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Body & Mind

Homeopathic Remedies for Panic Attacks

This week is the start of  Face Your Fears Week. For one week in October the charity, Changing Faces is asking everybody in the UK to face their fears and raise money at the same time. Fears trigger a whole cascade of events in the mind and body and often lead to panic attacks, which can range from mild to severe. With it affecting so many people, homeopathic rememdes for panic attacks are becoming more and more popular. Panic attacks can have a major impact on general the lifestyle of a sufferer. They can be triggered by physical or emotional events. Situations such as a fear of spiders or being in a crowded train can trigger a panic attack in some individuals. Homeopathy can help to both treat the short term signs of a panic attack and help to treat the underlying cause of this condition. Other examples of situations that can lead to panic attacks are a fear of flying, being in a confined space (such as a lift) or in a large open space. Signs of Panic Attacks Hyperventilation (over breathing) Palpitations Sweating Chest pain Shortness of breath Dizziness Shaking Panic attacks are usually treated with antidepressant medications and drugs such as diazepam. These drugs all come with the added burden of side effects and can cause dependency. This is not the ideal solution to this problem. Other common treatments are cognitive behaviour therapy (CBT) and relaxation techniques. Homeopathic remedies can offer a quick short term solution to these episodes, but it is more important to get to the root of the problem. The ideal treatment plan should include short term relief,alongside a long term and permanent solution. Homeopathy can provide you with this two pronged treatment plan. Long term treatment will require a full consultation with a qualified homeopath. The following homeopathic remedies can be taken every 10 minutes for up to 5 doses. These remedies should be taken in the 200c potency, and can be taken in the form of pills, tablets or drops. Pills and tablets should be sucked, and not swallowed. Drops can be taken directly on the tongue or in water. Aconite is a major homeopathic remedy for intense fear. This remedy can...

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Pulses Reduce Cholesterol

The cholesterol debate continues to roll on, with the use of statin medications continually on the rise. These medications have caused a divide within the medical profession. Many GP’s and cardiologists have questioned their use and effectiveness in preventing heart disease. The facts show that more people are prescribed statins than before, and this number growing. Many people are not able to tolerate side effects such as muscle pain and tiredness, which are fairly common with statins. Changes in diet and general lifestyle can make significant changes to cholesterol levels. Researchers at St. Michael’s Hospital have found that pulses like beans and lentils “significantly” reduce levels of LDL cholesterol, and therefore reduce the chances of cardiovascular disease. It is worth noting that LDL cholesterol, alongside HDL cholesterol is required for good health. The study was led by Dr. John Sievenpiper of the hospital’s Clinical Nutrition and Risk Factor Modification Centre and was published in the Canadian Medical Association Journal. The results of the study found that eating one serving (130 grams or ¾ cup) of pulses a day could lower LDL cholesterol by five per cent. According to Dr Sievenpiper, this translates into a 5 – 6 per cent reduction in the risk of cardiovascular disease. This study demonstrates a simple, effective and inexpensive way to reduce cholesterol levels, increase fibre intake and reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease. An added benefit is that pulses have a low glycemic index, as they breakdown slowly, and don’t raise blood sugar...

