Agnus castus – an ally easing through Peri-menopause

This valuable herbal medicine comes from a plant that is native to the Mediterranean plant. The medicinal effect is extracted from the ripe dried fruits of this shrub. In ancient Greece, Rome, and Egypt, Agnus castus was tightly interwoven in religious traditions, while being firmly embedded in the medical practices of the time. Also known as Vitex Agnus castus, ‘Chaste-berry’, or as ‘monk’s pepper’, one of it’s ancient traditional uses was that of an anti-aphrodisiac; a remedy to diminish sexual desire. It’s use was therefore wide spread amongst monks who had pledged chastity. Quite interestingly, since then, numerous sources have stated that Agnus can curb the sexual appetite in men, but acts as an aphrodisiac in women.

Agnus’ application however has broadened with time and it has become an important remedy for gynaecological complaints in women. It’s action radius is vast, as Agnus castus has shown effect in various menstrual disturbances. It has been found to ease premenstrual complaints, to regularize periods, to balance blood flow, and to assist through the peri-menopausal & menopausal transition.

Particularly in Peri-menopause, Agnus has become invaluable to many women that are not to keen to, or are unable to take synthetic hormonal support for balancing hormones, in order to relieve of associated symptoms and discomforts.

Peri-menopause is defined as the time-period of up to 10 years prior to actual menopause. During this transitional phase women’s hormonal levels begin to change, causing alterations in women’s menstrual cycles. As the production of hormones becomes unbalanced, the menstrual pattern of women becomes irregular and erratic. Women may experience an increasing severity of PMS (pre-menstrual syndrome), alterations in menstrual bleeding, such as longer duration and greater intensity, and other physical and emotional discomforts including hot flashes, mood swings, insomnia, loss of libido and weight gain amongst others. While for some women this pre-phase runs smoothly without much discomfort, some women may have severe symptoms that impact their everyday life immensely.

While Menopause, the one year following a woman’s last period, after which she is no longer able to become pregnant, is characterized by ever lowering levels of oestrogen (and other hormones), Peri-menopause typically sees sinking and fluctuating levels of progesterone. This generally sees oestrogen becoming dominant, over the progesterone, leading to the above described discomforts and complaints. Such dominance can, beyond the above mentioned symptoms, lead to menstrual flooding, extra periods, and spotting during the latter half of the menstrual cycle. This is where Agnus castus can become helpful.

Agnus castus itself is not a hormone, not a plant/phyto-hormone, but, its biochemical constituents can trigger the mechanisms that adjust the production of those hormones that characterize the menstrual cycle. It appears to be able to stimulate and balance the function of the pituitary gland by inhibit the secretion of follicle stimulating hormone and stimulating the secretion of luteinizing hormone, which conversely regulates the production of progesterone in the body, as such recreating harmony in the oestrogen/progesterone balance. Consequentially this means that Agnus castus can regulate ovulation, hence can assist at finding balance again, after the use of contraceptives, and can, as such, promote fertility. Since the imbalance of hormones is the main factor associated with Peri-menopause, Agnus castus is a true game changer for many women during this transitional phase.

The use of Agnus castus for its ‘hormone balancing’ impact is has to be administered for an extended period of time, at least over 4 to 6 months, for a full and lasting effect. Please note adverse effects as stated by manufacturers, and refer to the package insert for dosage and administration instructions.

References/Bibliography:

MAYO, J. (1998) ‘Black Cohosh and Chasteberry: Herbs Valued by Women for Centuries’,CLINICAL NUTRITION INSIGHTS,Vol. 6(No.15), pp. 1-4.

Prior J. (2010)Progesterone Therapy for Symptomatic Perimenopause, The Canadian Fertility and Andrology Society conference 2010: Centre for Menstrual Cycle and Ovulation Research.

DiPasquale. R. (2015)INSIGHTS INTO VITEX AGNUS-CASTUS, PAST AND PRESENT,Available at:https://ndnr.com/pain-medicine/insights-into-vitex-agnus-castus-past-and-present/(Accessed: January 2019).

MedicineNet (2018)9 Signs of Perimenopause,Available at:https://www.medicinenet.com/script/main/art.asp?articlekey=8943(Accessed: January 2019).

The Root Circle (2018)Vitex For Female Health And Hormonal Balance, Available at:https://therootcircle.com/blog/2018/4/28/vitex-and-all-her-mysteries (Accessed: January 2019).

Weed, S. (2002) New Menopausal Years, 1st edn., New York: Ash Tree Publishing.

Women in Balance Institute (2019)Perimenopause & Menopause Defined,Available at:https://womeninbalance.org/about-hormone-imbalance/perimenopause-menopause-defined/(Accessed: January 2019).

