Archive | November 2013

Healing Lyme Disease

                                                   Spirochetes: Masters of Deception

                                                Healing Lyme Disease with Herbs and Hope

                                                       Guest post by Danielle Eavenson

Lyme disease is plaguing us more than ever before in history.  For those of us who find our sanctuary in the forest, tiny ticks are a huge haunting deterrent to entering our playground. If you live in tick country, it is particularly prevalent and important to understand prevention, diagnosis, and options for treatment.

Discovered in 1975 in Old Lyme, Connecticut after a strange outbreak of rheumatoid arthritis in children, lymes disease was found to be an infection of Borrelia burgdorferi (Bb), a spiral shaped bacterium carried and transmitted through tick bites. Deer ticks are the most common carriers, harboring the bacteria and spreading it as they feed on the blood of animals and humans. (6) In approximately 37% of cases, it presents as a red, circular bulls-eye rash (Erythema migrans) radiating from the bite.  Initially, flu-like symptoms are common often along with painful joints.  Once these clever spirochetes (spiral shaped bacteria) enter the bloodstream, inflammation and infection of many different tissues may arise, effecting all systems of the body. (3)  Symptoms and misdiagnoses include, but are not limited to, intermittent arthritic pain, stiff neck and headaches, problems with eyesight, fever and chills, swollen lymph channels, insomnia, myalgia (muscle pain), toothaches, neurological problems, numbness, digestive disturbances and malabsorbtion of nutrients, tingling of hands and feet, multiple sclerosis, rhematoid arthritis, chronic fatigue, syphilis, alztheimers, colitis, lupus, scleroderma, chronic pain in entire body, paralysis and psychosis.  Lymes disease is progressive and changes form as it goes untreated.

According to the US Center for Disease Control (CDC), there were about 25,000 reported cases in 2011, mostly in the North Eastern US. (2) However, studies from Harvard claim 200,000 new cases per year. (1) One of the biggest challenges that faces lyme disease sufferers is misdiagnosis.  “No other disease fools doctors more than lyme disease.”, states herbalist and lyme specialist, Wolf D. Storl.  (6) Tests are unreliable and for good reason. These stealth spirochetes are masters of deception and can imitate most any other disease. They can penetrate all types of body tissue and imitate the host’s own body cells, fooling the defense mechanisms of the body. (1) They successfully hide in synovial fluid of the joints and are, therefore, undetected by most tests.  Borrelia are highly mobile and can cross the blood brain barrier within ten days, which even our white blood cells cannot do.  So, as you can imagine, the accuracy of the test themselves is only 55%. (6) Might as well flip a coin, right?  An average patient goes through seven doctors and twenty-two months before a correct diagnosis of lyme. (5) Finally finding the true root of one’s health challenges can be a great relief as the inability to accurately diagnose is often as debilitating as the disease itself.

Antibiotics are the preferred and only tool of most doctors to treat lyme.  Often they work, especially if given within the first month or two of infection.  Many times, however, they are ineffective and have a reverse effect, diminishing the bodies natural defenses and thus creating a wonderful environment for Borrelia to thrive.  In my opinion, antibiotics are worth trying as it is much easier to recover from a round of drugs than a deeply invested lyme condition. However, opinions vary greatly on treatment.  Lyme disease specialist, Dr. Dieter Klinghardt, states, “One recognizes the novice when it comes to lyme disease treatment.  Antibiotics are pedantically prescribed which help only in the short term and seldom bring long-term relief.  We have observed (with long-term antibiotic treatment) serious and permanent side effects, for example, kidney failure, tinnitus, and a weakening of the immune system, among other things.” (6)

Aho! This is when our sweet herbal allys get to shine!  Herbal protocol are proving invaluable for ridding the body of spirochete born illnesses, especially Borrelia.  Although one may never hear of such treatments from conventional doctors, there are thousands of cases studies available online showing their effectiveness.  I share from my own experience with clients as well as from other experienced herbalist’s research and clinical practice.

There is a wildly beautiful herb growing mostly on roadsides and in waste places with a distinctive spikey flower head of lavender. Her name is Teasel and she is often seen in dried flower arrangements.  I brought her dried inflourescence to one of my clients, bedridden and almost without hope, to keep by her side while she used her medicine.  The dried teasel is still there looking pretty, but my client is up and about, feeling more life in her body than she can remember!

Teasel’s blossoms encircle her prickly flower head and as one ring continues to bloom towards the sun, the other spirals down, blooming as it goes.  This, to me, is a doctrine of signatures, suggesting use for the ever burrowing spirochete bacteria as well as a picture of the ring that often appears around the initial bite.  The roots are her medicine, drunk as a tea, prepared as a tincture, or powdered and mixed with honey or encapsulated.

