Spring and Summer – a wonderful time of year with sunshine and blossoming plants but marred for so many of us by the symptoms loosely referred to as “hay fever”. What does that mean? Well, there is a spectrum of hay fever symptoms and severity, but typically it may include very itchy eyes, uncontrollable sneezing with a runny nose, wheezing, and itchy back of throat and ears, itchy skin and fatigue. It’s miserable, and very common!
Spring hay fever tends to be more tree pollen related, while late Spring and early Summer tend to be more grass pollen related, and late Summer and early Autumn tend to be weed pollen related – and you may be sensitive to all three types, or just one or two.
You may need to be careful about identifying whether you actually are pollen allergic, or whether it is mould, dust mites or pet dander – you may be exposed to all those year-round, and your symptoms may be just below threshold, but then when pollens are in the air you may notice a worsening of symptoms as your sensitivity pushes your reaction across that threshold. The pollens tend to be highest around 5am – 10am.
Even though most people don’t connect gut health to allergies, the most common issue that can increase your symptoms or make you prone to allergies is altered and unbalanced gut flora. Your gut is responsible for 70 percent of your body’s innate immune response and allows your body to differentiate between safe environmental particles, including pollen, weed, and dust, and unsafe environmental particles, including bad bacteria, viruses, and unhealthy yeast.
When your gut flora is altered, it can lead to an oversensitivity to safe environmental particles. This may not only increase your risk of pollen and other seasonal allergies, but also increase your risk of asthma and chronic inflammation.
While many people with pollen allergies have allergies since childhood or teenage years, it is certainly possible to develop pollen allergies later in life or experience worsening symptoms as you grow older. It is also possible to reduce symptoms and pollen allergies through proper Naturopathic Medicine that includes Supplemental / Herbal / Diet / Exercise / Meditation, Mindfulness & Mind-Body Medicine all boosting immune support. This is called Lifestyle Medicine first coined by Dr Ian Gawler, in Australia, last century!
Pollen and seasonal allergies are some of the signs of histamine intolerance. Histamine intolerance can affect your entire body, including your lungs, gut, brain, heart, and hormones. It can lead to a variety of issues, including digestive problems, sleep disturbances, bladder problems, anxiety, headaches, and skin problems.
To reduce histamine intolerance and consequent pollen allergies, it may help if you remove or reduce high-histamine foods, including cured meat, dried fruit, sour food, vinegar-containing food, aged cheese, nuts, high-histamine vegetables (eg. tomatoes, spinach, eggplant), and smoked fish.
Avoid histamine-releasing food, including bananas, chocolate, avocado, tomatoes, shellfish, strawberries, cow’s milk, preservatives, and dyes. Focus on low-histamine foods instead, including artichoke, beets, bok choy, broccoli, carrots, cauliflower, courgettes, cucumber, kale, leek, lettuce, onion, silverbeet, leafy herbs, coconut oil, grass-fed butter, apples, blackberries, blueberries, cherries, pears, pasture-raised beef, grass-fed poultry, wild-caught fish, and venison.
You can try reducing your consumption of these foods for a week or two and see if you notice an improvement in your pollen allergies. If so, you have issues with histamine and should consider a lower histamine on a more regular basis. I can give guidance on this.
Other healthy habits may include making sure you are adequately hydrated, and that means clean, filtered, unsweetened, non-caffeinated water, and getting adequate sleep each night, usually no less than 6 or 7 hours a night.
To improve gut health, you should eat an anti-inflammatory gut-friendly diet, reduce environmental toxicity by using natural and organic products, not smoking, and spending time in nature, reducing stress. Probiotics also play an important role in your gut microbiome and immune coordination.
Probiotics can be very effective in reducing allergy symptoms. I recommend MegaSporebiotic probiotics to optimize your gut health and reduce symptoms of pollen allergies. (You may need to take 2 or 3 months’ worth to get a really good result). I can supply these for you during a consultation.
I often recommend Vitamin D, Quercetin, Vit C, Glutathione & Proteolytic enzymes and a specific tailor made herbal formula which may include such herbs as nettle, Baikal skullcap and albizzia may also be of benefit. These can all be written up as a script sheet for you as well as making specific herbal formulas that is one of my specialities on request during a consultation.
