Green exericse

Green exericse

Exercise in nature leads to improved mood and self-esteem a study suggests

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Siberian ginseng

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Siberian ginseng

Siberian Ginseng is native to northeastern Asia and it has been traditionally used for various indications, possibly dating back over 2000 years in China. It has been used in Russia as an adaptogen and in Korea as a tonic and adaptogen to strengthen qi.

Main actions

  • Adaptogen (modulates stress response)
  • Modulates immune system
  • Antiviral
  • Anabolic
  • Anticoagulant
  • Antiallergic
  • Radioprotective
  • Neuroprotective

Indications

  • Stress
  • Fatigue, Chronic Fatigue Syndrome
  • Ergogenic aid (Exercise performance enhancement)
  • Prevention of infection
  • Depression
  • Diabetes
  • Fibromyalgia
  • Genital herpes

Siberian ginseng is part of my Stress formula, herbs specific for stress and anxiety. It can also substitute Korean ginseng since they share similar therapeutic activity.

Epigenetics: the need for preconception care

Epigenetics: the need for preconception care

“Inappropriate diet can produce changes in the function of our DNA and the DNA of our children — a process called epigenetics”. A reason for preconception care for both males and females.

Skullcap (Scutellaria lateriflora)

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Skullcap (Scutellaria lateriflora)

Skullcap was introduced in 1773 by Dr Van Derveer for the treatment of rabies, and subsequently became known for its reputed tonic, sedative and antispasmodic effects. In Western herbalism Skullcap is used for for nervous tension due to chronic stress, illness or exhaustion; for neuralgia, insomnia as well as depression.

Skullcap (Scutellaria lateriflora) is part of my Nervous tonic and Stress formula and is used to support the nervous system in cases of chronic stress.

New formula: Reflux Relief fomula

The Reflux relief formula contains herbal extracts that soothe and heal the mucous membranes of the stomach lining. It is indicated in gastroesophageal reflux and peptic and duodenal ulcers.It contains Licorice, Chamomile, Marshmallow root, Meadowsweet and Calendula.

Schisandra chinensis

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Schisandra chinensis

In Chinese, Schisandra is known as wu wei zi, translated as “five-flavor fruit”, based on its five tastes (salty, sweet, sour, pungent, and bitter). The fruit of Schisandra is used for medicinal purposes. It helps liver regeneration, lowers elevated liver enzymes in people with hepatitis, is an antioxidant, anti-inflammatory and used in Russia as an adaptogen (increases attention, concentration, coordination, endurance, and strength).

I usually combine it with other herbs to treat the liver and where an adaptogenic and tonic activity is also needed if the person is stressed. It is part of my “Liver tonic“.

Erectile dysfunction (ED)

by Savvas Ioannides N.D.

Let me say first that “Erection starts in the brain”.

Definition

Erectile dysfunction is defined as the constant inability to maintain an erect penis sufficiently for sexual intercourse.

Failure to achieve an erection less than 20% of the time is not unusual and treatment is rarely needed. Failure to achieve an erection more than 50% of the time, however, generally indicates there is a problem requiring treatment.

Approximately 30% of men at age 50, 50% at age 60 and 70% at age 70 suffer from some type of ED and only 8% of these men are completely impotent.

Causes

An erection requires three conditions to occur:

  1. Proper functioning of the nerves that supply the penis.
  2. Adequate blood circulation to the penis.
  3. There must be a stimulus from the brain.

A full erection will be prevented if there is something interfering with any or all of these conditions.

Kegel_Exercises_for_Men1Most ED is caused by a physical condition that affects the nerves or blood vessels responsible for erections. Diseases associated with ED include heart disease, atherosclerosis, iron overload, hypertension, multiple sclerosis, vascular disease, Parkinson’s disease, diabetes, surgery or radiation therapy for prostate cancer, psychological factors such as stress, depression, and performance anxiety, injury to the penis and hormonal imbalances such as imbalances of thyroid hormones, prolactin and testosterone. Chronic illness, tobacco, alcohol, drug use and certain medications can also cause ED.

