All posts by helenabarker

Acupuncture & Naturopathy Create a Healthy Lifestyle with Natural Balance Specialising in fertility & pregnancy Zita West affiliated acupuncturist

Vitamin D

As a naturopath I am always going on about the importance of Vitamin D with my patients. Vitamin D is needed to strengthen bone health, to balance the immune system, to help mental health issues especially depression, to reduce inflammation and improve intestinal lining health and is also essential for male and female fertility and pregnancy.

Vitamin D is essential for wellness
Vitamin D is essential for wellness

The reason it is so essential to fertility and getting pregnant is because it is needed to help the body create sex hormones. The correct amount of sex hormones in your body is vital to your overall well-being, otherwise you may suffer PMS, PCOS, and sadly, infertility.

Regulating cell growth is another key function of Vitamin D.

Yale University School of Medicine conducted a study of 67 infertile women, where it was discovered that a mere 7% had normal Vitamin D levels. The remainder of the women either had insufficient levels of Vitamin D or they had clinical deficiency of Vitamin D in their bodies.

Tips for Optimizing your Vitamin D Levels

  • Get 15 minutes of unprotected sun exposure daily while the sun is at its highest, between 11 and 3. Even weak sunscreens will block the ability of your skin to manufacture vitamin D. Note that you do not make Vitamin D when sitting behind a glass window.
  • Gradually build up your exposure. Start early in the year (spring), or early in the morning before the sun is strongest and slowly build up the amount of time you spend in the sun. Regular short exposures have been found to be much more effective and safer than infrequent, long ones.
  • The best places to absorb Vitamin D are your inner arms and thighs.
  • After your 15 minutes of unprotected time in the sun, apply sunscreen or wear a hat and light clothing to protect yourself. Opt for sunscreens with fewer added chemicals, look in your local health store.
  • Always avoid sunburn. It is sunburn, not healthy sun exposure that causes problems.
  • Showering: Vitamin D3, an oil-soluble vitamin, is on the surface of your skin and it apparently takes up to two full days before you can absorb this vitamin into your bloodstream. So avoid washing with soap for 48 days after sun exposure. Wash your armpits and groin area with soap but the rest of your body with pure water.
  • Increase your anti-oxidants and omega 3 intake. These nutrients help to protect your skin from sun damage. Eat lots of vegetables and fruits daily, eggs and oily fish (salmon, mackerel, trout, sardines, anchovies and herrings) at least twice a week.

You can ask your GP to check your Vitamin D levels or there home kits that you can buy. I generally recommend to my patients to supplement Vitamin D3, I find that liquid drops are best in 1000iu. The dosage would be dependent on what was going on with the patient. Contact me if you would like further info on this.

Enjoy the sunshine safely 🙂

Zita West affiliated Acupuncturist

I am now delighted to announce that I have become a founding member of the recently launched Zita West Network for Reproductive Health, as an Affiliated Acupuncturist.

ZW_Aff_Acu_Logo_Keyline_POS_ProcessBuilt on the ground-breaking work of midwife, author and fertility and pregnancy expert Zita West and her renowned London clinic, the new Irish network aims to share the unique skills and experience of Zita and her team of doctors, midwives and complementary therapists, with experienced independent acupuncturists across Ireland and the UK. Other health specialists (such as nutritionists, counsellors, midwives and doctors) will also be recruited to the network. The Zita West Clinic is the largest integrated (medical and complementary) practice in the UK specialising in all aspects of male and female reproductive health. It also runs occasional clinics in Dublin on a monthly basis.

All acupuncturist members of the network receive training and ongoing support in Zita West’s comprehensive, holistic approach to achieving optimum reproductive health.  This covers a wide range of treatments and approaches to help boost fertility, enhance IVF, improve pregnancy, enhance birth outcomes and support post-natal recovery.

