The earlier you start to prepare your body for future pregnancy, the better. Even if babies aren`t on your agenda for the next ten years, if you know that you would like to raise children one day then you need to listen up and get your nutrients store tip top.
If you have recently come off of hormonal contraceptives then it`s even more important to pay attention. Those pesky synthetic hormones have been studied to show that they are responsible for all sorts of minerals and vitamin depletions that are essential for fertility and a healthy pregnancy.
This advice isn`t just for your health or to achieve optimum fertility, but for the health of the baby you are going to bring in to this world. Simply put, your baby is made of… well… YOU!
What you have in your nutrient stores will affect the long- term health outcomes of the baby that you grow. Ensuring that your body is well-nourished will help you to have the healthiest children that you possibly can.
It`s easier to stay nourished than fix deficiencies further along the line. The amount of nutrients stored in your body up to a year in advance of pregnancy will affect the type of pregnancy that you have.
Here I go with my analogies again… think of baking a cake. You need eggs, milk, flour and butter. If you don`t get the mix right, your cake can flop, be a slushy mess or just taste pretty bad.
The cake is the baby (you`ve heard the old saying a ‘bun in the oven’ right?!) and the ingredients are what you are using to grow this baby. It needs to be right.
Long-term nutrition will help to ensure that the child is neurologically as developed as possible, whilst also limiting the risks of autism, ADHD, obesity and heart disease amongst other conditions. Your baby treats your nutrients as a pantry whilst it`s growing inside of you. What you have stored up in your there will affect how much nutrition the baby will be able to extract from you.
The other reason to plan ahead and replenish your nutrients is for your own sake. Mother Nature knows that the most important thing is to focus on the procreation of humanity and will put the baby’s needs before the mother. You are the lowest priority in her book. The baby will get as much as it possibly can at the detriment of the mother, if you aren`t stocked up enough to provide for the both of you!
This can mean that the baby will take vital nutrients and leave you very depleted after pregnancy. Think about it… how many women have you heard say that they had no health problems until they`d had a baby? Sound familiar?
Pregnancy is very taxing on the mother and nutrient deficiency will show up in all sorts of chronic fatigue symptoms and autoimmune disorders post pregnancy.
So if you have come off of birth control, or are just wanting to maximise your fertility, then read on…
First and foremost…
Yes, I can see you cringing at the mere mention of the word fat. Some of you may even have shut the laptop or closed the page but it`s so important.
You know that your body doesn’t just pop out hormones whenever they are needed… it has to MAKE them. Like the aforementioned cake, hormones are made of a list of ingredients. One vital ingredient is Cholesterol and where do we get cholesterol from?
You`ve probably heard of runners and athletes losing their periods. One of the reasons is that the intake of fat that athletes have in their diet is so low that they just can`t make the hormones that are responsible for a healthy reproductive system. Under-eating and over-exercising creates an environment where your body is stressed on a physical level and perceives a threat. Something called hypothalamic amenorrhea can occur - where your body will stop menstruating as it feels it is unsafe to become pregnant.
Now, not all fat is created equal and some of it is in my opinion the single most probable cause for cellular inflammation in the body. I`ll do another post all about good fats and bad fats at another time but for now, the message that goes with this is that saturated fats in the form of butters, coconut oil and fats from grass-fed animal products are the most stable and nutrient dense fats that we consume. For decades, this type of fat has been hailed as unhealthy, but the evidence points in the opposite direction.
For healthy fertility and pregnancy, your body needs fat. Fat not only makes the cholesterol for hormones, but is a fuel for energy and is needed to coat every single cell in both the mother and the babies body. Every single cell in your body is made of a phospholipid membrane. They are 50% fat! Your brain and that of your baby is also dependent on fat. The highest concentration of cholesterol is found in the brain, where it plays an important role in memory and serotonin regulation. Low cholesterol levels are associated with depression and anxiety.
Zinc and Magnesium
Most of the population has far less magnesium and zinc in their diet than they should have. Both of these two minerals are vital for achieving pregnancy, and maintaining it.
Magnesium is mostly found in plant matter and the amount that is consumed is far less than it should be. That coupled with the fact that our soils are massively depleted in magnesium these days due to modern farming methods, puts most of us at risk of deficiency. Magnesium can be found in dark green leafy vegetables, nuts and seeds and whole meal grains.
