Spinal Disc Injury

Understanding Spinal Disc injury.
The discs are like shock absorbers between the vertebrae. They have a rubbery casing and a jelly like contents. The health of the disc depends on the internal pressure of the disc remaining stable. This will increase if standing correctly erect or lying down and decrease if by compression if posture is in-correct. Such as when slouching, stooping or bending especially if repetitive or prolonged, or by sudden load while in a bent or twisted position.
The discs have few nerve endings and do not give warning when they are under stress, therefore the pain of injury may appear to be sudden and the patient unaware that they have ‘done anything’ to cause it.
Muscles and ligaments will produce pain when fatigued or stretched whereas discs will cause pain as the bulging disc presses on nerves around the spine. There may be pain down the leg, in the feet or numbness, pins & needles or weakness in the muscles.
Diagnosis is made by the clinical picture. Sometimes XRays help, but they do not show the disc accurately. MRI is the most accurate but usually has to be referred by an orthopaedic surgeon and is expensive. Osteopathic tests can give a reasonably accurate estimate of the degree of nerve injury and the rate of improvement.
A bulge of the disc often recovers quickly but can be easily aggravated and lead to a full disc collapse where the fluids burst out of the disc and cause swelling around the nerve, if not carefully managed.
Recovery from a disc injury can be slower than from a muscle or joint injury. Allow a good 6-8 weeks.
To aid recovery:
– Avoid bending, sitting and driving as much as possible. The most comfortable is often lying on your side or back with the knees supported. When getting up from lying down, roll on your side and push up with your hands.
– Exercise by lying on your back and gently rocking with knees drawn to the chest.
– When you can walk, gentle swimming, cycling the legs in water or aqua jogging can help.
– Make sure you sit correctly – no slouching.
– Gentle massage/stretching and Osteopathic treatments can help.
– Anti-inflammatories either herbal orthodox will ease muscle pain but not always nerve pain.
– Taking magnesium will often help as it aids the surrounding
muscles to relax.

Up-dated Nov 2018

Epilepsy

Epilepsy is a chronic neurological condition characterized by recurrent seizures that are caused by abnormal cerebral nerve cell activity.

There are several types of seizures classified as partial seizures and generalized seizures.  There are several subtypes of each.

Partial Seizures: The site of origin is a localized or discreet area in one hemisphere of the brain. The two most common types of partial seizure are simple partial and complex partial.
Simple Partial—These produce symptoms associated with the area of abnormal neural activity in the brain: motor signs, sensory symptoms, autonomic signs and symptoms (involuntary activity controlled by autonomic nervous system), and psychic symptoms (altered states of consciousness). There is no impairment of consciousness in simple partial seizures.
Complex Partial—Impairment of consciousness, characteristic of complex partial seizures (CPS), results in the inability to respond to or carry out simple commands or to execute willed movement, and a lack of awareness of one’s surroundings and events. Automatisms may occur, such as coordinated, involuntary motor activity (e.g., lip smacking, picking, patting, chewing, and swallowing). A simple complex seizure may begin as a simple partial seizure.

Generalized Seizures At the onset, seizure activity occurs simultaneously in large areas of the brain, often in both hemispheres. Seizures can be convulsive or non-convulsive. The two most common types are tonic-clonic and absence.
Tonic-clonic (sometimes referred to as grand mal seizures) —there is loss of consciousness during the seizure. The tonic phase, consisting of increased muscle tone (rigidity), is followed by the clonic phase, which involves jerking of the extremities.
Absence (in the past, sometimes referred to as petit mal seizures) —This type occurs most often in children, usually beginning between the ages of 5 and 12 years and often stopping spontaneously in the teens.
The loss of consciousness is so brief that the child usually does not even change position. Most absence seizures last 10 seconds or less. The person usually lacks awareness of what occurs during the seizure.

Antiepileptic drugs (AEDs) can prevent seizure activity by altering neurotransmitter activity in nerve cells, but cannot correct the underlying condition. Approximately 70% of patients successfully control seizures with medications

If attempting to treat Epilepsy naturally it is important to realise that it is not a good idea to simply stop orthodox medication in order to try ‘something’ else. The following can be used safely along-side medication and can will further support the nervous system.
Magnesium: Epileptics have been shown to have markedly lower than magnesium levels than normal. A lack of magnesium even in normal people will cause spasms.
Taurine: has known to be helpful in reducing seizures.

