New Type of Migraine May Be Due to Low Iron

As a women’s health specialist, on a daily basis I see women who have migraines and some are related to their menstrual cycle and some aren’t. Many migraines are blamed on all sorts of things from intolerances, certain foods, alcohol, preservatives, hormones and whatever else people may think that is causing their head to pound.

I know I have successfully treated Migraines for years and it does require and individualised approach and a multi-modality approach of many things.

But there is a type of Migraine that I do see often and is easily treated with a simple supplement. I often see this is vegetarian, vegans and women whom have had prolonged, heavy menstrual bleeds. A new study has given this migraine a name and also confirmed a treatment that I have used for years.

In a paper published in the journal Headache, Anne Calhoun, MD, and Nicole Gill, DO, Carolina Headache Institute Durham, North Carolina, describe a new type of headache dubbed “end-menstrual migraine.”

Many women who have migraine toward the end of menstruation may be best treated with iron supplements, a new study suggests.

They believe that end-menstrual migraine is not hormonally mediated but rather causally related to menstrual blood loss, resulting in a brief relative anaemia with consequent migraine. In Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), this type of migraine was identified thousands of years ago and long known to scholars and doctors of TCM. It was called a blood deficient headache, or migraine, because is was often seen after a loss of blood, or those who were anaemic (blood deficient)

According to the researchers: “This is migraine which occurs at the end of the menstrual period — maybe on the last few days of bleeding or after the bleeding has stopped,” Dr Calhoun, who runs a menstrual migraine clinic, explained online. “It is not the same thing as menstrual migraine, which generally occurs on the day or two before menstruation or on the first day or two of bleeding and is known to be hormonally mediated. If migraine occurs 5 days or more after the onset of bleeding this is not classic menstrual migraine.”

The menstrual migraine is very common, is normally caused by the withdrawal of estrogen, and can be treated with hormone therapy, or naturally with hormone regulation. But, this new ‘end menstrual migraine’ is different. Women getting this type of migraine will not respond to hormone treatment, or hormone regulation. Some women have both menstrual and end-menstrual migraine. Up to 25% of women will have this type of migraine.

The best way to fix this type of Migraine is with iron supplements and iron rich foods. In Traditional Chinese Medicine they would use blood-tonifying herbs that are rich in iron.

With any type of migraine, you should always consult your healthcare practitioner to check what is causing them. Many times it can be a combination of things that require several different modalities of treatment to get the best results.

At Shen Therapies we can treat all types of Migraines and will help you get the best results possible and get your quality of life back. 

Regards

Dr Andrew Orr

 

 

 

 

Reasons You May Be Gaining Weight

Digital Bathroom Scale Displaying OMG Message

It May Not Just Be Your Food Intake

If you started taking in more calories than usual, or increase your high GI foods, or cut back on exercise, you wouldn’t be surprised if the numbers on the scale crept higher. Just remember that scales aren’t an accurate assessment of body fat and that muscle does weigh more that fat. It is the waist size that is the true measurement we want people to focus on. We should be more worried about waist gain, rather than weight gain.  But what if you’re doing everything the same as you always do, and your weight still goes up? It’s time to delve a little deeper into what else might be going on.

Lack of Sleep

There are two things that can affect your when you aren’t getting enough sleep and may have an impact on weight gain. First, if you’re up late, the odds are greater that you’re doing some late-night snacking, which means more intake of foods that may not be appropriate. The other reason involves what’s going on in your body when you’re sleep-deprived. This leads to running on adrenalin and increased cortisol levels as well. Changes in hormone levels increase hunger and appetite and also make you feel not as full after eating.

Stress

When life’s demands get too intense, our bodies go into survival mode. That fight or flight response kicks in and adrenalin and Cortisol, the “stress hormone,” is secreted, which causes an increase in appetite. Cortisol also makes you store fat. And of course, we may reach for high-calorie comfort foods in times of stress as well. This combination is a perfect breeding ground for weight gain.

Antidepressants and other Medications

An unfortunate side effect from some antidepressants is weight gain. Most antidepressants will give people a weight gain of around 3kgs per year of taking them. Talk to your healthcare practitioner about making changes to your treatment plan if you think your antidepressant is causing weight gain. There are natural options that can help with depression, without all the side effects. But never stop or change your medication on your own. Realize that some people experience weight gain after beginning drug treatment simply because they’re feeling better, which leads to a better appetite. Also, depression itself can cause changes in weight.

