Διαχείριση Γλυκόζης, Υπογλυκαιμία και Διαβήτης

Οι υδατάνθρακες αποτελούνται από μόρια γλυκόζης. Μία από τις κύριες λειτουργίες της γλυκόζης είναι η παροχή ενέργειας (είναι το μοναδικό καύσιμο για τον εγκέφαλο). Αυτή η εξάρτηση από την γλυκόζη απαιτεί να τρώμε υδατάνθρακες συχνά και ότι το σώμα μας χρησιμοποιεί τη γλυκόζη αποτελεσματικά. Ανισορροπία της γλυκόζης στο αίμα (δυσγλυκαιμία, αντιδραστική υπογλυκαιμία, η αντίσταση στην ινσουλίνη ή διαβήτη) πλήγει όχι μόνο τη σωματική ενέργεια και λειτουργία αλλά και την ψυχική λειτουργία όπως κακή συγκέντρωση, κακή μνήμη, ευερεθιστότητα και κατάθλιψη.

Μεταβολισμός της Γλυκόζης στο Αίμα

Η αντίδραση του οργανισμού σε αύξηση του σακχάρου στο αίμα είναι η έκκριση μιας ορμόνης από το πάγκρεας που ονομάζεται ινσουλίνη. Η λειτουργία της ινσουλίνης είναι να στείλει τη γλυκόζη στα κύτταρα όπου μεταβολίζεται για την παραγωγή ενέργειας. Η πλεονάζον γλυκόζη αποθηκεύεται ως γλυκογόνο στους μυς και στο συκώτι ή μετατρέπεται σε λίπος και αποθηκεύεται σε λιπώδεις ιστούς γύρω από το σώμα. Το αποτέλεσμα της διαδικασίας αυτής είναι η μείωση του σακχάρου στο αίμα. Όταν τα επίπεδα του σακχάρου στο αίμα πέσουν κάτω από το κανονικό, το πάγκρεας απελευθερώνει μια δεύτερη ορμόνη που ονομάζεται γλυκαγόνη, η οποία έχει το αντίθετο αποτέλεσμα της ινσουλίνης. Αυτή η ορμόνη προωθεί τη μετατροπή του γλυκογόνου από το ήπαρ και τα μυϊκά κύτταρα σε γλυκόζη για ενέργεια και ενθαρρύνει την καύση του λίπους. Glucose metabolismΕίναι οι υδατάνθρακες που επιλέγουμε και το ποσό που τρώμε που κοινώς προκαλούν τις συνθήκες ανισορροπίας της γλυκόζης. Όταν αφεθεί ανεξέλεγκτα αυτή η ανισορρπία, το αποτέλεσμα μπορεί να είναι η αντίσταση στην ινσουλίνη (σύνδρομο Χ), ο διαβήτης, η παχυσαρκία και/ή καρδιακές παθήσεις.

Ανισορροπίες της Γλυκόζης στο Αίμα

Σακχαρώδης Διαβήτης – είναι η αποτυχία για τον ορθό μεταβολισμό της γλυκόζης που οφείλεται είτε σε μειωμένη έκκριση της ινσουλίνης από το πάγκρεας, ή πιο συχνά, από την αντίσταση στην ινσουλίνη. Το γεγονός αυτό οδηγεί σε επικίνδυνα αυξημένα επίπεδα γλυκόζης στο αίμα.

Αντίσταση στην ινσουλίνη – είναι η ανικανότητα των κυττάρων να ανταποκριθούν στην ινσουλίνη. Ως αποτέλεσμα, ο οργανισμός απελευθερώνει περισσότερη ινσουλίνη σε προσπάθεια να αντισταθμίσει τα υψηλά επίπεδα γλυκόζης στο αίμα. Στην περίπτωση αυτή υπάρχει αυξημένα επίπεδα γλυκόζης και ινσουλίνης στο αίμα.

Αντιδραστική Υπογλυκαιμία – παρουσιάζεται όταν υπάρχει μια υπερβολική αντίδραση στην ινσουλίνη σε αύξηση της γλυκόζης στο αίμα. Ως αποτέλεσμα υπάρχει μια δραματική μείωση της γλυκόζης στο αίμα, που προκαλεί σωματικά και ψυχικά συμπτώματα, συμπεριλαμβανομένων ευερεθιστότητα και διακαή πόθο για ζάχαρη και γλυκά.

Επιλέγοντας υδατάνθρακες, σύμφωνα με τον γλυκαιμικό δείκτη (Glycaemic Index – GI)

Οι διαφορετικές τιμές υδατανθράκων που αναλύονται σε γλυκόζη έχουν μετρηθεί με μια κλίμακα γνωστή ως το γλυκαιμικό δείκτη (GI). Ο GI είναι ένα άμεσο μέτρο της ισχύος ενός υδατάνθρακα που έχει στα επίπεδα γλυκόζης στο αίμα σας. Οι υδατάνθρακες που καταλύονται γρήγορα σε γλυκόζη κατά τη διάρκεια της πέψης απορροφούνται στη κυκλοφορία του αίματος πιο γρήγορα και, συνεπώς, έχουν υψηλό GI. Οι υδατάνθρακες που καταλύονται αργά, αφήνοντας τη γλυκόζη σταδιακά στην κυκλοφορία του αίματος, έχουν χαμηλό GI. Με λίγα λόγια, η χαμηλή σε GI υδατάνθρακες συμβάλουν στη συνεχή και σταθερή διατήρηση των επιπέδων σακχάρου στο αίμα και συνεπώς σταθερά επίπεδα ενέργειας. Υψηλό σε GI υδατάνθρακες προκαλούν μια απότομη αύξηση της γλυκόζης στο αίμα, προκαλώντας οξεία ανταπόκριση από το πάγκρεας. Αυτό μπορεί να συμβάλει στις ασθένειες που περιγράφονται προηγουμένως. Η κλίμακα GI μετράται από το 1 έως το 100 όπου η γλυκόζη βαθμολογείται με 100. Τα τρόφιμα με σκορ από:

  • 0-55 = χαμηλό GI
  • 56-70 = μέτριο GI
  • > 70 = υψηλό GI

Σε γενικές γραμμές είναι καλύτερα να καταναλώνεται το μεγαλύτερο μέρος των υδατανθράκων σας από το 0-50 GI αποφεύγοντας παράλληλα εκείνους με βαθμολογία άνω του 70. Εάν καταναλώνετε τρόφιμα με βαθμολογία μεταξύ 50 και 70, προσπαθείστε να τις συνδυάσετε με ένα χαμηλό GI σκορ, προκειμένου να μειωθεί η συνολική βαθμολογία . Για παράδειγμα, οι μπανάνες έχουν υψηλή βαθμολογία, ενώ η βρώμη και το αποβουτηρομένο γάλα έχουν χαμηλή βαθμολογία. Εάν συνδυάσετε και τις τρεις επιλογές στο πρωινό σας θα μειώσει τη συνολική βαθμολογία και θα είστε ακόμη σε θέση να απολάυσετε τη μπανάνα.

