Natural health with Megan Sheppard: Heart palpitations and cracked lips

Megan Sheppard gives her advice on treating heart palpitations and cracked lips.

I have been getting heart palpitations for the past few months. I am not eating differently, I haven’t taken on anything new that might be causing stress, and I am not on any medications. I walk daily, but don’t take any other exercise. I’m a 55-year-old woman and in generally good health.

Stress, trauma, and anxiety are often the first place to look when it comes to heart palpitations, so it is good to hear that you have already ruled out these potential causes.

Palpitations occur when the heart beats at an irregular rate (racing heart, skipping a beat, or additional beats) and can feel like an intense flutter in the chest. For the most part we are not aware of our heart beating, but when experiencing a palpitation you become very conscious of the feeling of your heartbeat.

If the palpitations are lasting for longer than a minute or two, are increasing in frequency, or you are also experiencing a coughing urge or a shortness of breath, then it is wise to have your heart health checked by your doctor or a cardiologist.

Since you are in the age group where menopausal changes are a factor, it is important to mention that this is a common menopausal symptom. Palpitations can occur alongside hot flushes, or by themselves, but are typically a sign that your progesterone and oestrogen levels are fluctuating rather than there being an issue with your heart health.

Natural formulations for menopausal health and hormone balance will often help with these and other side effects of this change. My favourite menopausal combination is Hormonal Changease by Dr Christopher. This herbal formula contains black cohosh root, sarsaparilla root, American ginseng, liquorice root, false unicorn root, blessed thistle, and squaw vine. Unfortunately it can be difficult to source locally as it is a US-based product, but it is widely available online.

Marilyn Glenville has also formulated a menopausal support product that includes organic fermented soya, red clover, hops, sage, dandelion, alfalfa and flaxseeds. This combination, called Meno Herbal Support, is designed to support the liver as it processes the hormones and is a good source of plant-based phytoestrogens. Meno Herbal Support by NHP is available from health stores where 60 capsules cost €23.50.

Natural health with Megan Sheppard: Heart palpitations and cracked lips

Thyroid imbalance is another factor to consider, particularly if you have signs of an overactive thyroid (Hyperthyroidism), so it is worth ruling this out if it is a potential concern.

The balance between calcium/magnesium/potassium plays an important role in regulating heartbeat. If you choose to try these supplements, take one of Solgar’s 99mg potassium tablets daily for a month along with its Calcium-Magnesium formula.

Other useful tips to help reduce the incidence of palpitations include limiting your intake of alcohol, caffeine, fizzy drinks, and nicotine. Big heavy meals can place a strain on the organs, particularly if they are generous in meat and fats. Moderation is key.

Some people find their heartbeat is affected by artificial additives – such as flavour, colouring, sweeteners, and MSG (monosodium glutamate). Food intolerances and sensitivities can also play a role in triggering palpitations.

My daughter gets unsightly cracking at the corners of her mouth. Can you please tell me how we can stop this?

Cracks and splits at the corners of the mouth are usually a sign of a deficiency in B vitamins, particularly B2 (good sources include fresh produce, leafy greens, eggs, milk, and liver).

It is also good to up her intake of essential fatty acids by ensuring she eats plenty of nuts, seeds, oily fish, avocados, etc. If these foods are off the menu for any reason then an essential fatty acid supplement is a good idea.

Lip balm can help relieve the dryness and soreness as well, but make sure that it doesn’t contain drying ingredients such as petroleum derivatives and artificial flavouring or colouring. A natural product rich in vitamin E is ideal.


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