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Nature Cures: the A to Z of Ailments and Natural Foods

Nature Cures: the A to Z of Ailments and Natural Foods

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Nature Cures: the A to Z of Ailments and Natural Foods

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2,512 pagine
24 ore
Pubblicato:
Feb 3, 2016
ISBN:
9781781610404
Formato:
Libro

Descrizione

Nat Hawes has spent 8 years researching and compiling this fascinating compendium of foods and their health-giving properties. Her sources range from scientific papers, libraries and university websites to extensive travel to research traditional approaches to healing - summarised in everyday language. She reviews both the health problems for which nutritional interventions are thought possible and the healing properties of the full spectrum of natural, non-processed foods and drinks. The book complements and is supported by Nat's internationally popular website www.naturecures.co.uk.
Pubblicato:
Feb 3, 2016
ISBN:
9781781610404
Formato:
Libro

Informazioni sull'autore

Nat H Hawes SNHS Dip (Advanced Nutrition and Sports Nutrition) has been researching the relationship between food, nutritional science and health since 2003. Originally prompted to do so by her father’s and friends’ health problems, her research rapidly broadened to embrace all aspects of nutritional health and she launched the website naturecures.co.uk in 2010 to share this knowledge. Since that time – and at the time of going to press – the site has received over 4.5 million visitors from all over the world and acts as a barometer of health concerns internationally.

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Anteprima del libro

Nature Cures - Nat Hawes

2015

SECTION I

A to Z OF THE HUMAN

BODY, AILMENTS AND

NATURAL REMEDIES

1. THE HUMAN BODY p 4

2. BLOOD, VEINS AND HEART p 11

3. BONES AND JOINTS p 49

4. BRAIN AND NERVOUS SYSTEM p 63

5. DIGESTIVE AND EXCRETORY SYSTEM, GALLBLADDER AND LIVER p 88

6. EARS p 138

7. EYES p 145

8. GLANDS, LYMPHATIC SYSTEM, PANCREAS, AND SPLEEN p 155

9. HAIR AND NAILS p 184

10. IMMUNE SYSTEM p 190

11. NOSE AND THROAT p 195

12. REPRODUCTIVE SYSTEM, PREGNANCY, CHILDBIRTH AND INFANT CARE p 200

13. RESPIRATORY SYSTEM p 233

14. SKIN p 248

15. TEETH AND GUMS p 265

16. URINARY SYSTEM p 271

1

THE HUMAN BODY

"It is far more important to know what person the disease

has than what disease the person has."

Hippocrates, 460–370 BC

The incredible human machine that has evolved amazing complexity, over thousands of years, works in harmony with all the organic and inorganic elements that surround it. It is also made up of all these things and uses many of them to carry out its internal processes. However, it can become overwhelmed; we often tend to poison it and spend a great part of our lives recovering from ailments that have been induced by toxic overdose, nutrient deficiencies and infections which, mostly, have been self-imposed.

In a healthy person, if the skin is cut open it will heal automatically. If part of the liver is lost, it regenerates itself. If a bone is fractured or broken it will begin healing itself immediately. Healing occurs naturally if the body is taken care of through its being given the right nutrients and through its not being repeatedly subjected to synthetic unnatural chemicals, heavy metals and damage.

THE AMAZING NUMBERS WITHIN THE HUMAN BODY

It is difficult to comprehend the enormous numbers involved in the construction and maintenance of the human body. The following shows the complexity of an average sized adult.

• The human body consists of 300 bones at birth, many of which fuse to become 206 as an adult, plus 642 muscles, 900 ligaments and 4000 tendons.

• The skin, spread out, would cover 16 square feet (1.5 m²) and there are approximately 250,000 hairs on the head.

• There are 1,500,000 sweat glands, which, if spread out on one surface, would occupy over 10,000 square feet (929 m²).

• The maximum sweat rates of an adult can be up to four litres per hour or 14 litres per day.

• There are 550 named arteries and 100,000 miles of blood vessels which could encircle the circumference of the earth four times.

• In 70 years, the heart beats 2,500,000,000 times and pumps 500,000 tons of blood around the body.

• There are 30,000,000 white corpuscles and 180,000,000,000,000 red corpuscles in the blood.

• The lungs are composed of 700,000,000 honeycomb-like cells, all of which are used in breathing; this is equal to a flat surface of 2000 square feet.

• The average adult at rest inhales and exhales seven or eight litres (about a quarter of a cubic foot) of air per minute which totals approximately11,000 litres of air (388 cubic feet) per day.

• The air inhaled is approximately 20% oxygen and air exhaled is approximately 15% oxygen, so about 5% of the volume of air is consumed in each breath and converted to carbon dioxide. A human being uses about 550 litres of pure oxygen (19 cubic feet) per day. Physical activity increases this number.

• Altogether 133 billion cubic feet of oxygen is required per day for the seven billion humans currently alive on earth, to breathe.

• The human brain uses about 200 kilocalories of energy per day, which is equivalent to the amount of power a 10-watt light bulb uses.

• The nervous system, controlled by the brain, has 3,000,000,000,000 nerve cells, 9,200,000,000 of which are in the cortex (outer layer) of the brain alone.

• Nerve impulses to and from the brain travel as fast as 250 miles per hour, which means a nerve impulse can travel six feet from the head to the toe within a hundredth of a second.

• Water is the most abundant chemical compound in living human cells, accounting for 65 to 90% of each cell.

• The human body can consist of anything between 65% and 90% water and the total amount is dependent on body mass. Infants’ bodies contain up to 75% water. The adult average is between 12 and 18 gallons of water.

• Almost three pints of saliva are swallowed every day.

• The stomach generates daily from five to 10 quarts of gastric juice, which digests food and destroys germs; this is equal to two gallons daily.

• The entire human intestine is 10 feet (3.04 m) longer than the body.

• The average small intestine is approximately 23 feet (7 m) long.

• The average large intestine is approximately five feet (1.5 m) long.

• The human body expels methane gas on average 14 to 23 times per day, totalling about two pints in volume, mostly through burping.

• The entire body is also made from the following elements: oxygen (65%), carbon (18%), hydrogen (10%), nitrogen (3%), calcium (1.5%), phosphorus (1.2%), potassium (0.2%), sulphur (0.2%), chlorine (0.2%), sodium (0.1%) plus traces of each of the following: cobalt, copper, fluorine, iodine, iron, manganese, molybdenum, selenium and zinc and even smaller amounts of aluminium, arsenic, bromine, lead, lithium, silicon, strontium, vanadium and many others.

• There are100,000,000,000,000 or 100 trillion cells in the human body but only one in 10 is human. Of these, 90% are bacterial and fungal microbes and often viruses too. That is more than there are stars in the galaxy.

• Every day the body generates 300 billion cells to replace those that die.

• It takes one month for the liver to replace itself and every seven years the entire body has replaced itself.

