Menopause, a time for transition

Menopause is a natural process, which occurs with age as a woman’s body adapts to the changes that result from ovarian decline.  The Pituitary gland, found in the brain, attempts to stimulate the ovaries back into function, which in turn results in the symptoms associated with menopause, such as hot flushes.  At this time, the adrenal glands are expected to take over the role of the declining ovaries, so if they are exhausted or compromised in any way the process becomes harder work for the hormonal system to process and adapt to.  Likewise, if the liver is overburdened with toxicity from diet and lifestyle choices, it is unable to assist in the detoxing of the body and processing of hormones.

The onset of menopause usually occurs between the ages of 50 and 55 and is a gradual cessation of menstruation.  Peri-menopause, seen as the transitional period before menopause, can occur anytime between 2 and 20 years before menopause.  During this time, women usually see irregularity of their menstrual cycle caused by fluctuations in the levels of oestrogen and progesterone.  Scientists believe that the peri-menopausal stage is occurring earlier and earlier due to the number of hormone-like chemicals in today’s environment, which disrupt a woman’s natural cycle.

When patients come to see me for support, I generally offer a combination of Homeopathic remedies, herbal and nutritional supplements, which together alleviate symptoms and support this transition stage.

Diet and lifestyle are important factors for this time of transition. The hormonal changes within the body can put additional stress on women’s body’s, so it’s the ideal time to make yourself a priority.

So how can you help your body through this time of transition?

Adding Calcium and Magnesium to your diet will help alleviate anxiety and protect bone health.

Vitamins B & E can reduce hot flushes and improve circulation, Vitamin B also helps with feelings of stress and anxiety, often felt by menopausal women. I’ve mentioned in other blogs how the adrenal glands are affected by the menopause, so I always recommend my clients consider a good quality adrenal support supplement to help combat anxiety and exhaustion.

Essential Fatty Acids also alleviate hot flushes and act as a diuretic for those who experience fluid retention.

By avoiding foods which stimulate the adrenal glands, which are already under additional demand you will help to lessen symptoms such as hot flushes. For example, caffeinated drinks and alcohol stimulate the adrenals and also over stimulate the nervous system.

Most health food shops also stock a good range of herbal tinctures, such as Hypericum, Agnus Castus and Black Cohosh, all of which help to rebalance the hormonal symptom and relieve symptoms. I’ve had great success supporting women with Homeobotanicals, which combine all of these herbs (and a few more!) to alleviate some of the symptoms experienced at this time.

If supplements are your preference, Evening Primrose Oil is a good source of Omega 6 and fatty acids. Ashwagandha is a well known Ayurverdic herb which supports the symptoms of menopause.

If sleep becomes a problem, I recommend Neals Yard Goodnight Pillow Mist to help calm and relax the body into sleep. They also offer a combination of aromatherapy oils to help bring balance to the female hormonal system.

There are so many ways for us, as women to support our bodies, with around 30 different symptoms now considered to be associated with the menopause, no two women are likely to experience the same.

There’s so much more information I could share with you, drop me a line if you’d like some advice and support.

Sophie x

Is your medication undermining your healthy diet?

So what would your response to that question be?  Is your daily medication, which you take to reduce your blood pressure, stop your menopausal symptoms, reduce your asthma symptoms, whatever the medication is for, could it be undermining your healthy diet, by depleting your body of the vitamins and minerals it needs.

The answer is yes!

Regardless of whether they are prescription drugs or over the counter medication, without hesitation, they will be stripping the body of what it requires on a daily basis to maintain a level of health and wellbeing.

So, now not only do we need to think about eating enough fruit and veg every day, we also need to think about what shortfalls there may be as a result of medication. Enough already!

Let’s look at a few examples of this

Antibiotics are widely taken across the world and it is commonly known as a medication which depletes the body of beneficial gut flora, the friendly bacteria in our guts.  In addition to this, antibiotics will also steal from our body’s stores of B vitamins, calcium, magnesium and iron.

Blood pressure medication will remove a large number of vitamins and minerals from the body.  Vitamin D, calcium, magnesium, potassium, melatonin and zinc.

How about HRT and other hormonal medications?  These will deplete the body of beneficial gut flora, magnesium, zinc, vitamins C and B.

