Managing Cholesterol

Since February is the month of love, it seemed apt to talk about the heart. Not the kind usually drawn pierced with Cupids arrow, but the one that pumps blood around our body. While it may look more gruesome in anatomy text books than it does in the local card shop, the heart requires a lot of love, more than we sometimes give it.


The most common heart breaker on our doctors lips is cholesterol. Too much clogs up our blood vessels, making them narrower and less elastic, stopping blood from circulating as well as it should. This kind of problem in our plumbing puts extra strain on the heart, linking cholesterol to heart disease and the risk of stroke or heart attack. This is why our doctors monitor it so closely. After age 40 we are encouraged to go for an MOT to monitor our risk of heart disease. If our cholesterol is high we may be offered statins to reduce it and the associated risks.


Not everybody gets on well with statins. Side effects can include muscle cramps, joint pain and tiredness. This leads a lot of people to seek alternative methods of managing cholesterol, through diet or herbal medicine. At our clinic we help people with both.


Managing cholesterol isn’t just about reducing your intake of fats and sugars. The way to a healthy heart is as much about eating the right foods as it is about avoiding the wrong ones. Try to consume more omega 3 from oily fish or try walnuts, pumpkin seeds and linseeds if seafood isn’t quite to your taste. Add extra fibre! Swap out white bread, rice and pasta for their wholegrain counterparts. Enjoy oats at breakfast and bulk out meals with vegetables, beans and pulses rather than breads and potatoes.


Some people are genetically predisposed to high cholesterol and dietary changes alone may not be enough. One of the remedies we have used for many years is Solaray’s Cholersterol Maintenance, a combination of Red Yeast Rice and nutrients that support the liver, the main organ involved in managing cholesterol. Red Yeast Rice acts like a statin by reducing the cholesterol produced by the liver.


We once had a lady request a little time from her GP to try and manage her cholesterol on her own before resorting to statin medication. After two months using the Cholesterol Maintenance, her cholesterol dropped from 8.5 to 4.5 and both she and her doctor were very happy with the success. Since that day, we have regularly used Cholesterol Maintenance with similar success and many of our customers are sent in by friends, family and even some local GPs after expressing an interest in managing their cholesterol and the health of their heart.


If you are already using statins or have been told by your doctor that you need to start using them, you may be worried that you’ll have to live with any side effects that might come along with your cholesterol medication. You’ll be happy to know that this is not the case and symptom free cholesterol management is entirely possible. Statins deplete our levels of co-enzyme Q10, something every cell in our body uses to make energy. Restoring levels of Q10 can make a huge difference to how comfortable we are when managing cholesterol with medications.

My favourite success with Q10 and statins was with the owner of a beautiful collie dog who frequents our shop weekly. He was very upset because he already suffered with arthritis and found that his joint pain had worsened and his muscles had begun to ache since starting his cholesterol medication. Walking his collie daily kept him moving and stopped what he described as ‘his joints seizing up’, but since using the statins his energy was lower and he wasn’t able to keep up with his previous routine. After three weeks of supplementing with Q10 he popped in to visit us, letting us know that he was back to normal with a very happy looking dog by his side!


A healthy heart really does provide a wealth of benefits and is well worth that extra bit of love.


Can You Get A Bikini Body In 2 Weeks?

Running our own weight loss program has taught us a lot about fat. There are a myriad of issues that affect weight gain and loss (click here for our free questionnaire to see what your issues might be). The internet is full of quick fixes but are any of them real, safe or effective?

Is there any situation in which someone can actually achieve a bikini body in as little as 2 weeks?
Technically, yes.
Many remedies promising a super swift result are sold alongside a ‘colon cleanse’. This sounds very detoxifying, though the action is much more purgative than that. A colon cleanse is basically a laxative. Putting a laxative alongside a ‘weight loss’ product guarantees immediate weight loss, though I’m sorry to say it ladies, you don’t burn the fat off: you poo it out!

This is not necessarily a bad thing. If you are constipated then regaining proper bowel function will have numerous health benefits, including…..a flatter tummy! I have personally seen a lady lose 8Ib in one week leading up to her holiday, just by improving the health of her bowel and encouraging it to release what it had been holding. If you think you may be constipated have a look at this article before reaching for the laxatives. Laxatives are a short term fix and using them long term can cause problems.