• Each eye is comprised of 130 million photo-receptor cells.

• Each cell in the human body contains 23 pairs (46 in total) of chromosomes. The largest, chromosome 1, contains about 8000 genes. The smallest, chromosome 21, contains about 300 genes. (Chromosome 22 should be the smallest, but the scientists made a mistake when they first numbered them.)

• There are approximately 23,000 genes, which make up only 3% of the DNA.

• For every human gene in the human body there are 360 microbial genes.

• There are two metres of DNA in the nucleus of every cell.

• One gram of DNA can hold about two petabytes of data, which is the equivalent of about three million CDs.

• Using the same amount of space, DNA can store 140,000 times more data than ferric oxide molecules, the substance which stores information on computer hard drives.

• A human possesses enough DNA, stretched out in a line, to reach from here to the sun and back more than 300 times, which is approximately 6000 million miles of DNA strands in the entire body.

• Cells are made of molecules. Molecules are made of atoms. There are 118 different types of atoms known so far.

• There are100,000,000,000,000 or 100 trillion atoms in an average human cell.

• There are approximately 7,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000 (seven billion billion billion) atoms in one average-sized human body.

• It is estimated that each cell in the human body contains about 100 times as many atoms as there are stars in the Milky Way. The Milky Way has 200 billion stars.

HUMAN CELLS

The human body is made up of over 200 types of specialised cells. Each cell is an amazing world in itself. The inherent nature of a cell is to regenerate to make good any damage and to reproduce, through cell division (mitosis) and planned cell death (apoptosis – see below), to sustain growth and to maintain the same number of cells in the body. The human body experiences about 10,000 trillion cell divisions in a lifetime.

A cell is the basic structural and functional unit of all living organisms, the building block of life. All organisms are composed of one or more cells. Single-celled organisms emerged on earth at least four billion years ago and their main purpose is to reproduce in order to ensure survival of future generations. All cells existing today are the product of a continuing process of evolution. Just as bacteria have, in recent years, evolved to become resistant to antibiotics, the human body cells are evolving to survive the worst damage that nature (or man himself) can impose.

During cell duplication about one in every million of the new cells produced in the body has an inherent fault. Cells that are abnormal or damaged beyond repair are programmed to self-destruct through a process called ‘apoptosis’, which makes cell damage irrelevant. When this vital process fails, the result can be anomalous cells replicating out of control and becoming cancerous tumours.

The body also includes stem cells which act as a maintenance system. Stem cells divide, through mitosis, and self-renew to produce more stem cells. Stem cells can differentiate into diverse specialised cell types such as ‘chondroblasts’ which produce a special secretion called ‘chondrin’ which actively builds and repairs cartilage. As the chondroblasts mature they become ‘chondrocytes’ which replace the damaged tissues, effectively repairing the wear and tear of the cartilage.

Cells have different life spans and millions die every minute with or without damage. Cell damage and cell death therefore do not cause illness, because the cells naturally reproduce to provide a fresh start. These and other cellular functions are the natural processes that keep the body healthy. The cells will continue to repair or destroy themselves as required and will reproduce to replenish themselves, as long as they are supplied with the essential nutrients to enable them to do this. Illness develops when cellular functions break down and is very often due to missing elements in the diet.

With all the intricate processes and vast numbers in mind, it is no wonder that keeping this amazing machine in perfect working order is almost impossible, especially because of the hazards that are constantly encountered with the advent of fuel-driven travel and the advancement of chemical technology. This has produced pollutants, toxins and biological mutations which the human body has not yet had time to evolve a defensive resistance to. For this reason, humans must take care to provide the right environment to cleanse and repair the system using natural means which the body can deal with expertly. It is important to know how much the body can withstand and how much of each nutrient it needs (and how often) and this is the challenge as every human body is unique.

CONVENTIONAL MEDICINE

Excellent as it may be for treating serious illness, modern medicine does not take individuality into account and tries to provide a ‘one size fits all’ bullet to fix common ailments. Very often it does not investigate the actual root cause of a condition but simply tries to relieve the symptoms. Doctors seem to have become reliant on pharmaceutical medicines as a first recourse as they do not have the time to fully investigate a patient’s symptoms, lifestyle and diet. Drugs can do much collateral harm, especially antidepressants, painkillers and sleeping tablets, and should, in my view, only be the ‘alternative’ treatment when dietary and lifestyle changes have not worked. Likewise, antibiotics should only ever be used when the body is unable to cope with an infection, and not just in case an infection might develop; antibiotics compromise the body’s natural flora and fauna and this can lead to many secondary health problems going forward. I believe patients should be given the choice of healing themselves with natural foods as these have multiple benefits, not just for the particular ailment being treated, whereas drugs can cause multiple adverse reactions.

The profit-led pharmaceutical industry inevitably carries out serious scientific research only on medicines that will bring in the highest returns, and certainly in the past there have been cases where they have not presented adverse test results to the doctors who are prescribing these medications. The patient may then not be made aware of the risks. In addition and more recently, ‘medications’ have been developed for people who are not actually ill but who are told that taking a tablet for the rest of their lives will ‘protect from future illness’, as in the case of cholesterol-lowering medications. How can such a statement be uniformly true when human beings are so individually unique? Furthermore, in this particular case, there is much research that shows high cholesterol is a marker for other health problems (such as hypothyroidism, p 181) rather than being the problem that in itself needs treating. This idea of ‘protection’ is a clever manipulation of people’s fears while actually causing immeasurable and unnecessary suffering to many from the ‘side effects’ of such drugs. The elderly are prime targets because, as their bodies age and break down, they think they have no choice but to take medications as they are not provided with the information they need about how foods and drinks can affect their bodies. I hope this book can address this lack of knowledge.

SIDE EFFECTS

The debilitating side effects of ingesting some medications over long periods are generally ignored until hundreds of people show signs of damage. In other words, people are being used as ‘guinea pigs’ to test some drugs for free. Side effect is a strange term to use for something that has actually induced a secondary condition while supposedly ‘fixing’ the symptom of another. (A little like that other ominous term ‘friendly fire’.) And then, instead of removing the drug which is causing the side effect, even more drugs are prescribed to ‘fix’ the symptoms of the secondary ailment. This may add further to the drug-induced damage that is being caused to the body (especially to the liver) of the recipient of these powerful medications – and still the root cause of why they became ill in the first place remains unresolved. Scientists have estimated that in 50% of human ailments, the root cause is the diet. It is very probable that many cases are also drug induced.

Synthetic tablets and capsules, injections and absorption of powerful chemicals through the skin, eyes, nose and lungs, bypass the body’s natural defences, which would otherwise quickly flush them out through vomiting, sweating profusely to try to expel them through the skin, or releasing extra fluids into the intestines to quickly flush poisons out through the anus (by way of diarrhoea) before they can do harm. This natural reaction to toxins explains why the side effects of some medications and chemical food additives are diarrhoea, fever, nausea, pain and vomiting. The body is rejecting and trying to expel the poison being forced into it. Some of these toxins are absorbed and stored in various places within the body, including the bones and the brain, and put unnecessary strain on the liver and kidneys. This can then cause serious problems many years later.

