HOLISTIC NUTRITION AND WELLNESS
Chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS) is a long-term illness with a wide range of symptoms. The most common symptom is extreme tiredness.
CFS is also known as ME, which stands for Myalgic Encephalomyelitis. There is some debate over the correct term to use for the illness, so CFS/ME is commonly used and will be used in this article.
CFS/ME can affect anyone at any age including children, but it’s more common in women. The onset is normally from mid-20s to mid-40s.
One difference in CFS/ME patients have is a breakthrough found by researchers in 2017 from Griffith University identified in their DNA. CFS/ME patients were far more likely to have single nucleotide polymorphisms – DNA miscoding – in the genetic code for certain cell receptor.
This cell receptor is known as transcient receptor potential melastatin (TRPM3), and in healthy cells it plays a crucial role – transferring calcium from outside the cell to the inside where it helps regulate gene expression and protein production. For now, this is a starting point for researchers to look into further.
People with CFS/ME often have their illness begin in a way that reminds them of getting the flu. This made researchers suspect an infection or virus may trigger the illness. In addition, about one in ten patients become infected with:
Epstein-Barr Virus – also known as herpesvirus 4 spread by bodily fluids, primarily saliva. EBV can cause infectious mononucleosis (mono) and other illnesses.
Ross River Virus – Spread by mosquitoes from Australia to Papua New Guinea
Coxiella burnetti – (Q fever) These bacteria naturally infect animals such as goats, sheep, and cattle. People can get infected by breathing in dust that has been contaminated by infected animal feces, urine, milk and birth products.
*Not all people with CFS/ME have these infections/viruses.
Other Infections That Have Been Studied in Connection With CFS/ME
Human Herpesvirus 6 (HHV-6) This virus was first seen in 1986 in patients with AIDS or lymphoproliferative disease.
Enterovirus (non-Polio enterovirus) This virus is transmitted via bodily fluids, as are most of the viruses listed in this article.
Rubella (German Measles) – A contagious disease caused by a virus. The best protection against rubella is MMR (measles-mumps-rubella) vaccine.
Candida Albicans – A fungal infection caused by yeasts that belong to the genus Candida. The best way to rid the body of Candida is to do a Candida Cleanse under the supervision of a doctor.
Bornaviruses – The Borna disease virus (BDV) is a neurotropic negative-strand RNA virus that infects a wide range of vertebrate hosts, causing disturbances in movements and behavior.
Mycoplasma – Also known as “walking pneumonia”.
HIV (Human Immunodeficiency Virus)
In addition, research indicates that CFS/ME may be linked to oxidative stress, Celiac disease, and food sensitivities or food allergies.
Other Possible Causes
1) It is possible that CFS/ME is caused by a change in a person’s immune system and the way it responds to stress or infection. The illness shares some features of autoimmune illnesses.
2) Chronic Production of cytokines(cytokines are proteins produced by the immune system and regulate behavior of other cells.) Higher levels of cytokines for a prolonged period of time can lead to changes in the body’s ability to respond to stress and might lead to the development of health conditions including CFS/ME.
3) Low-functioning Natural Killer (NK) cells – NK cells are cells of the immune system that help the body fight infections. Studies have found that the worse the function of NK cells in CFS/ME patients, the severity of the illness is worse. However, low NK cell function can occur in other illnesses and thus cannot be used to diagnose this illness.
4) Differences in markers of T-cell Activation
T-cells are cells of the immune system that help activate and suppress immune responses to infections. If they become more active or not active enough, the immune response does not work as it should. Not all patients with CFS/ME appear to have these differences in markers of T-cell activation.
Stress Affecting Body Chemistry
Physical and emotional stress affects the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis (HPA axis). The HPA axis is a complex network that controls the body’s reaction to stress and regulates many of the body’s processes such as immune response, digestion, energy usage, and more. This occurs through connections between two glands of the nervous system (hypothalamusand pituitary) and adrenal glands. The glands release various hormones such as corticotrophin-releasing hormone (CRH), Cortisol, and others. Cortisol (also known as “the stress hormone”) helps to lower inflammation and calm down the immune system.
Patients with CFS/ME commonly report physical or emotional stress before they become ill. Some patients have lower levels of cortisol than healthy people, but their cortisol levels are still within normal range. Therefore, doctors cannot use cortisol levels to diagnose or treat this illness.
The main symptom of this illness is feeling extremely tired and generally unwell. Symptoms vary from patient to patient, and the severity of symptoms can vary from day to day, or even within a day.
· Extreme Tiredness (Fatigue)
The main symptom of CFS/ME is extreme physical and mental tiredness (fatigue) that does not go away with rest or sleep. This makes it very difficult to carry out everyday tasks and activities.
*Most people with this illness describe their fatigue as overwhelming and a different type of tiredness from what they’ve experienced before.
· Muscle pain
· Joint pain
· Night sweats
· Sore throat
· Sore glands in the throat that are NOT swollen
· Enlarged lymph nodes
· Difficulty thinking
· Difficulty remembering things
· Difficulty concentrating (lack of focus)
· Flu-like symptoms
· Feeling dizzy
· Feeling ‘sick’
· Heart palpitations (fast or irregular heartbeats)
· Digestive disorders such as Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS)
· Sensitivity to noise and light
Exercise usually makes symptoms of CFS/ME worse. Sometimes the effect is delayed, and the person will very tired a few hours after exercise, or even the next day. People with CFS/ME also experience alterations in levels of irritability, mood swings, anxiety, and depression.
According to a study published in Family Practice, 36% of people with this illness were clinically depressed and had “seriously considered suicide in the past year”. (1)
Severity of Symptoms
Most cases of CFS/ME are mild to moderate, but up to one in four people have severe symptoms. If your symptoms are severe, a specialist should be involved with your treatment.
Symptoms can be considered:
· Mild – You’re able to carry out everyday activities such as work, studies, or housework, but with difficulty. You may need to give up hobbies or social activities so you can rest in your spare time.
· Moderate –You may have difficulty moving around easily and problems carrying out daily activities. You may not be able to work or continue with your education. You will need to rest often and may also have problems sleeping at night (insomnia).
· Severe –You may only be able to do very basic daily tasks such as brushing your teeth. You may be housebound or even bedbound. You may need a wheelchair to get around. You may have difficulty concentrating. You may be sensitive noise and light. It may take a long time to recover after activities involving extra effort such as leaving the house or talking for long periods of time.
There may be times when symptoms get worse. These are periods known as setbacks or relapses.
What Else Could it Be?
The symptoms of CFS/ME are similar to those of other conditions. One of those is PoTS (postural tachycardia syndrome). This is where you have an abnormal increase in heart rate after sitting or standing up, which can cause dizziness, fainting, and other symptoms.
Guidelines for Diagnosing CFS/ME
There are no tests for CFS/ME but there are clear guidelines to help doctors diagnose the illness. Your doctor should ask about your medical history and give you a physical examination. They should also offer tests, blood and urine, to rule out other conditions such as anemia, underactive thyroid, Hashimoto’s disease, liver, or kidney problems. It can take a long while to diagnose CFS/ME as other conditions with similar symptoms need to be ruled out first. In the meantime, you may be given advice about managing your symptoms.
Tips to Manage CFS/ME
· Eliminate Inflammatory Foods
According to Jose Montoya, MD, a professor of medicine at Stanford’s Chronic Fatigue clinic, diet does appear to affect CFS/ME. He recommends an anti-inflammatory diet or adding anti-inflammatory foods such as fish and olive oil. Foods such as sugar, fried foods, processed foods, dairy, and gluten should also be eliminated under your doctor’s supervision.
· Stay Well-Hydrated
Drinking more water is not a “cure” for CFS/ME. However, dehydration has been shown to make the illness worse. Staying well-hydrated is important for improving the illness or maintaining health.
· Keep a Food Journal
Keeping a food journal is a great way to discover foods that improve or worsen your symptoms. It’s a great tool to share how you felt with your doctor. Track how you feel and exactly what you have eaten. Since 35 to 90% of people with CFS/ME experience symptoms associated with irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), it is important to pay close attention to ANY foods that cause stomach upset or distress.
· Don’t Cut Out Everything
Since CFS/ME is a nebulous, unrelenting disease, it is tempting to cut out everything. Talk to your doctor before eliminating any foods from your current diet to prevent overtaxing your body and cutting out important nutrients. You should discuss an Elimination Diet with your doctor and dietician, if they believe it is right for you.
· Try the Elimination Diet
Since there’s no standard diet for CFS/ME, it might be worth experimenting with your diet to find what makes you feel the best (hint: Food Journal). For instance, Dr. Montoya’s patients have noticed improvements after removing gluten or foods high in carbohydrates while others have seen no effects. According to Leah Groppo, RD, CDE at Stanford Health Care, you should make small changes such as adding more vegetables to your dinner each night. Stick with it for a full month before deciding if the change improved your symptoms or not. You will also be more likely to stick to healthier habits in the long run if you introduce them slowly.
· Avoid Caffeine
Caffeine may seem like a great way to improve your energy, but it does come with consequences. According to Dr. Montoya, caffeine can give you a “false sense of energy” and lead you to overdo it. He recommends a little bit of caffeine per day. Just be careful to not overexert yourself and make sure your intake does not impact your sleep.