You can get a personalised hay fever action plan when you come in to see us at Holden HealthCare. A biofeedback session can help identify you own particular sensitivities, and a homeopathic desensitisation programme (which may include environmental pollutants and moulds etc) may also be indicated. I can make up bottles of herbal medicine including the herbs mentioned above if those are appropriate for you for you to take with you when you leave the clinic.
In a previous article, we also gave some tips if you have sinus problems.
If you would like to discuss your needs with Marion please contact her on email@example.com to arrange a free 10 min Q & A to ask her if she feels she can help you or not. It doesn’t cost you and there is no obligation to have an appointment. We don’t use hard sell tactics, if you feel after speaking to Marion that she can help then please contact David on 0274 837 188 to make your booking. Thank you.
Marion Stobie, PhD (Cand.), MSc, BA (Hons), ND, MH, Dip. Therapeutic Massage; member of: Natural Health Practitioners New Zealand, NZ Society of Naturopaths, NZ Association of Medical Herbalists, NZ Natural Medicine Association. Marion is a highly qualified and experienced Naturopath and Medical Herbalist, and utilizes Fitgenes for advanced DNA health analysis. She has also been a tertiary-level lecturer in Natural Medicine.
If we listen to the media, it may seem at times that the message is quite confusing, from the alarmist “anyone of any age can get Covid, at any time” to the “well, I’m not in an at-risk group, so precautions don’t apply to me.”
But actually as often happens the truth is somewhere in between, and as natural health practitioners who like to look at the evidence, the actual science is revealing.
Covid-19 is an “opportunistic infection”, meaning that it takes advantage of people whose immune systems are not functioning optimally. Often this is taken as a characteristic of people who are said to have co-morbidities.
What it means is that these people have underlying conditions which impair their immune function and make them more vulnerable to opportunistic infections – such as Covid-19. Sometimes these conditions are known and obvious, such as a diagnosed cancer, but sometimes they are hidden and the person is unaware of them, such as early onset heart disease, which can be developing even in a young person without any symptoms and without their knowledge.
Basically a co-morbidity encompasses inflammation in any of its manifestations in the body. We can all think of a few, and there may be others that don’t immediately come to mind. If we can think of inflammation as a small fire, and then along comes an inflammatory infection (such as Covid), then the inflammatory infection stokes that fire, like it puts petrol on it, and the person quickly contracts the disease and the fire is hard to put out. However, if the person does not have a co-morbidity, the flame of Covid is much easier for the healthy immune system to put out.
And it is worth mentioning that a 20 year old with obesity and an unhealthy lifestyle may be more likely to get Covid than a healthy weight 70 year old who eats a diet low in inflammatory food, so this is a lesson for the young not to be complacent nor for our senior citizens to all be concerned.
As mentioned before, being obese is a risk factor as obesity is an inflammatory condition – it is associated with a 46% higher risk of being Covid-19 positive. Cancer or anyone having chemotherapy or radiation treatment. Heart disease; diabetes, arthritis. Increasing age is inflammatory to varying degrees as degeneration does provoke an inflammation response as it breaks down tissue.
But it’s important to recognise that we are not powerless when it comes to both our infection risk and outcomes. Our lifestyle choices in areas like diet, sleep, exercise, and dealing with stress all factor into our immune competence and may well deny this coronavirus the notion of opportunism.
At Holden Health we like to explore causative factors implicated in ill-health, so we do take an active interest in working with co-morbidities and can help draw up a health plan for you to reduce your own risks.
If you are interested to see how we can help you, please call 09 282 3588 for an appointment.
While New Zealanders have not suffered the same degree of impact of the Covid-19 disease itself that other nations have, it is worth acknowledging that just under 2000 New Zealanders have had Covid-19 and some of that number may be living with post-Covid unwellness. This unwellness needs to be recognised and the patients supported.
In the esteemed medical journal The Lancet, a recent study has found that 6 months after leaving hospital:
These long-term issues may involve the lungs, the cardiovascular system, the brain and other parts of the nervous system, and even may have psychological consequences, any of which may prove to be debilitating.