NATURE CURES

Nature, on the other hand, works harmoniously on a molecular level which scientists do not yet fully comprehend due to the complexity of reactions that take place between inorganic and organic elements and microbes in a world too small to be seen by the naked eye. The human machine automatically takes the elements it needs from natural foods and expels the rest. Interfering in this process can cause unforeseen problems and will continue to do so until humans have learned all there is to know about the millions of molecular processes taking place deep within the body.

VESICLES

‘Vesicles’ are tiny bubbles of fat which act as the living cell’s internal shipping service, transporting their goods to the exact destination requiring those goods. They carry material such as enzymes, neurotransmitters and hormones around the body and they can also fuse with the outer surface of the cell and release their contents into the wider body. They are crucial for the way the brain communicates with the rest of the body, the release of hormones and the correct functionality of the immune system. Without this precise organisation the cell would lapse into chaos.

When the vesicle system is defective it can be due to brain and glandular disorders, interference by synthetic chemicals or simply missing nutrients required for the chain of commands to take place. This is why consuming the correct nutrients at the right time is so vital. If any substances are missing in the diet and cannot be manufactured by the body, or if stores become depleted, these miniscule processes begin to fail. This then affects the more complex functions of organs, such as the liver, which cleans waste, excess fats and toxins from the blood. Then, like a ‘domino effect’, the system starts to break down, allowing pathogenic (disease-causing) bacteria, viruses and fungi to invade and proliferate, in turn causing further damage to the already weakened machine.

TOXIC SOUP

In order to remain healthy and disease-free, it is far better to try to avoid synthetic chemicals as much as possible and thereby retain the precise balance of processes constantly taking place within the human body. When this is not possible it is advisable to flush the body regularly through the ingestion of naturally cleansing plant foods. See Cleanse and Detoxify p 1041.

Intestinal flora within the human body have vital purposes which are often disrupted by regular overexposure to toxic substances. Living in an increasingly ‘toxic soup’ and ingesting pesticides, fungicides, herbicides, pollutants, powerful medications, recreational drugs, alcohol and synthetic chemical food additives, as well as the daily use of toxin-laden cosmetics, chemical cleaning products and tobacco (which are absorbed through the skin and breathed in through the lungs), all upset the fragile balance of these microbes and this allows pathogenic bacteria, yeasts and viruses to invade, take hold and proliferate. Eliminating the use of harsh chemicals in the home and avoiding synthetic cosmetics will reduce toxin build-up in the system. For natural alternatives see Natural Household Cleaners p 1049.

SELF-AWARENESS

The body is also at a disadvantage when poor-quality food has been ingested for a long period, especially if fast food has been over-consumed, which often contains too much salt, trans-fats and sugar or cheap refined foods with most of the health-giving nutrients stripped out. It is simply a case of moderation and balance. Over-consumption of any one substance, even water, can be poisonous and adversely affect the balance of nutrients and intestinal flora (micro-organisms in the intestines which aid digestion).

It can be very difficult to cut down or abstain from any unhealthy substance, the consumption of which has become a habit, be it alcohol, caffeine, drugs, sugar, salt, fried fatty foods or smoking tobacco. This is not helped by the easy availability of these substances or the aggressive marketing ploys of the producers and manufacturers. However, being informed about the dangers of constantly ingesting these substances can help to provide the strength of mind to protect the body (and those of loved ones) and will result in a longer and far more comfortable and ailment-free life and is the reason this book was written.

2

BLOOD, CIRCULATION AND THE HEART

Blood disorders and nutrient imbalances can be genetic, caused by an underlying disease or develop due to one or more of the following:

• INFECTION : Bacterial, viral, fungal and yeast infections can lead to deficiencies of minerals and phytonutrients in the blood and affect the immune system.

DIET : Poor diet and over-indulgence in alcohol, sugar, coffee, salt and processed foods can upset the balance of nutrients in the blood due to blocking nutrient absorption or depleting beneficial bacteria in the intestines.

DRUGS : Medications and many recreational drugs can cause an imbalance of nutrients in the blood, kill off beneficial bacteria and suppress the immune system as well as block the creation and absorption of essential minerals and phytonutrients. Some drugs attack human cells and organs, such as the heart, brain, liver and kidneys, and cause debilitating and sometimes permanent conditions. Some drugs artificially mimic processes that occur naturally in the body, which can make the body unable to perform these processes itself. Many of the side effects of medications can be responsible for causing blood abnormalities.

TOXINS : Dangerous toxins from air pollution, artificial food additives, powerful chemical household cleaners, cosmetics, pesticides, herbicides, fungicides and tobacco can have a debilitating effect on phytochemical processes, tissues and various organs when they are concentrated in the blood.

WHITE BLOOD CELLS

If a pathogen gets through all the barriers, such as the skin and digestive system, and causes an infection in the human body, a second line of defence is activated which involves the white blood cells of the immune system. The immune system responds to a particular pathogen to provide active or acquired immunity. The surface of every living cell is covered with molecules that give it a unique set of characteristics. These molecules are called antigens which are fragments of protein or carbohydrate molecules.

FIG 1 The blood circulation system

ANTIGENS

There are millions of different antigens and each one has a unique shape that can be recognised by the white blood cells of the immune system. The white blood cells then produce antibodies to match the shape of the antigens. The antigens on the surface of pathogenic cells are different from those on the surface of human body cells. This enables the immune system to distinguish pathogens from cells that are part of the body. Antigens are also found on the surface of foreign materials like house dust, pet hairs and pollen, where they can be responsible for triggering hay-fever (p 316) or asthma attacks (p 235).

If a pathogen enters the body, white blood cells quickly recognise its foreign antigens, especially if it has detected them before. This stimulates specific lymphocytes to grow, multiply and finally produce antibodies that will stick to the antigens on the invading pathogens and destroy them. If it has come across these antigens before the response will be far quicker and more effective, which is why acquiring immunity to infections is vital throughout life and also why sterile environments may impede this natural defence which the body gains through exposure to pathogens.

White blood cells, also called leukocytes, are produced from hematopoietic stem cells located in the bone marrow and are found all over the body. The common cold virus can lead to diseases like pneumonia if a person’s white blood cell count is extremely low and this shows the utmost importance of white cell production in the human body. These cells are grouped into different types, each of which is assigned a particular task:

• Neutrophils – defend the body against bacteria.

• Eosinophils – defend the body against parasites.

• Basophils – function in the inflammatory process and allergic reactions.

• Monocytes – kill bacteria and destroy damaged cells.

• Lymphocytes – play an important part in producing antibodies.