A simple pain relief pill, taken for a headache perhaps, will deplete the bodies’ stores of vitamin C, Folic acid and iron.

Regardless of what the medication is for, the effects will be a shortfall of essential nutrients.

But what does this mean to our general health? The symptoms of these shortfalls in vitamins and minerals are varied.

Vitamin C, which we all think to take when we need to boost our immune system, is responsible for the integrity of connective tissue in the body. A lack of the vitamin will result in frequent infections, lack of energy, bleeding gums, slow wound healing and poor skin.

Vitamin D, helps to support bone health. A shortfall will lead to muscle cramps, arthritic pains, tooth decay, hair loss, excessive sweating and a lack of energy.

A lack of Zinc in the diet will cause infertility issues, poor sense of taste and smell, skin issues, frequent infections, poor appetite and depression. A sure sign that you have a Zinc deficiency are white marks on your nails.

The big one, which the majority of us are short on regardless of what medication we take, is magnesium. Magnesium is a natural tranquiliser, soothing and cooling the nervous system and brain. A lack of this mineral causes muscle weakness and pain, insomnia, depression, high blood pressure and an irregular heart beat. It can also lead to constipation as it is a natural laxative.

Can I just nip to the shops and buy a cheap multivitamin?

When clients come to see me for nutritional advice, I always suggest they buy the most expensive vitamins they can afford (such as those made by Cytoplan).  It’s the one area that I advise not trying to scrimp and save on.  Vitamins from the supermarket may seem good value, because they are inexpensive, but this is because they are full of cheap fillers such as corn starch and chalk, which in themselves cause problems in the body.

Our bodies are literally under attack every day. From the environments we live in, our stressful and busy schedules, the pesticides used for foods and the chemicals added to foods and water.   It would be a tall order to try and remove all of these from our diets and eat clean, organic foods, avoid medications and pollutants every day for the rest of our lives. However, making a few small conscious changes to your everyday life will have long term benefits for our body’s various organs and our quality of life.

And of course, I’m here to help

Sophie x

Love Your Hormones – it really is possible!

Is it time to love your hormones?!

As women, many of us have come to believe that hormones are bad, and attach negative emotions and symptoms to them.  They are in fact just a sign of transition from one stage of our lives into another. In most women, hormone levels start to decline around their mid-thirties, gradually at first, then accelerating through their forties, before levelling out between 50 and 55. However, when this decline commences, progesterone production falls considerably faster than oestrogen. The result is a widened gap in the levels of these two hormones which does not right itself until hormone levels finally stabilise in the years following the menopause. This natural change in hormone levels is aggravated by modern environmental and lifestyle factors, which are believed to be responsible for the increasing incidence of what’s referred to as oestrogen dominance.  

So what are the symptoms of Oestrogen Dominance? 

  • Acceleration of the ageing process
  • Allergies, including asthma, rashes, sinus congestion and autoimmune disorders
  • Breast tenderness
  • Cervical Dysplasia
  • Cold hands and feet, relating to thyroid dysfunction
  • Decreased sex drive
  • Depression with anxiety or agitation
  • Dry eyes
  • Fatigue
  • Fibrocystic breasts
  • Gallbladder disease
  • Hair loss
  • Headaches
  • Hypoglycaemia
  • Inability to focus
  • Early onset of menstruation
  • Fat gain, especially around the abdomen, hips and thighs
  • Mood swings
  • Osteoporosis
  • Pre-menopausal bone loss
  • Increase blood clotting
  • Increased risk of strokes
  • Infertility
  • Irregular menstruation
  • Irritability
  • Insomnia
  • Memory loss
  • PMS
  • Sluggish metabolism
  • Uterine cancer
  • Uterine fibroids
  • Water retention, bloating
  • Miscarriage

             Phew!  That’s quite a list

What can you do to stay in balance?

Oestrogen dominance can occur at any age and a first step is to look at your lifestyle.  The basic building blocks of optimal hormone balance start with a good wholefood diet, regular exercise and stress reduction as that can play a major part in most hormonal symptoms. Oestrogen dominance is driven by our modern day exposure to hormones found in animal products, excessive sugar, the birth control pill and environmental endocrine disruptors. In the 1990’s soya products were given to cattle, so those of us who eat meat were consuming phytoestrogens in our diets.  Cattle are also given Bovine Growth Hormone and antibiotics, so consider green leafy vegetables rather than dairy to get Calcium into your diet. Plastics leach phalates into our foods/water supply, which is why there are been so much news about oestrogen entering our body’s via plastic bottles. These phalates mimic hormones and therefore disrupt the natural balance. Pesticides also do this, hence the need to include organic foods where possible in our diets.  