While this study only looked at people who were hospitalised with it & whose average age was 57, previous research showed that the likelihood of developing Long Covid was more common in the young than the old, and the most common prolonged symptoms being a cough (or breathlessness) and especially fatigue (or decreased exercise tolerance), even among those who had been very fit prior to illness. While men seem to be at increased risk of severe infection, women and those with a higher BMI seem to be more affected by Long Covid. Studies seem to think that altered hormonal status is one of the predictors for it.
Research suggests around one in five people who test positive for Covid-19 have symptoms for five weeks or longer. For around one in ten people, they last 12 weeks or longer.
Symptom management tips from the UK include:
Flexibility exercises (like stretches, yoga and tai chi) and strength exercises (like climbing stairs, lifting weights and working with resistance bands) can be useful. (https://www.bhf.org.uk/informationsupport/heart-matters-magazine/news/coronavirus-and-your-health/long-covid)
Results from data analysis by a team from the Cleveland Clinic (PLoS Biol. 2020 Nov 6;18) showed that patients who used melatonin as a supplement had, on average, a 28% lower risk of testing positive for SARS-CoV-2.
This is interesting, but not very helpful for us in New Zealand where melatonin is available on prescription only. The usual reason a GP will prescribe melatonin here is for the treatment of insomnia.
Other recommended pro-active habits such as discussed earlier and across the media still apply, such as using PPE appropriately and maintaining a good diet, exercise and sleep and not putting oneself at risk. The best advice is to try to avoid contracting Covid-19 in the first place!
For those wanting to prevent or reduce the effects of Covid-19, Marion Stobie offers tailored health programmes specifically for your genetic predispositions, health history, and current circumstances. Contact us to book a Fitgenes DNA test and naturopathic consultation.
As in all aspects of human life, the female reproductive system is a series of transitions, all of which are natural.
This article looks at the time in women’s lives when the body starts to produce less and less oestrogen, one of the hormones that promotes the development and maintenance of female characteristics of the body.
In Premenopause, oestrogen levels are high to sustain the production of eggs, and progesterone is high to sustain a pregnancy should fertilisation of an egg occur. The production of oestrogen and progesterone fluctuates in a monthly (approximately!) cycle, and when fertilisation does not occur the uterine lining slips away and the cycle begins again.
In Perimenopause, which may start between the ages of 35 – 45, oestrogen decreases as the ovaries run out of eggs, ovulation becomes irregular and periods become irregular. Sometimes there may be 40 days between each one, or maybe 21 days, and progesterone is not produced if ovulation does not occur. Moodiness, or changes in heat tolerance, or achiness may appear more frequently and seemingly out of the blue.
During this period oestrogen levels decline, sometimes in steep drops, and at other times more gradual drops to about 35% of premenopausal levels from age 35 -50, while progesterone drops 75%. It is this larger drop in progesterone in the perimenopause to menopause transition with an increased oestrogen to progesterone ratio that is a major player in the symptoms women experience.
Every woman’s symptoms during this time is different, but they may include hot flushes, vaginal dryness, urinary challenges, difficulty sleeping, a drop in libido and changes in metabolism (this frequently results in weight gain around the middle – fat cells act as another oestrogen-producing organ, and they may be trying to take over from declining ovarian function).
Some women experience forgetfulness, trouble focusing and problems with concentration as well. This transitional stage may last only a year or so, or it may be prolonged over 10 years or even more. It’s worth noting that it is still possible to become pregnant during perimenopause!
Women’s testosterone levels drop too during this time, and this hormone and melatonin can play a role in sex drive, sleep, lean body tissue and metabolic rate.
Generally the last period is experienced in the early 50’s. This signals menopause, and if you are seeing a health professional they will ask you when your last menstrual period (LMP) was. The term “menopause” refers to one year (twelve months) after the LMP, after which time pregnancy is no longer possible. You may enter menopause earlier than normal if you had a hysterectomy or oophorectomy or if you have undergone cancer treatments, are a smoker, or have a family history of early menopause.