NATURE CURES TO INCREASE WHITE BLOOD CELL PRODUCTION

Almonds, asparagus, beef, beetroot, broccoli, carrots, cauliflower, cheese, eggs, garlic, ginseng, green tea, figs, fish, melons, milk, oranges, pumpkin, rabbit, spinach, strawberries, venison, watercress and yoghurt. Garlic contains a substance known as allicin if allowed to sit for 10 minutes after chopping or crushing. Allicin does not simply boost the production of white blood cells, but also flushes out various invading microorganisms from the body.

NUTRIENTS REQUIRED TO PRODUCE WHITE BLOOD CELLS

Foods rich in beta-carotene (p 883), vitamin A (p 967), vitamin C (p 981), selenium (p 1023) and zinc (p 1031) can help to increase white blood cell production. Zinc is one of the essential nutrients for proper functioning of the immune system as it acts as a catalyst and stimulates the production of white blood cells in the body. See also The Immune System p 109.

BLOOD, CIRCULATION AND HEART DISORDERS

• Anaemia p 15 .

• Arteriosclerosis p 30 .

• Atherosclerosis p 30 .

• Beriberi p 462 .

• Bleeding, internal and external p 17 .

• Blood clots and poor circulation p 19 .

• Chronic venous insufficiency p 21 .

• Deep vein thrombosis p 21 .

• Diabetes p 21 .

• Disseminated intravascular coagulation (DIC) p 26 .

• Essential thrombocytosis p 27 .

• Haemochromatosis p 27 .

• Haemophilia p 28 .

• Heart disease and heart attacks p 28 .

• High blood pressure p 37 .

• Heparin-induced thrombocytopenia p 42 .

• Hypercoagulable state p 41 .

• Hyperaemia p 276 .

• Hypernatraemia p 506 .

• Hypokalaemia p 276 .

• Hyponatraemia p 506 .

• Idiopathic thrombocytopenic purpura p 42 .

• Leucopenia p 44 .

• Leukaemia p 42 .

• Lymphoma p 43 .

• Malaria p 43 .

• Multiple myeloma p 43 .

• Myelodysplastic syndrome p 43 .

• Pancytopenia p 44 .

• Pellagra p 970 .

• Poor circulation p 19 .

• Polycythaemia vera p 44 .

• Portal hypertension p 44 .

• Scurvy p 44 .

• Sepsis p 44 .

• Thrombocytopenia p 44 .

• Thrombotic thrombocytopenic purpura p 45 .

• Varicose veins and phlebitis p 46 .

• von Willebrand disease p 47 .

• Wilson’s disease p 47 .

ANAEMIA

Anaemia, which means ‘lacking in blood’, is among the most common conditions affecting human beings. It denotes a shortage of red blood cells and haemoglobin (the red-coloured, oxygen-binding matter of blood), and often results from consumption of refined foods. Anaemia can result from reduced or low formation of red blood cells due to one of two principal causes: either defects in the bone marrow or an inadequate intake of iron (p 1011), vitamins (p 967) or protein (p 944).

SYMPTOMS OF ANAEMIA

The most obvious symptom which denotes anaemia is a discolouration (paleness) of the sacs underneath the eyeball. But a haggard look with lines of strain (premature wrinkles), pale or greyish skin and dull, tired-looking eyes are also symptoms of anaemia. Other symptoms include:

• Depression.

• Dizziness.

• Fatigue.

• Headaches.

• Lack of energy.

• Pale fingers, lips and ear lobes.

• Poor memory.

• Shortness of breath on exertion.

• Slow healing of wound.

• Weakness.

The blood flowing in the veins and arteries is really living tissue. Nearly half of it consists of red blood cells which carry oxygen to all the tissues of the body. Approximately one trillion new blood cells are formed in the bone marrow daily. The raw materials required in the production of these cells are iron (p 1011), proteins (p 944) and vitamins (p 967), especially vitamins B9 (p 975) and B12 (p 977).

The red-coloured matter, haemoglobin, is a protein composed of an organic iron compound called ‘haem’ and globin’, which is a sulphur-bearing protein that makes up 96% of the molecule. The formation of haemoglobin depends on adequate dietary supplies of iron and protein.

Red blood cells have a lifespan of approximately 120 days and are destroyed and replaced daily. Each person should have about 96% of haemoglobin (approximately 16 grams of haemoglobin to 100 millilitres of blood) and a blood count of five million red cells per millimetre. A drop in haemoglobin content results in anaemia and consequently decreases the blood’s ability to carry oxygen to the tissues.

FURTHER CAUSES OF ANAEMIA

• Heavy loss of blood due to injury, bleeding piles and heavy menstruation may also cause anaemia.

• A lack of the hydrochloric acid in the stomach needed to digest iron and proteins may also result in anaemia.

• Drinking coffee, emotional strain, anxiety and worry can interfere with the manufacture of hydrochloric acid in the stomach. See Coffee p 363 .

• Drugs which destroy vitamin E (p 985 ) or others which deactivate the nutrients needed to build blood cells, such as the B complex of vitamins (p 968 ). See Drugs p 368 .

• Too much alcohol can also affect the body’s ability to produce red blood cells. See Alcohol p 311 .

• Chronic diseases such as tuberculosis (p 244 ), when accompanied by haemorrhage, may also result in anaemia.

• If ingested in excessive quantities, foods containing tannins inhibit the absorption of minerals such as iron (p 1011 ) which may, if prolonged, lead to anaemia. In order to help prevent these problems, it is advised to drink tannin-rich tea between meals, not during. Foods rich in vitamin C (p 981) help neutralise tannin’s effects on iron absorption. Adding lemon juice to tea will reduce the negative effect of tannins in iron absorption as well. To learn more and which foods to avoid see Tannins p 959.

• Calcium, richly supplied through dairy products, has been shown to inhibit iron absorption by up to 50% and therefore iron-rich foods should not be consumed at the same time as dairy products.

INTESTINAL PARASITES AND ANAEMIA

Another little known cause of anaemia is intestinal parasites. Hookworm, pinworms, roundworms and tapeworms feed on the blood supply as well as on vitamins. Twenty-five hookworms can consume 15 grams of blood every 24 hours; a tapeworm can cause acute shortage of vitamin B12 (p 977).

SYMPTOMS OF INTESTINAL PARASITES

• A constant desire for food

• Dark circles under the eyes

• Diarrhoea

• Foul breath

• Itching around the rectum

• Restlessness at night with bad dreams.

To learn more and find many natural remedies that can kill and eliminate parasites see p 440.

ANAEMIA CAUSED BY CHRONIC DISEASE

People with chronic kidney disease (p 277) or other chronic diseases tend to develop anaemia. It does not usually require treatment except a healthy diet of natural foods. Blood transfusions may be necessary in some people with this form of anaemia.

APLASTIC ANAEMIA

In people with aplastic anaemia, the bone marrow does not produce enough blood cells, including red blood cells. A viral infection (p 531), drug side effect or an autoimmune condition (p 191) can cause it. Blood transfusions and even a bone marrow transplant may be required as treatments.