Dosage is difficult to discern and variable according to the person being treated.  Herbalist Matthew Wood has had extensive experience using teasel root and believes it is most effective in a homeopathic dose of 3 drops of tincture, three times a day. (7) Storl suggests that  “for roughneck cowboys and cowgirls, tough loggers or truckers, and those who prefer steaks and whiskey to granola, it is probably just not enough.  In such cases, a tablespoon three times a day is just more effective.” (6) However one decides to take teasel, alway do so before a meal on an empty stomach.  Many, such as my client, start with a smaller dose and add a drop a day, often reaching thirty drops, three times a day.  Sometimes the Herxhimer, or die-off reaction of the spirochetes becomes too strong, and one will choose to stop increasing due to side effects.  As a tea, the dosage is three cups of standard decoction (1tsp chopped root per cup of water), three times a day.  For children, the powder is often used, 1 teaspoon rolled in honey per day. (6)

How long before one should see results? From my research, I concluded at least 6 weeks of the mimimum dosage.  Effects may be seen immediately but the nature of Borrelia is that it cycles in intensity and lies dormant from time to time.  As a result, some have taken teasel and/or the following formula for up to two years, increasing to highest recommended dosage and then tapering down. (1, 3, 5, 6)

Stephen Harrod Buhner, a well respected herbalist in North America and specialist in lyme disease treatment, has written several on the subject of lyme disease and has had much success using the following core protocol: (1,5)

Japanese knotweed (Polygonum cuspidatum) (Green Dragon Botanicals) – 1-4 tablets 3-4x daily for 8-12 months

Cat’s claw (Uncaria tomentosa) (Green Dragon Botanicals) – 1-4 tablets 3-4x daily for 2-3 months, then 2-3 capsules 3x daily

Eleuthero (Eleutherococcus senticosus) (HerbPharm tincture) – 1/2 to 1 tsp upon rising and at lunch

Astragalus (Astragalus membranaceus) – 1,000mg daily (not to be used in chronic lyme)

Ashwagandha (withania) to help remedy sleep problems at night and brain fog – 1000 mg at night just before bed. (1, 5)

 
It is important to note that all herbal protocals work best coupled with healing foods and lifestyle choices.  Specifically in treating lymes, it is important to follow a warming and deeply nourishing diet which incorporates traditional foods such as ferments, bone broths, bioflavenoid rich foods, and foods rich in essential fatty acids (EFA’s) such as cold water wild caught fish.  Borrelia creates a cold condition in the body.  It cannot survive in high heat.  Thus the use of saunas, sweat lodges and hot baths is essential alongside a warming diet.  Bringing in the element of fire and heat is ancient healing method, opening pores to sweat out toxins, encouraging blood circulation, and stimulating the bodies immune defenses by creating fever. (6)

Understanding our enemies patterns and proper prevention may be our best ally and cannot be overlooked.  Ticks are shady characters and tend to lurk in moist, grassy places where they lie in wait of a bloodmeal.  They do not climb trees, but rather bushes, up to 1.5 yards up,  the average height of most hosts. They can wait for months and, although blind, they are incredibly sensitive to movement.  Ticks can live in temperatures way below freezing but do not become active until spring when temperature rises above 50 degrees F.  By the end of summer, its too hot and they retreat.(6) Ticks tend to like acidic, sour smealling sweat, which results from stress and overconsumption of rich animal proteins and sugar.

 
Daunting, I know.  But there is hope for us forest lovers! Most bites are harmless, especially if the tick is removed within the first 12 hours.  Only 1.2-1.4% of bites will infect the host. (4)  Taking immune supporting herbs coupled with healthy lifestyle and dietary choices is essential for all disease prevention.  For new tick bites, Buhner suggests 3,000 mg/day of astragalus for 30 days and 1,000 mg day indefinitely. (1) I would suggest also incorporating reishi mushrooms, bone broths and other tonic, anti-inflammatory and liver supporting herbs such as nettles and dandelion if you live in a lyme endemic area.  I would also recommend saving every tick that bites you in the freezer labeled with your name and date.  Testing the tick for lyme is much more accurate and less expensive.

I leave you with a question.  What if this strange, determined bit of bacteria is here to teach us?  To, perhaps, remind us to get naked more?  To have our friends massage our heads while checking for little critters?  Or really, to draw us back to our primal natures.  To the diets we were designed to thrive on.  To remind us of the power of plants and fire.  And prayer.