· Try Smaller, More Frequent Meals
Many people with CFS/ME often feel too tired to eat or don’t feel hungry. If you are losing weight or having difficulty eating enough throughout the day, Leah Groppo recommends trying smaller meals frequently or adding small snacks between each meal. Eating more frequently may help keep your energy up. Smaller portions may be easier to tolerate as well.
· Add Healthy Fats
Add some walnuts, a few slices of avocado, and some fatty fish such as trout. These foods contain Omega 3 fatty acids. Omega 3s are important for brain and heart health. They also help reduce inflammation.
· Meal plan and Prep
One of the best ways to ensure a nutritious diet is to meal plan and prep food ahead of time. On the days you have more energy, plan out what you will eat for the rest of the week. Prepare your basic ingredients or cook the meals all the way through (bulk cook). If possible, enlist someone to help you so you can get more done without exhausting yourself.
Home Remedies (with your doctor’s approval)
- Ginseng – Ginseng has long been known to help prevent stress, which can trigger CFS/ME. It is also beneficial for vitality an alertness. Ginseng is commonly used for people suffering from exhaustion, mental, and physical stress. It also has a wealth of antioxidants, making it good for boosting immunity against any infections that may cause CFS/ME. (2)
- Alfalfa – This herb can help increase appetite and improve digestion, which provides the body with energy and increased functionality to help combat the symptoms of CFS/ME. Alfalfa can help improve cognitive function and reduce anxiety/stress. (3)
- Astragalus – This adaptogen herb can help boost vitality and may provide bursts of energy, which counters the weakness of the muscles and body for patients with severe CFS/ME. Astragalus has antibacterial and antiviral properties, helping to prevent bacterial and viral infections. It can help shorten the recovery period after illness or surgery, preventing the compounded weakness of illness of CFS/ME.
- Licorice – Licorice can act in a similar manner to steroids, boosting the production of cortisol and adrenaline, which helps improves the body’s response to stress and anxiety. Licorice can help enhance the immune system and provide excess energy to combat fatigue. (5)
- Oats –Whole grains are sources of energy and oats are no exception. Whether your fatigue stems from overexertion or mental anxiety, oats can provide the necessary nutrition. They can help regulate the cardiovascular system, which can ease heart palpitations. Oats can counter insomnia helping you to get a good night’s sleep. Furthermore, oats are known to be a “brain food”, stimulating mental acuity and help clearing the mind of fogginess brought on by excessive exhaustion. (6)
- Bee Pollen – This natural remedy is often difficult to find. It is considered a “perfect food”, meaning it contains an ideal combination of amino acids, proteins, enzymes, and many other nutrients to help keep the body functioning well. Consuming Bee Pollen on a regular basis can help combat physical and mental weakness and provide a balanced amount of energy throughout the day. (7)
- Maca Root – Maca root is rich in B vitamins, which are known to positively affect the adrenal and pituitary glands. By helping to regulate the hormones with maca root, energy levels can be improved.
- St. John’s Wort – This popular herbal remedy for many health issues is also good for CFS/ME. It is frequently used to relieve depression and anxiety. St. John’s Wort is also specifically effective against various viral strains that can cause excess exhaustion and fatigue, such as herpes simplex virus. (8)
- Valerian Root – This root herb is a preferred method for many people who suffer from insomnia. Adding Valerian Root to your regimen (under your doctor’s supervision) may combat your inability to get a good night’s sleep. (9)
- Essential Oils – When it comes to the use of essential oils for reducing fatigue, few oils are more effective than Rosemary, Peppermint, Lemon, Black Spruce, Basil, Geranium, Eucalyptus, Lavender, and Bergamot, among others. The most effective way to use essential oils is to inhale them. Make sure the essential oils are from a reputable company that sells high-grade therapeutic grade oils and work with a qualified Aromatherapy Advisor. (10)(11)
- Acupuncture – There have been many positive research results for acupuncture as a treatment for immune system weakness as well as insomnia and exhaustion. By managing the body’s energy patterns, known as “chi”. acupuncture helps to regulate internal functions and brings organ systems to a more stable, balanced level. Make sure you see a trained, qualified acupuncturist for any treatments and your doctor approves. (12)
- Chiropractic Care – This remedy involves a doctor but is still considered somewhere between alternative and allopathic treatment. A chiropractor can help get your body into a balanced, less painful state by relieving that inherent stress in the body. (13)
- (1) Fam Pract. 2008 Dec;25(60:414-22. doi: 10.1093/fampra/cmn064.
- (2) journals.cambridge.org
- (3) Shikonesh J, et al. Journ Med Food, Vol.7 (1): 7 Jul 2004. doi: doi.org/10.1089/109662004322984734
- (4) Yao-Haur K, et al, Astragalus membranaceus flavonoids (AMF). Nat Inst of Chinese Med; 25 Feb 2009; (122): 28-34.
- (5) Baschetti R, Licorice and chronic fatigue syndrome. N Z Med J, 1995 Jun 28;108 (1002):259.
- (6) Vickers A, et al, Herbal medicine. West J Med. 2001 Aug; 175(2): 125-128.
- (7) Noble A, Endicott, (2002) Chronic Fatigue Syndrome in Psychiatric Patients. J Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, 10:1, 37-53.
- (8) Barnes J, et al, St John’s Wort (Hypericum perforatum L.): a review of its chemistry, pharmacology and clinical properties. J Pharm and Pharmacology. 18 Feb 2010; 53(5).
- (9) Fugh-Berman, et al, Dietary Supplements and Natural Products as Psychotherapeutic Agents. Psychosomatic Med: Sep – Oct 1999; 61(5) 712-728.
- (10) pubs.acs.org/doi/abs/10.1021/jf9405214
- (11) nopr.niscair.res.in/handle/123456789/8050
- (12) Yiu YM, et al, A clinical trial of acupuncture for treating chronic fatigue syndrome in Hong Kong. 1 Nov 2007; 5(6): 630-633.
- (13) Published online: 2 Mar 2010/ doi.org/10.1089/acm.2008.0376
Disclaimer: This information is for educational purposes only. It is not intended to replace medical advice, diagnose, prevent, treat, or cure any illness. Always discuss any dietary changes with your physician first.
What is it?
Scleroderma is a rare, chronic disease of the immune system, blood vessels, and connective tissues. Two and a half million people worldwide suffer with Scleroderma, and in the United States approximately 200,000 people have been diagnosed.
It’s an autoimmune condition, meaning the immune system becomes overactive and attacks healthy tissues in the body. The name Scleroderma comes from the Greek, ‘sclero’ meaning hard, and ‘derma’ for skin. This hardening of the skin can be the onset of the disease as the body produces too much collagen. This excess of collagen can affect the skin, joints, tendons, and internal organs. It causes scarring and stops the affected parts of the body from functioning normally.
Symptoms of Scleroderma:
The symptoms of Scleroderma vary for each person and the severity depends greatly on which parts of the body are affected. Usual symptoms include hardening of the skin, swelling of the hands and feet, joint pain and stiffness, and reaction to cold and stress, called Raynaud’s Syndrome.
Two Main Types of Scleroderma
Localized and Systemic
Morphea – This is the name given to the localized patches of hardened skin that are smooth and shiny. They usually appear on the trunk but can affect any part of the body. They’re usually painless and normally no other problem or symptoms arise from these patches.
Linear – In Linear Scleroderma, the skin is affected in a line, usually along the arm or leg. The skin appears shiny, mis-colored or scarred, and often feels tight and uncomfortable. In children, it must be monitored closely as normal growth of limbs can be affected.
In this type of Scleroderma, the internal organs are affected as well as the skin. The heart, esophagus, blood vessels, kidneys, lungs, blood pressure, and digestive system can ALL be involved.
The TWO Types of Systemic Scleroderma
1) Limited Systemic Sclerosis
People with Limited Systemic Sclerosis have normally lived with Raynaud’s Syndrome for a long time. The condition progresses gradually and usually affects the face, hands, arms below the elbow, and feet and legs below the knees – although the lungs and digestive system may be affected over time. Symptoms can include thickening of the skin, heartburn, and difficulty swallowing.
2) Diffuse Systemic Sclerosis
It is more likely that the whole body will be affected, and in some cases, there can be potentially serious complications involving the heart, lungs, and kidneys.
Joint pain and stiffness
Key Facts About Scleroderma and Raynaud’s Syndrome
· Scleroderma is four times more likely in females than males.
· Localized is more common in children. The condition affects specific areas of the skin and underlying tissues.
· The onset of Scleroderma is most frequent between the ages 25 and 55, but it can affect anyone at any age from children to adults.
· Systemic form of Scleroderma affects the skin, but also internal organs including the heart, esophagus, kidneys, lungs, and digestive system. It can cause physical disability and can be life threatening.
Raynaud’s Syndrome (pronounced Ray-nose)
A disease where the small blood vessels in the extremities such as the hands and feet, fingers and toes, are over-sensitive to even the slightest changes in temperature, the cold and sometimes stress. This causes a Raynaud’s attack where the fingers sometimes change color from white to blue to red, but not always.
- A change in color in the extremities such as the hands or feet
- Cold extremities
- Numbness in the extremities
- Tingling or pain in the extremities
There are TWO types of Raynaud’s, Primary and Secondary. Primary is usually less serious of the two types as the condition is mild and manageable whilst people with Secondary Raynaud’s will usually have more severe symptoms.