So, if you are constipated the bikini body may be in reach (or at least a flatter belly), but is there hope for those whose bowels are regular? Yes! Solid waste is not the only thing that bloats the belly, gas can do it too. Can the problem be resolved? Yes! Can it be done in 2 weeks? Yes! Unless the problem is extreme, 2 weeks is usually the amount of time it takes to see results.

But how do you know if your middle weight is fat or if it’s all just hot air?

Gas bellies tend to fluctuate. They are flat in the morning and grow bigger throughout the day. Eating usually triggers it, the main culprits being bread and carbs, causing the button on your jeans to strain and leaving you feel bloated afterwards. It has the look of a ‘pregnant belly’ being round, frontal and stretched. It should also feel hard when pressed.

If this sounds like you, then you can celebrate the fact that dropping a dress size may be much easier than you thought. The gas is generally caused by too many unfriendly bacteria living in your gut that ferment after eating causing the swollen belly look. Remedies like Citricidal are powerful antimicrobials that kill the unfriendly bacteria. If the problem is really bad look to Yeast Cleanse which is a combination of ingredients specifically formulated for problems such as this. The important thing to remember is that killing off the bacteria is not enough. It’s a little bit like weeding your garden: if you don’t plant something else the weeds will only grow back. Replace them with friendly bacteria which will take up space along the gut wall and make it much harder for the bad ones to return. This step is really important because without it, the unfriendly bacteria can return in as little as a week or two. If you really want to blast your system, putting in a prebiotic feeds these friendly bacteria and acts like a fertilizer, letting them multiply much quicker. Some of our favourite choices are Probio Daily to replace good bacteria and Molkosan Vitality to feed them. At this point it is worth mentioning that unfriendly bacteria feed on sugar, including the sugars in fruit, fruit juices, wines and beers. Cutting these things out for a couple of weeks helps ensure that you get the swiftest results.

If you would like to try everything, take a look at our Beat Bloating Package which includes dietary guidelines to follow over the course of the two weeks.

If you don’t think that you are constipated and your tummy isn’t bloated then unfortunately the quick fixes on the market are unlikely to make a huge difference to your physique. But don’t despair! Weight loss can be easier than you think. Try this to see if we can help you.


Topical Methods for Treating Acne

beauty ~ only skin deep?
sunshinecity / Foter / Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic (CC BY 2.0)

Managing acne can be a difficult experience. There are a multitude of products on the market, promising clear skin and a pimple free complexion. Having recently opened the doors to our skin clinic, it seemed appropriate to discuss one of the most commonly talked about topics surrounding this problem: What do I use on my face?

Before answering that question, it makes sense to get a general grasp of what acne is, what causes it and what makes it worse. There are two aspects to this.

The first is an excess production of sebum (the oil) and keratin (skin cells) within the hair follicles. The overproduction of skin cells creates a plug within the hair follicle, trapping the oil within, along with any other debris and forming a pimple.  The key to stopping this is ensuring that the excess oils and cells are removed in time to prevent the plug, being rinsed instead from your face with your cleansing routine. To combat this, many people select an aggressive cleanser, one that strips the skin, leaving it feeling clean initially but can worsen the problem long term. After being stripped of its natural oils, your skins immediate reaction is to begin producing more oil to compensate, thus perpetuating the problem. The same can be said of exfoliants. Scratching the surface of the skin will encourage dead cells to be removed too early, causing your skin to produce more in an attempt to create a protective barrier.

The best way to cleanse the skin, is to use a gentle cleanser, one that gently teases dirt and dead cells from the follicles without damaging the living cells beneath. Cleansing Cream had been designed especially for this purpose. It contains ground almonds, which are pressed and rolled along the skin – NOT scrubbed! – to coax dirt out. If you have been using an aggressive chemical cleanser or harsh exfoliator, then Cleansing Cream is certainly the product to swap to. It will give your skin a break from being over cleansed and stop discourage overproduction of dead cells and oil.

The other factor affecting acne is the pH of the skin. The bacteria P. acnes live within the follicles, secreting enzymes to digest the sebum, which acts as a source of food for the bacteria. While this bacteria is not necessarily problematic, if it is allowed to multiply then the enzymes secreted within the follicles can cause damage to the cell walls. Damage leads to inflammation and inflammation leads to those angry red spots that feel sore to touch. So how can we discourage an excess growth of these unfriendly bacteria upon the skin? We reduce the pH!

