Alison Cullen is a Nutritional Therapist with a special interest in Phytotherapy.
Ali will endeavour to give the best advice based on the information provided. However, it is always advisable to have a face-to-face consultation with a doctor or health care practitioner to obtain a diagnosis of any health matter which is concerning you.
Q I am menopausal and have been coping quite well apart from the hot flushes. I find these increasingly difficult to cope with, especially in public, and recently they have started getting worse at night, which is making it hard to sleep.
A It is very important to get sufficient sleep, as without it everything seems harder! There are several things that you can do.
Make sure you are drinking at least 1.5 litres of still water e very day, and avoid tea and coffee as they can trigger flushes.
Take 200i.u. vitamin E daily. This can sometimes be more effective if you take selenium with it.
The herb to try first is Sage (Salvia officinalis), as it alleviates the sweats without affecting your hormones. If the sweats are worse at night, take 15 drops during the day and 30 drops at night. If you have no other symptoms, this herb will probably work for you.
You may find that later on in the menopause Sage becomes less effective, in which case it is worth switching to Black Cohosh.
Many women, however, find that Sage is all they need to get them through – there is no reason why the menopause should be accompanied by a plethora of symptoms, so if you have none, don’t worry!
Q I have started waking up early in the morning – about 4am – and being unable to get back to sleep again. It's driving me demented. What can I do?
A One of the reasons for early waking is low blood sugar. If you are eating your last meal at 5 to 6pm, by the time you get to 4 to 5am you haven’t had anything to eat for nearly 12 hours and your blood sugar levels can have fallen quite substantially. This is particularly likely if you feel quite nauseous when you get up, as low blood sugar in the morning causes this. Have a snack before you go to bed – it doesn’t have to be anything huge, maybe some oatcakes or some mixed seeds (pumpkin, sesame and sunflower) – and see if that helps.
Q My husband has been told he has a prostate problem – prostatic hypertrophy. It is not cancerous or anything, but he doesn’t want to take the medication because it may make him impotent.
A Benign Prostatic Hypertrophy is a common problem in men over 50, and even in some younger men. The prostate gland surrounds the bladder opening and when it becomes enlarged (which is pretty much inevitable as men get older) it makes it harder to urinate effectively.
It is true that many of the available medications have side effects such as impotence and erectile dysfunction.
Saw Palmetto is a useful herb in this situation. Several clinical trials have found this to be the case, so I can confidently recommend it as an alternative for your husband.
Q Is there a natural deodorant/anti-perspirant I can use as I am worried by the latest research linking chemical products to breast cancer?
A There are many natural deodorants available that contain no harmful contents and are perfectly safe to apply in the sensitive area under the arm (in close proximity to lymph glands). Salt of the Earth is one that will last you many months, benefiting your wallet as well as your body. When you apply it to your skin a thin layer of minerals is deposited which inhibit the growth of the bacteria that make you smell. The minerals do not, however, clog up your pores and prevent you from sweating, as this is a dangerous thing to do: the body needs to be able to eliminate toxins and waste products through the pores. Salt of the Earth is hypoallergenic and contains no worrying ingredients. It will not stain your clothes and has not been tested on animals. Perfect!
We regret that it is not possible for us to print answers to all the letters Ali receives. Remember that back issues of Healthy Way articles and Ask Ali are available on this website.