The Benefits of Choosing a Zita West Affiliated Acupuncturist

  • Wide-ranging Medical and Complementary Health Experience.
    By choosing a Zita West affiliated acupuncturist clients not only get the benefit of their practitioner’s individual expertise but, through them, the training and support of Zita and her colleagues too. The Zita West Clinic works with thousands of women and men each year, helping them to boost their chances of conceiving successfully (both naturally and through IVF) and helping those who are already pregnant to have the best pregnancy possible and the brightest and healthiest of babies. This provides an unrivalled breadth and depth of knowledge to be shared with members of the network and their clients.
  • Exclusive Discounts on Zita West Clinic Services. Choosing a Zita West affiliated practitioner also provides clients with unique access to a range of Zita West clinical services – some of which are available by phone as well as in person – all at special discounted prices.
  • Special Discounts on the Zita West Range of Nutritional Products. Clients of member practitioners are entitled to further discounts on Zita’s best-selling range of premium nutritional supplements for fertility, pregnancy and breast-feeding too (20% off RRP ex p&p). Similar discounts are available on her range of books, CDs, cosmetic products and gift-sets as well.
  • FREE Fact Sheets to Help Boost Your Fertility and Pep up Your Pregnancy

For further information contact Helena Barker at 086-8163130. Or email helena_barker@hotmail.com or visit www.zitawest.com

Full-fat is good for fertility

This is a topic that I always go through with my fertility patients, please get rid of the low fat foods…! They are more damaging than good. This piece below is from the new Zita West book Eat yourself Pregnant and it outlines the dangers of low-fat foods and trying to conceive.

‘Many women make the mistake of substituting foods containing fat with low-fat products, thinking they won’t gain weight using them. However, for fertility – and, for that matter, for weight management – the principle is flawed. These products often contain trans-fats, sugars and sweeteners.

Artificial sweeteners disrupt the normal hormonal and neurological signals that control hunger and satiety. Many studies have shown that a diet that is high in sweeteners in the end leads to a greater consumption of calories and so to weight gain.

But, weight aside, there is some startling evidence for how low-fat products can hamper conception. In one extensive study in the USA, women who ate two or more low-fat dairy products a day were twice as likely to have problems conceiving. Ovulation rates were 38% better among those who used full-fat milk. One reason for this might be that when the fat is skimmed off dairy products to make reduced-fat versions, estrogen and progesterone are removed too, leaving an unnatural preponderance of androgen’s – male hormones.’

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Scary stuff, my recommendations are to swap all low-fat dairy with organic full-fat dairy, or use alternative dairy products such as goat’s and sheep’s products or coconut & unsweetened almond milks and yogurts. But watch out for soya products such as soya milk, as these may well have a negative effect on fertility.

As part of the fertility consultation I ask my patients to do a 3 day diet sheet. I then make individual detailed nutritional suggestions for the patient to help them conceive.

 

 

 

 

Cervical fluid/mucus/discharge?! How to recognise your fertile window…

I don’t know why but we are always grossed out by discharges and sometimes we fail to see the importance of them, especially when it comes to fertility. As part of my consultation with patients who are trying to conceive I always ask if they are aware of their fertile period? Do they notice any discharge and if so how much and when?

This ‘discharge’ (such a horrid word for such an important fertility fluid!) is vital for conception as it shows that the body is getting ready to release an egg and to aid sperm on their long journey to reach the egg for the magic conception to happen. In chinese medicine this is the time that yin turns into yang, the cooling phase of the run up to ovulation turns in the incubation phase for implantation.

As an acupuncturist and naturopath I am looking to help increase/promote cervical fluids with acupuncture, diet, lifestyle and correct supplements. And obviously to include the couple having sex in the fertile period!

There are lots of misconceptions about cervical mucus, here is some info to help you decipher your discharges…!

Fertile mucus means you are ‘potentially’ fertile.
It’s not the day we see the most amount of fertile mucus (characteristically clear/egg white consistency), it’s the last day we recognise this mucus. If the mucus lasts for 4-5 days this can be key for timing intercourse.

Cervical fluid changes with fertility and goes through a predictable pattern each and every cycle. After you have finished menstruating you should have a period of no discharge at all.

It should then be:
1. Sticky – In a 28 day cycle, this will be around day 7 or so. Your cervix will start producing a sticky or pasty kind of cervical fluid. This is the beginning of the fertile period.
2. Creamy – As your cycle progresses, your estrogen level is rising daily and the water content of your cervical fluid will increase.
3. Egg white – It is called this as it resembles raw egg white. It’s clear and slippery and can usually stretch an inch or more between a finger and thumb. This is the really fertile stuff!! It’s alkaline and keep sperm alive for up to 5 days inside your body.
4. Watery – Sometimes the water content inside a woman’s cervical fluid will be so high that the eggwhite cervical fluid is more like water, it’s clear, slippery and does not hold any shape. You will know it’s there by a very wet sensation in your vagina. This is very fertile cervical mucus is the last stage of the fertile period and suggests that the egg is about to be released.
5. Dry – this happens quickly after the wet period/egg release, the fertile window has finished for this cycle. Some women do experience a water cervical fluid the day before thee period, this is the endometrial lining starting to break up.
Acupuncture, diet & supplements can help increase fertile mucus
Acupuncture, diet & supplements can help increase fertile mucus
Cervical fluid is an incredibly valuable substance that is produced by your cervix. It’s made up of water, sugars, electrolytes and proteins. Fertile cervical fluid keeps sperm alive once it is inside the vagina. It provides nutrients, a hospitable alkaline environment and aids in transportation. Cervical fluid helps the sperm survive, sometimes for up to 5 days while waiting for the egg to be released. It also tells a lot about the state of a woman’s hormones.
 