Zinc can be found most plentifully in shell fish, an acquired and expensive taste. Not many of us will have a regular amount of oysters, muscles or clams each week. Zinc is available in red meat and poultry and as a plant based option, in pumpkin seeds. The problem is that plant based zinc is hard to absorb and so vegetarians and vegans are more at risk of a zinc deficiency and would benefit from supplementing. If you are happy eating liver, then a piece of liver each week will offer you a great serving of zinc to meet your needs.
It has been well-researched that contraceptive hormones deplete the body’s natural stores of B6. B6 is needed for a regular cycle and for the development and functioning of the nervous system. There has been research that suggests that B6 might play a role in the prevention of pre-eclampsia in pregnancy. It may also play its part in preventing pregnancy nausia. B6 is available in lots of foods, including meat, poultry, starchy vegetables and non citrus fruits. The problem is that unless you are eating a good amount of raw food then you are probably not getting enough as B6 is very sensitive to being heated in the process of cooking and becomes less viable.
Vitamin A and D
Vitamin D is critically important in forming your baby’s bones, teeth, kidneys, heart and nervous system. It helps us absorb the right amount of calcium and phosphate.
The problem with Vitamin D is that it is not readily available in food. It is only in small amounts in certain foods (oily fish and eggs are one of the best sources). We get most of our vitamin D from the sun but if you live in the Northern hemisphere like me, during October until March, it is almost impossible to absorb vitamin D, even on the sunniest of days. This is due to the way that the earth tilts, blocking the amount of UVB rays that can actually reach us.
Vitamin A is essential for conception. It is a fat soluble vitamin that is found in nutrient dense animal fats, especially liver, cod liver oil and egg yolks. It is needed for fertility and for foetal development but be careful… once pregnant, excessive amounts of vitamin A can be damaging to the foetus, so always check with a professional regarding this vitamin. Beta Carotene is the plant based version of vitamin A. It is less absorbable than animal based vitamin A though, so again, vegans and vegetarians are at risk of deficiency and should consider supplementing.
Vitamin A and D work together as a team. One without the other in adequate amounts will affect the absorption of its co-partner. It is important to have both in your diet or supplement at the same time.
Folate is a type of B vitamin that your body needs to make DNA and other genetic material. It also needs folate for your cells to divide and to make red and white blood cells in your bone marrow. During periods of rapid growth, it`s essential to have adequate amounts of folate. This is especially true of pregnancy, both for the mother and the baby.
Folate is the food version of folic acid. It is available in leafy green vegetables, lentils, eggs and certain fruits. If possible, it is better to eat natural folate as certain individuals struggle to process folic acid and you may not know if this is you! By all means supplement with folic acid but at the same time, increase your food sources of folate to cover your odds in case you are someone who can`t metabolise folic acid.
If you aren`t getting regular cycles at the minute then one of the reasons may be that your body doesn`t perceive that you are ready for pregnancy.
If you haven`t got all the ingredients for the cake you are baking, you wouldn’t turn the oven on! It`s the same principle. Your body doesn`t want you to have an unhealthy pregnancy. It wants to ensure the survival of the human race and wants to create a healthy offspring. If its surveillance systems detect a lack of nutrition, then it won`t allow you to be fertile.
If you are in a place where your cycles are irregular or missing then I urge you to have a think about your diet, lifestyle, exercise habits, stresses and sleeping patterns and stock that pantry of yours up with as many nutrients as possible.
It goes without saying that if you intend on taking any supplementation then you should seek the advice of a qualified professional first.
So many people I know, including myself, were given the hormonal contraception pill at a young age as a “catch all” remedy for problematic menstrual cycles.
It must be very frustrating as a G.P to know that possibly something deeper is going on with the hormones of the young girls sitting in front of them, but being unable to contravene the regulations they are given.
Unfortunately, all over the world, the simple solution is to put the patient on the pill and hope that masking the symptoms will be enough.
This is so true for so many conditions… got reflux? Here – have a proton pump inhibitor pill to lower your stomach acid. Got high blood pressure? – Here – take this to keep it down.
