Archive for the ‘Natural Alternatives’ Category

The True Power of Good Nutrition – January 2008

Tuesday, January 1st, 2008

This month’s case study is ‘Anne’ who came to the Clinic with recurrent colds and infections.

Anne’s story:

Since I reached my thirties I suddenly started becoming susceptible to coughs, colds and infections. I had always been quite well and hardly ever had a sick day until now. Not only was I getting these infections it was becoming increasingly difficult to ‘shift’ them in spite of regular trips to my GP! I was so fed up of feeling run down and realised that in spite of all of the antibiotics I was given it wasn’t helping me at all – in fact I think it was actually making me feel worse.

Every time I went to my GP it seemed that I was given a different antibiotic to try and then sent away with no real support. A new symptom that I started to develop was thrush which I had never experienced before and I had to keep using pessaries which cleared it at the time but it just kept coming back!

I was looking through a magazine and I read an article on ‘Boosting your Immunity Naturally’. It talked about foods to eat more of to provide your body with all the essential nutrients and specific vitamins, minerals and herbs that could be incorporated. It had a very interesting section on the ‘over-use’ of antibiotics and how in the long term we can become resistant to them and they don’t work. It also said that if an infection is viral then antibiotics would not work at all!

This really resonated with me. There was a contact number at the end of the article for The Dr Marilyn Glenville Clinic to book a consultation with one of the Nutritionists. I decided this was the best thing to do because I wanted to get a tailored programme rather than just taking ‘random’ supplements and trying to help myself!

My first consultation was one hour and the nutritionist took a very detailed medical history and went through my ‘typical’ diet. She commented on the lack of fresh fruit and vegetables and the abundance of ‘ready made’ meals and alcohol! I explained that because I worked long hours I had little time to prepare fresh food so I had to rely on prepared meals. The nutritionist explained how important it is to include plenty of fresh fruit and vegetables each day because they provide the body with immune boosting vitamins A, C, and E which are classed as antioxidants

These antioxidants protect the body from damage by ‘free radicals’ which can lower our immunity. She asked me to eat more vibrant coloured vegetables like sweet potato, butternut squash, red and green peppers and carrots which contain amazing amounts of these antioxidants. I was advised to eat more garlic as this has amazing abilities to boost the immune system because it is naturally anti-viral, anti-bacterial and anti-fungal. I didn’t realise just how unhealthy some of the prepared meals could be as she explained they are often high in salt and very low in vitamins and minerals. She gave me recipe ideas and menu suggestions which really helped!

The nutritionist wanted to check my mineral status, particularly concerned about my zinc and selenium levels as these are vital for immunity. I performed a Hair Mineral Analysis which was a very simple test I collected at home and then sent to the lab. It gave valuable information about my mineral levels over the last three months. The test picked up low zinc which is a vital mineral for the production of white blood cells. It was recommended that I eat plenty of seeds, especially pumpkin which are rich in zinc and shellfish – including oysters!

The nutritionist explained how damaging alcohol is on our immune system by stressing the detoxification processes and causing vital nutrients such as zinc, B vitamins and Vitamin C to be depleted from the body. Alcohol is also very high in sugar which adds more burden to our immune system. She advised me to avoid it altogether for three months to get the best out of my programme. I knew it would be difficult but I was determined to get my health back.

She also talked in depth about antibiotics and how they eventually have a damaging effect because we become resistant to them over time, plus they destroy our ‘friendly’ bacteria which she explained would be the reason for why I was getting recurrent thrush. I did not realise how linked our gut (bacteria) was to our immune system and that we need a good supply of the ‘friendly’ bacteria to keep our gut in good order and boost our immune system. The bacteria in our gut provide our system with our first line of defence against viruses and harmful bacteria.

The nutritionist also recommended me specific vitamins and minerals to boost my immune system which included a good quality multi-vitamin and mineral, an antioxidant complex with Vitamin A, C, E, selenium and zinc, together with a friendly bacteria supplement and the herb echinacea. Echinacea has been used by herbalists for years for it’s ability to increase white blood cell production and it is the white blood cells which keep our immune system strong by ‘clearing up’ the bacteria and viruses.

Within the first month I was generally feeling stronger and had not had thrush for the first time in about 12months! I was really enjoying the new way of eating and found that it wasn’t as difficult to cook from fresh as I thought. One of my favourites was roasted butternut squash with garlic and olive oil in the oven which was so easy and tastes delicious!

Six months on and not a cold in sight and I was feeling great! I had not even had a day off work! All my friends and colleagues commented on how well I looked and asked what I was doing! I hadn’t even been near the GP’s surgery! I continue to eat well and take all my supplements and am really motivated to keep it up to keep strong and healthy in the long term. I do have alcohol, but occasionally rather than every day as before. In fact when I do drink now I feel very lethargic and find it then triggers my thrush so that’s motivation in itself not to drink!

All I can say is I wish I’d found the Dr Marilyn Glenville Clinic sooner.

