Currently viewing the tag: "Acupuncture"

Unfortunately, there are many endless factors that are not in our control. Stress needs no invitation to sneak up on us. Sometimes, it feels like no matter how hard we try to get rid of, stress finds its way to crawl back into our life.

We blame our jobs, relationships, financial aspects, and/or other personal reasons for being under stress; however, the truth is that it is us that ultimately have to pay the price, and not anyone else. Managing stress is in your hands only.

Failing to cope with everyday stress can mess with body physiology to cause health disorders including heart disease, digestive problems, anxiety, depression, headaches, weight gain, sleep problems, memory loss, and lack of concentration.

Stress Affects Body Functions  

While we try our best to lead a healthy lifestyle by taking care of our internal health, both acute and chronic stress can spoil that plan. Adverse effects of chronic stress are not only restricted to our mental health since it creates havoc in many essential body systems.

Brain Functions

Our brain is constantly engaged to everyday stressors; it processes, analyses and reacts to everyday situations. Studies on human health conclude that stress can cause structural changes in certain brain areas and affects the functionality of the human nervous system. This is evidenced by the phenomenon of “Steroid psychosis”, which is induced by anti-inflammatory drugs (considered to be synthetic hormones) when used on behvioural and cognitive disorders.

Chronic stress can lead to brain mass atrophy, and can even reduce its weight. It affects cognition, learning, and memory functions. In summary, researchers concluded that chronic stress is linked to reduced cognition, neurogenesis disorders, weakened verbal memory, and disruption of memory & judgement.

Long term brain changes due to stress leads to the development of Alzheimer’s disease and dementia.

Immune System

For decades, health researchers have shown interest in understanding the relationship between the immune system and stress. Impaired immune system is one of the most critical adverse effects of stress. A compromised immune state leads to higher risk of illness. Stress can modulate processes in the central nervous system to affect the functionality of immune system. In fact, the secretion of hormones, managing numerous immune functions, can also be affected by stress.

Studies investigated and concluded that stress mediators like glucocorticoid hormone can adversely affect immune functions as they are capable of passing through the blood-brain barrier, thus affecting processing and cognition abilities long-term. Severe stress can also lead to malignancy.

Cardiovascular System

Cardiovascular diseases and stress are positively correlated. Both acute and chronic stress leads to an increase in heart rate due to constriction of blood vessels, which in turn increases blood pressure. Stress can cause blood clotting disorders, increase in blood lipids, atherogenesis (fat deposition), leading to cardiac arrhythmias and subsequent myocardial infarction.

Gastrointestinal System

Stress is known to reduce appetite, and can adversely affect gastrointestinal (GI) track functions. Studies have shown that stress can lead to GI inflammation. Moreover, it affects the absorption process, ion channel functions (critical for movement of substances across cell membrane), and stomach acid secretion. Stress can cause critical GI diseases such as irritable bowel disease (IBS), Crohn’s disease and other ulcerative diseases.

Are you aware that a nutrient poor diet can also contribute to worsening your stress level? Hundreds of health studies have suggested a strong connection between stress and poor nutrition. Nutrition is a vital stress buster. Switching to a healthier diet is quite a common recommendation from physicians and health experts for better stress management.

Managing stress should be an important part of a healthy lifestyle.  Another efficient way to manage your stress is by introducing stress reducing techniques, or therapies.  

Acupuncture is blessed with body relaxing and calming effects, it enables physiological changes that release endorphins and other calming chemicals. This makes acupuncture a great enabler to relieve stress and anxiety.

Do not let stress disrupt your brain health & body chemistry? After all, we all deserve a stress-free, healthy lifestyle.

 

References:

  1. Yaribeygi H, Panahi Y, Sahraei H, Johnston TP, Sahebkar A. The impact of stress on body function: A review. EXCLI J. 2017;16:1057-1072. Published 2017 Jul 21. doi:10.17179/excli2017-480 
  2. Mayo Clinic Staff. Chronic stress puts your health at risk. Mayo Clinic. 2016 [Online] Available from https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/stress-management/in-depth/stress/art-20046037   [Accessed: 9 March 2019]
  3. Harvard Health Publishing. Protect your brain from stress. Harvard Medical School. 2018 [Online] Available from https://www.health.harvard.edu/mind-and-mood/protect-your-brain-from-stress [Accessed: 9 March 2019]
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Infertility can be both emotionally and financial exhausting. Every year, millions of couples face the challenge to overcome their infertility issues. The great news that it is not end of the world for them. Largely, because it can be managed with therapies such as Acupuncture.