Don`t you think that this is a bit like having an engine warning light flash up on the dashboard of your car and instead of getting the problem fixed, you put a bit of masking tape over the light so you can`t see it!
As a 16 year old, this felt perfectly fine back then. After all, we have been conditioned in so many ways not to question authority and certainly not a G.P. My menstrual discomfort eased and my flow was so much lighter… life was peachy once again!
What I didn`t know and what young women and their mothers don`t realise is the darker side of being on the pill and hormonal contraception.
What I mean by hormonal contraception is anything that you take that contains synthetic (chemical) hormones to stop pregnancy occurring. This isn`t just about the pill, but the now hugely-popular hormonal coil, contraceptive injection, implants, vaginal ring and hormone patch.
I was told and was lead to believe for many years that taking a hormone contraceptive tricked your body into thinking that it was pregnant. This didn`t feel too bad to me at the time although as time went on over the next ten years of taking it, I did wonder if a ten –year pregnancy seemed ok!
It turns out that this information was completely wrong.
When you`re pregnant, your body continues to make its own beautiful hormones, just in a different way to when you`re not.
When you take hormonal contraception, your reproductive hormones are in a word – shut down.
Your ovaries are closed for business.
Forced to go to sleep…
Usually, for a Very.Long.Time.
In fact, your own hormone levels that you produce are more closely akin to the way they would be in menopause. The difference here would be that in Menopause, the hormones you produce are more beneficial to the rest of your body.
So what`s the big deal? Why does it matter so much that your ovaries are sleeping? Surely it`ll be ok if they just rest for a little bit?
Mmm… Here is where the problem lies.
The Oestrogen and progesterone that you produce naturally are not only vital for your reproductive health but for the health of your organs, your mood, metabolism and your bones. The chemical hormones that you are taking don`t have the same beneficial effect. In fact, they have the opposite effect.
Your metabolism is slowed down and they actually deplete your body of essential nutrients and vitamins. The worsened metabolic issues effect insulin resistance and before you know it, the vital communication system between the pituitary and the ovaries gets ‘stuck`. Insulin resistance is something that a woman with PCOS really needs to avoid, so if you are on the pill because of PCOS, be extra careful with your diet.
Many women suffer with depression and anxiety on hormonal contraception, due to not having their own oestrogen and progesterone which is so important for our mood. It`s also so very common to suffer a loss of libido which kind of defeats the benefits of the contraceptive part of the prescription!
Over time, this communication system between the ovaries and pituitary really suffers and when you choose to come off of the pill, you are left to sort out the whole backlog of problems that have built up over time.
Think of it this way, if you left your car on your drive without starting it up or moving it in any way for over ten years, it`d have a few functioning problems when you finally put your key in the ignition and want to go somewhere!
After coming off of the pill, some women barely notice the shift and go on to regulate their menstrual cycle pretty quickly and successfully become pregnant. Others (myself included in all of this) are not so lucky.
It can take a long time for those sleepy little ovaries to get going again. The pituitary – ovary communication needs to get up and running. The Ovaries need to start producing their own hormones once again and their function is a little rusty! The body is depleted of certain B vitamins and nutrients and often there is a mineral imbalance that needs help, along with an imbalance of good and bad bacteria in the gut.
It can be really difficult getting your cycle regular again when you come off of the pill. It can take around a year to get things normalising once again, and longer if you`ve had the contraception injection or implant.
One hormone may come back quicker than the other and an oestrogen dominant situation can arise. Progesterone is vital for trying to conceive and maintain a pregnancy but is often not in balance with its co-partner - oestrogen.
It is vital to build up your body again after coming off of hormonal contraception, whether your cycles return regularly or not. You might not realise it but your vital nutrients are probably depleted and need to be regained to grow that little human inside of you into a healthy person themselves.
We strongly advise planning ahead and coming off of the pill a year in advance (at least) and thoroughly nourish yourself in that year before even trying to conceive. Think of the car on the drive again… it`s probably going to need new brake pads and discs, a fresh batch of oil and goodness knows what else (mechanical knowledge ends here!)
