Get the word out about echinacea – great for defeating colds

It’s amazing how many people don’t know about Echinacea (let alone how to pronounce it)…

The powdered flower is used to increase the white blood cells in our body which fight colds and flu.

My own personal experience with echinacea is so good that I recommend it all the time. It stops me getting worse when I’m run down.

Come to think of it there are loads of herbal remedies which people find useful for different purposes. Schwabe make a product called EchinaCold, but they also make various other concoctions for migraines, depression, sleep problems, indigestion, coughs and stress… The list goes on.

For those of us who prefer to use herbal remedies Schwabe make a useful source of medicinal treatments, all with the Traditional Herbal Remedy certification mark.

 

CoQ10 Helps Headaches in Women with Fibromyalgia

Women with fibromyalgia can have significantly lower levels of CoQ10 and the antioxidant catalase than healthy women, reports Kimberly Beauchamp, ND

Fibromyalgia is a complex condition characterised by widespread pain, fatigue, difficulty concentrating, headaches, numbness or tingling in the hands and feet, irritable bowel syndrome, unrefreshing sleep, reduced exercise tolerance, anxiety, depression, and sensitivity to light, noise, and odours. This condition is not well understood, and is difficult to treat, so a study finding that taking a co-enzyme Q10 supplement may help reduce headaches in women with fibromyalgia is welcome news.

Searching for fibromyalgia relief

No single cause for fibromyalgia has been discovered, but it’s thought that the condition could stem from a combination of stress, trauma, genetics, hormones, and certain infections. Antidepressants like duloxetine (Cymbalta) and venlafaxine (Effexor) are commonly used to help reduce pain, sleep issues, and anxiety associated with fibromyalgia. But while these drugs might help relieve some fibromyalgia symptoms, they don’t really seem to address the root of the problem.

Some studies have suggested that free radical–damage might be behind some of the symptoms of fibromyalgia, including headaches. Free radicals are unstable compounds that can damage tissues in the body and lead to inflammation.

Trying CoQ10

Spanish researchers studied the effect of CoQ10—a potent antioxidant and cellular energy source—in women with fibromyalgia who experienced headaches. Ten women (average age 47 years) were given 300 mg of CoQ10 per day for three months. Ten other women with fibromyalgia served as the control group. All of the women were compared with 15 healthy women. CoQ10 levels and measures of other antioxidants, oxidative stress (caused by free radicals), and cellular energy stores were assessed in all of the women.

Women with fibromyalgia had significantly lower levels of CoQ10 and another important antioxidant (catalase) than the healthy women. They also had significantly higher markers of free radical–damage and 70% less cellular energy stored than the healthy women.

After taking CoQ10, the women with fibromyalgia had

  • significantly higher CoQ10, catalase, and cellular energy stores,
  • significantly lower levels of free radical damage markers, and
  • marked improvement in headaches compared with pretreatment.

“Detection of CoQ10 deficiency and subsequent CoQ10 supplementation may result in clinical improvement in fibromyalgia,” said the researchers, recommending that future double-blind, placebo-controlled studies are needed to confirm their results.

Fibro help

There is no simple solution to healing fibromyalgia, but these tips may help keep your body in balance:

  • Exercise, even if you don’t want to. A few studies have shown that people with fibromyalgia can benefit from getting regular exercise. Start slow, with a walk around the block, and gradually build up as you gain more stamina.
  • Eat to beat fibro. Some studies have suggested that eating a vegetarian or vegan diet can help reduce fibromyalgia symptoms in some people.
  • Sleep well. If poor sleep is one of your main fibro symptoms, consider sipping a cup of warm milk with a sprinkle of nutmeg at bedtime. Melatonin may also be useful as a sleep aid in people with fibromyalgia. Talk with your doctor about how much melatonin might be right for you.