Our favourite soap free cleanser for this job, is Salcura Antiac Spray It has been designed to help clear flare ups of acne, without the use of soaps to provide a more optimum pH for the skin. This should assist in discouraging the growth of a more healthy skin flora. Sea buckthorn is a key ingredient of Antiac and has the ability to reduce inflammation from the follicles and repair and sooth the damaged cells. If your acne is red and angry, this is certainly the cleanser to choose!

Once you have chosen a cleanser that is right for you, consider the moisturizers that you are applying on a daily basis. Avoid night creams that suffocate the skin, suppressing its natural repair processes while you sleep. Although it may sound counter intuitive, applying an oil to the skin during the evenings can discourage excess sebum production, since the skin does not feel stripped of its natural oils. Skin that is prone to acne has been found to often be deficient in omega 6 upon the surface, therefore restoring the omega 6 oil can be a sucessful topical treatment. Normalizing Day Oil and Divine Face Oil> would be excellent naturally sourced options. If you would like to try something for a short space of time to see if this would work for you, then our own Omega Balance Oil has been designed by us specifically for that purpose.

As a final tip, try adding a drop or two of lavender essential oil to your rinse water. It’s antibacterial and antiseptic properties are a great way to add a little soothing care to your daily regime. If you have any questions or tips of your own, please share them with us below or Contact Us as we would love to hear from you.



1954 - eleven megaton

When we speak about indigestion here, we will be referring to acid reflux, heartburn or any problem that causes pain within or around the stomach or ‘in the chest’ where the pain manifests. If these are things that you are troubled by and you are looking for ways that natural medicine might be able to help, read on! We may just be able to offer you some options.
Standard practice outside of natural medicine is to use antacids when treating upper digestive tract indigestion. They may be prescribed or bought over the counter, but no matter the strength their action is much the same. Antacids neutralise stomach acid, minimising the damage it can do to the sensitive mucous membranes outside the stomach. The walls of the stomach are designed to hold the acid, but occasionally they can become inflamed, weakened or ulcerated rendering them susceptible to damage by the acid contained within. In these cases, neutralising stomach acid helps to protect the already compromised stomach lining.
In natural medicine, we do not forget the importance of stomach acid. It begins the digestion of your food as well as killing off any bacteria that might otherwise cause problems. Therefore it is important to ensure that if you are taking antacids, your digestion is still working sufficiently and if you would like to explore alternative ways to manage indigestion, ask yourself the questions listed below.

1. Do you take antacids?
If your answer to this question is yes, then consider what steps you are taking to ensure that your food is still being properly digested. If the process of digestion is not working properly in the stomach then this could cause problems further down the digestive tract including griping pains, bowel problems and poor absorption. Sitting upright at meal times, chewing slowly and choosing cooked, easier to digest foods can make a big difference as well as taking a digestive enzyme. A digestive enzyme with your meals will ensure a proper start to the digestive processes and can help with a multitude of digestive problems.

2. Do you experience reflux?
Reflux is acid rising into the gullet and burning the walls of the oesophagus.
The best way to treat this problem is to tighten the oesophageal sphincter, stopping the acid from leaking. Now after watching a multitude of antacid adverts we are generally led to believe that indigestion is a result of too much acid within the stomach. This is not necessarily the case. In fact, the more acid within the stomach, the tighter the oesophageal sphincter becomes, preventing the reflux and containing the acid within the stomach. Our favourite remedy to encourage this action is A. Vogel Centaurium, a bitter complex designed to stimulate digestion, triggering reflexes such as the tightening of this sphincter and encourage the proper digestion of foods. One thing to be aware of however is that bitter combinations stimulate the production of gastric juices and so taking a protective agent alongside such a remedy will ensure no additional pain or damaged is experienced as the bitters get to work.
Our recommended protective agent in this case is slippery elm. This coats the oesophagus, providing a protective layer; almost like putting a plaster on the inside ensuring any acid will affect the layer and not the mucosa of the gullet. This then allows the mucous membranes to heal, safely beneath the layer of slippery elm, while the Centaurium stimulates proper digestive function and stop the reflux long term.

3. Are your symptoms associated with inflammation of the stomach, ulcers or strong anti-inflammatory drugs?
We have recently begun using a formulation called Carnozin – a combination of l-carnosine and zinc – that has been designed to heal and protect the lining of the stomach. Zinc is a very important healer and the l-carnosine carries it to any wound site within the stomach lining, focusing its healing powers on the affected areas. It also increases the production of gastric mucous, protecting the stomach from its own acid while it heals. Carnozin also deals with inflammation within the stomach, which in itself can be a source of pain. So in a nutshell, Carnozin reduces inflammation, heals the stomach lining and protects it from further damage.
Studies have shown that this combination of actions can help with gastritis and ulceration of the stomach lining. If the gastritis is caused by use of strong medicines, even after healing, continuous use of Carnozin will offer protection from these medications. As well as speeding up the healing of ulceration, Carnozin actually helps to inhibit H.pylori the cause of over 80% of gastric ulcers. For healing within the stomach, a zinc l-carnosine complex such as Carnozin would be an excellent addition to a healing regime.



