Category Archives: Women’s Health

Menstrual Problems

What to look for

Menstruation occurs when an ovary releases an egg, at this time the lining of the uterus grows and becomes flooded with blood. If the egg is not fertilised, the ovary releases progesterone, which causes menstrual flow. This happens every 28 days until interrupted by pregnancy or ended by menopause.

Menstrual Synchrony

The symptoms of the onset of the period varies in each woman. As well as this your own period may vary occasionally. This is usually normal, but at times this can be the result of something more serious.

The three main categories of menstrual irregularities are lack of period, painful periods, and heavy periods. 

LACK OF PERIOD

Although sometimes is no cause for concern, can be a sign of an underlying problem. Menstruation may not start at puberty or for some reason periods stop during your adult life. If your periods have never occurred it may be hormonal problems, or it may signal (in very rare cases) ill formed or non-existent ovaries.

If your periods have just stopped, it might indicate, that you have low levels of oestrogen in your body. Or it may signal a lack of progesterone. Of course if your periods have ceased it may also indicate that you are pregnant. Stress can also cause problems in this area as can Anorexia nervosa. Sports injuries can have the same effect as can ovarian cysts. Excessive exercise and very low body fat is also a cause.

Traditional Treatment

Treatment for a lack of periods is usually simply waiting to see if nature takes its course. For a girl who exercises strenuously or who is very thin, a doctor might advise a lighter training regimen or an effort to gain weight. Treatment for anorexia nervosa might also be necessary. Always see your doctor if you are worried.

If your periods have stopped – look at all the possibilities. If you think stress may be to blame, take steps to reduce stress in your life. If you are underweight, your doctor will advise you to gain some weight and try to maintain it. If you have been diagnosed with some other condition that may be causing amenorrhoea (such as endometriosis or an ovarian cyst) seek treatment for that. Always see your doctor.

Alternative/Natural Treatments

Herbal Therapies – To help initiate menstrual flow, make a tincture of one part chaste tree (Vitex agnus-castus), two parts blue cohosh (Caulophyllum thalictroides), and two parts mugwort leaf (Artemisia argyi); take 2 ml three times daily until menstrual flow begins. To help initiate menstrual flow, make a tincture of one part chaste tree (Vitex agnus-castus), two parts blue cohosh (Caulophyllum thalictroides), and two parts mugwort leaf (Artemisia argyi); take 2 ml three times daily until menstrual flow begins.

Dietary Considerations

Try taking supplements of or eat foods rich in zinc (fish, poultry, lean meats) and vitamin B complex (brewer’s yeast, wheat germ), CEmagnesiumcalciumpotassiumironevening primrose oil.

Aromatherapy – Try either Fennel, Geranium or Rose to regulate your period. Put several drops into a carrier oil and massage clockwise into your abdomen. Do not use Fennel on epileptics or near them. Do not use Fennel during pregnancy. (for more information see the aromatherapy section). Try either Fennel, Geranium or Rose to regulate your period. Put several drops into a carrier oil and massage clockwise into your abdomen. Do not use Fennel on epileptics or near them. Do not use Fennel during pregnancy. (for more information see the aromatherapy section).

PAINFUL PERIODS

This slightly unpleasant problem is however, usually quite normal. There are occasions when painful periods can signify a more serious condition.

Causes

Doctors are unsure of the exact cause of painful periods, however it may be the result of an excess of prostaglandins, a substance released from the cells lining the womb.

This condition may, however, also be caused by an underlying condition, such as endometriosis, an infection, or growths in the uterus.

Traditional Treatment

Analgesics such as aspirin can relieve mild discomfort, but if your pain is more intense, try an analgesic available over-the-counter. See your doctor if this treatment does not remedy the condition.

Alternative/Natural Treatments

Most of the alternative therapies for menstrual cramps focus on promoting the relaxation of tense muscles or on reducing tension in general.

Aromatherapy – Chamomile rubbed on the lower abdomen, back and legs is usually very helpful. Chamomile rubbed on the lower abdomen, back and legs is usually very helpful.