(Plos One 2012;doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0035677)

Kimberly Beauchamp, ND, received her doctoral degree from Bastyr University, the nation’s premier academic institution for science-based natural medicine. She co-founded South County Naturopaths in Wakefield, RI, where she practiced whole family care with an emphasis on nutritional counselling, herbal medicine, detoxification, and food allergy identification and treatment. Her blog, Eat Happy, helps take the drama out of healthy eating with real food recipes and nutrition news that you can use. Dr. Beauchamp is a regular contributor to Healthnotes Newswire.

Interesting heat treatment for ear aches…

Have you ever had a blocked ear? It’s not nice.

Heat draws out the ear wax
Heat draws out the ear wax

It can effect your hearing and balance, and cause itchiness, whistling and buzzing. The pain can be quite bad at times. But people’s methods of dealing with it can make matters worse, pushing ear wax further into the ear canal.

Bizarrely enough, an ancient treatment of burning a specially made “candle” in the ear contributes to the safe removal of the wax while re-balancing the painful pressure in the ear.

Otosan ear cones combine the benefit of heat treatment on ears with a chimney-funnel effect which draws wax out of the ear. But, because of the use of a tapered flame, safety is paramount, so they’ve developed safety devices which protect the user from any danger.

Otosan also produce natural ear drops made from essential oils and propolis. Another nod to traditional methods of dealing with ear ache.

If you are left with any doubt, visit their medical pages to read about doctors’ tests using Otosan.

Cod liver oil makes a come back

There was a time when cod liver oil was feared by children the world over. Forced to gulp down horrid spoonfuls of the vile tasting liquid, they would do anything to avoid it, and all in the name of health.

Healthy oils for body and mind
Healthy oils for body and mind

But life has changed a lot since then. Most importantly it was realised that the Omega Fats in fish oil are excellent for strengthening the brain and heart and decreasing blood pressure. Add to this the benefit of being able to swallow doses in small capsules (thus helping with the taste) and children everywhere began to breathe a smile of relief.

Now Seven Seas are taking the revolution one step further combining a range of healthy oils, vitamins and minerals renowned for their beneficial properties. They’ve got some snazzy names too:

Radiant You
– Fish Oil blended with Biotin and Zinc for healthy hair, skin and nails.
Perfect Harmony
– Fish Oil with Primrose and Starflower Oils for hormonal balance.
Healthy Heart
– Fish Oil with Garlic and Vitamin B1 for the cardiovascular system.
Energetic You
– Fish Oil with B vitamins and CoQ10 for daily health and vitality.
Immune Defence
– Fish Oil with Vitamin C and Zinc keeps you fighting fit.
Flexible You
– Fish Oil with Calcium and Vitamins D & K for healthy bones, muscles and joints.
Active Mind
– Fish Oil blended with Ginkgo and Zinc for mental performance.

With advances like these, once tormented children can say hello to a daily dose of health without fear.

Can headaches be cured with a roll on stick?

Have you seen some of the new headache treatments in your local pharmacy?

Headache patches and roll-ons, cooling pads and the like?

Forgive me, I have a healthy scepticism towards some of these things. But you don’t know unless you try, so if you’ve used one of these and it’s worked or it hasn’t let me know…

WHAT ABOUT MIGRASTICK?
Migrastick
has been rated as effective by several reviewers who suffer from headaches and migraines. The stick itself claims to work by producing a cooling effect on the temples, forehead and neck using anti-inflammatory essential oils mint and lavender (long reputed as herbal remedies for aches). The roll on also provides a massaging acupuncture effect.

Indeed, there has been growing academic research into the effect of coolness and massage on pain. So perhaps there is something in it after all? You can review Migrastick’s scientific back-up data for yourself.

I’ll leave you with blogger Beetrice’s verdict:

It’s a great complement to the usual paracetamol and aspirin I usually take for headaches, and speeds up the ebbing time as well.

The traditional goodness of the countryside – Organic milk

Everyone agrees that Organic milk is better for you, even the cynics.

If you drink milk from organicly reared cows, you get over two thirds (68%) more Omega 3. And everyone also agrees we’re desperately lacking in Omega 3 in the UK.