Some self-help ideas:

If you have been on any form of hormone therapy (The Birth Control Pill, IVF, HRT etc) then it is likely your body is lacking some vital nutrients: Magnesium and Potassium – symptoms include fatigue, cramps, anxiety, sleep issues and cravings for sugar and chocolate.  Anyone entering my clinic stating they are craving chocolate gets sent away with a magnesium supplement!  Magnesium is quickly used up when we are stressed or have a diet high in tea, coffee and sugar, which deplete the body of this vital mineral.  Magnesium is also needed by the body to help absorb and balance Calcium and Vitamin D. Vitamin B – a lack of B vitamins will show as a loss of appetite, fatigue and weakness, oversensitivity, depression, anxiety, skin problems, sleep problems, constipation.  Consider adding more fish, poultry, whole grains and potatoes in your diet. Selenium – needed for healthy hair and breast health. Heavy metals found in pesticides, some fish, deodorants and fillings have been known to deplete the body’s stores of selenium and zinc.  Selenium can be found in Brazil nuts. Chromium – to help balance blood sugar levels. Chromium also helps raise the body’s metabolic rate. Zinc – the birth control pill is known to deplete the body’s zinc levels.  Pumpkin seeds are a good natural source. Calcium – rather than getting this from dairy products, which have been pasteurised and may contain growth hormones etc, consider getting calcium from dark green leafy vegetables.  Mineral waters such as San Pellegrino and Perrier are known for their high mineral contents too, so swap your next Diet Coke for a fizzy water!  

Consider switching to organic meat & dairy to avoid synthetic hormones

Cut back on sugar, caffeine, alcohol and limit stressful situations, all of which deplete our magnesium levels.  The body will start to take magnesium from our bones if there’s a shortfall in our diets!  

It can take 6 months to restore magnesium levels!

Take a bath in Epsom salts twice a week to boost levels or consider buying some Magnesium supplements.

Add some nuts and seeds to your cereal        

A handful of almonds for calcium, pumpkin seeds for zinc and 4 Brazil nuts for selenium. Dark berries and fruits are high in antioxidants and micronutrients so add them to breakfasts or a handful in a smoothie.  Green Tea is also high in antioxidants, which help the body remove cell damaging free radicals, chemicals and environmental pollutants.  

A range of organic, vegan, non GM super food supplements and a ‘Transformational’ 10 Day Cleanse, which is helping thousands of people beat lifelong sugar cravings! I particularly like Best of Greens or Love Supermeal to add to a smoothie or juice and Ionic Elements as a single supplement for ensuring you get all of your mineral requirements daily.  I add a few drops of this to a bottle of water every day – it’s that easy to get the whole range of minerals into your diet!http://www.platinumuk.biz/wisehealth

Consider some of the Super foods and supplements available from Purium. 
Some herbs and spices worth considering:

Herbs such as turmeric and ginger help to relieve hormonal cramps by increasing blood flow through the uterus and have anti-inflammatory properties.  Fennel seed tea is also worth considering for painful periods as an anti-inflammatory option to over the counter drugs. Members of the brassica family (broccoli and kale) contain vital nutrients that help the body process oestrogen and help the liver to detox the body.  Also useful for this are onions, garlic and leeks.  A few grams of seaweed helps to feed the hormonal system and improves a sluggish metabolism.  It’s also good for the thyroid gland. Phytoestrogens, found in plant based foods help to balance oestrogen, so consider adding flaxseeds or lentils to your diet. Oestrogen levels drop at the time of menopause, so consider these foods at this time to establish balance naturally. Finally, herbs such as oregano, thyme, rosemary and sage promote good liver function and help the organ to detox excessive oestrogen effectively. Sage tea also has also been used successfully to reduce hot flushes in menopausal women.  