Herbal Therapies – To relieve cramps, drink a hot tea of 2 tsp cramp bark (Viburnum opulus) simmered for 15 minutes in 1 cup water; use this three times a day. Bilberry (Vaccinium myrtillus) and bromelain will also relax muscles. Dong quai (Angelica sinensis) and feverfew (Chrysanthemum parthenium) can relax uterine muscles; feverfew may work as well. Valerian (Valeriana officinalis) helps relax cramping muscles; however, it should be used only for a limited time. Consult a Professional.  (See our Herbal Section). To relieve cramps, drink a hot tea of 2 tsp cramp bark (Viburnum opulus) simmered for 15 minutes in 1 cup water; use this three times a day. Bilberry (Vaccinium myrtillus) and bromelain will also relax muscles. Dong quai (Angelica sinensis) and feverfew (Chrysanthemum parthenium) can relax uterine muscles; feverfew may work as well. Valerian (Valeriana officinalis) helps relax cramping muscles; however, it should be used only for a limited time. Consult a Professional.  (See our Herbal Section).

Evening primrose oil (Oenothera biennis) applied over painful areas can also bring relief, but don’t use it if there’s a chance you may get pregnant.

Tension, anxiety, and painful spasms may be relieved with treatments of black haw (Viburnum lentago), skullcap (Scutellaria baicalensis), and black cohosh (Cimicifuga racemosa). 

Dietary Considerations

Rather than three large meals, try eating a balanced diet consisting of small meals throughout the day and avoid sugar, salt, and caffeine. You may get relief from a multivitamin supplement containing vitamin B complexcalcium, and magnesium. Avoid caffeine and other stimulants.


HEAVY PERIODS

Menstrual flow that lasts longer than about eight days, saturates tampons within an hour, or includes large clots of blood can usually be classified as a heavy period.

Hormonal imbalances, endometriosis, a pelvic infection, use of an IUD, or uterine growths can often be the cause of heavy periods. Problems with ovulation, low levels of progesterone, or an excess of prostaglandins can also cause heavier periods.

Traditional Treatment

Usually treatment consists of iron or folic acid tablets to prevent anaemia and other deficiencies. Analgesics for the pain and hormones to correct any imbalance in your hormone levels..

There is a minor surgical procedure that your doctor can perform which often relieves the symptoms of heavier periods. You should ask your doctor for more information about this course of action.

Alternative/Natural Treatments

Aromatherapy – Practitioners of aromatherapy find that oils of geranium, juniper (Juniperus communis), and cypress, rubbed on the abdomen, may bring relief for sufferers of heavy menstrual flow. (See our section on aromatherapy for more information) Practitioners of aromatherapy find that oils of geranium, juniper (Juniperus communis), and cypress, rubbed on the abdomen, may bring relief for sufferers of heavy menstrual flow. (See our section on aromatherapy for more information)

Herbal Therapies – Tea made from yarrow (Achillea millefolium) may help control bleeding. You may also benefit from taking a tincture made of equal parts life root (Senecio aureus), shepherd’s purse (Capsella bursa-pastoris), and wild cranesbill (Geranium maculatum). Tea made from yarrow (Achillea millefolium) may help control bleeding. You may also benefit from taking a tincture made of equal parts life root (Senecio aureus), shepherd’s purse (Capsella bursa-pastoris), and wild cranesbill (Geranium maculatum).

Personal Care

 

 

  • calcium and magnesium have known to stop uterine muscle cramps and to lessen the flow.

  • Take a warm, relaxing bath.

  • Take analgesics

  • Drink herbal teas containing yarrow to help control bleeding.

Prevention

Try to keep within your normal weight range.

Take a multivitamin supplement including vitamins AB complexC, and E, as well as calcium and iron.

When to seek further professional advice

  • you have heavy menstrual flow that fills a tampon or sanitary napkin within an hour.

  • you experience sharp abdominal pain before periods or during intercourse

     

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.

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

     

Candida

A Fungal disease which affects many parts of the body, but is particularly likely to affect warm, damp areas.

What to look for

 

  • Discharge

  • itching and burning in the affected areas

  • infection in the mouth causes small white patches on the gums, lips and inside the cheeks. These may be painful.

