Wednesday, 5 August 2015

The facts on excessive hair loss in women...

Excessive hair loss is a common complaint for female patients, it is distressing to experience and studies show hair loss is a significant source of anxiety and depression.
Read on for the hair facts and 5 common reasons why it happens.

Hair basics
  • Between 100,000 and 350,000 hair follicles occupy the human scalp.
  • The hair has a growth phase (anagen) and also a resting stage (telogen).
  • After this resting stage, the hair bulb migrates out and eventually is sloughed. New hair can then fill the papilla after the original hair is lost.
  • Age, state of health, nutritional status and hormonal factors can all influence how your hair regrows. For example, generally after the age of 40 hair growth slows.
The five most common causes of hair loss in women:-
  • High level of androgen hormones. For instance, in the condition polycystic ovarian syndrome where androgens can be elevated hair loss is a common experience. Managing insulin resistance and antioxidant status helps, and the herbal medicine saw palmetto is useful.
  • Drug induced hair loss – a long list of drugs can cause hair loss as a side effect, e.g. DHEA (a pre-androgen drug now used as part of some IVF protocols). However, even if you are taking a drug with the side effect of hair loss other factors should also be investigated.
  • Nutritional deficiency – deficiency in zinc, vitamin A, essential fatty acids and iron should be ruled out. Your naturopath will look for tell tale signs of deficiency (for instance do you have white spots on your nails? Or little bumps on the back of your arms?). We will also suggest a blood test to check iron stores (ferritin) and plasma zinc. For instance, when ferritin levels drop below a certain level the result is slowed hair growth and regeneration.
  • Under functioning thyroid (hypothyroidism) – a common disorder with an estimated 1-4% of the population having moderate to severe hypothyroidism with another 10-12% having mild hypothyroidism.
  • Antibodies to gliadin – the protein gluten and gliadin are found primarily in wheat, barley and rye, antibodies to these can attack the hair follicle, leading to an autoimmune hair loss. It is not just people with celiac disease, but also those with intolerances to gluten who can experience this type of hair loss.

If excessive hair loss is causing you distress, come and visit us at Sydney Health & Fertility, for a naturopathic investigative approach.

Monday, 20 July 2015

Home remedies for the cold & flu season

It seems that as soon as the temperature drops, our clinic is flooded with patients who have colds, flus, chest infections, sore throats and sinus problems. And this has been a particularly bad cold and flu season!
While researchers are yet to understand why we are more prone to ‘colds’ when the weather is cooler, we cannot deny winter brings with it more infections.
Kids average six to eight colds a year and adults between two and four. While it is normal to get a few colds a year, they should last no longer than 3-5 days and longer than this is a sign that your immune system needs some support.
The key to keeping your immune system healthy over winter is taking quick action at the first sign of symptoms!

If you are around people who are sick, or have the first symptoms of an infection it is best to give your immune system a helping hand and hopefully prevent a full blown sickness from occurring with a quick recovery.

Here are a few of the most practical home remedies that will improve your immune health and ensure you stay well this winter:

Garlic is natures best natural antibiotic. It works quickly in the body to kill bacteria and is an easy addition to winter cooking. Add it into soups, stews, casseroles, curries, stir fry’s, marinades and salad dressings. You can make you own garlic infused olive oil at home to use in cooking and dressings.
You can also make your own garlic infused honey:
*Crush 1-2 garlic cloves into 2 tablespoons of honey (manuka would be best- see below) and leave covered for 6 hours. Take 1 tsp at a time.

Ginger has many immune based actions. Firstly, it is warming which helps to control a fever. It is a powerful anti-inflammatory and has some anti-viral activity. It has been shown to improve the function of our white blood cells, therefore boosting immunity. It also adds great flavour into your food! There are many ways you can increase your ginger intake.
Grate fresh ginger into water or tea and sip. You can add a knob of ginger into a fresh juice. It’s delicious in salad dressings or stir fry’s. You can buy ginger tea in teabags that work just as well.

Manuka honey-
Manuka honey is antibacterial, a healing agent and helps to soothe a sore throat. You will notice manuka honey is given a ‘UMF’ rating which is a number that grades the quality and strength of the honey. Chose a UMF between 15-25 for good results. Higher than 25 is available but becomes expensive. Take 1 teaspoon of the honey directly into the mouth as needed. You can also use manuka honey in warm water with lemon and ginger or into any herbal tea.

Thyme is another great antibacterial and antimicrobial herb and is specific for chest based infections. You can add thyme leaves (fried or fresh) into your cooking. It is delicious over roasted veggies, marinades or into a salad dressing. You can also make a tea using thyme leaves.