Παράγοντες που επηρεάζουν το GI

Ποσό μαγειρέματος: Τα άμυλα στο φαγητό φουσκώνουν όταν μαγειρεύονται. Οι κόκκοι του αμύλου σε πατάτα του φούρνου φουσκώνει σε εκρηγνυόμενο σημείο, ενώ οι κόκκοι του αμύλου σε μαύρο ρύζι παραμένουν σχετικά αμετάβλητοι. Η πρώτη έχει υψηλό GI, ενώ η τελευταία μέτρια GI.

Τύπος αμύλου: Η αμυλόζη και αμυλοπηκτίνη είναι άμυλα που υπάρχουν στους υδατάνθρακες. Το ποσό και η αναλογία αυτών των δύο σε ένα τρόφιμο θα κάνει τη διαφορά ανάμεσα σε μια γρήγορη ή βραδεία κατανομή υδατανθράκων. Για παράδειγμα το σιτάρι, το καλαμπόκι και το ρύζι έχουν υψηλά ποσοστά σε αμυλοπηκτίνη καθιστώντας την απελευθέρωση των υδατανθράκων γρήγορη, ενώ το κριθάρι, η σίκαλη και το quinoa έχουν υψηλότερα ποσοστά σε αμυλόζη καθιστώντας τα πιο αργά. Το ρύζι Doongara και Basmati έχουν υψηλότερα ποσοστά σε αμυλόζη έτσι έχουν χαμηλότερο GI σε σύγκριση με το κανονικό άσπρο ρύζι.

Επεξεργασία: Τα επεξεργασμένα σιτηρά χάνουν το προστατευτικό εξωτερικό κάλυμμά τους εκθέτοντας το μαλακό και σε εύκολη πέψη άμυλο. Η ακατέργαστη βρώμη έχει χαμηλότερο GI από αυτήν που διαφημίζεται σαν γρήγορη στο μαγείρεμα (Instant oats).

Φυτικές ίνες: Οι φυτικές ίνες ενεργούν ως διογκωτικά μέσα επιβραδύνοντας την απορρόφηση της γλυκόζης. Ορισμένα τρόφιμα εκ φύσεως τους έχουν υψηλότερα ποσοστά ινών – (π.χ. φασόλια και όσπρια). Ως εκ τούτου, είναι καλύτερα να τρώτε ακατέργαστες τροφές όπως το μαύρο ρύζι και τα ψωμιά ολικής αλέσεως αντί για τα άσπρα, επεξεργασμένα αντικατάστατά τους. Σημαίνει επίσης ότι τα φρούτα με την υψηλότερη περιεκτικότητά τους σε ίνες είναι καλύτερα από ένα φρέσκο πολτοποιημένο χυμό. Πάντα να αραιώνεται τους φρέσκους χυμούς με προσθήκη νερού και ίσως να βάζεται πίσω λίγο από το πολτό.

Πρωτεΐνες: Η πρωτεΐνη θα μειώσει το GI του γεύματος εξαιτίας της επιβράδυνσης της πέψης και της γαστρικής κένωσης. Η πρωτεΐνη έχει επίσης ένα υψηλότερο επίπεδο κορεσμού. Επεδίωξε τουλάχιστον το 1/3 από το γεύμα σας να αποτελείται από πρωτεΐνη.

Λίπος: Το λίπος μειώνει επίσης το χρόνο της γαστρικής κένωσης και ως αποτέλεσμα επιβραδύνει την απορρόφηση της γλυκόζης από το γεύμα. Είναι απαραίτητο να καταναλώνονται τα καλά λίπη όπως αυτά από τους ξηρούς καρπούς και σπόρους, τα ψάρια, τα αβοκάντο και έλαια ψυχρής έκθλιψης (cold-pressed oils).

Οξύτητα: Η οξύτητα των τροφίμων ή γεύματα που περιέχουν οξέα επιβραδύνουν τη γαστρική εκκένωση. Μια απλή συμβουλή είναι να προστέθετε βινεγκρέτ ή μηλόξυδο στη σαλάτα ή λαχανικά.

Γλυκαιμικό φορτίο (Glycaemic Load -GL)

Η τελευταία εξέλιξη στις τεχνικές ρυθμίσεως της γλυκόζης στο αίμα έρχεται με την μορφή του γλυκαιμικού φορτίου (GL). Το GL παρέχει πληροφορίες όπου παραλείπει το GI λαμβάνοντας υπόψη το ποσό των υδατανθράκων ανά σερβίρισμα. Για παράδειγμα, οι υδατάνθρακες στο καρπούζι έχουν υψηλό GI αλλά είναι χαμηλό σε υδατάνθρακες, ώστε το προκύπτον GL να είναι χαμηλό. Από την άλλη, τα ζυμαρικά (τα οποία έχουν χαμηλότερο GI από το καρπούζι) έχουν υψηλή περιεκτικότητα σε υδατάνθρακες που οδηγεί σε υψηλό GL. Ως εκ τούτου, η κατανόηση του GL φαίνεται να είναι ένας πιο ακριβής τρόπος για να κρίνετε τους υδατάνθρακές σας.

GL εύρους αναφοράς:

  • < 10 = χαμηλό
  • 11 – 19 = μέτριο
  • > 20 = υψηλό

Τύπος για GL = GI/100 x (Υδατάνθρακες ανά μερίδα (γρ.))

Για παράδειγμα:

  • το καρπούζι έχει 6 γραμμάρια υδατανθράκες ανά μερίδα 120 γρ. και GI 72 (Υψηλό GI)

72/100 x 6 g = GL 4.32 = χαμηλό GL

  • 1 φλιτζάνι μαγειρεμένα ζυμαρικά με GI 71 (Υψηλό) και 40 γραμμάρια υδατάνθρακες, δίνει GL 28 (Υψηλό)

Diabetic meal example

Χρήσιμες Συμβουλές

  • Χρησιμοποιώντας τον κατάλογο GI, εξοικειωθείτε με μερικά βασικά συστατικά και τρόφιμα που αποτελούν μέρος της τακτικής διατροφή σας.
  • Επιλέξτε υδατάνθρακες με GL από 0-10 πιο συχνά και ενίοτε 11-19. Τρόφιμα με GL 20 ή παραπάνω θα πρέπει να αποφεύγονται ή να καταναλώνονται με υδατάνθρακες χαμηλοί σε GL, πρωτεΐνες και καλό λίπος.
  • Όταν επιλέγεται κάτι στα τυφλά, αποφύγετε όλα τα επεξεργασμένα προϊόντα και επιλέξετε δημητριακά που έχουν υψηλή περιεκτικότητα σε φυτικές ίνες.
  • Τα τρόφιμα με όξινη γεύση ή με χαμηλό pH τείνουν να έχουν χαμηλότερο GL, για παράδειγμα, ψωμί με προζύμι, και όξινα φρούτα και λαχανικά.
  • Λαχανικά βολβοί ή λαχανικά που είναι γλυκά και κολλώδες όταν μαγειρεύονται έχουν συχνά υψηλό GL (αν και όχι πάντα). Για παράδειγμα, οι πατάτες και γλυκοπατάτες έχουν υψηλό GL σε σύγκριση με το μπρόκολο ή άλλα χόρτα.
  • Κατά το σχεδιασμό γευμάτων – να περιλαμβάνεται πάντα 1/3 πρωτεΐνες και 2/3 υδατάνθρακες με χαμηλό GL και λίπη (από λιπαρά ψάρια, αβοκάντο, ξηρούς καρπούς, σπόρους, ελαιόλαδο).
  • Να καταναλώνεται κάποιο λίπος κάθε μέρα. Προτιμάτε τα ψάρια και έλαια από φυτικές πηγές.