Your body is the same. A nutrient rich diet, low in sugar and stimulants, with plenty of saturated fats, minerals and vitamins. Yes … I did say saturated fats! That`s a whole different blog post though…
If you keep turning the key on that car that won`t start, you`re going to cause more problems…
Trying to conceive when your body is nutritionally and hormonally weakened will feel very disappointing if you get negative test results month after month. All that stress of going through that disappointment will cause further havoc on your adrenal glands and stress hormones will just complicate the whole tangle further, not to mention the stress that this can put on your relationship.
Wouldn`t it be better to get that car in good working order before you try to drive it? Take the pressure off of yourself and don`t even bother trying to conceive until you are in a better place physically.
So to wrap this up, what is my main message in this blog post?…
It`s a difficult decision to make and a journey that can be very bumpy. I know… I`ve been there.
If you need any help navigating all of this then please reach out…I can help you.
A woman`s menstrual cycle is like a barometer of her general health. We can tell a lot about how a woman is doing both physically and mentally through her menstrual symptoms.
Our bleed time is a time of release. We not only release our endometrium (our outer layer of womb lining) but we release all the emotional build-up of the month leading to that period.
If the month leading up to your period has been very hectic, demanding and emotionally taxing, you will feel it more at your bleed time. You may have an increase in cramps and discomfort, a heavier flow or indeed a missing bleed if it`s been particularly stressful. You may have more irritability in your pre-menstrual phase or feel more low in mood.
This is because when we are overwhelmed, the stress hormones that we release cause havoc with our reproductive systems and hormone health.
Think about it for a moment… If you were running away from a bear, your body wants to get your heart pumping strongly and your respiration to keep up. It wants you to move those legs as fast as you possibly can. It wants you to be alert enough to outwit the bear. The last thing it wants you to do in that situation is make a baby or sit down and eat a meal.
Your body diverts all its attention away from your reproductive hormone health, and your digestion. That`s why when you are living in a state of anxiety or overwhelm, you suffer from digestive problems and your menstrual cycles go a little wonky.
Yes, it`s most unlikely that you are going to come across a bear and need to run from it, but substitute that bear for anyone of the following and you are in the same situation :
Many of us encounter some or all of the above regularly and it has exactly the same effect. Your body will prioritise dealing with the situation that needs addressing and you will be living in a state of heightened adrenaline and cortisol, two hormones that you don`t want whizzing about in your body for too long because of their long term damaging effects on your health.
If you are not on any synthetic hormonal drugs (the birth control pill or the hormonal coil) your period will show you how you have been dealing with the previous month. It is a really valuable tool for your naturopath to discuss with you to assess how things are going. You can also be aware of this yourself and make changes to your lifestyle if you get a particularly uncomfortable bleed time.
When you do have your bleed, take a moment to mentally say goodbye to the stresses , arguments, self-doubts and emotional issues you have gone through in that month. Treat each cycle as a fresh start.
The way we think and focus has a massive effect on our hormonal health. Mindfulness is so popular because of the benefits it has on our adrenal responses. Whilst we are undertaking mindfulness activities, our attention is away from what has been bothering us and so we are giving our hormones a much needed break from all that cortisol and epinephrine that has been disrupting them.
So treat each period as a chance to re-birth yourself, to grow a new mind-set, to assess problems that need addressing and make important lifestyle and dietary changes. To distance yourself from anyone that has been causing you emotional upset or to lessen any burdens that have been put upon you.
There`s a reason why there`s an old saying about people “bleeding you dry”… Our periods are one of the first things that will show how we are allowing ourselves to be treated by others.
It`s late September and my house is smelling all lovely and fruity. That`s because I have a load of Rosehips in my dehydrator that I have picked this morning in-between the showers we are having this week, here in England. Honestly, it`s hard to know whether we`re coming or going this week. One minute we have blue skies, the next torrential rain. I`m sure it is timed everyday for 3pm when it`s time to go and pick up little B from School. Never mind...
Well, whilst the sun was shining I managed to get outside with my basket and snips and get a great haul of Rosehips. They are starting to get on the squishy side so if you are thinking about getting some, get them now!
When you pick your rosehips, you want the glossy red ones that are firm with a slight squeeze to them. They will go dull and lose their shine as they go past their best. They will mush when you squeeze them and go a brownish colour. Only get the ruby red ones.
