Category Archives: Women’s Health

Depression

Depression is a state of feeling ‘down’ which lasts for a long but indefinite period of time

What to look for

For major depression, you may experience four or more of the following:

  • persistent sadness, pessimism.

  • feelings of guilt, worthlessness, helplessness, or hopelessness.

  • loss of interest or enjoyment in nearly every aspect of life.

  • lack of concentrating.

  • insomnia or oversleeping.

  • weight gain or loss.

  • fatigue, lack of energy.

  • loss of interest in sex

  • physical symptoms such as headachesbackaches, stomach troubles, constipation and blurred vision

  • anxiety, agitation, irritability.

  • thoughts of suicide or death.

  • slow speech; slow movements.

  • drug or alcohol abuse, a drop in school performance, difficulty concentrating (In children and adolescents)

We all feel down at times for different reasons. But ongoing depression is another matter.

Depression can last from a few weeks to 6 months or more.

Major depression, or depressive illness, is a serious condition that can lead to an inability to function or even to suicide. Sufferers experience not only a depressed mood but also more harmful symptoms such as those listed above. It is a cyclical illness, so though most patients recover from their first depressive episode, the recurrence rate is high.

Major depression often appears unexpectedly, is seemingly unprovoked, and often disappears unexpectedly as well, usually in 6 to 12 months. Because of its disabling effects or the possibility of suicide, major depression needs treatment.

Causes

There are many cause of depression. Depressive reaction, or “normal depression,” occurs as a result of a particular event for example, when a family member dies.

Depressed moods can also be a side effect of medication, hormonal changes (such as before menstrual periods or after childbirth), or a physical illness, such as the flu or a viral infection.

Although the exact causes of major depression are unknown, researchers currently believe that both forms are caused by a malfunction in the brain chemical (these chemicals help monitor and regulate moods).

The elderly who suffer from depression are often misdiagnosed as having senile dementia which is incurable. This is unfortunate as depression is treatable and there is a high success rate once properly diagnosed.

You should consult a psychiatrist in order to be properly diagnosed if you have any of the above symptoms.

Traditional Treatment

There are many therapies, both conventional and alternative, that are available for depression. Treatments may vary according to the cause of the depression and its severity. Conventional methods include psychotherapy, antidepressant drugs, and electroconvulsive therapy (ECT).

Electroconvulsive therapy (ECT) or electric shock treatment is still rather controversial but has been refined over the last 20 years. This form of therapy should only be considered once all other options have been explored.

Alternative/Natural Treatments

Many alternative therapies are effective but should only ever be thought of as complementary to conventional medical treatments.

In addition to your conventional therapies you might want to investigate yoga and acupuncture both having had some success with other people suffering from depression.

Aromatherapy – Aromatherapy may ease mental fatigue and help with sleep. The essential oils that may benefit depression are basilclaryjasminerose, and chamomile (Matricaria recutita). The oil may be inhaled, put in a bath, or on the edge of your pillow (1 or 2 drops). (see aromatherapy for more information.)

Chinese Herbs – There are a number of Chinese Remedies for depression – see a Proffesional for advice on the one that will suit you.

Exercise – Exercise should be a part of any therapy for depression; it improves blood flow to the brain, elevates mood, and relieves stress.

Herbal Therapies – An experienced herbalist will recommend a particular combination of herbs tailored to your specific symptoms. St Johns Wort is a popular choice for depression.

Bach Flower Remedies – Gentian for those of you who are easily discouraged, gorse for feelings of hopelessness and despair, wild rose for apathy and mustard for depression for unknown reasons. (see our section on Bach Flower Remedies)

Dietary Considerations

Because depressive symptoms are exacerbated by nutritional deficiencies, good nutrition is important.

Try supplements such as B complexpotassiumzinc. L-tryptophan, L- tyrosine, Lecithin, ginseng and valerian.

Prevention

Proper diet, exercise, vacations, no overwork and stress, doing things you enjoy all help keep the blues at bay.

When to seek further professional advice

  • you or your child has suicidal thoughts,

NOTE: There is a distinct difference between feeling “depressed”  and having a depressive illness. If you have low spirits for a while, don’t be concerned. However, if you feel you can’t lift yourself out of your misery, seek help

Dermatitis

Dermatitis is a red and itching inflammation of the skin

What to look for

Contact dermatitis (an allergic reaction) (an allergic reaction)

  • A red rash that is restricted to the area of skin exposed to an irritant.

Nummular dermatitis

  • Red, itchy, circular lots of weeping, scaly, or encrusted skin, common in older people who have dry skin or live in dry environments.

Seborrheic dermatitis

  • Greasy, yellowish scales on the scalp and eyebrows, behind the ears, and around the nose; in infants it is called cradle cap.

Stasis dermatitis

  • Scaling, greasy-looking, sometimes ulcerated skin appearing inside the lower legs and around the ankles.

Atopic dermatitisor eczema , or eczema

  • Extreme, persistent itchiness.

Dermatitis simply means skin inflammation, but it includes a wide range of sicknesses. In nearly all cases the early stages are distinguished by dry, red, itchy skin, although later stages may include crusty scales or blisters that ooze fluid.

Causes

The following are the most common general types of dermatitis and their typical causes:

Contact dermatitis

 

  • pink or red rash, which may or may not itch.

  • causes include contact with poison ivy, poison oak, and poison sumac, and certain flowers, herbs, fruits, and vegetables irritates some people. detergents, soaps, chlorine, some synthetic fibres, nail polish remover, antiperspirants. The inflammation is often caused by cosmetics and skin-care products.

Nummular dermatitis

  • Living in a dry environment or taking very hot showers can cause this condition,

  • stress.

Seborrheic dermatitis

  • biotin deficiency in infants (where it is known as cradle cap)

  • or with overproduction and blockage of oil glands in adults.

  • stress

  • common in AIDS patients.

Stasis dermatitis

poor circulation.

Atopic dermatitis,

 

  • Eczema is usually hereditary

  • allergiesasthma, and stress.