The onset of Raynaud’s usually begins between the ages of 20 and 40 but can affect anyone at any age from children to adults.
One in ten people with Primary Raynaud’s will go on to develop Secondary Raynaud’s.
Primary Raynaud’s is not caused by another illness.
Secondary Raynaud’s Syndrome
This is caused by another condition, usually an autoimmune disease such as Scleroderma or Lupus. Secondary Raynaud’s needs to be more carefully monitored for complications such as ulceration or sores. Secondary Raynaud’s can be a sign of Scleroderma which can be fatal, of which the 3 main symptoms of Raynaud’s (swollen fingers, heartburn, and, reflux) are noticed (for 95% of people with Scleroderma, Raynaud’s was their first symptom). It is important for Scleroderma patients to get tested to see if they have Raynaud’s Syndrome.
How Raynaud’s is Different for People With Scleroderma
Unlike in Primary Raynaud’s, where the blood vessels narrow then return to normal size, the small blood vessels in the skin in Scleroderma gradually change in size, becoming increasingly smaller and sometimes disappear over time.
In people with Scleroderma, the blood vessels lose the ability to return to normal size in between attacks, and this reduces the supply of oxygen and nutrients to the skin.
· If the skin does not receive enough nutrients, it can become dry and cracked, and small ulcers can form on the tips of the fingers (or thumbs). In severe cases, gangrene can develop.
Treatments for Scleroderma
Sadly, there are NO treatments for the disease. Recently, the DEA in the United States approved the use of cannabis as a treatment for Scleroderma, but it is not legal in most states not even for medicinal use. The use of cannabis is intended to slow the damage to the vascular system. There are other ways for Scleroderma patients to reduce the severity of their symptoms.
Nutrition for Scleroderma
Many people living with Scleroderma experience symptoms that can lead to a poor appetite and weight loss. Because of this, it’s important to choose a healthy nutrient-dense diet and maintain a healthy weight within a healthy range.
Some elements to ensure you include in your diet are:
Calcium – This is important for healthy bones. Sources of calcium: Wild-caught salmon, dark leafy greens, seeds, and nuts. If you’re taking steroids, your body’s requirements for calcium will be increased.
Vitamin D – This is needed to help absorb and utilize calcium. It is also vital for repair of the immune system. Sources of Vitamin D: Exposure to sunlight (20 minutes on a large part of the body for 3 times per week), pastured eggs, wild-caught fatty fish, some natural nut butters, real cheese (not the processed stuff), or ask your physician for a Vitamin D supplement.
Iron – The risk of anemia is reduced with adequate intakes of iron. Sources of Iron: Grass-fed beef, pastured eggs, dark leafy greens, wild-caught fatty fish, poultry.
Omega 3 Fatty Acids* - Omega 3 fats can help protect against many diseases including heart disease and arthritis by reducing inflammation. They have also been shown to have a positive effect on mood. Sources of Omega 3s: Oily fish such as wild-caught salmon, sardines, and mackerel; pastured eggs; walnuts. The main source of Omega 3s is marine algae. If you opt for a supplement, Algae Oil has the most Omega 3 fatty acids EPA and DHA. It is also free from contaminants such as mercury and BPAs that may be found in Fish Oil Pills.
*Omega 3s are helpful for many symptoms of Scleroderma. They can help with mood, eye health, improve risk factors for heart disease, and joint health. The best reason to include Omega 3s in your diet if you have Scleroderma is that they can help fight autoimmune diseases. They have been shown in studies to be effective for illnesses such as Type 1 diabetes and Multiple Sclerosis. (ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC/4216999/; ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/26362904)
Eating A Healthy Diet
Fruits and Vegetables help to reduce pain and inflammation, they are also a good source of fiber. They help regulate blood pressure and fats. These fruits, vegetables, and spices are believed to be particularly helpful for some people with Scleroderma.
· Ginger – Ginger is found by many people to be a powerful antioxidant that has anti-inflammatory properties. Ginger has been found to inhibit pain-producing prostaglandins.
· Turmeric – Turmeric contains Curcumin, which has been shown in numerous studies to have anti-inflammatory and pain-relieving properties.
· Tart Red Cherries – These cherries are found by some people to relieve pain and inflammation (if about 20 per day are eaten).
· Fresh Pineapple – Pineapple contains an enzyme called bromelain that has been shown to be an effective anti-inflammatory. It also helps in the digestion on protein-rich foods. All you need to eat is two to three slices per day.
Aim for 5 portions of fruits and vegetables per day. If you experience heartburn, you might be better off avoiding acidic fruits.
Creams for Morphea
- Cream or ointment containing calcipotriol
- Tacrolimus ointment
- Imiquimod cream
- Steroid creams and ointments
Treatment will vary depending on the individual situation, the severity of the condition, and whether the underlying tissues are affected. If it is too widespread, too deep or too severe, one or more of the following treatments may be used to control morphea:
- Ultraviolet light therapy
- Medicines affecting the immune system such as methotrexate
- Physiotherapy or surgery may help if the skin is very tight or if there is deformity or scar underneath the skin
Looking After Yourself with Scleroderma
There may not be a cure for Scleroderma yet, but it can be managed well, meaning that you can continue to live as normally as possible. Here is some simple, straightforward advice on managing the most common symptoms of Scleroderma (taken from SRUK, Scleroderma and Raynaud’s UK, sruk.co.uk)
1. Look After Your Skin
If the skin becomes thickened, meaning it can become dry, cracked, swollen, and less flexible. You can help protect your skin from becoming too uncomfortable with creams, ointments, and emollients.
- Creams are water-based and offer short-term protection.
- Ointments are oil-based and offer long-term protection.
- If your hands are severely dry, apply cream or ointment at night then cover them with cotton gloves.
- Use emollients in the bath but be careful not to slip!
- Avoid mid-day sun.
- Protect car windows on hot days.
- Use aqueous cream instead of soap. There are also several types of chemical-free hand soaps available from brands such as Mrs. Meyers and Dr. Bronners.
2. Protect Your Joints
Joint protection includes learning to perform daily activities in ways that will help your joints rather than strain them. Physical and occupational therapists can show you new ways to do activities like opening doors, carrying packages, and even brushing your teeth. Joint protection may also include resting individual joints in lightweight splints to help control inflammation. Splints should be well-padded to avoid pressure on areas of the skin. There are many devices that reduce stress on painful joints which you can purchase or make at home.
3. Keep Raynaud’s Attacks Under Control
The majority of people with Scleroderma also have Raynaud’s, where the small blood vessels in the extremities are over-sensitive to changes in temperature.
- Wear warm gloves
- Use hand warmers or Pocket Warmers
- Keep stress to a minimum!
- Ask your physician about a vasodilator, a medication that promotes the dilation of the blood vessels.
4. Take Action to Prevent and Treat Ulcers
Dryness, calcinosis, and digital pitting scars can lead to ulcers on the skin. It is imperative to try to prevent these ulcers and to take action quickly if they appear. If they become infected, they take a long time to heal.
· Look after your skin and cover any broken areas with a clean adhesive bandage such as Inadine or Mepilex (use some type of antibiotic cream/ointment).
· Keep warm with extra warm blankets.
· Keep an eye out for signs of infection in broken skin – yellow discharge, redness, swelling, pain, and failure to heal.
· Keep a diary/journal of where and when your ulcers appear. This will help your physician monitor and treat the problem.
· If you see any signs of infection, call your physician immediately!
5. Keep Eyes and Mouth from Becoming Dry
Many people with Scleroderma have ‘sicca’ symptoms, meaning they have problems from decreased tears and saliva production. These can cause pain and infection, but they can be treated.
For Dry Eyes:
- Avoid dry atmospheres
- Humidify rooms
- Wear glasses and sunglasses with side arms
- Speak to the pharmacist about tear replacement drops with your physician’s approval
- Ask your physician about prescription eye drops, especially if you have an infection
For Dry Mouth:
- Take sips of water rather than gulps
- Avoid sugary drinks
- Ask your physician about saliva replacement products and saliva stimulation tablets
- Have a spoonful of sugar-free Greek yogurt before bedtime
- Speak to your physician about the drugs you are currently taking. Some of them could worsen dry mouth symptoms.
6. Take Care of Your Gut and Bowels
Problems with eating, reflux, and a sluggish gut and bowel are common symptoms of Scleroderma. Here are some symptoms to look for and some ways to manage them.
For Pain When Swallowing
- Avoid foods that ‘stick’ such as bread, meats, and processed foods. Speak to your physician if this becomes unmanageable.
- Avoid eating 2 to 3 hours before bedtime
- Avoid drinking an hour and a half before bedtime
- If you’re a smoker, try to quit
- Elevate the head of your bed to sleep propped up
- Avoid chocolate, caffeine, and alcohol
- Avoid citrus fruits
For a Sluggish Bowel
- Follow a healthy, well-balanced diet
- Avoid fatty, spicy, rich, and dry foods
- Take high-quality Probiotics with prebiotics in the ingredients (i.e. FOS and inulin)
- Stay well-hydrated
- Speak to your physician about pain, swelling, constipation, or diarrhea
7. Listen to Your Body
Because the symptoms of Scleroderma are so diverse, it’s important to look out for changes in your body and the way you feel. If anything is troubling you, it is worth taking the time to speak to your physician about it.