Omega 3 is important for keeping the heart, mind and body healthy. But if you’re vegetarian or can’t eat fish, then your source of Omega 3 is greatly reduced.

Milk, the way it should be
Milk, the way it should be

Daioni (that’s Welsh for goodness!) are the first makers of organic flavoured milk in the country.

They’ve built on their success in promoting healthier milk to shoopers in the UK. After all, not only do you get more Omega 3 from organic milk, you also get 50% more Vtiamin E and 75% more of the nutrients for vitamin A. It’s recently been found to reduce eczema in children too.

Now Daioni produce lunch-box cartons of organic milk with a splash of strawberry, chocolate or banana. A brilliant way to easily boost your children’s health.

Let’s face it. People always used to drink organic milk. It’s only when artificial pesticides were introduced that this practice stopped, not only did our health suffer, but the countryside suffered too.

So let’s get into healtheir milk for a healthier future. It just makes sense.

— If you want more information you can read about OMSCo’s campaign to ‘Break The Habit‘ on non-organic milk.

Head Start

Get ahead of the rest using natural products. Lisa Burn investigates.

Hair and skin

It’s known as your crowning glory, so keep it that way with lots of love and attention.
A healthy diet will be reflected in the condition of your hair – if it’s brittle and snaps easily it could mean you’re lacking in zinc, if it’s dry then you may not be eating enough foods supplying essential fatty acids. Eat oily fish such as mackerel, sardines and salmon three times a week, eat more nuts and seeds, consider a fish oil or linseed oil supplement. Pamper your hair from the outside by massaging jojoba or olive oil into the scalp and wrapping in cling film or a towel for an hour before washing. A couple of drops of lavender or tea tree oil added to shampoo can help combat dandruff.
If you’re prone to spot breakouts or acne, again see if you can improve your diet. Drink more water – around two litres a day – and see if cutting down on milk, cheese and butter improves your skin as acne or eczema could indicate a sensitivity to dairy products. A good multivitamin and mineral will supply the nutrients needed – including vitamins A, C, E, B vitamins, betacarotene and zinc – for glowing skin, or consider one of the special formulations available.

Eyes down

Too many late nights can take their toll on your peepers, leaving dark circles and bags that look more like suitcases. Refresh them with witch hazel in a compress or a couple of slices of cold cucumber (one on each eye). Chamomile tea also helps – drink the tea first then pop the cooled tea bags over your closed eyes for a couple of minutes. Dark circles can also indicate food intolerance so a visit to a nutritionist can help determine if diet is at the root of your problem. Vitamins A, C and E as well as beta-carotene and zinc make for healthy retinas as well as helping combat damage from pollution and smoke, so a multi vitamin and mineral supplement is a good idea. Or, try one of the specially designed supplements geared to optical health. These contain carotenoids, herbs such as rutin and eyebright, bilberry extract and lutein.

If you suffer from hay fever then the homeopathic remedies nux vomica and allium cepa can help soothe watery eyes.

Pucker up

Do you dazzle with your smile or avoid showing your teeth at any cost? Teeth don’t always get the kind of pampering other parts of the body get – a quick brush twice a day is as far as it goes for many people. It shows in the statistics: according to the British Dental Health Foundation 19 out of 20 people suffer gum disease at some point in their lives.

Daily brushing and flossing is the minimum requirement for healthy teeth and gums, preferably brushing after each meal. Gum disease is a big problem and flossing can help remove the plaque that forms on the edges of the gums. If your teeth feel loose try aloe vera juice to help tighten them; if your gums bleed it could be you’re lacking in vitamin C. Vitamin D and calcium are crucial for healthy, strong teeth while munching on raw vegetables such as carrots improves blood flow to the gums.

Many toothpastes claim to improve the whiteness of teeth as well as freshening breath. Check out those containing natural ingredients – essential oils such as myrrh and tea tree to fight infection, fennel and peppermint for fresh breath, cloves to strengthen the gums, Echinacea for immune support and neem to help fight plaque.

