Magnesium – the fourth most abundant nutrient in the body!!

Did you know the importance of magnesium regarding our health and wellbeing? Magnesium is used in over 300 enzyme systems that regulate diverse biochemical reactions in the body, including protein synthesis, muscle and nerve function, blood glucose control, and blood pressure regulation, energy levels and much more!!

A Dr. Norman Shealy said “Every known illness is associated with a magnesium deficiency… magnesium is the most critical mineral required for electrical stability of every cell in the body. Magnesium deficiency may be responsible for more diseases than any other nutrient.”

Here are the Recommended daily allowances for Magnesium:

Recommended Dietary Allowances (RDAs) for Magnesium
Age Male Female Pregnancy Lactation
Birth to 6 months 30 mg 30 mg    
7–12 months 75 mg 75 mg    
1–3 years 80 mg 80 mg    
4–8 years 130 mg 130 mg    
9–13 years 240 mg 240 mg    
14–18 years 410 mg 360 mg 400 mg 360 mg
19–30 years 400 mg 310 mg 350 mg 310 mg
31–50 years 420 mg 320 mg 360 mg 320 mg
51+ years 420 mg 320 mg    

A lot of people are not getting enough magnesium, a nutrient which is required daily. Magnesium deficiency is hard to diagnose as it isn’t usually tested for in blood tests. This is because only 1% of the body’s magnesium is stored in the blood.  Most of the magnesium in the body is stored in bones or in cells making it difficult to determine what the levels really are.  Estimates regarding magnesium deficiency seen to relate to half of the population!!

Dr. Sidney Baker is quoted saying: “Magnesium deficiency can affect virtually every organ system of the body. With regard to skeletal muscle, one may experience twitches, cramps, muscle tension, muscle soreness, including back aches, neck pain, tension headaches and jaw joint (or TMJ) dysfunction. Also, one may experience chest tightness or a peculiar sensation that he can’t take a deep breath. Sometimes a person may sigh a lot.”

“Symptoms involving impaired contraction of smooth muscles include constipation; urinary spasms; menstrual cramps; difficulty swallowing or a lump in the throat especially provoked by eating sugar; photophobia, especially difficulty adjusting to oncoming bright headlights in the absence of eye disease; and loud noise sensitivity from stapedius muscle tension in the ear.”

“Other symptoms and signs of magnesium deficiency and discuss laboratory testing for this common condition. Continuing with the symptoms of magnesium deficiency, the central nervous system is markedly affected. Symptoms include insomnia, anxiety, hyperactivity and restlessness with constant movement, panic attacks, agoraphobia, and premenstrual irritability. Magnesium deficiency symptoms involving the peripheral nervous system include numbness, tingling, and other abnormal sensations, such as zips, zaps and vibratory sensations.”

“Symptoms or signs of the cardiovascular system include palpitations, heart arrhythmias, and angina due to spasms of the coronary arteries, high blood pressure and mitral valve prolapse. Be aware that not all of the symptoms need to be present to presume magnesium deficiency; but, many of them often occur together. For example, people with mitral valve prolapse frequently have palpitations, anxiety, panic attacks and premenstrual symptoms. People with magnesium deficiency often seem to be “uptight.” Other general symptoms include a salt craving, both carbohydrate craving and carbohydrate intolerance, especially of chocolate, and breast tenderness.”

Here are more signs and symptoms of magnesium deficiency:

  • Physical and mental fatigue
  • Persistent under-eye twitch
  • Tension in the upper back, shoulders and neck
  • Headaches
  • Pre-menstrual fluid retention and/or breast tenderness
  • Low energy
  • Fatigue
  • Weakness
  • Confusion
  • Nervousness
  • Anxiousness
  • Irritability
  • Seizures (and tantrums)
  • Poor digestion
  • PMS and hormonal imbalances
  • Inability to sleep
  • Muscle tension, spasm and cramps
  • Calcification of organs
  • Weakening of the bones
  • Abnormal heart rhythm
  • Extreme thirst
  • Extreme hunger
  • Frequent urination
  • Sores or bruises that heal slowly
  • Dry, itchy skin
  • Unexplained weight loss
  • Blurry vision that changes from day to day
  • Unusual tiredness or drowsiness
  • Tingling or numbness in the hands or feet
  • Frequent or recurring skin, gum, bladder or vaginal yeast infections

The causes of a lack of magnesium can include dietary choices, availability of foods high in magnesium, as well as illness, use of certain pharmaceuticals, and genetic factors.

