Health and wellbeing are affected by many factors – those linked to poor health, disability, disease or death, are known as risk factors. A risk factor is a characteristic, condition, or behavior that increases the likelihood of getting a disease or injury. Risk factors are often presented individually, however in practice they do not occur alone. They often coexist and interact with one another. For example, physical inactivity will, over time, cause weight gain, high blood pressure and high cholesterol levels. Together, these significantly increase the chance of developing chronic heart diseases and other health related problems. Ageing populations and longer life expectancy have led to an increase in long-term (chronic), expensive-to-treat diseases and disabilities.
There is a rising demand for healthcare, placing the sector under increasing budget pressure which is not always met. It is important that we, as a society and users of healthcare systems, understand the causes and risk factors behind diseases, so that we can actively take part in available cost effective prevention and treatment programmes.
Here you can find health information and resources, for yourself or someone you care about, on common diseases and illnesses.
Tummy pain can be caused by the movement of food through your stomach and intestines, having gas (wind) trapped there, or eating too much.
Some other causes of minor abdominal pain (or cramp) are:
mild food poisoning (you may also have diarrhoea)
stress and anxiety
inflammation of your stomach lining
menstruation (period pain)
changing hormone levels during pregnancy and breastfeeding.
As well as the tummy pain, you might also have rumbling and gurgling noises, belching (burping), wind (passing gas), nausea or vomiting, diarrhoea or constipation, urinary problems, and/or loss of appetite.
Causes of more serious abdominal pain
Some abdominal pain might have a more serious cause – and the pain will often be worse.
These causes can include:
blood clots or other blockages
an ulcer (in your stomach or intestine)
disease in your liver, gallbladder, pancreas or spleen, or even your heart or lungs
a urinary tract infection
an ectopic pregnancy
an ovarian cyst.
A minor abdominal problem will usually get better in about 2 hours.
Try these ideas – and if they don’t help, see your doctor.
Lie down and rest until you feel better.
Sip on clear fluids. Don’t eat solids until the pain goes.
A hot water bottle or wheat pack on your tummy may help – or a warm bath.
You can take paracetamol for the pain – but no other types of painkillers, because they can irritate your stomach and make the pain worse.
Take a look at this collection The Lost Book Of Remedies, taken word for word out of a circa 1845 manual.
What is The Lost Book of Remedies? The Lost Book of Remedies PDF contains a series of medicinal and herbal recipes to make home made remedies from medicinal plants and herbs. Chromic diseases and maladies can be overcome by taking the remedies outlined in this book. The writer claims that his grandfather was taught herbalism and healing whilst in active service during world war two and that he has treated many soldiers with his home made cures.
An allergy is when your body’s immune system reacts to normally harmless substances that it sees as harmful. The allergy-causing substances are called allergens.
Your body’s immune system is a natural defence against infection and other foreign material. If you are allergic to something, your immune system will react every time you come into contact with that allergen.
Causes of allergies
Many substances can cause an allergic reaction, but some of the most common are:
dust and dust mites
Allergies often run in families, but not every family member may be allergic to the same thing. Children living in homes with smokers are more likely to develop asthma.
Kinds of allergic reaction
Different allergens will cause different kinds of allergic reactions. The most common allergic conditions are hay fever, asthma and skin problems (eg, eczema, rashes, hives).
Airborne allergens such as mould, dust, pollen, grasses and weeds can cause hay fever.
Pollens, moulds and house dust can trigger asthma attacks.
Skin reactions can be caused by contact with an allergen (like latex or certain metals), by insect bites or stings, or by eating food or taking medicine you are allergic to.
Clinical practice guidelines suggest that some people with allergic rhinitis may benefit from acupuncture.
Bowel cancer is a malignant growth that develops inside the bowel. It is also called colon, rectal or colorectal cancer.
Bowel cancer is the second highest cause of cancer death in New Zealand, but it can be treated successfully if it is detected and treated early.
You are more at risk of developing bowel cancer if:
you have a history of a number of family members over two or three generations being affected with bowel cancer
you or a close family member have been diagnosed with bowel cancer at a young age (under 55 years)
there is a known genetic bowel cancer syndrome in your family, or a concern that you might have one
you have had extensive inflammatory bowel disease such as ulcerative colitis for more than 10 years.