Cervical fluid helps the sperm in 3 ways:
1. It provides an alkaline environment for the sperm. A woman’s vagina is slightly acidic and hostile to sperm. Fertile cervical mucus is alkaline, like a mans semen, and provides a safe harbour for the sperm.
 
2. It provides sustenance for the sperm while they swim on the way on up through the cervix, to reach the egg in the fallopian tube. The sperm need food along the way and fertile cervical fluid provides the needed nutrition.
 
3. It provides an easy pathway for the sperm to swim through. It also helps filter out irregular sperm so only the most suitable arrive at the egg.
There are many foods and supplements that can improve your cervical mucus such as royal jelly, evening primrose oil, increase your omega 3’s, avocados, olives etc…
I look at each women/couple individually and recommended foods and supplements to go with the acupuncture fertility program.

15 facts you may not know about Acupuncture…

Here are 15 factoids you may not know about acupuncture:

  1. Originally acupuncture needles were not made of stainless steel but of stone, bamboo, and bone.
  2. Studies have shown that acupuncture points have significantly more electrical conductivity than areas of skin without acupuncture points.
  3. Acupuncture can increase the success rate of In Vitro Fertilization (IVF) up to 65%.
  4. The word acupuncture comes from the Latin acus, “needle” and pungere, “to prick.”
  5. Acupuncture needles are single use, sterilized and pre-packaged.
  6. Acupuncture is over 5,000 years old and is one of the oldest practicing forms of medicine known to date.
  7. When performed by a properly trained and licensed practitioner, acupuncture is safe and effective, free from negative side effects.
  8. Even though a needle is being inserted into the skin, acupuncture is virtually painless.
  9. Acupuncture needles are a lot smaller than standard hypodermic needles, and they do not draw blood and are not hollow.
  10. Acupuncturists feel your pulse and look at your tongue to gain a better understanding of what is going on inside the body.
  11. Acupuncture is highly individualized – for example, if 50 people with a cough got acupuncture, all 50 people could have different acupuncture points in their treatments.
  12. The benefits of acupuncture are sometimes difficult to measure when using western research because western research depends on a constant variable to measure all data against…something that goes against acupuncture treatment plans.
  13. Licensed acupuncturists attend an in-depth four year program and obtain over 400 clinical hours.
  14. Acupuncture is just one form of therapy used within the medical system known as Traditional Chinese Medicine, which also consists of other modalities such as herbal medicine, nutrition, cupping, moxabustion, tui na and special exercises such as Tai Chi and Qi Gong.
  15. Licensed acupuncturists in Ireland are fully insured and are registered with either the Acupuncture Foundation Professional Association or the Acupuncture Council of Ireland
Acupuncture can help treat many physical and emotional conditions.
Acupuncture can help treat many physical and emotional conditions.

If you or someone you know would like to learn more about what acupuncture can do, please contact me on 086-8163130 or email me at helena_barker@hotmail.com.

I practice in 3 locations, Navan and Slane in Co. Meath and Ongar in Dublin 15.

 

Acupuncture Awareness Week – 3rd-10th March 2014 – Get involved!

Are always curious about Acupuncture? Never got round to making an appointment? Have lots of questions about the therapy, will it hurt? can it help me? what will I experience?

Well this is for you… To coincide with the UK & Ireland Acupuncture awareness week from the 3rd – 10th March I am offering FREE Acupuncture sessions to new patients. The sessions will be at limited times and one session per person on a 1st come basis. This will be a 45 mins taster session where you will get a treatment and I will discuss how Acupuncture would help you.