The old advice was to wait until the first frost had sweetened them, but with our current warmer climate, they will be far too squishy if you wait for a frost in the UK. You can encourage them to sweeten by putting them in your freezer for a day or two at least before using them once defrosted.
Rosehips are so good for you in so many ways. Herbally, they are cooling, which is great if you have a fever but also have a calming influence. This means they are great for angry things like skin issues such as eczema or hives.
They are astringent, Stomach strengthening, great for diarrhoea, good for warding off coughs and colds (and also getting rid of them quicker), asthma, heart palpitations, immune system strengthening, mood lifting and nervous system supporting. They have great quantities of vitamin C in them which makes them an excellent choice to use as a supplement if you have any joint problems, cartilage issues (like Ehlers Danlos), osteoporosis and painful joints. This is because the pathway to create great functioning cartilage relies on having the right amount of vitamin C.
If you struggle with your immune system or are having immunomodulatory medicine or a condition where your immune system is compromised then you should explore them further also.
Rosehips have such an amazing amount of vitamin C within them that the UK Ministry of Defense looked into them during the war as a substitute for oranges (which were unavailable at the time)
It was found that the humble rosehip had 20 times more vitamin C than oranges!
The Ministry of Defense went on to get communities to gather rosehips across the UK and made rosehip syrup to be distributed across the nation to mothers and young children. People were taught how to make it and it was widely available to buy in chemists right up until the 1970s.
The Rosehip is grown on the wild rose bushes that you see in hedgerows. It is more commonly known as the Dog Rose. It was thought that the name "Dog Rose" pertained to the plants ability to heal the sufferer from the bite of a mad dog! It`s more commonly accepted that "Dog" was actually "Dag" and meant "dagger" due to the thorns and the serrated edges of the leaves.
It`s thorns can be quite brutal, so do be careful when you are foraging for the fruits. On the plus side, any medicinal plant with thorns is thought to be super - protective to the picker, both physically and mentally.
The rosehip is also supportive to our mood. It contains not only Vitamin C, but manganese, selenium, Vitamin K and B vitamins. All needed for brain health. Supplementing with rosehips can give you extra support with anxiety and depression by gently nurturing our nervous system.
Rosehips are pretty renowned for their ability to give us beautiful skin. Not only is rosehip oil extremely nourishing but the high vitamin C content is rejuvenating for the collagen in the skin. Rosehips are packed with antioxidants so will also go about removing all those free-radicals that can accumulate in our skin. They will also set about removing them all the way through your body if you consume them.
I love looking into the folklore and energetics of plants, I find it fascinating and usually the message that is being told can be linked to scientific studies that have revealed similar benefits.
In this case, when we work with the rose in general, it is said that we should think about wearing our own thorns. Perhaps you say yes too often to things you don`t want to do. Are you in the habit of self-sacrificing when you shouldn`t? Maybe you don`t stand up for yourself when you should. The rose is said to encourage us to have outward kindness and loveliness but also remember to protect ourselves by being a little more assertive.
It is also a good plant for those who are better at loving others than themselves. It can help you remember to find the good in yourself rather than looking for imperfections.
Looking at the evidence of the rosehip being supportive for anxiety, I guess this fits together nicely. Whether it does or not, they are good messages to listen to anyhow as each time we put ourselves last, our cells know about it!
Our immune response has been proven to react negatively when we are under stress, watch something that upsets us or generally feel like we are at the bottom of the pile. So put your thorns out a little... protect your emotions a little more, whilst retaining the grace and beauty of the rose and it`s fragrance.
So... what lovely things can you do with the rosehip?
Well... most commonly, people make syrups with it. It`s tasty and kids will usually happily take a spoonful. If you start taking a measure each day from the Autumn to the Spring, it will benefit them greatly over coughs and cold season. If you can double up with elderberry as well then all the better!
If you like making tinctures then that is an easy way of extracting their goodness and a glycerite tincture with rosehips would be great for kids.
If you prefer less of a sweet product, then try them in a tea. Rosehip tea is delicious and very nurturing. Let it steep for a good 15 minutes to get as much goodness out of the little hips as you can.