Don’t forget your lips when you’re caring for your mouth. Indulge them with gorgeous balms that not only keep lips moisturised but also look and smell delicious. Many use beeswax or jojoba oil as a base with other ingredients including plant extracts and vitamin E to combat dryness, as well as offering brilliant colour coverage.

Ear ear

Blocked Eustachian tubes, which run from the back of the throat to the middle ear, are one cause of earache, another is an infection caused for example, by a cold or blocked sinuses. Pain can be worse at night because you’re lying flat, so try sitting up for a couple of minutes and swallowing or prop your head up while you sleep to enable the tubes to drain. Echinacea should help clear any infection by stimulating the immune system to fight it off, also, garlic oil applied topically reduces inflammation. Loss of hearing could be caused by ear wax – but don’t stick anything in your ear to remove the wax. Instead, soften it by using olive oil then rinsing with tepid water using a rubber bulb syringe. (Do not put drops or liquid in your ears if you suspect your eardrum may be perforated but seek medical help). Hopi ear candles help regulate pressure inside the ears.

Smell wonderful

Closely linked to your ears and throat, nose blockages can be caused by colds and flu as well as hay fever and allergies. Echinacea and pycogenol from pine bark strengthen the immune system while extra vitamin C or elderberry extract will help fight off snuffles and sniffles. To relieve itching and a runny nose caused by hayfever try a nasal spray containing aloe vera or try the homeopathic remedy euphrasia; for a burning nose try allium cepa. If you’re suffering from a cold, relieve nasal congestion with steam inhalations using essential oils of eucalyptus, peppermint, tea tree or lavender several times a day. Just add around four drops of your chosen oil to a bowl of hot water, cover your head with a towel and breathe in the vapours.

If you suffer from nosebleeds try drinking nettle tea to strengthen blood vessels, also bioflavonoid supplements could help in the same way.

Headaches

Rub a couple of drops of lavender essential oil into your temples to relieve pain, or try a blend with peppermint oil in a cold compress. For migraine, try feverfew tincture or one of the solid stick products containing essential oils and rub over your forehead and neck. Common migraine triggers are cheese, chocolate and caffeine so if you think food lies at the bottom or your migraine problem try excluding triggers from your diet. The homeopathic remedies Iris, Bryonia and Nux Vomica can all bring relief.

Healthy mind

Cut stress with relaxation exercises such as yoga or t’ai chi. Drop your daily dose of coffee or tea in favour of herbal teas with calming effects, such as chamomile or vervain. Healthy eating, including nuts, grains, fruits and vegetables, keeps levels of serotonin and tryptophan on an even keel and these will keep you feeling calm. Consider a supplement of B vitamins. For mild to moderate depression St John’s Wort has proven beneficial but consult your GP before taking it if you are also taking prescribed medication because of possible interaction. Regular exercise – such as running, dancing, swimming, cycling or even brisk walking:

– is a great way of making yourself feel good, banishing feelings of low self-esteem and getting you fitter into the bargain. Watching what you eat can also relieve depression and improve memory

– increase essential fatty acids in your diet from oily fish or fish oil or linseed oil supplements. Research into ginkgo biloba has shown it to be effective for memory loss, while in aromatherapy, rosemary is good for mental clarity and is used as a memory improver. ®

Lisa Burn © Natural Lifestyle April 2005 in connection with Natural Health Week

St John’s Wort – the herb associated with helping mild depression

It is becoming more widely known that the herb St John’s Wort is as effective in treating moderate to severe depression as a drug that causes concern over side-effects. Credibility of this practice was strengthened recently when researchers in Berlin compared the herbal extract WS5570 with the drug Seroxat (which can cause suicide, aggression etc). The results of the findings were first reported on BMJ (British Medical Journal) online.

Hypericum Perforatum, or St John’s Wort, as we more commonly know it; is a yellow flowered plant which contains many chemical compounds, including hypericin and hyperforin.