Here is a list of specific orthodox medications that are known to increase excretion of magnesium and/or increase the body’s magnesium requirements:

  • Certain antibiotics such as Garamycin, tobramycin (Nebcin), carbenicillin, ticaricillin, amphotericin B and antibiotics of the tetracycline class
  • The anti-fungal drug Pentamidine, used to prevent and treat pneumonia
  • Oestrogen, found in birth control pills and hormone replacement therapy
  • Corticosteroids such as hydrocortisone
  • Diuretics such as Edercrin, Lasix, mannitol, and thiazides (with names commonly ending in -zide)
  • Certain heart failure medications including digitalis, digoxin (Lanoxin), Qunidex, and Cordarone
  • Medications used to treat irregular heartbeat, such as Cordarone (amiodarone), bretylium, quinidine (Cardioquin) and sotalol (Betapace)
  • The anti-cancer drug Platinol, and other immunosuppressant drugs such as Neoral and Sandimmune
  • Antineoplastics, used in chemotherapy, and radiation
  • Asthma medications such as epinephrine, isoproterenol and aminophylline
  • The antipsychotic and antischizophrenic drugs Pimozide (Orap), Mellaril and Stelazine4

Getting adequate levels of this nutrient can help to improve digestive problems, regulate blood sugar levels, support and maintain a healthy heart, nurture healthy bones, detoxify the body and decrease the risk of cancer!  Magnesium also helps to reduce inflammation in the body.  Magnesium is also great for reducing pre-menstrual tension, reducing breast tenderness and painful/heavy periods.  It is also essential for the health of our thyroid which controls our metabolism.

Healthy sources of magnesium include:

  • Avocados
  • Almonds
  • Green vegetables
  • Raw broccoli
  • Black beans
  • Peas
  • Pumpkin seeds
  • Sunflower seeds
  • Cashews
  • Squash
  • Sesame seeds
  • Okra
  • Spinach
  • Bananas
  • Brewer’s yeast
  • Carrots
  • Cherries
  • Coconut milk
  • Cottage cheese
  • Molasses
  • Papaya
  • Radishes
  • Seaweed
  • Tahini
  • Wheatgerm

How’s your head? Hangover remedies

Ok, now I’m not one to go out often but I was lucky enough to get out to a pub last night to watch my friend’s band Dead Like Zombie’s.  People dressed up because of Halloween and the pub was raising money for the local hospice.  I had a great time out with friends, met new faces and danced so all was good…. until I awake fifteen minutes ago 😉

hangover

Picture from http://stuffhillpeoplelike.blogspot.co.uk/2008/04/14-hangovers.html

As a herbalist I like to support my liver, binge drinking alcohol isn’t recommended (period) but when it occurs there are a number of things that can be done to ease the suffering (lucky for me).  What are your favourite hang over remedies?  Simple as it seems the best way to avoid a hangover is to avoid too much alcohol!!

milk thistle sliced

My favourite is a herb called Silybum marianum or Milk Thistle, it is a native plant to the UK which helps to support the liver (which is overburdened trying to process the alcohol chugged last night).  I usually take two capsules prior to going out, two on returning and two in the morning to give my liver a helping hand.  I have previously written an article about Milk Thistle which is published on my website if you would like to know how it supports the liver: http://www.herbsforhealthandwellbeing.co.uk/article-about-milk-thistle-herb.html

I also love eggs to help to resolve a hangover.  They have always been a big feature of hangover cures – how many have turned to an English breakfast to help them the morning after?  But did you know that eggs do contain a certain chemical (or active constituent) which is known to neutralise the effects of alcohol?  I do not advocate fried food but I can highly recommend scrambled or poached eggs (even with bacon) to help you feel better.eggs

One of the reasons why people have a banging headache is dehydration, but did you know that vitamins and minerals are depleted from the body when drinking? When we wee during a night out drinking we are losing potassium and we also lose Vitamin C.  You can replenish them with a glass of fresh orange juice. Why not add a teaspoon of lemon or line juice and a dash of cumin powder to really get you back in gear? Or you could whip up an easy vegetable broth for dinner to replace fluid and mineral loss.  Either way drink a lot of water to help to flush the alcohol toxins out of your body, support your liver and rehydrate you from all of the weeing you will have done the night before.