Traditional Treatment

The cause of dermatitis must first be identified and removed before treatment can get under way.

Most mild skin inflammations respond well to warm baths followed by application of petroleum jelly or over-the-counter hydrocortisone cream.

Seborrheic dermatitis may respond to coal-tar-based shampoo; avoid sunlight immediately after using it, as it can cause sunburn on the scalp. Once irritants causing contact dermatitis are identified, avoid them and obviously the condition will improve.

To help dry the sores of nummular dermatitis, soak the area in salt water, then apply a corticosteroid cream.

If you suffer from stasis dermatitis, wear support stockings and rest often with your legs elevated to help improve circulation.

To reduce inflammation and heal the irritation of most types of dermatitis, your doctor may recommend over-the-counter or prescription cream.

Alternative/Natural Treatments

Alternative therapies are good for relief of symptoms of this chronic disease.

Herbal Therapies – Always seek the assistance of a Professional. But here are some tried and true herbs that have been successful in relieving some patients. Always seek the assistance of a Professional. But here are some tried and true herbs that have been successful in relieving some patients.

Burdock (Arctium lappa) boosts the immune system and helps reduce inflammation.

Some practitioners believe evening primrose oil (Oenothera biennis) works as well as corticosteroids for itchy skin and has fewer potential side effects.

Topical ointments made with calendula (Calendula officinalis) or chamomile (Matricaria recutita) are effective for treating many types of dermatitis.

You can make a herbal remedy by mixing tinctures of nettle (Urtica dioica), cleavers (Galium spp.), and eithergoldenseal (Hydrastis canadensis) or myrrh (Commiphora molmol) in equal parts.

You can also make a tea from fresh nettles or fresh cleavers.

Homoeopathy – For benign, short-term skin problems, an over-the-counter Calendula cream may soothe the inflammation. Taking Rhus toxicodendron three or four times a day may relieve the itching of contact dermatitis. For benign, short-term skin problems, an over-the-counter Calendula cream may soothe the inflammation. Taking Rhus toxicodendron three or four times a day may relieve the itching of contact dermatitis.

Dietary Considerations

doctor may suggest vitamin B complexVitamin A and zinc which may aid in skin healing, while vitamin E ointment can help relieve itching and dryness. Always have your doctor check the doses of all supplements you take to avoid over dosing.

At-Home Remedies

  • For dryness, rub petroleum jelly or olive oil on affected areas after a bath, or use a topical ointment containing aloe or zinc.

  • Avoid eating potential allergens. You may get help from supplemental vitamins A, B complex, and E, as well as zinc.

  • If you suspect an allergy to a chemical or cosmetic, try an at-home patch test. Apply a small amount of the suspected irritant to a spot on your arm or back for seven days. If you have a reaction, you know it is a potential irritant.

Prevention

The best way to prevent a rash caused by contact with toxic plants like poison ivy is to wash the exposed skin with soap and water as soon as possible after contact. If you feel you are at risk, consider these preventive steps:

  • Use a humidifier at home and at work.

  • Wear natural loose-fitting.

  • Avoid plated jewellery.

  • Be careful choosing watches with tight plated watchbands as these can cause problems by rubbing on your sensitive skin.

  • Supplement your diet with vitamins A, B complex, and E, and zinc.

  • Lubricate your skin after a bath using an unscented, preservative-free lotion or ointment such as sorbolene cream.

When to seek further professional advice

  • if your skin has pus or is oozing

  • if your skin does not respond to your treatment

  • if your skin is affected and you are exposed to anybody with a viral skin infection such as cold sores etc

Diabetes

Diabetes is a condition where there is an abnormally high level of sugar in the blood.

What to look for

The symptoms vary depending on which type of diabetes is the cause:

  • excessive thirst and appetite.

  • increased urination both in the frequency and amount passed.

  • weight loss.

  • fatigue.

  • nausea, perhaps vomiting.

  • blurred vision.

  • in women, frequent vaginal infections and perhaps the cessation of menstruation.

  • in men, impotence.

  • in men and women, yeast infections.

Type 1 diabetes:

  • Very thirsty, hungry, and tired. Need to urinate often. Unintentional, rapid weight loss. May have stomach pain.

Type 2 diabetes: :

  • No noticeable symptoms usually or may have unspecific symptoms such as fatigue, blurry vision, or frequent infections. May be thirsty and urinate often.

Gestational diabetes::

  • Symptoms are rare; may feel tired.

Causes

In diabetes sufferers, there is too much glucose in the blood (glucose is made when the food we eat is being digested). Glucose is then converted into energy as it travels through the bloodstream. Diabetes causes this natural process to fail because of a lack of one of the body’s hormones – insulin.

Insulin keeps the level of sugar in the blood down to normal levels. Insulin is made and released when necessary from the pancreas. Insulin lets glucose enter the cells and be used for energy. Insulin is absent in diabetes sufferers. Therefore, glucose stays in the bloodstream and cannot be used for energy.

High glucose levels in the blood can cause many complications and any treatment is aimed at reducing the amount in the blood.

Your doctor is able to diagnose diabetes through a urine test.

Treatment for both forms of diabetes mellitus requires adjustment of insulin levels in the body and strict management of diet and exercise. By paying close attention to the content and timing of your meals, you can minimise or avoid the “seesaw effect” of rapidly changing blood sugar levels, which can require quick changes in insulin dosages.

Traditional Treatment

Diabetes is treated with food planning, oral medications, and/or insulin injections. Treatment methods for the different types of diabetes are:

  • Type 1 diabetes: Daily insulin injections, food plan, and exercise.: Daily insulin injections, food plan, and exercise.

  • Type 2 diabetes: Food plan, exercise, and sometimes oral medications or insulin injections. : Food plan, exercise, and sometimes oral medications or insulin injections.

  • Gestational diabetes: Food plan, exercise, and sometimes insulin injections.: Food plan, exercise, and sometimes insulin injections.