Gentle recommendations for heart and circulatory health

Pic via pixabay.com
Pic via pixabay.com

In order to maintain a healthy heart and blood circulation it is not wrong to occasionally take supportive measures. Sufficient movement in fresh air, moderate exercise, such as walking or swimming, or hot / cold alternating baths, are true restorers and preservers of a healthy heart and blood circulation. Proper hydration and healthy eating do the rest for good circulation.

But there are also other methods to support the system.

Red wine is good for you!

pic via pixabay.com
pic via pixabay.com

Scientific studies have repeatedly demonstrated that red wine is good for your heart! However, only in moderation! With a moderate consumption of red wine, which means no more than 150ml per day, such consumption can reduce the risk of heart disease by about 30%. The reason for this, researchers have found in the composition of the wine. The ingestion of flavonoids and resveratrol, the main constituents of the wine, results in dilation of the blood vessels and thus increase blood flow. Blood clotting is reduced and the formation of clots thereby limited. This in turn reduces the risk of heart attack and stroke. Incidentally, more recent studies have provided evidence that white wine too has these properties.

The Hildegard heart tonic

By Miniatur aus dem Rupertsberger Codex des Liber Scivias., Public Domain, httpscommons.wikimedia.orgwindex.phpcurid=1718595.jpg
By Miniatur aus dem Rupertsberger Codex des Liber Scivias., Public Domain, httpscommons.wikimedia.orgwindex.phpcurid=1718595.jpg

Hildegard von Bingen (1098 – 17.09.1179) already ascribed a healing effect to red wine. The abbess recommended the ingestion of ‘Heart-wine’ to strengthen the heart and the revitalization the circulatory system. This recipe however, not solely consists of red wine, but is a concoction of wine, parsley and honey. The relaxing and calming effect of the Heart-wine potion on the cardiovascular system may, apart from the wine, come from the vitamin- and mineral- rich composition of the parsley, and the antioxidant properties of the honey. Together these ingredients cause the coronary arteries to expand, lower the blood pressure and strengthen the heart.

Hildegard heart-wine:

* 10 parsley stems

* 2 tablespoons wine vinegar

* 1 litre of red wine

* 200 – 250ml Honey

In preparing the wine, the parsley stems, vinegar and wine are placed in a pot to boil. The concoction should simmer for 5 to 8 minutes. Then the concoction should be strained and left to cool. The honey should only be added once the mixture has cooled to merely lukewarm. Adding the honey to the hot brew is likely to ruin the effective ingredients contained in the honey.

It is recommended to consume a liqueur-glass of this ‘Heart-wine’, up to three times a day, to relieve said heart problems, and strengthen the heart

Hawthorn – Crataegus

pic via pixabay.com
pic via pixabay.com
pic via pixabay.com
pic via pixabay.com

Crataegus is the Latin name for Hawthorn.

It grows as a low tree, rather a bush, whose white flowers bloom in spring. Its fruits ripen towards late summer and autumn, and are of a fiery red colour. Hawthorn belongs to the genus of the rose family, and there are between 100 and 200 different species. It grows along roadsides and in hedges.

Its potential as a medicinal plant is focal on, in particular, the weak, and elderly heart. Accordingly, preparations of hawthorn are recommended for patients with decreasing cardiac output or cardiac insufficiency, the senile heart, arrhythmia, and the sensation of a narrowing or pressure in the region of the heart. Crataegus also has a stabilizing effect on blood pressure, and helps to regulate low and high blood pressure.

There is evidence that hawthorn promotes the contraction of the heart muscle and improves the hearts’ pumping force. The circulation of the coronary arteries is increased. The heart is thus strengthened and its efficiency increased.

A treatment with Crataegus can be drawn into consideration if the following symptoms are noted:

– Low exercise capacity

– General lassitude

– General rapid fatigue

– Palpitation, fatigue and / or shortness of breath after only slight exertion

There are no known adverse effects of taking Crataegus.

Circulatory complaints in the legs

pic via pixabay.com
pic via pixabay.com

When legs suddenly feel heavy or painful, when ankles are swollen, the leg cramps, and the skin shows discoloration or varicose veins, a circulatory issue is often the cause. In such cases the blood circulation in the lower extremities may be limited, and often some simple measure suffice to bring about relief. For example, movement, massage, stretching exercises, or elevating the legs may reduce the symptoms.

Other measures included the use of various creams and preparations, containing for example, Aesculus (horse chestnut) or Hamamelis (witch hazel). These may be taken into consideration in the prevention and treatment of such circulatory disorders.

In homeopathic form, Aesculus and Hamamelis may be used in low potency, for example 6X.

Aesculus is indicated if:

– The legs are heavy and tired.

– The skin on the legs feels tense, and swollen.

– The veins appear jammed or inflamed.

– This ‘Aesculus’ circulatory disorder is not necessarily painful.

– The patient has is a tendency to thrombosis.