New Zealand has one of the highest bowel cancer rates in the world. Bowel cancer is the second highest cause of cancer death in New Zealand. In 2011, 3030 people were diagnosed with bowel cancer and 1191 died from the disease.
Signs and symptoms
Common signs and symptoms of bowel cancer may include:
a change in your normal pattern of going to the toilet that continues for several weeks (such as diarrhoea, constipation, or feeling that your bowel doesn’t empty completely
blood in your bowel motion.
Although these symptoms are often caused by other conditions, it is important to get them checked by your doctor.
People who are diagnosed with bowel cancer, and receive treatment when it is at an early stage, have a 90 percent chance of long term survival. If there is a delay in diagnosis and treatment, and the cancer may become more advanced, it is harder to cure.
If you or your child has a wet cough that just won’t go away, it could lead to bronchiectasis. Bronchiectasis is a type of permanent lung scarring which happens when you have ongoing infection in your lungs.
Bronchiectasis isn’t catching – you can’t catch it from someone else, or give it to others.
Bronchiectasis happens when the breathing tubes (called bronchi) in the lungs have been damaged and enlarged – usually due to infection. This causes mucus to build up in the extra space.
The mucus usually gets cleared up by tiny hairs (called cilia) that line the breathing tubes. But if these hairs stop working properly then mucus gets stuck in the breathing tubes.
Germs grow in this extra mucus and cause more infection. These infections damage and scar the breathing tubes and lungs. The breathing tubes become baggy and holes form in the lungs. Once this has happened, the scarring and damage can’t be fixed.
The premise is that many modern day medicines work on the basis that they treat the symptoms and not the cause, but contained within The Lost Book of Remedies are a number of tinctures and tonics made from plants and leaves that will treat the cause of the illness, thus eradicating the disease altogether.
The book is a direct copy of the little notebook carried around by the author’s grandfather when treating his patients. However, the illustrations of the plants have been updated to photographs so that they are easier for you to identify.
Bronchiectasis Alternative Treatments
There are several bronchiectasis alternative treatments that are fairly commonly used to help patients manage the symptoms of the disease. One of the primary focuses of these common alternative treatments for this disease is to attempt to help the body to get rid of the secondary-infection-causing mucus that is one of the key symptoms of the disease.
In traditional therapies, this attempt is made by prescribing various expectorant and mucus-thinning medications to the patient. Trying to help the body get rid of the mucus is also the goal of alternative bronchiectasis treatments such as the forced expiration technique and active-cycle breathing. Both of these breathing exercises attempt to use the natural movements of air into and out of the lungs to knock mucus loose and carry it out of lungs.
Another commonly used type of alternative treatment for bronchiectasis involves ensuring proper hydration. This therapy tries to capitalize on the mucus-thinning properties of water to make the mucus easier to expel from the lungs. The method for this therapy is to ensure that the patient is maintaining proper hydration levels in their body.
All of these bronchiectasis alternative treatments may help patients to manage the symptoms of the disease and maintain a high quality of life.
While cinnamon oil is receiving the most attention, many other oils have antiviral effects. More research is needed. That said, a few drops of cinnamon, thyme, oregano or other essential oils may be beneficial for the general prevention of the spread of microorganisms.
Essential oils are extremely concentrated. Keep them out of reach of children and dilute them as directed. Learn as much as you can about any oil that you plan to use. Allergic and other reactions may occur.
Are Herbs Useful in the Fight Against Ebola?
One of the most difficult challenges in treating Ebola is the fact that it is a new virus, having first been identified in 1976. There are five known strains of the virus, four of which infect humans. As a new virus, there is no long-term history of using traditional medicines to prevent and treat Ebola. Again, the problem is that we simply do not know.
Some traditional medicine practitioners and health officials in Africa have stated that ashwaghandha and jute have cured patients suffering from Ebola. No reliable studies back up these claims.
Biopharming is the use of plants to produce genetically altered compounds. These substances may be used to treat diseases. For example, biopharming may be useful in treating multidrug resistant organisms. The experimental drug ZMapp is produced by biopharming.
ZMapp has been used to treat a handful of Ebola patients, but has not been successful in all cases. Out of seven patients, two died.
ZMapp is produced using a wild tobacco which grows in Australia. The plant itself does not cure Ebola, but is used as a host to grow antibodies which fight Covid. ZMapp is only entering stage 1 clinical trials, which means that even if the drug is effective, widespread availability is a long way away.
