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:
"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.
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. 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.
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. 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.
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.
By: Dr. Chantell Groenewald
M. Tech Hom UJ
Acne, also know as acne vulgaris, is a common skin condition that occurs when the hair follicle and accompanying oil gland becomes blocked by dead skin cells, dried oil secretions and bacteria. This results in either:
1. Non-inflammatory acne: blackheads and whiteheads, or
2. Inflammatory acne: pastules, pimples, cysts and sometimes abscesses.
Acne most commonly starts around puberty due to increasing hormone levels, particularly testosterone which stimulates oil glands to produce excessive amounts of oil. Several other conditions that affects hormone levels can also cause acne, this includes:
Here are 10 natural treatment protocols that may be useful in treating acne due to hormonal imbalances:
1. Supporting phase 1 and 2 detoxification of the liver. The liver is responsible for metabolising our hormones, so supporting liver detoxification often results in improvement of hormonal imbalances. Some conventional treatment protocols for acne can be hepatotoxic, which can further aggravate hormonal imbalances in the long run.
2. Eat 5-7 servings of vegetables per day. Cruciferous and allium vegetables such as broccoli, brussel sprouts, onions, garlic and cabbage contains a substance called sulphorophane which can assist in phase 2 detoxification of the liver
3. Anti-oxidants help neutralize harmful metabolites from hormone metabolism. There are various products on the market, however a diet rich in color spectrum vegetables and berries has a potent anti-oxidant effect.
4. Herbals such as chaste berry can assists in managing hormonal imbalances.
5. Ecchinatia premium can help manage acne with a secondary bacterial infection.
6. Anti-inflammatory products such as omega 3 and curcumin can reduce inflammation associated with inflammatory acne.
7. Adaptogens such as ashwaganda can assist in stress management.
8. Homeopathy. Several homeopathic remedies can assist in the treatment of acne. A remedy can be chosen based on an individuals specific symptom picture.
9. A gut healing diet that includes anti-inflammatory foods and plenty of gut healing probiotics can assist in the treatment of acne.
10. A natural skin care regime with home made facial products. This should include gentle exfoliation, natural face wash and facial masks as well as applying products that can combat inflammation and infection such as a good quality tea tree oil.
The skin is a reflection of our overall health. A glowing healthy skin reflects a glowing healthy system whereas acne ridden skin is often an indication of underlying imbalances which should be addressed. Suppressing acne symptoms can clear your skin but the underlying problem is often not resolved and the acne can return once treatment is stopped. Careful examination of each individual and a holistic approach often yields the most favourable and permanent results.
By. Dr. Chantell Groenewald
M. Tech Hom UJ
Is your oestrogen dominance the reason why your are struggling to lose weight?
What is oestrogen dominance?
We have two hormones that play a key role in preparing our uterine lining for pregnancy each month, oestrogen and progesterone. This is however not their only function and both hormones play a major role in many of our bodily functions, including but not limited to weight loss, libido and mental health. There should be a balance between the amount of oestrogen versus progesterone secreted, with anything between a 100 – 500 ratio being normal. Anything lower than 100 is seen as oestrogen dominance.
What are the signs and symptoms of oestrogen dominance?
1. Weight gain and difficulty losing weight
2. Difficulty conceiving (especially in the presence of low progesterone)
3. Headaches and migraines
4. Excessive PMS symptoms
5. Bloating of the stomach
6. Hair loss
7. Anxiety and depression
8. Decreased libido and sex drive
9. Fatigue and decreased energy
Higher than normal oestrogen levels (or rather an abnormal normal oestrogen versus progesterone ratio) can occur due to three mechanisms:
1. Excessive production of oestrogen in the body:
This can happen when you are overweight. Fat cells not only store fat but also acts as an endocrine gland secreting oestrogen, further exacerbating oestrogen dominance and further weight gain,
2. Activation of oestrogen receptors from exogenous oestrogen such as xenoestrogens:
Xenoestrogens are bad oestrogen found from sources outside our bodies in products such as cosmetics, plastic bottles, pesticides etc, and
3. Lower than normal levels of progesterone:
DHEA is the building block for cortisol as well as progesterone, during periods of stress our bodies favour the production of cortisol, which is OK if it is only for short periods of time, but this becomes a major issue when we suffer from chronic low level stress.