Up-dated Dec 2016

Paleo – Lectins & Phytic acid and Protease inhibitors.

The science behind ‘’Paleo’’. A brief over-view.
I often find people confused over ‘’why Paleo’’ and think that it is just another ‘’fad’’ with no real basis….although I think Pete Evan’s TV programmes have helped somewhat.
The web site www.Paleoleap.com  is very informative as well.
There is actually good scientific basis for this method of eating.
The reason for avoiding grains on Paleo is the anti-nutrients and gut irritants they contain so as to protect the lining of the gut by eliminating foods that can damage it.
These ‘’anti-nutrients’’ are Lectins & Phytic acid and Protease inhibitors.

Lectins are a family of carbohydrate-binding proteins. They are found in all foods, but the highest amounts are found in legumes and grains.
Gluten is the best-known lectin, but far from the only one.
Foods with high concentrations of lectins, such as beans, cereal grains, seeds, nuts and potatoes, may be harmful if consumed in excess or improperly processed.

Adverse effects may include nutrient deficiency, immune/allergic reactions and bloating.
Possibly, most effects of lectins are due to gastrointestinal distress through interaction with the epithelia cells of the gut.

They may also contribute to leaky gut syndrome. This is when the cells in your gut to pass the lectins through your intestinal wall into your bloodstream, which causes inflammation (often skin reactions) and can also provoke your body into an autoimmune response.

Therefore ‘’Paleo’’ avoids over consumption of glutens but often allow the consumption of the pseudograins.

Biologically speaking, cereal grains are the seeds of grasses, and belong to a group called monocots. In contrast, pseudograins are the seeds of broadleaf plants, and belong to a different group called dicots. The three major pseudograins are amaranth, buckwheat, and quinoa. These do contain lectins but are often better tolerated than cereal grains.

Paleo does include sweet potatoes, squash, chestnuts, tapioca, plantains, bananas and often white rice and white potato (cooked).

A note on rice. Rice is a grain so not strictly ‘’Paleo’’, but as it does not contain gluten it is often used in gluten free diets. However it does contain other lectins…in the outer part, which can be troublesome to SOME people.

So white rice is just starch – no gluten, no lectins…..so if you suspect a problem, use white rice, but in this case make sure you are supplementing with minerals to help replace nutrients.

Phytic acid is another compound that humans can’t digest. It is found in nuts & seeds.
Phytic acid is a strategy employed to prevent the nut or seed from sprouting before the ideal conditions are present essentially. It binds to the minerals in the food and prevents us from absorbing them, therefore nutrients in foods will do you little good if the phytic acid in the food is preventing your body from using them. Phytic acid can also interfere with digestive enzymes and otherwise irritate your gut.
Germinating seeds and nuts will remove the phytic acid.
Protease inhibitors inhibit some of the key enzymes that help us digest protein they also prevent you from breaking down the proteins from everything else in your gut at the time.
Found in soybeans, and also found in other beans, grains, nuts, seeds, vegetables of the nightshade family (potatoes, tomatoes and eggplant) and various fruits and vegetables.
Cooking deactivates most of the protease inhibitors.

However the protease inhibitors in soybeans are not only more numerous than those found in other beans and foods, but more resistant to neutralization by cooking and processing.
Only the old-fashioned fermentation techniques used to make miso, tempeh and natto come close to deactivating all of them.
But given the growing tendency to use al dente cooking and “live food” (raw) vegan diets, more and more people are eating foods with their protease inhibitor content intact.
This in turn may cause problems with protein breakdown/digestion.

Hope this helps a little, if not, do some more research yourself……..diet can be confusing.

Up-dated June 2016

Shallow breathing

Shallow breathing & anxiety symptoms

Shallow breathing, which many of us habitually do, can cause many symptoms that can be very worrying, such as: chest pain, light headedness, dizziness, feeling faint, trouble concentrating/thinking, muscular tension and rapid heartbeat, all of which are also symptoms of anxiety and stress.