  • diarrhoea or constipation, adverse reactions to certain foods, depressionanxiety, irritability, inability to concentrate, chronic fatigueheadaches and recurring cystitis. (more chronic candidiasis)

Causes

Candida is caused from the actual Candida bacteria which is an organism which is often on the skin or in the gut of most people. If the patient starts to get symptoms, it is because that another problem has caused the bacteria to flourish more than usual. (Except in vaginal thrush – it can be healthy and still be afflicted with thrush).

The elderly may get Candida in the mouth. This is usually caused by ill fitting dentures, cuts or abrasions.

Babies are prone to getting thrush in their mouth areas and this is quite normal.

Re-occurring thrush in women can because of reinfection from a sexual partner or because of the continued use of contraceptive pill.

Traditional Treatment

In the case of vaginal infection, pessaries and creams are available and usually help to control the problem.

Mouth infections are usually treated orally. If systematic infection has been diagnosed, it is essential to us treatment which can get to the bloodstream.

Alternative/Natural Treatment

This condition is usually kept in check by other ‘friendly’ bacteria, but if a person is ill, run-down, or being treated with antibiotics, the fungus can grow. The virus does not live in acid environments.

Echinaceacomfrey or golden sealbarberrythyme and rosemary are very useful herbs for this condition. You will need professional help on these herbs and the required doses.

Dietary considerations

 

It is important to build up your immune system so it can fight off any overgrowth of the virus. Avoid sugar and refined carbohydrates and foods which contain yeast. Eat plenty of live yoghurt and try supplements of acidophilus. Vitamin E and Evening Primrose Oil are helpful as well. Garlic tablets are good as well.

When to seek further professional advice

Thrush can usually be controlled by topical creams and alterations to the diet

 

 

Cellulite

So you have done the pinch test and yes, there is no getting away from the fact that there are unwanted dimples and bulges on your legs. Cellulite is the culprit for all those lumps and dimples on our thighs, hips, stomach and butts. Well, be assured that this annoying problem is not only troubling you but a high percentage of women today.

Cellulite is caused by uneven distribution of fat deposits under the skin and is most common in females! The bad news is that most of us will develop it at some time regardless of what we eat or don’t eat and how often we work out. Once you have cellulite you will find that it is very difficult to budge.

There are four stages in cellulite development, and you may start on any of the stages:

  • Normal Cellulite – thighs, butts and stomach are smooth when standing or lying down. It is only when you do the ‘pinch test’ that you notice the folding and uneven skin.
  • Early Cellulite – Skin on the areas is smooth when standing or lying but after the pinch test you will notice the dimples and fat pockets.
  • Medium Cellulite – Skin is still smooth when you are lying down but when you stand up, pitting, bulging and unevenness can be noticed.
  • Advanced Cellulite – The ‘mattress phenonomen’ is evident if you stand or lie down.

There are many apparent remedies for this condition but we believe that it is best to be very wary of any claims to cure this problem. Some practitioners believe that the following may help the condition, there is usually no harm in trying!

Massage

Gentle self massage with your hands or a bristle brush supposedly helps stimulate circulation. Always be gentle and massage towards the heart. It can be useful to add some diluted aromatherapy oils such as grapefruit and fennel.

Weight Loss and Exercise

Even if these two do not shift the cellulite, they will be of benefit to your body regardless (if you are overweight). Try to lose weight gradually and sensibly. Eat from the five main food groups and see your health practitioner about ensuring that the proper nutrients are eaten while dieting.

Fat intake should only be approximately 25% of your daily food intake. Eat lots of fresh foods and fruits, vegetables, whole grains, seeds, raw nuts, skinless poultry and fish. There have been good reports about the benefits of raw juices. Of course try to avoid all highly refined carbohydrates.

Proper exercise is beneficial to all aspects of your body and lifestyle (not just the cellulite). Exercise regularly (after a doctor’s check up) and start off slowly.

Herbal Formulas

A lot of products have been given a lot of publicity lately. They claim to remove and prevent cellulite in just 8 weeks.

The makers say that after taking for 8 weeks, it will eliminate the visible signs of cellulite. They state you do not even have to exercise or make any other changes in your life. Apparently, the product works by increasing the blood flow to the fat deposits under the skin in the prone areas and it also increase the metabolic rate.

