11 strategies that you can use to stimulate your Vagus nerve and to promote a more restful parasympathetic state
Following on from my previous article (http://www.naturopathichealthcarecentre.co.za/.../how-to...) where we discussed the workings of the parasympathetic nervous system, here are a few strategies to help restore the balance.
Here are 11 strategies that you can use to stimulate your Vagus nerve and to promote a more restful parasympathetic state:
1) Breathwork- diaphragmatic breathing
Place one hand on your stomach and the other hand on your chest. As you breathe in, feel your stomach expand, and when you exhale, your stomach should go back down. This is also known as “belly breathing.” This lowers your heart rate and blood pressure.
Community and belonging help you to feel safe and secure. When you are connected, you are calmer and more positive.
3) Diving Reflex
To stimulate the diving reflex, you need cold exposure. You can splash cold water on your face or put ice cubes in a ziploc bag against it. According to Dr. Arielle Schwartz, “The diving reflex slows your heart rate, increases blood flow to your brain, reduces anger and relaxes your body.”
4) Humming, Singing or Gargling
Don’t you always feel better when you start to hum or sing? Your worries are swept away by a song. Well, that’s because it’s activating your vagus nerve! Simply sing to feel better or gargle if you prefer.
It is clear to researchers that gut bacteria improve brain function by activating the vagus nerve.”
6) Omega 3 Fatty Acids
You can get these from fish oil, or if you’re a vegan, you can find them in chia seeds, flaxseed, hemp seed oil and walnuts.
7) Mindfulness and Meditation
According to a study, Loving-Kindness-Meditation created a healthy vagal tone in participants. Check out this guide for how to do this mediation here, and know that mindfulness in general is a way to activate your vagus nerve as well. Being present centers you.
Yoga is a parasympathetic activation exercise that helps with digestion, blood flow and more.
9) ASMR (Autonomous Sensory Meridian Response)
ASMR sends “tingles” from your scalp down your spine and helps calm your nervous system with the use of triggers or tools. This entails whispering, scratching, tapping and other noises that pull you into a trance. There are many on Youtube.
10) ‘OM’ Chanting
If you want to activate your vagus nerve, a great way to do it is by chanting “OM” over and over again. This is often used in yoga, mantras and different faiths such as Hinduism and Buddhism. Whether you perceive it as a spiritual practice or just a meditation practice, it helps to calm you and create inner peace. Studies have shown that this creates greater relaxation.
11) Positive Self-Talk
Christopher Bergland says he uses Cora Harris’s mantra to stimulate his vagus nerve, “The bravest thing you can do when you are not brave is to profess courage and act accordingly.”
This produces positive self-talk even when you are feeling afraid.
Dr Marike de Klerk
Dr. M de Klerk
Your parasympathetic nervous system is the system that puts your body in a restful state.
In opposition to this is the sympathetic nervous system that triggers the secretion of
adrenaline and puts you in a more stressed state.
Your nervous system regulates your immune system and keeps inflammation in check.
This means that the more you stimulate the parasympathetic branch of your autonomic nervous system, the more you can support your immune health, control stress levels and reduce inflammation.
The Vagus nerve is the biggest and most important nerve in your parasympathetic nervous system.
Stimulating your Vagus nerve helps to activate your parasympathetic nervous system, which helps and supports healthy immune function.
Just as your car has a gas pedal and brakes, your nervous system has two speeds. The sympathetic fight-or-flight branch automatically helps you accelerate and avoid danger or provides a burst of energy to combat perceived dangers – like stress, injury or infection.
In response to danger, your sympathetic state activates the fight-or-flight response and triggers your body’s immune system to react instantaneously, releasing stress hormones like cortisol and adrenaline through your body. Your heart rate and blood pressure increase, and digestion slows or
stops altogether, as blood is routed away from your internal organs toward your limbs in preparation to fight or flee.
Your respiratory rate increases to transport nutrients and oxygen to the cells faster. Your muscles tense and blood vessels in the extremities constrict, sweating increases and if there is an injury or infection, the area becomes inflamed.
Inflammation kicks your immune system into high gear to protect you from more damage so it can heal. During the inflammation process, blood vessels in the area of the damage or infection widen and release more immune system cells into the surrounding tissue.
Inflammation is supposed to be short term. Once the stress, injury or infection has been adequately addressed, your body is designed to shift back into the parasympathetic state of the nervous system, so your body can relax and your immune system shifts back into balance.
Your parasympathetic nervous system counterbalances your sympathetic nervous system by calming and relaxing the body. It slows your heart rate, reduces inflammation and prevents the immune system from overreacting and over responding. Your parasympathetic nervous system TURNS ON your immune processes, allowing your body to fight pathogens, bacteria, fungus, parasites, viruses and infections.
In contrast, your sympathetic “fight or flight” nervous system triggers the release of stress hormones that decreases your immune system function to prioritize immediate survival. This reduces your ability to fight off pathogens, making you more susceptible to pathogens and chronic infections. This can create a viscous cycle as chronic infections put you into an inflamed state which further triggers the sympathetic nervous system.
We know how detrimental a overstimulated sympathetic nervous system can be to the body, damaging and depressing immune system.
In the next article we will explore what can bedone to balance your nervous system.
Dr. M de Klerk
If you have too little pancreatic enzymes, you will not be digesting and absorbing fats. You may have digestive upsets as well as other symptoms such as low energy and increased cravings for starches. This will be because fats, that are a more sustained source of energy in your body, will be undigested and not absorbed for energy usage.
Symptoms of fat malabsorption syndrome:
Symptoms of deficiency of fat-soluble vitamins, A, D, E and K
Vitamin A deficiency
Vitamin D deficiency
Vitamin E deficiency
Vitamin K deficiency:
In the next article we will discuss what you can do to improve your fat digestion, without taking a supplement.