Συνοπτικά

Οι τιμές του GL είναι χρήσιμες, αλλά είναι διαθέσιμες σε περιορισμένη βάση, και δεν λαμβάνουν υπόψη τυχόν πολύτιμων βιταμινών και ανόργανα συστατικά που υπάρχουν σε ένα συγκεκριμένο τρόφιμο. Για να είστε υγιείς, να σας παρέχονται επαρκή θρεπτικά συστατικά και φυτικές ίνες, και για να αποφεύγεται υψηλά επίπεδα σακχάρου στο αίμα υιοθετήστε τους ακόλουθους κανόνες:

  • Επιλέξτε ένα ευρύ φάσμα μη αμυλούχα λαχανικά (5-7 μερίδες ημερησίως)
  • Τρώτε προϊόντα ολικής αλέσεως αντί τα επεξεργασμένα τρόφιμα
  • Τρώτε φρούτα και αμυλούχα λαχανικά μαζί με τρόφιμα υψηλής περιεκτικότητας σε πρωτεΐνες ή/και σε φυτικές ίνες
  • Χρήση καλού λίπους – ξηροί καρποί, σπόροι, δημητριακά, ψάρια, και έλαια (ελαιόλαδο, σουσάμι, σόγια, λινάρι)
  • Χάσιμο βάρους (αν είστε υπέρβαροι) και τακτική εξάσκηση
  • Διαχείριση του στρες

Πινακας GI/GL

Glyacemic Index load

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Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS) – Herbal Treatment

by Savvas Ioannides N.D.

Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS) is the most common endocrine disorder in women of reproductive age and is now recognized as a complex endocrine disorder with multiple possible etiologies and clinical manifestations. It is defined as hyperandrogenism (increased male hormones) and chronic anovulation (luck of ovulation) in cases in which secondary causes of these signs have been excluded.

PCOS Symptom Presentation

  • Anovulatory Infertility
  • Obesity and weight gain
  • Insulin resistance is uniquely associated with PCOS. In obese women with PCOS, 30-40% of these have impaired glucose tolerance or diabetes. Weight gain especially around the trunk (apple body shape or android body shape) especially after the age of 30 indicates insulin resistance or diabetes
  • Acanthosis nigricans
  • Irregular menses and amenorrhea
  • Dysfunctional uterine bleeding
  • Miscarriage
  • Acne
  • Alopecia (hair loss)
  • Hirsutism &/or virilization
  • Mood changes such as irritability and depression
  • Fatigue possibly due to dysglycaemia (insulin resistance)
  • Family history of non-insulin dependent diabetes mellitus.
  • The diagnosis is suspected if women have at least 2 typical symptoms (mild obesity, hirsutism, and irregular menses or amenorrhea)

Other Biochemistry

  • Elevated LH levels and low FSH is classical PCOS hormonal profile
  • Unopposed oestrogen due to the lack of ovulation and the reduced production of corpus luteum allowing endometrial overgrowth that increases the risk of endometrial cancer
  • Oestrogen stimulates the release of LH, however since ovulation does not occur, LH levels remain high. High LH adversely affects the egg quality and can lead to increased miscarriage rates
  • There is an increased risk of cardiovascular disease and many women with PCOS have abnormal lipid levels
  • Decreased sex hormone-binding glubulin (SHBG)

Investigations Required

Blood tests Lipid and lipoprotein studies – cholesterol, LDL, HDL, triglycerides.
Hormonal tests Including oestrogen, progesterone, free testosterone levels, dehydroepiandrosterone sulfate level (DHEAS), prolactin levels, and (SHBG).
Fasting glucose, glucose tolerance test and insulin levels Insulin sensitivity is associated with PCOS. Approximately 10% of women with PCOS have type 2 diabetes mellitus, and 30-40% of women with PCOS have impaired glucose tolerance by the age of 40 years.
Ultrasonography A transvaginal ultrasound imaging (sonogram) or a pelvic ultrasound may be done to demonstrate the presence of polycystic ovaries and other abnormalities. Diagnosis is confirmed by ultrasonography showing > 10 follicles per ovary; follicles usually occur in the periphery and resemble a string of pearls.

Treatment Objectives

Herbal Treatment

Herbal treatment will focus on balancing hormonal levels, hepatic clearance of oestrogen, female reproductive toning, adaptogens, weight loss and anti-diabetic herbs.

Herb Justification
Cinnamomum zeylanicum (Cinnamon) Antibacterial, carminative, enhances insulin sensitivity because MHCP (a water-soluble compound) activates the key enzymes that stimulate insulin receptors, while inhibiting the enzymes that deactivated them
Glycyrrhiza glabra (Licorice) Glycyrrhenetic acid seems to inhibit the enzyme 17β-hydroxysteroid dehydrogenase, which converts androstenedione to testosterone in the ovary. Glycyrrhenetic acid also inhibits 11β-hydroxysteroid dehydrogenase, which results in decreased conversion of cortisol to cortisone and the state of apparent mineralocorticoid excess. In PCOS, elevated 11β-hydroxysteroid dehydrogenase is responsible for androgen excess, possibly via its effect on glucose metabolism.
Gymnema sylvestre (Gymnema) Gymnema is used as an antidiabetic, hypoglycaemic, lipid-lowering agent and to support weight reduction. Gymnema is indicated for PCOS, due to its insulin modulating activity and the added benefits of reducing the elevated triglycerides associated with PCOS.
Paeonia lactiflora (Peony) The active constituent in Paeonia lactiflora is thought to act directly on the ovary to reduce the production of androgens in a dose-dependent manner. It increases the activity or aromatase, which promotes the synthesis of oestradiol from testosterone. Formulas containing Peony may also improve progesterone levels by normalizing ovarian function when the activity of aromatase is inhibited. It has been used to treat hyperprolactinaemia, ovarian failure and androgen excess. The biofeedback in the pituitary and hypothalamus rely on aromatase to regulate prolactin and GnRH.Licorice and Peony combination reduces testosterone levels and improves the oestradiol to testosterone ratios after 4 weeks of administration. Pregnancy rates also improve. After prolonged administration, LH to FSH ratio is significantly lower. This combination stimulates pituitary dopamine receptors, which seem to be responsible for the gradually improving LH/FSH ratio.
Schisandra chinensis (Schisandra) Schisandra is a hepatoprotective, adaptogenic, nervine and antioxidant. It helps to improve liver function in terms of detoxification and hormone clearance. As an adaptogen, it will improve mental, physical and sensory performance and help to cope with stress.
Vitex agnus-castus (Chaste Tree) Vitex has demonstrated to down-regulate the production of excess prolactin via a dopaminergic activity. Hyperprolactinaemia is a common condition in PCOS. It has also shown to have an anti-androgenic effect. It is beneficial for ovulatory factors associated with PCOS. Clinical experience has shown that it is valuable in PCOS, especially when combined with other herbs, probably because of its action in reducing prolactin.
Zingiber officinale (Ginger) Ginger is a circulatory stimulant, anti-inflammatory, spasmolytic and digestive stimulant. It is also hypoglycaemic, antioxidant and antihepatotoxic. It is useful in amenorrhoea brought up by cold.