This idea of taking a pill and having your cellulite go away is very appealing to most women, but does it really work??

The makers have not had to go through the rigorous testing that prescription and over the counter drugs have had to go through and they also have a very potent marketing department. They apparently conducted two test in Italy but the results were not published in any scientific magazine or journal, so you make up your own mind

Cervical Cancer

As with most cancers, cervical cancer causes no pain or other symptoms in its early stages. The first identifiable symptoms of the disease are likely to include:

  • watery or bloody vaginal discharge.

  • vaginal bleeding after intercourse, between menstrual periods, or after menopause; periods may be heavier and last longer than normal.

If the cancer has spread symptoms may include:

  • difficult and painful urination and possible kidney failure.

  • blood in urine.

  • dull backache or swelling in the legs.

  • diarrhoea, or pain or bleeding from the rectum upon defecation.

  • fatigue, loss of weight and appetite, and general feeling of illness.

The cervix is the neck of a woman’s womb. In some women, healthy cells enter an abnormal phase called dysplasia; although these cells are not cancerous, they can become so. When dysplastic cells turn malignant some may invade the lining of the cervix itself, spread to nearby tissue, and enter the bloodstream or lymphatic system.

It usually takes many years for dysplasia to become carcinoma, and from there it often takes months or sometimes even years for cervical cancer to become invasive. Because of this long time factor, and also because of the Pap smear, cervical cancer is becoming less threatening. When caught early, it is curable.

Causes

Many cases of cervical cancer are linked to sexually transmitted viral infections, such as genital herpes and some strands of the human papilloma viruses (HPV) that often cause genital warts.

But these are not always indicative of the likelihood of developing these types of cancers as many women who have a sexually transmitted viral infection do not develop cervical cancer, while others who get cancer have never had such infections.

Slightly more at risk are women who began having sexual intercourse before age 18, have had many sexual partners, have had several full-term pregnancies, or have a history of sexually transmitted disease. Genetics can also play a role in the development of cervical cancer.

Cervical cancer is also more common among women who smoke. Women with weaker immune systems, caused by other diseases, by treatments, or by organ transplants are more vulnerable to cervical cancer. Women who are obese or who use birth-control pills may be at slightly increased risk.

Every woman should have an annual Pap smear, which tests a cervical cell sample for abnormalities. This screening test can usually detect abnormal cells 95 percent of the time, often long before the disease produces symptoms.

If your Pap smear is abnormal your doctor will advise on the next steps and may also refer you to a specialist for treatments.

Traditional Treatments

Most cases of cervical cancer are cured by a combination of surgery, chemotherapy, and radiation therapy. (See Cancer for more information on therapies).

Women with genital warts and mild dysplasia should be carefully monitored for signs of cancer but usually require no immediate treatment. You should continue to have pap smears every 6 months to ensure the condition does not worsen. Severe dysplasia, and mildly invasive cancers are normally treated surgically.

If cancer has spread deep into the cervix or to organs close by, hysterectomy (removal of the cervix, uterus, and possibly other organs) is imperative. If cancer spreads beyond the pelvic area, radiation therapy and perhaps chemotherapy suppress the spread but rarely result in cure. It is important to have regular check ups if you have had cervical cancer or severe dysplasia.

Complementary Therapies

Research is currently being done in the field of nutrition and diet. Some evidence suggests that folic acid and beta carotene help eliminate pre-cancerous and cancerous conditions of the cervix. Patients with these conditions may benefit from supplements of vitamin B6. Ask your doctor about other dietary recommendations or nutritional supplements.

Prevention

  • If you are a woman over age 18, or are under 18 and sexually active, have a pelvic exam and Pap smear yearly.

  • Speak with your doctor about the benefits of different types of contraception – some may be less of a risk than others with relation to cervical cancer.

When to seek further professional advice

  • abnormal bleeding, discharge, or any other symptoms last more than two weeks without explanation

     

     

Cervical Problems

The cervix is at the neck of the uterus (womb), is about 2.5 cm long and has a small break through it.

