Adult Female Acne

 

Why some women have acne in their female years.

Women with adult acne are very often put on antibiotics over extended periods. However, as soon as the antibiotics is stopped, the acne returns. The use of antibiotics could have a serious affect as a recent US study of 10 000 women showed: Long-term use of antibiotics may be linked to a substantially increased risk of breast cancer. Furthermore, women who took antibiotics for at least 501 days continuously, face twice the risk over a 17-year period of developing breast cancer.

According to Dr Harald Gaier, this makes it far more important to establish why these women have acne in the first place, as opposed to just suppress the condition with drugs.

In his experience, the most common reason for women to have acne is the presence of ovarian  cysts. Dr Gaier explains that a cyst is a sac-like cavity filled with liquid or semi-solid material, rather like a haemorrhoid. Usually linked to polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS), enlarged cystic ovaries may occur in the absence of characteristic symptoms: hirsutism (abnormally hairy), infertility and scant periods. "They are found in women who have conceived and are not hairy, in infertile women with regular periods, and in those with ovaries that are small or normal in size."

When these symptoms are absent, acne associated with ovarian cysts can be diagnosed by transvaginal ultrasound and by blood tests.

Luckily, there is an alternative herbal remedy available. A mediterranean shrub, Vitex Agnus Castus has been well researched and proved to be effective. Mentioned in the writings of Hippocrates, Plinius, Dioscorides and Gales, this shrub has been used for disorders in the female reproductive system in classical times.

Extract of Agnus Castus (EAC) has a regulating effect on ovarian hormones and also reduces follicle-stimulating hormone production in the pituitary. It gently increases luteinising hormone and prolactin secretion. By using 30-40 drops of EAC in water once daily, excessive menstrual bleeding, unduly frequent periods, persistent acyclic haemorhages and similar menstrual disorders can be controlled. Premenstrual syndrome and quick-temperedness can be improved from the very next cycle. EAC is immensely valuable in the successful treatment of endometriosis as it promotes the secretion of LH which contributes to progesterone synthesis.

"My own experience has shown that fibroids situated within the walls of the uterus not only cease to grow, but actually shrink with EAC treatment lasting for eight months. This has been confirmed with ultrasound. I have also seen that within a month  of starting the EAC treatment, the acne visibly begins to subside in most cases and does not return, even after the treatment has ended."



High Bone Density and Breast Cancer

 

High bone density may signal increased risk of breast cancer.

For the past 14 months I have worked for two and a half days each week in Eire (at the Irish Centre for Integrated Medicine [I.C.I.M.]) where I do thermographic breast scans, which look for signs of angiogenesis, or early blood vessel formation well ahead of tumour formation.  More than one thousand thermographic scans have been undertaken.  These scans are often coupled with Bone Sonometry that accurately assesses any osteoporotic fracture risk, as well as with targeted blood tests that give readings of hormone levels and, when appropriate, also antigenic tumour markers.  It has been observed at the I.C.I.M., during osteoporotic fracture risk assessment, that women with medium to high risk results seem to have, surprisingly, a low risk of developing breast cancer. 

These observations have been confirmed in a ground-breaking rigorous study that suggests that older women who have low bone mass have a significantly decreased risk of breast cancer, but that higher bone density is associated with an increased risk of breast cancer. The study, led by Dr Jane Cauley of the University of Pittsburgh Medical Centre, followed the health history of 8905 women who were 65 years, or older, and without breast cancer. After six years, the study found that the women who scored highest on three types of bone mineral density tests (performed on the bones of (i) the wrist, (ii) the arm and (iii) the heel) were also more likely to develop breast cancer [J Nat  Cancer Inst, 2001, 93:930-936].  During the six-year period a total of 315 women (3,5%) developed breast cancer.  After adjusting for other risk factors that contribute to breast cancer (e.g. age, sedentariness and obesity, for instance) the investigators found that the risk to women with the highest bone density for all three skeletal sites was 2,7 times  greater than that for women with the lowest measurements of bone density for those three sites.  The principal conclusion was given as: “The results suggest that bone mineral density is one of the most powerful predictors of breast cancer .... among elderly women.”  Bone density may not be a cause of breast cancer, but it can be an indirect measure of relevant hormone levels, like testosterone, sex-hormone binding globulin, and oestrogen, that have been linked to both abnormal bone density and to breast cancer.

There is, it would certainly seem, good reason to believe that bone density tests will soon become part of the general diagnostic armamentarium for breast cancer screening.

Harald Gaier <www.drgaier.com>



Cellulite

 

This French word fills every woman’s heart with great dread.  It describes a distressing cosmetic defect.  The principal areas of involvement are the thighs and buttocks, but also, to a lesser extent, on the lower part of the abdomen, the nape of the neck, and the upper parts of the arms, of women.