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The Second Brain

The second brain is a phrase that has been mentioned in various books and articles, but what actually is our second brain, what does it do and how can we look after it? Many studies have been conducted over the past few years which have analysed the importance of the second brain and its connection to various chronic illnesses that in the past would have been overlooked. The second brain is actually the gut, which starts at the oesophagus and ends at the anus. The wall of the gut consists of various types of neurons and neurotransmitters that produce up to 95% of all serotonin in the body. These neurotransmitters also produce 50% of all dopamine that is produced in the body. The vagus nerve connects the digestive system to the brain. Serotonin and dopamine are widely regarded as “feel-good” molecules that are involved in the prevention of depression and in the regulation of appetite and sleep. Dopamine is also heavily involved in illnesses such as dementia and Alzheimer’s disease. A simple example of the connection between the two brains is how fatty foods can make us feel good, and the digestive reaction to stress such as the feeling of “butterflies” in the stomach. This indicates that the second brain could potentially play a vital role in the prevention and treatment of illnesses such as anxiety, depression, eating disorders, insomnia, obesity, dementia and Alzheimer’s disease. With this connection in mind, how can we look after and nourish our second brain? Studies have found that certain strains of probiotics can result in the production of neurotransmitters including serotonin, dopamine and gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA) which are necessary for a healthy neuro function. Scientists have also found that these beneficial bacteria change the expression of certain receptors in the brain. This is communicated via the vagus nerve, which is a direct link between the gut and the brain. Preliminary animal research has found that a variety of these friendly bacteria may help to treat a number of mental illnesses such as depression, autism and anxiety. We can help to maintain our digestive health, by eating a diet rich in fruit and vegetables and avoiding excess sugar, salt, animal fats and processed foods....

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Tips to Lower Your Blood Pressure

As this month is National Heart Month, the following tips can help to lower or maintain a healthy blood pressure. A normal blood pressure reading is 120/80mmhg. High blood pressure is generally defined as having a diastolic pressure over 85mmhg and a systolic over 140mmhg. So read on to learn more about how to lower your blood pressure… The first change that you can make is to cut down on salt. You should not totally cut out salt from your diet, as the body requires salt for healthy function. Salt contains sodium, which encourages the body to hold onto water, which in turn puts more work on the heart and leads to increased blood pressure. Fibre is important in your diet, as it helps to flush out the extra LDL (bad) cholesterol. Foods high in fibre are: whole grains, porridge, fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds and lentils. Foods such as garlic, ginger and broccoli are all known to be beneficial for the heart and help to keep the arteries healthy. The best way to start exercising is to incorporate walking to your daily schedule. You can start by walking for 15minutes and gradually increase this. This will help you to lose weight and therefore reduce the work load on your heart, which will result in lowering your blood pressure. Omega 3 essential fatty acids are very important for lowering LDL cholesterol and they have an anti-inflammatory effect in the arteries. You can obtain these essential oils from flax seed or fish oil supplements. Magnesium helps to relax muscles and research has shown arteries are considerably narrower in people who are deficient in this mineral. A dose of between 400-1000mg a day has been shown to lower blood pressure. Co-enzyme Q10 is a supplement that helps to strengthen the heart and improve its function. L-Arginine has shown promise in reducing blood pressure. A study published in Alternative Medicine Review has found that in a small trial consisting of 29 patients, the results found that two thirds of the patients had a significant reduction in both diastolic and systolic blood pressure readings. These results are very promising but further larger trials are required. L-Arginine is an amino acid that is found in dark...

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National Heart Month

As February is officially National Heart Month, this is a great opportunity to look at how we can look after this vital organ through diet and natural supplements. The heart is part of the cardiovascular system, which also includes miles of blood vessels which run through the body. These vessels consist of veins and arteries which transport blood to the heart and to other organs. The health of the blood vessels is also important in maintaining a healthy heart. The best way of maintaining a healthy heart is keeping to a healthy diet, regular exercise and lowering stress levels. A diet rich in vegetables, fruits, nuts and seeds provides important vitamins, minerals and essential fatty acids that are important for heart health. The Mediterranean diet, which consists of plenty of vegetables and fruits, has long been considered the ideal diet for a healthy heart. Smoking, high sugar and salt intake, regular heavy drinking (or binge drinking), inactivity, high (saturated) fat foods are all factors in causing hypertension, heart failure and poor circulation. For example, smoking is a known cause of atherosclerosis, which causes narrowing of the arteries. This can lead to high blood pressure and angina. Heart disease and diabetes are illnesses that are on the increase, especially in younger people. These conditions are very much linked, as one can lead to another. The rise in the number of people who are obese is another risk factor for the heart, as well as diabetes. The number of prescriptions that are written for hypertension is constantly on the increase, but there are a number of natural remedies for maintaining a healthy heart and keeping blood pressure at a healthy level. Magnesium, vitamin C, l-arginine, co-enzyme Q10, omega 3 fatty acids and garlic are a few supplements that can improve cardiovascular health.  ...