How about some oils and Essential Fatty Acids to balance things:

Naturopaths and other complimentary practitioners will use EFA’s and organic oils to help balance an irregular menstrual cycle, once other causes (Endometriosis, Polycystic Ovaries, fibroids etc) have been excluded. Flaxseed and pumpkin oil are used to support the first (oestrogen) phase, while sesame and sunflower oil are used to support the second (progesterone) phase. Essential Fatty Acids (EFA’s) can be found in raw foods, as processing/cooking foods destroys them.  Nuts and seeds are a good source too. The Natural Dispensary is a great website for buying health products, herbal teas, essential oils, vitamins, minerals and natural hair and beauty products.  Contact me for a discount code to get 15% discount off any orders you place with them – postage is free for orders over £25  

If you’d like a health overview, to look at any vitamin or mineral short falls there might be in your diet, or to discuss how Homeopathy may be able to help your hormonal or general health, then drop me a line.

A Case of Teenage Exhaustion

At this time of year, many students are suffering from exam stress and exhaustion.

Ryan and his mum came to see me last week, as a year 11 student mock exams were well under way and like many teenagers, Ryan was exhausted.  Since September, the school had increased the pressure to study and with weekends full of sports matches and no down time, Ryan’s body had run out of fuel.

Although there were no emotional signs of stress, sleep wasn’t a problem, although he said he sometimes felt too tired to sleep, appetite was the same, Ryan didn’t feel anxious or worried about the forthcoming year of exams, but his body was showing physical signs that it was under strain.

Ryan said his legs felt like lead, they literally didn’t want to move his body around and he generally ached all over.  He’d previously been to the doctors, who’d confirmed it wasn’t Glandular Fever, the obvious thought for most teenagers feeling unwell at this age, but still Ryan had struggled to get through a day at school since returning to the new term in September.

The picture Ryan was presenting with was that of the remedy Gelsemium, a remedy widely used for colds and flu, which has the mental dullness and aching body, which Ryan had come with.  I also gave Ryan a combination of Homeobotanical tinctures to boost his immune system, which had become compromised by the stress he was feeling.

Leaving the clinic room with a bag of remedies to take, Ryan was also reminded that he also needed to ensure his diet was full of good quality nutritionally dense foods and not just crisps and fizzy drinks.  With the majority of the immune system being based in the gut, the quality of our food significantly affects our body’s ability to fight illness.  Stress also has a detrimental effect on our immune system, so keeping ourselves emotionally healthy and letting others know when we are feeling stressed and anxious is important too!

5 reasons to drink lemon and ginger in hot water

There are many benefits to drinking a mug of warm water with fresh ginger and lemon each day, here are a few that may help to convince you to add it to your own daily routine!

It Boosts Your Immune System: On top of the list of benefits of ginger lemon tea is its ability to strengthen your immunity. This is due to the presence of high levels of anti-oxidants in ginger. Lemons are an excellent source of vitamin C which can heal wounds and preserve the strength of bones and teeth. In the onset of cold and flu, the ginger lemon tea can act as an effective anti-biotic.

It Brings Instant Relief From Nausea and Indigestion: It eases the pain and uneasiness of an upset stomach. The ginger and lemon in the tea lowers the chances of heartburn and indigestion. It causes the food to be better absorbed by the body and prevents belching and bloating after eating too much. It improves your appetite as well.

It Lowers The Effects Of Diabetes: New research has thrown light upon the fact that drinking ginger lemon tea on a daily basis can reduce kidney damage that occurs due to the effects of diabetes. The high levels of zinc found in ginger play a prime role in the production and secretion of insulin. It is the insulin that controls the blood sugar levels and keeps diabetes in check.

It Is Your One-Stop-Drink To Perfect Skin And Great Hair: ginger and  lemon are rich in anti-oxidants and vitamins which are beneficial for perfect skin, hair and health. They also help in improving your digestion

It Is The Apt Drink For Weight Loss: High blood sugar levels trigger cravings for carbohydrates and fatty foods. Ginger helps to normalize these sugar levels which otherwise can affect your ability to lose weight or eat healthy food. Ginger also improves fat absorption and prevents it from accumulating in the body. Both ginger and lemon have anti-inflammatory properties that prevent inflammations and enhance the activity of the liver that helps in shedding those extra pounds

Homeopathic Remedies for Sports Injuries

As a ‘retired’ athlete and gym fan, I know only too well how big an impact injuries can have on those in training for a race/event, or even those of us who just enjoy going to the gym or exercising on a regular basis to keep us physically and emotionally well.

