Treating Period Pain with Natural Therapies

Relieving period painWhy do some women suffer badly from period pain and others not at all? Many women consider their menstrual pain to be ‘normal’, however pain is really the body’s way of saying ‘something isn’t right and needs attention’.

The medical term for painful menstrual periods is dysmenorrhea, and the pain is believed to be caused by uterine contractions. Period pain can last for just the first day of a woman’s menstruation or can go on for days. Many other symptoms can occur as well, such as PMS, bloating, acne, etc. due to fluctuations in the hormone levels. The primary regular medical treatment is to artificially regulate the cycle by use of the Oral Contraceptive Pill. Often this can provide symptomatic relief, however sometimes women can still have breakthrough bleeding and pain around their period.

The severity of the pain can vary greatly; we have seen many women who were bed-ridden for 5 days, and some even longer. Sometimes women experience pain around their ovulation as well. As well as abdominal pain, some experience pain in other areas around the start of their periods, such as lower back pain or headaches.

The ‘ideal’ menstrual cycle should occur every 28 days, with only mild or no pain. Bleeding should occur for 5 days, not be heavy or light, with no clotting, and be a healthy red colour.

Just before the start of a period, the levels of a hormone called prostaglandin rise. This triggers the muscle contractions in the uterus which expels the lining. If not working correctly, these contractions are believed to cause pain and inflammation.

Treatment Options

Each person’s body works slightly differently, so there is no one solution for everyone. In fact, often a combination of several of the approaches below will work best.

Supplements- high potency, practitioner-level supplements can be used to

  • Balance the hormones- after carefully checking the woman’s hormonal cycles, supplements can be used to increase the oestrogen levels, decrease oestrogen levels, increase progesterone levels, or decrease progesterone levels
  • Specific supplements can also be prescribed to decrease prostaglandin levels, to reduce inflammation, or to relieve cramping

Acupuncture

Acupuncture is well-known for its ability to relieve pain. One of the common causes of period pain from an acupuncture point of view is poor blood flow in the uterus. Prior to a period there is a natural increase in blood volume in the woman’s body, and this goes down to normal levels by the end of her period. However, if there are any areas in her body where the blood flow is restricted for some reason, the blood will build-up in that area, just like city traffic at peak-hour. The blood will not be able to move properly, which will cause pain, irritation, and inflammation.

Some of the symptoms of this ‘blood stagnation’ include extremely painful periods, clots, heavy or irregular periods, a heavy sensation in the abdomen or legs, and menstrual blood that is a dark red (or even purple) in colour. Period pain caused by poor blood flow in the uterus is often relieved by heat, such as a hot water bottle.

If there are other areas of the body where the blood flow is poor, pain can occur in these areas as well when the blood volume increases before a period. The pressure, irritation and inflammation caused by the congested blood flow could result in lower back pain, headaches or breast tenderness.

Some research on Acupuncture for Period Pain

  • A 2017 research paper involving the Western Sydney University and the Department of Obstetrics and Gynaecology at the University of Auckland found that acupuncture treatment reduced menstrual pain intensity and duration after three months of treatment, and this was sustained for up to a year.
  • Another research study published in 2015 compared the Combined Oral Contraceptive Pill (COC) to acupuncture for the treatment of dysmenorrhea, and the conclusion was that “Response rates following both interventions at the end of the study were not statistically different. Acupuncture commonly caused minimal local side effects but did not cause any hormone-related side effects as did COC. In conclusion, acupuncture is an alternative option for relieving dysmenorrhea, especially when COC is not a favorable choice.”
  • A 2017 Meta-analysis of research found that “The available evidence suggests that acupuncture may be effective for Primary Dysmenorrhea and justifies future high-quality studies.”

(None of these studies provide conclusive evidence of effectiveness, but they hopefully lay the groundwork for further scientific investigation.)

Other Factors

Diet, alcohol consumption, various everyday chemicals, and the Oral Contraceptive Pill can cause imbalances in women's hormones.

The human body is incredibly complex and sometimes may not work correctly. Natural therapies aim to correct any problems with the way it is working to provide a long-term solution to the problem, rather than just treat the symptoms. (If you have a body that is working well, it is fair to say that you will have a happier and better life.)

