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. 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. 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
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
By. Dr. Marlo Swanepoel
M-tech Hom (UJ)
With Autoimmune diseases being a big interest of mine, I thought I would give you a brief and simple overview of how I see autoimmune diseases and hopefully bring some hope as to how it can be managed and treated naturally.
What is an autoimmune disease?
To oversimplify this, autoimmune diseases are inflammatory conditions where your immune system attacks yourself.
You see, normally your immune system should protect you from invaders such as bacteria, viruses, fungi and parasites by sending out an army of soldiers whose job it is to fight off, kill or neutralise the threat.
Your immune system can normally do this very well and effectively as it can differentiate between foreign or abnormal cells and your own healthy cells, thus it kills off the invaders and leaves your own cells alone. BUT with an autoimmune disease, the body loses the ability to differentiate between normal and abnormal and thus mistakenly start to attach the body's cells.
There are many autoimmune diseases. Although a lot is known about autoimmune diseases many of them are still poorly understood. Some autoimmune diseases will only target a specific organ or system where others will cause a systemic invasion, meaning it goes all over.
How does an autoimmune disease occur?
As I mentioned, the exact cause is not completely understood or even known. Your immune system is extremely complicated and, in my opinion, it has more integrated parts than any other system in your body. Although the basic function of an immune system is the same in all humans, not a single person’s immune system is identical.
Think about it, even identical twins will not have the same immune system functionality, for simple reasons like, we were not all exposed to the same things throughout our lifetimes.
Some studies showed that women are twice as likely to develop an autoimmune disease compared to men. Some ethnic groups are more prone to develop specific autoimmune diseases. Some autoimmune diseases run in families, but that being said not all family members will develop the same autoimmune disease and some will not develop an autoimmune disease at all.
So yes, genetics might play a role in this whole debacle, but it most certainly is not the be-all and end-all. In fact, some doctors believe that genetics only play a 20%-25% role in the development of autoimmune diseases. Many of these diseases are increasing in frequency in especially industrialised countries, which brings us to other causes or contributing factors.
These include: environmental factors i.e. toxins, diet, inflammation, infection and so the list goes on. Some studies even hypothesise that the development of autoimmune diseases might be linked to vaccines and antiseptics, as this might cause the immune system to overreact to a harmless substance.?
So, if we don’t really know what causes an Autoimmune disease how do I treat it?
Once again, I oversimplify, but the way I see an autoimmune disease is as an inflammatory process. This inflammation is a direct response of the immune system that never shuts down. You see, acute inflammation is a good thing.
Let say you get the flu. Your immune system will release all kinds of chemicals and recruit all kinds of cells to kill this virus. One of the responses is inflammation, which will lead to a fever. This happens to be one of the best natural ways to kill off any invaders. Once the threat has been neutralised, the inflammatory response will decrease and shut down and continue to patrol the perimeter, until it sees the next threat.
However, with an autoimmune disease, the inflammatory response is never switched off. Yes, the intensity decreases but a low-grade inflammation is present 24/7. This is where and when things go haywire.
So, for me personally in my practice, I treat autoimmune diseases based on 4 pillars.
The Four Pillars of treating an Autoimmune disease
1st you must Remove any possible triggers of the autoimmune disease. This may be food sensitivities, infection, heavy metals, etc.
2nd Control the inflammatory response. Once you stop the continuous inflammatory response the immune system can rest and reboot. I always think about this as someone going to war. If you are sleep deprived and in constant fight mode you might just end up hurting one of your own.
3rd you need to start Repairing your immune system. One of the ways I do this is by diet. Go read my previous article on leaky gut (http://www.naturopathichealthcarecentre.co.za/articles/leaky-gut). Remember 70%-80% of your immune system is located in your gut. This means that if your gut is healthy, your immune system might just be healthy too. Which is why repair and control goes hand-in-hand.
4th I always try to Balance and support your immune system. This might include a few supplements to optimise the immune system functionality, but NEVER forget the power of sleep and exercise. Relaxation is just as curtail, as stress will only cause an increase in adrenalin and cortisol which will result in a tired, overworked and misfiring immune system.
According to the Stedman’s medical dictionary Acne is defined as an “Inflammatory disease of sebaceous follicles marked by papules and pustules. Typically begins during puberty, affecting mainly the chest, back, shoulders and face”
What does this mean?
This simply means that due to occlusion or “plugging” of the hair follicle due to a collection of oil and dead skin tissue inflammation is caused leading to redness and swelling, resulting in pimples or bumps filled with pus. This creates a breeding ground for bacteria resulting in bacterial infection. This aggravates the severity if acne. The full medical term for acne is known as Acne Vulgaris
Skin anatomy 101
The skin or intugumentary system is the largest organ of the body and the body’s first line of defence. It acts as a barrier and thus protects the body from external factors and invasion, while keeping the internal system intact. Other functions of the skin include: excretion of salt, water and other organic waste products; thermoregulation; vitamin D production; nutrient storage; and detection of stimuli such as touch, pressure, pain and temperature.
The skin is composed of three main layers namely the epidermis, dermis and subcutaneous tissue (Fat layer) as illustrated in the figure below
The main structures in involved in Acne is the sebaceous gland (oil gland), hair follicle which houses the hair and in which the oil is transported to the outside of the skin and the epidermis from where the dead skin cells comes from.