Shallow breathing can be caused by anxiety but also by habit, allergies, asthma, obesity, bad posture and studies have shown that even working on a computer can contribute to this problem.
When holding ourselves still for long periods of time and doing low energy work, we tend to breathe in a very shallow manner.

If using a laptop the keyboard is smaller causing the keys to be closer together and this creates “shoulder scrunch” with tense muscles and reduced circulation.  Using the mouse in the middle of the keyboard further scrunches the body and can reduce the capacity to breathe fully.

Shallow breathing doesn’t mean you need more oxygen. It actually means that you’re over-breathing – you’re breathing out carbon dioxide too quickly, before your body has a chance to make more.

If you do this for too long, you hyperventilate. The problem is that hyperventilation makes your body feel like you’re not getting enough oxygen. Essentially, it makes you feel like you need to take deeper breaths and take in as much air as possible. This makes all of the symptoms of hyperventilation worse.

For all of these reasons, shallow breathing is one of the most important things to control when you have anxiety.
Firstly, try to notice when you’re shallow breathing and notice what you’re doing to contribute to it. Ie take note of your posture, body tension, depth of breathe etc.

Secondly learn to slow down your breathing. Try taking very slow, very deliberate breaths. Take at least 5 seconds to breathe in opening the chest as you do so. Hold for 2 -3 seconds. Then breathe out for 6 to 7 seconds. This will help you regain some of your carbon dioxide while still allowing you to breathe comfortably.

It is useful to also consider enrolling in a yoga or meditation class, both involve breathing re-training. You’ll need to remind your body how to breathe in a healthier way, so that you don’t continue to shallow breathe when unaware.

You could also have an Osteopathic treatment to help open up and relax the thoracic, shoulder and neck areas.

Auto-immune diseases

An auto-immune disorder is one in which the body’s immune system attacks itself. There is still a lot of conjecture around what is the cause/s of auto-immunity, although it is widely thought to have an infectious origin, as almost all autoimmune diseases have now been linked to infectious causes. One theory is, that it is possible that the auto-immunity has been caused by the original infection NOT being completely resolved.

Examples of common auto-immune conditions are SLE (systemic lupus erythematosus), Rheumatoid arthritis, sarcoidosis, Grave’s disease and ankylosing spondylitis. All these can be very unpleasant and debilitating and are not the easiest of ailments to treat.
However I have seen improvement in many patients using the following type of regime.

– An effort needs to be made to improve the immune status of the body as a whole as in my view, it is the only way in which the body can protect itself. (This has always been my own personal belief but is admittedly the opposite of the more usual immune suppressant treatment proposed by ‘modern’ medicine. However more recently the premise that the immune system is over-active and therefore needs immune suppressants, is being questioned and science is now questioning whether the immune system may be under active rather than over reactive).

The first thing is to make sure that minerals are at the highest possible level
. Take Colloidal minerals all the time, at least 1tbsp daily Stress, illness and pain will always cause levels to drop, so the intake has to be kept high and constant.
See page on ‘Minerals- Facts’ and ‘Minerals- Why we need to Supplement’
Barley grass or Spirulina are also very good supplements and can be taken as well as Colloidal minerals if dietary intake of proteins is inadequate or weight loss is severe.

Secondly use herbs to improve immune function: There are many herbal products that can assist and some have been found to help even when the body is in an extremely debilitated state.  Bacopa is one of these.
Other herbal products include those that incorporate Olive leaf, Andrographis, Echinacea, Astragalus, Phyllanthus, Reishi or Shitake mushroom or Propolis extracts. Many of these can be used in an on-going manner, others are better used as a course every few months.

Herbal treatments can work very well in situations of on-going and severe inflammation. I have found products containing Olive Leaf can reduce pain quite dramatically and it has the added advantage that it also improves the immune system.
Tart Cherry can work wonders in helping ease inflammation and to help promote sleep.

Additionally Evening Primrose Oil used at a rate of 3000mg two to three times daily greatly helps ease inflammation and can be used as needed.