With your doctor’s supervision , you must work at maintaining your diet and lifestyle to keep this condition in control. You can avoid the disease’s serious symptoms if you are able to do this yourself. Also try to keep to healthy weight

If you have type 1, you need to closely monitor your blood sugar levels every day to prevent an attack of hypoglycaemia. This occurs when the levels of blood sugar are too low to fulfil your body’s energy needs.Hypoglycaemia is not dangerous if you can recognise the symptoms.

Hyperglycaemia, or high blood sugar, can bring on a serious diabetic condition known as ketoacidosis, in which the blood becomes increasingly acidic from the accumulation of toxic by-products. This can occur if they do not have enough insulin or if the insulin and glucose levels are not properly balanced or if the body suddenly comes under shock or stress or illness. The symptoms are – nausea, excessive thirst, wanting to urinate frequently, feeling weak, abdominal pain, rapid deep breathing.

Long-term problems caused by diabetes are – eye damage, problems with the nervous system, kidneys, and cardiovascular and circulatory systems. Cuts and sores heal more slowly for people with diabetes, and diabetics are also prone to gum problems, urinary tract infections, and mouth infections such as thrush. Heart diseaseciruclatory problemsstrokeskidney failure are also potential threats to the diabetic.

For some Type 2 diabetics, diet and exercise are usually sufficient to keep the disease under control, however you must see your doctor regularly and if you have any change of symptoms.

Exercise should be an important part in the diabetics daily program – see your doctor before starting anything strenuous.

Alternative/Natural Treatments

You should always be under the supervision of a medical doctor, however here are some alternative treatments which can be used in addition to your conventional treatment.

Chinese Herbs Chinese herbal medicines, including ginseng root (Panax ginseng), are frequently used to alleviate some symptoms of diabetes; consult a practitioner for a comprehensive treatment plan. Chinese herbal medicines, including ginseng root (Panax ginseng), are frequently used to alleviate some symptoms of diabetes; consult a practitioner for a comprehensive treatment plan.

Herbal Therapies – Check to make sure herbs are appropriate for your particular condition. Check to make sure herbs are appropriate for your particular condition.

Remember: If you need insulin to manage your diabetes, there is no herbal substitute for the hormone.

Blueberry (Vaccinium myrtillus) leaves in a decoction may lower blood glucose levels and help maintain the vascular system. This remedy may also help to keep the blood vessels of the eye from haemorrhaging if you develop diabetic retinopathy.

Supplementing the diet with fenugreek (Trigonella foenum-graecum) seeds has been shown in clinical and experimental studies to reduce blood glucose and insulin levels while lowering blood cholesterol.

Garlic (Allium sativum) may lower blood pressure as well as levels of blood sugar and cholesterol.

Ginkgo (Ginkgo biloba) extracts have been used to help vision in patients. Other reported benefits of ginkgo include reducing the risk of heart disease, hypertension, and elevated cholesterol levels.

Onion (Allium cepa) may free up insulin to help metabolise glucose in the blood.

Dietary Considerations

 

 


It is vitally important to maintain a balanced meal plan so get your doctor to help you devise one to suit you.

Diabetics should avoid sugar, as it can lower the body’s glucose tolerance and worsen circulatory problems. Nutritionists also emphasise the importance of certain foods, vitamins, and minerals.

When to seek further professional advice

  • you have any of the above symptoms more than usual

Anorexia Nervosa

Anorexia nervosa is an eating disorder which based on a terrifying fear of becoming fat. But it is far more complex than a simple desire to lose weight.

What to look for

  • significant weight loss.

  • fear of becoming fat, even when emaciated.

  • excessive dieting and exercising

  • distorted body image.

  • abnormal food preoccupations, such as counting all calories or obsessively studying cookbooks.

  • constipation.

  • dry, sallow skin.

  • increase in facial and body hair; loss of some head hair.

  • cessation of menstrual periods.

  • suppression of sexual desire.

  • hands and feet cold at normal room temperature.

  • chronic insomnia

  • bad school results, the committing of anti-social behaviour – stealing, becoming noticeably withdrawn and destroying things.

Anorexics starve themselves as a result of the fear of gaining weight which results in major weight loss… in addition to emaciation, under-nourishment, anaemia, irregular heartbeat, brittle bones, and many other problems.

Anorexia is dangerous, and professional help should be sought early on. Prompt treatment will usually keep the condition from progressing, but some cases are very resistant to treatment and may require hospitalisation.

Although its focus is on food, anorexia is an illness of the mind. Often it begins with a relatively normal desire to lose a few pounds. But it soon becomes compulsive. Food intake is gradually minimised until eating is almost eliminated. The victim becomes obsessed with his/her body image and frequently sees herself as fat even though she is not over weight.

Ironically, she ritualises food preparation and consumption. She becomes obsessed with recipes and cooking yet will not eat the food herself. She may alternate fasting with periodic bingeing and purging (see Bulimia), particularly when she is trying to regain normal eating habits.

Anorexics tend to come from families that have high standards of achievement, and they are often perfectionists, compulsive in many aspects of their life, especially school.

Denial often accompanies their intense focus on remaining thin. Anorexics will typically refuse to admit that anything is wrong, and they become angry or defensive at expressions of concern by others.

CAUSES

While some studies indicate that genes can play a predisposing role in anorexia, most researchers believe that psychological factors are key.

Anorexics tend to have low self-esteem and feel undeserving of love. In adolescence, such feelings may be reinforced by sexual changes, fear of growing up, cultural messages that portray thin as beautiful, and pressures or tensions within the family. Extreme fasting may be an anorexic’s way of attempting to exert control over her life.

 Traditional Treatment

Families should call for medical assistance straight away in order to increase the weight to a safer level. Then psychotherapy, regular medical monitoring, and nutritional guidance should be the other part of any treatment program for anorexia.

Close cooperation among all health professionals involved is important. All these professionals should be experienced specifically in treating eating disorders.

Hospitalisation is usually necessary if the patient has lost more than 25 percent of normal body weight. A system of coaxing the patient to eat is usually set into place as the patient will avoid eating at all costs.