1. Vitamin D
There is an indisputable relation between vitamin D and the immune system. Vitamin D stimulates the innate as well as adaptive immune system, enabling your immune system to activate for quick fighting, as well as a slower immune response that is more specialized. One finds some vitamin D in food sources, but minimally. Our bodies do manufacture Vitamin D on exposure to sunshine, but this also seems to be insufficient. This results in an average of around 50% of a population deficient in this especially important hormone. It becomes essential to supplement with this vitamin, especially during winter months when more infections are prevalent. Please make sure that your supplement is Vit D3 or cholecalciferol and that it is clean and of good quality.
2. Vitamin C
This vitamin contributes to strengthening the immune defense. It protects the mucous membranes against invasion from bacteria and viruses and activates the killer cells to eradicate pathogens. We cannot make our own vitamin C and we need to obtain it from our diets, mainly from fruits and vegetables. The standard diet does not contain enough of this vitamin and supplementation becomes essential especially during winter months when there are more viral diseases.
This mineral supports the active and passive immune system. Zinc needs to be taken daily as the body has no specialized zinc storage system.
Deficiencies of this mineral may contribute to a decreased immune function, especially to viral infections. Selenium stimulates the immune system and may activate the killer cells to eradicate organisms.
By Dr. M de Klerk
Many patients with Hashimoto’s have digestive issues. It does not often occur to them that it might be linked to their thyroid disease. Some just accept these gut challenges as the norm.
Recurring diarrhea, stomach pain, gas and bloating are not normal. These symptoms can be resolved quickly with the use of the correct digestive enzyme, and most patients will report back with positive outcomes.
Food consists of different substances, protein, fat and starch, and digestion of any of these could be your challenge. Protein seems to be the most challenging of them all, according to studies.
Deficiency in pancreatic elastase, is often the root of fat malabsorption. Many nutrients and vitamins need to be emulsified in fat to be absorbed. Pancreatic enzymes, together with bile from the gallbladder, mixes in the small intestines to break fats down into tiny droplets that can now be absorbed into the gut. Without adequate bile and pancreatic enzymes, many essential nutrients can be lost and excreted with other wastes in the stool, leading to deficiencies such as fatty acid deficiency.
Also, food will not be digested and can result in the development of food sensitivities and small intestinal bacterial overgrowth due to putrefaction
Pancreatic elastase deficiency can be tested accurately in the stool.
Having a low level of pancreatic elastase can be associated with:
The link between Hashimoto’s and low pancreatic enzymes are as follows:
Thyroid hormone level affect metabolism of all hormones in our bodies as well as all other endocrine glands. Motility of the stomach will be impaired in hypothyroid patients leading to slowing down of the movement of partially digested food and digestive juices. This can cause gas, bloating and other digestive symptoms including overgrowth of bad bacteria in the gut.
Decrease in T4 also slows liver cholesterol metabolism, changing the thickness of the bile, resulting in a decreased fat digestion.
This scenario will lead to a situation of multiple deficiencies in nutrients, vitamins, and minerals.
In a follow up article to this one, we will discuss the telltale symptoms of a variety of nutritional deficiencies.
by Dr. C Groenewald
It is that time of the year again, colds and flu season.
Both colds and flu are caused by viral infections and can make you feel pretty sick. It is commonly accepted that you can't do much for a mild viral infection except fluids and rest, but that is not true. Your homeopath, naturopath or functional medicine doctor has an entire arsenal of vitamin therapy, herbals and homeopathic medicines that has been proven to decrease the severity and duration of colds and flu.
There are also so many things that you can do at home to boost and strengthen your immune system to protect you from recurrent or severe colds and flu.
Here are 5 tips to boosting your immune system this winter.
1. Eat 7 servings of vegetables per day. A colorful spectrum of vegetables contain the compounds your immune system needs to function optimally.
2. Avoid conventionally reared animal products and produce. Treated with routine antibiotics and growth promoters, this will harm the good bacteria in your gut (where 70% of your immune system resides).
3. Get 7-8 hours of restful sleep every night. Sleep deprivation causes unbalanced cortisol levels which can fuel chronic inflammation and cause chronic illnesses.
4. Avoid sugar. Sugar is the single most harmful food substance that will destroy your healthy gut bacteria and promote leaky gut and chronic low grade inflammation which will leave you with a weakened immune system.
5. Get enough vit D. Vit D has in recent years emerged as a powerful immune modulator. Before taking a vitamin D supplement it is essential that your have your vit D levels tested first as vit D is a fat soluble vitamin and you can therefor cause a vit D toxicity.
#immunesystem #immunity #immuneboost #coldsandflus #influenza #commoncold #boostingyourimmunesystem #healthyguthealthyyou #vitd3 #eatyourveggiespeople #homeopathyforall #naturalmedicines #healingnaturally #herbalmedicine #homeopathicdoctor #homeopathicmedicines #drchantellgroenewald
Dr. C Groenewald
Food contains the information our body needs to heal and follow healthy physiological pathways. Food can also harm and promote disease. For this reason one should always look at your plate of food and ask yourself, is this food that will heal or food that will harm? The food that we eat can either act as medicine, or it can promote illness, for this reason, there are specific foods, known to cause disease that I eliminate from my diet.
Here are my top 5 foods to avoid:
Dr. M de Klerk
In our fast paced, time-blurred life we do not prioritize sleep. There is so much to do on a daily basis and trying to fit it all in necessitates our children to compromise on sleep. Children need between 8-12 hours sleep per night. A baby or toddler needing the most and our teenagers may require less as they move more to adulthood.
We all know that sleep is good for our children, but do realize how detrimental it is?
Lack of sleep will affect our children physically and psychologically, greatly affecting their quality of life. It will affect their hormones, immune system, detoxification, healing and repair of the body, as well as mental status. We all know what an over tired child behaves like.
In an age where children seem to have increasingly more emotional as well as learning challenges, it is vital that we address lack of sleep as a primary contributor to decline in cognitive function as well as mental wellbeing. There is a frightening increase in the rate of diagnoses of chronic diseases in children, even auto immune diseases in children are becoming more prevalent.