AUTOIMMUNE HAEMOLYTIC ANAEMIA

In people with this condition, an overactive immune system destroys the body’s own red blood cells, causing anaemia see p 15.

PERNICIOUS ANAEMIA (B12 deficiency)

Pernicious anaemia is an autoimmune condition (p 191) that prevents the body from absorbing enough dietary vitamin B12 (p 977). Besides anaemia, nerve damage (neuropathy p 498) can eventually result. Individuals who can no longer produce ‘intrinsic factor’ in the stomach to bind with B12 and make it absorbable must have regular B12 injections. High consumption of B12-rich foods can help to prevent long-term problems but will not resolve the condition. Pernicious anaemia can also be caused by low stomach acid and by ileostomy as B12 is absorbed only in the part of the small intestine called the ileum, and doctors often do not warn patients who have to have their ileum removed that pernicious anaemia may be the result. See Nature Cures for Low Stomach Acid p 135.

SICKLE CELL ANAEMIA

Sickle cell anaemia is a genetic condition that affects mostly people of African descent. Periodically, red blood cells change shape and block blood flow. Severe pain and organ damage can occur.

THALASSAEMIA

Thalassaemia is a genetic form of anaemia that mostly affects people of Mediterranean heritage. Most people have no symptoms and require no treatment. Others may need regular blood transfusions to relieve anaemia symptoms.

NATURE CURES FOR ANAEMIA

Consuming plenty of oily fish, such as anchovies, bloater fish, cacha fish, carp, cod, eel, herring, hilsa fish, jack fish, katla fish, kipper (smoked herring), mackerel, orange roughy fish, pangas fish, pilchards, salmon, sardines, sprats, swordfish, trout, tuna (fresh only) and whitebait, can help to prevent anaemia.

A nutritious diet which includes all the different colours of fruits and vegetables plus lean grass-fed organic beef, almonds, avocado, beetroot, brown rice, chlorella, coconut oil (cold pressed), eggs, free-range poultry, hemp seeds, psyllium husks (one teaspoon per day with two glasses of mineral water), rabbit, rape seed oil, red krill oil (daily), spirulina, venison and live organic yoghurt will provide all the nutrients required to reverse anaemia very quickly.

Raw juice therapy (p 1068) can help to remedy anaemia. The best natural foods to juice are: apricot, banana, beetroot, carrot, celery, prune, red grape, strawberry and spinach.

NUTRIENTS REQUIRED TO REMEDY ANAEMIA

When consuming iron-rich foods (p 1011), one should also consume foods rich in vitamin B6 (p 972), vitamin B9 (p 975), vitamin B12 (p 977), vitamin C (p 981) and vitamin E (p 985) every day.

Non-haem iron is found in tea and green leafy vegetables, like spinach and kale, and the oxalates (p 935) block the absorption of iron. To assist the body in the absorption of non-haem iron, eat some vitamin C (p 981) rich foods such as a couple of strawberries, an orange, tangerine, kiwi fruit or some mango at the same time. Adding freshly squeezed lemon juice to tea can help to resolve this too.

BLEEDING

If someone has an injury which is bleeding, bandage gently with any preferably clean material to hand but do not apply a tourniquet cutting off supply of blood to the extremities. Then lie the person down and raise the wounded limb above the heart to reduce blood flow. If an object is embedded into the wound do not pull it out as it could cause massive fatal haemorrhage. Instead, pack material either side of the object then bandage gently, applying a little pressure to the wound but allowing a finger to be able to be placed under the bandage when done, and again raise the limb above the heart and keep the patient warm. Look for signs of shock.

SHOCK

Shock may result from allergic reactions, dehydration, heatstroke, heavy bleeding, poisoning, serious injury (including spinal injuries) or trauma.

SIGNS OF SHOCK

• Dizziness

• Fast and shallow breathing

• Feeling faint

• Lips turn blue

• Skin turns pale

• Sweating.

TREATMENT FOR SHOCK

• Firstly, try to lie the person down.

• Elevate the person’s feet about 12 inches unless the back, head or neck is injured or a possible broken hip or leg bone is suspected.

• Do not raise the person’s head.

• Turn the person on his/her side if he or she is vomiting or bleeding from the mouth.

• Loosen restrictive clothing.

• Cover with a coat or blanket and keep the person as warm as possible.

• Keep the person still. Do not move them unless there is danger.

• Do not give them anything to eat or drink.

• Reassure the person until emergency medical help arrives.

BLEEDING GUMS

Bleeding gums can be a sign of gum disease (see p 265).

INTERNAL BLEEDING

There are several common causes of intestinal and anal bleeding. More information and natural remedies can be found on the following relevant pages.

• Anal fissures p 102 .

• Haemorrhoids p 123 .

• Bacterial infection p 374 .

• Crohn’s disease p 129 .

• Colitis p 128 .

• Food poisoning p 111 .

• Parasites p 440 .

• Reduced blood flow in the colon.

• Tumours (rarely) p 340 .

NOSE BLEEDS

Nose bleeds can be caused by various conditions such as:

• Alcohol abuse p 311 .

• Allergies like hay fever p 315 .

• Aspirin.

• Blood thinning medications.

• High blood pressure p 37 .

• Hormones during pregnancy.

• Impact or trauma on the nose.

• Inherited blood or nasal disorder.

• Lack of vitamin K (p 986 ) in the diet.

• Self-induced by picking, especially children.

• Straining during constipation p 108 .

• Rhinitis due to viral infection (cold) p 541 .

• Tumours (rarely) p 340 .

Because the nose is rich in blood vessels it can bleed very easily and is usually not something to worry about if it stops naturally. Nosebleeds can occur spontaneously when the nasal membranes dry out and crack. This is common in dry climates or during the winter months when the air is dry and warm from household heating systems.

TREATMENT FOR NOSEBLEEDS

• Never tilt the head back when suffering a nosebleed as this can cause the blood to run into the sinuses and lead to inhalation of blood into the lungs.

• Pinch the nose and lean forward slightly but do not lie down or place the head between the knees. The head should be above the heart at all times during a nosebleed. After about five minutes the bleeding should stop. Sit quietly afterwards to allow the nasal passage to scab over and begin the healing process.

• Avoid hot drinks or lifting anything heavy until the following day.

• An ice pack held over the nose can help to slow down bleeding by constricting the small blood vessels in the nose.

• Keep the mouth open if a sneeze happens when suffering a nose bleed so air escapes from the mouth and reduces the pressure in the nose.

• Do not strain during a bowel movement. Take a remedy for constipation instead (see p 108 ).

NATURE CURES FOR BLEEDING

Natural foods which can help to stop bleeding from the intestines and anus are: cinquefoil, citrus fruits, fibre, psyllium husks and radishes. A teaspoon of psyllium husks should be taken with two large glasses of water first thing in the morning.