Your heart pumps blood around your body through your arteries and veins. The blood contains oxygen and nutrients that keep your body working. When there’s something wrong with your heart or blood vessels, it’s known as heart (cardiovascular) disease.
A heart attack occurs when blood flow to a section of the heart muscle becomes blocked. If the blood flow is not restored quickly, the section of the heart muscle dies.
Heart attack symptoms
Pain in the centre of your chest is the most common symptom of a heart attack.
If you’re having a heart attack, you may feel pain in your:
chest (can be mild to severe)
You may also get other symptoms, such as:
feeling dizzy or faint
being short of breath.
You may not feel any pain.
If you think you or someone else may be having a heart attack, call 111 straight away. Early treatment can save your life.
Angina occurs when your heart muscle does not get as much blood and oxygen as it needs. It is a sign of heart disease – however, it can be treated.
Angina usually occurs when you’re exercising.
tightness or pain in your chest that may come and go
sudden difficulty breathing
pain between your shoulder blades
chest pain spreading to your jaw, teeth or earlobes
heaviness, tingling or aching in your shoulder or arm (usually on the left side).
Conventional Treatment for Coronary Heart Disease
Half a century ago, coronary heart disease killed an even greater percentage of those who suffered from it, but fortunately, doctors today are more adept at using various treatments to control heart disease symptoms. Some of these are effective at lowering blood pressure, triglycerides and cholesterol, but many simply target symptoms and don’t focus on the bigger picture.
Many doctors place people with coronary heart disease on a treatment plan that includes both prescription medications and lifestyle changes. Depending on which healthcare professional you choose, your symptoms and how severe the disease is, you might be prescribed one or more medicines to treat your high blood pressureor high cholesterol or to prevent complications like diabetes.
Examples of medications used to treat CHD include: cholesterol-modifying medications like aspirin, beta blockers, nitroglycerin, angiotensin-converting enzyme (ACE) inhibitors and angiotensin II receptor blockers (ARBs).
Many people are able to prevent CHD and recover from it naturally by maintaining a healthy lifestyle: changing their diet, stopping smoking, getting good sleep and adding in supplements on top of some other things we’ll discuss below.
Natural Remedies for Coronary Heart Disease
Lifestyle Changes (Quitting Smoking & Eating A Healthy Diet)
A 2016 study found that living a healthy lifestyle — including exercising, eating a healthy diet full of fruits, vegetables and grains and not smoking — can lower your risk of heart disease, even if you are genetically predisposed to developing the disease. The study looked at 55,685 participants total in three prospective cohorts and one cross-sectional study. According to The New York Times:
The investigators found that genes can double the risk of heart disease, but a good lifestyle cuts it in half. Just as important, they found, a terrible lifestyle erases about half of the benefits of good genetics.
The individual results of each study were impressive. In the first study, when participants with the highest genetic risk followed a healthy lifestyle, they cut the 10-year likelihood of heart disease from 10.7 percent to 5.1 percent. In the second study, the high-risk and healthy lifestyle participants’ 10-year risk dropped from 4.6 percent to 2 percent. In the third study, participants risk went from 8.2 percent to 5.3 percent. In the final study, participants with a high genetic risk living a healthy lifestyle had significantly less calcium in their coronary arteries, which is a sign of CHD.
This groundbreaking research illustrates that you can naturally reduce your risk of heart disease. Below we’ll look closer at foods, supplements, essential oils and lifestyle changes you can implement to achieve greater health and fight off coronary heart disease.
Avoiding Inflammatory Foods
Should you eat a low-fat diet to prevent heart disease? When most people think of foods that increase their chances of developing heart disease, fatty cuts of meat and fried food probably come to mind. For many years, the public was led to believe that cholesterol-rich foods and saturated fats of all kinds increased the risk for heart disease. “The cholesterol hypothesis,” as it’s called, rested on the assumption that saturated fats raise cholesterol levels that wind up clogging the arteries.
However, a number of researchers today have demonstrated that this is not necessarily true, and that while this theory has been widely accepted, it has never been proven. Cholesterol is actually an essential component of healthy cells and organisms, and we all need to maintain a certain level to thrive!