Thirdly, make sure the bowel is functioning well: There is evidence to show the correlation between intestinal malfunction and arthritis (and also I suspect other auto-immune disease). Many of the theories as to the pathogenisis of arthritis and other inflammatory disease include specific bacterial infections and/or an altered intestinal bacterial flora.

Often good results are obtained where a specific probiotic is used to improve bowel flora. See page on Probiotics.
Some Colostrum products also can be excellent for improving the immune status of the bowel.

Improving the diet can make a huge difference to immune status, to the bowel and to inflammatory symptoms.
It is important to make sure that the diet is completely free of all added sugars and refined foods (which significantly promote inflammation and oxidative stress).

– Take food enzymes with each meal. These must be very high in protease in order to make sure that all proteins are fully digested. Partially digested proteins are known in some people to activate an immune response and may be responsible for precipitating inflammation promoting reactions. Also once foods are again being fully digested, weight, if too low, usually starts to increase.
See page on ‘Enzymes – facts‘.

In some cases there will be true allergies to such things as tomatoes and their associated family of foods (potatoes, eggplant etc) and to additives such as Sulphites in foods.
Check all food labels.
See page on Sulphite allergy.

These are all very basic recommendations that are needed to regain the body’s strength. However you need to do more than this often to get the pain/inflammation under control.

Increasing fish oils in the diet also helps. Fish oils contain Omega- 3 and have been shown to reduce inflammatory symptoms and morning stiffness. They also contain Vitamin D which has been implicated in the aetiology of RA and other auto-immune diseases.

Flaxseed oil also comes into this category and as well as being mildly anti-inflammatory, helps blood flow around the joints.

Another supplement that I have found works well in many cases is Quercetin, which is very strong anti-oxidant, anti-histamine and anti-inflammatory.

Up-dated January 2016

Adrenal Stress

Often people are diagnosed as having adrenal stress or ‘adrenal exhaustion’.
I personally prefer to treat this as general stress to the body, because in my view that is what it is.
Stress can come about from many different causes such as:
– Prolonged emotional or work stress.
– Lack of rest.
– Chronic pain.
– Poor nutrition etc.
The adrenal gland is the part of the body that helps us cope with stress of all types. The adrenal consists of two major parts; the medulla and the cortex and they work together to handle any stress the body may encounter.

The medulla responds to the sympathetic nervous system and excretes adrenalin in response to acute stress and prepares the body for ‘fight or flight’. This directly affects heart rate, blood pressure and blood supply to the brain, heart and muscles.

The cortex responds to pituitary stimulation and secretes steroid hormones (cortisol and aldosterone) to help the body adapt to chronic stress.

As such if the body becomes over stressed for long periods we to need to support the adrenal gland and its function. I have put any of the mechanisms and treatments that I use and recommend on the page
‘Stress and how to cope with it’.

Dysmenorrhoea (Painful Periods)

Many women still unfortunately suffer from debilitating painful periods each month.
As long as this is ‘primary dysmenorrhea’ – and NOT due to other specific disease such as endometriosis etc, then often can be un-necessary as there can be some simple solutions. This is because sometimes the cause can in itself be very simple.
For example:
Low back strain/tension can cause painful, cramping periods.
Emotional problems and stress can cause excessive pain.
Over consumption of refined foods (white bread, sugars, coffee, wine, chocolate!) can cause painful, heavy periods, often clotted.

Sometimes hormonal imbalances can also cause painful periods but this also can often be traced back to the diet. This because as progesterone reduces (prior to the period) inflammatory mediators which can be produced in response to the consumption of many refined foods are released into the uterus. This produces an inflammatory response causing cramping, sometimes nausea, bloating and headaches.
So in many cases the diet has to be the first consideration.

Also the spine needs to be checked and any lumbar tension corrected.

Then, once these aspects are sorted there may need to be an increase in minerals such as magnesium glycinate for tension or Colloidal minerals for overall mineral deficiency.

Herbal treatments can also be very useful.
If the cycle is irregular you may want to try Chaste tree (Vitex Agnus) over several months.
Or there is clotting present or the blood flow looks unhealthy even once the diet has been corrected then Dong Quai can often be effective.
Herbals may also be needed to help in situations of stress. The particular herb chosen would depend on the situation but in many cases I find Californian Poppy useful.