Why do we need adequate progesterone levels and normal oestrogen versus progesterone ratio’s? Well, progesterone counters all the nasty side effects of too much oestrogen and is responsible for:
1. Boosting body temperature and metabolism
2. Promotes healthy libido and sex drive
3. Promotes healthy thyroid functioning
4. Lowers blood pressure
5. Has a calming effects on the brain and acts as a natural antidepressant
6. Boosts immune system
7. Retains bone density
8. Maintains healthy uterine lining for pregnancy
9. Natural diuretic
10. Helps promote healthy insulin levels.
Weight loss efforts are often futile if you suffer from oestrogen dominance. Testing your oestrogen versus progesterone ratio is as easy as having a blood test done for serum oestrogen and progesterone levels during two key phases of your cycle. Correcting oestrogen dominance helps us feel happier, healthier and assists in long term and permanent weight loss.
For more information, please do not hesitate to contact us at The Naturopathic Health Care Centre.
By Dr. Chantell Groenewald
M. Tech Hom UJ
The Human Genome Project successfully mapped out 25 000 genes that make up the human species. What does that have to do with our day to day health? Well, DNA does not just tell us the obvious such as what we can see when we look at each other, it also tells us what diseases we are predisposed to and what diet and lifestyle interventions we can apply to prevent these diseases. This is what we call tailored lifestyle and nutritional medicine and it is the medicine of the future.
How can DNA analysis help you?
DNA health is a complete breakdown of your genetic ability to methylate, metabolise lipds, regulate inflammation, metabolize insulin, detoxify and oxidize. What does this mean?
Methylation is the process involved in switching genes on and off, gene repair and protection as well as making certain types of hormones. A recent study showed that up to 60% of Americans have an impaired ability to methylate, which puts you at risk for various diseases including coronary artery disease, anxiety disorders and certain types of cancer.
Inflammation. This is crucial in our health. If we have a genetic predisposition to up-regulate the expression of pro inflammatory markers, which puts you at risk for developing pro-inflammatory chronic diseases including periondontitis, certain autoimmune disease, cancer, cognitive decline and depression.
Lipid metabolism is involved in managing cholesterol metabolism. When lipid metabolism is not favourable, it can put you at risk for developing heart disease, stroke as well as late onset alzheimers disease.
Insulin Metabolism. Certain genetic markers contributes towards the development of insulin resistance, especially in the presence of certain lifestyle factors.
Detoxification refers to phase I and phase II detoxification of the liver. These genetic variants is particularly important when it comes to the metabolism of estrogen, estrogen driven diseases and various types of cancer.
Oxidization refers to the genetic markers which will determine if you can neutralize harmful free radicals that are produced daily as part of our normal physiological processes. If your ability to oxidize is compromised, then your are at greater risk of developing certain types of cancer as well as coronary artery disease.
DNA analysis is aimed at giving each patient the tools to focus their efforts in terms of diet, nutrition and lifestyle to favour the up-regulation of protective genes and down regulate the enzyme function of less favourable genes to prevent developing the diseases that you might be at risk of developing based on your genetic make up. Having certain markers that put you at risk for developing certain diseases does not mean that you will develop said disease, 10% of diseases are genetic predisposition, 90% is food and lifestyle. The correct diet and lifestyle for your genetic make up is crucial in disease prevention.
Health issues that may benefit from DNA analysis includes, but are not limited to:
Difficulty loosing weight
Personal or family history of cancer
Skin conditions such as eczema, acne and psoriasis
Family history of alzheimers disease or cognitive decline
High blood pressure
Anxiety and depressive disorders
Autoimmune disorders including Hashimotos Thyroiditis
What does DNA analysis entail? A buccal swab (swab of the inside of your cheek), which is sent to the lab for analysis. A full rapport is released and each patient receives a tailored diet, nutritional and lifestyle plan tailored to your individual needs.
Personalized lifestyle medicine is the future of medicine. For more information please do not hesitate to contact The Naturopathic Health Care centre on (012) 460 9216
By. Dr Chantell Groenewald (M. Tech Hom UJ)
Difficulty losing weight is an issue that troubles many individuals at some point in their lives, if not most of their lives. In the past, mainstream medicine would have you believe that it is a simple equation of ‘eat less, exercise more’. An energy expenditure equation lifestyle can be very frustrating with little to no weight loss to show for your efforts.
In my practice, I focus on healthy living, whole foods and weight loss that is a side effect of a healthy lifestyle. The 5 most common obstacles to weight loss I have encountered are as follows:
1. Oestrogen dominance: This is a common issue today, aggravated by processed hormone loaded and antibiotic fed livestock. Xenoestrogens (harmful oestrogen derived from external sources) are found in our make-up, body products, plastic containers, meat, chicken, dairy and vegetables (pesticides). Higher than normal oestrogen levels (or rather higher than normal oestrogen vs. progesterone ratio) is responsible for weight gain and difficulty losing weight. Ageing alone contributes to higher than normal oestrogen levels starting from the age of about 35.