Free Comprehensive Assessment

Pain and other period symptoms are very common but are definitely not ‘normal’. If you would like to find out if a natural approach to you period problem is likely to work for you, consider booking in for a free Comprehensive Assessment at our clinic. We can then check what is going on in your body, what is causing any problems, and the best way to sort it out. (Terms and conditions- the Assessment is a completely free service, with no obligations whatsoever.) Have a great life!

More Women Turning to Acupuncture

Lady receiving an acupuncture treatment

A study of 17,000 women by the University of Technology, Sydney, found that in one year acupuncture was used by around 1 in 10 women aged 34-39 years, and around 1 in 16 women aged 62-67 years.

A large proportion of the younger women had been diagnosed with endometriosis, low iron levels, anxiety disorder or Chronic Fatigue Syndrome.

Women in the middle-aged group who consulted an acupuncturist were more likely to have low iron levels, anxiety disorder, depression, Chronic Fatigue Syndrome or arthritis.

Free Assessment Offer

If you have a health issue you are wanting to sort out, we suggest booking in for a Comprehensive Assessment at our clinic. We can then have an in-depth look at what is happening in your body, what is causing the problem, and what can be done to sort it out. (Terms and conditions- the Assessment is a completely free service, with no obligations whatsoever.) Most people find their assessment to be very helpful, interesting and informative.

Getting the Body to Heal and Repair Itself

Feeling your absolute best

One of the most amazing aspects of the human body is its ability to heal itself. There are 30-40 trillion cells in the human body, and every second that we’re alive, these cells are working tirelessly to keep us at, or even bring us back to, a state of good health. When our bodies are injured or become ill, our cells can be damaged or destroyed, sometimes in large quantities. However, these cells have the ability to heal or replace themselves, to keep our body functioning at its optimal level.

A Small Example of the Repair Process

There are plenty of examples of how the body repairs itself, including the liver regenerating. the intestines replacing their worn lining, bones knitting back together, lungs repairing themselves after someone stops smoking, and many more. But probably the simplest example of cell repair is when you cut or damage your skin. Blood vessels at the site clamp down to slow the bleeding, while blood platelets begin clumping together to form a clot to stop the bleeding. Once the clot is in place, blood vessels reopen a bit to allow the necessary amount of oxygen back into the wound for healing.

Next, white blood cells begin digesting dead cells in order to make room for new cells to form. They also fight infection and oversee the repair process. In the rebuilding process, oxygen-rich blood cells arrive to build new tissue by creating collagen (you usually see the result of this process as a scar that starts out red and dulls over time). Over time, the new tissue gets stronger until the process is completed.

Factors Affecting Your Healing

While the body’s ability to heal itself is truly impressive, there are a number of factors that can restrict this process.

General Health

  • The immune system is responsible for healing in the body, so if your immune system is not working well your body won't be able to repair itself properly
  • Chronic diseases can cause healing issues, as they cause the immune system to function at a lower level
  • People who have taken steroids or have undergone chemotherapy will have compromised immune systems
  • The same applies for those who have taken any medications to suppress the immune system
  • If a person sweats a lot (regardless of whether it is from a health issue or due to exercise), a number of important minerals can be lost, which can result in poor healing
  • Too much fibre in the diet can stop you absorbing many types of minerals
  • Not drinking enough water causes electrolyte imbalances and also decreases the amount of oxygen getting to the tissues, both of which are needed for healing
  • In the elderly, the level of stomach acid often decreases, reducing the level of protein and other nutrients absorbed by their bodies
  • If someone is obese, the excess fat tissue does not have a good blood supply and so healing in damaged areas is restricted
  • If someone has diabetes, poor circulation can significantly affect their healing and repair, particularly in their extremities

Key Nutrients

  • The more key nutrients a person has in their body, the quicker and better they will heal. And the most important factor in getting enough nutrients is good digestion. The more effective your digestive system is, the more nutrients you will absorb.
  • If you don’t have a good level of proteins, minerals (especially zinc) and vitamins in your body, healing may be delayed because collagen synthesis- the building blocks for wound healing- won’t happen properly
  • If you regularly experience diarrhoea, it is likely your nutrient absorption will be low
  • Zinc is needed by the body to create new cells, so is absolutely crucial for repair and healing. Both alcohol and iron supplements affect zinc absorption.
  • Coffee, regular tea and caffeinated drinks are diuretics, so will tend to dehydrate the body and restrict its healing
  • Caffeine also reduces the level of vitamin C in your body, which is the main vitamin used for healing

Inflammation

Inflammation is not always a bad thing. In fact, when the immune system is working effectively, inflammation plays an important role in healing. When a body is damaged, inflammation is fundamental to several stages in the healing process, including clearing out the dead cells in the area.

