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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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L-Theanine, ADHD & improved sleep

A recently published study had thrown some help and light for those suffering sleep disturbance as part of the ADHD spectrum of behavioural disorders.

The study is entitled: The effects of L-Theanine (Suntheanine) on Objective Sleep Quality in Boys with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD): a Randomized, Double-blind, Placebo-controlled Clinical Trial.

The study concludes: “This study demonstrates that 400 mg daily of L-theanine is safe and effective in improving some aspects of sleep quality in boys diagnosed with ADHD. Since sleep problems are a common co-morbidity associated with ADHD, and because disturbed sleep may be linked etiologically to this disorder, L-theanine may represent a safe and important adjunctive therapy in childhood ADHD. Larger, long-term studies looking at the wider therapeutic role of this agent in this population are warranted.”

The open source journal article is available if you want to read the scientific background.

Product link: Elthea-100 (pure Suntheanine branded L-Theanine)

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7 pointers to better health

Dr Rosenbaum PharmD

Seven Balance Point Model To Better Health

By Dr. Cathy Rosenbaum

Holistic Clinical Pharmacist

How would you define health? For many of us, health is strictly focused on our physical condition.  Yet, holistic teachings guide us to equally consider value in body, mind, and spiritual health.  I’d like to propose there are at least seven aspects to explore when planning a health and wellness regimen.  We will call these aspects taken together ‘the seven balance point model’ for healing and wellness (e.g., physical, nutrition/supplements, sleep, exercise, social, emotional, and spiritual health).  Here is a brief summary of each aspect.

Physical: It’s important to select and develop a good relationship with your primary care physician who will coordinate your traditional and non-traditional health care team as you partner to develop a personalized health regimen.  Keep up with maintenance and preventative testing as directed by him/her.  We all need a 50,000 mile tune up from time to time just like with our cars!

Nutrition/Supplements: The Mediterranean Diet is considered the world’s gold standard diet for healthy eating and is evidence based. Read about this strategy and try to incorporate more beans, nuts, oily fish, antioxidant rich fruits and vegetables, and monounsaturated fatty acids like extra virgin olive oil into your diet. You’ll be amazed at how much better you start to feel.  Use dietary supplements sparingly at the advice and consent of your healthcare practitioner.  Supplements can never replace good nutrition or eating whole organic foods.

Sleep: Try to get 7-8 hours of sleep at night.  If you have trouble sleeping, drink a glass of milk or decaffeinated green tea before bedtime.  Milk contains tryptophan and green tea contains L-theanine, both of which are relaxing constituents.  Keep your bedroom very cool to allow the body’s natural melatonin levels to rise and help you fall asleep.  Place a drop of lavender essential oil on your pillow as a relaxing fragrance. Play soft music with nature sounds at bedtime.  Light candles to make the room inviting (but be careful not to burn down the house); extinguish them before retiring.

Exercise: We need about 30 minutes of moderate exercise most days of the week.  Walking qualifies and is easy for many of us to do around the neighborhood, at the club, mall, or even at work.  Walking in nature is even better to encourage us to drink in earth’s beauty and become one with the universe.

Social: Develop relationships and friends for your emotional support and for whom you may be a good support in return.  We were not placed on this earth to be isolated.  Being around others helps us feel more alive and stay young.

Emotional Health: Forgive others and self.  Manage your stress with regular massages, laughter, and musical enjoyment.  Dancing is a fabulous outlet to bring a smile to your face.  Deep breathing is a Yoga technique and helps center and calm for stressful times in life.  Try it sometime and see for yourself.  As much as possible, try to focus on the positives in life and change the mental tape if you start to think negative thoughts.

Spiritual Health: Again, spend more time in nature. Explore your understanding of a higher power. Focus on the big picture in life.  Volunteer in your community and give back to serve others and give thanks for your blessings.

Good luck and may you be blessed in body, mind, and spirit.

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Inflamed of not Inflamed – that is the question!