Post menopause refers to the time after that, when oestrogen levels have dropped and plateaued to a level approximately 75% of that of the premenopausal stage.
While some women sail through these transitions smoothly, others have a much more difficult time with more severe symptoms over a prolonged period of time.
Some of the major causes of those symptoms may be high amounts of stress, poor diet and lifestyle, chronic toxin exposure, leaky gut and chronic inflammation, sluggish detoxification systems, or thyroid and adrenal problems.
Eating a diet high in inflammatory foods can increase inflammation in the body, for instance too much coffee, sugar & refined carbs can create blood sugar imbalances and fuel further hormonal fluctuation.
By mimicking oestrogen, too much soy can increase vaginal dryness and hot flushes.
Not drinking enough fluids may lead to dehydration, which can lead to heart palpitations, fatigue and dry skin, which are all signs of perimenopause.
If you have a sluggish liver, your body cannot detox properly. The substances that it detoxes are not only things like drugs (pharmaceutical and otherwise), cigarettes & alcohol, but also the breakdown and excretion of the body’s own hormones, which can result in an accumulation of hormones which can further contribute to hormonal imbalance.
Environmental pollutants such as chemicals used in the home, in processed or treated foods, or in personal products can act as endocrine disruptors if not broken down by the liver, so attending to liver health is very important.
If you find that the topics above apply to you, or if you would like to find out more about the “how to’s” with an action plan, dietary advice, choosing the right combination of herbs or supplements for your own particular set of symptoms, please call or email for an appointment with me, Marion Stobie, naturopath and medical herbalist, at Holden Healthcare, 11 Gray Cres, Torbay, ph 09 282 3588.
$200 for an hour and a half naturopathic appointment, $265 for two hours (please bring a food diary and a written record of your perimenopausal or menopausal history and dates).
Have you ever wondered whether “off-the-peg” health plans or diets were really right for you? Personalised genetic profiling takes out the guesswork.
By getting your own DNA tested, your practitioner will be able to design a personalised health and wellbeing programme to suit you.
This means that achieving your health goals are based on how nutrition, exercise and lifestyle choices interact with your genes to influence how effectively your body is functioning.
With a Fitgenes genetic profiling DNA test, you can discover, for instance, why you can’t sleep after drinking coffee during the daytime.
The range of health concerns which can be helped include:
Fitgenes genetic profile reports are based on the science of how nutrition, exercise and lifestyle choices interact with our genes.
If you are serious about avoiding the conditions your own parents had, you need to invest in this test.
At your first appointment, Marion will take a health history from you, to gain a good understanding of your challenges and your lifestyle.
A test kit will be given to you. The best approach is that you take the kit home and follow the easy directions given for taking the sample. The kit includes a swab which you use to gather cells from the inside of your cheek. You drop the sample into the test-tube provided and send it in the courier bag supplied to the company who forwards it to the test laboratory.
Payment for the test is taken at this first appointment.
It may take 3 weeks from the time you send your sample to the time when the results become available. As soon as the results are emailed through to Marion, she will contact you to make a time to come in and go over the results. In the interval between receiving the emails of the results and your appointment, Marion will study the results and write a user-friendly report and action plan.
At your appointment you will receive a folder containing:
Marion will sit down with you and go over the report with you and give you recommendations how to implement the information so that you get the best value from the knowledge you have just received.
This is very exciting and empowering! It is likely you will have a couple of “lightbulb” moments when something you have experienced or noticed now makes sense.
1st 1 hour appointment = $220 consultation + cost of test $499 = $719
2nd 1 hour appointment = $220.
CarbChoice is another Fitgenes product using a saliva sample which helps identify which carbohydrates the individual processes and metabolises the best. This could explain why some weightloss programmes are ineffective. After this a more targeted nutrition plan can be drawn up.
This test is $100 cheaper than the bigger Fitgenes test.
Marion Stobie is an experienced New Zealand-trained Naturopath and Medical Herbalist who has been in busy clinical practice since 2000. She has been a tutor at Wellpark College of Natural Therapies since 2003, and particularly enjoys the rewarding challenge of supervising the students in their clinical training.