Do you drink herbal teas? I love them, do not be put off if you have tried one or two and you didn’t like them as they are all completely different and taste so much better made fresh than in a tea bag from a supermarket (although these still have some merit). If you have a dodgy stomach and feel sick you can drink ginger tea. A slice or two of the root in a glass of boiling water will soothe your stomach, ginger helps with pain relief, is antibiotic, antibacterial and also reduces feelings of sickness (nausea) – it tastes delicious too.ginger tea

Or you can drink a peppermint tea, great for an upset stomach; peppermint helps to soothe and regulate your digestion.  If you add honey to the drink it will help to ease your headache and help to rehydrate you.  Nettle tea is full of nutrients and helps to support the liver and kidneys or you could try a cup of thyme tea to ease your headache and queasy stomach more effectively and safely than many over the counter pain relievers.

Well, I’m feeling better already, I hope that you will find some relief too 🙂 have a great Sunday.

The Impact that Nutrition can have in the Treatment of Candida Albicans.

albicans is a member of the yeast family, a variety of fungi and it occurs within our bodies.  It is present from the first few months in life and when the balance of our intestinal flora is healthy it remains without having any detrimental impact on our health and wellbeing.  Health problems occur when the opportunistic yeast populations become prolific.  This can occur when people take antibiotics – which is unfortunately too often than not!!  Antibiotics destroy/kill all bacteria, so the candida which has been happily residing in the gut suddenly finds all its neighbours dying it jumps at the chance to take up the available space.  C. albicans derives nutrients from our bodies via enzymes that it produces. Living naturally in the digestive system (lower intestines), vagina and also present on skin parasitically not symbiotically.

When the candida is in balance with our intestinal flora is acts like a yeast, but when it becomes a dominant habitant of the digestive system the invasive yeast branches out with hyphae (fungus like mycelium tract) and secretes a phospholipase disrupting cell membranes, causing inflammation leading to symptoms such as leaky gut syndrome, the candida now acting like a fungus can cross the walls of the intestines and affect other body systems and organs within the body.  C. albicans produces over 79 toxic substances which can result in hypersensitive reactions causing symptoms such as muscle and joint pains, irritability, psoriasis, depression, headaches, fatigue, sexual problems (including infertility), memory loss, digestive disorders, itching, and learning problems such as Attention Deficient Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) and autism.

Common symptoms experienced with C. albicans include cold extremities, frequent urination, depression, sleep disorders irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), recurrent childhood ear, nose and throat infections, constant gas or bloating, endometriosis, constipation, heartburn, recurrent sinusitis and recurrent bronchitis.  Allergic reactions to the yeast antigens can occur in chronic or recurring candida infections with inflammatory responses too!

Candida produces alcohol and acetaldehyde from its enzymic metabolism of sugar; acetaldehyde consumes B vitamins leading to depression, exhaustion and trembling.  Exposure to acetaldehyde can also interfere with essential fatty acid (EFA) metabolism, the formation of acetyl-CoA and the availability of vitamin B6.  Sugar is candida’s food source and in our diet there is above average sugar intake.

Nutrition has important implications on health, immunity and disease.  Toxins in the body excreted by C. albicans can contribute to a multitude of diseases and disorders symptoms of which have been mentioned above.  Without complete digestion of food and elimination of toxins, vitamins and minerals can become deficient even if they are consumed – therefore if you have digestive issues it would be beneficial to see a herbalist.  If you have digestive issues you will struggle to assimilate the nutrients which you are eating and also you will struggle to access any supplements which you may also be taking.

Lots of food is prepared and processed prior to being sold for consumption, care should be taken when shopping for food to be aware of where it is sourced from and what goes into it.  Medicines such as steroids and antibiotics, are given to animals reared for food and can be transferred to people when eaten.  Oestrogens are given to increase meat yield and may be a causative factor of yeast infection, regular intake of meat and dairy may result in the absorption of antibiotic and hormone residues.  Organic sources do reduce this risk but steroids and antibiotics used in animals and fruit production runs into water getting into tap water supplies.  Drugs are designed to stay biologically active and are excreted quickly from animals and humans, passing into water supplies, possibly leaching into soils and accumulating in concentration in areas.  Continuous exposure to pharmaceutical medication leads to resistant pathogens and possible allergic responses in people.  This may explain why sperm counts are down in humans and animals after decades of women taking the contraceptive pill and excreting the medication in a biologically active form into the water supply.  Our water is filtered but it doesn’t prevent pharmaceuticals from entering our drinking water, pharmaceutical medicines can also depress immunity.