It’s my stomach, it’s bloated and painful I must have irritable bowel syndrome!
It’s becoming “in” to have irritable bowel syndrome (IBS). Everybody is talking about it, there are special diets, pills and all sorts of treatments to cure it but one has to ask in the first instance; is it actually IBS?
Our clinic sees a lot of IBS and would be IBS cases. People find their way to us because many conventional measures just offer symptomatic ease at best. Most GP’s don’t follow the idea that diet or food allergy can be a cause opting, to prescribe medications simply aimed at relaxing the bowel. I feel their time should be spent trying to relax their patient since so many cases of true IBS are stress related or anxiety induced. However, the fact remains that IBS is affecting more and more of us. Estimates have IBS affecting 10-20% of the population and it is twice as common in women than in men. This estimate, however, does not take into account those cases who do not present themselves to their GP.
The worrying factor with IBS is that many of it’s symptoms are common to other more serious gut and abdominal disorders. In women early stage ovarian cancer may give symptoms of bloating or even just a feeling of “fullness”. Even though ovarian cancer tends to hit the over 65’s it can strike at any age. The other worry is that IBS may also mimic early stage inflammatory bowel disease such as ulcerative colitis or Crohn’s disease. These bowel problems may not cause the classic set of inflammatory signs early on and can be mistaken for IBS, which is not a pathological problem at all. Cases of true IBS are free of pathological bowel changes, it general is a functional disorder of muscular tone triggered off by emotional distress or aggravated by foods that irritate the lining of the bowel.
Getting a diagnosis of IBS should be fairly straight forward now. Worries over ovarian cancer can be settled by a good medical history may be a pelvic ultrasound scan and in some cases a simple blood test for the marker known as CA125. When it comes to the inflammatory bowel problems things may get a bit more invasive in those cases that are not so clear cut. A colonoscopy involves inserting a fiber optic camera into the bowel for a good look about. This tends to be very diagnostic but in those with inflammatory changes beyond the reach of the camera the inflammation may be missed. However, help is at hand. A relatively new stool (pooh) analysis, pioneered at Kings College Hospital, taken along side a clinical assessment looks to be the way forward. Known as faecal calprotectin, (click here 1, 2, 3, for more background) this test will detect those cases missed by colonoscopy and help firm up the diagnosis once and for all. It is available through the NHS or for a private fee of around £70-£80. We can get the test done through Hadley Wood Healthcare for £75.00 – all we need it a pooh sample, but call us first.
Once irritable bowel has been confirmed there is a lot we can do. A course of enteric coated Acidophilus and Bifidus bacteria replacement therapy (known as Acidophilus Pearls) is important along side some simple dietary changes. Anxiety and stress need to be addressed, for this we use Elthea-100 containing the green tea amino acid known as L-theanine. A lot can be done but much of our work is on an individual basis. If you are troubled by your bowels we may be able to help in more ways than one.

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There is a natural way to combat anxiety

Stress is becoming more and more common. Like depression, stress used to be a rather taboo subject inferring that someone can’t cope but as we learn more about stress it is becoming clear that we are all prone to it but some deal with better than others. If we look back into our ancestral history stress actually kept us alive. It would gear our bodies up to fight or flight. Those with an effective stress mechanism would survive and pass on their genes whilst those who were resistant to stress perished! In other words, you could view someone living nowadays with the symptoms of stress as a survivor with the biological abilities to fight and flight effectively. The problem now rests with our modern society that delivers triggers for stress on a daily ongoing basis making the fight and flight mechanism redundant simply because we can’t escape. However, nature may have the answer in the form of a simple extract obtained from green tea. Drinkers of green tea often comment on its relaxing properties so it did not take long for the active agent to be identified, purified and used as an aid to promoting relaxation. Known as L-Theanine, this green tea extract is now available in a conveniently small vegetarian capsule. Scientists studying the effects of L-Theanine were curious about its ability to ease anxiety and stress but not promote drowsiness. Their research showed that L-Theanine was able to enhance the brains alpha waves. These waves are associated with the emotional state of rested alertness, just the reverse of most stress sufferers! Unlike other anti-stress remedies however, L-Theanine did not interfere with medication cause other unwanted side effects associated with prescribed anti-anxiety agents. Those taking L-Theanine found that in cases of severe stress two capsules (100mg of L-Theanine per capsule) taken up to three times a day helped them regain their emotional health. The intake could then be reduced to as little as one too two capsules per day. In cases of panic attacks the capsule can be opened and the tasteless powder sprinkled under the tongue. This method of use can end a panic attack before it starts!

Additional L-Theanine information


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A New Look at Hyperactivity in Children

Food additives and hyperactivity – a new look at an old problem

We have all experienced the problem either with our own children or with a friends; behaviour and mood rapidly changing after eating processed or highly coloured food. Naturally we make the knee jerk judgement and commit that food to the growing list of culprits responsible for turning our kids into little monsters. Few would question the benefit of changing our children’s diets for ones higher in fresh natural foods whilst avoiding the potential chemical time bombs of processed food but is there any actual evidence to say that these foods are the real triggers?
This was the topic in a recent editorial published in the British Medical Journal. When a study involving some 297 children aged between 3 and 9 were analysed some interesting results came to light. One of the key factors in this study was the fact that unlike many other investigations none of the children in this cross section had any previous diagnosis of attention-deficit or hyperactivity disorder. Despite this the results still showed an adverse effect on behaviour with an intake of additives equivalent to that found in two 56 g bag of sweets.
No one can agree – who can you trust?
Following the publication of this study the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) soon jumped in and rejected the claims in news articles that two mixtures of food colours along with the preservative sodium benzoate had any adverse effect on behaviour. However, following a re-analysis of the results the EFSA was forced to revise their view and had to re-publish their comments. The EFAS panel discovered that the figures they questioned did actually mirror the results of the original study. Their final comment on the subject was characteristically low key; “the study provides limited evidence that the two different mixtures had a small and statistically significant effect on activity and attention” This statement, as low key as it may appear, is an important step forward because if additives alters the behaviour of normal children, even in a small way, the study has profound implications for children with hyperactivity who are far more sensitive to many things including chemicals. It is true to say that food and additives are not the prime cause of behavioural problems in hyperactive children, the condition is complex and highly individual, but anecdotal reports from parents, teachers and health professionals do point a finger most certainly at foods as potent triggers. Sadly, eliminating colourings and preservatives are still regarded by some as an alternative rather than a standard approach. In light of the current studies and years of almost impossible to avoid anecdotal accounts it is difficult to understand why simply improving the diet and removing “junk” needs so much science to support its use. Despite this, the two-pronged conventional approach is still firmly entrenched primarily in drug therapy and sometimes referral for behavioural therapy. With the growing bank of evidence to support the role of diet modification it is surprising that this simple task is not tackled from the onset keeping in mind that there is, in fact, less evidence published for the benefits of behavioural therapy! This probably explains why around 50% of children attending specilist medical clinics also concurrently use alternative medicines.

