Natural health with Megan Sheppard

Hot flashes and campylobacter food poisoning.

Since starting the menopause, I have had a terrible problem with hot flashes. I find myself burning up at the most inappropriate occasions, for example when I am presenting information at a staff meeting. Please, anything you can suggest would be greatly appreciated.

A menopausal hot flush/flash can raise the temperature of the skin by an incredible eight degrees in one uncomfortable wave. Not only do they increase your heart rate and breathing, they often trigger a drenching sweat as well.

The good news is that most women experience these heat waves for around a year.

Hot flush and night sweat sensations differ between women, they can also differ between episodes.

Some are simply a moderate sensation of warmth spreading throughout the upper body and face, while others hit you all of a sudden — an intense fever blast seeming to appear out of nowhere.

Black cohosh (Cimicifuga racemosa) has long been used by Native Americans to treat a range of menopausal symptoms, including hot flashes.

Black cohosh contains a number of nutrients — including isoflavonoids, betacarotene, selenium, and vitamin C — and it is thought to create and oestrogen-like effect on the body.

The black cohosh-based supplement Remifemin has been shown in double-blind, placebo- controlled studies to significantly reduce the frequency of hot flashes.

The dosage which has been shown to be effective is 40mg of a standardised extract daily.

Consult with your doctor if you are taking any prescribed medications, and avoid using black cohosh together with conventional hormone replacement therapy (HRT).

The soy bean has caused hot debate as to whether it is a health wonder or a health hazard. Both sides seem to agree that fermented and cultured soy is beneficial, so stick with soy yoghurt, tempeh, natto, shoyu, miso and the like.

Soy contains the isoflavones genisten and daidzen, which have a mild oestrogenic effect caused by their ability to plug into oestrogen receptors and mimic this hormone.

If you have breast health concerns, such as a family history of breast cancer or pre-cancerous changes, then use soy with caution as some studies show it may have a negative effect on breast cancer.

Fermented and cultured foods are the best way to take soy, as the extracted soy isoflavones have been shown to interfere with mineral absorption and thyroid function.

It is also worth noting that the culinary herb sage (Salvia officinalis) has been shown clinically to reduce hot flushes by up to 56%.

The product used in clinical trials was A. Vogel’s Menosan tincture (www.AVogel.ie). Take as directed.

I recently had a case of campylobacter food poisoning, and had terrible trouble with diarrhoea. I have found that even though I have cleared the infection, my bowels are still quite loose. Do you have any remedies or advice?

One of the most effective remedies for diarrhoea is quite surprising as it is commonly used to relieve constipation.

Psyllium husks, the main agent in the well-known laxative supplement Metamucil, work by attracting water in the intestines and forming a gel.

In constipation, this works to soften and ease the passage of the stool, whereas in cases of diarrhoea it works to add more form to the stool and slow transit time.

Psyllium is often used in cases of faecal incontinence, gastrointestinal distress due to radiation therapy, and patients who are tube-fed.

The usual dose is anywhere from 1 teaspoon to 1 tablespoon of psyllium husks in a 200ml glass of water. Start low and increase gradually until you find the right amount for you.

Since your diarrhoea was triggered by a bacterial infection, a probiotic supplement is highly recommended to help restore balance.

Most probiotic formulations contain anywhere from 5bn to 9bn viable organisms. Reputable brands include OMX, BioKult, Biocare, Solgar, Seven Seas, and Garden of Life.


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