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How to help with Christmas stress

The run up to Christmas unfortunately brings about stress and panic in many people. This can be related to family pressures, financial problems or work pressures. To make matters worse, this is usually the time of the year when most of us are generally slightly run down due to the shorter days and lack of vitamin D. Whilst, natural remedies cannot remove or treat the cause of the Christmas stress, they can help you cope in the short term. These natural remedies and supplements can help your body to remain in a state of harmony and in turn help you to get through the stressful Christmas period. The following natural remedies are available at most pharmacies and health food stores. Vitamin B Complex is a supplement that has multiple benefits. B vitamins help to nourish and maintain a healthy nervous system. This group of vitamins also help to support the adrenal glands. The adrenal glands are responsible for releasing the stress hormones (cortisol, adrenaline, DHEA, ephinephrine). Ginseng is a Chinese herb that has adaptogenic properties. Adaptogenic herbs help to support the body through times of stress (physical or mental). Ginseng is available as a capsule, tablet or liquid. This herb is sometimes combined with multivitamins in a single preparation. Please consult your pharmacist if you are taking prescription medications. Other adaptogenic herbs are astragalus, rhodiola and ashwagandha, which is often referref to as “Indian Ginseng”. All of these adaptogenic herbs can help to maintain good immune function and help the body through times of stress. Please consult with your pharmacist if you take regular prescription medication before taking these herbs. Valerian and Passiflora are herbal remedies that are available as tinctures or combined tablets, such as Kalms Stress, Quiet Life or Stressless. Bach Flower remedies such as Nelson’s Rescue Remedy or Ainsworths Emergency Spray and Recovery Remedy provide can help you get through stressful periods. Magnesium supplements can help to relieve insomnia that may be caused to excessive stress and fatigue. This supplement works be relaxing muscle tension and aiding good quality sleep. Theanine is an amino acid that is naturally found green tea leaves. This amino acid has gained in popularity over recent years as a supplement to...

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Boost your Brain with Bacopa

Bacopa Monnieri, also known as Brahmi, is an Indian herb that is used in traditional Ayurvedic medicine. It is thought to improve memory and mental function. Cosmetic companies are also using this herb in skin and hair products due to its potential antioxidant properties. This herb is traditionally used for memory and improving mental function. Bacopa is often included in many formulas, combined with other herbs that are used to improve memory and brain function. It has also shown promise as a nerve tonic for reducing anxiety. Brahmi is widely used in traditional Indian medicine as a nerve tonic. Bacopa is composed of many compounds such as phytosterols and flavonoids. It also contains many bacopasaponins such as bacoside and bacopasides which are thought to be responsible for improved mental function. Studies have found that bacopa prevents against DNA damage. A small number of animal studies have found that this herb can help in the treatment of Alzheimer’s disease and general cognitive function. Although these results are promising, further studies are required before any firm claims can be made. We hope you found this article about how to boost your brain with Bacopa useful. Please let us know by rating it...

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A Healthy Diet may Prevent Dementia