The typical Western Diet isn’t nutritionally balanced either!!  Overall it is low in fibre, high in refined starches (which are converted to simple sugars), contains saturated, trans and hydrogenated fats but not enough micronutrients, has high levels of preservatives and additives too.  It contains a lot of fast processed foods and a multitude of foods that weren’t available prior to agriculture (Table is available at the bottom of this blog).  Cultures who conform to the western diet experience the same issues – people on the western diet are generally overweight but undernourished due to the empty nutrients in the processed foods which are eaten!!  The western diet results in health problems such as obesity, heart disease and diabetes.  Refined sugar influences states of micronutrient deficiency and lowered immunity but are added to a lot of foods to make them taste more appealing to us.

Genetically people with the blood group O are slightly more susceptible to yeast infections, although diet, nutrition and lifestyle also contributes to the aetiology of disease.  Foods which exacerbate candida include refined carbohydrates, carbohydrate rich foods and high levels of sugar.  This makes a lot of sense when you realise that all carbohydrates are digested, broken down into simple sugars – sugar is the building block for all carbohydrates.  Yeast based or fermented foods can aggravate symptoms in people hypersensitive to C. albicans such as vinegar, wine, beer, alcohol, yeast extracts and spreads, mushrooms and blue cheeses.

The immune system can control an overgrowth of candida with the body’s mucosa prevents overgrowth and controlling populations of yeast when healthy; a diet high in sugar combined with a weakened immunity increases susceptibility to infection.  Incomplete digestion, digestive enzyme deficiencies and diets high in refined food can contribute to destructive cycles in internal health. Ingestion of reactive foods reduces metabolism which increased intestinal permeability and reduces the intestinal capacity to digest nutrients; this leads to nutrient deficiencies which weakens the immune system and allows yeast to colonize areas.

C. albicans irritates the intestinal lining via enzyme release causing inflammation which further increases the body’s reactivity to certain foods.  Magnesium, EFA’s and Vitamin B6 deficiencies are common in yeast infections.  Magnesium deficiency leads to inflammation and ischemia in the intestines.  EFA deficiency reduces immunity and the ability of the body systems and increases inflammation. Vitamin B6 and zinc deficiencies can also compromise the immune system.

Increased sugar in the diet, imbalances in blood sugars and metabolism of starches, fats and proteins contribute to C. albicans overpopulation. Stress reduces immunity and mucus secretions and consumes essential micronutrients such as zinc and vitamin C increasing the negative immunosuppressant actions.  As complex beings every action and choice we make can have an impact on health.  Exacerbating factors include sugar-rich foods, hormone contraceptives, steroids and drugs which stimulate yeast production.  Antibiotics which destroy healthy flora, symbiotic bacteria e.g. Lactobacillus acidophilus allowing other nonbacterial pathogens to multiply in its place.  Antibiotics also damage intestinal mucosa: a physiological barrier to yeast infections and part of the innate immune system.  Steroids and the contraceptive pill suppress immunity adding to the problem.  Another contributing factor is amalgam fillings in teeth, due to mercury metal toxicity.

High protein and complex carbohydrates are more beneficial to patients than refined carbohydrates or sugars (although the only carbohydrates that I recommend are fruits and vegetables as they are packed with nutrients).  Proteins are built up of multiple peptide chains of amino acids accessed from the amino acid pool after digestion, complete hydrolysis of proteins take place in the intestines.  Amino acids are rapidly removed from the blood utilised by all cells in the body, especially the liver. Complex carbohydrates take slower to digest than refined products containing higher levels of dietary fibre and starch – but are still relatively new in the history of human diets as grains were only introduced 10,000 years ago – a blink of the eye in evolutionary terms!  Insulin is released in the body to regulate the body’s blood sugars once carbohydrates have been fully digested.  Complex carbohydrates ensure a slower release of sugars enabling blood glucose levels to remain balanced but due to they being relatively new to our diet can cause inflammation and symptoms of food intolerance which are similar to symptoms of candida – attempt an exclusion diet to see if your symptoms improve after reducing your carbohydrate content (remove bread, rice, pasta and pastries – you are allowed potatoes).