Cold-pressed coconut oil or olive oil can lubricate the inside of the nose and stop it drying out, cracking and bleeding. Apply gently using a cotton wool tip. See also External Cuts, Wounds and Splinters p 252.

BLOOD CLOTS AND POOR CIRCULATION

Poor circulation, which can lead to blood clots forming, can be caused by poor diet, too much sugar, sitting or lying down for long periods, lack of regular exercise, obesity, high LDL (bad) cholesterol (p 32) and smoking. Blood clots can be devastating if they break off and travel to the heart, causing a heart attack (p 28), or the brain, causing a stroke (p 1108). A stroke can lead to paralysed limbs, organs and senses and a miserable life-time of disability and care; heart attack can lead to a lifetime of powerful medications which can cause many painful and debilitating side effects. Both a stroke and heart attack can be fatal.

If you are seated for any length of time (working, travelling etc) it is recommended to stand up every 20 minutes and stretch all of the leg muscles to avoid blood clots forming in the leg veins. This is especially important on longhaul flights due to the cabin pressure imposed upon the body for an extended time.

Poor circulation can lead to capillary and tissue death from lack of blood supply, which can then lead to bacterial infections and eventually gangrene. It is important therefore to rectify circulation problems as soon as possible after they occur.

Smoking tobacco adds to LDL cholesterol and plaque build-up, causing restricted passage through veins for the blood. Nicotine adds to this constriction of the veins, causing multiple problems, including a very high risk of blood clots forming after just 10 to 20 years of smoking. See Tobacco p 519.

Diet is particularly important. Poor nutrition, including an excess of sugar and additives derived from processed and fast foods, can cause sluggish thick blood which can in turn cause clots to form anywhere in the body. Being overweight causes pressure and constriction on the veins and strain on the heart, making it more difficult to pump blood effectively around the body.

NATURE CURES FOR BLOOD CLOTS AND POOR CIRCULATION

• A daily liver cleanser can help to restore balance in the blood stream. See p 1044 .

• Andrographis can help to stop the clumping of blood platelets, which is the clotting process that can lead to heart attacks.

• Butcher’s broom can help varicose veins and poor circulation in the veins. It contains anti-inflammatory and vein-constricting properties that are believed to improve the tone and integrity of veins and shrink the swollen tissue. It can be taken in tea form. The tea has a slightly bitter taste, so honey can be used to sweeten it. The tea can be made by steeping one teaspoon of the herb in a cup of hot water for 10 to 15 minutes. Butcher’s broom has also been shown to be effective when applied as an ointment or compress. NOTE: Butcher’s broom should not be used by people with high blood pressure or benign prostatic hyperplasia, by pregnant or nursing women or by people taking alpha blocker or antidepressant, monoamine oxidase (mao) inhibitor drugs. high blood pressure or benign prostatic hyperplasia, by pregnant or nursing women or by people taking alpha blocker or antidepressant, monoamine oxidase (mao) inhibitor drugs.

• Hemp seeds are a highly nutritious super food with properties that help circulation of the blood.

• Horse chestnut is good for poor circulation in the veins or chronic venous insufficiency. It is used to relieve symptoms such as swelling and inflammation in haemorrhoids and to strengthen blood vessel walls. Horse chestnut seeds or bark can be taken as a tea. It can also be applied externally as a compress. NOTE: People with an allergy to the horse chestnut family or with bleeding disorders or people taking blood thinners should not take horse chestnut. Only products made from the seeds or bark of the young branches should be used. Other parts of the plant are poisonous. Although uncommon, side effects have included kidney damage, severe bleeding, bruising and liver damage.

• Octopus is an excellent source of taurine (p 960 ), a sulphurous amino acid that helps reduce cholesterol in blood vessels, thereby preventing formation of blood clots in the body.

• Psyllium husks are particularly useful for digestive processes which help to provide the blood with all the necessary nutrients. Take one teaspoon of psyllium husks in a large glass of water or juice every morning. Other high-fibre foods (p 907 ), such as legumes, fruit, vegetables and whole grains, also lower LDL cholesterol in the blood.

• Red krill oil is rich in omega-3 fatty acids (p 904 ), which can help support the venous system.

• Turnips, garlic, ginger, cumin and turmeric thin the blood and prevent blood clots and arterial blockages.

• Tree turmeric is a blood purifier.

NUTRIENTS REQUIRED TO PREVENT BLOOD CLOTS AND POOR CIRCULATION

Vitamin B15 (p 979) has been shown to lower blood cholesterol, and improve circulation and general oxygenation of cells and tissues, and is helpful for arteriosclerosis and hypertension. Balanced levels of B15 and cobalt (p 1055), nickel (p 1017), vitamin C (p 981), vitamin E (p 985), vitamin B12 (p 977) and vitamin K (p 986) are vital for correct functioning of the heart and circulatory system as they all interact with each other. Coenzyme Q10 (p 896) is also vital for good heart function and is often lacking in the elderly or those taking cholesterol-lowering or blood-sugarcontrol tablets, like statins or metformin.

CHRONIC VENOUS INSUFFICIENCY

Chronic venous insufficiency is a condition where the leg veins cannot pump enough blood back to the heart and can be a sign of general weakness in these veins. Contributing factors are standing, lying down or sitting for long periods, being overweight, not exercising enough and smoking.

NUTRIENTS REQUIRED TO REMEDY CHRONIC VENOUS INSUFFICIENCY

Foods rich in rutin (p 954) can help chronic venous insufficiency by preventing venous clots plus this flavonoid acts on the circulatory system to strengthen blood vessels. Foods rich in rutin should be consumed along with foods rich in hesperidin (p 915), vitamin E (p 985) and vitamin C (p 981). See also Nature Cures for Blood Disorders p 26.

DEEP VEIN THROMBOSIS

Deep vein thrombosis is a dangerous condition in which blood clots develop in the deep veins of the legs, thighs or pelvis, causing swelling and pain. An embolism is created if the blood clot, or part of it, breaks off from the site where it was created and moves through the venous system. If the clot lodges in the lung, a very serious condition, known as pulmonary embolism, arises. If the clot travels to the brain it can cause a stroke (p 1108). If it travels to the heart it can cause a heart attack (p 24). See Nature Cures for Blood Disorders p 26.

DIABETES

Diabetes (diabetes mellitus, to give it its full name) occurs when either the pancreas stops producing enough insulin, or the body is unable to use the insulin it produces. Both result in glucose, the body’s fuel, not being absorbed by the cells and building up in the bloodstream. Insulin is needed for this absorption into the cells to occur.

High blood sugar, known as hyperglycaemia, produces the classical symptoms of polyuria (frequent urination), polydipsia (increased thirst) and polyphagia (increased hunger). There can also be dangerous low blood sugar without good control over blood sugar levels.