Infamous Infertility  

In the UK 1 in 7 couples (14%) will have difficulty conceiving. In the US data released by Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), infertility affects about 12% of women belonging to age group of 15-44. Infertility is defined in broad term as inability to conceive for more than 12 months despite having regular unprotected sex.   Often couples turn to expensive medical treatments, costing a huge financial burden. Medical studies suggest that in 35% cases, both male and female contribute to infertility issues. Male factors only contributed to 8% of all cases.

Acupuncture to Boost Fertility

Acupuncture is a traditional Chinese medicinal therapy. It is amazing traditional treatment that has been used to treat and manage hundreds of medical conditions. Acupuncture consists of inserting tiny, thin needles into specific points of a body to stimulate Qi energy and blood flow within targeting specific areas or body systems.

This ancient treatment modality has been known to improve fertility in both women and men. It is complete safe therapy with minimal after effects such as pinpoint bleeding, increased relaxation and sometimes flu-like symptoms. Despite the fact that Acupuncture is seldom used as a primary treatment option to improve fertility, it plays a vital role in maximizing the success of fertility treatments.

The use of acupuncture for infertility management is not a recent phenomenon, but has been used for more than 3000 years. Apart from balancing hormones and relieving stress, this remarkable treatment helps to stimulate blood flow to reproductive organs.

Stress & Infertility

Ovulation disorder is one major reason for infertility in women. It is an established medical fact that the hypothalamus, reproductive and pituitary glands are physiologically interconnected; stress can have adverse physiological effects, thus preventing ovulation entirely by triggering hormonal imbalance. Stress can also cause spasm in the fallopian tubes and the uterus, which in turn can creates issues with implantation of a fertilized egg. Acupuncture helps release endorphins in our brain to control the adverse effects of stress and cortisol. According to several medical research studies, acupuncture helps to balance the endocrine system and increases blood flow to the reproductive organs. Collectively, with reduced stressors and improved hormonal balance and healthier reproductive organs, fertility is improved.

Improved Blood Circulation

Acupuncture not only aims at getting pregnant; rather, it also aims at staying pregnant. It helps to facilitate improved blood flow to the ovaries and uterus. Such improved blood circulation strongly increases the chances for an egg to be well nourished and healthy. It significantly improves its chances to be carried to term.

Strategic acupuncture points stimulated during acupuncture improves the Qi energy flow throughout the body.  It helps to restore physical, emotional, mental, and spiritual balance. This restorative effect considerably increases a couple’s chances to conceive. However, acupuncture will be less effective if infertility is due to tubal blockage or adhesions.

Being hailed as the most popular alternative therapies by world renowned health experts and physicians, Acupuncture continues to be a feasible and reliable ancient therapy to boost fertility.

 

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Are you familiar with waking up felling sluggish, groggy and irritated after pulling an all-nighter, staying up till wee hours, or finishing a night shift?

Unfortunately, apart from feeling exhausted and lethargic, improper sleep does more harm to our health than we assume. We are not only paying fines for sleep deprivation in terms of lack of focus and bad mood; it has greater consequences for our long-term health.

The Vicious Effects of Sleep Deprivation

Despite rising awareness about the importance of proper sleep at night, health disorders associated with lack of adequate sleep are on continuous rise. It is estimated that approximately 1/3rd of human population suffers from health hazarding effects associated with poor sleep, working on computer and stress.

Alone in the US, approximately 50-70 million people are suffering from chronic health problems linked with sleep and wakefulness. Diabetes, heart diseases, obesity, and shortened life expectancy are the most common health disorders linked with poor sleep at night.

