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The Mind-Skin Connection


Christina offers Counselling and Psychotherapy at Hadley Wood Healthcare

For many people suffering from dermatitis or eczema the exact cause of their problem can be a mystery. Despite following restricted diets, undergoing allergy testing and numerous drug and natural therapies the skin problem continues… if this rings bells with you or someone you know may be its time to take a closer look at the emotional aspects of your life and consider how this may be maintaining your skin problem. Many doctors agree that stress can trigger and aggravate eczema but few offer any real practical solutions other than anti-depressant medication. This is where talking therapies come into their own.

What is eczema 

Eczema is a condition and general term for many different types of inflammation of the skin. There may be many factors which cause eczema such as  sensitive skin to soaps, cosmetics, detergents as well as psychological stress and anxiety. 

Causes of eczema – how stress impact your skin
Your skin is an organ, just like your heart is. Your heart responds to stress and anxiety by beating faster, the stomach responds to stress by creating ulcers or other digestive problems. The skin is no different – it is sensitive to emotions and situations – shock may turn your skin pale, embarrassment makes you blush, and stress and anxiety can trigger skin problems such as eczema. When you become stressed, the level of cortisol (stress hormone) rises in the body which causes oil production to increase which flows to the skin. Cortisol also stops the water production in the skin, so this reduces the skin’s ability to repair itself.

Mind and body connection – Your thoughts do have a direct impact upon your body, and your body has a direct impact on your thoughts. The mind and body also responds to emotions. So it is important to build a bridge linking the mind and body connection and your inner emotions to help develop a stronger inner and outer you.

Counselling – Eczema may be your body’s way of expressing and releasing something which you may find difficult to do, perhaps it is stress, anxiety or related to a stressful incident or traumatic experiencing. Therapy helps to create awareness, understanding, process and movement which helps to facilitate long-lasting change.

Relaxation – By combining relaxation, breathing and stress management into your life, you will start to feel calmer and much more stronger to be able to cope with life’s ups and downs. When you feel calm, your skin and body relaxes too.
I recommend a book by, Louise Hay, ‘You can Heal your Life’

You can contact and consult Christina at Hadley Wood Healthcare on 0208 441 8352


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The Rhythm and Blues of PMS

Over 80% of women suffer some form of pre menstrual syndrome (PMS) in some form or another. However, carefully chosen food choices along with a selection of herbs, mineral, vitamin and food supplements can help the hormonal and chemical imbalances characteristic of this problem.

There are as many theories about PMS as there are treatments. Some see hormones such as progesterone, oestrogen and the milk producing hormone prolactin as the culprits. For others, vitamin and mineral deficiencies lie at the heart of the problem. Many sufferers have been placed on long-term antidepressant medication or hormone treatments in an attempt to resolve the associated mood swings and depression. In the majority of cases these measures are ineffective and often cause more long-term problems.

The syndrome can be split into four subtypes, although many women have symptoms that fall into all four categories.


Most commonly associated with high oestrogen and low progesterone levels, the main symptom suffered by this group is anxiety, something that over 80% of sufferers experience. Type-A  sufferers commonly complain of mood and emotional disturbances. Related changes in the hormones adrenaline, serotonin and noradrenaline trigger the irritability, tiredness, water retention and palpitations so commonly reported.

Oestrogen can also affect mood. This hormone can actually block assimilation of vitamin B6, preventing the vitamin working in the liver to produce the hormone serotonin. This may explain the difficulties that PMS-A sufferers experience in keeping blood sugar levels balanced. Excessive oestrogen may aggravate the problem by increasing the release of prolactin, causing water retention.


Over 60% of PMS sufferers gain up to 3lb in weight over their period, a characteristic associated with this second group PMS-H. With symptoms of breast tenderness and a swelling of the abdomen, legs, arms, hands and face, the H in this group represents hyper-hydration (excessive water retention). Such a fluid problem can only be hormonal. The prolactin connection has been established in only a handful of studies, but what cannot be contested is the role of another hormone, aldosterone. This hormone increases the amount of fluid held in the body, which is vital to health. A number of aggravating factors such as excessive oestrogen, deficiency of dopamine and stress in the lead-up to the period, however, can mean an uncomfortable excess of water.