What to look for

  • vaginal discharge.

  • painful intercourse.

  • vaginal bleeding, sometimes during or after intercourse.

  • unusually heavy menstrual periods.

  • crampy pelvic pain or a feeling of heaviness.

Many cervical problems have no symptoms.

The cervix is the part that connects the uterus to the vagina. At its center is the external opening of the cervix, that provides an exit for tissue of the uterus and blood during menstruation and allows sperm to enter. On the uterine side is the cervical canal, a narrow, inch-long passageway leading into the uterus. During childbirth the cervix thins and gradually opens, or dilates, to allow for the delivery of the child.

The part of the cervix that protrudes into the vagina is covered with pink tissue. The part that extends into the cervical canal is covered with red, mucus-producing tissue.

Cervicitis is the inflammation of the cervix. Symptoms include a discharge that is grayish, green, white, or yellow. Other symptoms may include pain during intercourse or backache.

Another common condition of the cervix is cervical erosion. Cervical erosion occurs when the cells on the inside of the cervix start to grow on the outside. There are usually no symptoms, although occasionally the conditions may cause a whitish or slightly bloody vaginal discharge.

Other conditions involving the cervix include cervical stenosis (partial or total narrowing of the cervix, which can lead to obstruction) and cervical incompetence, the premature opening of the cervix during pregnancy, which creates a high risk of miscarriage.

Cysts and polyps may form on the cervix. Cervical cysts occur without symptoms and require no treatment. Cervical polyps are also usually harmless, although they may cause irregular bleeding and discharge. Polyps can be removed surgically because of the uncomfortable presence of irregular bleeding and they may affect fertility.

Genital warts can also infect the cervix. These warts are caused by the human papilloma virus, and there are many subtypes, several of which are associated with an increased risk of cervical cancer.

Dysplasia is another potentially serious cervical condition. It describes the abnormal development of cervical cells. Dysplasia is considered a pre-cancerous condition because, if untreated, it leads to cervical cancer in 30 to 50 percent of cases. Although cervical dysplasia strikes women of all ages, it most commonly afflicts women aged 25 to 35. The only way to detect the condition is with a Pap smear test.

Causes

The causes of cervical problems are many and varied. Cervicitis may be to do with sexually transmitted diseasessuch as gonorrhoea, syphilis or Chlamydia. In some instances a difficult childbirth can cause an infection.

What causes cervical erosion is not always clear however, the friction of intercourse appears to be a factor as well as the contraceptive pill and IUD.

Cervical polyps often develop after an infection as the body grows new cells to cover the old, inflamed ones or they can develop due to hormonal changes.

Cervical warts are caused by the human papilloma virus (HPV), which is transmitted by sexual contact.

Cervical dysplasia is caused by a subtype of the human papilloma virus, which also causes cervical cancer, but not everyone who is exposed to the virus develops dysplasia or cancer, indicating that other factors are also at work.

The first test used to diagnose cervical problems is the Pap smear, a simple procedure in which cells are collected from the cervix and examined under a microscope. If the Pap smear indicates a pre-cancerous or cancerous condition, a cervical biopsy (removal of tissue from the cervix for examination) will also be done.

Traditional Treatment

Some harmless cervical problems, such as erosion and cysts, often require no treatment. Other conditions can be treated with both alternative and conventional methods. For dysplasia or cancer, however, you should always seek conventional treatment.

Conventional medical treatments for cervical problems depend on the condition.

Cervicitis is usually treated with an antibiotic or sulfur drug. Your doctor will probably recommend that you refrain from intercourse until the infection has cleared up to keep it from spreading.

If necessary, cervical cysts and polyps can be removed surgically in your doctor’s office. Surgery to remove blockage caused by cervical stenosis is usually done in the hospital.

Mild cases of cervical dysplasia are treated with laser surgery, which uses a high-energy beam of light to destroy the affected tissue. If you have recurring dysplasia that fails to respond to treatment, you should be screened for HIV infection.

Alternative/Natural Treatments

Alternative treatments may help to heal minor cervical problems.

Herbal Remedies – Goldenseal douches are recommended for cervicitis and cervical erosion.