My client I mentioned earlier is 25 years old and was bedridden for 18 months and on and off antibiotics for 6 years.  She saw no lasting improvement and became chronically weaker until she chose the guidance of nature and God.  Now she is a living miracle and testimony.  She and her mom (who also has suffered with lyme) say, “We know God is the greatest physician and prayer the best medicine.  We also learned that healing requires patience and humility.  We need to learn to respect and embrace nature, rather than fight or fear it.  Our message to others who have lyme disease is to have hope-lyme disease is treatable and you can get your life back.” (8)

Resources:

1. Buhner, Stephen.  http://www.buhnerhealinglyme.com

2. Center for Disease Control and Prevention, http://www.cdc.gov

3. Fogg, Wendy Snow. “Lymes Disease: A Practitioner’s Experience and Discovery” http://www.mistymeadows.org.

4. Four Seasons Pediatrics, http://www.fourseasonspediatrics.com

5. Lymes Disease Research Database, http://www.lyme-disease-research-database.com

6. Storl, Wolf D. “Healing Lymes Disease Naturally”

7. Wood, Matthew.  “ The Book of Herbal Wisdom: Using Plants as Medicine”

8. Smith, Carolyn and Dana.  “Faith, Hope and Family: Dana Smith’s Story” Discover Smith Mountain Lake Magazine, summer 2013

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Treating Acne

Guest post by Natalie Day

Description:
Acne is a common skin condition that causes skin irritation and lesions. There are 3 primary types; Acne vulgaris, Acne conglobata and Acne rosacea. Acne vulgaris, the least severe form, is characterized by superficial irritation that affects the hair follicles and sebaceous (oil secreting) glands of the skin. It appears as whiteheads, blackheads and red irritation. Acne conglobata is a more severe form of acne that manifests as deeper inflammation, cyst formation and consequent scarring. Acne rosacea is a more chronic facial irritation that occurs in adults and is associated with facial flushing. It is typically called Rosacea, and will not be discussed in detail in this article.
Both Acne vulgaris and Acne conglobata primarily affect the face, and to a lesser extent the back, chest and shoulders. Acne is typically more common among young males, with 75% of pubescent boys and about 50% of pubescent females affected. However, though acne is thought of as an adolescent ailment it can certainly last, or begin, much later in life.

Causes:
Acne develops as a response to blocked skin pores, also called pilosebaceous units. The pore consists of a hair follicle, sebaceous (oil) and suderiforous (sweat) glands, which connect to the skin through the follicular canal. Sebaceous glands are most concentrated on the face, chest and upper back and produce sebum, a special mixture of oils and waxes that help to protect and lubricate the skin, and prevent loss of water.
Acne is most prevalent in adolescents because andogenous hormones, such as testosterone, (levels of which begin to increase and fluctuate during puberty) stimulate the cells lining the follicular canal to start producing more keratin. Keratin is a group of fibrous proteins; the primary structural component of hair, nails and the outer layer of skin. An overproduction of keratin can clog the skin’s pores. In addition to increasing keratin levels, testosterone causes the sebaceous glands to produce more sebum and become enlarged. The combination of these effects results in blocked pores, and the likelihood of acne inflammation is greatly increased. While pubescent males are typically more affected by their changing testosterone levels, there is an increase in testosterone levels in females during puberty, making them subject to acne as well.

Acne pustules, or pimples, begin when pores are blocked by keratin and sebum, causing a whitehead or blackhead to eventually manifest. A blackhead forms if the blockage is somewhat incomplete, allowing excess sebum to rise to the surface of the skin. A whitehead, however, is the result of a completely blocked pore, creating inflammation due to sebum obstruction. When pores are completely blocked, Propionibacterium, a type of bacteria that occurs on the skin, is allowed to grow excessively inside the pore, releasing enzymes that break down sebum and cause inflammation, which is the source of skin redness. This inflammation can cause a rupturing of the follicular canal and can damage the surrounding tissue. When this happens on the surface of the skin it looks like an inflamed pimple, but if it happens deeper in the follicular shaft it can manifest as a cyst, which tends be painful and cause subsequent scarring.

Acne and the Liver:
In ancient and folk medicine acne was widely considered a byproduct of liver stagnation and intestinal toxemia, and was treated with blood purifiers (also called alteratives) and liver cleansing herbs. Recent studies agree that acne can be a result of compromised liver and kidney function, and is often linked to hormone imbalance related to liver stagnation. The skin and the liver are inextricably linked. One of the liver’s major services to the body is acting as a filter for our blood, helping to remove toxins and hormone by-products. When the liver becomes stressed and overworked due to excess toxins in the bloodstream, a common occurrence in the 21st century, it has a harder time processing all of our toxins, and some of them get cycled back into our bloodstream, often including androgenic hormones, the same ones that cause overproduction of sebum and keratin. Diet plays a large role in acne cause and prevention, especially high-glycemic foods, which raise blood sugar quickly and can throw hormone balance for a loop, affecting the skin secondarily. Studies show that avoiding foods that are high in refined sugars and carbohydrates has a positive effect on acne management. Compromised intestinal flora also seems to be a factor in adults suffering acne; those treated with broad-spectrum antibiotics for long periods of time often develop Candida albicans, an overgrowth of yeast, which can make acne conditions much worse.