In almost 80% of the cases, the cause is an organic disease such as penile arterial insufficiency or drug side effects. There are many drugs that are associated with ED and the most common are listed below:

  • Diuretics and Antihypertensives such as Hydrochlorothiazide, Furosemide, Methyldopa, Clonidine, Verapamil, Nifedipine, Hydralazine, Enalapril, Propranolol, Atenolol, Spironolactone and other.
  • Antidepressant, anti-anxiety and antiepileptic drugs such as Fluoxetine, Sertraline, Amitriptyline, Amoxipine, Chlordiazepoxide, Diazepam, Phenytoin and other.
  • Antihistamines such as Dimehydrinate, Diphenhydramine, Hydroxyzine, Meclizine and Promethazine.
  • NSAIDs such as Naproxen and Indomethacin.
  • Parkinson’s disease medications such as Biperiden, Levodopa and other.
  • Antiarrhythmics such as Disopyramide.
  • Histamine H2-receptor antagonists such as Cimetidine, Nizatidine and Ranitidine.
  • Muscle relaxants such as Cyclobenzaprine and Orphenadrine.
  • Prostate cancer medications such as Flutamide and Leuprolide.
  • Chemotherapy medications such as Busulfan and Cyclophosphamide.

Other substances that may cause ED by suppressing the central nervous system and/or cause damage to the blood vessels include:

  • Alcohol
  • Amphetamines
  • Barbiturates
  • Cocaine
  • Marijuana
  • Methadone
  • Nicotine
  • Opiates

Erectile dysfunction should not be taken lightly as it might be a warning of poor cardiovascular health due to atherosclerotic plaque. Men with ED are at high risk of coronary occlusion and strokes.

Herbal Therapeutic Protocol

Exercise, diet and nutritional supplements are very important as well as psychotherapy if needed. Physical means such as vacuum constrictive devices and penile prosthesis have also been used with some success but with few complications and a large patient drop out.

Panax ginseng (Korean Ginseng)

There is now enough scientific evidence that Korean ginseng is useful for impotence or erectile dysfunction. It is suggested that it may have an effect at different levels of the hypothalamus-pituitary-testes axis to improve male fertility. It has been shown to improve the ability to achieve and maintain erections even in patients with severe ED. Ginsenosides, a group of chemical constituents found in the root of ginseng, can facilitate penile erection by directly inducing the vasodilation and relaxation of the penile corpus cavernosum. In addition, ginseng has shown to increase nitric oxide (NO) release from the endothelial cells and perivascular nerves. In clinical trials, Korean red ginseng was found to significantly improve the Mean International of Erectile Function scores compared with placebo. In a double-blind, placebo-controlled, crossover trial, Korean red ginseng has shown significant improvement in erectile function, sexual desire, and intercourse satisfaction in 45 subjects after 8 weeks (Hong et al, 2003).

Gingko biloba (Gingko)

Gingko may be used in ED due to its vasodilatory effects if compromised circulation is suspected. In an uncontrolled trial, it was found to be 84% effective in treating ED secondary to antidepressant drug use in 63 patients without any adverse effects. A positive effect was reported on all four phases of the sexual response cycle from both male and female subjects: desire, excitement (erection and lubrication), orgasm and resolution.

Tribulus terrestris (Tribulus)

Tribulus leaf is used in Ayurveda tradition to treat spermatorrhoea, gonorrhoea, impotence, uterine disorders after parturition, cystitis, kidney stones and gout. It is very famous amongst body builders and athletes for its testosterogenic activity to increase muscle mass and strength.

The active ingredient protodioscin is found only in the leaf of Tribulus especially of Eastern European origin (Bulgaria and Slovakia). It appears that the mechanism by which Tribulus influences sexual behaviour is by increasing androgenic status and NO release. Its main actions are: aphrodisiac, tonic, androgenic in males, oestrogenic in females and as a fertility agent.

In vivo studies, it has shown to improve libido, sexual activity and intracavernous pressure in rats, and a proerectile effect on corpus cavernosum smooth muscle of rabbits. Increased testosterone levels, improved semen production and normalised sexual activity in rams with sexual impotence have also shown in vivo. Improvement in sexual function was observed in male patients convalescing from postmyocardial infarction and in male diabetics. Patients with oligospermia showed objective improvement. Sperm count and motility improved in approximately 60–70% of subfertile and oligospermic men. See Aphrodisiac activity of Tribulus leaf.

