraception.

Your doctor will give you a pelvic examination and if there is an infection, he or she will take a sample for examination.

Traditional Treatment

Because PID is such a serious ailment, you must consult your doctor who will recommend the best course of action.

Alternative/Natural Treatments

Only use alternative methods during or after conventional treatment to help speed recovery.

Herbal Therapies – To help fight PID infection, herbalists recommend Echinacea (Echinacea spp.), meadowsweet, goldenseal, St John’s Wort or calendula (Calendula officinalis). Blue Cohosh (Caulophyllum thalictroides) and false unicorn root (Chamaelirium luteum). Go to our Herbal Page

Dietary Considerations

To strengthen your immune system and help speed your recovery, eat plenty of whole foods.

Vitamin supplements may also enhance your immune system. Especially, vitamin Avitamin C, and vitamin B complex.

PREVENTION

  • Use contraception (condoms, diaphragm, or a cervical cap with spermicides).

  • Avoid putting anything in your vagina for two to three weeks after an abortion, a miscarriage, or a D and C and for six weeks after childbirth. – no intercourse, douching, and no tampons.

  • Do not use an IUD.

  • If you have a history of pelvic infections or have several sexual partners, use barrier methods of contraception and avoid intercourse during your menstrual period.

  • Get prompt treatment for any sexually transmitted disease.

When to seek further professional advice

  • you experience sudden abdominal pain

  • you experience any abnormal menstrual bleeding

  • you experience a vaginal discharge that is foul-smelling

     

Premenstrual Syndrome

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

What to look for

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

  • food cravings.

  • bloating and fluid retention.

  • breast swelling and pain.

  • acne.

  • weight gain.

  • headachesbackaches.

  • urinary disorders.

  • moodiness, anxiety, crying.

  • insomnia.

  • drowsiness and fatigue.

  • nausea and clumsiness

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

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

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

Causes

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

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

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

Traditional Treatment

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

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

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

Alternative/Natural Treatments

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

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

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

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

Dietary Considerations

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Personal Care

 

  • Stick to a healthy diet (see above)

  • Exercise regularly.

  • Reduce stress and increase sleep.

  • Take recommended vitamin supplements.

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

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

  • Abstain from alcohol before your period.

When to seek further professional advice

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

     

Menopausal Problems

The time when a woman ceases to ovulate can cause some problems and some uncomfortable symptoms.

What to look for

  • hot flushes

  • night sweats.

  • pain during intercourse

  • increased nervousness, anxiety, or irritability.

  • increased need to urinate

  • swollen ankles

  • headaches

  • painful intercourse

Menopause refers to the time in a woman’s life when she stops ovulating and is a process not a final event. She may or may not have any symptoms.

Menopause usually occurs in women between the ages of 45 – 55 but it can happen earlier or much later.

Some symptoms are only temporary and will go in time. But more-permanent problems can also result.

Causes

It is caused by a decrease in the levels of oestrogen and progesterone. Her periods will cease over time and ovaries will slow and cease their normal functions.

Traditional Treatment

A popular yet still controversial treatment is the hormone replacement therapy. It simply replaces the oestrogen levels in the body but may still have certain side effects.

Alternative/Natural Treatments

Chinese Herbs – Some Chinese herbs – including Dong Quai (Angelica sinensis) and Asian Ginseng (Panax ginseng) – contain a form of oestrogen. Exact proportions are important – consult a Professional. Some Chinese herbs – including Dong Quai (Angelica sinensis) and Asian Ginseng (Panax ginseng) – contain a form of oestrogen. Exact proportions are important – consult a Professional.

Herbal Therapies – Phytoestrogen is found in a variety of herbs and foods. Extracts and teas made from Black Cohosh (Cimicifuga racemosa) may supply beneficial amounts of Phytoestrogen. Phytoestrogen is found in a variety of herbs and foods. Extracts and teas made from Black Cohosh (Cimicifuga racemosa) may supply beneficial amounts of Phytoestrogen.

Certain herbal creams may help relieve vaginal dryness and dry skin. Combinations of Motherwort (Leonurus cardiaca), Chaste Tree (Vitex agnus-castus), Wild Yam (Dioscorea villosa), and other herbs may help with the rapid heartbeat that comes with hot flashes.

Dietary Considerations

Eating foods high in plant estrogens, such as soy beans and lima beans, may alleviate symptoms; other sources include nuts and seeds, fennel, celery, parsley, and flaxseed oil. Some foods high in B vitamins may assist with nerves and emotional problems. These are brewer’s yeast, yeast extracts, eggs, wheatgerm, breads, wholegrains, organ meats, pulses and cereals.

Personal Care

 

  • Raise your calcium intake and engage in weight-bearing exercises to avoid osteoporosis and maintain general good health.

  • Take vitamin E daily to treat hot flushes and reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease.

When to seek further professional advice

  • you experience bleeding after menopause