FREE SESSIONS AVAILABLE:
Ananda Centre, Slane – Wednesday 5th March – 2pm, 3pm & 4pm
Body Therapy Ireland, Navan – Friday 7th March – 10am, 11am & 12pm

Why use Acupuncture?

As a natural form of healing, acupuncture has the following benefits:
1. provides drug-free pain relief
2. effectively treats a wide range of acute and chronic ailments
3. treats the underlying cause of disease and illness as well as the symptoms
4. provides an holistic approach to the treatment of disease and illness, treating the body, mind and spirit.
5. assists in the prevention of disease and the maintenance of general well-being

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If you are interested on availing of a FREE session, please contact me on 086-8163130 or fill in the form below and I will get back to you ASAP.

Some Acupuncture info…

Acupuncture Treatments
Acupuncture is a complex medical system that is used to diagnose and treat illness, prevent disease and improve well being. It originated in China more than 3,000 years ago and due to it’s proven effectiveness has been embraced throughout the world. It involves the insertion of extremely fine pre-sterilised needles at predetermined points on the body’s surface to restore health.

Acupuncture can be used alone or combined with Western Medicine or with other forms of Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) such as Herbal Medicine, Moxibustion (Heat Treatment), Cupping, Qigong, (Theraputic Exercise) and Tui-na (Chinese massage).

Commonly Treated Conditions:
The World Health Organization recognizes Acupuncture and Traditional Chinese Medicine as a viable means of treatment for a wide range of conditions. Some of the most commonly seen complaints in the acupuncture clinic are as follows:

Infections: Colds, Flu, Viral Infections.

Ear, Nose and Throat Conditions: Sinusitis, Hay fever, Rhinitis, Catarrh.

Dermatology: Eczema, Psoriasis, Acne.

Psychological: Depression, Stress, Insomnia, Anxiety

Musculoskeletal: Arthritis, Sciatica, Pain Relief, Sports Injury, Bells Palsy.

Internal Disease: Asthma, Bronchitis, Blood Pressure, Indigestion, Bowel Problems, Diabetes, M.E., Headaches/ Migraine, M.S, Trigeminal Neuralgia.

Genitourinary/ Gynaecology: Pregnancy, Male and Female Fertility, Impotence, Premenstrual Syndrome, Menstrual Problems, Menopause, Cystitis, PCOS, Endometriosis, Fibroids, Miscarriage.

A typical Acupuncture Session

The practitioner will spend some time discussing your condition and a detailed case history is taken. Your tongue and pulse may also be examined. Total confidentiality is assured at all times.

Number of Treatments

Since each person is unique the number of treatments needed, will vary. Chronic long term conditions will take longer to treat than acute conditions that have just occurred. If the patient is in good health recovery may be quicker.
Also the frequency of treatment prescribed will have an impact. Initially treatments may be administered close together and then become less frequent as the condition improves.The adherence of the patient to the instructions provided can also influence the speed of recovery. Helena will discuss the treatment plan with the patient.

Patient Safety
Acupuncture is a safe and effective treatment. Helena uses pre-sterilized, disposable needles. Helena is a fully licensed Acupuncturist and a member of the Acupuncture Foundation Professional Association of Ireland (AFPA) and as such fully complys with association’s code of ethics and best practice.

If you are pregnant or trying for a baby it is important you let your Helena know as the treatment will need to be modified as Acupuncture is used extensively for fertility and pregnancy issues.

2014 Detox and fasting program – Week 2 – eliminate caffeine

6 Week Detox Program finishing with a 2/3 day juice fast – This is a gentle program that will change your lifestyle and make you glow from the inside out.

Week 2 – Caffeine Detox

Well done, hopefully you have survived week one of my detox. Well, how was it? Did you manage to keep away from the white wine?

Even if you slipped up you should carry on with the detox program, as each week is accumulative you will continue to stay clear of alcohol.

This week the item to eliminate is caffeine. This is going to be tougher as caffeine is an everyday item, the main culprits being coffee & tea.

Below is a chart that shows the caffeine content in everyday items:

Item Caffeine (mg)

Coffee, brewed (240ml/8oz) 60-120

Coffee, instant (240ml/8oz) 70

Coffee, decaf (240ml/8oz) 2-5

Tea, black, 5-min steep (240ml/8oz) 60-100

Tea, green (240ml/8oz) 20

Coca-Cola (355ml/12oz) 34

Milk Choc (30g/1oz) 1-15

Dark Choc (30g/1oz) 20

As you can see from this, it’s not just tea & coffee that you have to eliminate from your diet. Sorry the chocolate has to go…! As you may know, green tea has many health benefits but I will come back to these at a later date, for now all you need to know is that it contains caffeine so it’s a no, no.