Conclusion

Erectile dysfunction should be treated according to the cause whether is stress (See Combat Stress With Natural Remedies), atherosclerosis or decreased blood flow to the penis. A detailed case history should be taken by your physician/naturopath to assess your current state of health. Diet, nutritional supplements such as arginine, exercise, herbal therapy and sometimes psychotherapy or stress management may all be integrated in the client’s treatment protocol. Caution should be taken to select high quality products. You may contact me for more information on products and product dosages.

Fibromyalgia

by Savvas Ioannides N.D.

Introduction

Fibromyalgia (FM) was once diagnosed as a psychological disorder because of an absence of objective findings on physical examination and usual laboratory and imaging evaluations. Many physicians still today do not accept FM as a discrete illness. However, recent clinical investigation has clarified the neurophysiologic bases for FM and has led to its new classification as a central sensitivity syndrome. Indeed, FM can now be considered a neurosensory disorder characterized, in part, by abnormalities in central nervous system pain processing.

Fibromyalgia typically presents in young or middle-aged females as persistent widespread pain, stiffness, fatigue, disrupted unrefreshing/poor sleep, and cognitive difficulties, often accompanied by multiple other unexplained symptoms, anxiety and/or depression, and functional impairment of daily living activities. These symptoms have neurophysiologic and endocrinologic underlying factors. However, these biologic aspects are likely to originate significantly from psychological, developmental, and socio-cultural variables that lead to chronic unrelieved stress and distress. Female sex, adverse experiences during childhood and a stressful environment and culture are important forerunners of FM. One must view FM from a bio-psycho-social viewpoint rather than biomedical.

In some patients with FM, negative emotional (such as depression and anxiety), motivational, and cognitive stressors dominate the clinical picture. This results in a self-sustaining neuro-endocrine cascade that contributes to flu-like symptoms, depressed mood, fatigue, myalgias, cognitive difficulties, and poor sleep. The biologic elements include pro-inflammatory cytokines, the Hypothalamic-Pituitary-Adrenal axis, other neuro-endocrine axes, and the autonomic nervous system.

The cause of FM remains unknown but appears to be multifactorial. Research has indicated a strong familial component to the development of FM. First-degree relatives of individuals with FM display an eightfold greater risk of developing FM than those in the general population. Family members of FM patients are also much more likely to have other regional pain syndromes such as Irritable Bowel Syndrome and headaches. It is common in 2-13% of population; approximately 80-90% women.

Investigations

  1. FM is diagnosed by exclusion of other diseases because patients with FM do not have characteristic or consistent abnormalities; it is determined by laboratory test results.
  2. Thyroid-stimulating hormone, Thyroid antibodies: Hypothyroidism shares many clinical features with FM, especially diffuse muscle pain and fatigue.
  3. Laboratory sleep assessment only if sleep does not improve with treatment (diet, nutrition, herbs and lifestyle), obtaining a formal assessment by a neurologist experienced in sleep disorders.

Herbal Medicine

Withania somnifera (Withania)

Withania is adaptogenic and tonic via a dopaminergic activity. It reduces stress, sedates and improves sleep. See article Combat Stress With Natural Remedies.

Hypericum perforatum (St John’s wort)

St John’s wort is an antidepressant, up-regulates 5-HT receptors, anxiolytic, antiviral and improves sleep patterns (SSRI action).

Glycyrrhiza glabra (Licorice)

Licorice is an adrenal tonic and adaptogen, anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, antiviral (EBV included), antidepressant (SSRI) and is indicated for chronic stress.

Gingko biloba (Gingko)

Gingko is a powerful antioxidant, vasodilator, improves blood flow, has serotonin and cholinergic effects and is neuroprotective. It is indicated in cerebral ischaemia possibly producing an antidepressant and anxiolytic activity. It increases peripheral and cerebral circulation. Decreased regional blood flow in thalamus and caudate nucleus, which are involved in abnormal central nociceptive processing and functional brain abnormalities may also be part of the pathophysiology of FM.