2. Thyroid dysfunction: Hypothyroidism refers to lower than normal levels of the hormone T4, which is responsible for our metabolism. Thyroid stimulating hormone (TSH) increases when circulating levels of T4 is decreasing, so some people might have normal levels of T4 with elevated levels of THS, which is called sub-clinical hypothyroidism. Both hypothyroidism and sub-clinical hypothyroidism will cause difficulty losing weight.
3. Chronic stress: Chronic stress is responsible for chronically elevated cortisol levels. Cortisol is known as our fight and flight hormone, but it’s role in the functioning of our bodily systems is much more broad. Cortisol plays a role in immunity, metabolism, hormone production and insulin sensitivity. Chronically elevated levels of cortisol causes sluggish digestion, insulin resistance, poor immunity and issues with hormone production. All of the above will favour weight gain.
4. Leaky gut: A leaky gut is the root cause of chronic inflammation which affects all the other systems in our body. There is an inflammatory cascade which perpetuates the formation of fat cells in the presence of inflammatory markers, so a very oversimplified explanation is that chronic inflammation makes you fat.
5. Insulin resistance: Increased abdominal fat is linked to increased insulin sensitivity and decreased weight loss. Being overweight thus makes you more resistant to weight loss.
All of these obstacles to weight loss can easily be addressed through a tailored nutritional and diet lifestyle plan. There is no one size fits all and most women with obstacles to eight loss are left disappointed after following the latest diet trend. Each woman is an individual and should treat their weight loss journey as such.
By Dr. Chantell Groenewald (M. Tech Hom UJ).
Estrogen dominance refers to an imbalance in the ratio of the female hormones estrogen versus progesterone. This ratio is crucial considering estrogen acts as an 'on switch' while progesterone acts as the 'off switch' for many processes in our body. An imbalance in this ratio is responsible for chronic diseases including, but not limited to endometriosis, uterine fibroids, endometrial and breast cancer as well as fibrocystic breast disease.
Estrogen dominance can be caused by three mechanisms:
Excessive production of estrogen in the body,
Activation of estrogen receptors from exogenous estrogen such as xenoestrogen, and
Lower than normal levels of progesterone.
Estrogen dominance can be determined by a serum estrogen and progesterone blood test, however these results are not always accurate and a diagnosis can be made based on the clinical picture.
Here are 10 signs of estrogen dominance
Weight gain and difficulty loosing weight
Difficulty conceiving (especially in the presence of low progesterone)
Headaches and migraines
Excessive PMS symptoms
Bloating of the stomach
Anxiety and depression
Decreased libido and sex drive
Fatigue and decreased energy
Here are 5 diet and lifestyle changes to implement to help reduce estrogen dominance:
Eat at last 5 - 7 servings of vegetables each day. Include raw and cooked vegetables and plenty of cruciferous and allium vegetables. Vegetables help rewire your biochemical pathways and assists in estrogen metabolism.
Avoid plastic containers. This includes water containers and food packaged in plastic.
Plastic is a rich source of xenoestrogens.
Eat organic produce and free range reared live stock. This helps reduce exposure to growth hormones and pesticides that contribute to estrogen dominance.
Include plenty of fiber including insoluble fiber in your diet. Fiber helps facilitate healthy metabolism of estrogen.
Use organic skin care products. What you put in your body is just as important as what you put on your body. Non organic skin care products contain products that become xenoestrogens when absorbed through the skin.
By Dr. Chantell Groenewald M. Tech Hom (UJ)
What is infertility.
Infertility is defined as not conceiving or carrying an infant full term after having regular unprotected sex for at least 12 months. According to Parent24, an estimated 15-20% of couples in South Africa struggle with infertility.
Causes of infertility in women:
Factors that play a crucial role in creating a neighbourhood conducive to conceiving include:
“Parenting begins the moment you make any conscious effort to care for your own health in preparation for enhancing your child’s conception.” Carista Luminare-Rosen
By: Dr. Chantell Groenewald (M.Tech Hom UJ)
What is inflammation?
Inflammation is our body’s immune reaction following damage to tissue, to localize and eliminate the injury or infection. Acute inflammation has many triggers including:
This acute response is crucial to life, however when inflammation become chronic then it negatively impacts our health. Chronic inflammation happens when the triggering substance is not entirely eliminated, this can include but is not limited to:
Chronic inflammation damages healthy tissue. Most adults have chronic inflammation that goes undetected by physicians, fuelling disease. Research suggest that chronic inflammation either promotes or is the direct cause of many diseases including:
What role do our genes play in inflammation?