However, if the inflammation doesn’t settle down properly it can actually cause more damage to the area. (If an old injury still looks slightly red or is still a little tender when you press any part of it firmly, it is highly likely there is still inflammation there, stopping it repairing fully.)

Blood Flow

Even if you have fantastic levels of all the important nutrients, the damaged area your body won’t heal properly if the nutrients can’t get there. Poor blood flow in the area will result in low levels of nutrients, low levels of oxygen, and high levels of wastes, prolonging pain and inflammation, and possibly causing increased scarring.

  • The liver is often the key when it comes to blood flow in the body. The liver is like a filter for your blood, and if it becomes congested the blood cannot flow through it easily. The movement of blood in the body is slowed down and restricted, causing it to ‘back up’ a little in the body, like peak hour in the city.
  • Cholesterol and calcium can sometimes build up inside the lining of blood vessels (forming a substance called plaque), which narrows the artery and restricts the blood flow through it
  • Old injuries that did not heal perfectly or scar tissue can restrict blood flow
  • Stress has an effect on your blood flow. Your ‘fight or flight’ response causes the body to direct blood to your essential organs, such as your heart and lungs, at the expense of most of the rest of your body.
  • Tight muscles also restrict the blood flow

Improving the Body’s Healing Process

A healthy body fights infection, heals wounds, kills cancer cells, repairs damage, and fights the aging process. So a healthy diet, appropriate exercise, and plenty of sleep are all helpful.

Supplements

  • The key nutrients for general repair are zinc and vitamin C, so a strong therapeutic dose of these can significantly improve the speed and effectiveness of the healing. However, taking too much or the wrong type of these can cause problems, so ideally a qualified naturopath would determine the right type and dosage for you.
  • A naturopath is also likely to recommend other specific nutrients depending on the type of tissue affected. (The absolute basics include calcium, vitamin D and protein for damaged bones, zinc, vitamin C and protein for muscle damage, B vitamins and Alpha-lipoic acid for nerves, and l-Glutamine, zinc and magnesium for the digestive tract. However, we stress that every case is different, and getting good results often requires a fully trained and experienced therapist, together with practitioner-quality supplements.)
  • She may also decide to boost your immune system or reduce the inflammation to speed up the repair, or provide natural pain relievers

Acupuncture is often great to free up the liver, improve the blood flow in the area, reduce inflammation and stimulate the repair processes. (We find that a combination of acupuncture and naturopathic treatment usually works much better than either one on its own.)

Our bodies are in a constant state of removing damage and producing new, healthy tissue. Daily wear and tear are also promptly dealt with, so even ‘age-related’ and degenerative problems such as arthritis can be improved with the proper treatment.

Free Assessment Offer

If there is a problem in your body that is not going away, we suggest booking in for a Comprehensive Assessment at our clinic. We can then have an in-depth look at what is happening in your body, what is causing the problem, and what can be done to sort it out. (Terms and conditions- the Assessment is a completely free service, with no obligations whatsoever.) Most people find their assessment to be a very helpful, interesting and informative session.

The Incredible Range of Ear Acupuncture Points

Most people are familiar with acupuncture, where very fine filaments (‘acupuncture needles’) are inserted into specific acupuncture points on the skin to relieve pain or otherwise help sort out health disorders. (Performed correctly, with Japanese style acupuncture there is no discomfort when this is done, and most people find their treatments to be comfortable and relaxing.) However, not many people would know that the most concentrated area in the body for acupuncture points is the ears. So far we have discovered over 200 points in this small area, so it takes an experienced therapist to locate and treat them properly.

As there are so many points here, almost any part of the body can be treated just using the ears. Here is a small selection of some of the points and areas in the ear.

Basic ear acupuncture chart

 

Ear is like an inverted foetusLocations of Ear Points

Interestingly the ear has been described as being similar to an inverted foetus, and most of the acupuncture points in the ear match this model. For example,

  • Almost all of the points for areas of the head are found in the lower part of the ear (on the lobe)
  • Internal organs are normally in the middle, and
  • Points for the spine are on the large curved area from the head up to above the organs (or to below them for an inverted foetus)

Uses of Ear Points

Ear points are most often used as part of a regular acupuncture treatment with points on the body as well. However, occasionally they might be used on their own.