What you can drink:

It’s all about the herbal tea’s, these days the shops are filled with so many flavours and you will be surprised at how good they taste. I recommend that you get yourself a ‘Tower of Tea’, below is mine, I’ve been an herbal tea addict for a long time and I’m always finding new flavours. My new favourite is from a brand called Clipper and is an Orange & Coconut flavour – tasty.

Tea
Tower of tea!

Side effects from detoxing from Caffeine:

Caffeine is a drug. It’s addictive, gives you a sudden rush of energy and offers you a bit of a high, which is usually followed by a bit of a crash. Once you start to feel the crash, more caffeine is needed to maintain stimulation. But the biggest sign that caffeine is a drug is that when you have a go at detoxing from it, you will experience crazy withdrawal symptoms.

Headaches, nausea and moods so bad…this is what prolonged periods of abstinence can do to the caffeine addicted. Drinking coffee is a ritual and symbol of important, busy people. The more responsibilities we have, the bigger the cup of coffee we need to carry around with us. I never drank Coffee until I started studying to be an Acupuncturist & Naturopath, I think that it was the working full-time and studying that did it. I managed to give up coffee and black tea this time last year whilst doing this detox, I’m still partial to a bit of dark chocolate now and again.
The more stress we have in our life, the more caffeine we drink. It’s a vicious cycle. We need caffeine to keep up with the pace of modern life, but if coffee is your choice, itself actually helps to create nervous energy. Coffee wakes us up and gets us going, but over time this unnatural stimulation of our nerves creates stress levels that wreak havoc on our immune systems, hormones and our adrenals.
It is widely known that caffeine enhances alertness and concentration, but the negative effects are pretty well downplayed. The health risks include inhibiting the absorption of essential minerals like iron, magnesium and zinc as well as B vitamins. Many studies have also linked heavy coffee consumption with higher risks for miscarriages, osteoporosis and heart disease.
Drinking caffeine is a habit that should be gradually given up – especially if you rely on more than one cup each day. Caffeine withdrawal is not fun – for you or for those around you. Here are a few things you can do to help you kick the habit:
1. Drink more water – you can help to flush out the caffeine in your system by drinking a lot more water throughout the day.
2. Try Dandelion and Chicory root blend tea – this tea is a great coffee substitute as it looks like coffee and it still has a rich flavor. You can also add oat milk or almond milk if you prefer it creamy. This stuff is rich in minerals, provides energy and is also known for its detoxifying properties.
3. Get plenty of rest – when you take caffeine away, your body won’t know what’s hit it. Without that false energy, you will most likely feel tired and more lethargic than usual. Be gentle with yourself and honor your body with more sleep and rest.
Good luck this week, any questions let me know…
Helena

2014 Detox and fasting program – for a brighter you…

For those who didn’t attend my workshop last Saturday, have no fear, you can still join in the detox program. Below is some info on detoxing, the benefits of detoxing and fasting and what the program entails. It’s basically a food elimination group detox that accumulates and this week its alcohol that is being eliminated.

6 Week Detox Program finishing with a 2/3 day juice fast – This is a gentle program that will
change your lifestyle and make you glow from the inside out.

If your body is getting everything it needs, i.e. nutrients & minerals, your body can work properly. I work on the encouragement of self-healing and in my practice my emphasis is on ‘treating the cause not the symptoms’ and ‘treating the patient as a whole’. I have mixed views on fasting, these fad diets of fasting for 2 days a week and then eating and drinking as ‘normal’ for the rest give out the wrong impression for a balanced lifestyle. I do praise the benefits of fasting though if it is done properly. It gives your body a break from dealing with everything it has to break down and gives it time to regenerate and heal itself. You can eat during this fast, but only portions of raw vegetables or fruit. Fasting is an integral part of many cultures and done quite naturally in countries around the world. Join me on this 6 week detox programme followed by a 2/3 day juice fast – this will leave you feeling
amazing both inside & out.