The list above is not exhausted and there are more herbal remedies that might be indicated in a case of PCOS depending on the presentation of the person since the condition is multifaceted. Nutrition is of utmost importance and nessessary multiple nutrient supplementation is warranted.

Lifestyle

Exercising daily is essential especially in the morning as it increases metabolism – a minimum of 45 minutes 4-5 times a week of aerobic exercise to help lose weight, improve insulin resistance, lower cholesterol, increases SHBG and maintain cardiovascular health. If possible get a personal trainer to help achieve ideal body weight.

Dairy Allergy and Lactose Intolerance

by Savvas Ioannides N.D.

Dairy AllergySome are led to believe that the avoidance of milk and dairy products will cause calcium deficiency, which is needed for healthy bones. However, evidence now support the health benefits of the reduction or avoidance of dairy products even though you are not allergic. Antibiotics and hormones are leaking into our milk due to modern farming, breeding and processing methods. Pasteurisation destroys many essential enzymes and the removal of fat as in skim milk removes the fat-soluble vitamins such as vitamins A and D.

Dairy products have been associated with allergies, eczema, dermatitis, acne, sinus problems and respiratory mucus congestion. Many people suffer from lactose intolerance &/or milk allergy.

Lactose Intolerance

Lactose intolerance is the inability to digest lactose, a sugar found naturally in milk and milk products, due to the luck or deficiency of lactase levels. Lactase is the enzyme that breaks down lactose, is produced by the small intestine and declines after the age of two. Symptoms of lactose intolerance may include abdominal pain, gas, cramping, bloating and diarrhoea after 30 minutes to 2 hours of consuming milk or milk products.

Milk Allergy

Milk allergy is different to lactose intolerance in that people with milk allergy don’t have problems digesting lactose but the protein portion of milk called casein. Casein is very hard to digest and it is 300 times higher in cow’s milk than in human milk. Casein can be further grouped into other variants depending on the genetics of the cow that produce it. For example, the beta casein A1 variant is produced by more than 70% of Red Danish cattle, whereas the beta casein A2 variant is produced by more than 70% of Guernsey cows. Evidence suggest that Type 1 diabetes, cardiovascular disease and neurological disorders such as autism is linked with milk consumption containing A1 casein.

Dairy Free Diet

People who exhibit symptoms due to milk and milk products consumption should follow a dairy free diet and need to read product labels:

Ingredients containing lactose

  • Lactose
  • Butter, Margarine
  • Cheese, cream, yoghurt
  • Whey, milk solids
  • Non-fat milk products, skim milk powder

Ingredients containing milk proteins

  • Lactoglobulin
  • Casein
  • Lactalbumin
  • Sodium caseinate

Depending on the degree of lactose malabsorption some people may tolerate some lactose usually up to 18 grams of lactose daily without symptoms. Yogurt is usually tolerated because it contains an appreciable amount of lactase produced by intrinsic Lactobacilli.

Calcium Concerns

Do you worry about enough calcium intake? There are other sources of Calcium other than milk and milk products such as green leafy vegetables, nuts and seeds. It is also important to look into factors that reduce calcium from the body such as caffeine, alcohol, smoking, urinary loss and stomach acid deficiency, and also factors that increase Calcium in the body such as adequate magnesium, vitamin D and weight bearing exercise. The recommended daily allowance (RDA) of calcium for adult men and women is 800-1000 mg daily and for adults aged 65 plus is 1000-1500 mg daily. Sometimes, supplementation of Calcium is needed to fill in the gap if some dietary restrictions apply.

There are many alternatives to milk such as soy milk, rice milk, almond milk and for those with mild lactose intolerance can have goat’s or sheep’s milk. You may also use ghee or coconut milk/cream instead of butter/buttermilk or a carob bar in the place of milk chocolate. Non-dairy gelati and fruit sorbet do not contain milk. Most big supermarkets and health food stores across Cyprus have those alternatives.

Below is a list of dairy free food products containing Calcium (mg of calcium per 100g)

Calcium Sources

Cranberry for Cystitis

by Savvas Ioannides N.D.

CranberryCranberry or, Vaccinium macrocarpon, is a trailing, evergreen shrub, which bears glossy red fruit 1–1.5 cm wide. It is native to eastern North America and northern Asia, and favours an acidic wet area. The fruit is used for medicinal and culinary purposes (juices and sauces). Cranberry fruit contains proanthocyanidins, catechins and other polyphenols. Cranberries also contain vitamin C, sugars, amino acids and peptides. Traditionally cranberries were thought to be useful for the treatment of cystitis.

How it works

It has been proposed that cranberries may reduce bacterial adherence to mucosal surfaces (Sobota, A E: J Urol 131, 1013- 6, 1984). Exposure of pathogens, either in the gut or the urinary bladder, to an isolated but unidentified compound in cranberries may inhibit their adhesive capacity (Ofek, I et al: N Eng J Med 324, 1599, 1991). Pharmacological studies suggest that this is probably due to the activity of proanthocyanidins. Some scientists have proposed in the past that proanthocyanidins inhibit the adherence of organisms such as E. coli to the bladder wall, thereby reducing the likelihood of bladder infection.

Cranberry consumption definitely does create urine, which is capable of preventing adhesion of pathogenic bacteria. But the compounds responsible for this are yet to be found and are unlikely to be proanthocyanidins. Another possibility is that, rather than containing compounds or precursors, which prevent adherence, cranberry induces the body to produce its own factors which prevent adherence.

Clinical Trials

  1. A randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled clinical trial was initiated to determine the effect of regular intake of cranberry juice on bacteriuria and pyuria in elderly women (Avorn J et al: JAMA 271, 751- 4, 1994). A volunteer sample of 153 women, mean age 78.5 years, took either 300 mL per day of a commercial cranberry drink or a specially prepared placebo. Subjects taking cranberry demonstrated a significantly reduced incidence of bacteriuria (defined as organisms numbering = 105/mL) and pyuria (presence of white blood cells). This effect appeared after 4 to 8 weeks of regular cranberry intake. The average pH of urine in the cranberry group (6.0) was higher than the placebo group (5.5).
  2. The results of a controlled study suggest that cranberry juice (150 mL twice a day) may prevent relapse in chronic pelvic pain syndrome (CPPS). Fifty male patients diagnosed with CPPS were initially treated with the antibiotic levofloxacin and supportive treatment for 8–12 weeks. Twenty-six patients were then administered cranberry juice and 24 patients served as a control group. All fifty patients were evaluated after 3 months. None of the patients in the cranberry group experienced aggravation of symptoms, but five from the control group did. The parameters measured after antibiotic and supportive treatment (including white blood cell count in prostatic secretions) remained reduced and were even slightly further reduced in the cranberry group (Park SJ, Yoon HN, Shim BS. Korean J Urol 2005; 46(1): 63-67).
  3. Standardised, concentrated cranberry extract was evaluated in an uncontrolled pilot study involving 12 women with a history of recurrent urinary tract infections (UTIs). To be eligible the women had to have experienced a minimum of six UTIs in the preceding year. Cranberry extract (corresponding to 100 mg/day of proanthocyanidins) was taken for 12 weeks and the women were available for follow-up 2 years later. None of the women developed a UTI during the 12 weeks of treatment, on the basis of symptoms or laboratory results. Eight women who continued to take cranberry products remained free from infections 2 years later. Of the four women who stopped taking cranberry products, one patient remained free of UTIs and two developed symptoms (Bailey DT, Dalton C, Joseph Daugherty F et al. Phytomedicine 2007; 14(4): 237-241).