Research studies conducted on a group of volunteers state concluded that people getting inadequate sleep are at higher risk of falling victim to chronic diseases such as impaired control of blood glucose, increased inflammation, increase blood pressure, obesity, and diabetes. According to these epidemiological research studies, long term sleep deprivation is also linked with the development of health problem in people who are initially healthy.

Why Sleep Matters?

Usually, while we are sleeping, our body goes through a healing process; it provides a much needed energy boost to our body in order to effectively carry out hundreds of routine functions.

In order to function properly and sustain healthy energy level throughout the a day, a person needs good sound sleeping of 8 hours at night. Sometimes, our day starts with sluggishness and fighting for energy; usually, it happens due to inadequate sleep that prevents our body from getting sufficient relaxation.

Mental Well-Being

Critical mood disorders including depression, mental distress, stress and anxiety are linked with chronic sleep deprivation. Adequate sleep keeps us focused at work by improving mental clarity and reducing stress level. As per a study, mental exhaustion, sadness and depression are correlated with people getting less than 4 ½ hours of sleep per night.

Diabetes Prevention

Research studies point out to a strong connection between development of diabetes and getting less than 5 hours of sleep. It increases the risk of developing type 2 diabetes by adversely affecting the way our body utilises glucose.

Immune Boost & Sex Drive

Adequate sleep improves our body’s immune strength and saves us from health problems associated with a weakened immune state. Lower libido is common among men and women not getting enough sleep at night. Sleep apnoea in men is associated with lower libido due to lower testosterone levels.

Healthy Heart

As per research studies, if a person is suffering from hypertension, even one night of sleep deprivation leads to increased blood pressure the following day. Poor sleeping pattern is well known to be associated with stroke, increases blood pressure, and the development of many cardiovascular diseases including coronary heart disease. Adequate sleep improves our cardiovascular health and helps in reducing high blood pressure.

Healthy Weight Loss

Sleep promotes natural weight loss. In truth, sleep deprivation means putting on more and more weight. If you are sleeping less than 7 hours, it increases your chances of gaining more weight.

Increased Life Expectancy

It is not surprising that sleep deprivation is associated with lower life expectancy. Epidemiological studies narrate that sleeping 5 hours or less at night increases mortality risk by 15 percent.

So what’s you are going to pick? Heart disease, obesity, diabetes, shortened life, or a soothing, relaxed sleep at night?

 

References:

NHS. Why lack of sleep is bad for your health. NHS, UK. 2018. [Online] Available at: https://www.nhs.uk/live-well/sleep-and-tiredness/why-lack-of-sleep-is-bad-for-your-health/ [Accessed 5 March 2019]

Harvard Medical School. Sleep and disease risk. 2007. [Online] Available at: http://healthysleep.med.harvard.edu/healthy/matters/consequences/sleep-and-disease-risk [Accessed 5 March 2019]

NIH. Sleep deprivation. NIH. 2016. [Online] Available at: https://www.nichd.nih.gov/health/topics/sleep/conditioninfo/sleep-deprivation [Accessed 5 March 2019]

Neurocore. How sleep affects mental health. Neurocore. 2018. [Online] Available at: https://www.neurocorecenters.com/blog/how-sleep-affects-mental-health [Accessed 5 March 2019]

 

The most innovative of changes to healthcare is the ability to personalize one’s care to their individual medical and personal needs. This new paradigm in medicine uses smart technologies and patient participation to prevent and treat disease. Personalized healthcare works by being able to tailor treatment and care that takes into account not just patient symptoms but also their genomics or genetic profile, brain circuitry, family dynamics, cultural and environmental exposures. Analysis of this data enables the doctor or nurse to understand the patient’s unique characteristics and develop prevention strategies based on individual risk profiles.

Personalised medicine is an evolving practice which has become increasingly popular in the past two decades owing to its ability to streamline care. Specifically, it is being introduced into routine clinical practice and becoming a part of cancer prevention, diagnosis and prognosis. Within therapeutics it focuses on molecular targeting, increasing efficacy and decreasing toxicity.  One the biggest barriers to developing personalized medicine are the cost of resources, the complexity of developing an acceptable system for sharing genomic data and translating data into clinical practice. For personalized medicine to expand and become a part of future of medicine then long strides need to be made to provide training to healthcare professionals1.  More recently, this form of personalized healthcare has been advocated to be included into educational curriculum for primary care providers. It has even insisted that doctors familiarize themselves with the unique mental, social and emotional factors of a patient that influence their health condition2.