Hamamelis is indicated if:

– There is a sensitivity to touch, pressure and heat.

– Varicose veins are painful.

– There is a prevailing feeling of exhaustion in the legs.

– The veins shine through the skin, in a dark bluish colour.

– Water accumulates in the ankles.

Centella Asiatica – a plant way to slow-age

Centella Asiatica is herbal medicine known and appreciated, since ancient times. It’s use is currently experiencing a revival on account of research findings that place it directly into the center of the anti-aging movement. Centella has been found to have properties that can combat the process of aging.
Centella, which is known across cultures by different names, such as Gotu Kola, perrywort, or brahmi among others, has been found to be containing large amounts of potent phytochemicals, amino acids, vitamins and other active components. These constituents have begun to excite researchers, the cosmetic and the anti-aging industry, and extensive investigations are stirring the hope for a truly valuable panacea.
Gotu Kola has shown to have wound healing and anti-inflammatory properties. Studies have concluded that it instigates cell growth, and increases the production of collagen in the skin. Centella is further said to repair damaged blood vessels, to protect skin cells from damage of sunlight exposure, and to break down the formations of cellulitis. The medicinal prospects of this herb look very promising and are extensive and very diverse.
For the consumer that seeks to anti-age, these findings may mean that Centella has the potential to improve hydration, elasticity and firmness of skin. Furthermore, it has been found that Centella can counter memory dysfunction. It improves alertness, enhances memory and may have a positive effect in the development of Alzheimer.
The homeopathic remedy of Centella Asiatica is known by the name of Hydrocotyle asiatica. It’s profile suggests it’s use in cases of inflammation of connective tissue, and in malignant cellular growths. It has a large profile in affections of the skin, in psoriasis, acne, eczema, lupus. Characteristic are dry eruptions, and pustules with scaly edges, where there is exfoliation and terrible itching. There is a female profile that suggests its use in uterine growths, in inflammation at the neck of the bladder, vaginal pruritus, leucorrhoe, and ovarian pain. Furthermore are muscular, neural and arthritic and rheumatic affections benefited from Hydrocotyle asiatica.
Centella Asiatica’s use for anti-aging, is bringing the herbal panacea out from the traditional herbal apothecaries and practices. Aging lies in the nature of life, Centella is unlikely to reverse or stop the process, but it may be able to make the aging process a slower and healthier one.
References:
  • Boericke, W. (1999) Hydrocotyle Asiatica, Available at: http://www.homeoint.org/books/boericmm/h/hydrc.htm (Accessed: 22.11.18).
  • Bylka W., Znajdek-Awiżeń P., Studzińska-Sroka E., and Brzezińska M. (2013) ‘Centella asiatica in cosmetology’, Postepy Dermatol Alergol, 30(1), pp. 46–49. doi:10.5114/pdia.2013.33378
  • Gohil K, Patel J.A., and Gajjar A.K. (2010) ‘Pharmacological Review on Centella asiatica: A Potential Herbal Cure-all’, Indian J Pharm Sci,75(5), pp. 546–556. doi:10.4103/0250-474X.78519
  • LipoTherapeia Ltd (2019) Centella Asiatica (Gota Kola), Available at: https://www.lipotherapeia.com/centella (Accessed: 22.11.18).
  • National center for homeopathy (2017) Hydrocotyle asiatica, Available at: https://www.homeopathycenter.org/remedy/hydrocotyle-asiatica (Accessed: 22.11.18).
  • Soumyanath A., Zhong J-P, Henson E., Wadsworth T., Bishop J., Gold B.G., and Quinn J.F. (2012) ‘Centella asiatica Extract Improves Behavioral Deficits in a Mouse Model of Alzheimer’s Disease: Investigation of a Possible Mechanism of Action’, International Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease, 2012(5868):381974. doi:10.1155/2010/381974

A false positive of heart diseases – the Roemheld syndrome

It has become evident in our modern times, that many of our lifestyle habits, in particular keeping up with our increasingly hectic society, are taking their toll on our health. Our work-life balance is skewed heavily towards stress and our nutritional preferences are dictated by the time available to cook and the income to spare. It is therefore not surprising that our health is impacted negatively by how we conduct our life and manage our care. Such factors lead to the creation of ever new ‘life-style’ ailments that we succumb to, and are very frequently misdiagnosed for what they are not and are as a consequence not seldom inappropriately treated. One such ‘modern’ disease, that likely has some of its causative factors in our life-style and nutritional habits, is undoubtedly the ‘Roemheld syndrome’.