There are a few essential factors that needs to be addressed for your child to ensure deep and peaceful sleep:
Dr. M de Klerk
Hashimoto’s thyroiditis affects one in every 6 women. This condition can only be effectively
addressed by treating the patient as a whole.
There are many “triggers” that can activate this auto immune disease and finding those triggers can
be the solution to resolving it too. It is not always easy or totally clear what the triggers are, and, in
that case, the whole body’s health needs to be taken in consideration.
The 4 supportive steps that needs to be followed, as the starting point for all Hashimoto’s patients to
begin the healing journey, is as follows:
Step #1- Removal of trigger foods- some foods will contribute to activating your immune response
on a daily basis, eventually ending up in an overwrought state of auto immunity. Removal of these
foods are essential.
Step #2- Adding healing foods- these foods will help heal your body, i.e., “food acting as medicine.”
Step #3- Reducing toxin exposure- Living a cleaner life sounds like a huge endeavor but is much
easier than you think. “Giving your body a break” will tip the scales towards healing.
Step #4- Supporting your detoxification pathways- Removing the accumulated toxic burden as well
as toxins from daily living is vital for a functioning body.
Hashimoto’s thyroiditis is a journey, but invariably, can be improved.
by Dr. M de Klerk
Making small, step by step nutritional changes will add up to big shifts in your child.
Remove these 7 things from your child's diet:
By taking care of the gut, we take care of the brain.
Better gut and brain health ultimately leads to fewer symptoms and improved daily life.
"Cortisol is an indirect fat-making hormone; when it releases excess glucose into the blood, this causes abnormally high insulin levels to convert the sugar into fat around the abdominal organs." Dr. Eric Berg.
Chronic low grade cortisol secretion = weight gain. Simple as that and yet so complicated.
I have so many women struggling to lose weight in spite of healthy balanced diets and exercise. These cases are rarely uncomplicated but managing stress and reversing the effects of too much cortisol is the first step and this makes a big difference in your attempts to lose weight.
Here are 5 tips to manage chronic stress and nourish your adrenal glands.
1. Moderate exercise. High intensity exercise can overburden already tired adrenal glands, while mild to moderate exercise allows for endorphin release which can help turn off the HPA (hypothalamic pituitary adrenal axis).
2. Breathing exercises are a wonderful way to trick your body into calming down during a stressful time. When we are stressed out we tend to hyperventilate with shallow breathing. Slow, methodical, rhythmic breaths sends a message to your brain that it can stop secreting loads of cortisol because you cannot be running away from a threat if you are breathing normally.
3. Heal the gut. Chronic low grade inflammation emitted from an unhealthy leaky gut will cause constant low grade cortisol (the anti-inflammation hormone) from your adrenals.
4. Meditation is a wonderful way to nourish over taxed adrenal glands and balance cortisol levels. Studies have shown that 20 minutes meditation per day can help reverse the negative health effects of too much cortisol
5. Rest and recover. This is so important. To switch off, rest and recover. This is also so difficult. Our modern lives allows for emails on our phone, intrusion of social media, easy access to everyone via many routes. Try to really switch off when you get home. Put your phone away and switch off your emails. Avoid social media, checking your phone before bed or first thing in the morning. Be where you are, in the moment, be present. Do not divide your attention between home, work, errands, school and everything else. Be where you are, focus on what you are doing and do not let the different spheres that need your attention overlap.
Dr. Chantell Groenewald
M. Tech Hom UJ
By Dr. Chantell Groenewald
M. Tech Hom UJ
Anxiety is a serious disorder affecting so many women today. Before diagnosing anxiety, you have to ensure you have eliminated other physical causes, medications or underlying diseases that may present as anxiety.
Some common underlying medical conditions, medications, substances and vitamin deficiencies that can cause anxiety include:
- Thyroid disfunction (hyper or hypo-thyroidism)
- Glucose and Insulin abnormalities
- Vitamin B12 deficiency/overload
- Oestrogen dominance
- Environmental toxins
- Electrolyte imbalances
- OTC or prescription drugs
- Autoimmune diseases such as SLE
- Certain connective tissue disorders
- Stimulants such as caffeine and alcohol
- Food additives such as MSG
- Food allergies
Individuals who suffer with anxiety should visit their primary health care physician so that he/she can take a thorough case study and medical history as well as order the necessary tests to eliminate all possible underlying causes of anxiety and treat accordingly.
For more information or any queries, please do not hesitate to contact us on 0124609216 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
By. Dr. Chantell Groenewald M. Tech Hom UJ
The human microbiome houses some trillions of microorganisms which mostly consists of bacteria. The total genetic make-up of our microbiome far outweigh our own genetic make-up.
Humans are 99.9% the same from a genetic point of view, it is our microbiome that separates us, the composition of each individual's microbiome can differ up to 80-90% from one person to another.
Our gut microbiome (some 3 trillion genes vs our own 22 000 genes) plays such an important role in our normal physiological processes, including metabolism, breaking down nutrients for absorption, hormone production and immunity.
Several diseases have been linked to an imbalance in the gut microbiome and for this reason it is crucial to maintain a healthy gut microbiome. Research now even suggests that what attracts us to other people is their microbiome which may house microbes that our body needs to heal.
As you can see, a healthy balance of our gut microbiome is essential for a healthy host. For this reason, we should strive to eat food that feed the healthy gut microbiome and avoid foods that feed the bad bacteria.
Here are 5 tips to a healthy gut microbiome.
Hippocrates was the father of modern medicine; he was a man way ahead of his time and understood the importance of gut health and overall health. For this reason, he said, "disease begins in the gut".
Stool analysis is a test aimed at identifying various species in the microbiome, good and bad, as well as identifying markers for gut permeability and inflammation. This unique test can identify overgrowth of various species or missing species that negatively affect our health. This test offers valuable insight into gut health and diseases associated with dysbiosis of gut flora.
For more information on stool analysis, contact 0124609216 or email email@example.com.
Doctor, where and when did my Hashimotos start? Why did nobody diagnose it before?
These are frequently asked questions.
Perhaps looking at the different stages of Hashimoto’s will help you answer this question.