Conventional Treatment & Side Effects:
Acne can be treated conventionally with a topical application of Benzoyl Peroxide, an over-the-counter cream that acts as an antiseptic for the skin. This treatment is only effective on superficial pustules and can cause dryness, itching, peeling and redness of the skin.
Another pharmaceutical often used for severe acne treatment is Retin-A, which acts in a similar way to Benzoyl Peroxide and can have more pronounced side effects, including severing burning and drying of the skin, as it literally acts to improve acne by chemically burning the skin.i
Though some have found success using these treatments, they are impractical because they require daily application in order to be effective, and they only address acne on a superficial level, not dealing with its root cause for long term healing of the skin. Natural medicine usually approaches acne by treating the underlying imbalance in the body, rather then simply suppressing the symptoms.
For more severe cases of Acne conglobata oral antibiotics, retinoid or hormonal treatments are used. These have varying degrees of effectiveness and a wide range of undesirable side effects, including potential birth defects, chronic intestinal disruption and depression.

Dietary Treatments:
Nutritional treatment plays a major role in preventing and healing acne. Again, avoiding foods high in processed sugars and carbohydrates has shown to be effective in clearing acne, and for some, avoiding dairy is beneficial. Reducing your intake of inflammatory foods can also be very beneficial, Omega-6 fatty acids in particular which are found in many fried, fatty and processed foods. Eating a diet high in whole grains, leafy green vegetables and high quality meat or fish is a good step for helping to nourish the body and keep hormone and blood sugar levels balanced. Anti-inflammatory foods should be added to the diet, specifically Essential Fatty Acids, which fight inflammation and can help to regulate hormone production. EFA’s can be found in several cold-water fish, including salmon, mackerel and trout, in grass-fed meat, dairy and eggs, and in smaller amounts in flaxseeds, sesame seeds and avocados.
There are several minerals that have shown effective in treating acne conditions, one of the leaders being Zinc. When the body contains low levels of zinc andogenous hormone levels become unbalanced, which can create excess sebum and keratin. Zinc stimulates tissue regeneration, inflammation control, and immune function. Many males use it to balance their testosterone levels, as it works by regulating the release and production of testosterone, which can also be beneficial for those with acne. Zinc rich foods include venison and grass-fed meat, sesame seeds, pumpkin seeds and several culinary mushrooms such as cremini and shitake.

Vitamin A works to reduce the size and secretion of sebaceous glands, as well has reduce the amount of sebum in pores, it is also has anti inflammatory actions, and works best in combination with Vitamin E, another anti-inflammatory. Vitamin E is an antioxidant that prevents the propagation of free radicals in tissues. It is found in high levels in wheat germ, as well as in many nuts and oils. Pantothenic Acid, also called vitamin B5, has proven a successful remedy for many with acne. It is found in whole grains, and meats, and its richest sources are cold-water fish ovaries and royal jelly. Pantothenic Acid helps your body break down fats and process them into fatty acids, which will later become hormones. A lack of Pantothenic Acid can lead to excess androgen production, increasing skin irritation.
In some studies, analysis of the level of glucose in the skin demonstrated that patients with acne do not metabolize sugar properly; Chromium is known to improve glucose tolerance and enhance insulin sensitivity, and has been reported in one study to induce rapid improvement in patients with acne.ii Brewers yeast and Propolis both contain high levels of Chromium and are common treatments for acne in Europe.

Herbal Treatment:
Acne is typically treated herbally by addressing the liver, and helping to clear stagnation. Most of the herbs recommended have either a hepatic (liver supporting), or alterative (blood cleansing) action, and can be combined with herbs to support hormone regulation and stress control (adaptogens). These herbs can be very helpful for treating acne, especially when used over a period of several months, and when applied in addition to healthy routines and meals. While herbs have incredible healing power, they are really the icing on the cake, secondary to lifestyle and dietary choices.

Burdock, Arctium lappa, is a classic remedy for treating skin diseases. It’s hepatic effect on the liver helps to clear toxins and balance hormone levels in the body. The bitterness of this root also helps to stimulate digestion and releases hydrochloric acid in the stomach, aiding digestion.
Yellow Dock, Rumex crispus, is another bitter root that has long been used to stimulate digestion and aid in liver health. It can also aid in iron assimilation and is safe for pregnant mothers who may be dealing with both pregnancy-provoked Acne vulgaris and iron deficiency.
Other bitter herbs indicated for liver related skin conditions are Oregon Grape Root (Mahonia spp.), Gentian (Gentiana spp.) Dandelion Root (Taraxacum officionale) and Milk Thistle (Silybum marianum)

Alterative herbs, such as Cleavers (Gallium aparine) and Red Clover (Trifolium pratense) help with elimination of toxins through the skin, lungs, feces and urine, also improving lymph, liver and digestive function.

Anti-inflammatory herbs can be helpful in keeping skin inflammation minimal. These include Licorice (Glycyrriza glabra) and Turmeric (Curcuma longa), which can be taken tonically.