The ancient Greeks were aware of its healing properties and used it to treat many ailments, including sciatica and poisonous reptile bites. In Europe it was, and still is, popular for the topical treatment of wounds and burns; ear infections, cold sores, and as a folk remedy for kidney and lung ailments; anxiety, as well as depression; and in other areas has long been used for mental disorders and nerve pain.

Active Constituents

St. John’s Wort has a complex chemical makeup that includes hypericin and other dianthrones, flavonoids, xanthones, and hyperforin. While it was previously thought that the anti-depressant actions of St. John’s Wort were due to hypercin, and inhibition of the enzyme monomine oxidase,current research has challenged this belief. Recent studies have focused on other constituents, such as hyperforin, xanthones, and flavonoids.

New research suggests that St. John’s wort extracts exert their antidepressant actions by inhibiting the re-uptake of the neurotransmitters serotonin,norepinephrine,and dopamine. This action is possibly due to the constituent hyperforin. By making more of these neurotransmitters available to the brain, St. John’s Wort is able to act as an antidepressant.

How Much Is Usually Taken?

The standard recommendation for mild to moderate depression is 300 mg of St Johns Wort extract 3 times daily. Results can be noted as early as 2 weeks, and length of use should be discussed with a health-care professional. St John’s Wort is available as capsules, teas and extracts.

Are there any side effects or interactions?

St. John’s wort could, theoretically, make the skin more sensitive to sunlight, but this is rare when used at recommended levels. However, fair-skinned individuals should be alert for any rashes or burns following exposure to the sun. Preliminary evidence suggests there may be a risk of St. John’s wort interacting with selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor (SSRI) drugs, such as Prozac; and causing side effects known collectively as serotonin syndrome. For those taking an SSRI who wish to start St. Johns Wort; please see a doctor.

Caution

Always check with your doctor if you are taking any other medication, as St John’s Wort can’t be taken with any other anti-depressants or with the contraceptive pill.

Migraines – NOVO has food for thought

According to a recent study carried out among GP’s, * 90,000 Britons miss school or work every day as a result of migraines or headaches, which accounts for about 20% of sick leave from work.

Many foods have been linked with the onset of migraine. In one study, the foods most commonly implicated were: milk (43%), chocolate (29%), German sausages (14%), Cheese (14%), fish (10%), wine (9%), coffee (9%), garlic (5%) and eggs (5%). Other foods reported to trigger migraine include: beans, beef, citrus fruits, corn, fried foods, nuts, pork, shellfish, tea and tomatoes (Ref 1).
Some dietary migraine triggers may work through an ill-defined immune/ intolerance mechanism (e.g. milk, fish, egg, garlic), while others contain vasoactive substances affecting blood flow within the brain such as (Refs 2, 3, 4):

– histamine (e.g. fish, shellfish, fermented products, cured meats, tomato, spinach, egg white, strawberries, chocolate)

– tyramine (e.g. aged cheeses, sausages, sour cream, smoked and pickled foods, avocado, peanut, chicken liver)

– phenylalanine (e.g. chocolate, aged cheeses, red wine)

– phenolic flavonoids (e.g. black grapes, red wine, berries)

– nitrites (e.g. Wieners, salami, pepperoni, ham, bacon and other cured/smoked meats, aged cheeses) monosodium glutamate (e.g. Chinese restaurant meals, soy sauce)

– alcohol (especially red wine and beer)

– caffeine (e.g. coffee, tea, colas, some over-the-counter medications)

– the artificial sweetener, aspartame (Refs 5, 6).

However, there is uncertainty about exactly which food chemicals are the offending agents; for example, although tyramine is believed to trigger migraine, when administered by nasogastric tube does not precipitate an attack (Ref 7). Other food-related migraine triggers include very cold food (ice-cream), hunger (Ref 8) and reactive hypoglycemia.

The simplest approach to the management of migraine is the identification and avoidance of precipitating factors (Refs 9, 10).