Comment

The value of cranberry as a preventative for UTIs is now well established, especially for the extract in tablet form. Cranberry treatment has distinct benefits compared to prophylactic antibiotic use, most notably fewer side effects (when given as the extract), reduced cost and no risk of resistant organisms or super infection.

Who should not take Cranberry juice or Cranberry tablets

  1. Individuals who have or who ever have had kidney stones should not consume very large amounts of cranberries (more than a litre a day) or use supplemental cranberry products.
  2. The use of supplemental cranberry products is not recommended for individuals who are taking warfarin.

Premenstrual Syndrome (PMS)

by Savvas Ioannides N.D.

You are probably suffering from PMS if you are experiencing decreased energy levels, tension, irritability, depression, headache, altered sex drive, breast pain, backache, abdominal bloating, oedema of the fingers and ankles, insomnia, crying spells, low self-esteem or food cravings 7-14 days before menstruation with relief at the onset of menses.

Definition

In order to be diagnosed with PMS you will need to:

  1. Have at least one physical and one psychological complaint.
  2. Symptoms must begin 2 weeks or so before menses and relieved with the onset of menses and occur regularly with each cycle.
  3. The symptoms are severe enough to interfere with daily functioning.

Statistics

Up to 85% of all women experienced PMS symptoms during their reproductive years but around 20-40% of these women have symptoms severe enough to classify them as having premenstrual syndrome and only 5-10% of them are significantly inflicted by this.

Aetiology

What causes PMS is not absolutely defined. There are many mechanisms at play, however there are common hormonal patterns among PMS patients compared to women who have no symptoms of PMS. The initial finding is that the ratio of oestrogen to progesterone is increased 5-10 days before menses. Further review of endocrinological studies has led to the popularity of recent theories such as altered serotonergic function, altered endorphin secretion, and/or altered melatonin secretion. Nutritional and prostaglandin imbalances have also been studied and hypothyroidism and/or elevated prolactin levels are common.

Naturopathic Treatment

Chaste Tree

VitexVitex agnus-castus commonly known as Chaste tree is probably the most widely used herb for the treatment of PMS. Studies have indicated that it acts on the hypothalamic-pituitary axis and on dopamine D2 receptors to decrease prolactin levels and therefore help with the symptoms of breast tenderness.Scientific research has also shown that Chaste tree normalises progesterone levels after 3 months’ treatment and alleviates the symptoms of PMS, especially, breast tenderness, irritability, depressed mood, anger, mood changes, headache and constipation (Braun & Cohen, 2007). Moreover, Chaste tree is indicated for menstrual irregularities, particularly when low progesterone levels and luteal phase defects such as hyperprolactinaemia, are present. It normalises menstruation in women with shortened, lengthened or infrequent menstruation.

Dong Quai

Angelica sinensisAngelica sinensis commonly known as Dong quai, has been traditionally used for gynaecological ailments including menstrual irregularities and cramps, retarded flow, PMS and menopausal symptoms. It relaxes and stimulates the uterus at the same time producing a balancing effect and it also has a mild sedative effect on the central nervous system.

Studies have found that vitamin B6 may also be effective in reducing the symptoms of PMS. It is a natural diuretic by suppressing aldosterone levels and it decreases oestrogen levels while increasing progesterone levels. In combination with Magnesium supplementation it is found to work synergistically to reduce anxiety-related PMS such as nervous tension, mood swings, irritability and anxiety.

Due to the many variations in symptoms of PMS, a careful history of the person is needed to individualize the treatment and maximize a successful outcome. Best results occur with a treatment triad of diet, exercise, and appropriate herbs.

Hormone Replacement Therapy (HRT): Advantages and Disadvantages

by Savvas Ioannides N.D.

Hormone Replacement Therapy (HRT) sometimes called Estrogen Replacement Therapy (ERT) and also known as Menopausal Hormone Therapy (MHT) (1) is medication containing hormones such as estrogen alone (usually in the cases where women have had their uterus removed) or estrogen with progestin (synthetic progesterone). HRT is used to treat the deficiencies in the female hormones caused by menopause or otherwise. (2), (3) However, the question that needs to be answered is that, is natural biological processes, like menopause, pathologic, or is this the trend of the 21st century?

Medication is available in the form of a pill, a patch, or a vaginal cream. HRT is most often used to treat women who are going through menopause and who had already gone through it (post-menopausal). Symptoms associated with menopause include:

  • hot flashes,
  • vaginal dryness causing itching and pain during sexual intercourse,
  • mood swings,
  • sleep disorders and
  • decreased libido.(2)

Many concerns have been raised about the risk and benefits of HRT, especially after the July 2002 release of “Risks and Benefits of Estrogen plus Progestin in Healthy Postmenopausal Women” by the Writing Group for the Women’s Health Initiative Investigators (WHI) and its predecessor, the Estrogen/Progestin/ Replacement Study (HERS) for the HERS Research Group in the same year. This essay will look into publications on HRT particularly discussing the benefits and risks of HRT. HRT is the medication for the treatment of hot flashes, vaginal dryness, mood swings, sleep disorders, decreased sexual desire and for women who have an increased risk of developing cardiovascular disease &/or osteoporosis. (4) The risks and benefits of HRT discussed in this essay are associated with healthy menopausal and post-menopausal women. The risks differ depending on the health status of the person and on the type of HRT.