Psychotherapy is the main treatment to attempt to unravel to causes of the individuals problems and difficulties.

Supplements of zinc sulfate will aid any zinc deficiencies. Other nutritional supplements, appetite enhancers, antidepressants, and anti-anxiety drugs are often prescribed as well.

Alternative/Natural Treatments

Alternative therapies may help with some of the symptoms of anorexia, and can serve as useful additions to treatments that address nutrition and the emotional roots of the disorder. It is thought that sufferers of this complaint, have zinc deficiencies and this may be worth getting your doctor to look into.

When to seek further professional advice

If your child or person close to you engages in any of the symptoms mentioned above it is vitally important that you seek medical advice immediately

Anxiety

Anxiety is a state of being worried about certain real or imagined events or situations.

What to look for

  • heart palpitations.

  • tics or twitches

  • recurring headaches or migraine

  • indigestion and bowel irregularity

  • sense of impending doom.

  • inability to concentrate.

  • muscle tension; muscle aches.

  • diarrhoea.

  • chest pain.

  • dry mouth.

  • excessive sweating.

  • undereating or overeating.

  • insomnia.

  • irritability.

  • breathlessness; hyperventilation.

  • loss of sex drive. (See impotence.)

For school-age children:

  • fear of being away from home.

  • refusal to go to school.

  • fear of strangers.

  • unnecessary worry.

Anxiety is a normal human response. Sudden intense stress or fear questions our survival instinct, causes a chemical and a physical response… Which is all to do with the way the body prepares to deal with danger.

Adrenalins and cortisone are released in the bloodstream; heart rate quickens; breathing becomes shallow and rapid; muscles tense; sugar is released by the liver; and the mind goes on full alert. But when anxiety is not tied to an identifiable threat or is more severe and long-lasting than warranted, it is a clinical disorder.

Many different anxiety disorders are recognized. Among them are

  • Phobias (fear of certain situations, such as confining spaces, or of particular things, such as insects); (fear of certain situations, such as confining spaces, or of particular things, such as insects);

  • Panic attacks (a sudden onset of extreme fear or tension, for no evident reason);

  • Obsessive-compulsive disorder (persistent, irrational thoughts, such as a dread of infection, or repetitive behaviour, such as checking that doors are locked);

  • Posttraumatic stress disorder (prolonged anxiety after a traumatic event); and

  • Generalised anxiety (an inexplicable feeling of apprehension that may last for months).

Anxiety disorders can vary greatly in their severity, they may be mild or completely debilitating. The incidence of the different disorders also varies: Phobias, panic attacks, and obsessive-compulsive disorder, for example, occur less frequently than generalised anxiety (which afflicts twice as many women as men). The disorders usually become noticeable during the teen years or early adulthood and are considerably more common among adults than children.

Some anxieties are very difficult to treat; others respond well to medications, psychotherapy, and alternative therapies.

What does not work is self-treatment with alcohol or recreational drugs to alleviate the symptoms. Many sufferers choose this path, but ultimately it will only make the condition worse.

CAUSES

Anxiety can be caused by a recognisable stress such as a bad accident, a death, or the loss of something important to us… In such cases, adjustments to the situation, along with the passage of time, will have a healing effect. In other cases, the stress is invisible a buried memory of some unhappy or frightening event in childhood, lurking below the surface of the conscious mind and revealing its presence in anxiety.

Hereditary factors may play a role in some individuals becoming prone to anxiety. Food sensitivities and allergies may also contribute to anxiety, although more research must be done to certify this connection. In addition, anxiety frequently follows a sudden withdrawal from alcoholtobacco, or other drugs.

The first step is to ensure the stress symptoms are not the result of another disease or disorder. Check with your Medical Practitioner.

Traditional Treatment

Anxiety can be treated with conventional medications, psychotherapy, and many alternative approaches.

Psychotherapy aims at identifying conflicts and other stresses that may lie at the roots of anxiety. Behaviour modification, a therapy that concentrates on changing patterns of behaviour can help the patient with coping with anxiety, as can cognitive therapy, which concentrates on changing ways of thinking and mental processes.

Medication is useful for alleviating the symptoms of anxiety and is often prescribed in conjunction with other therapies. 

Alternative/Natural Treatments

Many alternative practices and treatments can relieve the symptoms of anxiety. Meditation, exercise (especially aerobic exercise), and relaxation techniques are among the most effective.

Chinese medicine uses various herbal preparations that can serve as a tonic for the whole system and reduce stress.

Taking regular massages will be extremely beneficial as it relaxes the whole body and mind.

Other popular choices to reduce anxiety are…

  • Aromatherapy – Bergamot (in a burner or massage), Neroli (massage), Vetiver (burner), Ylang Ylang(massage, bath or burner)

  • Bach Flower Remedies – Agrimony helps if you hide your worry behind a ‘happy face’, white chestnut leads to insomnia and is needed if you continually have mental arguments with yourself and unwanted thoughts – you may find it hard to concentrate on you daily happenings because of this worry. If you are over protective of your family, worry incessantly about what could happen to them and friends (to the point of making them concerned about these imagined happenings) you could take red chestnut. If you are worried about justice and fairness happening and are over-involved in causes etc – try vervain.

  • Herbal therapies – You may be recommended to astragalusbilberrycatniphopskavapassionflower,peppermintvalerian, lemon balm, motherwort (if anxiety occurs with palpitations), skullcapyarrow. There are also various herbal formulas available.

  • Homoeopathy – If the anxiety is the result of a sudden shock, try Aconite. Ignatia it is the “grief remedy,” said to benefit someone who is upset by a sudden loss. Gelsemium is recommended for stage fright or anxiety over your performance. If none of these prove effective, Ask for professional advice.

  • Mind/body medicine – such as meditation, Tai Chi and relaxation exercises. Daily exercise can be very helpful and enjoyable

  • Magnesium supplements may be helpful, especially if you suffer from muscle spasms. Be careful with the amounts that you take.

  • Avoid alcohol, and reduce or eliminate your consumption of sugar and caffeine.