Interleukin-6 (IL-6), Tumour necrosis factor alpha (TNFA) and Interleukin-1 (IL-1) play a key role in the regulation of inflammation. Some individuals have variations in their nucleotide base pairs that favours the expression of IL-6, IL-1 and TNFA which in turn promotes inflammation. While most underlying causes of inflammation can be addressed, we cannot change our genes, so these individuals need to take special care in terms of diet and lifestyle interventions to combat inflammation.
What are the special investigations to identify inflammation?
Article by Dr. Chantell Groenewald M. Tech Hom (UJ)
DR. Chantell Groenewald
M. Tech Hom (UJ)
What is PCOS?
Polycystic ovarian syndrome is the most common hormonal disorder affecting women of child bearing age. It is a chronic disease affecting the functioning of the ovaries causing excessive male hormones to be secreted and is characterized by:
What causes of PCOS?
The cause for PCOS is poorly understood, but genetic and environmental factors seem to play an important role. There is a hormonal dysregulation at play, which includes
What are the diagnostic criteria for PCOS?
The current diagnostic criteria for PCOS is at least two of the three following characteristics:
What are the signs and symptoms of PCOS?
The signs and symptoms of PCOS varies from one woman to the next. Here is a list of the most common symptoms:
What are the natural treatment protocols for PCOS?
1. Losing weight
This is vital in controlling insulin sensitivity, reversing insulin resistance and metabolic syndrome (triad of elevated insulin, cholesterol and blood pressure) and will aid in controlling the production of excess androgens by the ovaries. A carefully selected diet may assist in weight loss. There are various options including low carbohydrate, intermittent fasting, anti-inflammatory and anti-allergic eating programs to choose from. The correct eating plan can reduce inflammation and help control insulin levels and manage dysregulation of hormones.
2. Controlling stress
Excess cortisol produced by the adrenal glands during periods of high stress has a profound effect on our hormones. Long term expose to higher than normal levels of cortisol translate into insulin resistance, weight gain and hormonal imbalances. Getting enough sleep is also vitally important in regulating cortisol levels.
There are various supplements that can aid in controlling blood sugar, reducing excess androgen production and balancing female hormones. A qualified practitioner can prescribe the correct supplements to help manage each individual case. Some supplements that have been suggested to benefit cases of PCOS include:
I.Chaste Tree: May be beneficial in regulating erratic ovulation, acne, oligomennorrhoea and amenorrhoea, ovarian cysts and assist in sleep maintenance.
II.Inositol: specifically, myo-inositol, is a vitamin like substance found in many plants and produced in our bodies. There are various studies that illustrates the beneficial effects of myo-inositol in the treatment of PCOS.
III.Vitamin D: Vitamin D deficiency effects an estimated 60-70% of people. The only way to test if you are vitamin D deficient is by doing a blood test (supplementing without confirmed deficiency is dangerous and should be done under the supervision of a primary health care physician). Vit D plays an important role in maturation of eggs and ovulation.
IV.Folic acid, omega 3, calcium, magnesium, zinc, n-acetylcysteine and chromium are a group of supplements that may be beneficial in the treatment of PCOS.
There are various case studies that demonstrates the beneficial effects of specific homeopathic remedies to aid in the treatment of PCOS. Following a consultation, a homeopath can prescribe a remedy that suites each individual case.
Moderate exercise assists in both stress management and weight loss, which aids in controlling cortisol as well as insulin levels.
PCOS is a silent disorder with an estimated 50% of woman being not being diagnosed correctly. The potential long-term health risks of PCOS include sleep apnoea, endometrial cancer, fatty liver disease, type 2 diabetes, cardiometabolic disease and more. There are several ways to naturally balance our hormones and reverse the effects of PCOS
By: Dr. Chantell Groenewald M. Tech Hom (UJ)
What is Endometriosis?
Endometriosis is an oestrogen-mediated inflammatory disease that occurs when tissue that lines the inside of your uterus (endometrium) is found on other organs outside the uterus. The endometrial tissue can be limited to the pelvic cavity, most commonly involving the:
Less commonly it may involve the:
Endometrial tissue can spread beyond the pelvic organs including the lungs as well as the membranes covering the lungs and heart. This functioning extra-uterine endometrial patches responds cyclically to menstrual hormones, it thickens, breaks down and bleeds just like the endometrium lining the uterus often causing painful periods and infertility. The blood associated with the extra uterine endometrial tissue breaking down is trapped within the pelvic cavity causing:
What causes of Endometriosis?