Many people with Scleroderma suffer from extreme fatigue and feel overwhelmed by the condition at times, so it is extremely important to take a rest when you need to!
- Look out for times and situations when you become more fatigued, and plan for them ahead of time.
- Make sure you’re getting enough sleep. If not, ask your physician for help.
- Notice ANY changes in your body and the way you feel such as breathlessness, palpitations, or persistent coughs. Report everything unusual to your physician!
- Try to maintain a positive outlook. Take the time to do the things you enjoy. That’s not always easy, I know! For more information, reach out to Scleroderma and Raynaud’s UK at sruk.co.uk.
- Herrick AL, et al; Incidence of linear scleroderma and systemic sclerosis in the UK and Ireland. Arthritis Care Res (Hoboken) 2010 Feb;62(2):213-8.
- Fett N; Scleroderma: nomenclature, etiology, pathogenesis, prognosis, and treatments: facts and controversies. Clin Dermatol. 2013 Jul – Aug; 31 (4): 432-7.
- Careta MF, Romiti R, Localized scleroderma: Clinical spectrum and therapeutic update. An Bras Dermatol. 2015 Jan – Feb; 90(1): 62-73.
- Fett NM; Morphea (localized scleroderma). JAMA Dermatol. 2013 Sep; 149 (9): 1124.
Disclaimer: The information in this article is for educational purposes ONLY. It is not intended to replace medical advice, diagnose, prevent, treat, or cure any illness. Before making any changes to your normal routine, discuss it with your physician.
What is it?
Hashimoto’s Disease is a condition in which the immune system attacks the thyroid gland, a small gland at the base of the neck below the Adam’s Apple. The thyroid gland is part of the endocrine system, which produces hormones that coordinate many of the body’s functions.
Inflammation from Hashimoto’s Disease is also known as “chronic lymphatic thyroiditis”. This often leads to underactive thyroid function or hypothyroidism. Hashimoto’s is the most common cause of hypothyroidism in the United States. It primarily affects middle-aged women but can also occur in men and women of any age, and in children.
Thyroid hormones are made up of an amino acid called L-Tyrosine, to which iodine atoms are added. The bulk of the thyroid hormone released into the bloodstream is T4, or L-Tyrosine with four iodine atoms added.
Many factors are involved in the proper production of T4 by the thyroid besides L-Tyrosine and iodine. Several nutrients are critical to the production of T4 by the thyroid including:
· Vitamins C, D, and E
· B Vitamins (specifically B2, B3, and B6)
· The minerals iron, selenium, and zinc
If one of the nutrients is missing, the thyroid gland is unable to keep up with production demands from the body and it won’t be able to produce enough T4.
Symptoms of Hashimoto’s Disease
Symptoms are not usually noticed at first, but the most common symptom first noticed is swelling at the front of the throat (goiter).
Hashimoto’s Disease typically progresses slowly over years and causes chronic thyroid damage leading to a drop in thyroid hormone levels in the blood. The signs and symptoms are mainly those of hypothyroidism.
· Fatigue and sluggishness
· Increased sensitivity to cold
· A “puffy” face
· Brittle nails
· Hair loss
· Enlarged tongue
· Unexplained weight gain
· Muscle aches, tenderness, and stiffness
· Joint pain and stiffness
· Muscle weakness
· Excessive or prolonged menstrual bleeding (menorrhagia)
· Memory loss
When to See a Doctor
- Tiredness for no apparent reason
- Dry skin
- Pale, puffy face
You also need to see a doctor for periodic testing of your thyroid function if:
- You had thyroid surgery
- You have had treatment with radioactive iodine or anti-thyroid medicines
- You have had radiation therapy to your head, neck, or upper chest
High Cholesterol may be the cause of your hypothyroidism, but this needs to be discussed with your doctor.
Causes of Hashimoto’s Disease
Hashimoto’s is an autoimmune disease in which the immune system creates antibodies that damage the thyroid gland. There is no known cause of this disease. Some scientists believe a virus or bacterium might trigger the response, while others believe a genetic flaw is involved.
Sex: Women are much more likely to get Hashimoto’s Disease.
Age: It can occur at any age, but more commonly occurs during middle age.
Heredity: You’re at a higher risk if others in your family have thyroid or autoimmune diseases (Type 1 diabetes, Rheumatoid Arthritis, Lupus, etc.).
Radiation Exposure: People exposed to excessive levels of environmental radiation are prone to developing Hashimoto’s Disease.
Left untreated, are underactive thyroid gland (hypothyroidism) caused by Hashimoto’s Disease can lead to a number of health problems.
· Goiter – Constant stimulation of the thyroid to release more hormones may cause the gland to become enlarged, a condition known as Goiter. Hypothyroidism is one of the most common causes of goiters. Goiters are not usually uncomfortable, but they can affect your appearance and may interfere with swallowing or breathing.
· Cardiovascular problems – The thyroid hormone level can impact the cardiovascular health due to possible slow pulse, abnormal heartbeats, or weakened pulse. One study found that hypothyroidism can decrease the volume of blood pumped out by the heart in each beat by 30 – 50%. Fortunately, most cardiac complications related to hypothyroidism can be treated with the proper medication. (Ref: doi.org/10.1161/CIRCULATIONAHA.106.678326|Circulation.2007;116:1725 – 1735.)
· Renal complications – Serious hypothyroidism can lower the kidney’s function. This is often due to decreased blood flow to the kidneys. The issue is having less ability to excrete water and absorb sodium. As a result, blood levels of sodium may be unusually low. If extremely low hormone levels persist, recovery from these renal problems can take longer.
· Nervous System complication– Hypothyroidism can cause problems with the nervous system such as muscle weakness or nerve injury. This can lead to:
- Breathing difficulties
- Trouble walking
- Trouble talking
- Pain in the hands and feet
People with untreated hypothyroidism may also be prone to developing carpal tunnel syndrome.
· Infertility – Hypothyroidism reduces fertility in both men and women. Thyroid hormones regulate the metabolism of sex hormones, which control the production of sperm and eggs. In men, this has been linked to erectile dysfunction, abnormal sperm shape, and decreased libido. Men with hypothyroidism often have low levels of testosterone. Evidence from multiple studies suggest that menstrual problems are three times more frequent in women with hypothyroidism. Variation in flow and irregular menstruation are the most common symptoms.
· Pregnancy complications – Studies have shown that not enough thyroid hormones during pregnancy may cause a few problems. It can increase the risk of miscarriage, preterm birth, or preeclampsia (high blood pressure and possibly protein in the urine during pregnancy or after delivery).
Are There Ways to Improve Hashimoto’s Disease Naturally?
1. Heal Your Gut
Hippocrates said that “All disease begins in the gut”. Did you know that 70 – 80% of your immune system is located in your digestive system? Sounds hard to believe, but it’s true. This is important to know especially if you have Hashimoto’s Disease.
There are several protocols to follow that can help repair the gut. They include the Paleo Diet, AIP (autoimmune protocol), GAPS (Gut and Psychology Syndrome created by Dr. Natasha Campbell-McBride), and low-FODMAP (fermentable, oligosaccharides, disaccharides, monosaccharides, and polyols).
Only you will know which one works best for you AND work with a practitioner to treat any imbalances.
2. Digestive Enzymes – Naturally occurring digestive enzymes help break down food so we can soak up nutrients. The mouth, stomach, and small intestine make some digestive enzymes. However, the majority come from the pancreas. They are lipase, which breaks down fats. Amylase, which breaks down carbohydrates. Proteases and peptidases, which break down proteins. Once nutrients are broken down into small enough molecules, they are absorbed through the wall of the small intestine into the blood and then delivered throughout the body.
3. Probiotics and Prebiotics – Probiotics are the “good” bacteria in the gut and prebiotics are the “food” probiotics need to flourish. When adding a probiotic supplement, there are some important factors to be aware of. There should be 12 – 15 different strains of bacteria. A total of 40 billion CFU (colony forming units) or higher. There should be prebiotics included such as inulin and FOS (fructo-oligosaccharides). Before rushing out to buy a supplement, pro and prebiotics are found in foods.
4. Eat Fermented Foods – These foods contain naturally occurring probiotics and some prebiotics. Here’s a list of some fermented foods:
- Kefir – Kefir is a fermented probiotic milk drink made by adding kefir grains to cow’s or goat’s milk. Kefir grains are not cereal grains, but rather cultures of lactic acid bacteria and yeast that look like cauliflower. If you are lactose intolerant, kefir is not a good option for you.
- Sauerkraut – This is finely chopped cabbage that has been fermented by lactic acid bacteria. This is not true of the sauerkraut in cans. It’s one of the oldest traditional foods and is popular in many countries, especially in Europe. In addition to the probiotics, sauerkraut is rich in fiber, vitamin C, vitamin K, and B vitamins. It also contains iron and manganese. The two antioxidants important for eye health, lutein and zeaxanthin, are also found in sauerkraut. Make sure to choose unpasteurized sauerkraut as pasteurization kills the live and active bacteria. It should be stored in an air-tight container and refrigerated (for up to two months).
- Tempeh – This is a fermented soybean product. Not all soybeans in the US are GMO, so you can get organic tempeh. It forms a firm patty whose flavor is described as nutty, earthy or similar to a mushroom. Tempeh is originally from Indonesia but has become popular worldwide as a high-protein meat substitute. The fermentation also produces vitamin B12, a nutrient that soybeans do not contain.