  • Try to avoid activities you do not enjoy or find relaxing

Dietary Considerations

Try to sustain a healthy mix of fresh fruit and vegetables, low-fat diet with plenty of filtered water and exercise.

When to seek further professional advice

  • If your anxiety seems more extreme than the situation warrants.

  • If your anxiety inhibits normal activities.

  • Your anxiety persists for many weeks.

  • Your symptoms suddenly become severe or uncontrollable. You may be experiencing a panic attack.

Bladder Cancer

The bladder is the hollow, muscular organ that lies in the pelvic region. It looks like an upside down pyramid. The bladder stores the urine that is produced in the kidneys.

What to look for

Bladder cancer may not have symptoms in the beginning, however, later on, symptoms may include:

  • blood in the urine.

  • frequent urinary tract infections, painful urination, and a need to urinate often.

  • weight or appetite loss.

  • abdominal or back pain, fever, anaemia.

The bladder is lined with specialised cells, and when it is irritated, extra layers of these cells develop. This process may increase the chance of a cell turning cancerous.

Malignant tumours begin as small lumps on the inside of the bladder, the cancer then spreads by going deeper into bladder fibre and the surrounding tissue. If left untreated the cancer will eventually invade the bloodstream and lymphatic system.

Like all cancers, the earlier it is detected the more effective the treatment will be. Sometimes bladder tumours recur, however, prompt detection and treatment means they can be stopped while they are still superficial.

Causes

Cancer is more likely to occur if the bladder has been chronically irritated. People with inborn disorders of the bladder, chronic bladder infections, or persistent cystitis are more susceptible as well as people who have benign bladder tumours.

The is a strong link with bladder cancer and carcinogens (cancer-causing substances). Such as smokers, painters, truckers, leatherworkers, machinists and metalworkers, rubber and textile workers, and people exposed to industrial dyes. It has been reported that consumption of nitrates in smoked and cured meats such as hams, may also be associated with bladder cancer, as may consumption of caffeine and saccharin.

Traditional Treatments

Treatments for cancer in general can be investigated more in the entry on ‘cancer’. There are a number of alternative therapies that may ease the pain of the disease and the side effects of conventional treatment but at this point none have been scientifically proven to cure cancer.

If detected early, superficial malignancies can usually be treated successfully. Certain bladder cancers may require the bladder to be removed. This will need to be investigated with your doctor.

After surgery, a combination of radiation and chemotherapy may be required to stop the cancer recurring. It is advisable for bladder cancer patients to have check ups regularly as these tumours may recur. If the cancer has spread surgery will not usually help. Chemotherapy would be the next option.

Complementary Therapies

Research suggests that bladder cancer is less likely among people with adequate vitamin B6, beta carotene, and selenium in their diets.

Prevention

To prevent any cancer it is strongly advisable to avoid any possible carcinogens.

  • Don’t smoke and avoid frequenting places with lots of smokers to lessen the likelihood of ingesting smoke.

  • Avoid smoked or cured meats

  • Try to limit processed food intake to only occasionally.

  • If you work around carcinogenic chemicals, follow safety guidelines to avoid undue exposure.

  • Arrange regular screenings with your doctor to ensure early detection if you feel there is a chance you may be a candidate for this disease.

When to seek further professional advice

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

Bladder Infections

Bladder Infections are an inflammation of the urinary bladder which results in a prickling pain, which quickly becomes a burning, scalding sensation during urination.

What to look for

  • a burning sensation when urinating;

  • frequent need to urinate with little result

  • urine with a strong, foul odour and sometimes a dark brown/orange colour.

  • in the elderly: lethargy, incontinence, mental confusion.

  • In severe cases, these symptoms may be accompanied by fever and chills, abdominal pain, or blood in the urine.

Cystitis is a common condition which affects women much more than men. Women’s physiological make up makes it all too easy for bacteria to travel from the bowel opening to the urethra (this is the tube coming out of the bladder). This relatively short passageway, only about an inch and a half long, makes it easier for bacteria to migrate into the bladder.

Bladder infections are not serious if treated promptly. But recurrences are common in susceptible people and can lead to kidney infections, which are more serious and may result in permanent kidney damage. So it’s very important to treat the underlying causes of a bladder infection and to take preventive steps to avoid recurrences.

In elderly people, bladder infections are often difficult to diagnose because the symptoms are less specific and are frequently blamed on aging. Older people should be checked for this complaint if they have these specific symptoms.

Causes

Most bladder infections are caused by various strains of “E. coli”, the bacteria commonly found in the intestines. Women sometimes get bladder infections as a direct result of intercourse, which can push bacteria up into the bladder through the urethra.

Some women contract the infection, dubbed “honeymoon disease” almost every time they have sex. Bacteria then rapidly reproduce in the stagnant urine left in the bladder. Some people develop symptoms of a bladder infection when no infection actually exists. These disorders are usually benign but are difficult to treat.

While they can be quite uncomfortable and potentially serious if complications set in, the bladder infections that most women get, clear up quickly and are relatively harmless.

In men, however, a bladder infection is almost always a symptom of an underlying disorder and is generally regarded as cause for more concern.

Hormonal imbalances can affect the balance of acidity and alkalinity in the urine and this can affect the likelihood of an attack of cystitis.

The contraceptive diaphragm or cap may lead to an attack of cystitis as leftover amounts of urine can get trapped in it and become a breeding ground for bacteria. Also the contraceptive pill affects the hormonal system and has been shown to make women using it more susceptible to common ailments such as thrush which can also trigger cystitis.

Bladder infections usually can be diagnosed readily with a urine test.

Traditional Treatment

Mild bladder infections often clear up quickly in response to simple home remedies. But if you experience no relief within 24 hours, you should consult a physician for more aggressive treatment. Do not just ignore the problem and hope it goes away.

Bladder infections are treated with a wide variety of antibiotics to clear up the infection and by increased intake of fluids to flush out the urinary tract. The antibiotic your physician prescribes and the number of days you will need to take it will depend on the type of bacteria that are causing the infection.