Up-dated January 2016

Greying hair

I have for many years I have told people that hair colour is best maintained by the supplementation of minerals in the form of Colloidal minerals simply because these contain ALL the essential minerals AND trace elements needed, in safe amounts and avoiding the danger of over supplementing with just one element.
That is – alongside a healthy dose of good genetics!

Hair is coloured by the production of melanin in the hair bulbs. There are two kinds of melanin, eumelanin which colours the hair brown to black, and pheomelanin that makes it yellow-blond to red. Different combinations of these two kinds of melanin determine then the exact colour and shade of the hair.
It is my understanding that grey hair results when insufficient nutrients are supplied to the scalp to maintain normal melanin production in hair cells called melanocytes.
Several nutrients are responsible to convert the amino acid tyrosine into melanin.
The most common deficiency is copper.

Grey hair contains much less copper, magnesium and calcium than naturally coloured hair.
In addition, as well as sufficient copper, calcium and magnesium, zinc maybe required as well as iodine. These are all found in Colloidal minerals.

Apart from supplementing with colloidal minerals, I have read (haven’t tried myself) that to restore hair colour it is
useful to rub diluted copper salicylate solution directly into the scalp.

Next in effectiveness seems to be para-amino benzoic acid or PABA, which is related to the B group of vitamins. Generally PABA has been effective in 10 -25% of cases to darken grey or white hair; after stopping application the colour tends to fade again after several weeks.
In clinical trials amounts from 400 mg up to 15 g of oral PABA have been used daily.
PABA, used orally or topically, is also a natural sunscreen.

 

Other nutrients required to maintain or restore natural hair colour are the B vitamins pantothenic acid, folic acid (in green leaves) and biotin (highest in egg yolk), as well as the B vitamin inositol. Inositol stabilises cell membranes.
This protects the hair bulbs and helps to keep the hair moist and so darkens its colour.

Causes of premature greyness:
Overacidity
causes mineral deficiency and premature grey hair.
This can be brought about by a diet too high in refined foods, sugars and/or proteins  to the deficit of raw foods.

Another cause of fading hair colour is chronic stress. This is often seen is cases of severe emotional stress

Antioxidant deficiency may also contribute.
In the normal metabolism free radicals and hydrogen peroxide are being formed. These need to be detoxified otherwise the melanin-producing enzymes are being damaged. In addition to copper salicylate a high antioxidant intake can avoid this problem.

Hair colouring damages the hair, and it may then take longer for a natural colour to reappear. It is not clear if and to what degree white hair can regain some natural colouring; this may depend very much on additional measures to improve overall vitality and blood circulation to the scalp.

There is much anecdotal evidence that increased blood circulation to the scalp can restore hair colour. This may be done by frequently keeping the head lower than the heart, such as with inversion equipment or slant boards, or by rubbing irritating substances into the scalp such as a solution of cayenne or some aromatic oils.

How to Use Copper
Generally it is considered much more effective to apply copper salicylate directly to the site of the problem as in rubbing a suitable solution into an arthritic joint or an inflamed muscle, ulcerated leg, aged skin or greying hair. Copper salicylate dissolves in water and it may be applied in this way however it can be difficult to obtain. Also to penetrate the skin it should be kept moist for an extended period or combined with a suitable carrier.

When rubbing it on the skin or around a joint you may, for instance, mix the copper salicylate with some magnesium oil which then keeps the area moist for a long time, just guard against accidentally rubbing it off, or cover with a cloth.
Another possibility is to apply it together with aloe vera gel.

Hence most people would try the wearing a copper bracelet or as I always suggest taking colloidal minerals (which contain copper) on a daily basis.

Up-dated August 2014

Knees

Painful knees?
Many people I see complain of sore knees. Sometimes this is justified as they have had a sporting injury or the cartilage is worn.
But at other times there is no apparent injury and scans shows no cartilage damage, but pain persists.