Your genes make you more prone to developing Hashimoto’s. Thyroid function is normal and no attack on thyroid gland, antibodies are not present on bloods
Your TSH is normal but antibodies are now detectable in your bloods. An ultrasound might show Hashimoto’s changes.
The thyroid gland loses some of its ability to produce thyroid hormones and TSH might be slightly elevated. T3 and T4 is still normal. More symptoms of hypothyroidism will be noted now
The thyroid has now lost is capability to produce thyroid hormones and TSH, T4 and T3 will now be abnormal. This is often the stage where hypothyroidism and Hashimoto’s is diagnosed.
There is a progression of the autoimmune response and other autoimmune diseases might now also be diagnosed.
So, if you track your progression into Hashimoto’s, you might realise that this has been a development over many decades or years.
For assistance with your Hashimoto’s please contact Dr Marike de Klerk on
071 610 2852 at Naturopathic health care centre.
By: Dr. Chantell Groenewald (M. Tech Hom UJ)
Insulin is a hormone secreted by the pancreas in response to eating. Insulin's function is to store the energy from our food either as glycogen (stored in the liver and the muscles cells) or fat in adipose tissue stores.
Our cells require glucose (from the food that we eat) for energy. Insulin receptors on the cell surface act as a key-and-lock, binding with insulin in the blood to 'unlock' channels for glucose absorption into the cell. When cells become insulin resistant, our pancreas secretes more insulin in an attempt to absorb glucose into cells.
Increased visceral adipose tissue (central obesity) raises cortisol levels due to the high levels of inflammation caused by excessive inflammation markers secreted in adipose tissue. Cortisol is secreted to combat raised inflammatory markers. Cortisol (also known as the fight and flight hormone) directly inhibits the effects of insulin to ensure adequate levels of glucose during the fight and flight response. So chronically elevated cortisol causes cells to become insulin resistant, causing the pancreas to to increase insulin secretion . Now as I mentioned earlier, insulin serves to increase stored energy, so elevated levels of insulin favors fat deposition.
Fat cells = increased cortisol = insulin resistance = higher levels of insulin = increased fat deposition.
So, fat makes you fat.
Here are five tips to combat insulin resistance:
1. Intermittent fasting (IF).
Speak to your doctor to find out if this is an option for you. IF has been proven to reduce insulin resistance to increase your cells sensitivity to insulin.
2. Eliminate all forms of sugar from your diet, this includes honey, sweetners and sugar substitutes (non-nutritive sweetners such as aspartame).
3. Eliminate refined and fast releasing carbohydrates from your diet.
4. Avoid food that contain additives that can cause an insulin spike, this includes foods such as maltodexrin, corn syrup, high fructose syrup and maize/corn starch.
5. Eat a balanced diet with at least 7 servings of vegetables each day.
Remeber to include healthy fats such as coconut and olive oil and only use grass fed, organic, hormone free meat and animal products.
For more information, or to book an appointment for a weight loss assessment, please phone the NHCC on 0124609216.
By: Dr. Marlo Swanepoel
An LBA is a screening test use to give us as practitioners a broad overview of your health situation. An LBA is not a definitive diagnostic tool but, it is a tool that assists us to identify possible disease-causing problems. As your blood come into contact with your entire body, the blood and changes within may generate a picture of your health status.
It may be compared to a blood smear. This is a laboratory test to evaluate your red blood cells (RBCs), white blood cells (WBCs), and platelets. It is used to distinguish between the different types of WBCs, and to determine their relative percentages in the blood, which assist us to detect, diagnose, and monitor a range of deficiencies, diseases, and disorders involving blood cell production, function, and lifespan. An LBA however does not make use of stains of chemicals preventing blood clotting.
LBA is composed of bright and dark fields. With standard bright field microscopy, you see the object you want to view, lit by bright light.
Darkfield microscopy blocks the light from the surrounding area so that you see the magnified images against a dark background. This allows better contrast and a better view of unstained specimens.
As mentioned previously we mainly look at is your red and white blood cells. It is quite easy to identify the types of white blood cells, which allows us to instantly see and identify any changes, which may indicate certain disease states.
Certain shapes and sizes of your red blood cells might also indicate a possible conditions and nutrient deficiency, for example possible Vitamin B12 deficiencies, as Vitamin B12 plays a major role in the synthesis of red blood cells.
The plasma of the blood (the watery substance in which the blood cells float) also indicate some disease conditions. This is mainly where some intracellular parasites may be seen.
How does the process work?
Your finger will be pierced with a lancet. A small drop of blood will be taken and placed on a glass plate, which is then covered with another thin glass film. This is then placed under a microscope. Generally, the practitioner will be able to project the microscopy field (what the Dr. can see) onto a larger screen allowing the patient to visualise their own blood.
What do we at the NAHCC use LBA for?
An LBA gives you a visual representation of what your blood looks like, which impacts your health. It empowers both the doctor and the patient with valuable health information. Generally, when patients can visualize potential problems, and see how things work, they tend to better adhere to treatment plans. We at the NAHCC use LBA as an additional screening tool to assist in the treatment and management of our patients. By no means does the LBA replace required laboratory tests, it is merely used as a screening tool, similarly to what a finger prick test is used to screen for diabetes and high cholesterol.
By: Dr. Chantell Groenewald (M. Tech Hom UJ)
Aromatase is an enzyme responsible for the biosynthesis of oestrogen through aromatizing androgens.
Aromatase is secreted by the ovaries, testes, adrenal glands, placenta and adipose tissue (fat).
Increased adipose tissue = increased aromatase = increased conversion of androgens to oestrogens = oestrogen dominance = difficulty losing weight.
In women of child bearing age, up to 50% of circulating oestrogen can be produced by adipose tissue. In post menopausal women, 100% of oestrogen is produced by fat cells.