The additives defiantly to avoid
Sunset yellow (E110) – Colouring found in squashes
Carmoisine (E122) – Red colouring in jellies
Tartrazine (E102) – New colouring in lollies, fizzy drinks
Ponceau 4R (E124) – Red colouringSodium benzoate (E211) – Preservative
Quinoline yellow (E104) – Food colouring
Allura red AC (E129) – Orange / red food dye

What else can be done?
A quick check of the internet will yield a plethora of cures and remedies for ADHD and hyperactivity disorders. A simple Google search for “ADAH products” narrowed down to UK sites only resulted in 81,800 sites coming up!
Among the many sites there is some good information and within this information can be found some guiding lights in the grey area that lies between alternative and conventional medicine. One such beacon in the mist is Dr Jeff Bradstreet MD. Jeff is a family doctor based in Florida where is founded the International Child Development Resource Centre. As well as his clinical work he is also a Professor of Neuroscience at Stetson University, Florida and the Southwest College of Naturopathic Medicine in Phoenix Arizona. With his feet firmly in two camps, the conventional and naturopathic, Dr Bradstreet is well placed to push nutritional research forward in the management of ADHD and hyperactivity.
Over the years Dr Bradstreet has found few nutrients that have been of particularly helpful to children with behavioural issues. In addition to the much publicised omega-3 fish oils these include phosphatidylserine (PS), the amino acids taurine and L-theanine as well as the powerful antioxidant N-acetylcysteine and the nutrient dimethylaminethanol (DMAE).
Getting the balance right
Interestingly, two of these nutrients naturally work very closely within the body, in fact PS is made DMAE. It has long been known that PS forms a vital building block supporting the structure of every cell in the body as well as playing an important role in the production of chemical substances needed for healthy and balanced nerve function. Known as neurotransmitters, these substances regulate the activity of the brain and are known to be out of balance in cases of ADHD and hyperactivity. In one study 75% of children who took PS supplements experienced increased levels of focus and attention. By using both PS and DMAE together those with poor ability to absorb and metabolise PS can still benefit since once within the body DMAE can be converted into PS. For children attending school it is good to know that neither PS or DMAE have ever caused drowsiness or reduced alertness.
Boost those alpha-waves
In all cases of ADHD and hyperactivity management the biggest problem facing parents and children alike is the common side effect of drowsiness associated with prescribed drugs. Getting the balance right is not easy, an over excited brain can’t be expected to focus on the task in hand or conform to the rigours of school or modern life.
In seeking a remedy for this Green tea appeared to offer an answer. The soothing and relaxing effects associated with Green tea are derived from its L-theanine content. This amino acid, once isolated and purified, has become a popular supplement with people suffering from anxiety and stress related problems since it produces a relaxed state of mind with no drowsiness. It was finally discovered that L-theanine enhanced the brains alpha-waves. A brain with good alpha-wave activity is associated with a state of relaxed alertness. By applying this knowledge L-theanine has been of great help to children with hyperactive behaviour and poor focus. It is a very safe supplement and well tolerated. Depending on age, 100mg taken up to three times a day appears to offer effective support. L-theanine is also found in Dr Bradstreets own formula that combines all the above into a convenient supplement.
Putting it all together
No one can say that they have the universal remedy for ADHD or hyperactivity, the condition is far to complex for any one remedy or life style adjustment to work in isolation or universally. However, the evidence is mounting from UK studies into the effects of diet manipulation while in America the nutritional supplement research is laying the foundations for additional measures. By blending the two approaches overall health can only bee seen to benefit from improved food intake and optimal nutritional support.

Dr Jeff Bradstreet
Recommended UK supplements web site
Recommended USA supplements web site
North London Natural Health Clinic
Scotland based Natural Health Clinic

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