Integrated Medicine has been referred to as a form of personalized medicine. Both put the individual at the centre of healthcare. It allows for medicine to be viewed as a philosophy, through an understanding of the patient.  This promotes the likelihood that your doctor will see you as a whole person – thoughts, feelings, mental state included – and not just another prescription to write. Integrated medicine is especially beneficial to the patient because it allows you to have a say in your treatment and be educated on the actual decisions your doctors are making. It promotes a compassionate care environment where the patient feels heard by their health provider, which ultimately helps balance the feeling of power disparities between patient and doctor.

A healthy doctor-patient relationship is a promising option for the future of healthcare. It has the ability to create a unique dialogue that could change the way doctors care for patients for the better. Personalised medicine should be seen as a movement that encompasses wider medicine and healthcare. It must be based on cohesive, tight collaboration between the patient, medical professionals, researchers, scientists and social scientists3.

 

References

  1. Rehm HL. Evolving health care through personal genomics. Nat Rev Genet. 2017;18(4):259–67. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/28138143
  2. Brooks AJ, Koithan MS, Lopez AM, Klatt M, Lee JK, Goldblatt E, Sandvold I, Lebensohn P. Incorporating integrative healthcare into interprofessional education: What do primary care training programs need? J Interprof Edu & Prac. 2019;14:6–12. https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S2405452617301635
  3. Pavelić, K. , Martinović, T. and Kraljević Pavelić, S. (2015), Do we understand the personalized medicine paradigm?. EMBO rep. 2015; 16: 133-136. doi:10.15252/embr.201439609

Have you recently felt struggling to organize your thoughts? Do you often forget to complete important tasks at work? Our thoughts and emotions are dictated by the brain. Memory is the most important factor to succeed in life. Our memory power and concentration go hand in hand; we think clearly when our brain is in its most optimum state of health. Any form of unbalance in brain functions leads to poor concentration, clouded thinking, and confusion. 

Acupuncture to Optimize Brain Power

Acupuncture is a traditional Chinese medicinal therapy that has been around for more than 3000 years. It consists of inserting tiny, thin needles into specific points of a body to stimulate and balance the flow of Qi energy, enhance circulation and release useful hormonal and substances in our body.

Disposable sterile needles are used through gentle insertion at specific body points. More than 400+ points are known. Also referred to as “Acupuncture points”, they lie on 14 major pathways known as “meridians”. Each meridian links to individual body systems, including internal organs. Disruption to this flow is seen as blockages or sluggish Qi flow. Qi encompasses spiritual, physical, and emotional energy. Acupuncture acts by unblocking or stimulating these pathways to facilitate these functions.

Do you know that our intellectual thinking is mutually dependent with other physiological systems?. According to Traditional Chinese Medicine Shen (mind and spirit) is our higher self; consciousness, emotions and thoughts. It influences long term memory, encompasses our wisdom and oversees mental and creative abilities. Brain memory is closely linked to the health and performance of the spleen, heart, kidney, and liver. According to the Five Element theory all of them are mutually inter-dependent e.g. spleen nourishes the heart, or disharmony between the heart and kidneys results in insomnia, anxiety and menopausal symptoms.  Emotionally, the spleen controls worry, the heart is responsible for love and happiness, fear is the realm of the kidneys and anger is associated with the liver (1, 2, 3, 4). Acupuncture positively influences the ability to think clearly by improving long term memory.

Acupuncture for Healthier Brain & Improved Concentration

We are living in a world where we are constantly bombarded by numerous forms of interruptions, smells, sounds and sights; these make it extremely difficult to stay focused at any particular time but even more so for higher level functioning.

Medical studies conducted by the Journal of Neural Regeneration Research concluded that acupuncture can help to improve our brain’s cognitive functions. The same study narrated that acupuncture can increase neural plasticity and thus improve overall brain function. It helps to restore body balance and improve mental clarity.