- Kimchi – Kimchi is a fermented, spicy Korean side dish. It is flavored with a mix of seasonings such as red chili pepper flakes, garlic, ginger, scallion, and salt. It’s made from cabbage and is high in vitamin K, B2, and iron.
- Miso – Miso is a Japanese seasoning. It’s traditionally made by fermenting soybeans with salt and a type of fungus called “koji”. It can be made by mixing soybeans with other ingredients such as barley, rice, and rye. Miso is a good source of protein and fiber. It is also a good source of vitamin K, manganese, and copper.
- Kombucha – Kombucha is a fermented black or green tea drink. This popular tea is fermented by a colony of bacteria and yeast. It is consumed in many parts of the world, especially in Asia. You can even purchase it online. The internet abounds with claims about the potential health benefits of this tea. However, high-quality evidence on kombucha is lacking. The only thing researchers do know is that is does contain beneficial bacteria.
- Pickles – Pickles are cucumbers that have been pickled in a solution of salt and water. They are left to ferment for some time using their own naturally present lactic acid bacteria. This process makes them taste sour. Pickles are low in calories and a good source of vitamin K, an essential nutrient for blood clotting. Keep in mind that pickles also tend to be high in sodium. Pickles made with vinegar do not contain live probiotics.
- Natto – Natto is another fermented soybean product like tempeh and miso. It is a staple in Japanese kitchens, is typically mixed with rice and served with breakfast. Natto is rich in protein and vitamin K2, which is important for bone and cardiovascular health. Natto has many health benefits, too many to list here.
- Spirulina and Chlorella – These are prebiotic foods that will help increase beneficial bacteria in the gut.
5. Reduce Inflammation – There are many foods that cause inflammation in the body. The worst culprits are sugar, refined carbohydrates, vegetable oils (trans fats), dairy products, and gluten (and anything you may have a sensitivity to). There are many more foods, herbs, and spices that can help quell inflammation. To reduce inflammation, it’s best to work with a Dietician, Nutritionist, or Holistic Nutritionist to help you create a meal plan that works for you. You’ll need to balance your Omega 6 to Omega 3 ratio. As you eliminate the foods that cause inflammation, you will be adding foods that quell inflammation such as Omega 3s (EPA and DHA), polyphenols, antioxidants, and folate.
Eating a more nutrient-dense, whole foods, organic diet can be incredibly helpful for repairing damage to the gut as well. Examples of nutrient dense foods: beets, carrots, greens, sweet potatoes, broccoli, cauliflower, and spinach. Other foods to add: Pasture raised grass-fed beef and pastured chicken/ Healthy fats such as avocados, extra virgin olive oil, coconut oil, and nuts (if tolerated)/ Wild-caught fish such as salmon, sardines, mackerel, and shellfish.
It’s not a good idea to create your own diet without having your physician check you for food intolerances first. You can also monitor how you feel with different foods. And, you can track your symptoms by utilizing “pulse testing” to test our intolerance to foods (under a doctor’s supervision). According to the Nutritional Therapy Association, the proper way to pulse test is this: 1. Before you begin, get into a relaxed state. 2. Take the test on am empty stomach, at least two hours after having eaten or drunk anything. First thing in the morning in preferred. 3. Take your pulse for a full minute and record it. This is your base rate. 4.Take a bite of food. Chew it if you like it, but don’t swallow it. Let it sit in your mouth so you can taste it for 30 seconds. 5. With the food still in your mouth, take your pulse for a full minute and record it. 6. If your pulse increases by 6 points or more, spit it out and rinse your mouth before trying another food or until your pulse has returned back to its base rate. If your pulse increases by 6 or more beats over a minute, this potentially indicates a stressful reaction to the food you tested.
6. Reduce or Remove Unnecessary Stressors
· Start Meditating (An easy way to start is to listen to Guided Meditations. Many can be found at chopra.com that you can listen to for free.)
· Focus on Prayer
· Practice Mindfulness
7. Keep an Eye on Your Blood Sugar!
Blood sugar matters to everyone, especially those with Hashimoto’s Disease as it is a large stressor on the body and the endocrine system.
8. Work With an NTP (Nutritional Therapy Practitioner)
An NTP can help you create a meal plan to address issues related to adrenal fatigue and much more. You can also work with a physician who practices Functional Medicine.
Exercise can give you the extra boost you need and help jump-start your metabolism as well.
10. Herbs for Hashimoto’s Disease
Bitter herbs can help stabilize things in the body due to their profound effect on the liver. Since Hashimoto’s Disease can wreak havoc on the liver by inhibiting how many thyroid hormones are active (approx. 60% of the thyroid hormones are converted from T4 to T3 in the liver), it is crucial to promote healthy liver function. The bitter herbs that promote healthy liver function include:
· Gentian (Gentiana lutea)
· Burdock Root (Articum lappa)
· Dandelion Leaf (Taraxacum officinale)
· Goldenseal (Hydrastis canadensis)
· Chamomile (Matricaria recutita)
Incorporating gentle Adaptogen Herbs can help foster stress resilience while instilling a deeper sense of calm and balance throughout the body.
· Ashwagandha (Withania somniferia)
· Rhodiola (Rhodiola rosea)
· Tulsi (Ocimum sanctum and O. tenuiflorum)
AVOID THESE HERBS
· Astragalus (Astragalus membranaceus)
· Echinacea (Echinacea spp.)
· Licorice (Glycyrriza glabra)
· Lemon Balm (Melissa officinalis)
· Panax Ginseng (Panax qulnquefolius)
· Chorella (Chorella vulgaris)
· Motherwort (Leonurus cardiaca)
· Cannabis (Cannabis sativa)
- Rayman MP, Prac Nutr Soc. 2019 Feb; 78 (1): 34-44. Epub 2018 Sep 13.
“History of Zinc Lozenges in Treating and Curing Common Colds”, George Eby Research website (http://george-eby-research.com/html/history.html).
Nourbakhsh M, et al, J Trace Elem Med Biol. 2016 Mar; 34: 10-4. Epub 2015 Nov 18.
- Panda S, Kar A, “Changes in thyroid hormone concentration after administration of ashwagandha root to adult male rice”. J Pharm Pharmacol. (1998).
Disclaimer: The information in this article is for educational purposes ONLY. It is not intended to replace medical advice, diagnose, prevent, treat, or cure any illness. Always discuss any dietary changes or adding supplements with your physician first.
Lifestyle Changes That Benefit Depression and Anxiety
This article describes the dozens of ways to alleviate the symptoms of depression and anxiety without the use of pharmaceutical drugs. It's basically two articles in one, covering topics such as Meditation, Yoga, Sleep, Diet, and a few other suggestions. Feel free to download, print out, and share this article. The information provided just might help someone. Thank you.
Meditation – There are many misconceptions about meditation. First, I'd like to clear up those misconceptions. It does not take a lot of time to meditate – it can be done in only 10 minutes per day. Meditation does not require repeating a mantra, lighting candles, burning incense, or praying to a God. In fact, there are dozens of different meditations to choose from. Loving – Kindness Meditation This is also called Metta Meditation. Its goal is to cultivate an attitude of love and kindness toward everything, even a person's enemies and sources of stress. It can help those affected by anger, frustration, resentment, and interpersonal conflict. This type of meditation may increase positive emotions and has been linked to reduced depression, anxiety, and PTSD. - Body Scan Meditation This meditation encourages people to scan their bodies for areas of tension and allow it to release. It can help promote generalized feelings of calmness and relaxation, help with chronic pain, and sleep. - Mindfulness Meditation Mindfulness is a form of meditation that urges practitioners to remain aware and present in the moment, rather than dwelling on the past or dreading the future. It encourages awareness of a person's existing surroundings. Crucial to this is lack of judgment. So, rather than reflecting on the annoyance of a long wait, a practitioner will simply note the wait without judgment. This meditation can be done anywhere – the grocery store, for example. A person might calmly notice their surroundings, including the sights, sounds, and smells they experience. Research has shown this form of meditation can help with the following: reduce fixation on negative emotions, improve focus, improve memory, lessen impulsive or emotional reactions, and improve relationship satisfaction. Some evidence suggests it may improve health, too. In a study published in the American Journal of Physiology in July 2014, it was found that men with chronic kidney disease could use Mindfulness Meditation to lower their blood pressure. (Ref: Park, J., et al:, Mindfulness Meditation lowers sympathetic nerve activity and blood pressure in African-American males with chronic kidney disease. American Journal of Physiology. 2014 July.) (doi address: doi.org/10.1152/ajpregu.00558.2013) - Kundalini Yoga This is a physically active form of meditation that blends movement, deep breathing, and mantras. It can be learned from a teacher, in a classroom, or at home to improve physical strength and reduce pain. A 2008 study of veterans with chronic low back pain found that Kundalini Yoga reduced pain, increased energy, and improved overall mental health. (Ref: yogajournal.com/yoga-101/types-of-yoga/kundalini) You can copy and paste this URL into your browser to learn how to do Kundalini Yoga properly. - Zen Meditation/ Zazen This form of meditation involves specific steps and postures. It is usually learned from a teacher. This is similar to Mindfulness Meditation, but requires more discipline and practice. People may prefer it if they are seeking both relaxation and a new spiritual path. - Transcendental Meditation People who practice TM report both spiritual experiences and heightened mindfulness. During a TM session, you focus on a word or series of words or a mantra. For example, a mantra could be, “I am not afraid of Public Speaking” and it is repeated while meditating. All you need is a quiet space and 20 minutes. Close your eyes, remain seated, and breathe slowly while repeating the mantra in your mind. - Guided Imagery/ Guided Meditations If you are new to meditating, this is the best way to start. Guided Imagery helps use your imagination to keep yourself calm and relaxed. They can be done with an instructor, recordings, or a script that helps you through the process. Since there is a Mind-Body Connection, you can achieve full body peace just by using your mind to imagine. In Guided Imagery, all of your senses are used, which means that you can see, hear, taste, smell, and feel things just by using your imagination. Here's how to do it without an instructor: * Find a comfortable spot in your home where you can sit or lie down. Allow yourself to relax and close your eyes. * Relax further by taking a few deep, cleansing breaths. * Imagine a place where you are happy and at peace – the beach, your childhood home, your best friend's home, a farm, a forest, etc. * Once you find your 'happy place', focus on the surroundings. What do you see? Hear? Smell? Are you eating something? How does it taste? What are you touching? How does it feel? * Continue to focus on your breathing as well. Breathe at a slow, relaxed pace. * Before you bring yourself back to the present, remember a word, sound, or feeling that will help you remember this feeling in the future. When you're ready, bring yourself back to the present. Tell yourself that you will be safe, relaxed, and calm. * Slowly, open your eyes. Look around the room and locate 2 items that you haven't noticed before or in a long time. * Now you're back in the present. Guided Meditations are the easiest way to start meditating. You can listen to them a chopra.com. Once you are at the site, click on the menu and look at the the menu for 'Library'. Click on Library and you will see the option for online Guided Meditations. Other people offer Guided Meditations that you can download. The two sites I have downloaded from are Christine Marie Sheldon and Tara Brach.