EFA’s such as linseed or evening primrose oil are recommended as they are high in omega 3 linolenic acid, a building block for anti-inflammatory prostaglandins and a bulking fibre.  EFA’s are long chain polyunsaturated fatty acids, omega 3, also known as linolenic acid, works as a precursor of prostaglandins.  Omega 6 – linoleic acid is a precursor of most prostaglandins, leukotriene’s and arachidonic acid.  In plain English – Omega 3 is anti-inflammatory and Omega 6 can be pro-inflammatory.  The western diet is high in Omega 6 which is pro-inflammatory.  Physical characteristics of EFA deficiency include dry flaky skin, brittle nails and straw like hair – does this sound like you?  Vegetable oils have disturbingly high ratios of omega 6, swap them for fruit oils such as olive oil and coconut oil and swap your margarine for butter too!! Just remember the portion size for fat is the size of an average dice.

Garlic is beneficial for reducing yeast overgrowth, it modulates the cardiovascular system, boosts immunity, and is anti-fungal and anti-oxidant.  Anti-microbial effects of garlic against C. albicans can be attributed to its constituents – diallyl disulphide and allyl alcohol.  Vitamin C is also beneficial as it detoxifies the body and enhances immune function, 200mcg daily of chromium normalises blood sugars, ginger helps by stimulating the circulation and grapefruit seed extract helps to clear yeast and other pathogenic microflora without disrupting the beneficial flora in the intestines.  This is just the tip of the iceberg of beneficial foods and supplements to help with candida overgrowth.

Prevention and control of C. albicans is a slow process which can take months.  Patients need to be strict, ensuring that they have optimum nutrition, increasing the intake of whole foods and supporting the body in the removal of toxins.  The body’s natural defences and healing potential need improving and yeast activity needs reducing depriving it of sugars.  Excretory organs need supporting to detox the body of toxins and damaged tissues need to be repaired and supported.  Boiled water has a reduced surface tension and can carry toxins to be eliminated.  At first patients should eliminate sugar rich foods and refined carbohydrates for 4-10 days, keeping a diary to find out which foods aggravate them.

Patrick Holford recommends a simultaneous four point plan consisting of:

  1. Anti- fungal approach introducing products such as propolis a natural bee product which is effective on fungal infections of the skin and body and can be taken internally or grapefruit seed extract is a powerful antibiotic, antifungal and antiviral which doesn’t affect good bacteria and also garlic as mentioned above (it you are on pharmaceutical medication check with a herbalist or your doctor before introducing grapefruit into your diet).
  2. Probiotics help to rectify damage caused by recurrent antibiotic use by re-establishing healthy colonies of good bacteria in the intestines which increase acidity by producing lactic acid and acetic acid which inhibits pathogenic flora.  Hundreds of different species are found naturally in the intestines living off partially digested food, completing the digestion process, providing us with B vitamins, biotin, folic acid and vitamin K.  Probiotics naturally re-inhabit our digestive tract with healthy bacteria, it also helps to improve our moods and emotions!!
  3. Supplements can be taken to correct imbalances of glucose tolerance, hormones and histamine levels and detoxify body such as Vitamin C to rid the bowel of toxins – but are only effective if our digestion is working well.  If you experience bloating, wind, spots on the forehead, cramps, diarrhoea and/or constipation then your digestion isn’t up to speed and you may not be accessing/assimilating the supplements you are taking.
  4. Complying with an anti-candida diet – simple sugars such as lactose and fructose should be excluded, refined carbohydrates should be eliminated and wholegrain carbohydrates reduced.  Avoid yeast, fermented products, refined carbohydrates and stimulants.  It is stated that an anti-candida diet should be maintained for a year to consolidate newly corrected healthy gut flora.  Avoid all sources of sugar, including fruit for the first month and yeast containing foods such as alcohol and vinegar.  Avoid yeasted breads, pastries and pastas, processed and packaged including breakfast cereals, caffeine, condiments, mushrooms, malt products, dried and candied fruit, processed and smoked meats, luncheon meats, sugar and foods containing sugar.  Vegetables, grain, beans, lentils, nuts and seeds can be eaten in plenitude.