• Type 1 diabetes (insulin-dependent diabetes mellitus or juvenile diabetes) results from the body’s failure to produce insulin. It is generally an autoimmune condition where the body attacks its own insulin-producing cells in the pancreas.

• Type 2 diabetes (non-insulin dependent diabetes mellitus or adult-onset diabetes) results from insulin resistance, a condition in which cells fail to use insulin properly, sometimes combined with an absolute insulin deficiency.

The third main form, gestational diabetes, occurs when pregnant women without a previous diagnosis of diabetes develop a high blood-glucose level. It may precede development of type 2 diabetes. Other forms of diabetes include congenital diabetes, which is due to genetic defects of insulin secretion, cystic fibrosis-related diabetes, steroid diabetes induced by high doses of glucocorticoids. and several forms of monogenic diabetes.

TYPE 2 DIABETES SYMPTOMS

Being very thirsty

Blurred vision

Extreme unexplained fatigue

Frequent skin, bladder or gum infections

Frequent urination

Irritability

Tingling or numbness in the hands or feet

Wounds that don’t heal.

In some cases of type 2 diabetes there are no symptoms. People can live for months, even years, without knowing they have the disease. This form of diabetes comes on so gradually that symptoms may not even be recognised.

The present high rise in cases of type 2 diabetes may have many causes, but contributory factors include: low intake of fibre, omega-3 fatty acids, vitamins and minerals, causing an imbalance of phytonutrients and electrolytes; indulging in a diet high in salt, caffeine, sugar and animal fats; obesity; systemic toxicity due to food additives, fungicide, herbicide and pesticide use; low-nutrient processed foods; hormones and antibiotics fed to farmed animals; and a lack of magnesium and other minerals in the soil due to modern farming techniques. (As many as 25% of people with diabetes are deficient in magnesium (p 1014).)

Insulin and some oral medications can cause hypoglycaemia (low blood sugar levels), which can be dangerous if severe. Pancreas transplants have been tried with limited success in type 1 diabetes; gastric bypass surgery has been successful in many with morbid obesity and type 2 diabetes. Gestational diabetes usually resolves after delivery.

Doing as much as possible to control diabetes is important, such as blood pressure control, stopping smoking and maintaining a healthy body weight. Certain medications, such as metformin, taken by patients with diabetes can cause deficiencies of nutrients such as coenzyme Q10. To find out more see Drugs p 368.

CHARCOT FOOT SYNDROME

Neuropathic arthropathy (neuropathic osteoarthropathy), also known as Charcot joint, refers to progressive degeneration of a weight-bearing joint – a process marked by bone destruction, bone re-absorption and eventual deformity. If this process continues unchecked, it can result in joint deformity, ulceration and/or a major infection, loss of function and, in the worst-case scenario, amputation or death. Early identification of joint changes is vital in diabetics and any ulcers need immediate medical attention.

DIABULIMIA

Diabulimia is a condition caused by the diabetic patient deliberately skipping their injections of insulin in order to lose weight. This can have serious consequences causing the same effects as hyperglycaemia, such as irreversible visionary deterioration and diabetic ketoacidosis, which can be fatal.

HYPERGLYCAEMIA (high blood-sugar)

Hyperglycaemia is a condition in which an excessive amount of glucose circulates in the blood plasma. This is generally a blood-glucose level of 10+ mmol/l (180 mg/dl), but symptoms may not start to become noticeable until higher levels such as 15 to 20+ mmol/l (270 to 360 mg/ dl) occur. However, constant levels exceeding 6.5 mmol/l (126 mg/dl) can produce organ damage.

Glucose levels are measured in either: milligrams per decilitre (mg/dl), in the United States and other countries (e.g. France, Egypt, Colombia); or millimoles per litre (mmol/l), in medical journals, the UK and other countries. The ‘mmol/l’ can be worked out from ‘mg/dl’ by dividing ‘mg/dl’ by a factor of 18.

Glucose levels vary before and after meals, and at various times of day; the definition of ‘normal’ varies among medical professionals. In general, the normal range for most people (fasting adults) is about 4 to 6 mmol/l (80–110 mg/dl).

A person with a consistent range above 7 mmol/l (126 mg/dl) is generally held to have hyperglycaemia, whereas when a consistent range is below 4 mmol/l (70 mg/dl) they are considered to have hypoglycaemia.

In fasting adults, blood plasma glucose should not exceed 7 mmol/l (126 mg/dl). Sustained higher levels of blood-sugar cause damage to the blood vessels and to the organs they supply, leading to complications.

The following effects of hyperglycaemia can be resolved upon a return to good metabolic control, including proper nutrition and stabilised blood-sugars.

• Diabetic ketoacidosis (DKA) which can be fatal. Every episode of DKA is life threatening, or at the very least, is a significant cause of damage that will lead to future complications

• Excessive thirst

• Fatigue/weakness

• Headaches

• Inability to wear contact lenses because eyes are dry from dehydration

• Increased appetite, which is due to the body believing it is being starved, combined with decreased sensation of fullness. Both are a result of a lack of insulin, which is a satiety hormone, meaning it helps regulate food intake by providing a signal to the body when it has had enough

• Increased urine production/volume

• Insomnia, or, conversely, excessive sleepiness

• Lethargy

• Light-headedness/dizziness

• Mental confusion (‘brain fog’) and inability to focus

• Nausea/abdominal pain, vomiting

• Negative mood including depression, anxiety, irritability and general lack of motivation

• Poor vision, which could eventually lead to blindness due to diabetic retinopathy (see p 24 ).

• Poor wound healing.

HYPERGLYCAEMIC HYPEROSMOLAR NON-KETOTIC COMA

This is a very dangerous condition brought on by very high blood-glucose levels in type 2 diabetes; above 33 mmol/l (595 mg/dl). It is a short-term complication requiring immediate hospital treatment.

HYPOKALAEMIA

Hypokalaemia is caused by too little potassium (p 1020) in the blood, usually due to vomiting, diarrhoea, sweating and medications like diuretics or laxatives. It is often seen in diabetic ketoacidosis, where potassium is excessively lost in the urine. Since chemicals in the body are related in their metabolism, low magnesium (p 1014) levels can also be associated with hypokalaemia.

DIABETES AND ILLNESS

During an illness or infection the body will release extra glucose into the blood stream in a bid to help combat the illness. In people without diabetes, this is an effective strategy as their pancreas will release extra insulin to cope with the extra blood glucose. High blood-glucose levels can lead to dehydration, so fluids must be drunk regularly. Pineapple juice and coconut water can help the body to stay hydrated.

