Stress and Anxiety

Naturally Ease Stress and Anxiety During the Pandemic


As the COVID-19 Pandemic evolves, so evolves the stress and anxiety for many of us. Not only do fears fester with ongoing uncertainty, but stress builds with limited outlets to cope due to restrictions - and physical distancing. There are fortunately many natural ways that we are able to navigate and cope with our anxieties. Nutritional and natural medicines offer great stress busting options that may be well worth your while to explore.


One of my favorite all time relaxing strategies is going for a walk. When walking, I try to go out in the elements as much as possible; on a trail, in the forest, country, or city park. Walking allows you to not only exercise, but meditate. Mindful walking is about enjoying your surroundings to the fullest. Listen to the birds, observe the trees, or become zen with your stride - essentially centering your thoughts to your steps. After about 20 minutes you will start feeling better. The fresh air, nature, and the activity will do you a world of good.


Another strategy is to simply ensure that you are eating meals that support healthy blood sugars. In other words, eat small frequent meals, rich in healthy carbs, healthy fats and proteins. This is great for supporting cognitive health, mental health, and coping with stress. You see, when your blood sugars fluctuate, the highs and lows will negatively affect your moods and ability to cope with stress. While stabilizing your blood sugars will enhance your coping abilities.


Be sure to consume food rich in omega 3 fatty acids. Omega 3's are the long chain polyunsaturated fatty acids that are considered essential for health. Research shows that these fats improve depression, cardiovascular health and cognitive function. So top up your intake of cold water fish such as wild salmon, or take a sensible dose of fish oils. Most health authorities recommend 2-3 servings weekly of a fatty fish to meet your daily needs. Vegan or plant based alternates include a tablespoon of ground flaxseed, or 1-2 handfuls of walnuts daily.


In terms of botanical medicines, herbs such as ashwagandha are well known for there adaptogenic properties, meaning that they help the body cope with all forms of stressors. Above and beyond the empirical evidence supporting this stress busting herb, there are many preliminary clinical studies showing strong therapeutic potentials.


A recent systematic review of clinical trials published in the Journal of Alternative Complementary Medicine 2014, showed that extracts of ashwagandha significantly improved Hamilton Anxiety Scale in two studies. Similarly, another study showed that naturopathic treatment with ashwagandha reduced the Beck Anxiety Index by 16% greater than psychotherapy. Further, another trial showed a 39% stronger reduction in perceived stress scale vs placebo. In other words, significant benefits have been found for dealing with both stress and anxiety when taking this remedy.


The authors of this review suggested more well designed larger scale clinical trials are warranted to explore its anxiety and stress reducing effects. If you would like to try this natural medicine, look for a quality extract, standardized to contain a minimum of 2.5% Withanolides, the active component. Look for a brand with a proven track record that follows GMP, meaning that it tests for purity and potency.


Also, double check with your natural health practitioner or nutritionally orientated pharmacist before taking if you are on medications or have a medical condition. Some medications that may interact include thyroid medications and sedative medications. A side benefit of this botanical is that it may help support immunity against colds, flus and other infections.


So don't despair, there are many natural strategies that may help you overcome stress and anxiety, and look at life more positively; or at least help you see the light glimmering through the clouds of pandemic distress.


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Naturally Soothe Your Bladder and Urinary Tract Infections

Naturally Soothe Your Bladder and UTI's


The main conventional treatments for a urinary tract infection (UTI) includes use of antibiotics and hopefully, fingers crossed, it won't come back. Common symptoms of UTI's include burning, pain, frequent urination, cloudy urine, strong smelling urine and discomfort when urinating. If your suffer with these symptoms best that you see your doctor immediately to test for a bladder infection and have it treated with antibiotics, or it may lead to more severe complications such as kidney infection.


As a complement to conventional treatments, and or to prevent UTI's, and hopefully reduce the frequency of bladder infections; there are some important natural approaches that may certainly help.  It is well known that dehydration may increase risk for UTI. So the natural first and foremost step, is to ensure that you are drinking adequate fluids throughout the day, primarily water, or non-caloric fluids such as herbal teas, and hold off on the sweeteners. Fluid requirements for most of us adults are 30-35 ml/kg body weight. So for an average adult weighing 70 kg, 2450 ml of fluids daily would do the trick.  Proper hydration is backed by studies, in fact a recent trial published in 2019 in the British Medical Journal showed that improved hydration reduced recurring UTI patients requiring antibiotics by 58% and hospital admission by 36% in care homes. 


It's common that many people that I have seen for UTI's have a history of poor hydration, so when they start to hydrate better, their bladders start to naturally feel better. The next step is to include two - three cups of cranberry juice daily. We have all heard of cranberry juice for bladder health and the evidence definitely shows potentials. A randomized clinical trial published in The Canadian Journal of Urology, 2002, showed that both cranberry juice and cranberry tablets significantly reduced the number of patients experiencing at least 1 symptomatic UTI/year (20%) compared with that of placebo (32%). The authors found that the tablets were the most cost effective option.    


If you are trying to keep the calories in check or limit sugars in your daily diet then a high quality cranberry capsule or tablet may be the best option. If the juice is what you prefer, opt for certified organic pure cranberry juice options with limited added sugars. Real cranberry juice is more tart in flavor but more concentrated in the flavonoids, vitamin C, proanthocyanins and phenolics for better bladder benefits.


Another natural sourced supplement that benefits bladder health is D-Mannose. D-Mannose is a simple sugar which appears to prevent bacterial adhesion to the urothelium. In other words it makes it difficult for bacteria to stick to the lining of the urinary tract. In a recent randomized clinical trial  published in the World of Urology, 2014, looking at 308 women with a history of recurrent UTI - those women taking 2 grams of D-Mannose powder daily for 6 months showed more significant reductions in UTI compared with the women on placebo. Only 15 of the 103 women taking the D-Mannose experienced another UTI, while 62 of the 102 women on placebo had another UTI. The authors of the study concluded that D-Mannose significantly reduces the risk for recurrent UTI in women, with minimal to no side effects.  


As is the case with any natural health product, when selecting a D-Mannose supplement opt for a product from a reputable company that follows strict GMP practices, and tests for purity, and safety. Now Foods (Now Brand) is an example of a company that leads the standards when it comes to testing, safety and innovative products.   


So for bladder health, use common sense and eat well, keep well hydrated, add some cranberry to your daily routine, and you may even consider a therapeutic dose of D-Mannose, especially if you need to top it up for added prevention against UTI's. Be sure to let your doctor or nutritionally oriented practitioner know that you would like to try these natural strategies, so they may provide the appropriate supervision and direction (such as customized dosing) when dealing with UTI's. Even though these natural approaches may complement conventional treatments, they are not a replacement for medical care when treating or preventing UTI's.                   

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