This is because there are many muscles that influence the function of the knee and all, if in a state of tension can cause pain/inflammation around the knee.
As most of these muscles are innervated from the nerves in the lumbar spine, often this tension can be caused by a problem in the lumbar spine, rather than the knee itself.

There are two major muscle groups that control bending and straightening at the knee.
The first is the Quadriceps group of muscles. They are at the front of the thigh and control straightening of the knee. It is made up of four muscles which attach to the patella tendon. If these are over strained there can be pain above the knee.
The quadriceps femoris occupies the front and sides of the thigh and is the primary extensor of the knee. These muscles are innervated by the femoral nerve which originates from the lower lumbar L2. L3, L4.
The four parts (rectus femoris, vastus lateralis, vastus medialis, and vastus intermedius) of these muscles attach to the patellar tendon, which passes over the front of the knee and attaches to the knee cap.

The second is the Hamstring group of muscles. They are at the back of the thigh and control bending. They attach posteriorly on either side of the knee and can cause pain behind the knee.
The hamstring muscles (semitendinosus, semimembranosus, and the biceps femoris) help to flex the knee. These muscles pass along the back of the thigh and connect close to the midline ends of the fibula and tibia. They are innervated from the tibial portion of the sciatic nerve L5 and S1.

There can also be pain medially just below the knee at the pes anserine bursa. This bursa is at attachment of three muscles of the upper leg. Once again if these are over used/strained it can result in pain.
The pes anserinus comprises the tendons of the sartorius, gracilis, and semitendinosus (L5) muscles.

As most of these muscles are innervated from the nerves in the lumbar spine, often knee pain can be relieved by having the lower spine checked.

There are some other muscles attached around the knee that should also be mentioned.
The most important of these is the Gastrocnemius or long calf muscle. This muscle stretches over both the knee joint and the ankle joint. It therefore helps with some flexion (bending).

The Soleus or the short calf muscle does not stretch over the knee joint.
But it is very closely aligned with the gastrocnemius muscle as it lies directly beneath it. These two muscles must always be considered together during rehabilitation. They are vital during walking and running especially when controlling the speed.

Another important muscle at the back of the knee is the popliteus muscle. This is a small muscle, found even deeper than soleus. It lies across the back of the knee joint from the little toe side of the femur above to the big toe side of the tibia below. It helps twist the knee during the first few degrees of bending. This helps “unlock” the joint as it bends.

As a said as most of these muscles are innervated from the nerves in the lumbar spine this may well be the source of the tension, if there is no direct knee injury.
A visit to an Osteopath may be able to resolve this problem and relieve the pain.
Make an appointment.

Up-dated August 2014

Bedwetting

Bed-wetting can be an extremely distressing problem for many families.
Not only for the parents but also for the child involved. A child can often become quite withdrawn from their friends and distressed at not feeling they can ‘stay over ’etc.
As an Osteopath and a Naturopath I tend to treat this problem using both modalities.

Although many parents believe that the problem is hereditary and therefore not easily treatable, I often find that if there is tension or congestion in the lumbar region of the spine and pelvic region of the abdomen (which can affect the kidneys and bladder) that releasing this tension may ease the problem.

This may have to be done over a number of treatments, but if an improvement is seen initially, it is worth continuing.
This improvement is often seen as less urine being passed and more ‘dry nights’ occurring, rather than completely ceasing altogether immediately.

I usually combine these treatments with a herbal remedy aimed at relieving as much stress and tension as possible and improving the sleep pattern.

Improving the sleep pattern is important as it can affect the production of the hormone that reduces urine production at night.
If bedwetting is affecting your child then it is worth a try!

Make an appointment.

Up-dated November 2013

Glutathione

Glutathione is actually a tri-peptide made up the amino acids gamma-glutamic acid, cysteine, and glycine and is also known as gamma-glutamylcysteinylglycine or GSH.
It is found in the largest concentrations in the liver.

Glutathione has several important roles in the body.

Firstly, it plays a key role in detoxification, having the ability to bind to heavy metals and other toxins through its sulphur molecules, thereby providing the means for the body to eliminate these toxins.
Having a deficiency of glutathione is a precursor for one’s inability to effectively excrete mercury, aluminium, and pesticides from the body.
See page on Detoxification.