The 6 week detox plan is to prepare your body for the fast, it just makes the whole process a lot smoother and it’s an easier transition for the body so it’s not such a drastic change all of a sudden. We all have toxins in our body; they come in in many forms. Toxins are proteins produces by certain bacteria, animals or plants. The main toxins that we are vulnerable to are:
· Exogenous Toxins – Alcohol, tobacco, caffeine, recreational & prescription drugs, additives preservatives, hair bleach & skin creams etc…
· Environmental Toxins – Pesticides, herbicides, solvents, petrochemicals, exhaust gases, carbon monoxide, fluoride, heavy metals etc…
And the list goes on…

The three basic ways to avoid Toxicity are to avoid heavy metals, eat organic food and live in an eco-friendly environment. There are simple ways that we can change our lifestyle that I will go over during the course of this programme.

6 Week Detox program – pre-fasting
· Week 1 – No Alcohol
· Week 2 – No Caffeine
· Week 3 – No Meat
· Week 4 – No Dairy
· Week 5 – No Wheat
· Week 6 – No Sugar
That’s accumulative so you start the 2/3 day fast with none of these in your system, and depending on your diet at the moment it could be shorter than 6 weeks eg. If you’re a vegetarian it would only be 5 weeks.
It looks simple, but it gets tough…
Keep an eye out for my blog posts, I will be giving you encouragement and helpful tips along the way. I will also give you the recipe’s for the juices well in advance and please feel free to contact me if you have any questions or need some advice in regard to the program.

The 2/3 day Juice Fast starts at the end of the 6th week
2/3 day Juice fasts are a great thing to do once or twice a year. Spring and Summer are best as in Winter the Qi (vital force/energy) retreats and you need building up.The juices can be a mix of Veg or Fruit juices, and you can eat raw Organic fruit and vegetables throughout the fast just limit yourself to either fruit or vegetables in one day.
Vegetables are the builders and fruit are the cleansers & vegetable juices are best in the morning time.
Here are some examples of some juices but I will send more ideas and recipes in the coming weeks.
· Veg Juices: Carrot, Kale, Celery, Parsley, Beetroot & Cucumber
· Fruit Juices: Apple, Pear, Grape, Pineapple & Watermelon

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Here is some Fasting info:

The body uses up 50% of its energy in digestion. By fasting, that energy can be utilised in other processes such as self-healing, tissue repair and enhancement of cell-mediated immunity. Fasting encourages toxins stored in fat cells and elsewhere to be mobilised into the blood stream to be dealt with by the Liver.
It is important prior to fasting that the main organs of elimination (Liver, Colon & Kidneys) be in an optimally efficient state – this is why the 6 week detox is required.
To prevent your body from going into a toxic overload due to inadequate levels of essential nutrients, the organic fruit and/or vegetables will prevent this. This is the reason that juice fasts are favored over water fasts.

The Important Stuff…
· Long fasts (more than 2 days) should be supervised by a Naturopath
· During a ‘fast’, pollutants are mobilised into the bloodstream as fat stores are used up. A body overloaded with toxins can produce reactions which are unpredictable as the ‘cocktail’ of chemicals hits the bloodstream. Watch out for the side effects.
· Common side effects of short term fasting include: headaches, nausea, coated tongue, dizziness, skin rashes, acne, aching limbs & muscles, feeling colder than usual, insomnia, urine may be cloudy or darker than usual and your bowels may stop functioning during the fast. These symptoms will pass as soon as the waste materials are through your Kidneys.
· Benefits of fasting: Clearer skin and eyes, more energy, increased elimination, decreased pain and inflammation, increased concentration and a feeling of well-being.
· Contraindications to extend fasting (beyond 48 hours) without provisional supervision – pregnancy & breast feeding, severe liver disease or anemia, kidney disease, if you suffer from an eating disorder, mental illness or a chronic condition which needs medication. If you are trying to conceive please contact me to discuss.
· Ensure that 2 litres of pure, filtered water is consumed on fasting days.

So who is with me to start this week? It’s only 6 ½ weeks of your life, you will be completed well before Easter.

Remember if you have any questions please feel free to contact me.

Good Luck!

Helena x

How to improve your Fertility? – Male & Female

There are increasing number of couples who are having difficulty conceiving, this is due to many factors. I help treat fertility issues in both male and female partners with Acupuncture and Naturopathy, here is some information that I go through with my patients to make sure that they are at peak wellness when they are trying for a baby.

Helena Barker ~ Acupuncture & Naturopathy

What is Fertility?