Some injuries are short lived, such as DOMS (delayed onset muscle soreness) which many people feel as an aching, bruised sensation a day or two after working out.  Muscle cramps can affect people on a regular basis after exercise, keeping them awake at night and forcing them out of bed to stretch the offending muscle. For others, more serious conditions, such as shin splints and stress fractures can halt training for many weeks.

Whatever the injury, remedies are a good place to start, followed by nutrition, which I’ll get to at the end!

Arnica:  Well known for its anti-inflammatory properties, Arnica will help with the post workout aching of muscles and limit the inflammation process.

Bellis Perennis: Deep muscular soreness and injuries to deeper tissues

Symphytum:  Also known as Knit Bone, this remedy speeds up the healing of fractures and shin splints.

Rhus Tox: Associated with injuries to ligaments, tendons, joints, strains and sprains of any kind.

Ruta: Injuries to cartilage, tendons, flexor muscles and bruising to bones.

New Era Tissue Salts contain a combination of nutrients to support the body

Calc Fluor for healthy connective tissue

Calc Phos to support healing fractures

Ferrum Phos to improve red blood cell production

Mag Phos to avoid muscle cramps and spasms

Silica to support health connective tissue and bone growth.

Diet is also important for athletes, not just for performance, but for repair too. Studies show that sour cherry juice can be as effective as Ibuprofen to ease pain.  My favourite is Apothecary from Platinum, for its antioxidant properties which dull pain.

Magnesium is important for bone health and good muscle metabolism and is a mineral lacking in many peoples diets.  Leafy green veg, nuts, whole grain bread and brown rice all contain magnesium.  Salt baths are another way to ensure your meeting your magnesium requirements as the body can absorb it through the skin.  Alternatively, something like Ionic elements, a combination of all the body’s mineral requirements can be added to a daily smoothie or shake.

If you’d like more advice on how Homeopathy can help improve your training goals and help you bounce back from training injuries, or advice on where to buy any of the products I’ve mentioned, then do get in touch.

To cleanse or not to cleanse!

I first heard about the Platinum 10 day Transformational Cleanse when a fellow Homeopath introduced me to it as something she was going to do to help drop a bit of weight and lose the need for caffeine and sugar to get through the day!

As a relatively slim person, I’ve never felt the need to undertake a detox to lose weight, but to no longer rely on caffeine and sugar to gain extra energy did resonate with me.  The cleanse also promised that you would gain clarity of thought and any brain fog would lift, leaving your mind to focus on the tasks and thoughts of the day.  This part intrigued me, as I wasn’t wholly sold on the fact that a detox could do this. I was also keen to complete the ten days, purely because my husband was convinced I wouldn’t be able to manage it and go a whole 10 days without a handful of crisps – this was reason enough for me to embark on the cleanse IMMEDIATELY!

The claims of the cleanse were high – improved energy, lose between 5-20lbs, re-set your metabolism and break the addictions to foods such as sugar, wheat and caffeine, alongside giving your body a complete detox and cleanse.

As a company, Platinum offer a £50 gift card to everyone who places their first order, so although the cleanse isn’t cheap (around £200), by deducting the discount and realising you don’t need to buy much food for the 10 days, it isn’t such a bad price.  The products are all non GM, organic and don’t contain the fillers that some products do.  There’s also a gluten free option.

So I ordered my box of goodies: (http://platinumeurope.azurewebsites.net/wisehealth/product/1137x)

  • Hippokrates Green Powder which helps curb cravings and supports healthy blood sugar levels.
  • MAP Amino Acid complex plant proteins that help the body to minimise fat storage.
  • Ionic Element a combination of trace elements and minerals
  • Cracked Cell Chlorella which cleanses the body of heavy metals and supports healthy cholesterol levels.
  • Black Walnut capsules which cleanse the bowel of candida and parasites.
  • Apothe Cherry (tart cherry juice) an anti-oxidant which aids sleep and supports joint function.

Each day I had three power shakes and three meals, eating as much of the various flex foods as I liked (there’s a big list of foods you can add to your daily intake that are nutrient dense fruits and vegetables) and I actually found some days I only had two of the shakes, as I was still full from my last snack (you have something every two hours!)