Natural Treatments for Irritable Bowel

Natural Remedies for Irritable Bowel

Whether you have a diagnosis of Irritable Bowel Syndrome or if you are suffering from similar symptoms, there are various ways that you can help yourself. Diet, lifestyle and natural remedies can all have a huge role in alleviating the discomfort of diahrroea, constipation and the associated wind and bloating that come with the two. This month we are opening a free Bowel Health Clinic, offering advice to all those who suffer with what seems to be a widespread problem across the Western world. Below are some of the most common problems we see on a daily basis and the ways in which we treat them.

Irritable Bowel with Diarrhoea

– For the most part, loose stool are caused by either a tummy bug or bacteria that your body is purging itself of; or inflammation along the mucosa of the gut and/or bowel walls. If your problem persists for longer than a few days or if the problem is recurrent, it is more likely to be caused by inflammation than a tummy bug and there are many things you can do to help reduce this.

Eat a diet that is low in sugar, including natural sugars such as fruit and fruit juices as well as lagers, beers and wines. Sugar is pro-inflammatory and can aggravate any inflammatory condition. Instead fill your diet with plenty of spongy fibres that will absorb water, helping to slow transit. Spongy fibres include root vegetables, porridge oats, beans and pulses and ground seeds like flaxseed. Fibres like bran are generally quite scouring and can irritate the gut mucosa, quickening transit of stools. Choose foods that are easy to digest, like soups and casseroles and avoid raw foods that are more difficult to digest.

If you would like to try a natural remedy alongside adjusting your diet, we generally recommend the herb tormentil to our clients, alongside a probiotic to replace gut flora and improve the general health of the bowel. For a limited time we have put together a Healthy Bowel Package – for Loose Stools and Fast Track Bowels, a 4 week plan containing both these products as well as a digestive formula to ease flatulence and dispel wind. Dietary guidelines are included, advising on how best to eat during these 4 weeks for optimum health of your bowel.

Irritable Bowel with Constipation

– Improved greatly by addition of water and the right kinds of fibre if added to your diet regularly. Choose spongy fibres again, root veg, beans and porridge; while ensuring that you are getting 3 pints of water into your system each day. Fibre needs water to soften your stools and without it, you may still find them hard and difficult to pass.

Constipation is not always caused by a dehydrated bowel or lack of fibre. It could be caused by weakened peristalsis. Cola drinks, tea, coffee and a diet high in salt may deplete your levels of magnesium which helps to keep the muscles of the bowel wall working smoothly, ensuring they are strong enough to keep things moving. It is best to move your bowel every day, so if you are getting the urge less frequently than this, strengthening your peristalsis might help to relieve you of any bloated feelings around the belly and even help you drop a few pounds as the excess waste is eliminated.

Our Healthy Bowel Package – for Constipation, contains a 4 week diet plan, that involves consuming just the right type of fibres, regularly and throughout the day. In addition it contains a 4 week supply of magnesium citrate to strengthen your bowel muscles and improve regularity and a fibre formulation by Pukka to provide additional fibres to move things along, softening any stubborn stools and easing pain.

Irritable Bowel with Alternating Constipation and Diarrhoea

When the bowel is put under pressure from continuous blockages, the mucous membranes along the walls of the bowel can become inflamed. This inflammation as discussed earlier can cause diarrhoea, therefore if you find that you often switch between the two, treat it as you would constipation.

It is important to remember that persistent diarrhoea can have many causes and it is always best to check with your GP that there are no underlying problem that needs medical treatment. Similarly, any sudden change in your bowel habits should always be checked out by a qualified medical practitioner.

If you want to keep up to date with our Bowel Health Month, keep an eye out for our next blog post on our Beat Bloating Package and Wind and Indigestion Package. If you would like any specific advice on your digestion or bowel habits, please check out our Free Bowel Health Clinic, in which we are always available for advice.