40% or more suffer from craving certain foods, in this group. Associated with PMS-C is an increased appetite, often for very sweet or savoury foods. Sufferers also complain of headaches, fatigue, fainting spells and palpitations. When tested for their ability to handle sugars in their blood, women with these symptoms showed a temporary inability to produce a balanced insulin-output. There is, so far, no adequate explanation for this problem, although a deficiency of both magnesium and chromium may be indicated.


Depression is a serious problem for this group. Thankfully it only accounts for 5% of PMS symptoms reported. It is thought that low levels of brain chemicals and oestrogen are responsible. Other theories hold that it is due to an excessive amount of progesterone, itself a central nervous system depressant. This sub-group is chemically opposite to PMS-A.

Self help plan

Start by mapping out your symptoms. Take the first day of your menstrual period as day one and make a daily record of your feelings, both emotional and physical. As the month passes by and you go through ovulation (about day 14 in a 28 day cycle) you may start to notice change in mood and physical symptoms. As you do, grade them using a simple rating system where one is a mild symptom and three means you are totally unable to function.

After a couple of cycles you will start to notice a trend; familiar symptoms will appear and disappear with predictable regularity. This will help you monitor your response to a natural treatment program and any dietary changes.

The nutritional status of PMS-A women is quite unique. Studies of their eating habits have shown that they consume far more dairy and sugar-based foods than other women. Both types of food can cause the body to lose significant amounts of magnesium, which can lead to deficiency states.

Mood changes have long been associated with changes in brain chemistry. Vitamin B6 is involved with the production of the brain chemical dopamine. Dopamine has a calming effect on the nervous system and a deficiency of vitamin B6 may result in reduction of dopamine production. This situation can put the nervous system on edge.

Vitamin B6 may be responsible for additional benefits such as helping to increase the magnesium levels in the body’s cells, increasing progesterone levels and helping to reduce oestrogen levels.

There are other brain chemical involved in mood balancing. An amino acid found in green tea, L-Theanine, has a calming effect on the brain, enhancing the calming alpha waves, soothing the nervous system and relaxing the muscles. Known as Elthea-100, this can effectively help to control mood and reduce the number and severity of panic attacks and has no known toxic effects.

True PMS-C sufferers cannot avoid binges. The foods most often taken during the binges are sweet foods like chocolate, but a minority crave savoury foods. We do know that hypoglycaemia (low blood sugar) is at the seat of many craving episodes. It has always been recommended that complex sugars like rice, pasta and potato are eaten at this time and simple sugars (sweets, honey, chocolate, cakes and so on) are avoided.

This makes good sense but the addition of a good quality chromium supplement, such as ChromaTab, which can regulate blood sugar levels can make all the difference. It builds a chemical bridge between the insulin and the cells of the body. By doing so, chromium can help improve its function.

For those suffering from PMS-H a daily dose of magnesium with Parsley Leaf and celery seed extract will help. (Anyone taking diuretics or suffering from kidney disease should consult their health professional before supplementing their diet.)

In cases of PMS-D, consider increasing your vitamin B6 intake along with a balanced herbal aimed at hormonal irregularities and containing Maca root.

Top tips for beating PMS

ŸReduce your intake of dairy foods

ŸReduce your intake of animal fats and meat

Increase your intake of fresh fruit and vegetables

ŸIncrease you intake of pure water (at least 1.5 litres per day)

ŸIncrease your exercise level – start brisk walking or swimming three times a week

ŸAvoid foods containing caffeine

ŸAvoid foods containing sugar

ŸEat more complex carbohydrates, such as pasta, rice or potatoes

ŸCut down on meal size – eat smaller meals more regularly

ŸStop smoking

ŸCut out added salt

ŸLearn to relax and take some time to unwind


Hadley Wood Healthcare’s Well Woman Range

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A good nights sleep… if only it was that easy!

On the surface of it, a good nights sleep would appear to be one of those fundamental processes that should simply happen when your head hits the pillow. After all, of you feel tired or fatigued it would make perfect sense that you should welcome the chance to have a sleep but as so many fibromyalgia and chronic fatigue (FM/CFS) sufferers will testify, you can be fatigued but at the same time suffer paradoxically severe insomnia. As the American comedian W C Fields so aptly quipped “The best cure for insomnia is to get a lot of sleep”… if only it was that simple!