Steroids and Hormones

Anti-inflammatory steroid medications like prednisone are notorious for causing weight gain. All of the fertility hormones and hormone replacement drugs are steroidal based and cause weight gain too. Fluid retention and increased appetite are the main reasons. Some people may also see a temporary change in where their body holds fat while taking steroids.  Places like the face, the belly, or the back of the neck are all areas where you can see increase fluid retention. If you’ve taken steroids for more than a week, don’t stop them abruptly. That can lead to serious problems. They need to be tapered down slowly and weaned off properly. Check with your doctor first. Drugs That May Cause Weight Gain.

Several other prescription drugs are linked to weight gain. The list includes antipsychotic drugs (used to treat disorders like schizophrenia and bipolar disorder), along with medications to treat migraines, seizures, high blood pressure, and diabetes. Work with your doctor to find a medication that treats your symptoms and lessens side effects.

The Contraceptive Pill

Combination birth control pills (estrogen and progestin) do weight gain and fluid retention. There are other contraceptive methods that do not cause weight gain and fluid retention and have lower side effect profiles. If you’re still concerned about possible weight gain, talk to your healthcare practitioner.

Thyroid Issues

Thyroid issues can definitely be a big factor in weight gain. If your thyroid (the butterfly-shaped gland in the front of your neck) is not making enough thyroid hormone, you’re probably feeling tired, weak, and cold, and gaining weight. Without enough thyroid hormone, your metabolism slows, making weight gain more likely. Even a thyroid functioning at the lower end of the normal range might cause weight gain. Treating hypothyroidism with medication may reverse some of the weight gain.

Menopause

Most women do gain some weight around the time of menopause, but hormones probably aren’t the only cause. Aging slows your metabolism, so you burn fewer calories. We need women to realise this reality, which isn’t always easy to accept. Changes in lifestyle (such as exercising less) play a role in weight and waist gain. But where you gain weight may be related to menopause, with fat accumulating around your waist more than your hips and thighs. There are ways to control this in menopause too.

Cushing’s Syndrome

Weight gain is a common symptom of Cushing’s syndrome, a condition in which you are exposed to too much of the stress hormone cortisol, which in turn causes weight gain and other abnormalities. You can get Cushing’s syndrome if you take steroids for asthma, arthritis, or lupus. It can also happen when your adrenal glands make too much cortisol, or it could be related to a tumor. The weight gain may be most prominent around the face, neck, upper back, or waist.

Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS)

PCOS is a common hormonal problem in all women of childbearing age. It is the most common gynaecological disorder in women and is becoming more prevalent due to our high GI diets and being passed on through genetic and hereditary link. Some women with PCOS grow many small cysts on their ovaries, some do not and only have the syndrome and associated symptoms. The condition leads to hormone imbalances that affect a woman’s menstrual cycle and can lead to extra body hair and acne. Women with this condition are resistant to insulin (the hormone that controls blood sugar), so it may cause weight gain. Many women with PCOS are normal, or underweight too. Women with PCOS are also at higher risk of diabetes. The weight tends to collect around the belly, putting these women at greater risk for heart disease and diabetes.

Quitting Smoking

Quitting smoking is one of the best things you can do for your health. When you quit, you may gain some weight, but perhaps less than you think. On average, people who stop smoking gain less than 10 kilograms. You should stop feeling hungrier after several weeks, which will make it easier to help lose any weight you gained.

Rules If You Do Gain Weight

Rule 1:

Don’t stop taking any medications without first consulting your doctor. Recognize the importance of the drug you’re taking. It may be critical to your health. Also, something else may be causing you to gain weight. Your doctor can help you figure out what’s going on. There are also natural options that you may take also.

Rule 2:

Don’t compare yourself to other people taking the same drug. Not all people experience the same side effects on the same drug. Even if a drug caused someone else to lose weight, the same might not be true for you. Please do not Dr Google, or take advice off anyone other than a qualified healthcare professional.

Rule 3:

Remember that if the weight gain is just from water retention, it’s not permanent weight or fat. Once you’re done taking the drug or your condition is under control, the puffiness from fluid retention may ease. Stick to a lower GI diet in the meantime too. High GI foods such as breads, cereals, cakes, pasta, sugars etc, all make the body store fats and stop the burning of fats and cause inflammation.

Rule 4:

Check with your healthcare practitioner about another medication you can take. In many cases, your healthcare practitioner can switch you to another medication that might not have the same side effects. There are also natural options that you may be able to take without all the nasty side effects of your medication

Rule 5:

Learn if the weight gain is from a decrease in metabolism — from either a medical condition or medication. And if so, take the time to participate in metabolism-raising activities. Get moving!