In clinic, Marion uses traditional naturopathic assessments which include blood pressure measurement and random blood glucose testing; she also uses a biofeedback system which is a very thorough & extensive non-invasive and accurate form of testing.
Marion sees a wide variety of clients including wellness clients who want to ensure they are doing the best they can for their health, clients who are looking for nutritional advice, clients with complicated health concerns, clients with stress, and also clients seeking oncology support.
It is one thing to contract Covid-19 and treat it, and our emotional reaction to Covid-19 in March 2020 in NZ may be different from our reaction in August 2020 (so, it’s 5 months already and Covid is still amongst us? Really?). The whole issue is clearly not in the same category as a passing ‘flu. But it is quite another thing to view it as a long-haul issue with no definite end-point and (seemingly) indiscriminate incidence.
However, I contest that view, as evidence shows that it is mainly people with impaired immunity or chronic inflammatory conditions who are most at risk, and these people happen, for the most part (but not solely), to be the older part of our population. But don’t believe that it only hits old people. Half of people hospitalized in France are less than 60 years old, and we’re talking 20+ days of hospitalization with severe pneumonia and lung damage. However, data is not available that tells us what the pre-existing health conditions were, for instance, obesity.
Here is a reminder of who are deemed the people most at risk (HealthMeans):
My previous stance on “focus on building immunity, not on killing the virus” still holds, and as we in New Zealand appear to have contained the virus for now, it is easy to drop our vigilance. However, now is the time to continue and consolidate those healthy habits, or to adopt them if they are not already in place.
Here are a few recommendations to reduce risk and promote immunity:
Gargle and drink green tea. Consuming green tea, in particular gargling it, has been shown to reduce the risk of contracting influenza and the common cold. The tannins in green tea have been shown to have broad antiviral effects topically. Gargling helps coat the mucous membranes in the mouth & throat, which together with the nasal passages are the main points of entry for viruses. If these surfaces are coated with an antiviral substance, there is less likelihood of the virus taking hold. Also, it is known that the coronavirus likes dry surfaces, so keeping our mucous membranes well-hydrated offers some protection.
Stay well-hydrated. One of the questions I always ask my clients is “How much water, or non-caffeinated, non-alcoholic, non-sugary drinks do you have daily?”. About 85% of responses is a wry grin accompanying the answer “Not enough!” We know we should drink somewhere between 6 – 10 glasses per day, depending on our age and circumstance, but we do get caught up in the busy-ness of our days and it is easy to forget. Setting a timer on our phones (or alarm clocks) is one way to prompt us to get up and get a drink.
Taking vitamin D, particularly for people who are vitamin D deficient, reduces the chances of developing acute respiratory infections including influenza. Most studies reviewed used adult doses ranging from 2000IU to 4000IU a day, which is known to be safe to take long term even in the absence of deficiency. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/?term=30675873.
We know that humans can convert sunlight on our skin into vitamin D, and there are two factors currently which directly affect that. The first is that it is winter, and although it is a fairly mild one so far, we are less likely to be baring our arms and legs when outside. The second is that to some extent some people are hesitant to leave their homes and go for walks outside because of the Covid-19 pandemic.
It is an interesting fact that mushrooms also convert sunlight into vitamin D, which is another good reason to factor mushrooms into the diet (or take medicinal mushrooms as a supplement).
Keep your home above 16°C. Having a cold home reduces respiratory resilience and increases susceptibility to and mortality from respiratory tract infections. This is especially important for people who are elderly, asthmatic or have other chronic/recurrent respiratory conditions.
This is especially true for us in New Zealand, where some of our older homes are inadequately insulated and heated, and perhaps where the people living there do not notice the temperature dropping. It is much harder to heat up a cold house than to maintain the heat.
Get enough sleep (insufficient sleep or waking up frequently through the night can directly affect the immune system).
Maintain a healthy exercise regime to boost endorphins, maintain a healthy weight and pump the lymphatic system to get rid of waste metabolites.
Try to keep stress levels in check.
Socialise as much as you are able, whether it is in person or by phone or Zoom or messaging – it has been shown that social interaction is critical for healthy immune function, whereas isolation and loneliness detract from our immunity. It is physical distance that we need, not emotional.