In those areas there are three fatty layers with two levels of connective tissue between them.  The structure of female and male subcutaneous tissue differs fundamentally, as shown schematically here:

 Male:     Female:

Pinch test→       ^^^^^^^^^^
⊆∈⊆∈      Ω Ω Ω Ω Ω
⊆∈⊆         ⇑⇑⇑⇑⇑⇑⇑⇑

The uppermost subcutaneous tissue in men is thin. It has diagonal criss-crossing of connective tissue walls.  Also, the structure between the dermis and the subcutaneous tissue is thicker than it is in women.  By contrast, women’s subcutaneous tissue of their thighs and necks has large, upright (standing) fat-cell chambers, which are separated by arching walls anchored to the connective tissue of the skin above.  The difference can be seen when pinching the skin and the subcutaneous tissue of the thighs of men and women.  On many women one sees the ‘mattress phenomenon’ (with pitting, bulging, i.e. mattress-like undulations), whereas on most men the skin will only fold or furrow.  As women age, the thinning of the connective tissue structures furthers the development of cellulite and contributes to the granular feel, with a tightness and heaviness that accompany it.  The ‘mattress phenomenon’ in men is very rare and highly suggestive of an androgen deficiency.

Varicose veins are often found in conjunction with cellulite, and both conditions share a common cause: a loss of integrity in supporting connective tissue.

Risk increases with
Obesity
Age: cellulite is very common after the menopause
Sedentary lifestyle

Preventive measures
Maintain a slim subcutaneous fat layer by:
Maintaining normal body weight throughout life
Regular exercise

Expected outcomes
At least three months of continuous treatment is required before improvement in the skin’s appearance is noted.

TREATMENT

Diet
A health-promoting diet, along with regular exercise, will normalize weight and reduce stress on connective tissue structures by reducing the size of fat cells.  Consume a nutrient-dense diet rich in whole, unprocessed, preferably organic, foods, especially plant foods (fruit, vegetables, seeds, nuts, beans and other legumes) and cold-water fish, and low in animal products, refined carbohydrates and fats.
Weight reduction should be gradual, especially in women over the age of forty years.   A rapid loss of weight in individuals whose skin and connective tissues are already undergoing changes from ageing will often make cellulite more apparent.

Nutritional supplements
A high-potency multiple vitamin and mineral supplement daily, providing all the known vitamins and minerals serves as a foundation upon which to build an individualized health-promotion programme.  Any good multiple should include 400 μg of vitamin B12, and 50-100 mg of vitamin B6.  (Folic acid supplementation should always be accompanied by vitamin B12 supplementation to prevent folic acid from masking a vitamin B12 deficiency.  Moreover, vitamin B12 is best absorbed in sub-lingual form.)

Physical medicine
Slim women and female athletes have hardly ever any cellulite.  Lymphatic massage, skin brushing, and exercise should, therefore, be among the first choices of treatment.
Self-massage with String Glove, Loofah, and Herb Essences (the direction of any massage should always be toward the heart):
Combination for external use in such massage:
       Almond oil ………… 47 ml         Fennel oil   …………  1 ml
       Juniper oil  …………  1 ml
       Cypress essence … 0,5 ml
       Lemon essence   … 0,5 ml
Gentle massage of the affected area twice daily: small area 5 drops, large area 10 drops [Thomas Bartrum.  Bartrum’s Encyclopaedia of Herbal Medicine,  London: Robinson Publishing Ltd, 1998, p 105].

Exercise: 20-30 minutes of aerobic exercise a minimum of 5 days per week.

Cosmetic Formulas:
There are many botanical cosmetic formulas on the market, most of which, in several variations, have undergone long-term double-blind trials that have demonstrated them to be no more effective than placebo [F Nuernberger & F Schroeter.  Behandlungsergebnisse bei der sogenennten Zellulitis mit Verteilerenzymen im Doppelblindversuch,  Zeitschrift Hautkrankeiten, 1973, 48: 1009-1017]. 

Homoeopathy:
The symptomatology of Dichapetalum was established by G Maring in an extended proving on a group of men and women, all medical practitioners, using the double-blind method.  The following potencies were used: 3D, 4D, 6D, 15D, 30D, and placebo.  Several of the female probands (provers) produced cellulite of the neck [G Maring.  Allgemeine Homoeopathische Zeitung, 1960, 24:127].  Personally, I have found this remedy to be effective in such cases, but only when used in the lower potencies.