When oestrogen / progesterone raitio is healthy, then oestrogen plays a very important role in maintaining health. When oestrogen levels surge, causing oestrogen dominance (such in overweight patients secreting high amounts of oestrogen from increased aromatase activity in the fat cells), then oestrogen contributes to weight gain and difficulty losing weight. Oestrogen plays an important role in insulin sensitivity, with oestrogen dominance contributing towards insulin resistance and increased fat accumulation.
Increased fat accumulation = increased aromatase activity = increased oestrogen = increased insulin resistance = increased fat accumulation.
Fat propagates fat, making weight loss a lot more difficult than a simple equation of eat less exercise more.
In order to reverse the effects of weight gain due to oestrogen dominance, it is essential to facilitate healthy oestrogen metabolism. Here are 5 diet and lifestyle tips to help manage oestrogen dominance.
1. Support optimal liver detoxification. The liver is a major site for oestrogen metabolism. Increased oestrogen load causes an increased load on the liver. Facilitating optimal phase 1 and phase 2 detoxification assists in healthy oestrogen metabolism and a healthy oestrogen vs progesterone balance.
2. Eat plenty of cruciferous vegetables. Cruciferous vegetables contain sulphorophane which is very import in phase 2 detoxification of the liver, optimizing oestrogen metabolism.
3. Avoid environmental and lifestyle factors that can contribute towards oestrogen dominance. Plastic containers, beauty and body products, pesticides and other chemicals contain xenoestrogens that contribute towards oestrogen dominance. Always opt for organic body and beauty products, soak fresh produce in anti-pesticide spray before consumption. Avoid plastic food and beverage containers. This is only a few examples, for more info visit my previous article on oestrogen dominance.
4. Avoid conventionally reared meat and animal products (milk, cheese, butter, ghee, yogurt). Laden with hormomes, this is a potent source of exogenous oestrogen. Opt for organic, grass fed meat and animal products instead.
5. Exercise. Mild to moderate exercise helps to upregulate protective genes, mobilize fat stores, regulate cortisol and improve insulin sensitivity. Start with walking at least 10 000 steps every day. This is a great start in general fitness.
For more information on obstacles to weight loss, follow @the_female_health_homeopath or www.naturopathichealthcarecentre.co.za for my next article on this topic.
Dr Marike de Klerk M.Tech Hom (UJ)
Globus pharyngeus is the painless sensation of a lump in the throat and may be described as a foreign body sensation, a tightening or choking feeling.
Low level of GABA, the neurotransmitter that calms your brain, can lead to anxiety and panic attacks. Sometimes this anxiety can manifest as something physical, with muscle tension or muscle spasms, and when in the throat, be described as a golf ball sensation.
It does not seem uncommon, as 45% of the population has experienced it at some or other time.
Supplementing with GABA may help not only decreasing your anxiety, but also get rid of the lump.
Using GABA under the tongue, may ease the spasm within 15 seconds to 2 minutes. Once your GABA level is sufficient, it is less likely to happen unless you are under a great deal of stress.
If GABA does not do the trick, there might be another underlying cause that needs to be investigated, like:
An actual foreign body
Cancer of the throat
Contact your homeopath to help you find the cause of this distressing symptom, to treat theunderlying cause or help you find a good quality GABA supplement.
By: Dr. Chantell Groenewald (M. Tech Hom UJ)
The fat around your belly button is a special type of fat called visceral adipose tissue (VAT). This fat surrounds your organs inside your abdominal cavity including your liver, pancreas and intestines.
VAT is composed of 10% macrophages (a white blood cell that is meant to control inflammation). When homeostasis is disrupted by higher amounts of fat storage, macrophages become pro-inflammatory and secrete several pro-inflammatory markers including IL-6. IL-6 levels are directly proportionate to your waist circumference(WC) - increased WC=increased IL-6.
So the more weight you carry around your waist, the higher your inflammatory markers.
So how does this affect weight loss?
The answer is not straightforward, but the short answer is that increased inflammation = increased cortisol (the anti-inflammatory hormone). Increased cortisone suppresses insulin which eventually leads to insulin resistance. Your pancreas compensates for the insulin resistance by secreting higher than normal levels of insulin, and as we know, insulin favors fat storage.
Increased fat = increased IL-6 = increased cortisol = insulin resistance = increased fat.
Fat propagates fat.
To lose weight, you have to take into consideration the obstacles to weight loss created by the biochemical and metabolic imbalances created by visceral adipose tissue. Eating less and exercising more won't cut it! It will only leave you frustrated and ready to give up.
So step one in losing weight: fight the inflammation!
How can you do this?
1. Eliminate pro-inflammatory foods. This includes conventionally raised aimal products (milk, cheese, yoghurt, butter, animal fat),
2. Include foods that can fight the inflammation, ginger, curcumin, omega 3 rich foods),
3. Moderate exercis,
4. Get enough sleep, 7-8 hours of good quality sleep every night),
5. Drink a good quality omega 3 with a high ratio of EPA.
To be continued in a second installment tomorrow...
By: Dr. Marlo Swanepoel
What is Constipation?
Constipation is defined as a hard, tough stool to pass OR a decrease in frequency of passing a stool.
Many people experience constipation from time to time. Generally, occasional constipation is not alarming. If, however, you have been constipated for weeks or months, you may have chronic constipation, which is a cause of concern. The purpose of a bowel movement is to eliminate the undigested food and toxic by-product which may negatively affect our health.
Chronic constipation may lead to things like:
Numerous studies have demonstrated that gut health is linked to the immune system, autoimmune diseases, mood and mental health, hormonal disorders, skin conditions, and cancer.
What are common causes of constipation?
Natural treatment for constipation
1. PSYLUM HUSK
This is a type of fibre that increases the bulk in your stool, an effect that helps to cause movement of the intestines. It also works by increasing the amount of water in the stool, making the stool softer and easier to pass.
2. FERMENTED FOODS
Fermentation is a natural process through which microorganisms like yeast and bacteria convert carbohydrates into alcohol or acids. The alcohol or acids act as a natural preservative which give fermented foods a distinct zest and tartness.
Fermentation promotes the growth of probiotics. These probiotics can help restore the balance of friendly bacteria in your gut and may alleviate some digestive problems.