All of these are integral to your immune system working well.
It has been acknowledged for some time that 70-80% of the immune system is in the gut.
One class of tissues that the immune system has is called sampling tissues. One of the jobs of these tissues is to understand what the body is being exposed to, both chronically and acutely, and to learn whether or not it should be attacking those things..
Why is the sampling tissue in the gut? The gut is the largest site where foreign material enters the body. Some stuff comes in through the eyes, the nose, the genital tract, some through our skin where the skin is broken, but mostly it comes from what we put into our mouths, not just nutrients but also toxic elements from the environment.
Anything that enters through the respiratory route will also end up in the gut to some degree, because one of the things that happen is when viruses or other material are in the upper respiratory tract, they get trapped by mucus. One of the important jobs of mucus in your respiratory system is trapping things so that your immune system has a chance to assess and identify them. The cilia, the fine, hair-like structures that help sweep away fluids & particles in your lungs and airways, move the mucus up and then your sinus system drain the mucus down and all of that ultimately gets swallowed.
Everything from your nose, and your ears, and your lungs, all of that stuff eventually comes into your throat and you end up swallowing it. The swallowing part is really important because that’s where whatever’s being trapped in your respiratory tract and in the upper airways gets presented to the immune tissue in your gut.
Now viruses in general, and COVID-19 in particular, enter through the gut and causes a gut-based infection as well. In fact, at least 53% of the cases in one of the latest publications (April 2020) in the American Journal of Gastroenterology shows that they first present with gastro symptoms rather than anything else – nausea, diarrhoea, cramping and pain to the gut.
It may be that if there is a good response in the gut, that may help with our overall defence against Covid-19. Disclaimer: there are no validated studies on Covid-19 in particular, but there have been studies done on other influenza viruses.
The immune system uses short chain fatty acids (SCFAs) for energy, especially butyrate. We typically get small amounts of butyrate from fibre in our diet, so remembering to have a diet rich in fruits & vegetables over processed food it a good guideline.
Beta-glucans and Quercetin help the immune system switch from the highly inflammatory response to the more specialised targeted response, making antibodies against the virus.
Beta-glucans are found in certain mushrooms, oats, yeast and seaweed. A medicinal mushroom supplement may be helpful.
Quercetin is found in onions, grapes, berries, apples, broccoli & citrus fruit.
Probiotics also play a big role in modulating the microbiome in the gut, which in turn helps modulate the body’s immune response. There has been much research undertaken on probiotics, and different strains are indicated and recommended for different applications, for instance, one for irritable bowel, one for allergies etc. Spore-based probiotics are particularly indicated for the immune system and show dramatic improvements for conditions like intestinal permeability (“leaky gut”).
Another user-friendly aspect of spore-based probiotics is that they do not need to be refrigerated. Cow serum is taken and spun out and purified to extract the antibodies. When we add them back into our system, they go to work in our digestive tract, neutralizing viruses, bacteria, toxins, compounds, mould toxins, bacterial toxins and so on, thereby lending an important helping hand to our immune system.
Probiotics are present in some of the food we eat, but for therapeutic effects we need to take them as supplements.
Your health practitioner will be able to guide you as to the best one for your needs.
As a summary, as well as being aware of hygiene and upper respiratory care practices, it is also relevant to acknowledge the role our gut health may play in protecting us from Covid-19 and other seasonal viruses.
With Covid-19 prominent in our awareness this year and public messages about those with compromised immunity being more at risk, more of us are thinking about whether we fall into that category. If you know you have an auto-immune condition, you may be more likely to think that this may apply to you. But what if you don’t have an auto-immune condition? It may be that those little niggles (low energy, itchy skin, sore muscles, poor sleep, moodiness, sniffiness or coughs, occasional random bouts of diarrhoea or constipation) could be signposts to impaired immune function.
Learn how to boost your immune system! Don’t wait till winter illnesses strike, be proactive and get your immune system protection in place now!
Book a session with Marion Stobie and she will help you identify and address your own particular weaknesses before winter hits!