Prevention

  • Practice sexual abstinence or use condoms during sexual intercourse

  • Use barrier methods of birth control (condoms, diaphragms, or cervical caps) when having sex. Such methods offer some protection against sexually transmitted diseases, which can lead to cervical problems.

  • To help prevent cervicitis, eat plenty of fresh vegetables and fruits. These foods are rich in vitamin C, beta carotene (vitamin A), folic acid, and other nutrients that strengthen the immune system and help fight off some infections.

  • Stop smoking

When to Seek Professional Advice

  • You should seek a medical diagnosis if you have any of the above symptoms

     

     

     

Chlamydia

In men:

  • a whitish yellow discharge from the penis.

  • a frequent urge to urinate

  • burning sensation while urinating.

  • redness at the tip of the penis.

In women:

 


     

  • no symptoms, or mild discomfort that you may mistake for menstrual cramps.

This disease is very common throughout the world.

Chlamydia can be cured easily by antibiotics as long as the patient realises that they have the disease. Women usually do not know that they are infected until they develop serious complications. Men will tend to notice it sooner as there is an obvious discharge from the tip of the penis.

If you are sexually active and a woman who is not in a monogamous relationship or previously was not in a relationship of this type, ask your doctor to test you for Chlamydia when you next go for a pap smear. This is especially important if you are pregnant or planning to have a baby.

Causes

Chlamydia is caused by Chlamydia Trachomatis, a microscopic organism that has the characteristics of both a virus and a bacterium. the disease is spread by vaginal or anal sex, and if you touch your eyes with a hand that has been contaminated (it can also be spread by flies), you may also develop conjunctivitis.

If you suspect you have Chlamydia, your doctor may want to test your cervical fluid or penile discharge.

Traditional Treatments

In most cases of Chlamydia, the cure rate is 95 percent, the treatment is with antibiotics. However, because most women don’t know they have the disease until it has caused serious complications such as pelvic inflammatory disease, sexually active women should be tested for Chlamydia once a year.

Alternative/Natural Treatments

You must always take the antibiotics that your doctor prescribes for you with this disorder. Never attempt to treat Chlamydia yourself. Natural remedies may help relieve the symptoms and speed recovery.

Chinese Herbs – A typical prescription may include 10 to 20 herbs, such as Chinese foxglove root (Rehmannia glutinosa) and dong quai (Angelica sinensis). It is best to see a Chinese Herbalist for an accurate prescription for you.

Herbal Therapies – Saw palmetto (Serenoa repens), which contains berberine and stimulates the immune system, is useful in treating genital infections, especially in men. You may drink it as a tea or take capsules.

Dietary Considerations

Fasting can be of assistance when trying to fight off infection as it cleanses the system. In addition to taking antibiotics prescribed by your physician, you might consider fasting for one to three days. Be sure to ask your doctor’s advice before beginning a fast.

Juices that may help to rid your body of toxins cranberry and celery-parsley-cucumber. To increase your body’s resistance to this infection, supplement your daily diet with vitamin E and zinc.

To restore healthy intestinal flora after you have taken antibiotics, try eating yogurt with live Lactobacillus acidophilus cultures, or take 1/2 tsp Lactobacillus acidophilus powder, 1 tsp Bifidobacterium powder, and 1/2 tsp Lactobacillus bulgaricus in a glass of water, three times a day. The preparations are also available in capsules and tablets.

Prevention

Always use a condom to prevent transmission of Chlamydia. Women whose partners have symptoms of Chlamydia should be tested as well.

When to seek further professional advice

  • you develop any of the symptoms listed above;

  • you are a woman and you experience high fever and other flu like symptoms, along with severe pelvic pain, bleeding after intercourse, severe nausea, or recurring back pain

     

     

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

     

Chronic Fatigue Syndrome

This is a condition which is characterised by overwhelming fatigue.

What to look for

  • recent onset of extreme fatigue.

  • fatigue resulting not from any type of exertion and that you cannot relieve with rest or sleep.

  • sore muscles.

  • long-lasting discomfort following physical exertion.

  • sleep disorders (insomnia or oversleeping).

  • swollen lymph glands.