The WHI study, which was started in 1993, is one of the most important and long-term research that examined among other the health benefits and the risks of HRT including the risk of developing breast cancer, myocardial infraction, strokes and blood clots. (5) The WHI component that studied the use of estrogen and progestin in women who had a uterus in July 2002 was stopped early because the health risks exceeded the health benefits specifically due to a 26% increase in breast cancer. In addition, another component of WHI, which studied the use of estrogen-alone therapy in women who had hysterectomy was also stopped early because of a 41% increase in the risk for strokes. Moreover, the researchers of the WHI study found that post-menopausal women on HRT were at a 29% higher risk of cardiovascular heart disease (CHD) and had 2-fold greater rates of venous thromboembolism (VTE), as well as deep vein thrombosis (DVT) and pulmonary embolism (PE). Total cardiovascular disease, including other events requiring hospitalization, was increased by 22% in the estrogen plus progestin group. However there was a reduction of 37% in levels of colorectal cancer and a 39% reduction in hip fractures. The reductions in other osteoporotic fractures (23%) and total fractures (24%) were statistically significant. (2), (5)

Other outcomes from the WHI study suggest that the farther a woman was from the onset of menopause when she began hormone therapy, the greater her risk of CHD. Overall, hormone therapy did not reduce the risk of CHD. Furthermore, the WHI study analyses firstly confirmed that hormone therapy increases the risk of stroke and this risk does not appear to be influenced by age or time since menopause, secondly, there is an increased risk of breast cancer in women taking estrogen with a progestin even in women within 10 years of menopause, and thirdly, there was a trend towards reduced risk for death associated with hormone use in younger compared to older women. (5), (6)

In August 2003, The Million Women Study from the United Kingdom confirmed the initial WHI study. This study recruited 716,738 women during 1996-2001. These women did not have a previous hysterectomy or previous cancers, and were followed up for an average of 3.4 years, during which 1320 endometrial cancers were detected. The risks were different depending on the type of medication used. Women who used the continuous combined therapy (progesterone added daily to estrogen) had a reduced risk of endometrial cancer whereas women who had used the cyclic combined preparations (estrogen with progesterone added every 10-14 days per month) had no difference in risk. Those who had previously used tibolone or estrogen-only HRT had an increased risk of endometrial cancer. (7)

Other side effects include nausea, bloating, breast tenderness or headaches caused primarily by the hormone estrogen in HRT. Moreover, water retention, bloating, irritability, mood swings and anxiety are cause by the progestin. Although the side effects of HRT may vary from woman to woman withdrawal bleeding is the most frequent reason women cease HRT. Withdrawal bleeding may occur if progestin is taken cyclically for 10 to 14 days every month and the bleeding resembles a light menstrual period occurring at the end of each progestin cycle. (8)

Other side effects depending on the type of HRT usage are skin irritations with itchiness and redness due to the transdermal skin patches, allergic skin reactions in some women who use vaginal creams and some hormones can cause acne-like skin problems. (8)
An increase in skin dryness, a decrease in skin elasticity and an increase in looseness are other symptoms that many women notice during menopause. A recent study showed that the effects of a combination of glycolic acid cream and 17 -oestradiol cream resulted in the increase in skin thickness. Also another study showed that topical 0.03% oestrol and 17 -oestradiol made a significant improvement on wrinkle depth and skin hydration. (9)

Another important part of menopause that many women experience but that these studies did not address, are the symptoms of menopause (i.e., hot flashes, night sweats, vaginal dryness and irritation, and painful intercourse). These symptoms usually occur during the first few years after the menopause, but may last longer for some women. For these symptoms, nothing is more effective than estrogen. (10)

The Women’s Health Initiative Memory Study (WHIMS), a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled clinical trial demonstrated that “61 women were diagnosed with probable dementia, 40 (66%) in the estrogen plus progestin group compared with 21 (34%) in the placebo group.” “This increased risk would result in an additional 23 cases of dementia per 10,000 women per year”. Alzheimer’s disease was the principal form of dementia. (11)

Sexual problems and a worsening of various aspects of libido is another symptom that accompanies menopause. A study which enrolled 184 women receiving HRT with tibolone showed that the effect of 2.5 mg daily for at least 4 months with tibolone (Liviel) had a significant increase in women’s satisfaction with their sexual lives and a significant improvement in different aspects of libido. However, these effects may be due to both an increase in genital blood flow and the central estrogenic/androgenic activity. (12)

In conclusion, postmenopausal hormone therapy use increased dramatically during the past twenty years because of a prevailing belief in its health benefits. Recent evidence (discussed in this essay) demonstrated adverse cardiovascular disease events, breast cancer and other risks with hormone therapy in the form of oral estrogen combined with progestin. (13)

I believe that information about the risks and benefits of HRT should be incorporated through educational and/or governmental organizations much before menopause begins, so that prevention of osteoporosis may be attained. I would not advise a woman to take HRT because the risks weigh much more than the benefits, however the decision is solely up to the individual. Most importantly, whether HRT should be administered depends upon one’s quality of life particularly in the case of osteoporosis. A different point of view of menopause will assist a woman to accept the changes that naturally occur during menopause. Such view is that it is a natural and physiological phase of a woman’s life and that changes in the lifestyle including mental, emotional and physical are necessary. Furthermore, alternatives to HRT such as herbal medicine, homeopathy, nutrition, exercise and other modalities are of great help to alleviate most of the symptoms of menopause and guide a woman to health.

Works Cited

  1. National Centre for Complimentary and Alternative Medicine. NCCAM Publication. Do CAM Therapies Help Menopausal Symptoms. [Online] November 2005. [Cited: June 09, 2007.] http://nccam.nih.gov/health/menopauseandcam/. D297.
  2. National Institute of Child Health & Human Developement. National Institute of Child Health & Human Developement. Hormone Replacement Therapy. [Online] May 24, 2007. [Cited: June 09, 2007.]http://www.nichd.nih.gov/health/topics/Hormone_Replacement_Therapy.cfm.
  3. Medline Plus. Meldline Plus. MedlinePlus Medical Encyclopedia Hormone replacement therapy. [Online] February 09, 2006. [Cited: June 09, 2007.]http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/ency/article/007111.htm.
  4. Trickey, Ruth. Women, Hormones & The Menstrual Cycle. Sydney : Allen & Unwin, 2000.
  5. Risks and Benefits of Estrogen Plus Progestin in Healthy Postmenopausal Women. Writing Group for the Women’s Health Initiative Investigators. 3, July 17, 2002, JAMA, Vol. 288, pp. 321 – 333.
  6. National Institutes of Health (NIH). National Institutes of Health (NIH). Effect of Hormone Therapy on Risk of Heart Disease May Vary by Age and Years Since Menopause. [Online] April 03, 2007. [Cited: June 09, 2007.]http://www.nih.gov/news/pr/apr2007/nhlbi-03.htm.
  7. Endometrial cancer and hormone-replacement therapy in the Million Women Study. Million Women Study Collaborators. April 30, 2005, Lancet, Vol. 365, pp. 1543-1551.
  8. Slupik, Ramona I. American Medical Association (AMA). Medem Medical Library Hormone Replacement Therapy: Risks vs. Benefits. [Online] March 2005. [Cited: June 09, 2007.] http://www.medem.com/medlb/article_detaillb.cfmarticle_ID=ZZZ596TUCKC&sub_cat=0.
  9. Skin aging and sex hormones in women – clinical perspectives for intervention by hormone replacement therapy. Sator, G Paul, et al. s4, December 2004, Experimental Dermatology, Vol. 13, p. 36.
  10. Jaffe, Robert B. and Santen, Richard. Medem Medical Library, Hormone Therapy for Menopausal Symptoms: The First Few Years. [Online] March 2006. [Cited: June 09, 3007.] http://www.medem.com/medlb/article_detaillb.cfm?article_ID=ZZZFSCKZGLD&sub_cat=2002.
  11. Estrogen Plus Progestin and the Incidence of Dementia and Mild Cognitive Impairment in Postmenopausal Women. WHIMS Investigators. 20, 28 May, 2003, JAMA, Vol. 289, pp. 2651-2662.
  12. Hormone replacement therapy with tibolone: effects on sexual functioning in postmenopausal women. Egarter, Christian, et al. 7, July 2002 , Acta Obstetricia et Gynecologica Scandinavica, Vol. 81, pp. 649-653.
  13. National Use of Postmenopausal Hormone Therapy: Annual Trends and Response to Recent Evidence. Hersh, Adam L, Stefanick, Marcia L and Stafford, Randall S. 1, January 7, 2004, Jama, Vol. 291, pp. 47-53

Male and Female Infertility, Preconception Care

by Savvas Ioannides N.D.

