No shame!

Our natural health experts offer some top tips for dealing with some of the more embarrassing health conditions

Bad breath

“As embarrassing as it may feel, it’s a good idea to see your GP about bad breath if it’s causing you a problem,” says Hannah Charman, a medical herbalist who runs www.physichealth.uk. “There are lots of different reasons which might need to be addressed, and if the tests you have don’t find anything, a medical herbalist will be able to help. As a first aid measure, make sure you’re drinking enough water to make your urine very pale yellow, and avoid coffee which tends to make things worse. Also try chewing a cardamom pod, which is great instant breath freshener that aids healthy digestion too. A 2006 study found a number of herbs to be helpful in dealing with bad breath, but echinacea and lavender were most effective. If the cause is found to be H.Pylori infection, there are several herbs which can help including clove, cinnamon and thyme, so adding those into food or drinks will help.”

Flatulence

“Flatulence is a common, yet debilitating symptom,” says Emma Thornton, a nutritionist with A.Vogel (www.avogel.co.uk). “From a naturopathic point of view, one of the first things to consider if you struggle with flatulence is to ensure that your stomach and key digestive organs, such as your liver, are working optimally. Liver-supporting herbs such as artichoke and dandelion will not only help to ensure the proper secretion of digestive enzymes and therefore the proper breakdown of the food you eat, but they can also help to keep things moving along by supporting the movement of bile from your gallbladder. Bile helps to stimulate peristalsis, the unique muscular contractions that help to carry waste swiftly along the full length of your digestive tract.

Flatulence may also be an issue for those who suffer from constipation. If your bowel is moving more slowly, old waste is subject to fermentation by the bacteria that line your gut, and gas is produced as a result. Whilst diet and lifestyle practices such as drinking enough water or consuming enough fibre are useful habits to employ to help counter constipation, sometimes, at least initially, we may need a helping hand to get things moving. Products containing linseeds together with extracts of senna and frangula can help to move things along more quickly, although shouldn’t be considered a long-term solution for constipation and flatulence.”

Excessive sweating and body odour

“Excessive sweating and/or body odour is often a common complaint during the approach to menopause,” says Emma. “During this time, oestrogen levels tend to fluctuate and this can affect your body’s ability to manage body temperature effectively, meaning you can be left feeling a little hot and bothered! In terms of diet and lifestyle tips, it’s important to keep hydrated, limit stimulating foods such as caffeine, alcohol, spicy foods and sugar, as well as managing stress levels. Employing these helpful habits will help to minimise potential hot flush triggers. Next, in terms of remedies, gently supporting your oestrogen levels with options such as fermented soy isoflavones can be one tactic to help counter unpredictable sweating, but the herb sage is also a helpful choice. Research suggests that although sage isn’t oestrogenic in action, extracts may influence temperature control centres in our system, and therefore, help to keep troublesome flushes at bay.”

Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS)

“IBS describes a group of symptoms which may belong to various subtypes depending on form or frequency – IBS with constipation, diarrhoea or mixed and alternating symptoms,” explains Eli Sarre, nutritionist with Genie Living Drinks (geniedrinks.co.uk). “IBS may be an indication that nutrients are not being digested and absorbed properly so it’s important to consider potential causes and eliminate them if you can. Otherwise, following some simple gut health tips and tricks may set you on your way to a more comfortable way of life. Chronic stress is one of the most common underlying causes.

Nutritional factors may include low consumption of vegetables or non-coeliac gluten sensitivity as well as deficiencies in key nutrients such as vitamin D. Other possible causes include functional imbalances such as pancreatic insufficiency or intestinal permeability, often referred to as leaky gut. Another cause could be dysbiosis, or a low level of beneficial gut bacteria and overgrowth of bacteria or yeasts. Sometimes IBS can be due to parasitic or viral infections which need reliable testing to uncover. Take time to relax and eat around your meals – think ‘rest and digest’. Repopulate your gut microbiome with probiotic food and drink and make sure you eat plenty of vegetables to provide the right environment for your micro flora to thrive.”

Thrush

“Most women experience a bout of thrush during their lifetime,” says Amanda Porter, advanced teacher at The Arvigo Institute and the Luna Hive Expert (www.thelunahive.com). “It is a vaginal yeast infection, which occurs due to overgrowth of Candida albicans in your vagina. The symptoms of thrush can include white discharge, itching, irritation, painful sex and stinging urination.

The following natural remedies aim to help you gain balance and decrease symptoms. At the first sign of irritation, take a vaginal probiotic. This is a product that is designed to bring your vaginal microbiome back into balance by fighting bacterial and fungal vaginal infections. Secondly, try wearing a sanitary pad with a large dollop of organic live yogurt at night. Not only does it feel soothing, but it also helps restore the healthy bacteria. For further relief, put the pads in the freezer for two to three hours before wearing, as the coolness acts to reduce inflammation. Lastly, clean up your diet. Yeast loves sugar, so try to cut out sugar from your diet. This may seem a huge ask but you will very soon start to feel the benefits.”

Cystitis

“Cystitis is an inflammation of the bladder and is one of the most common types of urinary tract infection (UTI), caused by bacteria entering the bladder,” explains Emily Harris, registered naturopath and the Luna Hive Expert (www.thelunahive.com). “The symptoms of cystitis commonly include needing to urinate more frequently, experiencing a burning pain on urination, lower abdominal pain, and urine that has a dark colour, looks cloudy or has a strong smell. The following natural remedies can offer relief but if a fever or back pain accompanies these symptoms then it is advisable to seek medical advice. Firstly, drink more water. Water dilutes the urine and helps flush out the bacteria in your bladder. Next, try some cranberry and D-Mannose. Unsweetened cranberry juice contains D-Mannose, a naturally occurring simple sugar which prevents bacteria from attaching to the wall of the bladder. Lastly, probiotics specific to the urinary tract, such as the Lactobacillus species, can decrease complications from a urinary tract infection. Probiotic treatment is especially effective in preventative treatment of UTIs. Look for a probiotic supplement that contains a mixture of Lactobacillus strains, particularly L. rhamnosus and L. reuteri.”

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