Before we look at ways of promoting sleep understanding some sleep basics is a good idea. Broadly speaking, sleep can be split into two main categories; the deep sleep state known as rapid eye movement sleep (REM sleep) and the stages of lighter sleep known as non-REM sleep. During a typical night, a good sleeper will cycle between REM and non-REM sleep 4-5 times interspersed by occasional mini-wakes lasting 1-2 minutes every couple of hours. The loss of the ability to migrate into REM sleep or return to sleep after a mini-wake typically characterises the condition known as non-restorative sleep disorder, a common ‘bed-fellow’ in cases of FM/CFS. Stress and anxiety os a very common factor that underlies this pattern of disturbed sleep and one that is known to have a severe impact on night time cortisol levels. Cortisol is a key sleep regulating hormone and one that is commonly out of balance in FM/CFS cases.

In health, cortisol levels normally decline at bedtime. This helps to facilitate a calmer brain and nervous system and encourages the sleep process to begin. When we are anxious or stressed cortisol is released in higher amounts and this level does not drop at bedtime. As a result, sleep becomes deregulated when we are stressed and we lie awake in a state of hyper-vigilance; after all, your body would not want you to sleep when running from a tiger! Simply taking sedatives to force a state of drugged sleep is not really the answer but there may be a solution in the form of a natural agent known as phosphatidyl serine (PS). Originally, PS was isolated from animal tissue but modern extraction methods now ensure that supplements supply ultra pure PS derived from soya beans making it suitable for vegetarians.

When scientists were investigating the effects of PS on the stress response they noted something quite amazing. In healthy volunteers exposed to a biological stressor such as using an exercise bike their levels of stress hormones (including cortisol) shot up. However, when the same volunteers took PS before their cycling task there was a significant drop in the release of cortisol. See the graph above. They concluded that PS can influence the complex chemical cascade that ultimately results in elevated cortisol. Armed with this knowledge, PS was rapidly adopted by those with stress-related sleep disturbance with some very positive outcomes. It would appear that a single capsule of a 500mg dose of PS complex (containing 100mg of actual PS) 30-60 minutes before bed works well but some may need to use PS on an ongoing basis for a few weeks before the full benefit can be appreciated. This dose can be increased to 2-3 capsules if needed. In general, PS is a safe supplement with minimal risk of drug-nutrient interactions. However, drugs taken for Alzheimers disease (Acetylcholinesterase (AChE) inhibitors) can interact with PS since PS and the drugs both increase the levels of acetylcholine. Similar cautions should be extended to drugs that manage glaucoma. If in doubt, you should always talk to your pharmacist or doctor.


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Natural Supplement Shown To Improve Mental Performance And Decrease Test Anxiety By 17 Percent

Natural supplements are an easy, effective way to manage mental focus, memory and overall mood. Natural supplement Pycnogenol® (pic-noj-en-all), an antioxidant plant extract from the bark of the French maritime pine tree, was found to significantly enhance mental performance in healthy college students in a recent clinical trial published in Panminerva Medica.

Check the story out here: Natural Supplement Shown To Improve Mental Performance And Decrease Test Anxiety By 17 Percent.

Pycnogenol available here: 40mg capsules

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Lactobacillus regulates emotional behaviour

A publication this month has shown that treatment with a strain of Lactobacillus (Lactobacillus rhamnosus, found in yogurt & probiotics) lowered corticosterone levels (stress hormones) as well as anxiety- and stress-related behavior in mice. This research highlights the fact that there is a great deal of communication between the gut microbiota (bacteria population) and the central nervous system which has become popularly known as the gut-brain axis. Despite the mechanisms not being fully understood the implications are important. We know that stress has a direct effect of other bowel disorders such as irritable bowel and many types of inflammatory conditions (colitis). Our emotional health if often reflected in our gut health an this study helps to expand our current knowledge surrounding the gut-brain axis. May be we should be adding an antidepressant / antianxiety action to the growing list of positive effects probiotics are having on our health.

PNAS August 29, 2011: Ingestion of Lactobacillus strain regulates emotional behavior and central GABA receptor expression in a mouse via the vagus nerve

Lactobacillus rhamnosus supplements: Pearls ICPearls KidsPearls YB

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Beat Sugar Addiction NOW!

Dr Jacob Teitelbaum MD

Beat Sugar Addiction NOW!

By Jacob Teitelbaum MD

Are you a sugar addict?

If the answer is yes, you are not alone.

