Alternative Health

Q. I HAVE tendonitis in my Achilles as a result of an ankle injury. Would the supplement glucosamine sulphate help?

A. Tendonitis is inflammation in the tendon, often as a result of overuse in a sporting activity, an accidental injury, or in some cases it can be caused by an underlying inflammatory condition such as arthritis. The most common areas to be affected are the elbow, wrist, biceps, shoulder, leg, knee, ankle, hip and Achilles.

Glucosamine sulphate is a suitable remedy for tendon repair, along with organic sulphur in the form of Methyl Sulphonyl Methane (MSM), which assists in micro-scopic tissue repair and acts as an anti-inflammatory, making it ideal in the treat-ment of athletic injuries. Solgar’s Glucosamine MSM Complex (€18.38 for 60 capsules) is shellfish free for those who have allergies or prefer not to consume animal products. This complex also contains ginger root and white willow bark, which help with circulation and pain relief respectively.

Unfortunately, healing is a long and slow process when it comes to tendonitis. It is important to limit activity and weight-bearing movements, and to rest your ankle in an elevated position. If your injury was a result of a sporting activity, you will need to take a break until your Achilles tendon is fully healed.

It is important not to use ice to reduce the inflammation because this stiffens the tendon. Try using a topical pain relief product, such as Natraflex Balm with glucosamine, which contains warming capsicum to dilate the blood vessels in order to loosen up the tendon fibres, and Boswellia to help reduce inflammation and pain. Natraflex Balm (150ml) costs €9.99.

Q. My father has recently begun a course of radiotherapy treatment for prostate cancer. Are there any supplements which would work to support his immune system in coping with this ongoing treatment?

A. There is a supplement which has been shown to help reduce the side-effects of radiotherapy — the adaptogenic herb schisandra berry. Schisandra will help to strengthen your father’s immune system, and will also assist his liver in clearing out the toxins present in his body following radiotherapy.

Viridian’s Schisandra Berry Extract provides the necessary standardised dosage of 200mg; your father will need to take one capsule three times daily. Viridian’s Schisandra Berry Extract is available from health stores, where 90 vegecaps cost €21.10.

Prostate cancer begins with a single damaged cell which then divides at an uncontrolled rate, eventually forming a lump. Occurring mostly in men over the age of 50, this disease is quite treatable if it is caught early enough — so it’s important to be familiar with the signs.

A small gland at the neck of the bladder, the prostate is typically overlooked until it causes a problem. Most people believe that it is involved in urine flow regulation, since painful, difficult and frequent urination, or the presence of blood in the urine, are all symptoms of prostate trouble. In fact, the prostate is essential for reproduction, with its growth and functioning controlled by testosterone. Because it surrounds the urethra , any inflammation or swelling will directly affect bladder habits.

Men Against Cancer (MAC) is a support group run by men who have been success-fully treated for prostate or testicular cancer. Their aim is to provide reassurance and information for men dealing with any stage of this disease. MAC has a FreeFone Cancer Helpline on 1800 200 700 (open Monday to Friday), or email at

Q. I’m currently taking medication for under-active thyroid and have been told it’s likely I will need medication for the rest of my life. I would prefer being medication-free and would like to find a natural alternative. Can you please advise?

A. Located at the base of your neck, just below the Adam’s apple, the thyroid is a butterfly-shaped gland which controls all aspects of your metabolism, blood-pressure, heartrate, libido, breathing rate, and mental alertness. Basically, when the thyroid isn’t functioning correctly it has an enormous impact on your health.

Under-active thyroid (hypoactive), is when your thyroid isn’t producing enough thyroid hormone, which upsets the balance of chemical reactions throughout your body and slows bodily processes. Symptoms usually include feeling cold, tired, constipated, having dry skin, and becoming depressed and forgetful.

It is important to note that symptoms will vary between individuals, so the best way to diagnose is through professional testing. You will need to consult your GP about this.

Dr Patrick Magovern, who has a special interest in the thyroid, uses a combination of conventional and alternative therapies, including nutrition, acupuncture, homeopathy, and testing for food intolerances. He runs a clinic in Dublin, (3 Drummartin Road, Goatstown), and can be contacted by phone at 01-2965993.

A treatment plan, including, natural support, diet and prescribed medications if necessary, is crucial in the management of this condition. Left untreated, hypothyroidism can lead to goitre, where the thyroid gland becomes so enlarged it can interfere with swallowing and breathing. There is also a rare, life-threatening condition called Myxedema, which is a result of long-term undiagnosed hypothyroidism and requires immediate emergency treatment — symptoms include intense cold intolerance and drowsiness followed by profound lethargy and unconsciousness.

Unchecked hypothyroidism has also been associated with an increased risk of heart dis-ease, mental health issues, and birth defects in unborn children.

You are correct in that most cases of hypothyroidism require a lifetime commitment to a treatment protocol.

There are some cases (usually linked with pregnancy or viral triggered thyroid imbalance) where thyroid function returns to normal over time.

To learn more about the various options available and to help you make informed choices regarding your treatment, I suggest that you also invest in a copy of Mary J. Shomon’s book, Living Well With Hypothyroidism (currently on special at €6.80 from

Megan puts the spotlight on: Eat your greens

GETTING your daily dose of leafy greens is one of the most important things you can do for your health. Not only do they contain a whole host of minerals and vitamins, they also provide valuable trace minerals, amino acids, and even small amounts of essential fatty acids.

While there are people who eat salads because they enjoy them, many only eat salads when they are on a diet or health kick — and even then it is a case of forcing the greens down rather than pleasurable eating.

Green smoothies are one way to get around a distaste for leafy greens, or it may be a case of finding your salad style.

All too often the image conjured up by the word ‘salad’ consists of green lettuce, tomato, cucumber, perhaps smothered in salad cream or mayonnaise to make it easier to swallow. But, salads can be stunning and delicious — you can even make them part of the main event rather than a token gesture garnish.

For those who do enjoy lettuce-based salads, there are many alternatives to the omnipresent iceberg — such as butterhead, cos, oak leaf, miner’s lettuce, or buttercrunch.

There are also a wealth of other leafy greens which can take pride of place in a leafy salad, such as baby spinach, plantago, Frocket, cress, beetroot leaves, nasturtium, lamb’s lettuce, endives, chicory, dandelion, mustard, arugula, kale, and mesclun.

As well as being a healthy start to any meal (eating a handful of leafy greens before your meal can improve digestion significantly), the salad is easily tailored to year-round enjoyment. Use vegetables, fresh fruit, seeds, nuts, dried fruit, herbs, cheese, tempeh, edible flowers, and soaked, sprouted or cooked grains (quinoa, whole wheat, pearl barley, rice) to make your salad a meal to remember.

Of course, the salad dressing can make or break your meal in terms of taste and health benefits. A simple dressing using cold-pressed oil, citrus juice, and herbs is delicious on both leafy and hearty salads, as is an avocado or soaked nut based creamy blended dressing. Avoid pre-packaged dressings full of additives, preservatives, and unhealthy fats.

I love adding edible flowers to salads, since I believe that we eat first with our eyes. Nasturtiums have a slightly peppery flavour, while violets, violas, geranium petals, calendula, red clover, runner bean flowers, blue borage, and dandelions all have a more mild flavour. Let your herbs go to flower and add those to your salads for a special flavour with a touch of colour.


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