Definition

Infertility is the inability to conceive after at least a year of regular sexual intercourse without the use of contraceptives, can be due to causes that lie either in the man or the woman or both. Infertility can be either temporary or, in a small percentage of cases, permanent.

Preconception care

Preconception care aims to ensure that there is an adequate supply of all of those nutritional factors which are essential for the health of sperm, ova and foetus and an absence of those factors which are known to compromise general health or which are harmful to germ cells and to foetal development. Preconception care for both parents takes a minimum of 4 months before an intended conception since ova are susceptible to damage for 100 days before ovulation and sperm formation takes approximately 116 days.

Preconception health care involves identification and detoxification of heavy metals, avoidance of environmental toxins such as smoking and pesticides, treatment of allergies, treatment of infection and treatment of any reproductive or fertility problems. Nutritional supplementation addresses many of these factors and provides the essential nutrients for healthy foetal growth and development.

The importance of Preconception Care

  • Improve fertility and resolve infertility issues in both male and female.
  • Presence of all the factors required for the creation of a healthy foetus.
  • Absence of all factors detrimental to the creation of a healthy foetus.
  • Ensure a normal, healthy full term pregnancy, i.e. prevention of miscarriage, stillbirth and congenital defects.
  • Successful and long-term breastfeeding.
  • Mother free of postnatal depression.

Goals prior to conception (minimum 4 months)

  • Protection and detoxification from radiation, toxins, pollutants including caffeine, alcohol and nicotine.
  • Adequate nutritional status.
  • Adequate exercise program.
  • Adequate sperm count, motility and morphology.
  • Regular cycles and balanced hormones.
  • Adequate stress management programs.
  • Positive thinking.

Causes of Infertility

  • 30% Fallopian Tube Disorder
  • 20% Ovulation Disorder
  • 15% Endometriosis
  • 10% Mucus problems
  • 5% Mechanical problems e.g. Fibroids
  • 50% Sperm problems
  • 30% Sexual Intercourse problems

Overall causes of couples’ infertility are approximately assessed as:

  1. 30% female fertility problems
  2. 30% male fertility problems
  3. 20% mutual problems
  4. 20% unexplained problems

Other factors that may contribute to infertility are psychological stress, systemic diseases such as diabetes, poor diet and nutrition, autoimmune diseases such as female antibodies to sperm/male antibodies, sexual transmitted infections and genito-urinary infections such as Chlamydia trachomatis, previous use of contraception programs or terminations and finally greater age of prospective parents.

Dietary Changes and Nutritional Supplements

Preconception Care Nutrition

  • A gentle detoxification and protection from all toxins, radiation and pollutants including caffeine, alcohol, nicotine and recreational drugs.
  • Diet should be preferably wholefood and organic
  • Water should be purified and filtered
  • Adequate exercise program
  • Foods high in Zinc for fertility and immunity such as seafood, spinach, nuts, seeds, beef and chicken.
  • Flax meal for Omega 3 fatty acids for the development of the brain of the foetus.
  • No alcohol or stimulants.

Supplements

  • Zinc for the health of the female and male reproductive system.
  • Vitamin E with Selenium are antioxidant and increase sperm count.
  • Vitamin A is needed for cell development and differentiation.
  • Vitamin C with bioflavoids are antioxidant and improve immunity and is required for the production of sex hormones.
  • Essential fatty acids are essential for proper development of the foetus’s brain, eyes and nervous system.

Herbal Treatment

Adaptogenic, hepatic, reproductive, tonic, antioxidant, hormone modulator, hepatoprotective, nervine, circulatory stimulant and other herbs are indicated depending on the case.

Examples

Paeonia lactiflora (Peony)

PeonyThe active constituent in Peony seems to be paeoniflorin, a monoterpene glycoside. It is thought to act directly on the ovary to reduce the production of androgens in a dose-dependent manner. It increases the activity or aromatase, which promotes the synthesis of oestradiol from testosterone. Formulas containing Peony may also improve progesterone levels by normalizing ovarian function when the activity of aromatase is inhibited. It has been used to treat hyperprolactinaemia, ovarian failure and androgen excess. The biofeedback in the pituitary and hypothalamus rely on aromatase to regulate prolactin and GnRH. It is indicated in infertility, irregular cycles and ovulatory failure, any hormonal irregularity including elevated androgens, low progesterone, high or low oestrogen and elevated prolactin.

Tribulus terrestris (Tribulus)

Tribulus terrestris

It is a male sexual tonic, enhances the motility of spermatozoa and increases sperm count. Clinical studies have shown improvement in libido, sexual activity and intracavernous pressure in rats (2.5–10 mg/kg/day), and a proerectile effect on corpus cavernosum smooth muscle of rabbits (tissue isolated after treatment, 2.5–10 mg/kg/day). Also, there was a marked stimulation of spermatogenesis, increased density of Sertoli cells, increased tenacity and viability of spermatozoa, and accelerated and emphasised sexual activity in rats (70 mg/kg/day). Female rats treated with the saponin fraction produced more offspring.

Many Tribulus products on the market are quite different in phytochemical profile from the Bulgarian extract. Only leaf from Bulgaria was high in protodioscin (the active ingredient of Tribulus).

For more information about nutritional and herbal supplements for the treatment of male or female infertility see your naturopath, since each case needs a different approach.

Evidenced-based natural remedies that reduce blood lipid levels

by Savvas Ioannides N.D.

Agents that reduce the concentration of lipids in the blood are called hypolipidaemic. The term “hypolipidaemic” is derived from the Greek hypo (υπό) meaning under, lipos (λίπος) meaning fat and haima (αίμα) meaning blood. They have an effect on phospholipids including very low density lipoproteins (VLDLs), intermediate-density lipoproteins (IDLs), low density lipoproteins (LDLs) and high density lipoproteins (HDLs), chylomicrons and cholesterol esters.
Healthy Heart

Hypolipidaemics have a broader scope and clinical application than hypocholesterolaemics (agents that decrease blood cholesterol levels). They are best taken with meals and long term application is advisable. They are indicated in patients with elevated triglyceride levels, LDL/HDL ratio, cholesterol and high atheromatic factor.