Who suffers from Acne most commonly?
Acne is most common among teenagers in their puberty years, with a reported prevalence of 70 to 87 percent. These days we see an increase number of younger children suffering from acne.
Although both men and women are affected by acne, chances are that young men will suffer from acne much longer than women would. This can be attributed to the much higher levels of testosterone in men.
Well the bad news is there is no clear cut answer to this question. As mentioned above the start of acne is due to the blocking of the pores. This is increased in puberty years due to the increase in androgens (type of hormones) which leads to an increase in oil production as well as an increase in skin turn over (the rate at which dead skin cells are replaced) resulting in pores being blocked faster.
Hormonal changes during pregnancy might trigger the development of acne or it might lead to the reoccurrence there of.
There are studies that shows that acne might have a genetic component to it, i.e. if mom or dad had it you might have it.
Greasy cosmetics may cause acne in some susceptible people or it may just aggravate it. Some hair products are extremely greasy which might have the same clogging effect.
As we all know a High GI diet and dairy is also liked to the development or aggravation of acne. The good news is that there is now scientific proof as published in the Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics
Anxiety and stress. Long standing chronic stress causes a change in some hormones like cortisol and adrenalin. These hormones influence the rate of oil production and pro-inflammatory cells leading to the onset or aggravation of acne.
Climate changes especially, hot humid climate leads to an increase in perspiration which leads to oily and sticky skin, resulting in an increase in clogging
There are a few different types of acne
· Whiteheads – they remain under the skin, and are usually very small
· Blackheads – or comedones are small black and clearly visible
· Papules - These are small pink bumps on top of the skin
· Pustules – these are the ones that are filled with pus and appear yellow
· Nodules – These are the large, solid and painful ones and run deep into the skin
· Cysts – These can lead to scar formation. They are large, panful and filled with pus
How to treat your acne
Acne is not dangerous but may occasionally cause scarring and have an emotional or psychological impact. However squeezing or “popping a zit” is a bad idea. By squeezing a papule underlying tissues are damaged and the infected pus may spread causing aggravation of infection and scarring.
Depending on the severity of your acne, doctors will adjust their treatment protocol.
Common topical treatments involve ingredients that will try and limit inflammation, kill bacteria, increase dead cell removal and oils production suppressants etc.
Antibiotics are often give to prevent bacterial overgrowth however in most cases as soon as the antibiotics’ effects wear off the acne returns.
Retinoids containing medication is often given. This however may have LONG TERM side effects and can become toxic.
Oral contraceptives are often given to females as this supress overactive glands, however one should consider the hormonal effect these medications cause.
Homeopathic and natural treatments for acne
A visit to your Homeopath will result in proper and more effective treatment, especially if your problem is hormonal related.
Some OTC (over the counter) products include:
· Tissue salts
- Ferrum phos (4) which will aid in inflammation of the skin and calm the redness
- Silicae (12) this will aid in the expelling of the acne pustule, at first this might seem like it is aggravating the acne but be calm as this will start clearing.
· Acne plus ointment from Natura. This may be used with calendula cream which will aid in the inflammation and infection if pustules.
· Organo 1 (Natura) – Homeopathic medicine assisting in immune system function and aiding in the prevention of spreading of infection. It has a marked function on suppuration, thus the pus forming infections such as acne.
· Feminon (Natura) – This might assist in the regulation of female hormones which might be beneficial for premenstrual acne
· Omega 3 – Essential Fatty Acids plays an important role in hormonal regulation and production. Omega 3 is an extremely important supplement as it regulates and decrease inflammation. It is common that people ingest too many Omega 6 which might lead to an inflammatory response. People on blood thinning medication should consult a practitioner before taking omega supplements.
· Zinc – Zinc deficiency is a common problem in especially teenagers. Zinc is known for skin health due to the inhibition of enzymes leading to testosterone conversion leading to increase in oil production and abnormal follicular growth. Please be careful not to overdose on zinc as it is a metal and there are chances of toxicity in high doses. Something like zinc picolinate can be used in doses of 15-30mg a day.
· Selenium – is an immune boosting mineral with an effect on glutahion. This leads to decrease inflammation. Once again one should be careful not to overdose on selenium due to toxicity levels.
· Wash your skin after sweating with lukewarm water as sweating may lead to aggravation on acne
· Stay clear of alcohol containing skin products. This might aggravate inflammation and dry up your skin.
· DO NOT PICK, POP or SQUEEZE you skin. This just causes more damage to your skin and will take much longer to heal. Let nature take its course and let it heal by itself. This will minimize scarring and spread. In other words HANDS OFF FACE.
· Consult your health care professional for treatment should your acne be “bad”.
-- By Dr. M Swanepoel
Boon, NA. (editor). (2006). Davidson’s Principles & Practice of Medicine. Edinburgh: Churchill Livingston. Pp1299-1300
Martini, F. (2004). Fundamentals of Anatomy & Physiology. USA: Benjamin Cummings. Pp 154-179
Mark, H (editor). (2006). The Merck Manual of Diagnosis and Therapy. New Jersy: Merc Research Laboratories. Pp941-946
Lukens, R (Editor). (2005). Stedman’s Medical Dictionary of the Health Professions and Nursing.cott Williams & Wilkens.P15
Which one is your child?