After the treatment has run its course, you may be asked to come in for a follow-up urine test to make sure your bladder is free of all signs of infection.

People with frequently recurring bladder infections are often prescribed low daily doses of antibiotics for an additional six months or longer. Patients whose infections are related to sexual activity may be given a small dose of antibiotics to take each time they have intercourse.

Alternative/Natural Treatments

If begun promptly at the first hint of burning during urination, alternative means of treatment can be very successful in getting rid of a bladder infection. But if these methods do not bring relief within 24 hours, you should call your doctor for antibiotic treatment. Consult with your doctor if you wish to continue with alternative methods while on the antibiotics to speed up the recovery process.

Herbal Therapies – Cranberry is the most popular herbal remedy for cystitis sufferers. It comes in tablet or capsule form and should be taken as per the bottle description or professional recommendation. Cranberry is the most popular herbal remedy for cystitis sufferers. It comes in tablet or capsule form and should be taken as per the bottle description or professional recommendation.

Another herb useful in treating bladder infections is nettle, which has been shown to have anti-inflammatory properties.

Women who are prone to bladder infections after sexual activity can help prevent recurrences by washing their perineal area with a medicinal solution of the herb goldenseal before and after intercourse. 

Homoeopathy – Depending on the symptoms, Homoeopaths recommend a number of different remedies to help relieve the pain of a bladder infection. Here are three of the most commonly prescribed…

  • If the urge to urinate is very strong and the burning is intense – Cantharis.

  • If you experience painful cramping with urination or your urine is very dark or bloody – Mercurius corrosivus.

  • For women whose infections are brought on by sexual contact – Staphysagria.

Seek professional help for exact dosages.

Aromatherapy – Adding certain essential oils to the bath can alleviate the symptoms of this problem. Try putting in a 5 – 6 drops of the essential oils of juniper, eucalyptus, sandalwood, pine, parsley, cedarwood, chamomile, or cajuput. Adding certain essential oils to the bath can alleviate the symptoms of this problem. Try putting in a 5 – 6 drops of the essential oils of juniper, eucalyptus, sandalwood, pine, parsley, cedarwood, chamomile, or cajuput.

You can also try a massage oil made with 1 oz carrier oil and 5 drops each of any combination of the herbs mentioned. Massage daily, rubbing the oil over your lower back, abdomen, stomach, and hips. (see the aromatherapyentry for more information).

Dietary Considerations

Both conventional and alternative practitioners agree that drinking plenty of water to keep you urinating frequently and to flush out your urinary tract thoroughly is one of the most effective means of combating a bladder infection. However, you should avoid beverages that might irritate the urinary tract and aggravate the burning. Culprits include alcohol, coffee, black tea, chocolate milk, carbonated beverages, and citrus juices.

Until clear of the infection, you should also avoid potentially irritating foods such as citrus fruits, tomatoes, vinegar, sugar, chocolate, artificial sweeteners, and heavily spiced dishes. Wait 10 days after the burning is gone before reintroducing these foods and drinks one at a time into your diet.

Eat a balanced diet in general

Supplements of vitamin C and vitamin may also aid recovery. But check with your Doctor before taking the supplements. Vitamin C increases the acidity of urine, which hampers the growth of bacteria but can also interfere with the action of some antibiotics, making them less effective.

Personal Care

  • Drink cranberry juice daily and take Cranberry Tablets to relieve the symptoms

  • Saline drinks may help relieve the burning in the area

  • Always wipe from front to back when going to the toilet

  • Urinate as soon as possible when you feel the urge, and make sure you empty your bladder completely each time.

  • urinate immediately after intercourse – it flushes out any bacteria that have got into the urethra

  • Wear cotton underwear and loose, nonbinding clothing that does not trap heat and moisture in the crotch.

  • Drink plenty of water.

  • If you use a diaphragm for birth control, make sure it is well fitted and don’t leave it in too long.

When to seek further professional advice

  • you have the pain and burning sensation more than 24 hours after you begin trying self-help treatments. Untreated, bladder infections can lead to more serious conditions.

  • painful urination is accompanied by vomiting, fever, chills, bloody urine, or abdominal or back pain; it may indicate potentially life-threatening kidney disease, a bladder or kidney tumor, or prostate infection. Seek medical help immediately.

  • the burning is accompanied by a discharge from the vagina or penis, a sign of sexually transmitted disease, pelvic inflammatory disease, or other serious infection. See your doctor without delay


Breast Cancer

As with most cancers, in the early stages, breast cancer usually has no symptoms. As a tumour spreads, you may notice the following:

  • swelling in the armpit.

  • breast pain or tenderness.

  • a lump in the breast.

  • a noticeable flattening or indentation on the breast.

  • any change in the contour, texture, or temperature of the breast

  • pitted surface like the skin of an orange.

  • a change in the nipple, such as dimpling, itching or burning, or ulceration or scaling.

  • unusual discharge from the nipple.

Every month, the breasts change, this is associated with a woman’s menstrual cycle. During this time a lump may form. While most of these are not cancerous, any lump should be examined immediately by a doctor.

Breast cancer usually begins with the development of a small, localised tumour. Some tumours are benign (meaning they do not invade other tissue), others are malignant, or cancerous. The potential for a malignant tumour to spread is a problem with all cancers.

Once such a tumour grows to a certain size, it is more likely to give off cells that spread to other parts of the body through the bloodstream and lymphatic system.

Some breast cancers grow and spread at a fast rate, others take years to spread beyond the breast.

If detected early enough, breast cancer is very treatable. Once the cancer begins to spread, getting rid of it completely is more difficult, although treatment can often control the disease for years.

Causes

Doctors are unsure what exactly causes breast cancer, but they do know of certain risk factors that increase the chances of getting the disease in certain women. (Although some women who are believed to be high risk, do not ever get it and others who are low risk do).

  • advancing age

  • a family history of breast cancer.

  • if you have had a benign breast lump or cancer of the breast or the ovaries.