Examples of fermented foods include:
Occasional constipation can be treated with magnesium citrate. This supplement is an osmotic laxative, which means it relaxes your bowels and pulls water into your intestines. The water helps soften and bulk up your stool, which makes it easier to pass. Magnesium citrate is relatively gentle and generally would not cause urgency, unless you take too much.
4. VITAMIN C
Vitamin C is a water-soluble vitamin. Unabsorbed vitamin C, like magnesium citrate, has an osmotic effect in your digestive tract. That means it pulls water into your intestines, which can help soften your stool. Be warn to much vitamin C may cause urgency and stomach cramping.
Picking the right probiotic is key to treating constipation, as various strains have various functions and potencies.
The following strains of bacteria, which have been shown to improve stool consistency, should be included in your probiotic supplement:
Senna is a smooth muscle stimulant, meaning it will stimulate bowel movement (peristalsis) to alleviate constipation.
The primary active compounds in senna leaves are known as senna glycosides, or sennosides. These Sennosides can be broken down by your gut bacteria, but it cannot be absorbed. It is this breakdown of sennosides which mildly irritates the cells in your colon, causesing the stimulating/ laxative effects.
Senna is to be used ONLY as a short-term treatment, for maximum 5-7 days. Long-term senna intake may lead to laxative dependence, electrolyte disturbances, and liver damage.
DISCLAIMER: Nothing posted or published by@ doc_marlo (Dr. Marlo Swanepoel) serve as medical advice. All posts are intended for informational purposes only and under no circumstances is it a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek professional medical advice should you experience any medical conditions or concerns.
By: Dr. Chantell Groenewald (M. Tech Hom UJ)
The common cold is a viral infection of the nose and throat. There are many different viral infections that can cause the common cold, but the infection is generally harmless and self-limiting.
Low grade fever
Influenza, commonly referred to as the flu, is a viral infection that targets your respiratory system including your nose, throat and lungs. There are two types of influenza viruses, influenza A and influenza B, that are mainly responsible for the seasonal flu epidemics each year. The virus is spread from person to person through sputum droplets spray when an infected person coughs, sneezes or talks.
Body aches and pains
Runny or congested nose
Anyone can get influenza and develop mild to severe symptoms. Individuals with a
compromised immune system, pregnant women, the elderly and young children are most at risk for developing flu-related complications.
A healthy immune system plays an important role in cold and flu prevention as well as a fast recovery:
1. Get enough sleep: 7-8 hours of good quality sleep each night is important for
maintaining healthy levels of cortisol. Chronic low-levels of cortisol supresses the
immune system and can contribute to developing recurrent colds and flu with poor
2. Vitamin SUN: Vitamin D is expressed on our immune cells and play an important role
in maintaining a healthy immune system. Some studies suggest that most of our
population is in fact deficient in Vitamin D. The sun is the best source of Vitamin D,
so catch up on some winter sun during the flu season. If a blood test reveals that you
are deficient in Vitamin D, then you need to talk to your health care practitioner who
can prescribe a suitable supplement.
3. Eat 5-7 servings of vegetables each day: A healthy diet is key to a healthy immune
system. Eating a variety of fruits and vegetables each day promotes healthy
biological pathways which helps protect us from disease.
4. Maintain a healthy gut: 70% of our immune system resides in our gut. Gut
permeability contributes to low level inflammation and supresses our immune
system. Avoid foods that can cause inflammation such as sugar, processed foods,
additives and preservatives. Include foods rich in pre and probiotics like kefir or
kombucha with gut healing bacteria.
5. Stress management: Chronically elevated levels of cortisol contributes to chronic
inflammation. Chronic inflammation is associated with chronic disease which can put
you at risk for developing recurrent colds and flu or serious flu related complications.
Homeopathy is a safe and gentle system of cure that uses various substances from the
plant, mineral and animal kingdom to treat various health conditions. The substances used can cause the symptoms the remedy is indicated for when used in its crude form and treat the same symptom picture when used in a diluted form (likes cures likes). This means that each person will receive a unique remedy suited to their specific set of symptoms.
Homeopathic remedies undergo a process of serial dilution and succession making it 100% safe to use for anyone, including babies and pregnant women.
Homeopathic remedies useful in the treatment of colds and flu with their characteristic symptom pictures:
Aconite Napellus 200: Aconite is used in the first 24 – 48 hours of developing a fever.
This remedy is our first line of defence when a disease develops suddenly with a
rapid onset of symptoms. Fever usually starts suddenly at 9pm at night after
exposure to cold. Symptoms are usually accompanied by physical restlessness and
anxiety. Heavy head and pulsating headache. Eyes feel hot and dry. Nose stopped up
with watery discharge. Hoarse, dry, croupy cough. Heart palpitations (heart beating
fast) during fever with a thirst and restlessness. High fevers with no perspiration.
Euphrasia 200: This remedy is characterized by hot burning tears with profuse
watery bland nasal discharge. Red, burning eyes with hot, burning tears that streak
the face and made worse by exposure to open air. Plenty of bland (not burning)
watery nasal discharge. Nasal irritation that causes sneezing. Hoarseness with a
cough caused by a tickle in the throat.
Gelsemium Sempervirens 200: Aching, tiredness, heaviness, weakness and soreness
of the body. Apathy and dullness, does not wish to speak or have anyone near them.
Head feels dull and heavy and headache is usually accompanied by dim or double
vision (headache affects vision). Profuse shaking during fever, patient is chilly and
aching all over without a thirst. Cold chills may alternate with waves of heat.
Baptisia Tinctora 200: Extreme fatigue (feeling excessively tired) with soreness,
aching and heaviness of the muscles. Patients is confused as if drunk. Face looks dark
red and the breath smells very bad. Feels as though he can only swallow liquids with
great difficulty in swallowing solids, the throat feels as if it is closed. Chest feels
heavy and makes breathing difficult. Low grade fevers (mild fevers).