The generally accepted hypothesis for the cause of endometriosis is retrograde flow of menstrual tissue through the fallopian tubes which is then inserted in ectopic sites in the pelvis and less commonly outside the pelvic cavity. An estimated 90% of woman experience retrograde flow, hence why a genetic predisposition has been postulated for the survival and growth of this ectopic endometrial tissue.
What are the diagnostic criteria for Endometriosis?
Endometriosis is diagnosed in an estimated 25-50 % of women who suffer from infertility and 75-80% of woman who suffer from chronic pelvic pain. Endometriosis can only be diagnosed through a pelvic laparoscopy (surgically inserted viewing tube into the pelvic cavity) as well as a biopsy of suspected ectopic endometrial tissue. An estimated 1-7 % of women who are asymptomatic will be diagnosed with endometriosis during unrelated pelvic surgery.
What are the signs and symptoms of Endometriosis?
The main symptom of endometriosis is chronic pelvic pain which is often worse just before and during menses. Another leading symptom is infertility, with an estimated 20-50% of infertile women being affected. Symptoms may vary depending on where the ectopic tissue has implanted, this includes:
What are the natural treatment protocols for Endometriosis?
To fully understand the treatment protocols that may assist in the symptomatic treatment of endometriosis, it is important to understand that ectopic endometrial tissue responds to normal cyclical menstrual hormones. Ectopic endometrial tissue however differs from the normal endometrium lining in that it exhibits variations in gene expressions that undergoes pathological changes which is partly responsible for the pain and structural changes associated with endometriosis. One such gene expression variation explains the oestrogen dominance observed in endometriosis. Keeping this is mind, let us take a closer look at some of the natural treatment protocols for endometriosis:
1. Losing weight
Fat cells can act as endocrine glands and secrete oestrogen. Although these levels might not be very high it is still significant enough to raise blood levels of oestrogen, especially in obese woman. Weight loss will also assist in decreasing insulin resistance which is important for optimal ovarian function. A few tips on an effective diet program to combat endometriosis include:
2. Detox the liver and heal your gut
The liver is responsible for metabolising oestrogen. If the liver is not functioning optimally, high levels of oestrogen will further exacerbate oestrogen dominance. There are various supplements including Chedlidonium, Taraxicum and Carduus Marianus, that may be beneficial in supporting liver function.
After oestrogen has been metabolised by the liver, it is excreted via the gut. Leaky gut syndrome causes an up regulation of an enzyme called B-glucuronidase which breaks up bound oestrogen to be excreted and allows these smaller particles to be re-absorbed into the system. A gut cleanse diet is essential in the healthy functioning of our hormonal system.
3. Supplements & Herbal treatment
Supplements that may be recommended by a qualified physician include:
There are several homeopathic remedies indicated for the treatment of endometriosis. The correct remedy is chosen based on each individual case. Studies suggest that a thorough case taking based on the symptom picture will lead to a similimum prescription to aid in the treatment of endometriosis.
5. Environmental factors
Environmental factors include toxins that have a hormone like action on the body. These xenoestrogens are used in but not limited to food production, pesticides, food packaging production and cosmetics. Here are some tips to reduce exposure to xenoestrogens:
Exercise has a dual purpose, it helps to reduce excess cortisol and assists in weight loss. Both have hugely beneficial effects in reducing oestrogen dominance.
Endometriosis can have little to no symptoms in some women while the disease can have debilitating effects in others. Infertility, subfertility and chronic pelvic pain being the leading symptoms of the disease. Studies have shown women who suffer from endometriosis are at a higher risk of developing cancer, specifically ovarian cancer. This is a disease that responds well to natural and alternative treatment. You are the first step to a healthier you.
“Our food should be our medicine and our medicine should be our food.” Hippocrates
By: Dr Chantell Groenewald (M.Tech Hom UJ)
Menopause marks one year after a woman has had her last menstrual period and the end of her fertile years. Menopause is NOT A DISEASE, it is a natural change in a women’s body to mark the end of her fertile years just as menarche was a natural process at the start of her fertile years. Each woman is born with x amount of eggs at birth, menopause marks the end of the growth, development and release of these eggs by the ovaries which is also associated with a sharp decline in the secretion of the female hormone oestrogen.
Perimenopause refers to the period before a woman enters menopause and usually starts in your 40’s. This can happen several years before menopause (usually lasting about 4 years) and is characterised by the gradual decline in the production of oestrogen and progesterone by the ovaries as well as irregular periods.
Symptoms associated with perimenopause and menopause include:
Natural treatment to help alleviate the severity of the symptoms associated with menopause:
1. Meditation and breathing exercises
According to the North American Menopause Society, paced breathing exercises and meditation has been shown to decrease the severity and frequency of hot flushes. These techniques can be practiced daily as part of your regular daily routine. There is an abundance of websites available online dedicated to the practice of meditation and paced breathing exercises.