The average person has 140 to 150 pounds of sugar per person of sugar added to their diets each year. Another 18 percent of our calories come from white flour (which acts a lot like sugar in our bodies). Eating almost twice our weight in sugar and white flour each year, it’s not surprising that we have become sugar addicts.

In our new Beat Sugar Addiction NOW! (BSAN) book, we describe the four main types of sugar addicts. In each type, there are different forces driving the addiction, and in all four types the excess sugar leaves people feeling much worse overall. By treating the underlying causes that are active in your type of addiction, you will find that not only do your sugar cravings go away, but your CFS/FMS/ME will feel dramatically better overall.

Here’s more good news. Once you have broken your sugar addiction, your body will usually be able to handle sugar in moderation. This means saving sugar for dessert or snacks where it belongs, and going for quality, not quantity. Dark chocolate is especially okay.

We will also discuss how to “have your cake and eat it too”, and how to use natural sugar substitutes to get the pleasure– without paying the cost. It is not our goal to eliminate things you love. Our goal instead is to teach you how to get the most pleasure you can, in a way that is healthy for your body and leaves you feeling better. In medicine, we have a simple rule. Never take away something pleasurable from a person’s diet without substituting something equally pleasurable.

Many of you have already noticed that although sugar gives you an initial high, you crash several hours later, and this leaves you wanting more sugar. In fact, sugar acts as an energy loan shark, taking away more energy than it gives. Eventually, your “credit line” runs out and you find yourself exhausted, anxious, and moody.

The Long-Term Consequences of Sugar Addiction

In addition to the immediate fatigue and emotional problems, sugar also causes many long-term health problems. For example, our consumption of high-fructose corn syrup has risen 250 percent in the past fifteen years––and our rate of diabetes has increased approximately 45 percent during the same time period. Although the sugar industry sometimes tries to confuse the public by claiming that corn syrup is not sugar, it is a form of sugar as far as your body is concerned… and more toxic than cane sugar.

Some chronic medical problems associated with excess sugar in our diet include:

  • Fatigue and pain
  • Weight gain
  • Chronic fatigue syndrome and fibromyalgia
  • Chronic sinusitis
  • Irritable bowel syndrome and spastic colon
  • Cancer
  • Metabolic syndrome with high cholesterol and hypertension
  • Heart disease
  • Hormonal problems
  • Candida and yeast infections
  • ADHD
  • Anxiety and depression

This is the short list. The actual list could go on for pages! Sugar is also a mood-altering substance, which is no surprise to anyone with a sweet tooth. Eating sugar also causes blood sugar to surge, insulin to spike, and fat to get deposited throughout your body. Obesity, often accompanied by diabetes and heart disease, is just one more consequence of our high-sugar diet.

The Value of Sugar Detox

I know the value of ridding the body of excess sugar. For more than thirty years I have treated thousands of people whose chronic fatigue syndrome and fibromyalgia were aggravated by their sweet tooth.

I also understand the problem firsthand. A former sugar addict myself, I came down with chronic fatigue syndrome in 1975. Eliminating my sugar addiction was an important part of my recovery.

Sugar addiction is the canary in the coal mine. It usually points to a larger problem that is also dragging you down. We don’t have anything against sugar. We simply don’t want you feeling poorly and getting sick because of it. In fact, we want you to feel great! And most of you will when you treat the problems accompanying your sugar addiction. Ready to get off of the “sugar roller coaster”? We’re happy to guide the way.

The basics of sugar detox are, of course, diet related––the standard method used to overcome sugar addiction. But an even deeper level of treatment is necessary to produce wellness. If you have tried the “cold turkey” approach to sugar addiction without nutritional strategies, treatment guidelines, and support, you probably found success elusive. That’s because getting rid of the sugar is but one step in an overall comprehensive approach that must address the mind, body, and spirit.

The problem with many medical self-help books is that they pick off a little corner of the problem and miss the big picture, so often you get frustrated and stop your program without getting well. My goal in writing Beat Sugar Addiction Now! is to give you an organized step-by-step approach for each type of sugar addiction, so you can effectively and easily kick sugar addiction––along with the hidden problems driving your addiction.

The Four Types of Sugar Addiction

Dr T's Latest Book Now Available...

