Guest blog by Kathryn Messenger, Naturopath at Whole Naturopathy.
As a naturopath, I have studied both nutrition and herbal medicine for both treating and preventing disease. Naturopathic treatment varies depending on the how individual person experiences the disease, their health history and priorities. I love using herbal medicine as each formula of 4-6 herbs is different, depending on what each person needs.
Food has a powerful effect on health, both positively and negatively, and I believe in a diet high in fruit and vegetables, together with protein and healthy fats; but low in highly refined foods (such as sugar and white flour products) and food additives (colours, flavours, and preservatives). The Mediterranean diet follow this basic outline and has been studied for its health benefits. If you find foods that you enjoy, a healthy diet is easily sustainable.
Here are some conditions where a naturopathic treatment could work alongside myotherapy.
Vitamin D is an important nutrient for those that suffer from fibromyalgia, and studies have shown a reduction in pain with supplementation, as well as an improvement to mental health issues such as anxiety and depression.
A blood test for Vitamin D gives a reference range of 50-250 nmol/L, with the lower end of this range set in order to prevent osteoporosis (spontaneous spinal fractures). I use the Functional Medicine Ranges for blood tests which are the levels which have been found in optimal health. The optimal range for vitamin D is between 100-150nmol/L.
Supplementing is recommended if your levels are below 100nmol/L, especially is the winter. In the summer, try to expose arms or legs to the sun for around 15 minutes a day, depending on your skin type. Try to achieve maximum exposure with no burning or redness afterwards.
Stress contributes to a wide range of health issues including fibromyalia, and I love using a group of herbal medicines called ‘adaptogens’. These herbs make you like the ‘energiser bunny’, able to just keep going. In clinical trials on athletes, they could swim or run further or for longer when taking adaptogens. They help you adapt to stress, and therefore cope better with life stressors. Lifestyle changes to reduce stress are really important, and but are even more effective when combined with these herbs.
Inflammation is a big part of any arthritis, and chronic inflammation contributes to many diseases characterised by pain.
Omega 3 fatty acids have been shown to reduce inflammation, the best source of these is oily fish such as salmon or mackerel, but they are also found in nuts and seeds. In order to meet the daily requirements of omega 3, it is the recommendation is to eat fish twice a week, otherwise a fish oil supplement may be of benefit.
Ginger is an anti-inflammatory herb and is particularly useful in those with poor circulation. This is seen if you have cold hands or feet, as ginger will increase the blood flow not only to warm you, but to bring oxygen and nutrients to the site of the arthritis.
Turmeric is another anti-inflammatory herb and has been well researched for joint pain. You could try to increase it in your diet, although a supplement may be required for adequate intake.
As well as increasing anti-inflammatory foods, it’s important to reduce pro-inflammatory foods.
Refined sugar is the main culprit here, which increases inflammation and should be avoided. Whilst fruit which contains natural sugars, it is also high in fibre and antioxidants which has a positive effect on health. Sugar is devoid of other nutrients required to sustain and repair.
In osteoarthritis, often the collagen of the joint is deteriorated. Vitamin C is important in the formation of collagen, and bone broth or a collagen powder can help to support the joint.
Protein is such an important nutrient. It is required for growth and repair of all tissues, particularly muscles. Every meal should include a source of protein: meat, fish, eggs, dairy, nuts, seeds, beans, or legumes.
So much can be done to improve your health naturally. If you’re unsure if a naturopath can help with your condition, please contact me to discuss you unique health issues.
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Ferntree Gully, Victoria (Inside Providence Foods)
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