Glutathione is the most powerful antioxidant occurring naturally in the cells of our body.
Healthy cells homeostatically oppose free radicals through the use of antioxidants, of which Glutathione plays a significant role.
The effectiveness of other antioxidants like vitamins C and E depends on the availability of Glutathione.
Without it, your cells would disintegrate from unrestrained oxidation.

Glutathione is also an immune booster. Without it body would have little resistance to bacteria and viruses.
This is also why Glutathione is essential in overcoming and preventing cancer, auto-immune diseases and other immune system related disorders.

According to Wikipedia: ‘It is used in metabolic and biochemical reactions such as DNA synthesis and repair, protein synthesis, prostaglandin synthesis, amino acid transport, and enzyme activation. Thus, every system in the body can be affected by the state of the glutathione system, especially the immune system, the nervous system, the gastrointestinal system and the lungs’

Another extremely important function of Glutathione is its ability to protect (or at least minimize) the deadly effects on our cells from all forms of radiation, from x-rays to microwaves.

A deficiency of glutathione is first noticed in the nervous system with a lack of co-ordination, tremors, mental disorders, and body balance, all caused by lesions in the brain.

Studies have shown that children with autism have low levels of Glutathione which researchers attribute to abnormalities in their methionine pathway.
See page on Autism.

Glutathione, as it is a vital brain chemical and important brain anti-oxidant that is often hugely deficient in Parkinson’s disease. There is research that shows that it works best when given intravenously, but I have seen very good results with even with 100mg given orally twice daily.
See page on Parkinson’s disease.

Sleep Apnea

Sleep apnea is a condition in which breathing stops for brief episodes (10 – 20 seconds) during sleep. This can happen multiple times throughout the night. The sufferer will usually not be aware of the episodes but may partially wake while struggling to breathe.
There are two types of sleep apnea – obstructive sleep apnea, which is caused by the soft tissue in the back of the throat relaxing and obstructing the airways and central sleep apnea which is more rare and associated with the function of the central nervous system.

Symptoms can include daytime sleepiness, fatigue, morning headaches, loud snoring, low libido, poor judgement, behaviour changes, irritability, anxiety, and depression.
More major problems associated with sleep apnea can be hypertension, coronary artery disease, stroke, cognitive dysfunction, memory loss and even death.
It is far more common in men (particularly those over 40) and in people who are over-weight.

Treatments for sleep apnea firstly include lifestyle changes such as:
– losing weight – this can greatly reduce the number of times a person stops breathing.
– improving the diet.
-getting more exercise.
– avoiding alcohol.
– avoiding medications that cause muscle relaxation.
– stopping smoking.
– sleeping on your side – sometimes a pillow designed to aid side sleeping can help.

Medical help such as:
– mandibular devices – can help in mild to moderate cases.
– CPAP (continuous positive airway pressure) mechanical breathing assistance in more serious cases.

Alternative  treatments:
Both herbal and sleep facilitating nutrients can be very useful in improving sleep patterns.
These can not only improve the symptoms of poor sleep,  but can also help take care of other underlying health problems.
They need to be used in conjunction with the lifestyle changes mentioned above, especially weight loss.
See page on ‘Sleep problems’.

Headaches

Headaches are an extremely common cause of distress for many people and one of the most common causes is tension in the neck and shoulder muscles.
This can occur for many reasons at any time.

Tension headachesare the most common type of primary headache. Up to 90% of adults have had or will have tension headaches. Tension headaches occur more commonly among women than men.

Tension headaches can sometimes be treated effectively by simple massage but more effectively by visiting an Osteopath who can gently release and decompress the cervical area as well as removing restrictions in the shoulder muscles and spine.
If the headache reoccurs then the cause of the restriction has to be sorted.
If you live locally then make an appointment.

Causes can be as simple as having to very slightly lift the shoulder when using the computer mouse, driving with one hand, sitting slightly slouched with the chin pushed forward when working or driving, sleeping on an incorrect pillow, plus a general stress reaction is to tension the shoulders. This very slight reaction puts a tension on the muscles of the shoulder which have an insertion into the base of the skull, this create an inflammatory reaction then a headache. It is important to find this cause and try to eliminate it in order to prevent further problems.