Doctors have written to the health secretary, Jeremy Hunt, suggesting that persuading people to eat fresh fruit, vegetables, nuts, seeds, fish and olive oil was “possibly the best strategy currently available”, in the battle against dementia. This is a very different treatment method than the usual advice of taking more medication. The group, which consists of doctors and health workers said that the prevention of dementia should be based on the benefits of a Mediterranean diet and not on questionable drugs. Last week brought together dementia experts from G8 countries in London.  Worryingly, according to a recent report the number of people living with the condition is expected to triple worldwide to around 135 million. There is at present an increasing number of prescriptions of anti-pyschotic medications written in the UK, with many possibly the result of mis-diagnosis. The letter also states that encouraging people to eat a healthier diet could have a greater impact in the battle to reduce the rates of dementia than the “dubious benefits of most drugs”. London cardiologist, Dr Aseem Malhotra said, “The evidence base for the Mediterranean diet, in preventing all of the chronic diseases that is plaguing the western world is overwhelming. This includes cardiovascular disease, type 2 diabetes, Alzheimer’s and cancer”. Dr Simon Poole who organised the letter said that educating the public, including young children in the importance of a good diet in maintaining good health is a project that will take years, but which is absolutely essential. This letter needs to be taken seriously by all key decision and policy makers, to educate and promote the importance of a healthy lifestyle in disease prevention. We hope you found our article on how a healthy diet may prevent dementia useful. Please let us know by rating it...

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Exercise for a Healthy Pension

Exercise for a Healthy Pension

It’s never too late to start exercising….that’s a fact! Taking up exercise in your 60’s can still help to prevent major illnesses. These are the findings of a study in the British Journal of Sports Medicine which followed 3,500 healthy people at the age of retirement. The eight year study found that those who exercised three times were more likely to remain healthy than their non active peers. The results found that exercise cut the risk of heart disease, stroke, diabetes, Alzheimer’s disease and depression. A fifth of the participants were classified as healthy eight years after the study. This group was mainly full of people who regularly exercised and exercise “newbies”. Dr Mark Hamer, from University College London said, “The take-home message really is to keep moving when you are elderly. It’s [a] cliche, but it’s a case of use it or lose it. You do lose the benefits if you don’t remain active.” Doireann Maddock, senior cardiac nurse at the British Heart Foundation, said: “This shows us that even if you don’t become active until later in life your health will benefit. However, there’s no need to wait until retirement to get started. Adults should try to be active daily and aim for 150 minutes of activities that get you breathing harder and feeling warmer each week. “Every 10 minutes counts, so even hopping off the bus a couple of stops early or taking a brisk walk on your lunch break will help.” The article A Workout a Day Helps Keep the Doctor Away reports on another large study highlighting the benefits of exercise on maintaining good health and preventing illness. We hope our health article “exercise for a healthy pension” has helped you. Please let us know by rating it above....

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5:2 Fasting diet – It’s not just for weight loss

5:2 Fasting diet – It’s not just for weight loss

The 5:2 fasting diet is nothing new, but the mechanism of how this can benefit us has not always been clear, but new research has found that fasting diets may help people with diabetes and heart disease. The added benefit is weight loss. The diet is based on eating little or no food a few days a week, and has been found to be as beneficial as exercise or surgery for heart disease.  The fasting diet has also been found to improve blood pressure and research has indicated that it may even reverse type 2 diabetes. James Brown from Aston University led a team of researchers that evaluated various approaches to intermittent fasting in medical literature. They specifically looked for the effects of fasting on the treatment of obesity and type 2 diabetes. Intermittent fasting involves alternating fasting or restricted calorie days, alternating with normal diet days. The fasting days can either be on alternate days or a few days each week.  Research has found that intermittent fasting days have been found to be more effective than calorie counting to lose weight. Clinical trials have found that 5:2 fasting can reduce inflammation and blood pressure. Fasting has also been found to improve sugar and fat levels in circulation. This diet is thought to be as effective as bariatric surgery (weight loss surgery), and it also improves pancreatic function. These findings are certainly not ground breaking or new. Intermittent fasting has been known to result in weight loss and reduce the incidence of diabetes in lab animals since the 1940’s. Recent studies have found that restricting calorie intake could reverse type 2 diabetes. “Intermittent fasting might achieve much of the benefit seen with bariatric surgery, but without the costs, restriction on numbers and risks associated with surgery,” according to lead author, James Brown. “Whether intermittent fasting can be used as a tool to prevent diabetes in those individuals at high risk or to prevent progression in those recently diagnosed with type 2 diabetes remains a tantalising notion and we are currently in preparation for clinical trials to assess the effectiveness of this form of lifestyle intervention in various patient groups.” Animal studies have found that intermittent fasting has similar effects...