  • If a client cannot lay on the treatment table, the therapist may seat them in a chair and just use ear points
  • For cultural reasons, a client may not want to expose their forearms, lower legs or other parts of their body

What about Ear Piercing?

The jury is still out on this, but the experience of many senior acupuncturists is that there is a very slim chance that ear piercing may result in a negative effect on the body. For example, on very rare occasions piercing the eye point on the lobe has caused a sudden deterioration of that person’s vision. To avoid any problems, we suggest

  • Having the ears pierced by an experienced professional to minimise any damage to the ear
  • Using earrings that are of a high quality metal (minimum 9 carat gold plated, sterling silver or stainless steel). One client found that the only earrings she could use were 18 carat gold plated.
  • Not having many piercings. For example, we find a very high incidence of lower back pain in clients with many earrings around the rim of the ear.
  • Don’t use heavy earrings that could stretch or damage the ear.

 

In the hands of an experienced therapist, auricular (ear) acupuncture points can be powerful tools to relieve pain and resolve health disorders, and as you can see the range of conditions that can be treated is very extensive. We are here to help, so if you have any questions about ear acupuncture or any health issue you may have, please feel free to get in touch.

25th Anniversary Community Grants

Community Grants for 25th Year2021 is the 25th year our clinic has been serving our community by solving people’s health disorders.

To celebrate our success, express our gratitude, and to support our community further, we will be providing 5 grants of $500.00 (totalling $2,500.00) to local charities or community groups that are making a difference (or have the potential to make a difference) in our local area.

So if you know a group who are doing great work, please let them know to apply at the 2021 CNTC Community Grants page. We would love to look after those who are creating a better world for others.

Round 1 Winner

Baby Give Back “give babies a safe start to life by providing families in crisis with essential baby items, in partnership with support agencies.” For more info on the wonderful work they do, please visit www.facebook.com/babygiveback .

Handing grant cheque to Baby Give Back.

Round 2 Winner

4074 Care Connection are the worthy winners of Round 2. “We volunteer our time to collect goods for charities in our local community. Our main initiative is to make it easier for people to donate, by providing convenient and relevant collection locations.”

Handing Grant cheque to 4074 Care Connection

New Collagen Treatment for Arthritis, Younger Skin

Collagen is well-known for its effect on improving the skin, hair and nails, but there has been considerable research recently on its role in repairing cartilage, and so helping improve pain and stiffness from osteoarthritis.

Collagen is actually the most common protein in the body. It is in all connective tissues, and is crucial for the stability, strength and elasticity of all the tissues and organs. The body contains at least 28 types of collagen, which are especially needed for cartilage, blood vessels, tendons, ligaments, skin, and bones. (Type I collagen helps the body form bones, gives skin its elasticity, and is essential for wound healing.)

Collagen’s Role in Joint Health and Disease

Arthritis painHaving good levels of collagen in your body is critical for healthy joints, as

  • It adds strength and structure to tendons and ligaments, which stabilise joints
  • It is a key component of joint cartilage

Cartilage contains special cells called chondrocytes that produce collagen and other substances needed for healthy joints. Normally, the deterioration of cartilage in a joint is matched by the production of new cartilage by the chondrocytes. However, if the output of the chondrocytes falls, the cartilage will deteriorate and osteoarthritis will develop, causing pain and stiffness in the joint.

If poor cartilage production is combined with mechanical stress in the joint (such as tight or weak muscles around the joint or poor alignment), this causes the release of pro-inflammatory chemicals which further breaks down the joint cartilage.

Typically, osteoarthritis (OA) gets worse over time. Medications for OA are limited to pain-killers and anti-inflammatory drugs, which do not reduce the rate of progression or help with the restoration of the cartilage. Natural sources of collagen (such as eggshell membrane) and nutritional cofactors have been shown to not only reduce joint pain, inflammation and stiffness, but to assist with the regeneration of the joint tissues.

For example, in a double-blind, placebo-controlled trial, participants were given a daily dose of an extract of eggshell membrane (Ovomet) or placebo for 30 days. The WOMAC Osteoarthritis Index questionnaire was used to assess their joint pain and dysfunction after 0, 1, 3, 5, 7 and 30 days. Those who were taking the eggshell membrane reported a gradual and significant decrease in pain and dysfunction from day 3 to day 30. After the 30 day period, their pain had already decreased by over 50%, whereas there was no significant difference for the placebo group.