Eat foods that help promote healthy hormone levels. These include:
3. Weight loss
Maintaining a healthy weight plays a very important role in the healthy production of our hormones and several studies suggest that woman who are over weight or obese can alleviate the severity of hot flushes and night sweats by losing weight. A healthy weight also assists in protecting woman from the heart disease associated with menopause.
There are several well indicated homeopathic remedies that can assist in the alleviation of the unwanted symptoms of menopause. Choosing a carefully selected remedy that fits your menopause picture is key to successfully treating symptoms such as hot flushes, night sweats, insomnia, anxiety, mood swings and depression.
Homeopathy is a safe and effective treatment for menopause symptoms that does not carry the cancer risks associated with hormone replacement therapy, synthetic or otherwise.
Dr. Chantell Groenewald
M. Tech Hom (UJ)
What are the functions of our Adrenal Glands?
Our adrenal glands (or suprarenal glands) sits on top of our kidneys and acts as an endocrine gland which simply means it is responsible for the secretion of various hormones. One of the hormones secreted by the adrenal glands is the steroid hormone cortisol.
Cortisol is often referred to as the ‘stress hormone’ due to the role it plays in the fight and flight reaction which is regulated by the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis (HPA axis). During a stress response, the adrenal glands are signalled via the HPA axis to secrete cortisol which in turn stimulates fat and carbohydrate metabolism i.e gluconeogenesis (process by which the level of glucose in the blood stream is increased). This response supplies the body with ‘fast’ energy to run away or fight during the fight or flight response. Cortisol is also responsible for inhibiting the functions of various other non-essential bodily functions during the fight or flight response. Once the fight or flight response is over, cortisol levels return to normal and systems functions are restored to normal.
The role cortisol plays in the fight and flight response is well known, however the effects of cortisol in our day to day functioning is far reaching. Cortisol levels start to increase in the early hours of the morning and is responsible for waking us up and directing the resources of the body to where it is most needed and then decreases again at night preparing us for sleep and maintenance functions in the body. Cortisol plays an important role in our body’s overall functioning and well-being. The systemic effects of cortisol include:
Chronic stress is not good. Unlike an acute stress response like running away from a bear, the situation does not resolve and we are chronically exposed to elevated levels of cortisol that is not eliminated from our system. Prolonged stress and exposure to higher than normal cortisol levels have adverse effects on our health for two reasons.
Some of the systemic symptoms associated with prolonged exposure to higher than normal cortisol levels include:
What is adrenal fatigue?
Adrenal fatigue refers to the period following prolonged periods of stress where your cortisol stores become depleted following prolonged periods of higher than normal cortisol production. There are two phases at play here:
How is adrenal fatigue diagnosed?
Often a practitioner will make a clinical diagnosis based on your symptom picture and personal history. As previously mentioned adrenal fatigue cannot be diagnosed with a blood test. The ranges for serum cortisol levels are very wide and unless there is a primary pituitary insufficiency as with Addison disease, the blood serum levels will be within normal limits. A more accurate test to determine if there is a dysfunction of the adrenal glands production and secretion of cortisol is a salivary cortisol tests. This measures cortisol levels during three key intervals during the night and day to determine if your cortisol levels are reacting according to the normal circadian rhythm (ie high levels in the morning and low levels at night).
5 Changes to make to help manage chronic stress and adrenal fatigue.
1. Detox your gut
An unhealthy gut is a continuous source of inflammation. Inflammation triggers the release of cortisol for its anti-inflammatory properties, which can further exacerbate the chronic low grade stress response. Heal your leaky gut by destroying the bad bacteria, healing the gut lining and recolonizing with the good bacteria.
2. Meditation, yoga and breathing exercises
There is sufficient research that shows the calming effects of meditation, yoga and breathing exercises. This is crucial especially if we are continuously exposed to chronic low level stress. By practising relaxation techniques we over ride the bodies stress response and force our adrenal glands to regulate the secretion of cortisol.
3. Consider adaptogens to regulate the function of the adrenal glands
Under the supervision of a qualified physician, adaptogens such as Ashwaganda may be prescribed that function by regulating the secretion of cortisol by the adrenal glands.
4. Get enough sleep
Two hours of REM (rapid eye movement) sleep is what is needed to ‘shampoo our brain’ each night. This term coined by Dr. Sara Gottfried MD in the states so adequately describes why we need to get enough sleep at night. Research suggests we need at least 7-8 hours of sleep each night, of which 2 hours has to be deep or REM sleep. Research suggests that even partial sleep deprivation affects the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis causing higher than normal cortisol secretion by the adrenal glands.