  • A woman whose close relative has had breast cancer is more likely to develop the disease

  • the greater a woman’s exposure to the female hormone oestrogen, the more susceptible she is to breast cancer. (Oestrogen controls cell division – the more the cells divide, the more likely they are to be abnormal in some way, possibly becoming cancerous).

Oestrogen and progesterone levels rise and fall during the woman’s lifetime. The age she starts and stops menstruating, the average length of her menstrual cycle, and her age at first childbirth can influence if she will develop breast cancer.

Taking hormones in the form of birth-control pills or hormone replacement therapy may also increase risk.

The diet-breast cancer link is still debated.

  • Obesity is a risk factor

  • Drinking alcohol regularly

Breast cancer responds to treatment best when it is detected early. In addition to having an annual medical checkup, all women should conduct monthly breast self-examinations. A mammogram is strongly recommended for women between the ages of 35 and 55.

To distinguish between benign and malignant lumps, feel the lump – a benign cyst may feel like a round, slippery bean. A tumour may feel thicker and can also cause dimpling of the skin above it. The only way to confirm cancer is to perform a biopsy and test the tissue sample for cancer cells.

In the event of malignancy, you and your doctor need to know how far along the cancer is. Various tests are used to check for the presence and likely sites of metastasis. Cancer cells need to be analysed to check for spreading or metastasis. The tests will also determine if hormone receptors are present, if so the cancer is likely to respond well to hormone therapy.

Traditional Treatments

If you have breast cancer, always research your options before rushing in and making rash treatment decisions. Ask your doctor, specialists, and people who have had the disease, as many questions as you think relevant and seek a second opinion at a major cancer treatment centre. Always work with people that you trust, and don’t rush your decision. A small delay before treatment will usually do no harm.

The options for treating breast cancer depend on how the cancer itself, your age, and how healthy you are. If possible, breast cancer is treated surgically, followed usually by some combination of radiation therapy, chemotherapy, or hormone therapy.

A total mastectomy used to be the only considered treatment for breast cancer. This operation removes the breast, surrounding fat, muscle and lymph nodes.

For many women whose breast cancer is detected early and is still localised, there is another option – the removal of the cancerous lump and the lymph nodes under the arm only. Followed by appropriate radiation therapy, chemotherapy, and hormone therapy, this is proving to be just as and is much less disfiguring.

For breast cancer that is recurrent or has metastasised, radiation therapy and chemotherapy are the usual treatments.

For further information on radiation, chemotherapy, and other treatments, see our Cancer section.

Complementary Therapies

There are, at the moment no scientifically proven method of curing cancer. Alternative measures should only be undertaken along with your traditional treatments.

Exercise

Regular aerobic exercise may prevent some forms of breast cancer developing. Studies have found that women who exercised vigorously and often were at least half as likely as more sedentary women to get breast cancer.

Relaxation

Besides pursuing meditation or yoga, many people benefit from group therapy. Relaxation techniques will usually help the patient cope better with the stress of having this disease.

Dietary Considerations

Your diet may be important in preventing breast cancer. Change your diet to include fruits, vegetables, legumes and grains. Limit your intake of fats from animals – meats, dairy products and butter.

Eat plenty of natural fibre and along with vitamins and minerals that protect against breast cancer, specifically vitamins ACD, and E, and calcium, selenium, and iodine. Some doctors recommend that breast cancer patients and survivors take antioxidant supplements.

Prevention

  • Check your breasts once a month, have your doctor check your breasts once a year, and have mammograms annually if you are age 50 or older. Start mammograms earlier if you have a family history of breast cancer.

  • Make fruits, vegetables, grains, and fish the mainstays of your diet.

  • If you practice contraception, ask your doctor about the pros and cons of oestrogen-based birth-control pills.

When to seek further professional advice

  • one or both breasts develop an abnormal lump or persistent pain, or look or feel abnormal or your lymph glands are swollen.


     

Breast problems

Breast problems can include breast pain or masses or lumps within the breast.

 

What to look for

  • tenderness, pain or swelling in one or both breasts, most likely caused by premenstrual swelling.

  • pain accompanied by redness and warmth or a discharge from the nipple; this may indicate an infection or a benign growth or breast cancer.

  • a lump that is movable may be a cyst or a fibroadenoma.

  • a lump that is hard, is not movable, or feels attached to the chest wall, with or without pain, perhaps with dimpling or puckering of the breast; this may be a sign of breast cancer.

Breast can change for a number of different reasons such as puberty, age, monthly with onset of the periods. Most changes in your breast are perfectly normal and no cause for concern. However, you may experience any of several conditions that require medical attention. Especially breast pain or lumps.

Starting at puberty, you should examine your breasts every month, so that you become familiar with their structure – you know what they look like and feel like so you can detect any changes that occur and have them checked out by a doctor.

Premenstrual changes can cause temporary thickening that disappears after the period, so it is best to check your breasts about a week after your period. If you are no longer menstruating, examine your breasts monthly on a day you will remember. Look for dimpling or puckering, and using light pressure, check for lumps near the surface and firm pressure to explore deeper tissues. Check each nipple to see if there is any discharge. If there is discharge – consult your doctor.

Mammograms (specialised breast x-ray) can reveal tumours too tiny to be felt by hand. These tests should be done every 2 year from the age of 35 then increasing the frequency to once a year at age 50. If you have a family history of breast cancer, especially in your mother or sister, your physician may advise a different schedule.

Breast Pain And Lumps

Breast pain can have many causes, including the normal swelling of breast tissue during the menstrual cycle. Other causes include infection or injury; growths, including cancer; and perhaps diet.

The general swelling of breast tissue with the menstrual period can be painful, but it is not dangerous, and no treatment is necessary if you can tolerate the discomfort.

Breast lumps include cysts, adenomas, and papillomas. They are all different sizes and shapes and can be in different places within the breast. It is quite common for women to have lumps in their breasts, (or fibroadenosis), which is sometimes associated with hormonal changes related to the menstrual cycle. Most lumps are benign and do not signal cancer; however, any time you find a new or unusual lump, have your doctor check it to make sure it is not cancerous or pre-cancerous.