Herbal Medicine:
Aescin is extracted from Aesculus hippocastanum (horse chestnut).  In the treatment of cellulite, it has anti-inflammatory and anti-swelling qualities, and it decreases capillary permeability by reducing the number and size of the tiny pores of the capillary walls [P Manca & E Passarelli.  Aspetti farmacologici dell’escina, principio attivo dell’aesculusd hyppocastanum,  Clin Terap, 1965, 297-328;  and  F Aichinger, G Giss & G Vogel.  Neue Befunde zur Pharmakodynamik von Bioflavoiden und des Rosskastaniensaponins Ascin als Grundlage ihrer Anwendung in der Therapie,  Arzneimittel Forschung, 1964, 14:892].  Dosage: 10-20 mg of aescin three times daily.
An extract of Hydrocotyle asiatica (a/k/a Centella asiatica, the South African or Indian Pennywort) containing 70% triterpenic acids has demonstrated impressive clinical results in several studies in approximately 80% of patients, when taken orally in the treatment of cellulite.  Dosage: 30 mg of triterpenes three times daily.
A number of experimental studies have shown that it has a normalizing action on connective tissue metabolism, by stimulating the manufacture of important structural components of connective tissue known as glycosaminoglycan (GAG), without promoting excessive collagen synthesis or cell growth [C Allegra, G Pollari, A Criscuolo, et al.  Centella asiatica Extract in Venous Disorders of the Lower Limbs.  Comparative Clinico-Instrumental Studies with a Placebo,  Clin Therap, 1981, 99:507-513;  and F Marastoni, A Baldo, G Redaelli, & L Ghiringhelli. Centella asiatica Extract in Venous Pathology of the Lower Limbs and its Evaluation as Compared with Tribenoside,  Minerva-Cardioangiol, 1982, 30:201-207].
GAGs are the major components of the ground substance in which collagen (the main protein of connective tissue and bone) fibres are embedded.

Drug-herb interaction cautions
Aesculus hippocastanum (horse chestnut) plus aspirin or anti-coagulants:  it has been speculated that horse chestnut should not be taken with aspirin or anti-coagulants because the anti-thrombin activity of its hydroxycoumarin component, aesculin, might cause increased bleeding time.

Topical medicine
Cola vera extract (14% caffeine): Cola is a rich source of caffeine and related compounds which potentiate fat breakdown.  Topical application is preferable since effects are primarily local (use an ointment containing 0,5-1,5% Cola vera extract).
Fucus vesiculosum (bladderwrack): a seaweed with soothing, softening, softening and toning effects that has been used in the treatment of obesity since the 17th century, bladderwrack’s high iodine content is thought to stimulate thyroid function (use an ointment containing 0,25-0,75% Fucus vesiculosus).



Common Cold

 

The Common Cold

This upper respiratory tract infection is usually caused by bacteria or viruses (occasionally allergic reactions mimic this condition, too).  The resulting inflammation of the upper respiratory tract includes the larynx (laryngitis), the pharynx (pharyngitis), the nose and eyes (rhinitis, nasal congestion, sneezing, ocular symptoms, like watering eyes), swollen cervical lymph nodes and quite often also the paranasal sinuses (sinusitis).

Acupressure

Nasal acupressure, that was self-performed, was shown to give significant relief from nasal congestion associated with the common cold, compared with no intervention, in a randomized controlled trial[Takeuchi H, Jawad M S and Eccles R. Effects of nasal massage of the 'yingxiang' acupuncture point on nasal airway resistance and sensation of nasal airflow in patients with nasal congestion with acute upper respiratory tract infection. Am J Rhinol 1999, 13:77–79].

Sauna

A trial found that having regular saunas (about twice a week for six months) resulted in a lower incidence of colds [Ernst E, Pecho E, Wirz P and Saradeth T. Regular sauna bathing and the incidence of common colds. Ann Med 1990, 22: 225–227].

 Exercise

Three randomized clinical trials have demonstrated that following an exercise regime results in shorter and fewer infections [table 5.77].  Studies have clearly indicated that regular moderate exercise is associated with a lower risk of catching the common cold.  Also in these same studies, this favourable result is contrasted with a moderate (i.e. a to-be-expected) risk for sedentary individuals, and a very high risk linked to the intense training engaged in by elite athletes [Peters E M. Exercise, immunology and upper respiratory tract infections. Int J Sports Med 1997, 18:S69–S77].

Folk Remedies  -  Steam Inhalation

Steam inhalation of Matricaria recutita (German chamomile) was reported to have a dose-dependent effect on symptoms of the common cold in a placebo- controlled trial [Saller R, Beschomer M, Hellenbrecht D and Buhring M. Dose- dependency of symptomatic relief of complaints by chamomile steam inhalation in patients with common cold. Eur J Pharm 1990,183:728–729]. 