Arsinicum Album 200: The patient feels very tired after doing very little with sudden great weakness and exhaustion. Complaints are accompanies by a sensation of great heat and burning as well as marked restlessness.
Great fear of death and anxiety about his/her health. Burning in the eyes with hot acrid tears. Nose feels blocked with plenty of hot, burning nasal discharge and sneezing without relief.
No appetite and patient does not even want to see or smell food, but they are thirsty for small sips of water often. Diarrhoea is burning and has a cadaverous smell. Shortness of breath with burning in the chest and the sensation there is a weight pressing on the chest. High fevers with cold skin but burning heat inside (Ice cold outside while very hot on the inside) and the patient wants to be covered and feels better for hot applications and external heat.
Homeopathy is a unique system of medicine aimed to treat each person as an individual.
Each remedy is carefully selected based on each individuals specific and unique symptom picture. For this reason, a qualified homeopathic practitioner will spend a fair amount of
time listening to each complaint and asking specific questions to find the correct remedy for
you (simillimum remedy).
For more information or to book a consultation, please contact The Naturopathic Health Care Center on 012 460 9216 or firstname.lastname@example.org
This article in no way serves to diagnose or to treat anyone suffering from a cold or influenza. If you suspect you are
suffering from a cold or flu, then you should consult with your primary health care physician. The opinions and suggestions
in this article are those of Dr. Chantell Groenewald based on her years and experience as a qualified Homeopath and
primary health care physician and should in no way serve to treat anyone or replace a physical consultation with a qualified
health care practitioner.
By: Dr. Chantell Groenewald (M. Tech Hom UJ)
Influenza, commonly referred to as the flu, is a viral infection that targets your respiratory system including your nose, throat and lungs. There are two types of influenza viruses, influenza A and influenza B, that are mainly responsible for the seasonal flu epidemics each year.
The virus is spread from person to person through sputum droplets spray when an infected person coughs, sneezes or talks.
Body aches and pains
Runny or congested nose
Anyone can get influenza and develop mild to severe symptoms. Individuals with a compromised immune system, pregnant women, the elderly and young children are most at risk for developing flu-related complications.
A healthy immune system plays an important role in flu prevention and a fast recovery should you contract the virus.
1. Get enough sleep: 7-8 hours of good quality sleep each night is important for maintaining healthy levels of cortisol. Chronic low-levels of cortisol supresses the immune system and can contribute to developing recurrent colds and flu with poor recovery time.
2. Vitamin SUN: Vitamin D is expressed on our immune cells and play an important role in maintaining a healthy immune system. Some studies suggest that most of our population is in fact deficient in Vitamin D. The sun is the best source of Vitamin D, so catch up on some winter sun during the flu season. If a blood test reveals that you are deficient in Vitamin D, then you need to talk to your health care practitioner who can prescribe a suitable supplement.
3. Eat 5-7 servings of vegetables each day: A healthy diet is key to a healthy immune system. Eating a variety of fruits and vegetables each day promotes healthy biological pathways which helps protect us from disease.
4. Maintain a healthy gut: 70% of our immune system resides in our gut. Gut permeability contributes to low level inflammation and supresses our immune system. Avoid foods that can cause inflammation such as sugar, processed foods, additives and preservatives. Include foods rich in pre and probiotics like kefir or kombucha with gut healing bacteria.
5. Stress management: Chronically elevated levels of cortisol contributes to chronic
inflammation. Chronic inflammation is associated with chronic disease which can put you at risk for developing flu and serious flu related complications.
Natural anti-viral supplements:
1. Vitamin C: Studies suggest that therapeutic doses of Vitamin C assists in alleviating and reducing symptoms of colds and flu.
2. Echinacea root: This herb has immune enhancing and immune modulating activities which can assist in the treatment of acute infections such as cold and flu. It also has anti-inflammatory effects which can alleviate upper and lower respiratory symptoms associated with bronchial inflammation.
3. Sambucus Nigra (Elder Berry): The key indications for this herb is in the treatment of influenza, the common cold and other acute viral infections.
4. Vitamin ACE, Zinc and selenium: Vitamin A, C, E as well as Zinc and selenium plays an important role in a healthy functioning immune system. Talk to your pharmacist or health care provider about an immune boosting multi-vitamin to support your immune system during flu season.
5. Garlic (Allium Sativum): Research studies conducted on aged garlic for the treatment of acute colds and flu found that garlic had positive immune boosting effects and reduced the severity of cold and flu symptoms.
Homeopathy is another safe and effective modality for the treatment of influenza and will be the topic of my next article. Homeopathic remedies for the safe and effective treatment of influenza.
For more information please contact The Naturopathic Health Care Center on 012 460 9216 or
This article in no way serves to diagnose or to treat anyone suffering from influenza. If you suspect you are suffering from influenza, then you should consult with your primary health care physician. Before using a new herb or supplementation,
you should consult with a qualified health care practitioner. The opinions and suggestions in this article are those of Dr. Chantell Groenewald based on her years and experience as a qualified Homeopath and should in no way serve to replace a
physical consultation with a qualified health care practitioner.
By Dr. Marlo Swanepoel
What is biopuncture?
Biopuncture is a therapy consisting of injecting homeopathic products into specific areas in order to stimulate the bodies’ natural and own healing properties. Most of these injections are given under the skin or in the muscles. In most cases, several small injections are given in a specific area or areas in a single session. Biopuncture also focus a lot on homeotoxicology, which means, the toxin accumulation in the body, which may block the natural responses such as immune system or the reflex responses of your nervous system (in simple terms it aids detoxification) which helps a lot when it comes to chronic diseases.
It is important to remember that biopuncture cannot be compared to conventional injection therapy such as cortisone or pain killers. Biopuncture is not an aniti-inflammatory nor is it a pain killer. It is a remedy which works on repairing and healing, by stimulating the bodies’ natural functions.
For example, in some cases such as in degenerative conditions (eg. early osteoarthritis) which is caused by overuse and chronic low grade inflammation, the use of biopuncture may cause an acute inflammatory response which will lead to increase in blood flow, increase in cytokines and macrophages which will lead to remodelling and repair and it may stop the chronic low grade inflammation which will reduce the degeneration process.