Another category of herbs that can be beneficial are Adaptogens, plants that help the body deal with non-specific stress or overwork, a major factor for many experiencing acne. These herbs can be taken tonically and help to balance the pituitary, adrenal and hypothalamus glands. Tulsi (Ocimum sanctum), Milky Oats (Avena sativa) and Ashwagandha (Withania somnifera) are all examples of Adaptogens.

This formula contains herbs with many of the above actions and comes from Dr. Aviva Romm:iii
20 ml Skullcap (Skutellaria lateriflora)
10 ml Oregon grape (Mahonia spp.)
20ml Echinacea (Echinacea spp.)
20 ml Dandelion (Taraxacum officionale)
20 ml Licorice (Glycyrriza glabra)
10 ml Ashwagandha (Withania somnifera)

Dosage: 5ml of tincture 2x a day

Topical Treatments:
Azelaic Acid is an organic compound found in Barely, Wheat and Rye and is used to treat acne topically. It can kill the bacteria that infect the skin, as well as decrease the production of keratin. It is also an anti-inflammatory and is used topically in the form of a cream or ointment. It can interact with the synthesis of melanin, sometimes causing hyperpigmentation, and is considered to have mild success.

Tea Tree oil, which comes from Melaleuca alternifolia, a native Australian tree, is an effective topical treatment that has antiviral, antibacterial, antifungal and antiseptic properties.
“In the treatment of moderate common acne, topical application of 5% tea tree oil has shown an effect comparable to 5% benzoyl peroxide. Albeit with slower onset of action, patients who use tea tree oil experience fewer side effects than those that use benzoyl peroxide treatments.”iv

Some people also find herbal facial steams helpful, often using Chamomile (Matricaria recutita) or Tea Tree oil, both of which are antimicrobial. Regular cleansing and occasional exfoliation of the skin is a general recommendation for helping to open pores and keep them free of bacteria. Avoiding the use of synthetic cosmetics and avoiding touching the inflamed skin with hands are practical ways to avoid transferring bacteria and clogging pores.

In summation, acne is a common condition that, with dedicated efforts, can usually be controlled and effectively treated without the use of pharmaceuticals. The treatment is affordable and can be as accessible as making small dietary changes. Nourishing a positive body image is an important part of helping someone deal with acne, especially for adolescents who may be emotionally vulnerable. A healthy diet and lifestyle choices, as well as liver supporting herbs and antimicrobial topical treatments are great allies for treating and preventing this condition.

Sources:

Print:
Beers, Mark (EIC), The Merck Manual of Medical Information. New York, 2003
Gladstar, Rosemary, Herbal Healing for Women; Simple Home Remedies for Women of All Ages. New York, 1993 Hoffman, David, Medical Herbalism, The Science and Practice of Herbal Medicine. Rochester, VT, 2003
Murray, Michael & Pizzorno, Joseph, The Encyclopedia of Natural Medicine. New York: Atria, 2012
Romm, Aviva Jill, Botanical Medicine for Women’s Health. New York, Churchill-Livingston

Electronic Sources:
Applied Health: Acne, http://www.appliedhealth.com/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=100022
Acne & Pregnancy, http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23657872
Implications for the role of diet in acne: http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S1085562905000283
Beliefs & Perceptions of Acne, http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/11209112
Relationship of Diet & Acne, http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2836431/
Tea Tree, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tea_tree_oil
i Page 194, Encyclopedia of Natural Medicine
ii Article: High chromium yeast for acne? M. Mcarthy medical hypothesis. 1984: 307-10
iii Page 120, Botanical Medicine for Women’s Health, Aviva Romm
iv Bassett, IB; Pannowitz, DL; Barnetson, RS (1990). “A comparative study of tea-tree oil versus benzoylperoxide in the treatment of acne”. The Medical journal of Australia 153 (8): 455–8.

Fighting Candidiasis

Fighting Candidiasis

 

Guest post by Shanti Cox

 

BACKGROUND

 

Candida albicans is a type of parasitic, yeast-like fungus that inhabits the intestines, genital tract, mouth, esophagus and throat. It is a fungus that resides in every human system. It usually lives in balance with other yeasts and beneficial bacteria in the body, but various factors can create conditions that alter the balance, weaken the immune system and set a perfect breeding ground for multiplication and result in an infection known as candidiasis (Balch 183).

 

Candida albicans lives in your intestines originally. It is when you become imbalanced that the fungus can spread to other areas of the body or make way to your blood system where you then are dealing with a systemic infection. The fungus thrives on nutrients in the body and can create a cycle of deficiency (Gates 24).

 

Over the last thirty years, the overgrowth of Candida albicans has become an all-too familiar health problem in our society. This rapid increase has been attributed to an increase in the overuse of antibiotics, birth control pill use and diets high in processed foods and sugars. All of these common culprits can throw our body ecology off. Experts estimate that one in three Americans have candidiasis, but most don’t make the connection between their symptoms and this “modern epidemic.” Numbers are much higher in young adults, especially young women (Gates 5).