Foods that help reduce inflammation and, therefore, the risk of CHD include:
Fiber-rich and antioxidant-rich foods of all kinds
Vegetables (all kinds, including beets, carrots, cruciferous vegetables like Brussels sprouts, broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower and kale, dark leafy greens, artichokes, onions, peas, salad greens, mushrooms, sea vegetables and squashes)
Fruits (all kinds, especially berries and citrus)
Herbs and spices, especially turmeric (curcumin) and raw garlic (also basil, chili peppers, cinnamon, curry powder, ginger, rosemary and thyme)
Traditional teas like green tea, oolong or white tea
Legumes and beans
Healthy fats found in nuts, seeds, avocados, wild-caught fish and extra virgin olive oil
Raw, unpasteurized dairy products, cage-free eggs and pasture-raised poultry
Red wine in moderation
I recommend the following supplements for controlling inflammation and supporting heart health:
Omega-3 fish oil supplements or 1 tablespoon of fish oil (such as cod liver oil) daily — if you avoid fish, try plant-based algal oil
Curcumin (turmeric) and garlic supplements
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Alternative medicine is the term for medical products and practices that are not part of standard care. Standard care is what medical doctors, doctors of osteopathy, and allied health professionals, such as nurses and physical therapists, practice. Alternative medicine is used in place of standard medical care. An example is treating heart disease with chelation therapy (which seeks to remove excess metals from the blood) instead of using a standard approach. Examples of alternative practices include homeopathy, traditional medicine, chiropractic, and acupuncture. Complementary medicine is different from alternative medicine. Whereas complementary medicine is used together with conventional medicine, alternative medicine is used in place of conventional medicine.
Herbal medicine has its origins in ancient cultures. It involves the medicinal use of plants to treat disease and enhance general health and wellbeing.
Some herbs have potent (powerful) ingredients and should be taken with the same level of caution as pharmaceutical medications. In fact, many pharmaceutical medications are based on man-made versions of naturally occurring compounds found in plants. For instance, the heart medicine digitalis was derived from the foxglove plant.
Active ingredients and herbal medicine
Herbal medicines contain active ingredients. The active ingredients of many herbal preparations are as yet unknown. Some pharmaceutical medications are based on a single active ingredient derived from a plant source. Practitioners of herbal medicine believe that an active ingredient can lose its impact or become less safe if used in isolation from the rest of the plant.
For instance, salicylic acid is found in the plant meadowsweet and is used to make aspirin. Aspirin can cause the lining of the stomach to bleed, but meadowsweet naturally contains other compounds that prevent irritation from salicylic acid.
According to herbal medicine practitioners, the effect of the whole plant is greater than its parts. Critics argue that the nature of herbal medicine makes it difficult to give a measured dose of an active ingredient.
Medicinal uses for specific herbs
Herbal medicine aims to return the body to a state of natural balance so that it can heal itself. Different herbs act on different systems of the body. Some herbs that are commonly used in herbal medicine, and their traditional uses, include:
to stimulate the immune system and aid the body in fighting infection. Used to treat ailments such as boils, fever and herpes
dong quai (dang gui) –
used for gynaecological complaints such as premenstrual tension, menopause symptoms and period pain. Some studies indicate that dong quai can lower blood pressure
used to reduce the risk of heart disease by lowering levels of blood fats and cholesterol (a type of blood fat). The antibiotic and antiviral properties of garlic mean that it is also used to fight colds, sinusitis and other respiratory infections
many studies have shown ginger to be useful in treating nausea, including motion sickness and morning sickness
ginkgo biloba –
commonly used to treat poor blood circulation and tinnitus (ringing in the ears)
generally used to treat fatigue, for example during recovery from illness. Also used to reduce blood pressure and cholesterol levels, however overuse of ginseng has been associated with raised blood pressure
commonly known as St John’s wort. Studies have suggested that St John’s wort is just as effective as some pharmaceutical antidepressants in treating mild to moderate depression. It is also used for anxiety and insomnia. However, St John’s wort can interact with a number of prescription medications, including the oral contraceptive pill, and stop them from working properly.
As such, even safe natural remedies or vitamins can alter the effects of drugs used in treating cancer or compound their adverse side effects. Because of this it is important to inform your doctor about any natural remedies you may be using.
It is also important to remember that you should not put off going for cancer tests and seeking treatment in order to try out alternative forms of therapy.
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