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.
QI took HRT for over 10 years, stopping in 2007. Since then I have tried different remedies to counteract hot flushes, palpitations, night sweats, etc. that plague me. Someone suggested Agnus castus. Would this be of benefit? There are so many remedies to choose from and I need to find the right one.
AAgnus castus is exactly the wrong thing for you and would probably worsen your symptoms considerably! The withdrawal from HRT entails cutting oestrogen levels drastically, which gives you the symptoms you describe. Agnus castus pushes oestrogen down even further as it boosts the production of progesterone. The herb you need is Black Cohosh, which attaches to oestrogen receptors (but not those in the breast tissue or uterine tissue, thus avoiding the risk of cancers in those areas) and therefore increases the body’s perception of oestrogen and gets rid of the low oestrogen symptoms.
I recommend an extract of Black Cohosh, tincture for preference as it works faster than tablets or capsules. You should see some improvements within a month. If you don’t, then add an extract of Sage at breakfast and tea time and then again before you go to bed.
In the meantime, drink heaps of still, plain water (have it warm/hot if you prefer), avoid coffee like the plague (it triggers flushes) and keep to a maximum of 2 cups of tea and no fizzy drinks every day.
Q I am a 44-year old female and have recently started suffering from hair loss. I have been to my GP and have undergone numerous blood tests, i.e. iron, thyroid, testosterone, kidney, liver, and menopause—all satisfactory. My GP diagnosed androgenic alopecia as my hair is receding and thinning at the crown. I am being referred to a dermatologist for a second opinion. Obviously I am very distressed at this and the fact that I may end up bald. Is there anything you can suggest that may be able to help me?
AIt’s horribly scary when this happens, so it’s a good idea to start taking vitamin B complex and Passiflora tincture, to keep your nervous system on track whilst you work out the cause. Actually, B deficiency and anxiety can contribute to hair loss, so they have a doubly beneficial effect!
If it is mainly a male-pattern thinning, then it could be an upsurge of inflammatory male hormones, which can be countered by taking Saw Palmetto. Women don’t have a prostate but Saw palmetto may tackle the inflammatory hormones that also cause the thinning hair. Or it could be the result of stress. The B vitamins and Passiflora will deal with this, and you can also do a bit of a life review to see if your lifestyle may be making too many demands on you.
In the meantime, improving your diet so that you’re eating high quality foods with plenty of minerals (e.g. heaps of fruit and vegetables, lots of dried fruit instead of sugar, no caffeine, lots of water, fish and beans/pulses/grains instead of red meat) and no fast foods or highly refined/processed foods, will help. I’ve found that many people’s tests for iron come back ok but actually they benefit from taking an iron supplement. There is also a supplement called Silicea, which gives you silica for healthy hair growth. Bear in mind that new hair will take about three months to come through, so don’t panic if things don’t change immediately.
QI have the first stages of osteoporosis. I have tried many types of prescribed medication but all have side effects. My GP told me to take calcium and vitamin D for about four weeks while she did some research on other medications. Can you recommend anything?
AThere are heaps of factors that can affect osteoporosis, all of which are down to lifestyle choices and don’t involve side effects.
1. Do some gentle exercise such as walking for 20 to 30 minutes every day.
2. Avoid caffeine in all its forms.
3. Reduce intake of alcohol & refined sugar.
4. Don’t smoke...
5. Address any stress factors, as they interfere with digestion and make it harder for you to absorb calcium properly. If stress is hard to eliminate take a bitter remedy, eg. Centaurium, to improve your ability to absorb calcium from your food.
6. Vegetarians and vegans are less likely to get osteoporosis, so reduce the meat and dairy content of your diet and focus on dark-coloured fruit and berries, and plenty of green vegetables.
7. Take a magnesium supplement alongside your calcium and vitamin D, because humans don’t absorb calcium without magnesium. Liquid magnesium absorbs very well. Your calcium supplement should contain calcium citrate, which is more easily absorbed. Calcium carbonate is basically chalk, and doesn’t break down well in humans!
8. Take a calcium supplement.
9. Get your thyroid and parathyroid checked, as they can affect your calcium status.