 

SYMPTOMS

 

Candidiasis is widely misunderstood because of its variation. It can manifest in many parts and areas of the body and more complexly, symptoms can vary from obvious ones like a vaginal yeast-infection to not so obvious ones like mental fuzziness or recurring headaches. So many of the symptoms that stem from candidiasis could easily be mistaken and blamed for other diseases and health issues. Some of the symptoms most often associated with candidiasis are food allergies, fatigue, digestive disorders, PSM, skin rashes, chronic constipation, recurring headaches, chronic vaginitis, chemical and environmental sensitivities, poor memory, mental fuzziness and loss of sex drive (Gates 5).

 

Not only do symptoms vary in general, but they also vary between males, females and children. When candida infects the vagina, it results in vaginitis characterized by a large amount of white, cheese-like discharge along with itching and burning. This can become problematic and easily transferable during vaginal childbirth when a mother can pass the fungus on to the newborn baby. Candida can infect the mouth, also called thrush and it often resembles while milk spotting sometimes accompanied by sores (Balch 184).

 

RESTORATION

 

Candidiasis has become known as one of the more difficult conditions to treat due to its vicious cycle abilities. When the body becomes imbalanced, the fungus proliferates easily and produces toxins that weaken the immune system further. Because Candida albicans feeds and thrives off so many common diet foods, it can be quite tricky to break the cycle and restore balance. Although there are some pharmaceuticals on the market that contain the potency to kill off the fungus, the most successful approach is a comprehensive one that involves strong dietary restrictions combined with herbal support.

 

Any article, research, book or information website on the topic of candidiasis will agree that diet is crucial for beginning to heal. Sugar is the top nutrient for Candida albicans (this can include fruit, honey, maple syrup and especially refined sugar) (Crook 101-108). Other triggers that seem to feed the yeast are dairy products, mold and yeast-containing foods like alcohol, cheeses, peanuts and dried fruits (Murray 381-383). According to Gates and Murray, boosting immunity and providing cleansing at a deeper level is necessary. Candidiasis is a sign of a depressed immune system. “A compromised immune system leads to infection, and infection leads to damage to the immune system, further weakening resistance,” states Murray (382). Both recommend looking at the liver. They both claim that that liver function may be one of the most critical factors in healing from candidiasis.

 

HERBAL SUPPORT

 

Going beyond the initial understandings and implementations of immunity and cleansing support, you can begin to add in herbal support. There are many plants that have shown themselves to be key supporters for combatting Candida albicans. These include berberine-containing plants like Goldenseal (Hydrastis Canadensis) & Oregon Grape Root (Berberis aquifolium) along with Pau d’arco (Tabebuia avellanedae), Garlic (Alium sativum) and the extracts of Oregano (Origanum vulgare) & Olive Leaf (Olea europaea).

 

Goldenseal and Oregon Grape Root both contain berberine, a chemical constituent that has shown to inhibit Candida albicans as well as pathogenic bacteria. The recommended dosage for berberine is 25 to 50 mg three times per day. Garlic has shown in research to be more potent than more than eight anti-fungal medications on the market. A daily dose of at least 10 mg of the active component allicin is recommended daily. This is equal to about one clove of fresh garlic (Murray 386). As for Oregano and Olive Leaf extracts, it has shown most effective when administered in an enteric-coated capsule. This is to make sure that the oils will be delivered to the small and large intestines. Oregano has shown to be 100 times more potent in anti-candida activity than caprylic acid—a very popular natural candida-fighting supplement on the market. The phenols in oregano oil and the oleuropein in olive leaf extract are highly concentrated and extremely effective in fighting bacterial infections, fungal infections and candida overgrowth.(Murray 385-386). Pau D’arco (also known as lapacho or taheebo) is a South American tree that contains antibacterial and antifungal constituents and has been shown to have strong effects with combating candidiasis. The recommended dosage is 2 tablespoons of herb per quart of water and to decoct for twenty minutes (Balch 185).

 

Candidiasis is a complex infection with many paths to various health conditions. If left untreated, symptoms can increase with vigor and manifest into deeply seeded, more distressed problems. There are Candida questionnaires online and in many books that can be a good starting place for questioning if you have a yeast overgrowth in the body.

 

 

 

WORKES CITED

 

 

Balch, Phyllis A., and James F. Balch. Prescription for nutritional healing. 3rd ed. New York: Avery, 2000. Print.

 

 

Crook, William G.. The yeast connection handbook. Jackson, Tenn.: Professional Books, 1999. Print.

 

 

Gates, Donna. The Body Ecology Diet. Carlsbad: Hay House Publishers, 2011. Print.