Pain improvement with collagen

Arthritis pain improvement chart

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Collagen for Skin, Hair and Nail Health

Younger looking skinAs well as helping replace cartilage on joints, collagen is important for healthy skin, hair and nails. In the skin, collagen makes up about 60–80% of its dry weight, and together with elastin promotes skin flexibility and elasticity. With aging, there is a reduction in the amount of collagen in the skin of about 1% per year after 20 years of age. Skin changes occurring after menopause are more significant, with a loss of about 30% of skin collagen in the first 5 years.

With time, collagen and elastin fibres become sparse and disordered, leading to a reduction of skin thickness and elasticity, causing wrinkles and sagging of the skin. Hyaluronic acid also plays an essential role in maintaining skin structure and hydration. The level of hyaluronic acid similarly decreases with age, resulting in a loss of skin hydration.

Eggshell membrane contains several components, including collagen, hyaluronic acid and glucosamine, which are found in the skin and have proven dermatologic effects. The production of collagen fibres in the skin is considered to play a principal role in physiological changes to the skin as it ages. Several studies have shown the effectiveness of collagen in improving the properties of the skin.

For example, one study found that at day 60, the skin elasticity of participants taking eggshell membrane had increased by 25%, while no significant changes were found in the placebo group. Those over 50 years old were found to have a greater improvement (29.67%) than those under 50 (20.60%). In another study, the skin firmness of those given eggshell membrane improved by a remarkable 66%.

Eggshell membrane as a supplement was also found to have a significant impact on hair quality, including improvement in hair thickness and growth, and reduction in hair breakage. Keratin is present in this membrane, which might account for the hair and nail health benefits for those taking it.

Skin improvement from collagen

Skin improvement chart

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

If you suffer from arthritis or want to improve your skin, hair or nail quality, we have a high potency, professional-strength eggshell membrane product we recommend. (The product is vegetarian, and comes in one-a-day capsules.) If you are interested in using it, please book in to see one of our naturopaths who can prescribe it and determine the correct dosage for you.

COVID Patient with Sepsis makes 'Remarkable' Recovery after Megadose of Vitamin C

Megadose infusionA young Australian man who was critically ill with COVID-19 and suffering early stages of sepsis made a remarkable recovery after being given massive doses of vitamin C.
 
Sepsis is a life-threatening condition which results from the body damaging its own organs trying to fight an infection. It was starting to take hold of his body, and his time was running out. Professor Rinaldo Bellomo, director of Intensive Care at Melbourne's Austin Health, said the 40-year-old's health had started to deteriorate significantly from COVID-19, with the man losing kidney function, and his blood pressure plummeting.
 
The man was given an initial dose of 30 grams of vitamin C over 30 minutes, then 30 grams over six and a half hours. "This is the equivalent of 5,000 oranges pumping through his veins," Professor Bellomo said. An over-the-counter vitamin C supplement is 500mg, meaning this megadose was 60 times the normal dosage,
 
Sepsis is the most common cause of death in intensive care units, and a common cause of death for people gravely ill with COVID-19.
 
Professor Bellomo said after the patient had the megadose of vitamin C, the changes were "'remarkable". "In a short period of time, we saw improved regulation of blood pressure, arterial blood oxygen levels and kidney function," he said. His temperature also improved.
 
A 2020 review of scientific evidence published in the Journal of the American Medical Association found high dose vitamin C given on its own or with steroids did not provide "significant survival benefit" for patients with sepsis or septic shock. However, Professor Bellomo said the previous trials used a lower dose of vitamin C; the amount in this case was 50 times greater than any other tried before for sepsis. (For more information about the case, please click here.)

(Note- Vitmain C is an amazing nutrient which can have a profound effect on the body, particulaly for infections or repair. Linus Pauling, regarded as the 16th most important scientist in history, was a big advocate of megadoses for a variety of conditions from colds to cancer and heart disease. Hopefully this case will stimulate an interest by the medical profession in the use of megadoses of nutrients such as vitamin C to treat a variety of serious illnesses.

However, large doses of any nutrient should be treated like a drug, and only taken under the direction of a qualified naturopath or other therapist highly trained in their use to resolve specific health issues.)

Could a Lack of Bread be Affecting Your Brain?