Also realise that it is waist gain you need to worry about, not weight gain. Many people obsess unnecessarily over weight gain and the scales. When you start to exercise, you may in fact be putting on muscle (which is great) and this will equate to the scales being heavier. Fat does not weigh as much as muscle, so sometimes you wont realise you have actually lost fat and gained muscle. This is why waist measurement, not weight measurement, is the most accurate way to measure proper fat lose and proper waist and weight management.

fat-versus-muscle-1

 

A kilo of fat, versus a kilo of muscle

 

 

At Shen Therapies we can help you with weight management and more importantly waist management. We have specially tailored fat loss and weight loss programs to help you burn fats, increase muscle and do weight loss the correct way.

If you want to get healthy, feel great and look great for summer and years to come, please give the clinic a call and book in for a consultation.

 

 

A Special Kind of Pill for Better Health and Increased Fertility

Chill PillSeveral weeks ago I mentioned that I was going to talk to you all about a special medicine and a special kind of pill, that can not only help you with gynaecological and other healthy issues, but it can also help with fertility and being able to fall pregnant. I was going to post this up straight away, but then I had to think more about it, because I know when you mention this subject, people can take a message with the intention of helping the wrong way.

So what is this special pill that I am talking about and not yet available on the market?

Well, it’s called a “Chill Pill” and many of us need to be taking it often, or learning to administer it often.

Now, before anyone gets all up in arms about this and what I am about to say, I need you to listen and take the personal out of this and just hear the reasons why. I have been on the other end of stress, where it almost killed me, literally and I know how it then affected my health and then exacerbated pre-existing health complaints I had. So I am coming from a place of understanding, but also a place of wanting to help people through my own experienced personally, but also what I see in clinical practice daily. I was one of those people who kept saying that weren’t stressed, or that I don’t feel stressed, yet all the while my body signs were saying something different. Like any change we need to make, the first part is admitting there may be something wrong in order to enact that change.

The sad fact is that 9 out of 10 people report being stressed and 41% of people feel they experience unhealthy levels of stress. Stress and the body’s response to it, can affect people in different ways. Small amounts of stress that are easily resolved can help to keep us motivated and achieve our goals. The difference with long term or chronic stress is that it can affect the whole body in a negative way. It is the long grade, low grade stress (or busyness) that often creeps up on us and causes issues. Many people do not even know they are stressed, or that stress is a big factor in their current health issues, because they are either so used to it, or their health issues takes over and they cannot even begin to see the correlation.

The harsh reality of many problems in life is that we are ultimately responsible for our own well-being. Not all people will want to accept this, as it is so much easier to blame someone or something else for our dilemmas.

Nearly every problem we experience in life may have an element of stress to it bought on by ourselves and our busy lives, with many of us not consciously knowing it is at play. That means everything from a common cold to a long-standing illness. Everyone reading this will be by now squirming in his or her seats as the harsh reality of such a statement hits home. But the real problem with this is that it is true. I know I had to face this reality with my own health issues. We do cause many of our own health problems, or exacerbate them, either consciously, or subconsciously.

The problem with any health matter is getting people to become responsible for their own self. So much illness is completely preventable if we would just take responsibility for our own actions. It is so much easier to blame someone, or something else with comments such as “ I have tried everything”, “That didn’t work for me”, or “I’ve been everywhere and nothing can help me”. The problem with many of these statements is that they are all just excuses not to take responsibility for our actions. Maybe it isn’t that the methods you are trying aren’t working. Maybe it is simply a matter of nothing will ever work unless we make that all important change for ourselves first. Sure, some disease states are hereditary, or someone have a predisposition for them, but even so, once the illness, or disease is expressed in the body, it is our responsibility to do what we can to control it. Yes, sometimes it doesn’t seem fair, I get that, but sometimes you just have to admit there is an issue that isn’t going away in a hurry, or keeps being flared up, because you need to make some changes in your life to better manage this issue. I know this is something I had to learn myself. Boy did I fight the reality of this in the beginning too.

Stress is also a major factor in many couples not being able to conceive. Stress affects cortisol levels and the adrenals and this then has an effect on testicular and ovarian function. Stress can affect both sperm and egg quality and high stress levels also affects our hormones and our immune system. Stress also has an effect on the uterine environment, which can affect implantation, affect circulation in the uterine lining, activate high number of natural killer cells and also increase the risk of miscarriage. High stress levels also exacerbate, or fuel many gynaecological and men’s reproductive health issues too.