To beat sugar addiction, first you’ll need to figure out which type of sugar addict you are. Different kinds of sugar addiction have different underlying causes and require different treatments. Here are the four key types of sugar addiction:

Type 1: The Energy Loan Shark. Chronically exhausted and hooked on quick hits of caffeine and sugar

When daily fatigue causes sugar (and caffeine) cravings, sometimes all you need is to improve nutrition, sleep, and exercise. When your energy increases, you won’t need sugar and caffeine for an energy boost. This can often be done fairly easily. Instead of “energy loan shark” drinks, optimize nutritional support with a good vitamin powder (I like the “Energy Revitalization System” vitamin powder by Enzymatic Therapy—one simple drink replaces over 35 tablets of supplements). In addition, 2 studies we have done have shown that a special energy nutrient called Ribose (ironically, a sugar—but a healthy one) increases energy in CFS/FMS patients by an average of 61% after 3 weeks. Take a 5 gram scoop 3 x day for 3 weeks, then twice a day.

Type 2: Feed Me Now or I’ll Kill You. When life’s stress has exhausted your adrenal glands

For those of you who get irritable when you’re hungry and crash under stress, it is important to treat your adrenal exhaustion.

Increasing water and salt intake (unless you have high blood pressure or heart failure), a high protein diet with frequent smaller meals (called grazing), and realizing that life is not an ongoing crisis (contrary to the impression given by some in the news media) help your adrenal stress handler glands to stabilize. Natural support with Licorice, Vitamin B5, Vitamin C and Adrenal glandulars (all present in a product called Adrenal Stress End) make recovering much easier.

Type 3: The Happy Twinkie Hunter. Sugar cravings caused by yeast/candida overgrowth

For those of you with chronic nasal congestion, sinusitis, spastic colon, or irritable bowel syndrome, treating yeast overgrowth is critical. This can be done effectively with “pearl- coated” probiotics and both prescription and natural antifungals.

Type 4: Depressed and Craving Carbs. Hormonal deficienciesSugar cravings caused by your period, menopause, or andropause

For women who feel worse around their menstrual cycle, or whose problems increased when they entered perimenopause in their forties, estrogen and progesterone deficiency may be driving sugar cravings. In a woman’s earlier years, this is likely to reflect as premenstrual syndrome (PMS, with associated progesterone deficiency), with severe irritability around your periods. In your mid-forties, as estrogen deficiency begins, estrogen or progesterone deficiency often produces increased sugar cravings, fatigue, moodiness, and insomnia around your periods, as well as decreased vaginal lubrication.

Standard blood testing for hormonal deficiencies will not reveal the problems until they are very severe, sometimes leaving people deficient for decades. Eliminating the sugar addiction and other problems caused by low estrogen, progesterone, or testosterone can be life transforming.

Beat Sugar Addiction NOW!

To make it easy, Beat Sugar Addiction NOW! is structured as a workbook, so that when you’re done reading it you will have a treatment protocol tailored to your specific problems.

Ready to get a life you love? It’s time!

Love and blessings,

Jacob Teitelbaum, MD

Buy the book now!

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Passiflora, anxiety and stress – the latest

A new study from the Global Neuroscience Initiative Foundation, a non-profit charity organisation, revealed that the passion flower, (Passiflora) is effective in easing anxiety.

Researchers writing in BioMed Central’s open access Nutrition Journal pooled the results of 24 studies involving a total of more than 2000 participants, showing that some nutritional and herbal supplements can be effective, without the risk of serious side effects.

The research was undertaken by Shaheen Lakhan and Karen Vieira from the Global Neuroscience Initiative Foundation, USA. Lakhan said, “Our review and summary of the literature on herbal remedies and dietary supplements for anxiety should aid mental health practitioners in advising their patients and provide insight for future research in this field.

Of the studies included in the review, 21 were randomized controlled trials. Of these, 15 showed positive effects from either a nutritional or herbal remedy and any reported side effects were mild to moderate. The research showed that based on their systematic review, strong evidence existed for the use of herbal supplements containing extracts of passion flower (Passiflora).

According to Lakhan, “For all three of the herbal supplements we reviewed, more research needs to be done to establish the most effective dosage and to determine whether this varies between different types of anxiety or anxiety-related disorders. Herbal medicines hold an important place in the history of medicine as most of our current remedies, and the majority of those likely to be discovered in the future, will contain phytochemicals derived from plants.”

Further reading:

Holy Basil and anxiety

Product links:

Relax-O-Zyme: formula containing passiflora, valerian, chamomile and more

Stress End: one a day poly-pill based in passiflora, valerian, chamomile & vitamins

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