5. Cut the stimulates and clean up your diet:
Stimulants such as caffeine, tobacco and sugar fuels adrenal overproduction of cortisol. Most people who suffer from chronic stress tend to rely heavily on stimulants to get them through the day. This unfortunately will only drain your already taxed adrenal glands. There are various detox, elimination and cleanse diets that will help you cut out all the stimulants and help you feel healthier and more energized than ever by helping you to get the necessary nutrition from your food. People often underestimate the power of healthy eating and I often see patients revived and energised from something as simple as changing their diet. Hippocrates said: “Let food be thy medicine and let thy medicine be food”.
A series on female health, by Dr. Chantell Groenewald (M. Tech Hom UJ)
Welcome to this series on female hormonal health, where we will focus on female hormones, and the health issues associated with dysregulation of these hormones.
This week let us start by focusing on the female hormonal system.
Female Hormonal Health
What are hormones?
Hormones are chemical messengers secreted by a special group of specialized cells called endocrine glands. Hormones function to initiate, coordinate or to control:
To illustrate the previous statement, let us look at the role of oestrogen, in the absorption of calcium from the digestive tract and the maintenance of calcium within the skeleton. Post-menopausal women suffer from a natural case of decreased oestrogen. This leads to a decrease in the amount of calcium absorbed in our bones. Osteopenia is the result of decreased calcium in our bones which causes brittle bones and if left unchecked, will eventually lead to osteoporosis. This is only one example of the effects of the above-mentioned hormones in the daily functioning of our bodily systems.
What causes a dysregulation in female hormones?
There are several factors that play a role, these include:
What are some of the signs and symptoms of female hormonal dysregulation?
“Do the best you can until you know better. Then when you know better, do better.”
ere to edit.
By: Dr. Chantell Groenewald (M. Tech Hom UJ)
After 10 months of anticipation, the day finally arrives. You get to hold your new-born baby for the first time. You are so overcome by emotion, so totally in love with this little being, you feel your heart might burst with happiness. You get to go home, and life with your little miracle begins. The first few days’ worth of awe and excitement starts to wear off, as you try to settle back into your life before your little one (life b.c. - before child). By now, the sleep deprivation starts to set in, and the rose-tinted glasses start to come off. You slowly start wondering, who in their right mind, would send a baby home with you...without supervisor!
You realize you have NO idea what you are doing, and the effects of the sleep deprivation takes an even further toll on you. By now, your hormones are flying the coop, you probably realise you are ill equipped for this parenting thing, you feel 100% overwhelmed, you pretty much want to give the baby back and feel like the worst parent in the world because of it.
You have barely taken a shower, nor managed to drink half a cup of ice cold coffee, eaten half a can of cold soup in divided efforts to get some food into your body. You look like death warmed up, you smell, you are covered in baby vomit and you have baby poop under your finger nails. The most basic task of going to the loo, making dinner, taking a shower, doing laundry and getting dressed, becomes a frantic scramble with zero outcome, because you can't put the baby down for two seconds, or they scream.
By the time your spouse gets home, you basically throw the baby at them, and run to take a wee, shower, anything, that does not involve holding a baby. Three seconds of peace and quiet. But alas, baby starts crying, and despite your spouses’ best efforts to help, baby ends up back in your arms half way through whatever you were trying to do. It finally boils down to you weeping with the baby. And that, is just the day. You start fearing night time, because that is when the screaming begins, and if you are lucky, you will get about two hours of interrupted sleep that night, finally sitting with baby on your chest, praying for morning to come.
To add further insult to injury, you feel like the worst parent ever, wrought with guilt, because you pretty much hate all of this, and you find yourself wishing you could have your old life back. Then on top of everything else, you have post-partum hormones, bouncing off the walls, pushing you over the edge.
It was only after I joined a mommies group, who spoke open and honestly, about what the first few months of motherhood felt like to them, that I started to realize, I was not alone. I am not a bad parent, it is normal to feel totally overwhelmed and ill equipped. Wanting to throw the baby out the window once or twice is normal too. No one tells you how hard it is going to be going in, or maybe they do, but you have zero frame of reference, so you are totally unable to compute the magnitude of what they are saying. The only way to know, really know what it feels like, is to live through it, and nothing and no one can prepare you for it, the only way out, is through.