Days one and two were a bit challenging as I had to get into a new routine of eating, but by day three I was flying and by the end of the cleanse I felt transformed!

I’ve completed the cleanse three times in the last six months and each time I’ve noticed a different positive change to how I feel and how I choose to eat.  EVERYONE notices the changes and more and more people are choosing to join me on the clean, green, nutritious road to health. Drop me an email if you’re ready to join the journey too!

The Wonders of Watermelon

The wonders of watermelon are endless, and although I’ve never been much of a fan in particular of the seeds, which seem to be in every mouthful when you take into account the benefits, the seeds become easier to swallow!

However, as it’s one of the ‘flex foods’ that are part of the 10 Day Transformational Cleanse, I’ve taken to doing 3 or 4 times a year (email me if you’d like more information!) I’ve looked into the benefits of the fruit and been quite amazed by how many benefits there are.

Watermelon is an alkalising food – the pH balance of the body is regarded as crucial for good health, eating watermelon helps to counteract harmful acidity levels that are produced by many common foods.

The fruit can reduce high blood pressure and heart disease. Consumption of watermelon juice has been found to increase plasma concentrations of lycopene and beta-carotene and numerous scientific studies have already shown lycopeneto be  good for the cardiovascular health.

Watermelon reduces blood sugar levels, which makes it a great fruit for diabetes sufferers!

Watermelons are over 90% water, so they help the body to rehydrate.

High levels of vitamin C and A found in watermelons will give your immune system a valuable boost. Lycopene and beta-carotene, found in the fruit, also help to remove free radicals that cause cell damage. Lycopene is generally accepted as being beneficial for bone health so it helps combat degenerative bone diseases such as Osteoporosis.

They boost energy!  Watermelon contains natural sugars and vitamin B to boost your energy levels without the unwanted effects of refined sugar or chemically enhanced energy drinks.

Anti-Cancer properties:  Studies have indicated that the antioxidant Lycopene, which gives watermelons their characteristic red colour (also found in tomatoes), may have supplementary benefits in the treatment and prevention of prostate and other cancers. Lycopene is noted for its ability to combat free radicals that trigger the onset and development of many chronic degenerative diseases like cancer. The seeds also contain Triterpenes that can help to inhibit the growth of leukaemia cells.

So on reflection, maybe I can get over my aversion to the seeds!

Chronic Fatigue Syndrome

Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS) is a condition I know well, as it’s the reason I became a Homeopath.  Having suffered for many years with the symptoms, and being told by medical practitioners that they couldn’t diagnose what was wrong with me, I turned to Homeopathy and have never looked back!

CFS suffers are not just tired, they are exhausted, both physically and mentally.  It is difficult for anyone who has not suffered from the condition to really understand just how tired a CFS sufferer feels.  Alongside the exhaustion, there is often flu-like symptoms, sore throat, swollen glands, aching muscles and bones.  Concentrating becomes difficult, confusion and poor memory are also often symptomatic of CFS.

It is thought that up to 60% of sufferers have an underlying intolerance to foods of some type, more often than not wheat, corn and milk.  This is because there is often a difficulty for CFS sufferers to digest proteins and the gut lining allows through substances from food which, in a healthy person, would just pass through the body.

By investing in good quality supplements and identifying which food groups a CFS patient is intolerant to, many of the symptoms can be greatly improved.  Ideally, including Anti-oxidants, Vitamin B complex, Co-enzyme Q10, Calcium and Selenium in a daily diet will help to support the adrenal glands, the nervous system and support the body to turn food into energy.

All my CFS patients have also shown improvement from adding Kamut wheat grass (http://platinumeurope.azurewebsites.net/wisehealth/product/2420e)

and Red Algae (http://platinumeurope.azurewebsites.net/wisehealth/product/2510e) to their diet.

Contact me for some more information on these.

Homeopathy has also had great success in alleviating the symptoms of CFS, by supporting organs, such as the adrenal glands and liver, improving the immune and digestive systems.  Homeopathy can also help to support the emotional aspects of suffering from the condition.

From my own experience, the most important lesson for me, was learning how to manage my energy reserves.  I was so used to ‘running on empty’, that the slightest improvement in how I felt and I would run the tank dry again.  It was an opportunity to learn a great deal about myself and grow from the understanding I gained.