Write Down Your Thoughts Writing can help you relax by managing anxiety, reducing stress, and coping with depression. It can also help you keep track of the people or instances that triggered negative feelings within you, It also gives you space for some self-talk. (Ref: Journaling for Mental Health, University of Rochester Medical Center)
Relax With Yoga Postures You can engage in Restorative Yoga to get your mind and body relaxed. Restorative Yoga is the key element to manage chronic stress. It helps “restore” a balance, peace, and well-being – physically and emotionally. It uses 8 conditions to help your body relax: Physical Comfort, Muscle Release, Warm Skin, Darkness, Pressure on Bones Around the Eyes, Permission to Relax, Holding the Pose for as Long as Possible, and a Reclined or Inverted Posture (not used in all poses). List of a Few Poses: - Sit/Easy Pose (Sukhasana) - Supported Child's Pose (Balasana) - Supported Reclining Bound Angle Pose - Seated Forward Fold (Paschimottanasana) - Legs Up the Wall Pose (Viparita Kirani) - Corpse Pose (Savasana) Locate a qualified Yoga Instructor as they would be the best person to teach you how to practice Restorative Yoga properly. Always ask your physician if you can add this or any type of new, physical activity to your regular routine. (Ref: Rentz, K. YogaNap: Restorative Poses for Deep Relaxation. Da Capo Press, 2005.)
Pamper Yourself With a Massage Massages can help your body in the following ways: - Physically, they help you relax. - They increase your energy and spirit. - A good massage can help improve blood circulation, which maintains cells and accelerates the process of removing toxins from the body. - They provide greater flexibility. - They provide relief from tight muscles and other aches in the body. (Ref: How Can Massage Help My Health and Well-Being?: University of Minnesota)
Improve Your Mood With Music Music has a significant effect on body and emotions. Listening to the music of your choice can help reduce depression, eliminate stress, and help you relax. Fast-paced music will help you concentrate better. Upbeat music can help you feel more optimistic and focus on the more positive things in life. Slow music can help you to relax your muscles and quiet your mind. In one study, it was shown that the degree of likeliness for the music is linked to relaxation. In this study, the participants were asked to rate their level of relaxation by either listening to five types of music or sitting in silence. There is no particular category of music that helped relax better, but the degree of liking the music played a role in how the participants felt. The study had shown that listening to music of your choice can help you relax your mind. (Ref: Stratton, V. and Zalanowski, A. “The Relationship Between Music, degree of liking and self-reported relaxation. Journal of Music Therapy; 21,4 (1984): 184-192.) Another study shows how listening to music can help improve sleep quality in adults. (Ref: DeNiet, G. et al, “Music assisted relaxation to improve sleep quality: meta-analysis.” Journal of Advanced Nursing 65, 7 (2009): 1356-1364.)
Get Plenty of Sleep (7 – 9 hours) Chronic lack of sleep has been linked to a number of health problems including depression, high blood pressure, and diabetes. Although it is common to have the occasional sleepless night, insomnia is the inability to sleep or excessive wakening in the night that impairs daily functioning. The following is a list of things that can help improve sleep:
- Try a cup of Chamomile Tea
- Foods to Improve Sleep – Just as foods can impact health in other areas, foods can contribute to good or bad sleep. Healthy Fats such as coconut oil, eggs, and avocados help provide the necessary building blocks to manufacture sleep hormones. High Antioxidant Foods such as colorful fruits (especially tart cherries) and vegetables, and herbal teas. De-caf green tea is a great choice for after dinner. Not only does it provide antioxidants, it has L-Theanine, which can also help relax you so you can get a good night's sleep. Quality Protein, especially at dinner: For best sleep, it's better to stop eating at least four hours before bedtime. Your evening meal should include vegetables, healthy fats, and quality protein. Eating protein at your evening meal helps keep you satiated throughout the night and helps prepare the body to enter the sleep cycle. Other Foods to Add: Pumpkin Seeds and Aloe Vera Juice. Foods to Avoid: Sugars and carbs, especially at night, can cause a blood sugar spike and crash that will lead to difficulty falling and staying asleep. Grains can cause physical stress in the body, which alters the hormone cycle and can impede sleep. Vegetable Oils (no one should consume them anyway) can cause problems in the hormone cycle, as hormones need healthy fats for production and giving the body the wrong building blocks for hormones can wreak havoc with hormone production.
- Nutrients to Improve Sleep: Good Quality Omega 3s. I've written several articles on this subject. Basically, you need to balance your Omega 6 to Omega 3 ratio. If you are looking for an Omega 3 supplement, go to the source of Omega 3s, marine algae. Fish get Omega 3s from eating Krill, Krill eat marine algae. I no longer suggest that people should eat more fish such as wild-caught salmon or tuna. I don't like the way fish are removed from the seas, our oceans are over-fished leaving nothing for other sea creatures to feed on, and the fish we eat have been shown to have toxic chemicals in their flesh such as lead, cadmium, chromium, arsenic, PCBs, and mercury. Sorry for getting on my soapbox. It's my duty to let you know the truth, even if it's ugly. Magnesium: Many people are deficient in magnesium and this can have a big impact on sleep quality. If you opt for a supplement, check with your physician to see which form and how much you should take. You don't want to end up taking the type that will give you diarrhea. Lemon Balm: If you remember high school history class, you may have heard of Charlemagne. He is known as the Father of Modern Europe and was crowned Holy Roman Emperor in the year 800 AD. What you didn't know about him is that he is responsible for one of the greatest sleep breakthroughs. Charlemagne was so impressed by the calming effects of the herb Lemon Balm that he had it planted at all the monasteries and medicinal gardens throughout his vast kingdom. He wanted this herb to be available to the masses. In a double-blind placebo-controlled study, the participants who took 600 mg of Lemon Balm daily reported feeling significantly less anxiety. In another international study, Lemon Balm extract helped relieve anxiety and reduce sleep disturbances in 95% of the participants. Lemon Balm works by raising the levels of GABA, the neurotransmitter that helps promote sleep. Before you purchase any supplement, please discuss it with your physician. Your doctor can tell you if there are any interactions or if you can take that supplement at all. Other Herbal Supplements: Magnolia extract, Passion Flower, Ziniphus extract, Lettuce Seed extract, Kava, and Valerian Root. *Before taking any supplement, discuss it with your physician first! (Ref: ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19962288)
- Have a Bedtime Routine * Wake up and go to bed at the same time, even on weekends to keep your hormone cycle regular. * Turn off WiFi at night as the EMFs can effect sleep quality * Remove all artificial light from your bedroom including TV, alarm clock (put a dry wash cloth or towel over it), and no night lights or cellphones. If you're in the habit of charging your cellphone next to your bed, keep the phone faced down while charging to avoid seeing the light as you're falling asleep. * Diffuse high quality, therapeutic-grade essential oils such as Lavender, Cedarwood, Ylang Ylang, or Roman Chamomile. You can use one or a combination of them. For a more detailed list, see my article posted on May 11, 2019. * Keep the temperature around 65-72 degrees F. There are other ways to keep cool including cooling blankets or weighted blankets that help with sleep. * Try some white noise like sounds of rain, ocean, or Gregorian chants. * Dry brush your skin a few hours before bedtime. * Take a soothing Lavender bath an hour before bedtime. Fill the tub with warm water, then add 10-15 drops of a high quality therapeutic-grade Lavender essential oil. Turn on some relaxing music and soak in the tub for 25-30 minutes. The music, Lavender, and the bath itself will all help promote a good night's sleep.