Herbal vinegars are also very good for extracting the phytonutrients so you could have a look into rosehip vinegar. You can use it as a dressing or dilute a little in water to drink.
More culinary recipes you can find are jams, powders and even ketchup!
Here comes a red flag alert so pay attention carefully to the next bit...
Rosehips are completely non-toxic but as you open them up, there are tiny little hairs inside, a bit like the ones on a cactus. You must remove them before making anything that you are going to consume. Do your research and look into how to do this - there`s plenty of tutorials out there on the internet.
The hairs are very irritating to the digestive tract and you don`t want them in there. Our digestive tract has enough to deal with already without having all those little hairs in their poking around. There are also little seeds that you need to remove so please be careful!
Ok.. warning over.
So what will I be doing with rosehips this season?
At the moment I am drying rosehips so that I can use them throughout the year. You can freeze them also, but I take up far too much room in our freezer with herbal products so I find jars of them to be convenient, and pretty to look at. I`ll be storing my dried ones for further use and making various remedies with fresh ones.
I will definitely be making syrups and tinctures and getting as much into my little girl and my family as possible. We choose to avoid the flu vaccine in our household so we will be fighting off any nasties with our usual routine of supplements and elderberry and rosehip. I`ll also be making rosehip oil to help with any skin issues and to use in my skin care routine.
I am without a kitchen at the moment as the building work is still happening here so no ketchups or jams for me!
You`ll have to let me know if you make any though how they turn out.
So Rosehips are wonderful, help with numerous things and are tasty and pretty. Go out and get some before they go mushy!
It`s late September in the UK and this week has been warm and sunny during the day, with azure blue skies and colder, crisper evenings. The leaves are beginning to change on the silver birch trees, but the other trees are still holding on to their green colours so far. There are ripening and already ripe berries everywhere I look. The blackberries have been pretty special this year. Some of them have been so big… absolute whoppers!
The blackberries are singing their swan song now, as they will be on the turn any day soon and destined to be eaten by the mice, birds and insects. The rosehips and hawthorn berries are ruby red and glistening their “come and pick me” skins in the sunshine.
It really is glorious.
I love this time of the year. I think it could well be my favourite… although I think I say that at the turn of every season.
There`s something about early Autumn where the land is so colourful and fruitful but the weather is still pleasant that makes it a treat to all the senses.
It gives a feeling of coming home to what we know… that the earth provides.
It reminds us that despite all the convenience of modern day living, not long ago in the grand scheme of things, people lived this way. Maybe a memory of a distant past stirs in us all as we feel nostalgia, wonder and awe and excitement at seeing all that the earth has to offer.
What I really love about this time of year is how it reminds us of life`s cyclical nature.
We all have cycles in our lives, regardless of gender. On the most obvious scale we can look at the seasons of our age -where we cycle through our childhood spring time years, our summer time early adulthood, our middle aged Autumn years and our old age in winter.
As a woman, we get to move through our own seasonal changes through our journey of menstruating. Our maiden years are represented by the spring time. We start our journey with menarche (our first bleed) and begin our fertile years. Our child bearing age of motherhood is like the ripening growth of Summer. Our menopause and next few decades are like the Autumn and our wise crone years like the winter.
On yet another layer, each monthly cycle can be akin to the seasons.
Our follicular phase- post bleeding is our spring time, our fertile ovulation phase- mid cycle is our summer, our luteal phase after ovulation – our Autumn and we bleed through our winter.
When we get outside and notice nature, there`s no wonder we feel connected to it. It has a pulse, a rhythm and an energy that we share.
As the seasons move through our house, as a family we tend to honour them and bring our attention to them. We decorate our home and pay attention to what is growing, or receding in the garden. We harvest what is ready and plant for the next part of the earth’s cycle. We have traditions that welcome the changes and bring love and comfort into our homes that will be remembered through generations.
The Autumn equinox is like the spring equinox. The amount of daylight and night is perfectly balanced. In the spring, we have anticipation for the summer at this point and look forward to the longer summer nights beginning. In Autumn, we begin to look inward, ready to rest, ready to explore the darker nights and what life holds over the winter.
It is a time of looking into our own lives and seeing what is out of balance and how we can address this to bring back our own equilibrium. A time to look at relationships, living conditions, our health, our life`s purpose… things come to the surface to be addressed as the Autumn nights lengthen.