In Australia, wheat is easily the most common grain in our diet. Wheat (as well as rye, spelt, and barley) contains a group of proteins called gluten. Unfortunately, gluten Intolerance is a common condition, with 14% of respondents in one survey reporting a sensitivity to wheat. Some of the symptoms of gluten intolerance include

  • Bloating
  • Abdominal pain
  • Constipation, diarrhoea or smelly faeces
  • Headaches
  • Tiredness or fatigue
  • Skin problems
  • Depression
  • Anxiety
  • Joint and muscle pain
  • Brain fog

Many people with digestive issues will try avoiding gluten, and will often feel much better as a result. However, could this be causing them other problems instead?

Iodine deficiency is one of the three most common nutritional deficiencies, and the World health Organisation has said that Australia’s population has higher levels of iodine deficiency than normal. To combat this, in 2009 it became compulsory for iodine to be added to bread in Australia.

Iodine is very important for proper thyroid function, Your thyroid controls the rate of activity of the cells of your body, so if it is underactive, everything slows down, including your energy and metabolism. Hormones produced by the thyroid are important for brain function and development, growth and healing. So if your iodine levels are low, you can develop

  • Increased weight
  • Low energy or fatigue
  • Hair loss
  • Constipation
  • Low fertility
  • Poor memory or concentration
  • Depression
  • High cholesterol levels

Iodine deficiency can seriously affect children, especially at the foetal, newborn or infant stages, as their brains need thyroid hormone for proper development. A lack of iodine may cause a miscarriage or premature birth, and children with low iodine are also more likely to have attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).

A world-renowned endocrinologist and expert in the field, Professor Creswell Eastman said that "Iodine deficiency has re-emerged in Australia in the last 10 years and it is now a significant public health problem. We know that 50 per cent of Australian women are iodine deficient so they are putting their pregnancy and foetus at great risk.”

Prof Eastman said mums with the worst cases of iodine deficiency could knock 15 points off their child's IQ.

Unlike nutrients such as iron, calcium or vitamins, iodine does not occur naturally in specific foods. Instead, it is the level of iodine in the soil determines the level of iodine in the food, and so iodine deficiency occurs when the amount in the soil is low.

If you are trying to avoid gluten you may have a low iodine intake (especially if you avoid iodised salt as well). Please note that we are not advocating that if you are sensitive to gluten you should be eating bread! However, with any restrictive diet it is important to ensure you are getting enough of the right nutrients. If you would like to check if a lack of iodine or any other nutrient is affecting your health, you may like to book in a session with one of our naturopaths. Or even better, book in for a free Comprehensive Assessment, to find out what is going on in your body, what is causing any problems, and the best way to sort them out.

Will Acupuncture be Covered by Medicare?

Acupuncture for pain reliefConsiderable evidence exists for the benefits of acupuncture in the management of pain, and especially chronic pain. Some Australian emergency departments already offer acupuncture when trained staff are available, and several Brisbane hospitals provide acupuncture treatments in a limited capacity. Acupuncture is used in many hospitals in western countries such as the United Kingdom, USA, and Sweden, and it is of course widely used in hospitals in many Asian countries, especially China. (There is a hospital in Japan which ONLY uses acupuncture.)

The withdrawal of codeine as an over the counter medication, and the potential opioid crisis, have made acupuncture an even more attractive treatment.

As a result, The Chief Medical Officer has recommended an application be made to the federal Minister for Health for acupuncture to be included in the Chronic Disease Management Program. Under this Program, doctors can refer a patient to an allied health therapist, and Medicare covers part of the cost of the treatment.

Some of the advantages of acupuncture in resolving pain are

  • Being drug-free, there is no risk of any drug-related side-effects
  • There is no risk of damage to the liver or other organs as there is with many drugs
  • There is no risk of addiction
  • Some patients cannot or should not take the appropriate drugs

As pharmaceutical drugs kill many more Australians than heroin does, these are important considerations.

The wheels of government turn slowly, but hopefully acupuncture will be included under Medicare soon. This would be fantastic news to all our clients who come to us to resolve their pain.