One Session of CBT (Cognitive Behavioral Therapy) was found to be sufficiently effective for those with acute insomnia.
Always remember to believe in yourself and train your mind to see the good in every situation.
You CAN do this!!!
Disclaimer: The information in this article is for educational purposes only. It is not intended to replace medical advice, diagnose, prevent, treat, or cure any illness. Before making any changes to your regular routine or taking supplements, always discuss it with your physician.
NUTRITION TO HELP BOOST MOOD
May is Mental Health Awareness Month. Approximately 1 in 5 adults in the Unites States (46.6 million) experiences mental illness in a given year. Approximately 1 in 25 adults in the US (11.2 million) experiences a serious mental illness in a given year that substantially interferes with or limits one or more major life activities. More facts: 20% of youth ages 13 – 18 live with a mental health condition. 11% of youth have a mood disorder. 10% of youth have a behavior or conduct disorder. 8% of youth have an anxiety disorder. The most disturbing fact is that the 3rd leading cause of death in youth ages 10 – 24 is suicide and 90% of those who die by suicide had an underlying mental illness. (Ref: NAMI: National Alliance on Mental Illness; nami.org)
The Key Nutrients Are:
Thiamine (vitamin B1)
Best Sources of The Key Nutrients:
Uma Naidoo recommends the following foods:
Beans - small Red Beans - these contain B vitamins, iron, magnesium, and thiamine (B1).
Fermented Foods - Kimchi & sauerkraut (not the canned kind) - these foods help build up the healthy or "good bacteria" in your gut.
Fruits - Avocados and berries - contains B vitamins, magnesium. potassium, vitamin C, and many beneficial antioxidants.
Leafy Greens - spinach, collards and kale - contain B vitamins, iron, magnesium, zinc, vitamins A, and E.
Legumes - including lentils - contain B vitamins, iron, magnesium, and zinc.
Meats - grass fed beef - contains B vitamins, iron, vitamin A, and zinc.
Nuts - including almonds. cashews, and walnuts - contain magnesium, B vitamins, Omega 3 fatty acids, selenium, and vitamin E.
Oils - including olive and fish oil - contain Omega 3 fatty acids and vitamin E.
Krill and Algae oils contain high amounts of the Omega 3 fatty acids, EPA and DHA.
Seafood - Wild-caught salmon, herring, tuna, and anchovies - contain Omega 3 fatty acids, B vitamins, iron, magnesium, selenium, and zinc.
Seeds - chia, flax, and sunflower seeds - contain Omega 3 fatty acids, magnesium, vitamins B1 and E, and zinc.
Spices - ginger and turmeric - contain magnesium, and vitamins B1, B6, C, and E.
Whole Grains - farro, quinoa, buckwheat, and wild rice - contain protein, iron, magnesium, selenium, and vitamin B1, and zinc.
Important Information on Omega 3 Fatty Acids:
A study published in the World Journal of Psychiatry found the following:
The Omega 3 fatty acid EPA supplementation in Bipolar Disorder has been observed to increase brain N-acetyl-aspartate, a marker for neuronal health. EPA supplementation for 9 months also increased the ratio of cerebral phosphomonesters to phosphodiesters, an indicator of phospholipid turnover, and reversed brain atrophy in subjects with Major Depressive Disorder. And, EPA amounts greater than 60% of DHA positively affected depression outcome.
Disclaimer: This information is for educational purposes only. It is not intended to replace medical advice, diagnose, prevent, treat or cure any illness. Always discuss any dietary changes with your physician first.
ESSENTIAL OILS FOR DEPRESSION
Two thirds of us experience Mental Health problems at some point in our lives. A recent study at the Mental Health Foundation found that 30% of all adults (1 in every 3 adults) have so stressed that they felt overwhelmed or unable to cope. Depression is the predominant mental health problem worldwide, followed by anxiety, schizophrenia, and bipolar disorder. (1)
Top 20 Essential Oils for Depression:
1. Bergamot Essential Oil (EO) – It has been shown in studies to normalize and balance the brain's chemistry. Bergamot is also great for anxiety. (ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21105176)
2. Cedarwood EO – This oil helps with the symptoms of both depression and anxiety. In one study, the Australian Red Cedarwood EO was hailed as a “new candidate for curing depressive disorders”. (ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25465853)
3. Clary Sage EO – This oil demonstrates mood-enhancing activity even when mood is altered due to changes associated with menopause. Clary Sage influences brain chemistry to help restore normal levels of key brain chemicals responsible for depression and thyroid function. It is also useful for stress relief and as a sleep aid. (ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24802524 and ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20441789)
4. Frankincense EO – In a 2008 study, Frankincense EO was diffused with Lavender and Bergamot to ease depression in terminally ill patients. Not only did it improve their depression, it helped alleviate their pain as well. (Ref: Young Chang, So. (2008). Effects of Aroma Hand Massage on Pain, State of Anxiety and Depression in Hospice Patients with Terminal Cancer. Taehan Kanho Hakhoe chi. 38. 493 – 502.)
5. Geranium EO – In one study, this oil was used on 120 women experiencing depression due to menopause. The EO was applied using a technique called Aromatherapy Massage, once a week for eight weeks. The results: Evidence shows that Aromatherapy Massage improves depression through improving blood flow in the frontal cortex of the brain. The results of this study consider Aromatherapy Massage beneficial in improving symptoms of depression and recommend it as a complementary therapy. (Ref: Rafsanjanis, S. et al.; “Comparison of the Efficacy of Massage and Aromatherapy Massage With Geranium on Depression in Postmenopausal Women: A Clinical Trial”; J Res Med Sci; Feb 2014.)
6. German Chamomile EO – Chamomile is known to be soothing and calming to several body systems. Chamomile essential oils (Roman and German) also significantly decrease symptoms of depression and anxiety when diffused during times of low motivation or stress. These oils are not only helpful for depression and anxiety, they are also helpful for stomach upset (as seen in Chamomile Tea).
7. Lavender EO – This has to be the most versatile of the essential oils. Lavender EO can help with depressed feelings, improve mood, restore motivation levels, and support other healing efforts.
8. Lemon EO – All citrus essential oils have a role in addressing depression, but Lemon's uplifting effects may be the most powerful of all. Not only does Lemon EO help improve feelings of depression, it also helps lift “brain fog”, which frequently accompanies symptoms of depression. Lime EO needs to be mentioned here as it is considered to be just as effective as Lemon EO for depression. It helps with feelings of anxiety, dread, and hopelessness. To make a Mood Boosting Room Spray, get a small glass spray bottle (make sure to use a glass bottle as essential oils can eat away at plastic), add 2 ounces of 190 proof alcohol and 10 drops of Lime EO. Shake well before each time you spray some to boost your mood.
9. Lemon Balm EO/ Melissa EO – Lemon Balm helps to relieve agitation, reduce social withdrawal, increase time spent on constructive activities, improves brain chemistry, and it works synergistically with Lavender EO.
10. Lemongrass EO – This EO has been used to treat stress disorders in addition to lemongrass tea being used as a traditional remedy for depression and agitation. Lemongrass EO's neuroprotective properties are so strong, it may be useful in the treatment for epilepsy and other seizure disorders. (ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3817747/)
11. Nutmeg EO – When diffused, Nutmeg EO closely resembled the intended results of antidepressant medications without the dangerous side effects. The effects of Nutmeg EO were increased when combined with Thai Black Ginger, a variety closely related to common Ginger Root or Ginger EO. (ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5634759)
12. Neroli EO – Distilled from the flowers of the bitter orange tree, Neroli EO demonstrates anti-anxiety effects. Studies have shown that people who use it have improved hormonal mood and less stress.
13. Sweet Orange EO – This oil helps by improving the ability to visually concentrate on tasks, making it ideal for use with young children, According to studies, Sweet Orange EO was consistently found to be helpful for treating anxiety and to have a tranquilizing, de-stressing effect. (ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20211673)
14. Palmarosa EO – A sweet smelling grass in the lemongrass family, Palmarosa EO has been proposed as a potential natural source of MAO inhibitors without the side effects of pharmaceuticals. (ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3162958)
15. Peppermint EO – This EO can increase motivation, vigor, cerebral cortex stimulation, boost mood, alertness, and even relaxation.
16. Rose EO – This is one of the most precious essential oils. Diffusing Rose EO helps bring on feelings of relaxation and comfort. It has also been shown to relieve depression and feelings of distress.
17. Rosemary EO – In 2013 and 2017 studies, Rosemary EO was shown to have Mental Health benefits. It was shown to exhibit antidepressant activity within two weeks when diffused for 30 minutes per day. Rosemary EO helps improve stress response, helps clinical depression, and protects the brain. (ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23085339 and ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5741888/)
18. Sandalwood EO – This EO demonstrates a powerful grounding, antidepressant activity when inhaled or diffused.
19. Vetiver EO – The scent of this EO is calming, grounding, and earthy. It is superior to other essential oils in reducing the symptoms of ADHD. Vetiver EO was shown to have similar anti-anxiety actions of pharmaceutical drugs without the harmful side effects. (ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmeb/25553641)
20. Ylang Ylang EO – This EO works directly on brain chemicals to reduce anxiety and depression. Researchers have found it to be sedative and calming, to impart a harmonizing effect, and reduce symptoms of both anxiety and depression. (ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4534619)
Uplifting Diffuser Blend
1 drop each of:
Lemon, Bergamot, Ylang Ylang, Frankincense, Lemon Balm, and Lavender
For proper dilution, it's best if you work with a certified Aromatherapist or purchase essential oils from a reputable company with the essential oils diluted in a carrier oil. Make sure the essential oil company only sells high quality, therapeutic grade oils.