  • joint pain.

  • forgetfulness, confusion, inability to concentrate.

  • recurrent sore throat and headaches.

  • symptoms that persist for six months

Most people who are afflicted with chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS) are professional people but it can also afflict children, teenagers and almost anybody.

CFS is characterised by symptoms similar to the flu and a sudden overwhelming fatigue and is not a result of physical exertion.

CFS is not a fatal disease, although it can last for a long time.

Causes

The cause of CFS is not known, but researchers are investigating various possibilities.

It is currently thought that CFS may develop when a virus invades the body at a time when the immune system is not functioning efficiently. It may be at a time when you are run down physically, emotionally, or it could be a change in your current environmental, or a combination of the three.

Some doctors believe that CFS is psychological rather than physiological. Your doctor will get information off you regarding your medical history, perform a physical exam, and do a complete blood count to rule out other disorders that share symptoms with CFS.

Your symptoms must have been present for at least six months before the doctor will diagnosis you with the disorder.

Traditional Treatment

Treatment centres on relieving symptoms as there is no known cause for this disorder.

It is vitally important to maintain a balanced diet with plenty of low impact exercise and to avoid stressful situations and get plenty of rest.

The flu like symptoms of CFS can be temporarily alleviated with a variety of medicines and medications.

Sensitivity to a chemical, pesticide, household cleaning product, or another potential environmental toxin may also be contributing to CFS. Try eliminating suspected items, then reintroducing them one by one, to pinpoint what may be causing your symptoms.

Alternative/Natural Treatments

Chinese Herbs – A commercially prepared mixture called the Astragalus Ten Formula combines Asian ginseng(Panax ginseng), licorice (Glycyrrhiza uralensis), astragalus (Astragalus membranaceus), and other herbs in powder or tablet form.

Herbal Therapies – Goldenseal (Hydrastis canadensis) has been shown to help. Echinacea (Echinacea spp.) andshiitake (Lentinus edodes) mushrooms contain substances which may help this condition. Licorice (Glycyrrhiza glabra) is said to have antiviral properties. Silymarin, a component of milk thistle (Silybum marianum), may help with liver problems.

German chamomile (Matricaria recutita), burdock (Arctium lappa), yarrow (Achillea millefolium), and Asian ginseng(Panax ginseng) are all said to be beneficial to CFS sufferers if taken regularly. You will need professional help for more specific guidelines.

Homoeopathy –  Some Homoeopathic practitioners have reported success in treating the symptoms of CFS. As with all chronic ailments, it’s best to seek the advice of a Homoeopath who can accurately diagnose and treat the specific symptoms of your case.

Dietary Considerations

One theory holds that a nutritional deficiency may be a contributing factor causing CFS, so it’s important to maintain a healthful diet. Avoid caffeine, alcohol, refined sugar, white flour, salt, and fried, preserved, high-fat foods in favour of whole grains, beans, rice, fish, and fresh fruits and vegetables.

Add edible seaweeds, shiitake mushrooms, and liquorice to your diet. Eating two cloves of garlic a day may help boost your immune system’s antiviral and antibacterial activity.

Coenzyme Q10 and vitamin B12 are nutritional supplements that may lessen symptoms. Some evidence suggests that a combination of malic acid and magnesium may help relieve fatigue and muscle pain.

Other immune system-enhancing vitamins include vitamin C and beta carotene (see Vitamin A), which is also a natural antioxidant. Vitamins B5 and B6zinc, selenium, manganese, and chromium all play a role in strengthening the immune system as well.

The amino acid tryptophan, found in various foods, may be helpful for some symptoms, and since it helps the body produce serotonin, a natural sedative, it may aid in sleep. However, don’t take it in supplement form if you have high blood pressure or are taking antidepressants.

People with this disorder may have food allergies or sensitivities. This will show itself as an intolerance to a particular food.

When a food that you’re allergic to enters your body, your immune system views it as an invader, and attacks it by flooding your bloodstream with antibodies. The overabundance of these antibodies, in conjunction with the release of histamines and other body chemicals, results in CFS like symptoms.

When to seek further professional advice

  • You have any of the above mentioned symptoms