Foods to Reduce Hayfever

Lady with hayfeverWhile many of us are enjoying the mild and pleasant weather this time of the year, for some people spring can be a time of suffering. Some of the symptoms of hayfever include

  • sneezing attacks
  • a runny or blocked nose
  • itchy, red or watery eyes
  • coughing
  • sinus pressure
  • itchy throat, mouth, nose and ears
  • loss of smell
  • pain around the temples and forehead
  • headaches
  • earaches
  • tiredness or fatigue

Basic Causes

When you have hayfever, your immune system sees a harmless airborne substance as potentially harmful. Your immune system then produces antibodies to this substance. The next time you come in contact with it, these antibodies signal your immune system to release chemicals such as histamine into your bloodstream, which cause the symptoms of hayfever.

So the most common treatments for hayfever are antihistamine medications.

What is Histamine?

Histamine is a chemical produced by your body to

  • help your immune responses
  • help your stomach digest food
  • assist your central nervous system to function correctly

(As a neurotransmitter, histamine communicates important messages from your body to your brain.)

However, histamine’s main role is to cause an immediate inflammatory response. It serves as a ‘red flag’ to your immune system, notifying it of any potential attackers.

Histamine causes your blood vessels to swell, or dilate, so that your white blood cells can quickly find and attack the infection or problem. The build-up of histamine may give you headaches and leave you feeling flushed, itchy and miserable. This is a part of the body’s natural immune response, but if your body doesn’t break the histamine down properly, you could develop what is termed a histamine intolerance.

Because it travels throughout your bloodstream, histamine can affect your gut, lungs, skin, brain, and the entire cardiovascular system, contributing to a wide range of problems in the body. (Due to the many areas affected and the diverse symptoms, it can often be difficult to pinpoint and diagnose the cause of the problem in these cases.)

The body controls histamine levels by producing an enzyme called diamine oxidase (DAO). But if too much histamine or not enough DAO is produced, allergies will occur.

Foods can have a major influence on histamine levels, by containing histamine themselves, by causing the body to release histamine, or by blocking the release of DAO by the body.

Foods to Avoid

Histamine-Rich Foods

  • Fermented alcoholic beverages, especially wine, champagne and beer
  • Fermented foods: sauerkraut, vinegar, soy sauce, yogurt, kombucha, kefir, etc
  • Vinegar-containing foods: pickles, mayonnaise, olives
  • Cured meats: bacon, salami, pepperoni, luncheon meats and hot dogs
  • Dried fruit: apricots, prunes, dates, figs, raisins
  • Most citrus fruits
  • Soured foods: sour cream, sour milk, buttermilk, soured bread, etc
  • Aged cheese including goat cheese
  • Nuts: walnuts, cashews, and peanuts
  • Vegetables: avocados, eggplant, spinach, and tomatoes
  • Smoked fish and certain species of fish: tuna, anchovies, sardines, mackerel, mahi-mahi

Histamine-Releasing Foods

  • Alcohol
  • Bananas
  • Chocolate
  • Cow’s milk
  • Many artificial preservatives and dyes
  • Nuts
  • Papaya
  • Pineapple
  • Shellfish
  • Strawberries
  • Tomatoes
  • Wheat germ

DAO-Blocking Foods

  • Alcohol
  • Energy drinks
  • Black (regular) tea
  • Green tea
  • Mate tea

However, there are a number of foods that can help to reduce your histamine levels. Please note that freshness is the key with these foods when you have a histamine intolerance.

Foods to Have

Low-Histamine Foods:

  • Fresh fruits: mangos, pears, watermelon, apples, grapes, kiwifruit, cantaloupes
  • Fresh vegetables (except tomatoes, spinach, avocado, and eggplant)
  • Freshly cooked meat, poultry (frozen or fresh)
  • Freshly caught fish
  • Eggs
  • Leafy herbs
  • Herbal teas
  • Gluten-free grains: rice, quinoa
  • Pure peanut butter
  • Dairy substitutes: coconut milk, rice milk, hemp milk, almond milk
  • Cooking oils: olive oil, coconut oil

Raising your DAO levels is also important in combatting hayfever.

Causes of Low DAO

  • Gluten intolerance
  • Leaky gut
  • Small Intestine Bacterial Overgrowth(SIBO)
  • DAO-blocking foods: alcohol, energy drinks, and tea
  • Genetic mutations (common in people of Asian-descent)
  • Inflammation from Crohn’s disease, ulcerative colitis, and inflammatory bowel disease
  • Medications:
    • Antihistamines (Allegra, Zyrtec, Benadryl)
    • Histamine (H2) blockers (Tagamet, Pepcid, Zantac)
    • Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (ibuprofen, aspirin)
    • Antidepressants (Cymbalta, Effexor, Prozac, Zoloft)
    • Immune modulators (Humira, Enbrel, Plaquenil)
    • Antiarrhythmics (propanolol, metaprolol, Cardizem, Norvasc)

Although histamine blockers seem like they would help prevent histamine intolerance, these medications can actually deplete DAO levels in your body, so will make the hayfever worse in the long run.

