Cringeworthy conditions

Natural tips and tricks to help with embarrassing health conditions

Haemorrhoids

“Haemorrhoids, commonly referred to as ‘piles’, are one of those health problems most people suffer with in silence,” says Gemma Hurditch, CNM Lecturer and Naturopath (College of Naturopathic Medicine). “Here are some simple ideas for lasting relief:

  • Fibre! Psyllium husks 5g daily; (psyllium husks swell to 20 times their size so it is very, very important to take them with plenty of water). Also fibre-rich veggies and wholegrains.
  • Flavonoid- and vitamin C-rich foods to strengthen veins. Choose organic for rich phytonutrient content – blueberries, blackberries, citrus, cherries, kiwi, red peppers, brassicas.
  • Reduce sugar, alcohol and caffeine as they stress the liver and can make piles worse.
  • Aim for two litres of water daily, more if sweating, exercising or warmer weather.
  • Squatting to poo, rather than sitting, corrects the angle and reduces the pressure that can lead to haemorrhoids. You can get a footstool for your regular toilet; place your feet on the stool and lean forward into the squat position.
  • Try direct application of liquid witch hazel for relief or a homeopathic topical cream with peony and witch hazel from a homeopathic pharmacy. For chronic conditions it’s best to consult a homeopath or naturopathic nutritionist.”

CNM has a superb 22-year track record training successful natural therapy professionals, online and in class. Surveys show that over 80 per cent of graduates are practising. Colleges across the UK and Ireland. For more information visit naturopathy-uk.com or 01342 410 505.

Urinary tract infections (UTIs)

“Urinary tract infections (UTIs) are caused by bacteria as well as fungi that move from the vaginal and anal area and get into the urinary track, the bladder and the kidneys creating inflammation,” explains Zakia Mance, a member of the General Council and Register of Naturopaths (www.gcrn.org.uk). “Women can get quite embarrassed about these and it is important to seek help as soon as possible as non-treated infections can have serious medical consequences. Working on strengthening your immune system is key so that it can fight off the pathogenic elements and prevent future infections. Nutrition-wise, during the acute stage, avoid spicy foods and coffee as these irritate the bladder as well as refined sugars as bacteria love them. Drink plenty of water to flush out bacteria. Unsweetened cranberry juice is high in vitamin C which strengthens the immune system and acidifies the urine, making it harder for bacteria to reproduce. Carrot juice is also good for flushing acid waste. Vitamins A and E are essential for mucus bladder membrane maintenance and zinc is very important for immune function. Stress also plays a part as it lowers our immunity so try a holistic approach by improving your diet and practice mindfulness or meditation as they reduce stress levels and strengthen our immune system.”

Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS)

“The symptoms of IBS can be extremely embarrassing,” says naturopath Caroline Peyton who works from clinics in Wiltshire and the Cotswolds and also offers remote support (www.peytonprinciples.com). “Other than the classic symptoms of bloating and discomfort, some people experience an uncontrollable need to use the toilet. Other embarrassing symptoms include excessive wind and burping.

Stress can trigger the bowels to empty rapidly or hinder digestive secretions which impacts bloating, wind, burping, acid reflux and more. Looking at ways to calm the stress response is important. Deep, slow abdominal breathing switches the body from the ‘fight or flight’ stress mode to the ‘rest and digest’ relaxed mode. This can be practised at any time of the day and is very useful before eating.

Not only does it calm the stress response but enables more efficient release of digestive secretions. Many people believe they create too much stomach acid but I find this is usually not the case.

Try drinking a solution of 2tsp lemon juice with 2tsp of water before main meals which can help digest your meal. Or start a meal with some bitter foods that stimulate digestion like rocket or chicory. Addressing an imbalance of gut bacteria is also important. Pathogenic bacteria can feed off partially broken down food creating gas, toxins, altered bowel movements and discomfort. Avoid sugary yogurt drinks and look for a therapeutic dose of approximately 20 to 30 billion cultures per capsule that withstand stomach acid.”

Bad breath

“Bad breath (halitosis) may come and go but for some people it is a debilitating symptom,” says Caroline Peyton. “The starting point is to check dental hygiene. The mouth – like the gut – is home to our second largest microbiome of bacteria, fungi and viruses; and just like the gut consists of both beneficial and pathogenic types. Keeping the pathogenic bacteria in check is important to help prevent tooth decay but it can also be a factor in bad breath.

Oil pulling is an Ayurvedic method which involves swishing a teaspoon of coconut oil around the mouth (first thing before brushing or drinking) for up to 20 minutes. This helps to reduce damaging microbes. Don’t swallow though! Coconut oil has anti-viral and anti-bacterial properties. Follow by rinsing with warm water with added salt for additional antimicrobial properties. Poor digestion is usually a factor too. If food reaches the stomach and there is insufficient stomach acid to break down the food, especially proteins, food can start to ferment. It can lead to a small amount of stomach acid and partially fermented food rising back upwards causing bad breath and often a bad taste. Follow the advice for IBS to support stomach digestion.”

Thrush

“Thrush or candidiasis is a common infection that many women are familiar with,” says Zakia Mance. “Thrush is caused by the Candida albicans fungus, which is present in our body’s ecosystems and when kept in check it is usually harmless. Candida overgrowth and infection occurs when there is an imbalance in our gut caused either by feeding it refined sugars, eating a diet poor in vitamins and minerals, or using antibiotics that wipe out friendly bacteria in the gut, weakening the immune system further and leaving the way clear for the Candida to proliferate. Prevention is key here and your diet is your best ally to keep the candida in check. Limit consumption of refined sugars, dairy and yeasty products and increase your vegetable, good quality protein and omega-3 intake. Boost your immune system by taking a multivitamin plus vitamin C and zinc. Caprylic acid found in coconut oil is renowned for its ability to kill candida cells and taking live bacteria also helps maintain a healthy balance of vaginal bacteria. Finally, grapefruit seed extract has antibacterial properties. Paying attention to your diet, supporting your immune system and restoring a healthy gut flora balance are the best ways to keep thrush away.”

Vaginal dryness

“Vaginal dryness is a common side effect of the menopause,” says nutritional therapist Sandra Greenbank (www.sandragreenbank.com). “In fact it’s one of the main symptoms reported, affecting around 50 per cent of menopausal women. Normally, glands in your vaginal tract produce a natural lubricant in response to oestrogen hormones. The levels of oestrogen hormones begin to fall as the menopause approaches, therefore the natural lubrication also decreases. If you are suffering from vaginal dryness related to the menopause it’s important to keep hydrated by drinking plenty of water. Aim for around 2 to 2.5 litres per day.

Most conventional treatments come with potential unwanted side effects and many women would like to avoid HRT or harsh creams, which tend to have petroleum derivatives, fragrances and preservatives that may further disrupt the delicate ecology of the vaginal tract. Phytoestrogens in foods such as soy have been found to provide relief from vaginal dryness, as they have oestrogen-like properties. However, some studies show that those women who are at high risk for breast cancer or those with HER-2-positive tumours should avoid phytoestrogens.

A natural remedy worth considering is sea buckthorn oil, which has been shown in research to be effective in improving the integrity of the cells lining the vaginal tract and contribute to normal function of the mucus membranes.”

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