 

 

Murray, Michael T., and Joseph E. Pizzorno. Encyclopedia of natural medicine. Rev. 2nd ed. Rocklin, CA: Prima Pub., 1998. Print.

 

Herbs for the Migraine Sufferer

Herbs for the Migraine Sufferer

Guest post by Arica Bray

 

Although I don’t suffer from migraines, they have been, for me, a constant lurking nemesis. Breathing in the shadows since childhood, they seem to clutch hold of the men in my life that I believe to be my indestructible giants. As a kid, I can recall the occasions I had to tip-toe past my father’s bedroom, the door shut and lights turned low. Inside the darkness of the room I knew my father was battling a monster invisible to my untrained child eyes. “Migraine” is what my mother called this fiend. Now that I am married, I’ve experienced with helpless arms the same childhood culprit take hold of my husband, and like my father, forcing him to retire to the cool shadows of a room for some amount of relief.

 

If you have ever experienced migraines or know someone who has, you know just how miserable and completely debilitating the pain can be. Migraines are similar in effect to headaches; however along with the intense throbbing and pulsing sensation in the head they are often, but not always, accompanied by nausea, vomiting, lightheadedness and/or blurred vision. Just like my father and husband, those that suffer from migraines often seek seclusion, wanting nothing more than to curl up into a ball and disappear in a dark room until the storm passes, which can last anywhere from a few hours to a few days! According to Medical Herbalism by David Hoffman, migraines affects as many as 25% of all Americans. These attacks can develop in early childhood, although a majority of sufferers recall first experiencing symptoms between the ages of 10 and 30 years.

 

Migraine attacks commonly take one of two forms. The more common of the two is called “migraine without aura”, which affects 85% of all migraine suffers. These include episodes of severe pain which affects one, if not both, sides of the head, usually described as a painful throbbing. As if that weren’t enough fun, the signature of these headaches is often, but not always associated with a sick feeling in the stomach, sensitivity to light & sound or movement of the body. The second type is considered the classical migraine or the “migraine with aura”, which accounts for the remaining 15% of sufferers. An “aura” is a disturbance in the nervous system that precedes a headache. An example of such disturbances include seeing bright flashes, black spots or even loss of vision, and/or numbness in parts of the body. These auras reportedly last less than an hour before the onset of a migraine, and thankfully pass with no lasting effects. Auras seem to act as a signal to the sufferer, letting them know a migraine is well on its way.

 

Much is still yet to be discovered on what exactly is the cause of migraines, although genetics and environmental factors appear to play a vital role. Theories suggest that migraines may be caused by changes in the major pathway of the brainstem and its interaction with the trigeminal nerve. (The trigeminal nerve is the largest of the cranial nerves and is responsible for sensation in the face and other certain motor functions, such as biting and chewing). Imbalances in brain chemicals, like serotonin- which helps regulate pain in your nervous system, may also be involved. Research continues to done on the exact process of migraines, however, there are a number of things we do know when it comes to what triggers them and possible risk factors.

 

As suggested before, up to 90 percent of all migraine sufferers report a family history of migraine attacks. With that said, if one or both of your parents encounter migraines, unfortunately for you; you too have good chances of also having migraines. Studies have also found that women are three times more likely to have migraines then men. Women also report having increased migraines around the time of their menstruation, during pregnancy and before menopause. This may be in effect to hormonal shifts and changes in the body.

 

As you might well have realized by now, migraines and headaches are dynamic systems of a much bigger problem. Although one might want to find remedies, pills or herbs to address the pain, often times it succeeds in doing nothing more than suppressing the pain to then manifest again at a later time. When treating migraines it’s important to take a look at the underlying cause, and actively working on ways towards effective migraine prevention. Migraines can be triggered by a wide variety of reasons, anywhere from food allergies and sensitivities, pollutants, stress, neck and shoulder tension, to hormonal changes, low blood sugar, and constipation. Almost anything in one’s lifestyle or environment can serve as a migraine trigger. These “triggers” don’t actually cause the pain; rather they help to activate an already predisposed chemical mechanism in the brain. And the more triggers that are present at a given time lead to the greater likelihood a migraine will occur.

 

The first and most important step in migraine prevention is identifying the trigger and then avoiding it like the plague! An awesome way to find out what your triggers are is to keep a headache diary. This is a chart that includes the date and time of a headache, specific location and sensation of pain, how long the headache lasted, what possible triggers you may have been exposed to, and what (if anything) helped your headache. Feel free to be very descriptive, as the more in depth you analyze and track the symptoms, the better you will be at succeeding in exposing the migraine culprit(s) overtime. A list of common triggers includes but is not limited to: caffeine, chocolate, aged cheese, alcohol, soy, red meat, peanuts, tomatoes, wheat, shellfish, foods containing MSG, ice cream, nitrates (found in hotdogs or deli meats) skipping meals, too much or too little of sleep, menstruation, birth control , stress or anxiety, bright lights, weather changes, medications, strong odors or pollutants. It is also important to be aware that there is a phenomenon called “medication overuse headache” (MOH). MOH is the overuse of certain pain medications such as Tylenol, narcotics, aspirin, caffeine, and ibuprofen which one might be taking specifically to help alleviate their headaches; however, in reality these medications may begin to be a large precipitating cause of the migraines. It is good to be aware of this potential and often unnoticed trigger as it might be beneficial to stop your pain medications, if at least for a few months to see if it helps.