Liquorice tea-
Liquorice is an anti-viral herb, so very useful to combat the flu and other viral infections. It is a great anti-inflammatory that helps to reduce inflammation specifically in the lining of the lungs and therefore helps recovery from a chest infection. It is also a demulcent, which means is aids healing and soothes and for this reason is can help to soothe a dry and sore throat. Liquorice tea is easily available in health food stores and tastes delicious!

Flu Brew Recipe-
This flu brew is great for supporting a fever, inducing sweating and boosting the immune system. It’s an easy at-home remedy that can be enjoyed while you relax and rest. It can be made in bulk and sipped on throughout the day but is best served hot. Add the chilli to your own taste, but make sure you add enough to feel the heat. The chilli will aid a fever, induce sweating, improve circulation and clear the respiratory passages. Similarly, ginger is a diaphoretic and will induce sweating as well as have an anti-inflammatory effect. The garlic is a natural antibiotic (the more the better) and the lemon will sweeten it up enough to be enjoyable. It’s also a great way to stay hydrated.

Ginger (thumb sized piece) chopped
A pinch of Chilli
Lemon (whole) squeezed
2 cloves Garlic – chopped
2 big glasses of water
1 tablespoon chopped thyme leaves
Manuka honey

Place all ingredients except honey into saucepan and simmer for 20 minutes with the lid on. Place it through a sieve, draining the liquid off that you are going to drink. Then add a generous spoonful of honey and drink.
Come in and see us for an appointment if you or your family need more personalized immune support this winter!

Thanks for reading!

Hayley x

Wednesday, 15 July 2015

Could the hormone leptin be making you gain weight?

You may have 'leptin resistance'
Symptoms of leptin resistance include:
  • Easy weight gain or difficulty maintaining your weight
  • Not feeling full after eating
  • Overeating or binge eating
  • Wanting to snack after dinner or at night
  • Sugar and carbohydrate cravings
  • Gaining weight when trying to eat small, regular meals
  • High levels of glucose or insulin
Chances are you probably haven’t heard of the hormone leptin - most people haven’t.

But did you know that high levels of leptin can lead to difficulty losing weight and very easy weight gain? 

Worse still, leptin resistance is made worse if you are snacking between meals.
Most of us are aware that eating smaller, more regular meals throughout the day is better for weight loss and this is true for most, except if you have leptin resistance as snacking will make the leptin issues worse.

Leptin is a hormone made and regulated in your fat cells which then travels up to the brain to regulate appetite and metabolism. Leptin should be a signal for the brain of how much fuel you have on hand (fat = stored energy).  Your brain will then determine how fast to run your metabolism based on how much leptin is produced.

Here’s an analogy to make it easier to understand - imagine leptin is like the petrol gauge in your car.  You can’t see how much petrol you have, so we rely our petrol gauge to tell us how much we have. Likewise, your brain has no way to see how much stored fat you have on hand, it relies on the leptin level as a measure of fat stores. If the leptin gauge is reading low, it means eat more.  When you’ve eaten enough, leptin levels rise, and the leptin gauge in your subconscious brain now says your tank is full – resulting in a full signal and you stop eating.  When leptin levels are too low your brain thinks there is a famine and your metabolic rate is set to hibernation mode so that that you can start to store more fat from your meals.

So this sounds like high leptin levels should help you lose weight right? This is what researcheres originally thought back in the 90’s when they assumed that high leptin levels would help weight loss. But they were wrong - their experiments actually led to an increase in weight. This is because if leptin is too high, a ‘flood’ of leptin heading up to the brain clogs the pathway and the leptin doesn’t get through. This leads to even higher levels of leptin, and overtime you can develop leptin resistance.

Leptin resistance means the leptin receptors in the brain have become desensitised and are no longer listening to the leptin message that you have enough fat. This leads to very easy and frustrating weight gain as the brain does not allow fat burning to take place.

So what can you do about leptin resistance?
The first step is to get a fasting leptin hormone blood test done to measure your levels and determine if you do have leptin resistance. This can be done either with one of our Naturopaths or with your GP.

Strategies for reducing leptin and therefore enabling weight loss revolve around meal timing. The act of having ‘smaller, more regular meals’ throughout the day has been advocated for many years as a way of maintaining a healthy weight. However in people with high leptin this can actually make things worse. The main strategy for reducing leptin levels revolves around sticking to 3 main meals a day, with no snacks in between.
Aim for breakfast, lunch and dinner only with no snacks between meals. This includes avoiding things like coffee, tea or juice! Avoid eating anything after dinner and allow at least 3 hours between dinner and bed.
For more information, or to get your leptin levels measured and a detailed leptin plan, please contact us!