C. albicans is parasitic yeast which can overpopulate areas of the body causing health problems and inflammation.  It gains nutrition via enzymes, creating toxins which can add to symptoms.  Diet is essential in the treatment of yeast overgrowth.  Supporting homeostasis and redressing health imbalances a slow and painstaking process.  Ecosystems observed in nature are delicately balanced and the same applies to the hundreds of different microflora found in the gut.  Taking responsibility for certain actions and restraining from using several conventional medicines will help the situation, but immunosuppression of any kind, such as stress, can cause a relapse back to its original dysbiosis.  Adherence of several factors including supporting the immune system enabling repair, eating nutritionally balanced whole foods, using anti-fungal agents and repopulating the intestine with non-pathogenic microflora are stringently required.

 

Table of foods in the western diet which weren’t available to pre-agricultural society

“Food or food group Value

Dairy products % of energy
    Whole milk 1.6
    Low-fat     milk 2.1
    Cheese 3.2
    Butter 1.1
    Other 2.6
    Total 10.6
Cereal grains
    Whole grains 3.5
    Refined     grains 20.4
    Total 23.9
Refined sugars
    Sucrose 8.0
    High-fructose     corn syrup 7.8
    Glucose 2.6
    Syrups 0.1
    Other 0.1
    Total 18.6
Refined vegetable oils
    Salad,     cooking oils 8.8
    Shortening 6.6
    Margarine 2.2
    Total 17.6
Alcohol 1.4
Total energy 72.1
Added salt, as sodium chloride 9.6”

Copied from: Cordain, L. Eaton, S. Sebastian, A. Mann, N. Lindeberg, S. Watkins, B. O’Keefe, J. Brand-Miller, J (2005) ‘Origins and evolution of the Western diet: health implications for the 21st century.’ American Society for Clinical Nutrition. [Online] 81(2) 341-354 Available from: http://www.ajcn.org/content/81/2/341.full [Accessed 3rd January 2011]

 

References:

Bauman, E (2009) Women’s Eating Habits & Health Concerns: Nutritional Support for Balancing Weight, Mood & Menopause. [Online] Available from: http://www.baumancollege.org/pdfs/articles/WomensEating.BCArticle.01-29-09.pdf [Accessed 11th January 2011]

Bellamy, I. MacLean, D (2005) Radiant Healing: The Many Paths to Personal Harmony and Planetary Wholeness. Australia. Joshua Books.

British Nutrition Foundation (2009) Carbohydrate. [Online] Available from: http://www.nutrition.org.uk/nutritionscience/nutrients/carbohydrate [Accessed: 5th January 2011]

Chaitow, L (2003) Candida Albicans. Great Britain. HarperCollins Publishers.

Chandramohan, S (2007) Pharmaceuticals in our drinking water. [Online] Available from: http://www.pharmainfo.net/reviews/pharmaceuticals-our-drinking-water [Accessed 14th January 2011]

Cordain, L. Eaton, S. Sebastian, A. Mann, N. Lindeberg, S. Watkins, B. O’Keefe, J. Brand-Miller, J (2005) ‘Origins and evolution of the Western diet: health implications for the 21st century.’ American Society for Clinical Nutrition. [Online] 81(2) 341-354 Available from: http://www.ajcn.org/content/81/2/341.full [Accessed 3rd January 2011]

D’Adamo (2006) Candida Albicans Infection, ABO and Secretor Blood Groups. [Online] The Individualist. Available from: http://www.drpeterjdadamo.com/wiki/wiki.pl/Candida_Albicans_Infection,_ABO_and_Secretor_Blood_Groups [Accessed: 7th January 2011]

DeWille, J. Fraker, P. Romsos, D (1979) ‘Various Levels of Dietary Polyunsaturated Fatty Acids on Humoral Immunity in Mice’ Journal of Nutrition 109 (6) 1018-1027

Fox, B. Cameron, A (1991) Food, Science, Nutrition and Health. Fifth Edition. Great Britain. Mathematical Composition Setters Ltd.

Galland, L (1984) ‘Nutrition and Candidiasis’ Journal of Orthomolecular psychiatry. 14(1) 50-60

Holford, P (2001) Improve Your Digestion. Great Britain. Phoenix Photosetting.

Holford, P (1997) The Optimum Nutrition Bible. Great Britain. Judy Piatkus Publishers Ltd.

Lemar, K. Passa, O. Aon, M. Cortassa, S. Muller, C. Plummer, S. O’Rourke, B. Lloyd, D (2005) ‘Ally alcohol and garlic (Allium sativum) extract produces oxidative stress in Candida albicans. Microbiology. 151 (10) 3257-3265

Oliver, S (2000) Banish Bloating. Great Britain. Simon & Schuster UK Ltd.