It`s a time to prepare our house – our nest for winter. To bed down, to clean and organise it. To nest.
I thought that I would share some of the ways that we mark the week of the equinox in our house. The Autumn equinox is also known as Mabon. Take a look at my notes of what we will be doing and get some ideas of how you can welcome this new phase into your homes.
I encourage you to go and find some Autumn goodies and decorate with them. Put a few pinecones in a nice bowl on your table with a candle in the middle… or… make a display on your hall table with Autumn treasures. Maybe you could dry some berries on the stems and display them in a jam jar or put aside to make a wreath. Go out and gather and connect with who you really are.
If you lived in Australia, or the USA then you would probably know what a Naturopath is.
You would probably have known about Naturopaths since being young, and may even have a naturopath that you visit alongside your primary care G.P.
In the U.K, where I am based, Naturopaths are not as well – known. So… what exactly is one ?
Naturopaths have studied for many years to understand the human body. Instead of pharmaceuticals, naturopaths suggest natural means of getting well.
Naturopaths have studied biomedical science and will have years of training in clinical nutrition. They can do a huge amount of diagnostic testing, from thyroid checks to stool analysis... intolerance testing to hormone function and just about everything in between that can be assessed from bodily fluids.
Naturopaths use the body`s own innate ability to heal itself, under the right conditions. Naturopaths use nutrition, vitamin and mineral supplements and herbal and natural remedies to treat conditions. Some naturopaths use accupuncture and other forms of traditional medicine.
We believe in preventative care, where keeping our bodies in as healthy a state as possible will help to prevent serious illness and disease. This not only refers to the physical working of the body, but also the mind, as the body and mind are intricately connected.
Naturopaths work with the principle that our bodies work as a whole system and need to be treated this way, rather than isolated areas of the body. We look at the bigger picture and seek out the cause of what's troubling you by looking at what`s happening both inside your body, and outside of it.
If you visit a naturopath because you get headaches, your whole system will be looked at, from your digestion, to your hormones. We know that symptoms like headaches have a root cause that needs to be found in order to heal. We believe in supporting the reason for the symptom, rather than just relieving symptoms.
Digestive and gut health is a major focus of a naturopath. It`s basic science – if your digestive system isn`t functioning optimally, you are unable to digest your essential nutrients and this has a knock on effect all over your body… right down to a cellular level.
Naturopaths work with skin conditions, such as eczema, psoriasis and acne and often use it as a clue as to something else going on internally.
Other common problems that are supported are menstrual problems, Fatigue and low energy levels, disturbed sleep, headaches and migraines, joint health and mental health issues, such chronic stress, anxiety, and depression. Once a naturopath has identified an area of concern, they will work with their clients to:
Naturopaths in the USA are known as Naturopathic Doctors. Here in the the UK, we tend not to say the term Doctor, but instead use - practitioner, or just - Naturopath. They have completed the minimum of three intensive years of study and continue with their professional development by extending their areas of expertise each year. We never really stop studying!
Naturopathy is also known as Functional Medicine, it pretty much means the same thing. An increasing number of people are exploring naturopathy, often after they feel they've exhausted more conventional treatments or are frustrated at just having symptoms relieved when they have an intuition that there is something deeper going on.
Primary care G.Ps are often happy to work alongside a naturopath. The restrictions of budget on the NHS is as frustrating to G.Ps as it is to patients. Naturopathy can delve deeper into exploratory areas of symptoms than the NHS budget currently allows for. For example... If you get diagnosed by your G.P as having IBS, it`s most likely that you will have to just deal with it on your own after diagnosis. With naturopathy, we can look deeper into why you are having the IBS symptoms in the first place.
A good naturopath works hand-in-hand with more conventional practitioners, not against them — you can see both a GP and a naturopath, and receive naturopathic treatments without abandoning standard medical ones. If you have a serious condition, you need the backing of your G.P and health service behind you. There are certain conditions that a Naturopath will not treat and will refer you back to your G.P.
Naturopathy is not intended to replace conventional medicine, it is an additional level of health that can support you along your journey through allopathic treatments to find balance and wellness once again
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