Fertility simply refers to a couple’s chances of becoming pregnant. If you are fertile, than there is a good chance that you will become pregnant at some point in time. Though pregnancy may not happen right away, if both a man and a woman are fertile, they will conceive a child eventually. Certain factors play a key role in determining fertility. In order for a woman to be fertile she must produce a viable egg during each monthly cycle. In order for a man to be fertile he must be able to produce strong and healthy sperm that can fertilize this egg. Numerous factors play a part in these roles including your diet, lifestyle and stress management. Keeping in mind the following guidelines, they will increase both your chances of conceiving and improve the health of your baby also.

Start a 3 month plan incorporating Diet, Exercise…

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The natural approach to Menopause

Menopause should be a time to embrace the changes in the female body, not a time of dred, the word alone can send cold chills (or hot flushes) down the spine of many women! But does it really have to be that way? Is there anyway to maneuver through menopause and maintain one’s sanity? Acupuncture and Naturopathy can have a positive impact in this transitional time.

Although by definition the date of a woman’s last menstrual period; the term menopause commonly refers to the period of change, when the egg supply becomes exhausted and the levels of the hormones oestrogen and progesterone fall.  Ovulation and menstruation become less frequent and eventually stop.  This usually occurs between 45 and 55 years of age and constitutes a major transition period for most women. It can also happen at a younger age.

The Symptoms of Menopause

Symptoms in the transitional period may be felt for a short period or for several years depending on the body’s ability to adapt. They may include:

  • a change in the frequency or volume of blood flow of periods
  • emotional swings, irritability, depression
  • hot flushes and night sweats
  • headaches
  • insomnia
  • loss of sex drive, vaginal dryness and recurrent vaginal infections
  • weight changes, reduction in breast tissue
  • bone loss of calcium may also occur.
  • However, many of these symptoms are also the natural side effects of ageing.

Menopause

Hot Flushes and Night Sweats

Hot flushes and night sweats are experienced by more than 85% of menopausal women with varying degree of severity up to ten years after their last period.  They occur because the brain decides that the body is overheated and responds by increasing the blood flow through the skin. The heated skin reddens and begins to perspire. The  symptoms rise to a peak over about 4 minutes and then decline during the next 15 minutes accompanied by cold chills. Hot flushes are often accompanied by an increased heart rate and palpitations. Although harmless they can be very uncomfortable and distressing. Night sweats often cause frequent interruption of sleep, contributing to fatigue.

Menopause and Bone Health

The repair and maintenance system of bones is mainly controlled by hormones, including oestrogen and progesterone. As levels of these hormones fall, bones begin to deteriorate and loose density. Osteoporosis literally means: “bone that has holes”.  It leads to an increased risk of fracture especially of the spine and long bones of arms and legs (hip fractures). It may cause pain, especially in the lower back, loss of stature, and various deformities (Dowager’s hump).  Osteoporosis is a complex condition which also involves lifestyle and nutritional factors, and prevention is much better than cure.

Treatment of Menopausal Symptoms – The Naturopathic Approach

Long term poor diet, emotional stress, and lack of exercise may lead to an increase in menopausal symptoms.

Diet (Food, drink and drugs)

Eat a wholesome diet predominantly based on fresh organic foods. Prepare your own meals whenever possible.

Foods to eliminate or reduce                                   

Sugar, cakes and other refined carbohydrates

Processed ready meals

Hot spices

Animal fat from meat and dairy

Dairy products

Hot fluids

Coffee, tea and alcohol

Stop smoking

Increase beneficial foods

Plenty of fruit and vegetables

Brown rice and whole meal bread

Lentils and beans

Nuts and seeds

Organic poultry and fish and eggs

A non-dairy milk source – Coconut, rice, almond etc…

Cold pressed oils (olive, linseed etc.)

Cooling foods and foods rich in natural oestrogens (see below)

In Chinese medicine, the consumption of cooling foods is recommended. Such foods are wheat germ and its oil, mung beans, mung bean sprouts, string beans, seaweed, spirulina, millet, black beans, tofu, kidney beans, barley, black sesame seeds, fenugreek seeds, saffron and cold sage tea.

Increase plant foods high in natural oestrogens (phytoestrogens). These include: soya products (don’t over-consume), flaxseed oil, flax seeds, nuts, whole grains (such as brown rice), apples, fennel, celery, parsley, and alfalfa. Maca powder has been proven to help reduce menopause symptoms and has been named the natural HRT.

http://www.naturalmenopausenow.com/2012/03/23/how-to-use-maca-to-get-rid-of-menopause-problems/

Blood sugar control is also very important for hormone balance.