Breakfast & The Sugar Question

Elle est de retour!
meehanf / / CC BY-NC

Last week Jenny wrote about the shocking amount of sugar that is found in our everyday foodstuffs, particularly our breakfast cereals. We also got some wonderful feedback on our Facebook page about peoples thoughts on the best healthy and unhealthy breakfast foods. So what is the key to getting the best nutrition out of your morning meal?

1. Check the packaging: If your breakfast comes out of a packet (e.g. muesli, cereal, yoghurt), check the information on the side for the ingredients and nutrition information. This is the first thing you should do. Get to know what you’re putting into your body at the start of the day.

2. Add protein: If you find yourself feeling hungry or sleepy mid morning and/or if you have problems losing weight, it is possible that you are not getting enough protein at the start of the day. Protein slows the release of energy in your body, keeping you fuller and awake for longer. Great protein rich breakfasts include eggs, beans, muesli or porridge with added nuts and seeds, peanut butter, cold meats or fish.

3. Can you add vegetables?: It’s not common place to see veg in a cereal bowl of course, but if you want to add an extra punch of nutrition to your breakfast then there are lots of ways to add in veg. Spinach and eggs is a well known combination, poached or fried; tomatoes, peppers, onion or celery all go great in omelette or scrambled eggs.  Beans or cooked tomatoes on toast. If you have a cold breakfast, would some fresh green leaves go well alongside it?

4. Don’t over do the fruit: Don’t forget that fruit is very sugary. It is natural sugar, but still sugar nonetheless. If you do have fruit, make sure it is no more that a portion (a handful or a small glass of fruit juice) and take care to balance it with protein based foods as well.

5. Hydrate yourself: A cup of tea or coffee is needed to wake us up in the morning, but they can effect the absorption of essential nutrients when taken alongside a meal. With that in mind, limit yourself to your wake up brew and if you are still left with a thirst, look to herbal teas or water to put the fluid back in your body. Coffee and tea tend to act as diuretics so they can leave your body feeling dehydrated if you rely on them as your main morning drinks.

If you have any questions about how you could up the nutrient content of your breakfast, contact us or post a question on our facebook page. We are always happy to give out ideas!


How NOT to Lose Weight – 5 common mistakes.

ms. independent
Darwin Bell / / CC BY-NC

Running a weight loss clinic has taught us much about the way people diet. We know what works and what doesn’t. Here are some of the most common mistakes we see and the first habits that we encourage people to change.

1. Counting calories – Much more importat than the amount of calories you eat is the type of calories. Calories are used to measure how much energy a serving of food will provide, but it is important to remember that not all calories are equal. For example, you may find that the calorie content of your chicken salad is equal to the amount in the small chocolate bar in your pocket – but it goes without saying that the first meal is the healthier! Think quality, not quantity.

2. Eating too much fruit – Fruit is lovely! It’s a really easy, tasty way of getting nutrition into our bodies. Unfortunately, it’s also full of natural sugars that while tasty, can be detrimental to weight loss if eaten in excess. When getting rid of unhealthy snacks, don’t replace them all with fruit. Dieters who do may find themselves bloated, windy and prone to IBS type symptoms. Look to vegetables for your 5 a day and choose protein based snacks, nuts and raw veggies.

3. Going hungry – Eating less does not mean you will lose more weight. What is does mean is that your blood sugar levels will drop each time you deny yourself a meal. Blood sugar drops will have you searching for sugary snacks or refined carbohydrates because these foods provide your body with quick release energy. Going hungry will make you miserable, your diet hard to stick to and your body very confused. Eat regulary, but eat healthy.

4. Buying low fat ready meals – Fat constitutes much of the flavour within our food and when companies remove it, they also remove the taste! Since nobody wants to buy tasteless food, common practice is to put the flavour back in using sugar. Sugar is the dieters enemy – providing a quick fix to cravings but resulting in more hunger, craving cycles and weight gain. Enjoy fresh foods and consume fats in their natural state but in moderation.

5. Fad diets – If the latest diet you are looking at involves complex regimes, forbidden foods, calculating points, or anything else that sounds like hard work – don’t do it. Even if you stick to it and you reach your target weight, it is unlikely you will maintain that kind of regime for the rest of your life. Dieting is not a temporary thing, it is exactly what it says it is – Your diet. It is the food you eat every day and it should make you happy. Choosing a long term healthy living plan that suits your needs is the best way to ensure that you will lose weight, keep the weight off and stay healthy.

If you would like to know more about eating healthy to lose weight, take a look at
our weight loss clinic
or contact us for more information.

By Nicola Parker