Menopause is a natural process where a woman transitions from her childbearing years to the next stage of her life.
At this time it’s important for women to examine their stress levels, review their current lifestyle choices, and establish healthy habits. Hormones are one part of the picture in menopause, but they aren’t the only contributor. Menopause has significant effects on a number of organ systems. Addressing all aspects of your body that influence your menopausal symptoms is vital when embarking on this next stage of life.
Whilst declining oestrogen is one of the reasons for hot flushes and night sweats, a common menopausal symptom, it is not the only cause. In fact, it is stress levels that play a larger role than oestrogen levels in triggering hot flushes. To highlight this, recent research has found that menopausal women have increased activity of the stress centre of the brain right before the onset of a hot flush.(1)
Therefore, it is vitally important to support a healthy stress response, not just hormones, to reduce menopausal symptoms.
Alison can offer tailored support with this transition towards a balanced and energised mind and body. Specific herbs and nutrients can support healthy sleep patterns and nourish your stress response, and hence support your menopausal symptoms.
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Physical menopausal symptoms
Aches and pains
Crawling or itching skin
Emotional Menopausal symptoms
Reduced ability to cope
Increased PMS symptoms
3. Diwadkar VA, Murphy ER, Freedman RR. Temporal sequencing of brain activations during naturally occurring thermoregulatory events. Cereb Cortex. 2014 Nov;24(11):3006-13. doi: 10.1093/cercor/bht155.
Expectant mothers are often prone, more so than usual, to colds and flus, coughs and sore throats especially as the winter season progresses. Good rest, a healthy balanced diet and plenty of water is of course important for a quick recovery, however there are some other useful safe natural remedies that can help reduce the uncomfortable cold and flu symptoms whilst also helping your immune system to fight off viruses faster and more effectively.
At the first sign of a cold, if you have been exposed to someone who has a cold it may be helpful to take Echinacea purpurea, a herb that has been used for centuries in Western herbal medicine.1 It is used in acute and chronic viral and bacterial `\respiratory conditions including the common cold, sinusitis, ear infections and bronchitis. Echinacea is a category A medicine in pregnancy, indicating that controlled studies in healthy pregnant women demonstrated no foetal risk 2. So Echinacea can be safely taken during pregnancy.
Other nutrients that are essential in the maintenance of a healthy immune system during pregnancy are zinc and vitamin C.3 When taken within 24 hours of the first symptoms of infection, zinc reduces the severity and duration of colds by boosting the production and function of WBCs.4,5 Similarly vitamin C reduces symptom severity and duration of the common cold by an average of 23%.6
Great sources of vitamin C in winter include potatoes, broccoli, parsley, thyme, peppers, brussel sprouts, savoy and red cabbage, cauliflower, dark green leafy vegetables such as kale, citrus fruits such as mandarins and oranges, kiwifruit and strawberries.
Frozen vegetables and fruit picked at their season best and frozen immediately before nutrients like vitamin C have deteriorated are great healthy and convenient choices during the winter months. For example frozen spinach can be thrown into a pasta sauce, casserole or soup to add extra nutrition. Likewise peas can be added to many meals such as brown rice and quinoa with herbs and spices. Frozen berries are a fantastic source of vitamin C and can be used in smoothies, a crumble or added to yoghurt and muesli for a wholesome breakfast.
Food high in zinc include organic grass fed meat, poultry, fish, legumes including beans, lentils and chickpeas (best soaked overnight for better absorption). Seeds are a great source of zinc including hemp, chia, sunflower and pumpkin seeds. Nuts are an easy way to get zinc as well as many other minerals and are a nutritious snack particularly peanuts, cashews, almonds and pine nuts or alternatively try a nut butter. Other sources of zinc are whole grains, eggs and dairy such as cheese and milk. In general, zinc absorption from a diet high in animal protein will be greater than from a diet rich in plant derived proteins.3
Getting enough rest and sleep is essential for a quick recovery from colds and flus. Traditional remedies such as chicken soup, lemon grass and ginger tea with a teaspoon of honey, consumption of plenty of garlic and fresh vegetables and steam inhalations to help clear blocked sinus’ all help with the uncomfortable symptoms of a cold.
It is important to speak to your healthcare practitioner for more information about supplementation that is specifically indicated for you at this precious time.
1. Mills S, Bone K. The essential guide to herbal safety. Elsevier Health Sciences, 2005
4. Singh M, Das RR. Zinc for the common cold. Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 2011 Feb 16;(2):CD001364. doi: 10.1002/14651858.CD001364.pub3.