Finding a group of like minded new mommies, all with the same fears and anxieties, the same doubts and worries, literally saved my life. But many women do not have the opportunity to be surrounded by a such a support network. I often see new mother's in my practice, with dark circles under their eyes, the desperate expression on their faces, the oily hair and pale faces. They try to act 'normal' for two first few minutes (because, surely they are supposed to love this, and any other feelings makes them feel ashamed), then baby starts crying, and I see their shoulders drop. 'Go ahead and feed them, I say'. And as they settle baby on the breast, I smile and say, 'what you are feeling is totally normal'. I can see the tiniest of flicker of hope, as I talk them through the first three months of life with a new born and what to expect, and they sob, because they thought they were awful for feeling totally overwhelmed. Although you love this little being with everything in you, you are not coping and that is okay.
Postpartum depression does not affect everyone, and there are many women that flourish during this time, everything seems easy and they are back in their nine-inch heels with perfect hair and make-up within two weeks…making you feel even more inadequate and like a total failure as a mother. For the rest of us, non-nine-inch heels type of gals, with the reflux baby or the colic baby, let us take a closer look at baby blues and post-partum depression (PPD).
Baby Blues vs Post-Partum Depression
All of the above mentioned, can be totally normal, this phase, commonly referred to as Baby Blues, is part of the transitionary phase we go through the first couple of days to one or two weeks after baby is born. The signs and symptoms of baby blues include:
Baby Blues differs from PPD (Post-partum depression) in that the symptoms only lasts a few days to weeks after baby is born, and then improves as time goes by. You should feel better after a week or two, if however, you notice your symptoms worsening after the initial two-week period, you might be suffering from PPD
PPD is a serious mental disease and should be treated immediately by a health care professional. Signs and symptoms of PPD include the following:
All the above symptoms can be normal if experienced for only a brief period. We all feel irritable or sad sometimes, we all suffer from anxiety or feel overwhelmed at times; however, these feelings are fleeting. When your feelings of inadequacy, guilt, sadness etc remains excessive and for prolonged periods of time, it is time to seek urgent medical attention.
How can Homeopathy help for Baby Blues and Post- Partum Depression?
Homeopathy works based on ‘like cures like’. If a remedy can produce a symptom picture when administered to a healthy individual, then it should cure the same symptom picture in an unhealthy patient. There are several homeopathic remedies used to treat PPD. Each person is treated as an individual, therefor, after an extensive case taking is performed, your Homeopath will choose a remedy based on your individual needs and your specific symptom picture. Sepia 200 is one such remedy used to treat baby blues and PPD, with the following symptom picture:
This is only one example of several homeopathic remedies, that might fit your symptom picture. Help is out there, and there is light at the end of the tunnel. Do not suffer in silence, if you suspect you might be suffering from PPD, please contact your health care professional to make an appointment as soon as possible. You are not alone, PPD effects 1/5 woman and is a debilitating condition, which is 100% treatable.
I will leave you with my five tips for mothers with a new born.
By: Dr. Chantell Groenewald (M. Tech Hom UJ)
Is your leaky gut causing you to be sick? The short answer...YES. So what is leaky gut syndrome, how did I get it, why is it causing illness and how can I treat it?
What is Leaky Gut Syndrome?
Hippocrates said: “Death begins in the gut”, and I quote him in almost all of my consultations. Leaky gut syndrome refers to intestinal hyperpermeability. Inside our gut, we have what we call, tight junctions, between the intestinal cells. These tight junctions play a very important role, in restricting gut permeability. That is to say, certain nutrients, vitamins and minerals, are selectively transported across our gut lining, while the tight junctions acts as ‘security doors’, preventing undigested food, toxic waste and bacteria from entering our blood stream. When these tight junctions become damaged, the ‘security gate’ flings wide open, and the ‘sewage’ that was meant to pass out of our system, leaks into our blood stream, causing massive amounts of inflammation.
Although science has yet to prove that leaky gut syndrome actually directly cause disease, it has found it to occur simultaneously with a whole host of diseases, which should give you some idea of how important gut health is in maintaining good health.
15 Signs that you may be suffering from Leaky Gut Syndrome:
What causes Leaky Gut Syndrome?
How can you heal your gut?
Healing your gut is an integrative approach. Here are the crucial steps to healing your gut:
Sounds like a mouth full. It really is easier than you think. There are multiple gut cleansing programs available for you to follow, and various holistic health care practitioners that can assist you on this path towards wellness. Take the first step towards a healthier you, by simply removing the five most pro-inflammatory foods, from your diet, these include:
Try it, often, this is enough to have you feeling energised and healthier than before. The next step, would be a thorough gut cleanse and detox, as discussed above, which often resolves most ill effects from an unhealthy gut.
I will leave you with the words of Sherry A. Rogers: “The road to health is paved with good intestines”.