Conditions where Biopuncture may be indicated include (just to mention a few):
Musculoskeletal injuries of problems
An interesting and well explained article written by Dr. Lee Wolfer, MD Integrative Sports, Spine and Wellness Medicine you might want to read
We have all been ‘stressed’ at some point or another about various upcoming events like deadlines at work or emotional upsets in our private life. Feeling stressed can be totally normal and has benefits such as the fight and flight response which can set in motion a physiological response to protect you from harm.
This stress response is particularly important in a life or death situation often experienced by our hunter-gatherer ancestors when being faced with a predator like a lion, these physiological changes such as a faster heart rate and increase glucose to the skeletal muscles enabled them to either run away or fight for survival.
This is an example of an acute stress response and once the threat is over, hormones involved in this response (ephedrine,dopamine and norephidrine) return to normal levels and we return to a state of rest.
In today’s modern age stress is often not that simple or fleeting, with the stress responses often becoming chronic and repetitive (high volume and stressful work load, upcoming deadlines or an abusive relationship where the stressor becomes chronic). Stress can motivate us to get up from the couch and sit down in front of our desk and get some urgent work done, but it can also trigger the chronic stress response called the Hypothalamic-Pituitary-Adrenal axis, which causes chronically elevated levels of cortisol that floods your system and has adverse health effects.
For most people the stress response is fleeting and once the ‘threat’ has been dealt with, we can stop worrying. For people with GAD, the worry does not go away, and they feel stressed for prolonged periods of time without there always being a clear reason for their worry or concern.
Steadman’s medical dictionary defines anxiety as: “Vague uneasy feeling of discomfort or dread accompanied by an autonomic response (the source often non-specific or unknown to the individual); a feeling of apprehension caused by an anticipation of danger.”
According to the Diagnostic and Statistical manual 5th edition, an individual can be diagnosed with GAD if they have:
A. Excessive anxiety and worry, occurring more days than not for at least 6 months, about a number of events or activities,
B. The person finds it difficult to control the worry,
C. The anxiety and worry are associated with three or more of the following six symptoms:
The exact cause of anxiety is poorly understood, but scientists believe that there are various contributing factors such as a genetic predisposition to develop anxiety as well as environmental factors (which can be current conditions or a past traumatic experience).
The human genome project was completed in 2003 and has identified several genes that are believed to play a significant role in the development in GAD. These genetic markers include, but are not limited to:
1. Catechol-O-Methyltransferase (COMT) gene: The COMT gene is responsible for encoding the COMT enzyme which plays an important role in regulating dopamine levels in the prefrontal cortex of the brain. COMT Val158Met snippet plays a very important role in the way dopamine is metabolised. The Met/Met variant produces less of the COMT enzyme which translates to decreased metabolism of dopamine. Higher than normal dopamine levels are associated with increased anxiety and anxiety related disorders.
2. Brain derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF): Researches believe that this gene plays a role in the regulation of the stress response. The BDNF Val66Met snippet is believed to play a role in the stress response, individuals with decreased levels of BDNF in the cerebrospinal fluid are more likely to develop an anxiety related order following a psycho-social stress response.
Natural treatment protocols for the management of GAD:
4. Homeopathy: A carefully selected single similimum remedy that can mimic the symptoms associated with GAD, can treat the underlying cause without the harmful side effects of commonly prescribed anti-anxyolitics.
GAD is a serious mental health disorder that requires medical attention just like any other health condition. Treatment of GAD should be a holistic approach with a multidisciplinary approach as well as the necessary diet and lifestyle interventions to restore optimal health and mental well-being.
“It is time to tell everyone who is dealing with a mental health issue that they are not alone and that getting support is not a sign of weakness but a sign of strength.” -Michelle Obama-
DNAnalysis and genetic testing or Homeopathic consultations for GAD:
Dr. Chantell Groenewald (M. tech Hom UJ)
The Naturopathic Health are Center.
012 460 9216
Psychotherapy for GAD:
Kevin & Elise Fourie
Counselling Psychologists / Voorligtingsielkundiges
MA Counselling Psychology (Stell) // MA Voorligtingsielkunde (Stell)
Tel: (012) 348-7393 / 1342
Fax to mail: 0866 749 636
Elise: 082 600 5812
Kevin: 083 448 9436
*Disclaimer. This article in no way serves as a diagnosis or treatment for GAD, nor does it serve to replace a consultation with a registered health care professional. Opinions in this article are those of Dr. Chantell Groenewald based on her own research and professional training. Individuals who suspect they may be suffering from GAD should seek attention from a qualified practitioner before using any supplementations or therapy protocols mentioned in this article. GAD is a serious medical condition and requires profession health care.
34% of South African men of reproductive age are considered sub-fertile, meaning they will struggle to conceive.
Seven Lifestyle changes that may help to increase sperm count:
1. Stop smoking. Smoking causes free radicals and increases the toxic load on the body affecting the DNA and health of sperm.
2. Reduce alcohol use.
3. Shake off excess weight. Obesity go hand in hand with insulin resistance and inflammation, both directly affecting the sperm.
4. Take some time to relax and keep your stress levels as low as possible. Increase in adrenalin and cortisol will lead to a decrease in sperm count and health.
5. Think about this for a sec ...
your sperm contain the DNA of your potential future children.........
If your sperm doesn't have the correct nutrients it will most likely lead to
"substandard" DNA. Feed yourself with nutrient dense food which will increase sperm count, morphology and mobility. Include foods rich in zinc, selenium, vitamin c, and Lycopene.
6. Your testicles are outside of your body for a reason. Sperm are temperature sensitive. Overheated sperm will denature leading to a decreased sperm count. So limit excessively HOT baths and soaking and make sure your underwear are not to tight.
7. Protect your ... jewels. Injury to your testes may lead to poor sperm production. Long distance cycling is a big cause of testicular injury.
Naturopathic Health Care Centre