Treating Hayfever Naturally

Basic Level

Try to remove as many of the ‘Foods to Avoid’ and increase the ‘Foods to Have’ as much as you can, starting 1-3 months before the hayfever season. But most importantly, find the root cause for the histamine intolerance. If you are on a medication that is causing the intolerance, check with your doctor if you can be weaned off this medication.

If you have a histamine intolerance, you may not have to try to avoid these foods forever. It can be a short-term solution until your histamine or DAO levels return to their optimal ranges. (Depending on your unique make-up, you may find that you tolerate some foods better than others.)

Advanced Treatments

We have covered how different foods can affect your histamine levels, but why do some people have hayfever and others don’t? Almost any over-reaction by the immune system (such as allergies, food intolerances, or auto-immune disorders) has its origin in the digestive system. The two most common causes are

  • Incorrect gut bacteria. You may have heard of taking probiotics to help your immune system. Recent research shows that the correct bacteria in our bodies provides vital help with many of the body’s basic functions, including growth, digestion, and self-defence. The probiotic strains Lactobacillus rhamnosus LGG and lactobacillus paracasei (LP-33TM) both help to stimulate the production of anti-inflammatory chemicals. They also stimulate the production of regulatory T cells, which can reduce IgE levels, the antibodies produced by your body when you have an allergy. (For example, one double-blind, randomised, placebo-controlled trial on 425 subjects with allergic rhinitis compared the effects of LP-33TM or placebo over a five week period. The LP-33TM group demonstrated significant improvements in their Rhinitis Quality Of Life (RQLQ) score, nasal and ocular symptoms.)

These probiotic strains are not normally available over the counter; instead they must be prescribed by a qualified therapist trained in this area, such as a registered naturopath.

  • Leaky Gut Syndrome. This is another very common cause of allergies and food intolerances. Under normal circumstances, the epithelial cells that line your small intestine are joined tightly to each other. This makes the lining of your intestine nearly leak-proof, and only fully digested food molecules are allowed to pass through. If there are strong stresses on these delicate structures, these tight joins may start to separate, creating gaps between the cells. These gaps make your gut ‘leaky’, and then large, undigested food molecules can pass through into the body, where they are collected by the bloodstream and lymph vessels of your intestine.

When your immune system spots these large molecules, it decides that they are too big to be digested food, so it must be a foreign invader into the body, such as a virus or bacteria, and it attacks them. If your immune system over-reacts every time you eat something, eventually it may start reacting to other proteins it becomes exposed to, such as those in pollens, dust, etc., and then allergies such as hayfever develop.

(There are other causes for hayfever, but they are less common.)

Free Assessment Offer

If you are suffering from hayfever and would like to treat the real causes of the problem, we suggest booking in for a Comprehensive Assessment at our clinic. We can then have an in-depth look at what is happening in your body, what is causing the problem, and what can be done to sort it out. (Terms and conditions- the Assessment is a completely free service, with no obligations whatsoever.) Most people find their assessment very helpful, interesting and informative.

Make an online booking here:
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FREE
Comprehensive
Assessment

Valued at $120, your Assessment will help to uncover:

  • What is going on with your body
  • What is working properly and what is not working properly
  • What is causing the problem, and
  • The best way to get it sorted out

All this will be fully explained to you, and you can ask as many questions as you like. That way we can be sure to give you all of the right information, understanding and advice you need. Terms and conditions: This is a free, no obligation offer.

CONTACT

62 Looranah St,
Jindalee QLD 4074
07 3376 6911
reception@cntc.com.au

AWARDS

Winner Business Achievers Award 2006, 2007, 2009, 2011 & 2012
Inducted into Business Achievers Hall of Fame 2009
LPA Outstanding High Achievement Award 2011
Mt Ommaney Small Business Award (Health & Fitness) 2018 & 2020

YOUNGCARE

We help provide care and accommodation to young disabled people through regular support of YoungCare (by donating the proceeds of our Gift Voucher sales)

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