Looking for the ‘Off ’ Butt on

Stress can affect each of us differently. Perhaps you are suffering from anxiety, feeling worried, depressed or irritable; even feeling exhausted and overwhelmed can indicate you are under stress. As well as affecting your ability to cope, stress may also be causing a disruption to your health. When under stress for a length of time, you may be more susceptible to tension headaches, high blood pressure, frequent colds and flus, digestive disorders or a worsening of an existing condition. So you can see, there are many reasons why it is so important to manage your stress now, take that “Chill Pill” before it starts impacting your health and wellbeing.

How Resilience Begins

Some people seem to deal with stress better than others. That doesn’t mean that the rest of us need to continue suffering. The ability to increase your resilience to stress is something that can be learned and helped with talking to a counsellor, or psychologist etc. There are supplements, nutrients, and vitamins to support your body’s individual stress response system too. Many people are lacking key nutrients because of our highly processed diets now and we also know that gut health, and a healthy microbiome is integral to psychological wellbeing and our moods. Taking a strain specific probiotic and a prebiotic daily can improve gut health and improve your immune system and psychological wellbeing. Omega 3 oils, multivitamins, melatonin, St John’s wort, passion flower, chamomile and many other herbs and nutrients can assist with coping with stress and its impact on the body. Don’t buy vitamins or supplements off the shelf at the chemist or supermarket as these are so inferior and contain lots of fillers and additives that aren’t good for you. Always see a qualified healthcare practitioner to get proper advice on what nutrients and supplements are needed for your health complaint. By the way, Dr Google is banned in my clinic. Dr Google is not a reliable way to find out about healthcare products and illnesses. Only a trained healthcare professional should be giving you that advice.

Some people may be in such a bad state that medication may be needed to get them over their first hurdles and develop some resilience and coping skills. This should always be done in conjunction with talk therapy as well. To be honest, most of us could do with talking to a good counsellor or psychologist to get some coping strategies to deal with work, business, health, or life better.

Lifestyle Tips to Help Manage Stress

Managing your stress is essential for long-term health and vitality. With proper support, a variety of stress relief techniques can be introduced, in conjunction with a

healthy eating plan to help you stress less. These may include:

  1. Exercise: Daily movement is essential for brain health. Aerobic exercise including running, swimming or walking is proven to decrease stress hormones. Resistance exercise is also great for stress relief, burning fats, increasing lean muscle and keeping you healthy.
  2. Enjoy the benefits of spending some time in the sun. Being in nature for 30 minutes per day can help reduce stress hormones and assist recovery after a stressful situation.
  3. Meditation and/or yoga can help to increase relaxation whilst benefiting not just the mind, but also the body. Learning to unwind is important for reducing stress.
  4. Favourite pastime: create time for YOU! Do something that you love, like listening to music, enjoying a candle lit bath, watching a movie, or starting a creative project – these fun activities can help you become more tolerant of everyday stress.
  5. Get creative and express yourself in as many different ways as feels good; singing, dancing, and art projects are but a few ways to do this.
  6. Eat seasonally, fresh and organic as much as possible. Include protein at every meal with a variety of fruit and vegetables.
  7. Include good fats such as omega 3s from fish, nuts and seeds, and olive oil to help with brain health and mood regulation.
  8. Drink plenty of water, a minimum of eight glasses per day and avoid excessive alcohol, caffeine, sugar and salt.
  9. See a counsellor, or psychologist to get some coping strategies in place.
  10. Acupuncture has been shown to be as effective as medications for stress and equal to the effects of talk therapy in several major studies.

Stress Less for Good Health

Our modern lifestyle is inescapable. The stress of it however, is manageable. This is why I mentioned the magic “Chill Pill”. All people have to do is take the advice and administer it often. You aren’t born stressed and being stress isn’t a part of you. It is a learnt behaviour that can be changed. You can become more resilient to the symptoms and long term effects of stress through the aid of individualised lifestyle and dietary changes, together with nutrients, supplement and in some cases medicines that your healthcare provider can help you with. Talk therapy such as counselling and psychology is an integral part of leaning to cope with stress and dealing with it better too. Supporting a healthy stress response will allow you to feel more energised, resilient and ready to tackle life, so you can maintain the state of health and wellness that you deserve. I hope that helps everyone and please remember to take off those superwoman/superman capes regularly, allow space to just breath and shut off the mind and just have some you time. It is OK to just sit there and not feel guilty about it. People need to learn to switch off the “busyness” and close down the 100 boxes they have open. It is Ok just to sit in peace and quietness and not feel guilty about it. Actually, your body needs to do this to maintain your inner health, but also your psychological health.

When was the last time you allowed yourself the space to just be, just take some quite time and let the world pass by for a little while without worrying about it?

Take care and relax and don’t work too hard. We work to live, not live to work.

Regards

Dr Andrew Orr