Bupleurum falcatum (Bupleurum)

Bupleurum is an immune modulator, hepatoprotective, nephroprotective and anti-inflammatory.

Other

Analgesic and anodyne herbs such as Corydalis ambiguaEschscholtzia californica andPiscidia erythrina are highly indicated.

Hypnotics such as Valeriana officinalisHumulus lupulus and Passiflora incarnata are also indicated where sleep abnormalities are present.

Capsicum species (chillies) ointment as a topical analgesic and rubefacient for pain relief.

Nutritional, Lifestyle, Referral, Other

Nutritional

  • A vegetarian or vegan diet has not significantly improved FM in clinical studies but a good wholesome naturopathic diet is imperative to control blood sugar and insulin levels and ultimately reduce pain perception. Fresh fruit, vegetables, wholegrain and lean meats are beneficial.
  • Eat organic food and drink filtered water due to chemical sensitivities.
  • Eliminate stimulants such as coffee and alcohol.
  • Increase water intake to 2 L/day

Supplements

  • Vitamin B Complex
  • Vitamin B12
  • Vitamin C
  • Vitamin E
  • Calcium and Magnesium
  • SAMe – Clinical trials have shown that SAMe improved the symptoms of pain, fatigue, morning stiffness and mood.

Lifestyle

Graded aerobic exercise (e.g. low-impact aerobics, walking, water aerobics, stationary bicycle) should start gently and progress gradually to endurance and strength training.

Acupuncture, relaxation training, visual imagery, distraction for pain management.

Begin a daily practice such as meditation or tai chi to reduce stress and enhance relaxation.

Heat, massage, and other treatments are useful. Diffuse and regional pain is improved by strategies such as sauna, hot baths and showers, hot mud, and massage.

Battle sugar cravings with Gymnema

Gymnema sylvestre

Gymnema sylvestre (Gymnema), also called sugar destroyer because the leaf suppresses the ability to taste sweet on the tongue, has been used to treat diabetes. Gymnema suppresses glucose absorption after eating via a number of mechanisms, it stimulates insulin secretion and increases the number of islets of Langerhans and number of pancreatic beta cells (cells for insulin production).

Gymnema also reduces cholesterol levels, food intake, body weight and sugar cravings.

The Blues – Depression

by Savvas Ioannides N.D.

Symptoms of depression may be easily confused with normal sadness associated with disappointing or traumatic events. However, clinical depression is an ongoing condition and is defined by the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fourth Edition (DSM-IV) based on eight primary criteria:

  1. Depressed feelings that last most of the day and are especially strong in the morning
  2. Fatigue
  3. Feeling restless or slow
  4. Feelings of worthlessness or guilt
  5. Lack of interest in normally pleasurable activities
  6. Sleeping problems, either sleeping too much or too little
  7. Thoughts of suicide or death
  8. Trouble concentrating and making decisions
  9. Weight loss or gain (more than 5 percent of total body weight over the course of a month).

If you experience at least five of these symptoms for at least two weeks, you may be suffering from depression.

Types of Depression

  • Chronic depression: A major depressive condition that consistently lasts for at least two years.
  • Dysthymic disorder: A patient must be depressed most of the time for at least 2 years (1 year for children or adolescents) and have at least three of the following symptoms:
    • Low self-esteem or lack of self-confidence
    • Pessimism, hopelessness, or despair
    • Lack of interest in ordinary pleasures and activities
    • Withdrawal from social activities
    • Fatigue or lethargy
    • Guilt or ruminating about the past
    • Irritability or excessive anger
    • Lessened productivity
    • Difficulty-in-concentrating or making decisions
  • Major depressive disorder: Characterized by a depressed mood or a severe decrease of interest in activities. These depression symptoms last most of the day for at least two weeks.
  • Manic depression or bipolar disorder: A condition characterized by cycling between manic periods — extremely elevated or irritable moods — and depressive periods. Symptoms include inflated self-esteem, grandiose delusions, boasting, racing thoughts, decreased need for sleep, psychomotor acceleration, weight loss due to increased activity and lack of attention to dietary habits.
  • Postpartum depression: A major depressive disorder condition that may occur after giving birth.
  • Seasonal affective disorder: Characterized by major depression that occurs during the fall and winter frequently associated with summer hypomania.