It may be tempting to not eat whilst unwell but this could lead to more ketones as the body may need to break down fat to make fuel. The presence of high levels of ketones in the bloodstream is a common complication of diabetes, which if left untreated can lead to ketoacidosis. Ketones, or ‘ketone bodies’, are three water-soluble compounds that are produced as by-products when fatty acids are broken down for energy in the liver. Two of the three are used as a source of energy in the heart and brain while the third (acetone) is a waste product excreted from the body. In the brain, they are a vital source of energy during fasting. Although termed ‘bodies’, they are dissolved substances, not particles. Ketones build up when there is insufficient insulin to help fuel the body’s cells. High levels of ketones are therefore more common in people with type 1 diabetes or people with advanced type 2 diabetes. See Ketones (p 452).

DIABETIC KETOACIDOSIS

Diabetic ketoacidosis results from dehydration during a state of insulin deficiency, associated with high blood levels of sugar and organic acids called ketones. It is associated with significant disturbances of the body’s chemistry, and usually occurs in people with type 1 (juvenile) diabetes, but can develop in any person with diabetes. Since type 1 diabetes typically starts before age 25, diabetic ketoacidosis is most common in this younger age group, but it may occur at any age. Males and females are equally affected.

The condition occurs when the body has no insulin to use and switches to burning fatty acids and producing acidic ketone bodies. These can cause particularly severe illness. Diabetic ketoacidosis may be caused by underlying illnesses, pregnancy, inadequate insulin administration, stroke, cocaine use or myocardial infarction.

While fat is being broken down for use as energy, waste products called ketones are produced. Ketones have nowhere to go except the blood. If they build up too much then the diabetic could die. A sweet body odour is one symptom, as well as breath that smells like sweet fruit. Other symptoms include excessive thirst, urinating more often than usual, vomiting, sudden loss of energy and confusion. This must be treated as an emergency and an ambulance should be called immediately. Symptoms usually evolve over a 24-hour period, with the first sign often being hyperglycaemia.

SYMPTOMS AND CONSEQUENCES OF HYPERGLYCAEMIA

• Confusion and sometimes even coma

• Deep, laboured breathing (called kussmaul breathing)

• Dehydration

• Vomiting.

Serious long-term complications of diabetes include: amputation, blindness, end-stage renal failure, heart attack and stroke, infertility and pancreatic exhaustion/failure (see below).

Amputation

Because hyperglycaemia leads to poor circulation and damage to the small blood vessels, there is often a reduced and inadequate supply of blood to the extremities. As a result, these tissue cells receive fewer nutrients, less oxygen and fewer white blood cells to combat infection. Combined with the fact that the immune system is weakened due to hyperglycaemia, the infection grows rapidly and develops into gangrene. Gangrene is the death of body tissues. If peripheral neuropathy has occurred, a person may not notice a wound on their foot because they cannot feel it, so the wound may develop into a foot ulcer, which becomes infected. Removal of the dead tissue is necessary to prevent gangrene from spreading and this may involve the amputation of an entire limb.

Blindness

Diabetes is the leading cause of blindness in adults aged 20 to 74 through diabetic retinopathy (retinal damage).

End-stage renal disease

This is when the kidneys have failed completely, and can no longer function on a level needed for day-to-day life. At this point there is a need for dialysis or kidney transplant. See Kidney Disease p 271.

Heart attack and stroke

Up to 80% of people with diabetes will die as a result of heart attack or stroke. The damage that occurs to the heart and blood vessels due to hyperglycaemia as well as having high blood glucose itself are risk factors for both. See Heart Disease p 28.

Infertility

In women, inflammation of the fallopian tubes can lead to scarring and blockages. In men, high blood-sugar affects their ability to repair sperm DNA when it’s damaged.

Pancreatic exhaustion and failure

Eating too many processed, sugary foods, such as sweets, biscuits, cakes, pastas and even breads, can cause an overload of sugar in the body. As the body breaks down these sugars, it does so at such a rapid pace it creates blood-sugar imbalances that can lead to diabetes. This rapid rise and fall of high to low blood-sugar levels due to diabetes leads to deterioration of the pancreas because of the need for fluctuating levels of insulin. Pancreatic exhaustion can occur after just a few years on a diet of processed carbohydrates and, if left untreated, will lead to pancreatic failure. However, switching to a diet of natural whole foods, losing any excess weight and taking gentle exercise can stabilise the blood sugar levels and, in turn, reverse the damage done to the pancreas.

NATURE CURES FOR DIABETES

• Three servings per week of apples (red), blueberries, grapes (black), pears and raisins significantly reduce the risk of type 2 diabetes as they contain high levels of anthocyanins. These fruits also contain naturally occurring polyphenols, which are known to have beneficial effects on diabetics’ blood-sugar levels. Replacing shop-bought, processed fruit juice with whole fruits can bring extra health benefits. Maqui berries, which can be purchased in pure freeze-dried powdered form, are one of the richest sources of these anthocyanins.

• Cooling pasta and other starchy foods down overnight and reheating before eating turns the starch into resistant starch, which then becomes beneficial fibre for the intestines and reduces blood-sugar spikes.

• Fig leaves have properties that can help diabetes. The diabetic needs less insulin when using the fig leaf extract. The diabetic should take the extract with breakfast, first thing in the morning. An additional remedy is to boil four leaves of the fig in some freshly filtered or bottled mineral water and drink this as a tea.

• Gymnema sylvestre is a herb which has been shown to slow the transport of glucose from the intestines to the bloodstream. It can also help to repair and regenerate the beta cells in the pancreas that produce insulin.

• Consuming two grams of ginger per day can produce significantly higher insulin sensitivity, which is beneficial to diabetics, as well as lower LDL cholesterol and triglycerides.

• Hemp seeds can lower blood sugar due to the high nutrient, fibre and healthy fat content that help in the quick absorption of glucose from the bloodstream and its conversion into energy. Therefore, sweet cravings will decrease and energy levels will increase.

• Prickly pear has been used in Mexico to treat diabetes for over 1000 years and is one of the most used natural products in Central America. A single dose of prickly pear can lower blood sugar in people with type 2 diabetes by 17 to 46%.

• Phyllanthus amarus herb is a very effective natural remedy for diabetes.

• Raw juice therapy can help diabetes. The best organic natural foods to juice are: apple, blueberry, grape, carrot, celery, citrus fruits, lettuce, pear and spinach.

• Swiss chard contains many important phytonutrients in its coloured stems and leaves which are powerful blood-sugar stabilisers.

• Octopus and squid are often considered an important addition to the diet for people with diabetes, as they are a rich source of vitamin B3 (p 970), which helps to control blood-sugar levels.

NUTRIENTS REQUIRED TO REMEDY DIABETES

• Alpha lipoic acid (p 874 ) works as an antioxidant in both water and fatty tissue, enabling it to enter all parts of the nerve cell and protect it from damage, thus relieving peripheral neuropathy which can be caused by conditions such as diabetes. Symptoms can include pain, burning, numbness, tingling, weakness, and itching.

• In 2008 it was found that the natural plant alkaloid known as berberine (p 882 ) was just as effective and much safer than metformin, the patent medicine most commonly prescribed to help re-regulate blood sugar in type 2 diabetes.

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