Treating specific acupuncture such as BA HUI – GV 20, YANG BAI – GB 14, YIN TANG – GV 24.5, SHUI GOU – GV 26, THREE MILE POINT – ST 36, HEAVENLY PILLAR – B10, DAN ZHONG – CV 17 etc. aims to improve brain health and memory functions.

Acupuncture & Brain Disorders

Medical studies focused on Alzheimer’s diseases conclude that acupuncture benefits the spatial learning process of the brain, and helps to improve memory functions. It is shown to improve brain glucose metabolism and helps improve subtle memory loss associated with dementia. Enhanced energy metabolism in the brain is imperative for the ability to learn, memorise as well as cognitive ability.

This time-tested, natural treatment therapy is a boon for your mental health. It energizes the body and nourishes your mind to sharpen memory, improve alertness, and boost your brain power.

If you are having problems focusing or have problems with memory or concentration, then acupuncture may be a good alternative treatment for you. Along with acupuncture, good nutrition also helps tremendously to boost brain functions. When it comes to brain health, never underestimate the power of a healthy diet. Wholesome nutrition acts as a brain food that keeps it sharp and healthy.

 

 

Unfortunately, Acupuncture cannot offer quick fixes. Acupuncture is a Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) discipline; its origins are in Taoism which is rooted in the natural world offering a view of health in relation to the natural environment.  Many Chinese philosophers were also contemplative, in depth scientists who devoted their life time to observing natural phenomenon. From this they developed a range of philosophical models to describe human body functions and its relationship to health. In this way they expressed their understanding of health using the language of natural forces and cycles.

TCM teaches us that health is a state of harmony between the many biological and energetic forces within our own body. There is no distinction between us as living beings, our mind and our body. When there is a problem or conflict in any then disease manifests itself as pain or other illness. Attainment of good health is a gentle process of balancing these forces. Healing takes place over a period of time.

In a modern technological world where complex tasks have been simplified to an effortless push of a button, people are often disappointed when told that regaining health is not a simple task, nor is it a short term endeavour. In many cases they have been battling with their health for many years whilst receiving medical treatment. Often patients want acupuncture to be a quick-fix without too much effort. It is amusing to think that they have such confidence in acupuncture. That a single or a few treatments will forever rid them of their health problems. Unfortunately, this is not the case although all acupuncturists would love to have such an ability to heal.

Acupuncture and TCM treatment is akin to gardening- building up healthy fertile soil, eliminating pests, growing complementary plants together, adequate water, sun and suitable temperature to grow the best possible crop. Gardening takes time. It takes regular and consistent care over many months before one can reap the harvest. With constant changes in the environment, wind, rain, sun and snow there is a need for steady ongoing care. Similarly, health is not a constant state of being; there is always an ebb and flow which needs to be cared for. The body needs good nutrition to build up resistance and resilience to overcome disease. The mind needs a suitable environment with the necessary stimulation to experience feelings of contentment and happiness. Spiritually, there needs to be a connection within oneself, others and the natural world. This is the catalyst for a person’s self-healing.

Self-healing is true healing, acknowledged by many ancient philosophies and texts. Through the natural rhythm of the universe, humans have an innate ability to self-heal. This ability is masked when the natural balance and self-awareness is lost e.g. when there is unhappiness, mental stresses or a disease state. Acupuncture and TCM treatments aim to return the balance by restoring the smooth flow of qi thus activating self-healing in the body. Unlike medical treatments that only addresses symptoms, acupuncture and TCM treatments also affects the mind, emotions and spiritual self. A strong inner self resides within us which is able to communicate the process of self-healing to the body. Reconnecting to the inner self is key to initiating this process. Acupuncture and TCM can help start this process of reconnection and harmonising.

How long will it take for your garden to grow ?

Seeking to maintain or restore good health?  Think harmony–not tune-up or repair.

Illness is dissonance.   The holistic practitioner does more than focus on wrong notes.  He/she undertakes a detailed examination of the body’s many systems to discover where and how they have stopped working properly together.