Scanlan, B.J. Tuft, B. Elfrey, J.E. Smith, A. Zhao, A. Morimoto, M. Chmielinska, J.J. Tejero-Taldo, M.I. Mak, I.T. Weglicki, W.B. Shea-Donohue, T (2007) ‘Intestinal Inflammation caused by Magnesium Deficiency Alters Basal and Oxidative Stress-Induced Intestinal Function’ Molecular and Cellular Biochemistry. JUl27 [Epub ahead of print]

Wright, B (1996) Cycles of Disease and Health. [Online] Colon Health. Available from: http://www.positivehealth.com/article-view.php?articleid=479 [Accessed: 10th January 2011]

 

Natural Relief of Headaches

Headaches can be caused by stress and tension

Headaches can be caused by stress and tension

Don’t you just hate it when you get a headache? Whether it is a dull ache or a pounding head it really stops you from concentrating properly and detracts from your happiness. It can feel like our brain is screaming out but actually the bones of the skull and the brain itself do not hurt as they do not contain the nerve fibres to sense pain – headaches are felt in the scalp, face and in the tissues which surround the brain.

Most headaches are caused by ‘non-organic’ factors with only 2% of headaches being to result of something serious such as a tumour, high blood pressure or another disease/pathology. It is always worth investigating the cause of your headaches if you experience them on a regular basis or for long periods of time to determine if they are caused by illness/imbalances or not. It is always better to be safe than sorry – I lost my step-dad as he put off the fact that he was experiencing headaches for ages until finally the doctor diagnosed a brain tumour which was beyond trratment!! Most headaches are caused by tiredness, emotional issues, allergies or dehydration. When a headache is caused by muscle spasms it is classed as a tension headache and when it is due to dilation of blood vessels it can be called a vascular headache.

As a herbalist in order to resolve a persons headaches I have to determine the cause of the headache. headaches can be subdivided into the following groups:

Environmental – such as pollution, lighting, noise etc.
Stress – physical, mental or emotional stress in a persons life.
Dietary – some foods or additives can trigger allergic response headaches.
Organic – the 2% of people who experience headaches due to an underlying disease/illness/imbalance.

As a herbalist there are pain-relieving herbs which can be used but this is quite a symptomatic approach. Remember pain releif without resolving the cause is like there being a fire in a house and just opening the window to get rid of the smoke!  Therefore by determining the cause of the headache then the appropriate herbs can be given to resolve them for example giving anti-inflammatory and anti-spasmodic herbs to alleviate the underlying muscles contractions in tension headaches or offering herbs which balance the contraction and dilation of blood vessels in vascular headaches.

Luscious lavenderI recommend lavender oil for tension headaches – the aromatherapy oil can be purchased and is easy to use – if you find relief from this then you should look at the stress in your life and see if you can reduce any of it. I also recommend rosemary oil – this essential oil should be diluted in a carrier oil (I recommend hemp oil as it is quickly absorbed into the skin). If rosemary oil improves the headaches then you know that the cause is due to cerebral circulation (how the blood moves around the head). If you would like to purchase some from me then just email myself on: ewarrenerherbal@gmail.com (I have paypal facilities). Chamomile or peppermint tea are both delicious ways of taking herbs which can help to improve and hopefully resolve headaches. There are several herbs which can act like natural aspirin as they contain salacyclic acid – the key point is that as a whole herb they also tend to be anti-inflammatory and help to stop bleeding (although they do not thin the blood to prevent clots).

If you attend a herbal consultation to discover the cause of your headaches possible triggers would be explored which include: stress, emotions, muscle tension, a change in the weather/seasons.altitude or time zones, changes in your sleeping patterns or meal times, smoking, polluted air or stuffy rooms, blood clotting, caffiene and food. There are multiple foods which can trigger headaches in sensitive people including: nuts, chocolate, vinegar, bananas, anything fermented, citrus fruits etc. Once the cause has been determined then a herbal prescription is designed to suit your unique health issues to help resolve the cause as well as alleviate the symptoms.

Citrus fruits can trigger headaches in sensitive people.

There are several home remedies for headaches such as using a warm cabbage leaf as a compress, eating garlic regularily (to reduce blood pressure), making steam inhalations of eucalyptus, rosemary and thyme to resolve sinus headaches, feverfew tea for migraines and a raw potato on the forehead to relieve a headache caused by too much sun!