Senior Naturopath & Medical Herbalist
Marion practices the art and science of medical herbalism within the framework of naturopathic evidence-based practice.
PLEASE NOTE: This advice is for people who are reasonably healthy and have not been diagnosed with coronavirus 2019-nCoV. IF YOU EXPERIENCE SYMPTOMS, CONSULT A HEALTH PROFESSIONAL IMMEDIATELY.
It is a relatively newly discovered respiratory virus found in the nose, throat and lungs, believed to have originated from Wuhan, a city of 11 million inhabitants, in Hubei Province, China. At the time of writing it has been identified as 2019-nCoV (2019 novel Coronavirus)
The main symptoms are fever, coughing and difficulty with breathing, but similar to influenza viruses early symptoms may include chills, body aches, sore throat, headache, diarrhoea, nausea and a runny nose.
At the moment, this is still unclear, but, roughly, each infected person may infect two more. Unfortunately, these figures are clouded by the fact that a person may be infectious without having any symptoms. However, medical opinion is that transmission is likely to be in the incubation period which is usually within 2-3 days of contact with an infected person, but may be up to 14 days after contact.
The most risky contact is considered to be close, such as a 15 minute face-to-face conversation, or 2 hours in a confined space such as an aircraft or other public transport and repeated, for instance living with or caring for a family member, working in close proximity to colleagues, and affectionate embraces between friends. It may be spread by droplets in coughs or sneezes, droplets which settle one metre away, unlike an airborne virus which can travel further distances.
Essentially those whose immune systems are not strong. This includes young children whose immune systems are still developing, the elderly, and those with compromised immune systems, for instance, it has been found in someone without the viral symptoms but with diagnosed pneumonia.
However, it is an opportunistic infection and it may affect others.
As with many viral infections, good management during the viral stage is essential to reduce progression into serious, life-threatening bacterial complications such as pneumonia.
The Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the World Health Organisation (WHO) advise:
Other things you can do include avoiding eating or drinking things you know you may be sensitive to, for instance if you know that dairy makes you feel bloated, or tomatoes make you cough, or if you return positive results from any type of sensitivity or allergy testing, give those things a miss. If you tested positive to anything, this means that that food item or drink is challenging your immune system, and if you suspect you may have been exposed to 2019-nCoV you will want your immune system to be working well to protect you.
Also, (refined) sugar needs to be mentioned, as research shows that as little as 1 tsp or 5g of sugar can deplete your immune system for 4 hours afterwards! Remember to look for hidden sugars in sauces & baked goods.
There are herbs and supplements that are very helpful for supporting the immune system. I am a keen advocate for the use of medicinal mushrooms, particularly Reishi (Ganoderma lucidum), Maitake (Grifola frondosa) and Shiitake (Lentinula edodes), largely due to their beta glucan content which boosts immune cell activity.
Large doses of vitamin C, intravenous is the most effective, for which you will need to see your doctor or your naturopath . Otherwise, orally, either liposomal Vit C or a good powder; one needs to be aware that too much vitamin C can cause loose stools in some people.
Vitamin A can be very helpful as well for the immune system and for mucous membranes, and vitamin D is a well-known immune support, and is most effective when taken orally as a spray.
Enzymes such as bromelain and bioflavonoids such as quercetin that break down mucous accumulation and congestion and that help manage the immune response to inflammation can be of benefit.
N Acetyl Cysteine is an antioxidant, it assists the body with glutathione production, and can be useful for acute respiratory infections. It is generally available as a powder.
Zinc plays an important role in our immune function and is easily depleted by modern living, by exposure to chemicals and heavy metals and some pharmaceutical medications, and by stress. If the body does not have enough zinc, the immune system may not work efficiently.
Zinc is available in our diet, especially in red meat, egg yolks, liver and seafood, so many vegans may be deficient in this mineral. Its most effective oral dosing is also as a liquid.
Selenium is another mineral which is important in immune function, as well as thyroid balance, and it is well known that New Zealand soils are low in selenium. Brazil nuts are often eaten as a way of bringing up selenium levels nutritionally, but many people are happier to take it as a supplement in the form of drops.