Homoeopathy

Four rigorous randomized controlled trials have investigated the therapeutic effects of various homoeopathic remedies as well as homoeopathic combinations.  Two trials reported similar results to acetylsalicylic acid, [Maiwald L, Weinfurtner T, Mau J and Connert W D. Treatment of common cold with a combination homoeopathic preparation compared with acetylsalicylic acid. Controlled randomised
single-blind study. Drug Res 1988, 38:578–582;  and Gassinger C A, Wuenstel G  and  Netter P. Controlled clinical trial for testing the efficacy of the homoeopathic drug eupatorium perfoliatum D2 in the treatment of common cold. Drug Res 1981, 31: 732–736] while from two placebo-controlled studies, there have been positive results [Diefenbach M, Schilken J, Steiner G and Becker H J. Homoeopathic therapy in respiratory tract diseases. Evaluation of a clinical study in 258 patients. Zeitschrift für Allgemeinmedizin 1997, 73:308–314;  and  Ferley J P, Zmirou D, D'Adhemar D and Balducci F. A controlled evaluation of a homoeopathic preparation in the treatment of influenza-like syndromes. Br J Clinical Pharmacol 1989, 27:329–335].

For allergy-induced cold-like symptoms:  Seven placebo-controlled randomized controlled trials of the homoeopathic remedy Galphimia glauca subjected to meta-analysis [Meta-analysis: Homoeopathic Galphimia glauca for hayfever-like symptoms. Forschung in der Komplementärmedizin 1996, 3:230-234]. Collectively, the results demonstrated that the remedy in a low potency is effective for both ocular and
nasal symptoms. The success rate of 79% is comparable to orthodox treatments, but, contrary to these, with minimal adverse events reported. 

Nutritional Supplementation

A systematic review of 30 controlled trials (>8000 patients) of high-dose (≥1g daily) vitamin C [Systematic review: Vitamin C for respiratory tract infection. Cochrane Library, 1997] found that there was no consistent evidence of a prophylactic effect from taking vitamin C. However, as a treatment, vitamin C certainly shortened the duration of colds by about half a day. A large-scale placebo-controlled randomized trial (n=725) reported a preventive role of supplementation with the trace elements zinc and selenium (the two in combination) in elderly institutionalized patients [Girodon F, Galan P. Monget A L, et al and the MIN. VIT. AOX Geriatric Network. Impact of trace elements and vitamin supplementation on immunity and infections in institutionalized elderly patients: a randomized controlled trial. Arch Intern Med 1999, 159:748–754]. Vitamin A demonstrates potent virus-killing ability [Reinhardt A, Auperin D and Sands J. Mechanism of viricidal activity of retinoids: Protein removal from bacteriophage 6 envelope. Antimicrob Agents Chemother 1980, 17:1034-1037].  Vitamin A should be taken under professional advice.

Phytotherapy

Three trials [Hancke J, Burgos R, Caceres D and Wikman G. A double-blind study with a new monodrug  Kan Jang: decrease of symptoms and improvement in the recovery from common colds. Phytother Res 1995, 9:559–562; Phytomed 1997, 3:315-318;  and  Phytomed 1999, 6:217-233] have suggested that Andrographis paniculata (Green Chiretta) taken during the first stages of a cold reduces the severity and
duration of symptoms compared with placebo. Tolerability was shown to be good in all these studies. A systematic review of randomized clinical trials of echinacea (Echinacea angustifolia, pallida, purpurea  -  three types of Cone Flower) extracts [Systematic review: Echinacea for upper respiratory tract infection. Cochrane Library, 1998] found positive results for both prevention and treatment of colds, but there are some minor inconsistencies in the presented evidence, possibly associated with publication bias. A subsequent randomized controlled trial (n=95) of treatment with echinacea tea reported a shorter duration of symptoms than with placebo [Lindenmuth G F and Lindenmuth E B. The efficacy of echinacea compound herbal tea preparation on the severity and duration of upper respiratory and flu symptoms: a randomized, double-blind placebo-controlled study. J Alt Compl Med 2000, 6:327–334].

What to do if you get colds and ‘flu’ despite having had the influenza vaccine ? 

A randomized controlled trial of patients receiving a ‘flu’ vaccine (n=227) reported that compared with placebo, ginseng (Panax ginseng) (100mg daily for 12 weeks) reduced the frequency of colds and ‘flu’ and increased immune activity [Scaglione F, Cattaneo G, Alessandria M and Cogo R. Efficacy and safety of the standardized ginseng extract G115 for potentiating vaccination against common cold and/ or influenza syndrome. Drugs Exper Clin Res 1996, 22:65–72].

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