Patients are sometimes surprised by the questions a holistic practitioner asks and the nature of the examination.

Perhaps you’re troubled by constipation.  Why is the practitioner looking at your feet or your hand? Why are they checking pulses on both wrists, rather than just one? Why do they ask about your emotional temperament or what position you sleep in? What relevance is your blood type?

Traditional and complementary therapies centre on getting the body to work like an orchestra to make beautiful music. Like sections of the orchestra, each body system can perform separately–but all the time fully aware of the fundamental role every other part plays. Restoring good health requires our body’s orchestra of organs, tissue, muscles and bones to be at their best individually but also collectively.

Mind-Body-Spirit is the mantra of Holism, comparable to musical chords made up of top, middle and lower notes. Regardless of the sequence of notes they are equally important. What happens when we play an incorrect note?  Instead of music we get incoherent, disjointed ‘noise’ i.e. disharmony between mind-body-spirit.

A symptom like constipation is the consequence of such disharmony. Understandably, most people will think immediately of a problem in the digestive system. However, it may only be acting up as a result of a domino effect from another system or organ. Constipation can result from a poor diet; intolerance to certain foods; side effects from antacids containing calcium or aluminium.

More significantly it can also be due to low thyroid activity or neurological problems. So will taking a laxative solve the problem? The answer is no.

We need to address the root problem which offers a much better and longer-term solution.  Using this approach holistic practitioners assess beyond just the digestive system to look for clues that can tell them where the root problem lies.

Practitioners may look at your feet or hands for changes in the skin but also to examine acupuncture or acupressure points. Comparing both wrist pulses for their rhythm is an essential Chinese diagnostic tool. Changes in behavior, sleep patterns or sleeping in certain positions can allude to certain diagnostic patterns in homeopathy, Chinese and ayurvedic medicine.

Practitioners adopting Dr. Peter D’Adamo’s approach (author of Eat Right For Your Type) will use your blood type to determine how it chemically reacts to certain foods.

Health restoration is like tuning a musical instrument, and must encompass a look at not just the body itself, but also what you put into it, and the environment it lives in. Most of our problems have been acquired over decades of gradual exposure to various health hazards.

  • Start with the fundamentals of a healthy life style, diet and exercise.
  • Get the right amount of sleep. On average7– 91 hrs for adults, more for children.
  • Cut out or minimize intake of processed foods.
  • Keep hydrated (preferably with filtered water).
  • Maintain a healthy body weight.
  • Routinely supplement with good quality multivitamins and minerals and omega- 3, 6.
  • We increasingly live indoors which reduces our body’s ability to manufacture vitamin D. Thirty minutes daily (less for fair skinned people) of good midday sunshine on bare skin in e.g. shorts and tank top. In the UK it is almost impossible to get this amount particularly in the autumn and winter months thus creating a need for additional supplementation.
  • As much as possible eliminate toxic environmental stresses. Xenobiotic chemicals found in our food and water, pesticides, plastic packaging, metal jewellery, shower gels, cosmetics, prescription medication etc. act as anti-nutrients and increase our nutritional requirements e.g. nickel increases the need for zinc and fluoride increases the need for iodine.

If you currently have health concerns, and your GP has not found a resolution to them, you may need additional advice on supplementation or holistic treatments. Consider going to a holistic practitioner, or for more complex problems, a holistic physician.

 

 

 

Flavourings and preservatives have been used for centuries to enhance the taste and freshness of food. Do you wonder if they may be unsafe to eat?, or have you tried to identify all the additives that are in your food ?

Additives are not naturally found in food. They serve a number of purposes;

  • Colours  that add or restore lost colours to food.
  • Preservatives that help protect against food deterioration caused by bacteria.
  • Antioxidants that slow down or stop the oxidative deterioration of foods, e.g. when fats and oils go rancid.
  • Artificial sweeteners which impart a sweet taste for fewer calories than sugar, but also cheaper to use.
  • Flavour enhancers that improve the taste and aroma of food.
  • Presentation and texture enhancers e.g. thickeners, gelling agents, emulsifiers, emulsifiers.
  • Nutrient additions that increase the nutrient value of foods

Without many additives our food may not taste as nice, bread would go sour more quickly. Some foods will no longer be worth eating due to their low nutrient value.