Causes of Depression

Following are some common causes of depression:

  • Abuse
  • Death of a loved one or other personal loss
  • Genetics
  • Major events, such as a new job, a move, or a marriage or divorce
  • Medications such as antihypertensive especially the beta-blockers and reserpine, anti-inflammatory agents, birth control pills, antihistamines, corticosteroids, tranquilizers and sedatives.
  • Personal conflicts
  • Serious illness such as diabetes, heart disease, lung disease, rheumatoid arthritis, chronic inflammation, cancer, liver disease and multiple sclerosis.
  • Substance abuse e.g. prescription medication, illicit drugs, alcohol, caffeine and nicotine.

Other causes may contribute to depression such as allergies or intolerances, environmental factors such as heavy metal toxicity, solvents e.g. cleaning products and benzene, pesticides and herbicides, hormonal imbalances, sleep disturbances and stress.

Naturopathic Treatment

Treatment depends on the factors contributing to the person’s depression, balancing the levels of neurotransmitters, improving patient’s nutrition and lifestyle factors as well as psychological health.

Nutritional and supplemental considerations

  • Avoid all refined carbohydrates and treating hypoglycaemia is very important, as studies have shown that it is a common finding in depressed individuals.
  • A balanced naturopathic diet low in sugar, saturated fats, cholesterol, salt, food additives and processed foods and high in unprocessed foods especially plant foods such as fruits, vegetables, grains, beans, seeds and nuts, and cold water fish to at least twice per week.
  • Avoid caffeine, nicotine, stimulants and alcohol.

Nutritional supplements may also be necessary to be administered as a deficiency of any single nutrient can alter brain function. Melvin Werbach, MD, stated:

“It is clear that nutrition can powerfully influence cognition, emotion, and behavior. It is also clear that the effects of classical nutritional deficiency diseases upon mental function constitute only a small part of a rapidly expanding list of interfaces between nutrition and the mind. Even in the absence of laboratory validation of nutritional deficiencies, numerous studies utilizing rigorous scientific designs have demonstrated impressive benefits from nutritional supplementation.”

Important supplementation includes a high-potency multivitamin and minerals, vitamin C, E, B9 and B12, Selenium, chromium, flaxseed oil and 5-HTP.

Herbal therapy

Hypericum perforatum commonly known as St John’s wort has a strong clinical reputation for the treatment of depression and has been extensively clinically studied for the treatment of mild and moderate depression. Caution however should be paid on self- prescribed St John’s wort and full disclosure to your physician is mandatory.

St. John’s wort

Hypericum exerts significant pharmacological activity within several neurochemical systems believed to be implicated in the pathophysiology of depression. It inhibits synaptic reuptake of serotonin (SSRI), noradrenalin and dopamine. It is also anxiolytic, anti-inflammatory, analgesic, reduces alcohol intake, helps with the psychological and psychosomatic symptoms of menopause, helps to reduce nicotine withdrawal symptoms, and improves cognitive function and other.

Rhodiola

Rhodiola rosea is an adaptogenic herb  used for centuries to improve physical endurance, memory, work productivity, energy, sexual stimulation and reduce altitude sickness. It is an antioxidant, immune stimulant, antidepressant and helps with insomnia.

It is believed that Rhodiola works via neurotransmitter activity such as serotonin, norepinephrine and dopamine within the brain stem, cerebral cortex and hypothalamus.

Damiana

Turnera diffusa (Damiana) is popular because of its aphrodisiac activity in both sexes. It is also a tonic to the nervous system and an antidepressant. It is specifically indicated where depression or anxiety are associated with sexual inadequacy. The British Herbal Pharmacopoiea states that it is specifically indicated in anxiety neurosis with a predominant sexual factor.
The “Depression Formula” is specifically designed for those with mild depression and are not on any conventional drugs. For best results visit your naturopath or herbalist.
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