Drinking plenty of water keeps the body vital and young. Increase amounts gradually to about 1.5 to 2 liters per day.

For more advice of foods to eliminate and increase please contact me.

Exercise

Endorphins are the body’s own mood-elevating and pain-relieving compounds. They are also thought to relief hot flushes. Regular exercise enhances endorphins and has many benefits on health of bone and the cardiovascular system. It reduces stress, boosts the metabolism, increases energy levels and assists in achieving and maintaining normal body weight. In addition exercise may also help mobilise some stored estrogen, which may make for an easier transition.

Exercise in average 3 – 4 hours per week; Combine aerobic exercise, such as brisk walking, cycling, swimming with toning and strengthening exercise such as Yoga and Pilates.

Stress Management

Learn to adopt less aggressive attitudes. A relaxed, un-stressful life will greatly help overcome menopausal symptoms.

Supplementation & Herbs

Vitamins and Minerals

In addition to a good general supplement programme (multivitamins & minerals, fish oil) the following vitamins and minerals may help relieve menopausal symptoms:

Vitamins E and C – For hot flushes, night sweats, irritability and vaginal dryness

B-Vitamins, especially B6 – For hormone balance, energy production and a healthy nervous system

Vitamin D & Calcium – For protection against osteoporosis, and for hot flushes

Magnesium – For night sweats and irritability

Evening Primrose Oil – For hot flushes & breast pain

Vitamins, Minerals and Herbs can help with Menopausal symptoms
Vitamins, Minerals and Herbs can help with Menopausal symptoms

Herbs

Much of the effect of herbal medicine is thought to be a result of phytooestrogens in the plants and the plants’ ability to improve blood flow.

Dong Quai (Angelica Sinensis): has a mild oestrogenic effect and stabilises blood vessels

Liquorice (Glycyrrhiza glabra): mild oestrogenic effect and raises progesterone levels

Black Cohosh (Cimicifuga racemosa): relieves hot flushes, depression, vaginal atrophy

Chaste berry (Vitex Agnus-Castus): Balances secretion of certain hormones

Gingko Biloba: Improves blood flow to the extremeties and to the brain.

Red Clover and Korean Ginseng may also help because of their oestrogenic effects.

Combining all of the above is thought to produce greater effect.

For advice on recommended amounts please contact me.

Other useful tips

Menopause can often be a time of lowered energy. Get adequate sleep and even take a nap when feeling tired. If hot flushes and night sweats are your main problems:

  • Keep a record of your hot flushes and see if there is a pattern developing.
  • Wear loose clothing, made of natural fabrics, with short sleeves and V-necks
  • Use a battery operated fan and keep a flask of iced water near by
  • Relaxing during a hot flush can diminish its intensity.
  • Keep your bedroom cool
  • Use night clothes and bed linen made of natural fabrics
  • Keep a sponge and a bowl of water near your bedside to cool yourself down easily.

Acupuncture & Menopause

Acupuncture can help women suffering from the most common symptoms of menopause, it is claimed. A study suggests that Acupuncture can curb the severity of hot flushes and also relieve mood swings among women receiving it regularly.

Hot flushes can suddenly produce an uncomfortable feeling of intense heat, while frequent flushes at night can disrupt sleep. The symptoms are caused by the dilation of blood vessels in the skin and are linked to hormone imbalances, but they are still not fully understood.

Medication proven to combat flushes includes Hormone Replacement Therapy and some antidepressants, which appear to damp down the body’s blood vessel system.

In the study, which was published in the journal Acupuncture in Medicine, Turkish researchers looked at 53 menopausal women. Twenty seven received acupuncture twice a week for ten weeks. This involved placing needles at certain points on the body to boost energy and release endorphins, the body’s natural painkillers.

The remaining volunteers were given ‘dummy’ acupuncture with blunted needles.

At the end of the trial, those receiving genuine treatment had lower scores for the intensity of the hot flushes and mood swings they experienced – which progressively improved over the treatment period – compared with those given dummy needles.

The researchers said the effect on endorphins might curb flushes by stabilising the body’s temperature controls, but they were unable to say how long the effect lasted after treatment finished.

The researchers admit the trial was small but claim that Acupuncture is worth trying for menopausal women unable or unwilling to use HRT.

Please contact if you would like any further information or to see how I can help you.