Care must be taken with selenium, as too much can result in toxicity, so it is a good idea to check your supplements and add together any selenium content to make sure that it does not exceed the safety range (200-800 mcg/ day).
Herbal medicine can be very effective when used appropriately.
Immunity-supporting herbs such as echinacea are well-known as a first response to viral infections, but this action may be enhanced by using other herbs in a combined formula, such as St John’s Wort, which is strongly antiviral, pau d’arco, andrographis, elderberry, thyme and licorice.
As some of these herbs may have interactions with some prescription medications or some pre-existing health conditions, please be sure to consult your health professional before using them.
If you live or work in an area with a lot of exposure between people, you may need to take specific steps in addition to the above. You may receive specific recommendations from health authorities. In addition, you may want to have a comprehensive immunity boosting plan recommended by a natural health professional.
At Holden HealthCare, this would include diet, lifestyle, supplement and herbal recommendations based on your particular circumstances.
In light of recent awareness about viral attack, the month of February is promoted as Immunity Aware Month; please quote this article to claim your 12.5% discount applied to any naturopathic consultations booked this month.
Marion Stobie, MSc (Herbal Medicine), Dip Herb Med, Dip Naturopathy, is a senior Naturopath and Medical Herbalist at Holden HealthCare.
So excited for the holidays! So often we hear this and say this at this time of year.
We New Zealanders have all our goodies at once – Christmas and New Year celebrations, time off work, and long, hot summer days to relax.
This all can be eagerly anticipated, and amazing, but for many of us it can be overwhelming.
It is not only the potentially extra financial burden (extra catering for cherished relatives coming to stay, Christmas presents (have I got the right one? Will he like it? He wants the more expensive model, 50% more than I had budgeted, but should I get it anyway?), and also social pressure – racing round to have lunch/ dinner/ coffee/ drinks with a friend whom we haven’t seen all year but absolutely must see before Dec 25th. The malls are busy & crowded and suddenly there is not enough time to get ready. And so on!
So this time of joy & celebration can bring on anxiety or even panic attacks for up to 75% of us according to a poll. A full-blown anxiety attack can often be mistaken for a heart attack, another factor to send stress levels soaring. If you feel that you are having a heart attack however, never hesitate to call 111.
There are many ways to address anxiety, no two people are alike.
For some, a good 5km run is just the thing to defuse & let off steam
For others, medication can help more than anything.
Here are some tips to help navigate through the Christmas holidays.
Stand up and move to another room. If you can’t find a space to be alone in, go outside, or into a bathroom or an unused bedroom. Distance yourself physically from whoever is angering you or upsetting you.
Sit down if you can and centre your breathing. Deep breaths – 4 seconds inhale, 4 seconds hold, & exhale fully for 7 seconds.
Don’t return to the group until you have calmed your breathing and you feel ready.
If it is too difficult for you to leave the room, stop engaging, & play the countdown game. Here’s how it goes:
R. Recognise when a strong emotion is present. Anxiety is not a weakness, a mental failing or childish. It is a scientific, physiological stress response that your body is experiencing in reaction to an uncomfortable or potentially threatening environment.
A. Allow it to be there. Fighting anxiety produces anxiety. Let your palms sweat, or whatever your physical manifestation of anxiety is. Don’t disagree with you body about what’s happening.
I. Investigate the feeling. Are you hurt by a certain comment? Outraged at ideological differences? Find out why you’re having the reaction you’re having
N. Non-identify with the feeling. Tell yourself that the feeling is not YOU. It is not yourself, your permanent state of being. It is a feeling. Acknowledging that can help take power away from the story the feeling is telling your brain.
If you think you may be prone to anxiety attacks over the Christmas holidays and would like to take something to balance you out, there are herbal combinations that may be helpful for you; if you would like to discuss one, please call Marion at Holden Healthcare and make an appointment before Friday 20th December.
The office is closed from Fri 20 Dec to Mon 20th January 2020; if you start to experience anxiety during this time, please try the tips above. If the anxiety persists into the New Year, please make an appointment to see me from Monday 20th January onwards.
Registered Naturopath, Medical Herbalist & Nutritionist
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