5. Barnett JB, Dao MC, Hamer DH, Kandel R, Brandeis G, Wu D, et al. Effect of zinc supplementation on serum zinc concentration and T cell proliferation in nursing home elderly: a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial. The Am J Clin Nutr. 2016 Jan 27;103(3):942-51. doi: 10.3945/ajcn.115.115188.
6. Hemilä H. Does vitamin C alleviate the symptoms of the common cold?-a review of current evidence. Scan J Infect Dis. 1994 Jan 1;26(1):1-6. PMID: 8191227.
Winter can be a trying time both mentally and physically, the days are shorter, colder and darker and our bodies become susceptible to colds and flus. One way to avoid becoming run down and consequently sick is to slow down! Winter hibernation is the ideal time of the year for our bodies to heal and rest. Try to avoid rushing. Instead make a concerted effort to embrace a slower more relaxed pace during the cold winter months. Balance out your social engagements with some quiet time at home like reading a book or making time for meaningful relationships with family and friends. Good sleeping habits, ideally rising at 7am and retiring at 10pm at the latest will help with our vitality and strengthen our bodies in the winter months. Another way to support optimal health through the winter months and change how you are feeling whether physically or emotionally is to exercise. If you are feeling overextended and tired, opt for gentle exercises like walking, Tai Chi or Yoga. If you are feeling sluggish and heavy, go for a more vigorous workout like a bike ride, a jog or a gym session. As soon as you get any signs of coming down with a cold or flu …stop and slow down! For further information visit stadiumclinic.com.au
No one will dispute the fact that the teen years can be a challenging time with the pressure of school work, sport, friends, family, part time jobs plus the pressure and constancy of social media. This alone is enough to cause considerable stress however when teens are presented with a health concern or sports injury, additional strain is added to an already demanding time.
The 2018 Stress in America survey of adults and teenagers found that high school students have higher stress levels than adults. 1
Our lifestyles are very different to how our ancestors lived yet our bodies and brains are exactly the same. Our ancestors lived in close knit communities, socialised together, told stories, drew on cave walls, walked in the forest for most of the day hunting or gathering food, had spiritual rituals, lived close to nature, ate clean healthy diets and slept when it was dark.
Compare this to how our kids and teenagers live today. Firstly they go to sleep later, often lying in bed on their iphones or laptops, exposed to blue light. Such Exposure to this light at night interferes with your circadian rhythm and suppresses melatonin secretion. Melatonin is made in the pineal gland and is the hormone that controls our sleep and wake cycles.
In the morning children rush to school often with no breakfast or a sugary processed cereal at best. They are under academic pressure at school, have hours of homework and often lots of after school activities. If you add any other additional stresses that are prevalent in our society, you have a very stressed young person.
When you experience anxiety your stress hormones, adrenaline and cortisol, increase and can cause a ‘fight or flight’ reaction which turns on our sympathetic nervous system (SNS). This reaction gets the body ready to run away or fight danger. Our heart rate, blood pressure and blood sugar levels increase and blood flows to our big muscles needed to deal with whatever threat has presented itself.
We rarely need to escape from life threatening situations in our Western society as many of our anxiety provoking situations are more in our minds. Therefore as we are not using our physical body to sprint from danger and so our stress hormones are not lowered. If we keep experiencing stress these hormones build up and can create chronic health problems over time. Hence the reason why exercise is essential for reducing stress levels.
Some of the symptoms of stress include shaking and trembling, sweaty palms, a racing heart, difficulty breathing and dizziness. In the long term if the body is in a state of chronic stress less energy is available for other body systems to function optimally. For example digestion, and immune system functions are compromised, which is seen in many children and teenagers suffering from chronic digestive problems such as irritable bowel or chronic infections such as glandular fever.
For a holistic approach to support young adults it is essential to address diet, nutritional deficiencies, exercise, lifestyle and sleep.
As a Naturopath I include nutrition, herbal medicine, homeopathy, Bach flower essences and Bowen therapy as an ideal treatment option for teenagers. With a focus on prevention and individualised treatments I am able to listen to and understand the unique experiences and symptoms for each teen and tailor a treatment plan to their needs.
Viktorinova A, Ursinyova M, Trebaticska J, et al. Changed plasma levels of zinc and copper ti zinc ratio and there possible associations with parent- and teacher rated symptoms in children with attention-deficit hyperactivty.