Also, people with familial history of hyperlipidaemia and hypercholesterolaemia can be greatly benefited. People with high blood cholesterol and triglyceride levels have a higher risk of cardiovascular diseases including atherosclerosis, coronary heart disease, myocardial infarction and other cardiovascular diseases. (1)Herbal medicines that have a hypolipidaemic action include Gymnema (Gymnema sylvestre), Globe artichoke (Cynara scolymus), Garlic (Allium sativum) and Turmeric (Curcuma longa). Lipid-lowering supplements include vitamin B3 and chromium. Oats (Avena sativa) based foods e.g. porridge also reduce lipids from the blood. (1), (2)

Gymnema

Gymnema leaves have been used in India for more than 2,000 years to treat madhu meha, or “honey urine”, i.e. Diabetes mellitus. Gymnema appears to lower serum glucose and glycosylated hemoglobin (HbA1c) levels following chronic use. There is also early evidence suggesting possible efficacy of gymnema as a lipid-lowering agent. It reduces fat digestibility and increases feacal excretion of cholesterol as well as reducing serum cholesterol and triglyceride levels. Oral administration of Gymnema extract is found to decrease body weight and food intake probably because it suppresses the sweet taste by 50% thus reducing caloric intake. (2)

Garlic

Several clinical trials have concluded that garlic supplementation reduces total cholesterol levels significantly more than placebo. A comparative study showed that garlic produced similar lipid-lowering effects when taken as 300mg three times daily (Kwai) to bezafibrate (pharmaceutical lipid-lowering drug) taken 200mg three times daily in subjects with primary hyperlipidaemia. (2)

Turmeric

Turmeric rhizome contains curcumin, a phenolic curcuminoid, which gives turmeric the yellow colour. An in vivo study showed that curcumin may stimulate the conversion of cholesterol into bile acids, thus increase the excretion of cholesterol via the faeces. Another study suggests that supplementation with turmeric decreases fatty streak development and oxidative stress. (2)

Globe Artichoke

A dose of 1800mg artichoke leaf extract was administered daily for 6 weeks in 143 subjects in a randomised, placebo-controlled, double-blind, multicentre trial. The result was statistically significant with 18.5% decrease in serum cholesterol compared with 8.6% for placebo. (2)

Chromium

Chromium is essential for carbohydrate metabolism and insulin sensitivity by aiding the transport of glucose into the cell. However, studies show that chromium supplementation may decrease triglyceride levels, total and LDL-cholesterol and increase HDL-cholesterol. (2) Due to its therapeutic activity, chromium is essential for those suffering with metabolic Syndrome X.

Vitamin B3 (Niacin)

Niacin is used to reduce overall risk of cardiovascular disease. It has been used for the treatment of high cholesterol and triglyceride levels since the 1950s. Niacin is the ‘only agent currently available that favourably affects all components of the lipid profile to a significant degree’ and has the greatest effect on HDL levels a 2002 review suggests. Niacin has a synergistic effect when taken with chromium. (2)

It goes without saying that a healthy balanced naturopathic diet is of utmost importance in the management of hyperlipidaemia. Diet low in processed foods, refined carbohydrates and saturated fats is essential. Specific diets such as the Zone Diet, DASH diet, vegetarian diet and Mediterranean diet have shown beneficial results. Equally important is exercise at least 30 minutes four times a week preferably in the morning.

An interactive infographic about the ill-effects of high or bad cholesterol in the body:

http://www.healthline.com/health/cholesterol/effects-on-body

Bibliography:

1. Hechtman, Leah. Clinical Naturopathic Medicine. Sydney : Elsevier, 2011.

2. Braun, Lesley and Cohen, Marc. Herbs And Natural Supplements: An evidence-based guide. Second. Sydney : Elsevier, 2007.

Seasonal Allergic Rhinitis

by Savvas Ioannides N.D.

Spring is near where the trees and plants are flowering showing their beauty each in its own unique way that most of us enjoy. However, if you are suffering from allergic rhinitis you would probably avoid walking in the park where Acacias are blooming or daisies are flowering.
Seasonal Allergic Rhinitis
Allergic rhinitis is inflammation of the nasal mucous membrane, which is caused by any allergen, usually an inhalant such as pollen. Symptoms include sneezing, profuse and clear running mucus, obstruction of nasal passages, itching of the eyes and pharynx and watery eyes. Allergic rhinitis is most common in atopic patients who have a personal history or family history of eczema, asthma and urticaria.

Naturopathic Therapeutic Approach

The aim is to reduce the allergic and inflammatory response, strengthen the body against reaction to allergen and treat the symptoms with anticatarrhal herbs and herbs that tone the respiratory mucosa. Depuratives (herbs that cleanse the blood from toxins, traditionally used for skin conditions) might be also needed if allergy is deep-seated. For seasonal respiratory problems start treatment 4 to 6 weeks before expected onset.

Herbal Therapy

1.     Eyebright, Golden Seal, Echinacea

The combined actions of these five herbs are primarily focused on the mucous membranes of the upper respiratory tract. Golden Seal is considered a mucous membrane trophorestorative. This formula also contains Echinacea, which provides support for the immune system. It is indicated for the relief of the symptoms of upper respiratory catarrh, colds, hay fever and sinusitis. Eyebright and Golden Seal are anticatarrhal, and strengthen the mucous membranes. Eyebright has been traditionally recommended for nasal catarrh, sinusitis and conjunctivitis. Echinacea root assists the body in enhancing the nonspecific immune function. These herbs work synergistically in a very potent formulation with the following actions: anticatarrhal, anti-inflammatory, immune enhancing and tonic to upper respiratory mucosa.

2.     Albizia Complex tablets

This combination of herbs provides antiallergic and anti-inflammatory activity. This formulation contains Albizia, Baical Skullcap and Feverfew to provide an antiallergic and anti-inflammatory action, reducing both the allergic response and its inflammatory consequence and aiding in the repair of tissue. Albizia has been used in Ayurvedic medicine to relieve the symptoms associated with allergy and inflammation of the respiratory tract and skin.

3.     Clivers, Sarsaparilla, Oregon Grape, Burdock and Yellow Dock

The combination of Clivers, Sarsaparilla, Oregon Grape, Burdock and Yellow Dock primarily provides depurative action, by enhancing elimination and may be beneficial if the allergy is deep-seated. Clivers Complex is antipruritic (stops itchiness) and helps the removal of waste products from the body.

Nutritional Supplementation

Vitamin C helps reduce inflammation, control histamine release and strengthen connective tissues, Bromelain is mucolytic (helps to dissolve mucous) and Quercetin is a natural antihistamine.

Please consult your naturopath before commencing an herbal treatment. The above mentioned herbal remedies are available through my office.

The Danger of Teflon

Teflon cookware is now the most commonly cookware in the Western countries but most are unaware of how toxic teflon is and how it may affect health and the environment.

toxic teflon

Teflon is made with a chemical called perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA), which has been found to be a carcinogen. According to an independent study that advises the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), PFOA is a persistent chemical that’s not easily broken down, and it has caused cancer, developmental problems, and other negative effects in laboratory animals.

Teflon cookware release at least six toxic gasses after about 3-5 minutes of heating including 2 carcinogens, 2 global pollutants and MFA (deadly chemical to humans at low doses).

Actually, birds such as canaries have died by lung heamorrhage after being exposed to teflon fumes, a term called “Teflon toxicosis”.

There are alternatives to teflon treated pans such as stainless-steel, ceramic, cast iron, porcelain enameled cast iron, glass and stoneware for baking.

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