Traditional methods of preservation include; smoking, salting, vinegar and drying are accepted for their long standing safe historical use. The use of additives has to go through a lengthy process to prove that they are safe to use, but despite this there are still many concerns. Below are some of the problems that additives may give rise to.

Allergy

  • Sulphite and sulphur dioxide (E220-28) have been known to cause allergic reactions. Specifically, asthma sufferers should avoid sulphur dioxide gas due to increased sensitivity, but there are also recorded cases of worsening of asthma after drinking soft drinks containing it. They are mainly found in dried fruits, dessicated coconut, relishes and fruit-based pie fillings.
  • Food colours like tartrazine (E102) can cause mild allergic reactions and some studies show that sunset yellow (E1 10) can cause tumours.
  • Annatto, a natural food colouring found in margarine, cheese, smoked fish and cakes is implicated in allergic reactions and irritable bowel.

Cancer

  • Aspartame (E951) has been linked to various cancers(1,2,3), although studies by US National Cancer Institute and European Food Safety Authority concluded that it did not increase the risk of cancers.
  • Erythrosine is a red food colour. Research has highlighted concerns about its potential tumour formation and inhibition of the normal functioning of the thyroid.
  • Allura red has been associated with cancer in mice but evidence is not consistent.
  • Nitrites and nitrates (E249-52) may convert to potentially carcinogenic nitrosamines.

Hyperactivity

  • Although a definitive link has not yet been established food colours like, sunset yellow (E110), quinoline yellow (E104), carmoisine (E122), allura red (E129), tartrazine (E102) and ponceau 4R (E124) have been associated with hyperactivity in some children. These are commonly found in a variety of processed foods, especially in children’s sweets, confectionary, squashes, soft drinks, jams and cakes. Prevalence of hyperactivity is estimated to be about 2.5%.
  • Aspartame has also been linked with changes in behaviour.

Headaches

  • MSG (monosodium glutamate- E621) is a flavour enhancer can cause headaches in some people. Although in a recent review there was no conclusive direct evidence.
  • Aspartame is also linked with causing headaches.

Other


The Bottom Line

Additives are overused in the processed foods industry, so try to avoid them as much as possible.

  • Keep processed foods to a minimum, including sweets, lollies, soft drinks and cakes.
  • Be careful of foods that are presented as low-fat, sugar-free as majority will contain some form of additive.
  • Not everyone reacts to additives in the same way. If you experience signs of reacting to certain foods, then minimise or avoid eating it.
  • If your child shows signs of hyperactivity of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) then eliminating some colours from their diet may prove beneficial.
  • Always read food labels to be fully aware of what you are buying.

 

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Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) is a chronic autoimmune disorder that causes pain, stiffness, inflammation of the joints, joint deformity and reduced physical function. Autoimmune disorders are characterised by the body’s immune system attacking healthy body tissue. Both T- and B- immune cells are implicated in the underlying pathology due to overproduction of pro-inflammatory cytokines.  Inevitably, it affects quality of life and life expectancy. Unfortunately, the cause of RA is still unknown. Patients often receive strong medication and may require surgical treatment. However, frequently patients will seek non-medical alternatives to try and alleviate their symptoms.

Acupuncture is often sought by patients for pain. Through its ability to modulate pain signals and release of neuro-chemicals e.g. serotonin and endorphins that influence biochemical changes within the body’s homeostatic mechanisms, thus promoting physical and emotional well-being.

A new systematic review of the clinical efficacy of acupuncture on RA was published which included 43 studies. The study concluded that acupuncture alone or in combination with other treatment modalities is beneficial to treating RA, by improving physical function and quality of life. Possible mechanisms included anti-inflammatory effect, anti-oxidative effect and regulation of immune system function.