If the body is extremely tense or there is underlying stress then it may be helpful to supplement with Magnesium Glycinate or a herbal supplement such as Evening primrose oil, kavakava, valerian or similar.
See ‘Stress and how to deal with it’.

Migraine headaches are the second most common type of primary headache.
Migraine headaches affect children as well as adults. Before puberty boys and girls are affected equally by migraine headaches, but after puberty, more women than men are affected. It is estimated that 6% of men and up to 18% of women will experience a migraine headache in their lifetime.

These are often difficult to find the cause of. Diet needs to be checked.

Carpel Tunnel

The ‘carpel tunnel’ is a band of ligaments and small bones in the wrist.

Carpal tunnel symptoms may often be felt more at night, often when the wrists are held flexed during sleep and can spread to involve most of the hand, usually sparing the little finger area. Numbness, tingling or burning may be felt and the symptoms can even spread up the forearm.

Pain associated with carpel tunnel is due to median nerve irritation which can occur when the nerve is compressed by the collapse or inflammation of this ‘tunnel’. The median nerve is a nerve that begins near the neck and is responsible for both sensation and movement in the hand, thumb, index finger, middle finger and ring finger. At several points along its length it travels between or through muscles that, if tight, can compress and irritate the nerve as in the area of the wrist.

Therefore even though the pain occurs in the wrist often the cause of this pain may be further afield. It may be in the cervical spine (neck), shoulder or elbow.

Pressure in the area of the wrist may also be aggravated by, for example, overuse of the muscles there from one’s job. It can also be compressed scar tissue or oedema (swelling) during pregnancy.

Osteopathic manipulation and stretching can often ease the nerve compression in area of the wrist and in the neck/shoulder there easing the pain. Worth checking out before rushing off to the surgeon!

Along Naturopathic lines I often suggest the use of specific oils that may ease inflammation & congestion in the area & if used together results are often good.

If you live locally, make an appointment.

Skin care

I have put all my tips for skin care in this article on ‘Ageing skin’.

 

Hyperthyroid

The cause of hyperthyroidism (overactive thyroid) is not particularly well understood, and there are a number of different types.

Toxic diffuse goitre or Graves disease, is a systemic autoimmune disease which involves the thyroid and the eyes.

Inflammation of the thyroid nodules (thyroiditis) may cause a release of stored thyroid hormone and be followed by a few months of hypothyroidism due to poor reserves of hormone.

Excessive iodine intake through using too much kelp, iodine rich foods or supplements.

Excessive use of other thyroid medications.

Other possible causes may well be immunological (precipitated by infection or a virus), or by trauma surgery, toxaemia radiation etc. or by one or more thyroid nodules over functioning for unknown reasons or by a problem in the pituitary gland as it is the pituitary that produces thyroid stimulating hormones. Any of these can cause the thyroid to overproduce the hormones thyroxine (T4) and triiodothyronine (T3), which in turn will produce symptoms of hyperthyroidism.

These symptoms are commonly palpitations, tremor, rapid heartbeat, warm and moist skin, nervousness, increased activity, increased sweating, fatigue, weight loss, insomnia etc.

Herbal treatment may include use of the herb Bugleweed (Hycopus virginicua) that has been shown to inhibit iodine metabolism and thyroxine release. Motherwort (Leonurus cardiaca) may also be used to help calm symptoms of palpitations etc. Other calming herbals may also be indicated.

I have heard of Vitex Agnus castus, Damiana and a herb called Erythacea centurea being used effectively, but have no personnal experience in using these herbs for this purpose and I’m not sure of the mechanism by which they would work, although I suspect by exerting an effect on the pituitary gland and hence on the thyroid.

Foods that are known to suppress thyroid action (known as goitrogens) are most green veges of the brassica family – brussel sprouts, cabbage, cauliflower, leeks etc. as well as turnips, spinach and soybean fibre, walnuts, peaches and pears. Including these in the diet may help. It is equally important to avoid iodine rich foods.

If there is inflammation present then supplementing with fish oils, Quercetin, vitamin C and E may help.