Cysts, which can be large or small, are benign fluid-filled sacs. They may be very painful. The best tool for distinguishing a cyst from a solid tumour is ultrasound; a needle biopsy may also be done.

Infection in the breast produce the same symptoms you would see elsewhere in your body, except that in your breast, infections tend to become walled off from surrounding tissue, producing small abscesses. This may give them the appearance of cysts. Infections occur almost exclusively in breast-feeding mothers. If you suspect you have an infection, see your doctor.

Cysts may produce pain, but breast cancer rarely does – although pain does not rule out the possibility of cancer.

Traditional Treatment

Practitioners of both conventional and alternative medicine use diet and nutrition to prevent and treat monthly swelling of the breasts. It is a good idea to maintain a healthy weight and eat a balanced diet. Avoid salt at this time as it can contribute to fluid retention. For some women, eliminating caffeine and related substances, can alleviate breast pain.

In recent years, some conventional doctors have suggested vitamin E supplements, to treat breast pain not caused by cancer. In addition, a conventional physician may suggest relieving pain with an analgesic or general pain reliever.

If the pain still persists your doctor may prescribe other drugs to help.

If you suffer from breast lumps, a doctor may insert a needle into the cyst and draw the fluid out and examine it. This also rids you of the cyst. If however the fluid is bloody the doctor will want to investigate this further. It may be an indication of cancer.

Fibroadenomas can be diagnosed only by biopsy. Surgical removal, usually in a same-day surgical procedure, is considered the only treatment.

Some conventional doctors recommend eliminating caffeine and saturated fats to shrink breast cysts.

Breast infections are treated with antibiotics. If an abscess exists, your doctor may also make a small incision to drain it. If this doesn’t work, minor surgery is the next step.

Alternative/natural Treatments

In addition to conventional dietary changes and supplements, naturopaths will treat breast pain with higher doses of nutritional supplements and with herbs.

Herbal Therapies – Evening primrose oil and Vitamin E may be helpful for this problem.

Personal Care – It is often helpful to warm the area with a warm washer or compress.

Dietary Considerations

  • Because fat in the diet is associated with oestrogen production, you can reduce oestrogen levels in your body by eating a low-fat diet.

  • Eat a low fat, high fibre diet and avoid stress for long periods.

When to seek further professional advice

  • you notice any kind of new or unusual lump in your breasts, especially one that remains throughout your menstrual cycle.. Have your doctor check any lump.

Bulimia

Bulimia is an eating disorder which involves the compulsive eating of large quantities of food over a short space of time. The Binges are usually followed by periods of strict dieting and purging.

What to look for

  • alternating bingeing and purging.

  • unrealistic fear of becoming fat.

  • weight fluctuation (although relatively normal weight may be maintained).

  • food cravings.

  • overuse of laxatives.

  • depression.

  • tooth enamel erosion, gum infections, cavities, and tooth discolouration

  • gastrointestinal upset.

Bulimia is an eating disorder that, like anorexia nervosa, is psychological in origin and both involve an obsession with food and weight and can have fatal consequences. While anorexics simply starve themselves, Bulimics binge on food and then purge by self-induced vomiting. Bulimics also frequently use diet pills, laxatives, and diuretics to reduce their weight. They are usually secretive about their bingeing so therefore it may take quite a while before the problem is detected.

Bulimia can occur on its own or with anorexia. Despite their overlap, the two disorders are associated with some different personality traits: Anorexics are apt to suppress all urges, including sexual ones; Bulimics, on the other hand, tend to indulge their desires, impulsively getting into trouble with drugs, sexual promiscuity, shoplifting, or binge buying.

How well a bulimic person is depends on how often they binge and purge. They may vomit occasionally or very frequently. Physical repercussions include swelling of the stomach or pancreas, inflammation of the oesophagus, enlarged salivary glands, and tooth decay and gum disease from vomiting stomach acids.

Frequent vomiting also depletes the water and potassium in bodily tissues, causing abnormal heart rhythms, muscle spasms, and even paralysis. In severe cases, some of these physical problems can lead to death. Suicide is also of concern among these patients.

Bulimia is an illness that needs to be monitored by professionals and in most cases the Bulimics will not regain health on their own.

Causes

Pressures and conflicts within the family are thought to be the primary cause of bulimia. A bulimic is apt to be an over-achiever and perfectionist who feels she can’t live up to her parents’ expectations. She has low self-esteem and often suffers from depression. A history of abuse is common in bulimia sufferers.

Traditional Treatment

Successful treatment depends on the person involved realising that they have a problem and that their health is in danger. Treatment with an experienced doctor or psychologist is the usual treatment as well as training in nutrition. There are clinics which specialise in treatment of bulimic patients; it is vital that all doctors and specialists involved work together.

Antidepressants are now used in bulimia therapy regularly.

Alternative/natural Treatments

Most alternative therapies for bulimia do not address the root causes of the disorder, but they can be helpful in relieving some of the physical distress resulting from it.

Herbal Therapies – Use any herbal therapies that reduce anxiety or depression. To soothe stomach pains or mouth inflammation, try marsh mallow (Althaea officinalis) or slippery elm (Ulmus fulva) powder.

Homoeopathy – Homoeopathic medicine offers potentially beneficial prescriptions for eating disorders. In difficult cases, where conventional medicine has not been successful, consider seeking out a Homoeopath who has experience in treating bulimia.

Dietary considerations

The bulimic should be on a balanced diet of all the main food groups, avoiding sugar. Also eliminate alcohol, caffeine, flavour enhancers, most salt, and cigarettes. Supplement daily with vitamin Cvitamin B complex, and a multivitamin/multi-mineral supplement.

When to seek further professional advice

  • you find yourself secretly bingeing, then vomiting or using laxatives.

  • you avoid eating in front of other people.

  • your child has an unreasonable fear of being fat and thinks she’s fat when she’s not.

  • your child avoids eating with others or goes to the bathroom immediately after meals.