Acupuncture is believed to stimulate the circulatory and nervous system causing the release of

  • Release body chemicals and changes the way the brain and spinal cord processes the pain signals. These chemicals include; endorphins and other neurohumoral factors e.g. neuropeptide Y, serotonin.
  • Increases local release of  nitrous oxide(NO) known to play an important physiological role in skin local microcirculation, neurotransmission, immunity and wound healing.
  • Reduces inflammation by regulating the immune system, thus normalising immune function.
  • Increases the release of adenosine, which reduces the sensitivity to pain
  • Modulates parts of the brain network (limbic and paralimbic system), responsible for anti-pain, anti-anxiety, and other therapeutic effects
  • Improves muscle stiffness and joint mobility by increasing local microcirculation, and therefore blood circulation.
  • Benefits depression by acting through other pathways involving dopamine, noradrenaline, cortisol and neuropeptide Y. Stress-induced behavioural and biochemical changes may also be reversed. Acupuncture can generally be safely used in combination with medical treatments.

Alongside acupuncture dietary changes to avoid anti-inflammatory foods e.g. consider reducing consumption of meat, avoid gluten and eliminate dairy products, avoid citrus foods and consume sugars and in small amouts only.  In addition supplements  can help to support the immune system;

  • Essential fatty acids (EFA) like fish or fish oil, flax seed and borage seed oil.
  • Probiotics
  • Turmeric or ginger for its anti-inflammatory action.

 

Once again the media have focused on the use of E-cigarettes. For good reason there are still doubts on its safety. Majority of safety research has been on the e-cigarette liquid prior to it being vaped based on its constituents having fewer carcinogenic toxins. In a recent study scientists at the University of Birmingham believe that e-cigarettes commonly known as vaping is much more harmful than previously thought. Although safer in relation to causing cancer, 20-30yrs of vaping is associated with a higher risk of long term lung disease such as, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) after 20-30yrs of vaping. Scientists mimicked the vaping mechanism, once the vapours are inhaled it turns back into a liquid condensate within the lungs. They tested this new condensate on samples of lung tissue and found significantly harmful effects.  It inhibits the alveolar macrophages from working effectively thus affecting the lungs ability to get rid of dust, bacteria and other allergens. Alveolar macrophages are a vital part of the lungs immune system.

When first introduced e-cigarettes had my own alarm bells ringing. The World Health Organisation has expressed concerns over e-cigarette safety. In the UK sales soared by 340% in one year, with the industry worth rising from an estimated £44 million (2012) to £193 million (2013). In 2017 sales increased by 50% to reach £1bn and set to exceed £2bn by 2020.

Vaping is advertised as a safer alternative to tobacco smoking, but is it really?  ‘Vaping’ is the inhalation of a mixture of carrier substances; propylene glycol (an alcohol) and glycerine (produced from fats and oils), added with nicotine and flavourings through an electronic vapouriser. Scientists are still divided on its safety. One camp believes that vaping is a safer alternative to tobacco smoking, while others are sceptical of its longer-term use. The finger has been firmly pointed at the many ‘flavours’ and ‘carrier substances’ that cause physiological effects. Vaping also releases volatile organic compounds and (ultra) fine particles into the atmosphere therefore for the rest of us increasing the risk of passive vaping. A study at New York University (Jan 2018) suggested that vaping may raise the risk of cancer and heart disease. Researchers observed changes in DNA which were similar to those found in secondhand smoke. In another stuty  the toxic element chromium and four times more nickle was found when compared to traditional tobacco. A BBC investigation found that a VIP butterscotch flavour refill contained a chemical diacetyl which, although safe to eat is not safe for inhalation and has been linked to a serious lung condition called ‘Popcorn worker’s lung’.

It took a long time for us to realise the health risks of smoking tobacco. Doctors used to recommend smoking to aid the nerves. How long will it take for us to realise that e-cigarettes are not safe? The rise in popularity amongst young smokers is worrying as they are drawn towards its image as a ‘safer’ alternative to smoking, consequently making it a potentially major public health issue. It is hard to accept that regularly spraying your lungs with layers of vegetable fat and other chemicals was OK! There is talk of e-cigarettes undergoing stricter regulation, and for its sale to be made illegal to the under 18s, while the WHO advised on banning its use indoors. Personally, I feel both of these cannot come soon enough as we need to establish a few facts before it is too late and lives are lost.

 

 

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