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Natural Supplements for Insomnia

Insomnia is a very common condition that can contribute to other health conditions and affect work and personal life. People usually turn to natural medicine for the treatment of insomnia after trying conventional medicine. The main problem with conventional medicine is the side effects, which can range from dry mouth, headaches and daytime drowsiness. These medicines are also very addictive and it can be very difficult to come off these drugs.  Long-term insomnia is associated with a number of heath concerns such as weight gain, depression and can speed up the ageing process. There are many natural supplements for insomnia that are easily available. The natural approach to treating insomnia is therefore a better option, and there are many therapies and alternative medicines to choose from. If you are taking prescription medication, please consult your G.P or pharmacist as these medicines could be causing your sleep problems or they may interact with the alternative medicines. Insomnia can also be a symptom of an underlying illness, such as depression, heart disease, hyperthyroidism, anxiety, stress or diabetes. A lack of regular exercise and a diet high in sugar and salt can also contribute to sleep problems. Natural Alternative Sleep Remedies There are many natural sleep remedies that have been shown to be beneficial.  One therapy may be more beneficial than another for the individual person, so please do not give up if you find that the first therapy that you try doesn’t help you.  Please consult your pharmacist if you are taking any regular medication before taking these natural supplements, as there is a possibility that they may interact with your medications. VALERIAN This is a traditional herbal medicine that has been used for centuries as a natural remedy for anxiety and sleep problems. Research has shown that Valerian can increase levels of the neurotransmitter, GABA (gamma-amino butyric acid). This is associated with a decrease in CNS (central nervous system) activity, which results in better quality sleep. This herb is not believed to be addictive or cause drowsiness in the morning (unlike many conventional sleeping pills). Valerian has also been shown to treat mild anxiety, which could be responsible for the insomnia. Valerian comes in the form of liquid, teas, capsules or...

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What is Gluten Allergy & Intolerance?

Gluten is a protein that is found in wheat, oats, rye, barley and oats. You will find gluten in foods such as bread, rolls, cakes, flour, pasta, biscuits, pastries, noodles, pizza, muffins and couscous. These are just a few examples, but you can see that gluten is present in many foods that are consumed in a western diet. We are exposed to a lot of gluten on a daily basis, which may explain why gluten intolerance and allergies are being increasingly diagnosed in the western world. Most people who have gluten intolerance are actually not aware that they have this condition. Before we continue, it is worth noting the difference between an allergy and intolerance. A gluten allergy results in a condition called coeliac disease. If we were to eat a food that we are allergic to, the body immune system reacts in such a way as to protect itself. The immune system produces antibodies (IgE antibody), in response to the allergic food (the allergen). The IgE antibody triggers the release of histamine from mast cells, which are found in the nasal passages, throat, eyes, intestines and other body tissues. This results in the usual allergy symptoms of runny nose, swollen throat and gastrointestinal upset. People who are diagnosed with coeliac disease should avoid gluten. You should also consult a qualified nutritionist or naturopath to help you manage the condition. There are many gluten free foods available in most grocery stores. David Reavely, author of The Big Fat Mystery has a number of practical gluten free food recipes. Gluten damages the lining of the small intestine and can cause inflammation and swelling of the lining. The lining of the small intestine is covered with tiny villi that become damaged by the gluten. These villi are essential for the absorption of nutrients from our diet. This damage can also lead to more foods allergies and leaky gut syndrome. The symptoms of coeliac disease are general indigestion, diarrhoea, loss of weight, abdominal swelling, cramps, and depression. This disease, if left untreated can lead to various health problems such as osteoporosis, nerve damage, kidney disease and diabetes. Most people who have gluten intolerance are actually not aware that they have this condition....

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