 

The second step in preventing migraines is to work on managing stress. Adequate sleep, meditation, visualization, yoga, breathing exercises or simply taking some alone time away from people and/or responsibilities for an hour, can be a great way to quiet the mind and delve deeper into your own personal health. Sometimes illnesses are our body’s way of manifesting an issue (be it emotional or physical) that we, for various reasons, are refusing to deal with or solve. Master herbalist, Aviva Romm, suggest exploring an even deeper level, and asking yourself how the migraine impacts your life. What event do you skip or miss when you have a migraine? Was it work or a stressful event? She goes on to explain that “sometime our bodies, in their infinite wisdom, create symptoms for us when we are not able to speak for ourselves.” Although this may not be the sole solution to our ailment, often times, there are stress related components associated with chronic problems, so it may be something worth further exploration.

 

Neck and back tension is also huge contributing factor to headaches and migraines and in most instances it is very easy to relieve. Massage therapy, physical therapy, acupuncture and oesteopathic manipulation can all help to relieve neck and muscle tension and with it, your gnarly migraine. However, if you have a history of reoccurring tension, take a good examination at body posture (at work and at home), congenital alignments or any previous pulled or sprained muscles, as these may take more specific practice or medical attention.

 

Okay, so we have already covered a lot of information about how migraines work and various ways to identify and prevent them from occurring. But you may be asking yourself “what about the herbs!?” After all, this article is entitled “herbs for the migraine sufferer”, rest assured, our fine verdant friends can help too! One of the most renowned herbs, with an affinity for migraines, is the ambrosial Feverfew (Tanacetum parthenium). Feverfew is not an immediate cure for headaches and migraines, however with consistent attention (typically 4-6 weeks) Feverfew has been found successful in reducing the number, duration and severity or migraines. Feverfew is an herb that works as a natural anti-inflammatory. The recommended daily dosage is 25mg, (or acutely at up to 2g!) of leaf and flower extraction. Yet even a single fresh leaf one to three times a day has been for some, an adequate tonic. Word of caution to avoid Feverfew if you are on any blood thinners, as it can interfere with medication and increase bleeding. Ginkgo (Ginkgo biloba) and Butterbur (Pestasites) also offer relevant properties at a dose of 120 mg and 150 mg per day respectively. Along with anti-inflammatory herbs, another great thing to consider is reducing the amount of pro-inflammatory foods in your diet, particularly sugar, red meat, poultry and processed foods. This, along with simultaneously adding antioxidant rich fruits and vegetables, and quality oils such as fish oil, olive oil, walnut oil and coconut oils, can all help to reduce migraine frequency.

 

Migraine prevention is the key to effectively fighting your migraines, however, what can be done if you already have a migraine? Like mentioned before, it is best to figure out for yourself what type of headache and what may be the cause. Once you have a good idea, you can look for herbs that address that specific condition. For example if you know your headache to be caused by crazy neck spasms or tension, Peony (Paeonia albaflora), Skullcap (Scutellaria lateriflora), Vervian (Verbena officinalis), Mullein flower and root (Verbascum thapsus), Elder flower (Sambacuscanadensis), Anemone spp., and Pendicularis spp. are known to work well for easing and relaxing the body. Poplar (Populus sp.), Birch (Betula spp.), Meadowsweet (Filipendula ulmaria) and Wintergreen (Gaultheria procumbens) all contain pain relieving salicylic acid that can help in pain relieving inflammation, similar to how aspirin works to alleviate pain. One great formula for migraines associated with stress and hypertension include equal parts of Hawthorn (Crataegus spp.), Linden (Tilia platyphyllos), Wood betony (Stachys betonica), Skullcap (Scutellaria lateriflora), Cramp bark (Viburnum opulus); dosage being 2.5 ml three times a day.

 

Although there is no concrete cure for migraines, there are a great number of ways you can prevent and alleviate the awful and debilitating pain migraines create in your life and/or in the lives of those you love. And, as always, may plants be your allies in your journey towards greater health.

 

Resources

 

  1. avivaromm.com/prevent-migraines-naturally

  2. bearmedicineherbals.com/a-few-herbs-for-headaches.html

  3. mayoclinic.com/health/migraine-headache/DS00120

  4. Medical Herbalism by David Hoffman

  5. en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Trigeminal_nerve