Ultimately the cause of the ‘syndrome’ is the development of gas in the digestive tract. This may be of varied origin and besides mal-nutrition, food-intolerance, indigestion, speaking while chewing and as such ‘swallowing’ air, may be caused by life-style factors such as stress, anger, or depression. Our sedentary work practice may play a role. We are accustomed to conduct most of our work sitting down, we engage in little physical exercise, eat rapidly and unhealthily, sooner or later such habits must make us ill. However there are also disease factors that promote Roemheld syndrome. IBS, irritable bowel syndrome, has been named as a potential adjunctive cause of ‘RS’, as has the existence of a hiatus hernia. Neural involvement of the vagus nerve has also been linked to the development of the ‘RS’ symptomatology. In this case sensory communication from the digestive tract to the brain is believed to impact the development of symptoms.

During an ‘attack’, the bloated gastro-intestinal tract displaces the organs in the thoracic cavity. To the patient there appears to be insufficient space in the chest. The bloated stomach and bowels push the lungs aside, generating pressure on the heart, causing anxiety, difficulty breathing, oppression, weakness, dizziness and faintness in the patient. The pulse rate increases, palpitation may appear and arrhythmia are triggered, in the form of tachycardia or extra systoles. It is not infrequent that these symptoms take a patient to see a cardiologist. However the causative factors of the presenting symptoms are often misinterpreted as originating from the heart itself.

In many cases the management of ‘RS’ can be achieved by altering dietary and lifestyle habits. As such, avoiding certain foods can alleviate symptoms and prevent ‘attacks’. Reducing alcohol and restricting the consumption of fizzy drinks, which promote fermentation in the bowels and thereby produce gas, can be helpful. Fast food, fatty meals, vegetables such as of the onion family, cabbage, pulses, pastry, and particularly white flour products should be avoided; such changes sooth the digestive activity of the stomach and bowels. However surgical intervention may be necessary where a hiatus hernia is identified as causative factor.

Conventional medicine suggests the administration of medication that reduces bloating, and inhibits the development of gas in the digestive tract. Yet this medical intervention is one that only palliates and does not remove the underlying cause. The issue remains and drug side-effects can produce consequential troubles in the long run. Acute alleviation can be achieved by herbal tea infusions with fennel, melissa, mint, juniper or black cumin. From a homeopathic perspective, remedies that aim at the removal of the digestive pathology and take into consideration the patient idiosyncratic cardiac symptomatology should be considered (gastro-cardia symptom complex).

References:

Brisson, J. (2016) Can Stomach Issues Cause Heart Disease? Part 2: Roemheld Syndrome, Available at: http://fixyourgut.com/can-stomach-issues-cause-heart-disease/ (Accessed: 27 February 2017).

N.A. (n.d.) Roemheld Syndrome Information and Resources, Available at: http://roemheld-syndrome.com/ (Accessed: 27 February 2017).

Stange, D. (2017) Roemheld-Syndrom – Ursachen, Symptome, Therapie, Available at: https://www.gesundheits-fakten.de/roemheld-syndrom-ursachen-symptome-therapie/ (Accessed: 27 February 2017).

Emergency Homeopathic Remedies for those exposed to Forest Fires

***ALL COMPLAINTS SHOULD BE GIVEN PROFESSIONAL MEDICAL ATTENTION ASAP***

1st AID MUST HAVE HOMEOPATHIC REMEDIES

Aconitum napellus (C200): This remedy is indicated for all events that are sudden and shocking. All situations and events that come as a surprise or have not as such been experienced call for this remedy. Any event that happens without a warning calls for Aconitum. There is great anxiety and fear. Fear for life even. This can be the case where there has been an accident, a sudden injury, a forest fire, an earthquake. The individual is tense, greatly nervous and anxious, restless, overwhelmed, excited and irritated. There is a disposition to want to walk away from the situation or the place of anxiety.

Sulfuricum Acidum (C30): This is one of the go to remedies for complaints of intoxication with smoke of fumes. In forest fires, the inhalation and exposure of ‘too much’ fire smoke can cause symptoms of tension & pressure in the eyelids with irritation and cutting pain in the eyes. The headache is one of a compressed pressure. There may also be vertigo.

Dryness, roughness and a sore feeling of the throat may be present. If there is a cough, this may produce a slimy expectoration.

The person needing this remedy may be nervous, irritable, anxious, confused, hurried and may exhibit symptoms of exhaustion, lethargy, loss of vigor and bodily strength, headache, cold sweats, trembling.

Grindelia (C30): This is a remedy that may help where much fumes and smoke have been inhaled and have caused difficulty breathing/dyspnoea. This remedy acts on the pulmonary circulation. There may be wheezing and oppression in the lungs with a foamy, profuse and tenacious expectoration that is difficult to detach. The normal breathing has interruptions that may even prevent sleeping. The individual cannot breath lying down and must sit up, and may start from sleep and gasp for breath. The individual is greatly exhausted.

SPECIFIC HOMEOPATHIC REMEDIES for complaints that may arise following the exposure to fires: Continue reading (PDF):