Dr Sarah Brewer, medical consultant to NOVO, by Immogenics™ says, “The easiest and most painless thing to do, is to find out what food is really affecting you. The NOVO blood test will establish which foods are triggering an inappropriate immune response. When your white blood cells mis-identify certain foods as foreign invaders, inflammatory chemicals are released into your circulation. Your body goes on the defensive, in turn causing migraines and your general health to suffer.”

NOVO is a sophisticated blood analysis that identifies the body’s sensitivity to particular foods; a personalised eating plan is then created with a full support package including one-on-one access to qualified nutritionists and medical experts.

Cassandra Parish, a NOVO nutritionist, has made some observations when assessing NOVO customer results. “Surprisingly just over a third of NOVO migraine suffers also suffer from candida sensitivity, which is most likely the cause of their headaches. The two most common triggers among migraine sufferers were yeast 65% and sugar 68%, perhaps indicating that the sugar, yeast and candida may be triggering their migraines.”

The NOVO programme can help with many other health problems, particularly those which may be related to immunity including:

Skin complaints including eczema and psoriasis

  • Digestion
  • PMS
  • IBS
  • Weak immune system
  • Lack of energy
  • Weight control
    *Study carried out by researchers from Kings College London over a 9-year period, looking at 253 general practices in the UK.

References:

  • Ref 1 Cited in: Joneja JV. Diet and Migraine. Chapter 31, In Dietary management of food allergies & intolerances. 2nd Ed. J A Hall Publications 2000.
  • Ref 2 Leira R, Rodriguez R. 1996. Diet and migraine Rev Neurol. 24;129:534-8
  • Ref 3 Joneja JV. Diet and Migraine. Chapter 31, In Dietary management of food allergies & intolerances. 2nd Ed. J A Hall Publications 2000.
  • Ref 4 Millichap JG, Yee MM. The diet factor in pediatric and adolescent migraine. 2003 Pediatr Neurol. 28;1:9-15
  • Ref 5 Newman LC, Lipton RB. 2001 Migraine MLT-down: an unusual presentation of migraine in patients with aspartame-triggered headaches. Headache. 41;9:899-901
  • Ref 6 Blumenthal HJ, Vance DA 1997. Chewing gum headaches. Headache. 37;10:665-6
  • Ref 7 Blau JN 1992. Migraine: theories of pathogenesis. Lancet 339: 1202-1206
  • Ref 8 Martin PR, Seneviratne HM. 1997. Effects of food deprivation and a stressor on head pain. Health Psychol. 16;4:310-8.
  • Ref 9 Hackett G. 1994. Management of migraine. The Practitioner 238: 130-136.
  • Ref 10 Goasby P, Olesen J 1996. Diagnosis and management of migraine. BMJ 312:1279-1283

Butterbur Patasin

We have had Butterbur on our shelves for eons. While not able to say what it is recommended for directly to anyone and really being unaware myself really I once read about its effectiveness in connection with migraine and bronchial troubles.

Izzy tried it in the office with mediocre success, but she is a chronic sufferer.

Today I read that science has finally caught up with butterbur. It has been used for centuries as a traditional remedy for coughs, asthma, and skin wounds. And the new study confirms that the medicinal herb butterbur is an effective alternative to antihistamines in the treatment of hay fever.

Butterbur shown to be effective in treating seasonal allergies and migraines

In addition to treating seasonal allergies, the research has found it can help some people who suffer from migraine headaches (not Izzy though), asthma, and bronchitis.

In this recent study, 330 sufferers of hay fever were given either 8 mgs of butterbur extract three times a day, 180 mgs each morning of the prescription drug Allegra, or a placebo. At the end of the study, those receiving butterbur reported nearly the same reduction in allergy symptoms as those receiving Allegra. There was one difference: Those receiving the antihistamine Allegra complained of drowsiness. Those on butterbur? No complaints at all. The two active ingredients in butterbur are petasin, which reduces spasms in smooth muscle and vascular walls, and isopetasin, which reduces inflammation. Together, the two compounds work to alleviate the symptoms of seasonal allergies.

I’m impressed!