(1) Vos, T., et al. (2013) Global, regional, and national incidence, prevalence, and years lived with disability for 301 acute and chronic diseases and injuries in 188 countries, 1990-2013: A systematic analysis for the Global Burden of Disease study. The Lancet. 386 (9995), 743-800.
Disclaimer: The information in this article is for educational purposes only. It is not intended to replace medical advice, diagnose, prevent, treat, or cure any illness. Always consult your physician before making any changes to your current protocol.
THE GUT-BRAIN CONNECTION
Have you ever had a “gut-wrenching” experience? Do certain situations make you “feel nauseous”? Have you ever felt “butterflies in your stomach”? These expressions exist for a reason. The gastrointestinal tract is sensitive to emotion – anger, anxiety, sadness, elation – all of those feelings (and others) can trigger symptoms in the gut.
The brain has a direct effect on the gut and intestines. To understand how the gut and brain are connected, here is an example: a person's stomach or intestines distress can be the cause or product of anxiety, stress, or depression. More information goes from the gut to the brain the brain to the gut.
Two neurotransmitters, serotonin and dopamine, are mostly manufactured in the gut. A whopping 85% of them. When holes or 'cracks' are created in the lining of the intestinal walls, a condition is created called intestinal permeability or better known as Leaky Gut Syndrome. Many researchers and scientists believe that a dysfunctional GI tract can be the root cause of depression, anxiety, and related disorders due to a reduction of these neurotransmitters. Therefore, the first and crucial step is to heal the gut.
What Causes Leaky Gut or Intestinal Permeability?
- Many prescription and OTC drugs can cause holes or “cracks” in the intestinal walls.
- The Standard American Diet (SAD) is a major contributor to the cause of Leaky Gut Syndrome.
- GMOs (Genetically Modified Organisms) were introduced in 1994 to certain crops. They were supposed to increase the resistance of species to pathogens/parasites to agricultural crops. They were also supposed to be the “cure” to end world hunger. However, that hasn't happened. The truth is that GMOs are in crops such as corn, soy, papaya, vegetable oils, cotton, certain varieties of tomatoes, peppers, potatoes, and in some meats (they eat GMO crops). Basically, every times you ingest a GMO food, you are eating two chemicals, glyphosate and bt (bacillus thuringensis, a pesticide). They have been shown in studies to be cancer-causing substances. They are also linked to autism, autoimmune disorders, and gastrointestinal disorders such as Leaky Gut Syndrome. Here's a visual example, if you have ever sprayed RoundUp on a dandelion, you've seen what happens to it. It shrivels up and dies. Well, GMO foods have the same chemical, glyphosate, in them. So when you eat them, remember the dandelion. That's what is happening to your intestinal lining.
Symptoms of Leaky Gut Syndrome
weight loss or gain
recent loss of interest in sex
difficulty completing work assignments
changes in the amount of alcohol or food you consume
taking up or smoking more cigarettes
increased desire to withdraw from others
increased desire to be with others
rumination (frequently talking or brooding about stressful situations)
overwhelming sense of tension or pressure
lack of focus or concentration
trouble remembering things
loss of sense of humor
How Do I Repair Leaky Gut Syndrome?
Step 1 – Find the root cause of your Leaky Gut. Is it food-related? Drug-related?
Step 2 – Find a nutritionist or holistic nutritionist to help you create a new meal plan. You'd be surprised by how many healthy foods you can add to your diet that are delicious and good for you!!
Step 3 – Enjoy feeling better once you've eliminated the triggers that caused Leaky Gut.
Disclaimer - The information provided is for educational purposes only. It is not intended to replace medical advice, diagnose, prevent, treat, or cure any illness. Always discuss any changes in your regular routine with your physician.
Are You Tired of Wearing Glasses?
Learn How To Improve Your Vision NATURALLY
The following information is taken from actual scientific studies. Not only can you reverse vision loss, you can prevent age-related diseases of the eyes. Sounds impossible? Well, it’s not! With some simple nutritional changes, you can notice improvements in your vision within ONE month.
The Main Reasons for Vision Loss
Environmental Toxins – These are found closer than you think. Toxins are in shampoos, conditioners, hair styling products, household cleaners, etc.
Eye Malnourishment – To find the foods that support eye health, read this article in its entirety.
Ocular Atrophy – Eyes are not being used as they were intended, looking near and far. We spend far too much time looking at our smartphones, computer, and TV screens.
First, the studies:
- A study published in The Journal of Investigative Ophthalmology identified the nutrients necessary to prevent aging eye concerns and help the muscles that control eye movement. (Published 2012)
- Several studies conducted by Professor Hugh Taylor from the University of Melbourne’s Indigenous Health Unit confirmed that the Aboriginal people of Australia have the best vision in the world. (2008-2018)
- A study conducted by Scott W. Tunis, MD, FACS in Wilmington, NC identified 11 antioxidants that inhibit cataract formation and progression by up to 15%. (06/2015 - 12/2015)
- A study published in the British Journal of Nutrition identified two (2) nutrients responsible for reducing the risk of developing cataracts by 40% in elderly Finnish people.
- AREDS (Age-Related Eye Disease Study, 10/2001) study found two (2) nutrients that reduce the risk of vision loss by 18% and the risk of developing Advanced AMD (Age-Related Macular Degeneration) by 25%. (Ref: nei.nih.gov/amd)
- AREDS2 (2006 – 2013) This follow-up study of AREDS identified two (2) nutrients that reduced the risk of developing AMD by 18%. (Ref: nei.nih.gov/areds2)
What are these nutrients?
- Lutein and Zeaxanthin – These two (2) nutrients were identified in Studies 4 – 6 (above) to have the biggest benefits for eye health.
Both are found in eggs, kiwi, red seedless grapes, orange bell peppers, Brussels sprouts, dark leafy greens such as spinach, kale, broccoli, and green beans. If you choose to add eggs daily, do not mix the white and yolk when cooking. Best eaten soft boiled, over-easy, sunny side up, or poached.
- Omega-3 fatty acids – These are the essential fatty acids that have preventive effects of aging eye concerns. They also help the nerves and muscles that control eye movement. The DHA in Omega-3s have the most beneficial properties.
The best sources of DHA are wild-caught salmon, cod, sardines, and anchovies. Krill Oil and Algae Oil have the highest amount of DHA.
- Alpha Lipoic Acid (ALA) – This antioxidant has been used successfully to help control symptoms of eye-related disorders including vision loss, Macular Degeneration, retina damage, cataracts, glaucoma, and Wilson’s Disease.
Disclaimer: This information is for educational purposes ONLY. It is not intended to replace medical advice, diagnose, prevent, treat, or cure, any illness. Always discuss any changes to your diet or adding supplements with your physician first.
Are You Getting Enough Vitamin B12?
Signs you may be deficient in B12:
- “Senior” moments
- Sleepless nights
- Mood swings
- Numbness and tingling in hands and feet
- Loss of appetite/Weight loss
- Difficulty maintaining balance
- Soreness of the mouth or tongue
In a recent study at Tuft’s University, researchers found that nearly 1 in 4 people over the age of 26 (in the United States) are borderline deficient in vitamin B12, some of whom may already be experiencing symptoms.
Why is B12 so important?
B12 is one of the building blocks your body uses to produce DNA.
It is vital for red blood cell formation, growth, and repair.
Proper levels of B12 keep your immune system functioning normally.
B12 is necessary to regulate mood.
It helps regulate sleep cycles.
B12 helps lessen the harmful effects of the “stress hormone”, homocysteine.
New research has shown B12’s role in protecting your brain and entire nervous system by keeping the nerves communicating optimally.
Scientists at Rush University Medical Center in Chicago found those who had markers linked to a vitamin B12 deficiency were more likely to have the smallest brains. They scored the lowest on tests measuring short-term memory, concentration, and other thinking processes.
Another study published in the journal Neurology in 2011, showed that older people with high levels of B12 in their blood have bigger, healthier brains and score higher on cognitive tests than those with lower levels.
How much B12 do I need and where do I get it?
The RDA (Recommended Daily Allowance) of vitamin B12 for adults over the age 14 in men and women is 2.4 mcg daily. In supplements, methylcobalamin is the form that researchers have found to be the safest and most effective to use daily.
Best Sources of Vitamin B12:
Clams, 3 oz. c 84.1 mcg
Nutritional Yeast (fortified w/100% of B12) 6.0 mcg
Rainbow Trout, 3 oz. cooked 5.4 mcg
Sockeye Salmon, 3 oz. cooked 4.8 mcg
Tuna, light (canned in water) 3 oz. 2.5 mcg
Swiss Cheese, 1 oz. .9 mcg
- JAMA. 2002; 288(16): 2015-2022.
- Am J Clin Nutr. 1999; 69(3): 564-571.
Disclaimer: This informational is for educational purposes ONLY. It is not meant to replace medical advice, diagnose, prevent, treat, or cure and illnesses. Always consult your physician before making any dietary changes.