Marilyn’s comments:

Anne’s story is a perfect example of how important a healthy diet is to boost our immune system and a few simple changes can make such an enormous difference. We see it all too often where people are given antibiotics as a ‘blanket’ treatment and ultimately they don’t work and can in fact create more health problems as we have seen with Anne.

This time of the year it is increasingly important to think about eating to nourish your immune system with coughs and colds being more prevalent. If this story resonates with you and you are forever coughing and sneezing and seem to catch everything around you, you may like to think about seeing one of my nutritionists at the clinic.

If you are interested in having the test mentioned here please see the resources page.

Hypericum: A closer look at St John’s Wort

Tuesday, January 1st, 2008

St John’s wort (hypericum) is a short, yellow-flowering, wild-growing plant native to all parts of Britain and the majority of mainland Europe, western Asia and North Africa, growing prolifically in these areas. The name St. John probably refers to John the Baptist, whom tradition said was born on the summer solstice. It was claimed that the red spots visible on the underside of some of the herb’s leaves symbolised the blood of St. John, who was beheaded by Herod.

Hypericum has been used for centuries as a medicinal herb. The renowned Greek herbalists of the 1st century – Pliny, Discorides and Hippocrates – all used this herb, while the ancient Greek scholar, Galen, described it as ‘the antidote to intestinal worms.’ Today the herb St John’s wort is made into capsules and other types of preparations and it has recently become an extremely popular natural treatment for depression.

How does hypericum work?

St John’s wort contains many different substances. Some are thought to be the active ingredients. How these chemicals actually work in the body is not clear. It is thought that they may alter the balance of some of the chemicals in the brain (neurotransmitters) such as serotonin, dopamine, and gamma aminobutyric acid (GABA). Alterations in the balance of these neurotransmitters are thought to play some part in causing depression.

How effective is St John’s wort?

In Germany, where the majority of clinical research has been conducted, it is prescribed 50% of the time for mild to moderate depression. In comparison, Prozac is only prescribed 2% of the time; In the British Journal of Medicine twenty-three separate clinical trials have been published concerning Hypericum; And in the United States, the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) is planning studies of its own. The general consensus seems to be that Hypericum is a promising treatment for mild to moderate depression. However for severe depression and cases of bipolar disorder Hypericum is not considered effective.

How quickly does St John’s wort work?

Findings suggest that 900 mg of St. John’s wort (450 mg two times daily or 300 mg three times daily) is needed to reduce symptoms of depression. Like prescription antidepressants, it takes 2-4 weeks for the effect of St John’s wort to build up fully.

Is it safe?

Some reported side effects from St John’s wort have been dry mouth, dizziness and increased sensitivity to sunlight.

St John’s wort should be taken with care if you are already on medication. So you should not take it if you are taking warfarin, cyclosporin, oral contraceptives, anticonvulsants, digoxin, theophylline, or certain anti-HIV drugs. This is because it may reduce the effect of these drugs. You should not take it at the same time as taking an SSRI antidepressant (selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor) or a triptan drugs used for migraine (such as sumatriptan). Also, you should not take St John’s wort if you are pregnant or breastfeeding as it has not been proved to be safe in these situations.

The bottom line:

Hypericum is suitable for boosting mood and calming those who are anxious, but it should not be used for anything more than mild to moderate depression or states of anxiety.

(I use a good one in the clinic which contains around 300mg per capsule).

Time for tea

Tuesday, January 1st, 2008

Whether it is to revive flagging spirits or cheer you up the British like nothing better than a good cup of tea. New research is proving that it can positively benefit your health but some teas are better than others.


Green tea: Green tea is a rich source of vitamin C – one large cup has the same amount as a glass of orange juice.  It also contains anti-inflammatory, antiviral and antibacterial properties to help fight gingivitis, gum disease, bad breath and flu.


Green tea is high in antioxidants to help ward off cancer and to protect against heart disease by lowering cholesterol and blood pressure. One study of 512 patients in Fukuoka City, Japan, showed that green tea could prevent hardening of the arteries. Another study of Japanese workers found that those who drank one cup of green tea daily saw a significant drop in cholesterol. And if all that wasn’t enough researchers have also found that green tea may also help boost a woman’s chances of conceiving and be a weight loss aid because it can help boost metabolism (fat burning).  (The NutriPlus supplement I use as part of the ‘Lose Your Belly’ programme contains green tea extract).


Tea tip: Infuse loose leaves in a pot to get the fullest flavour.


White tea: More research needs to be done on this rare and often expensive tea but it contains exceptionally high levels of cancer fighting antioxidants.


Tea tip: Try brewing in a glass or china pot for the best flavour.


Red bush tea or Rooibos: Red bush tea has anticancer, antiviral, anti inflammatory and antibacterial properties. Studies at Okayama University, Japan, showed that extracts of Rooibos increased the number of antibodies boosting the immune system. Rooibos is also caffeine free and tannin free and rich in vitamin C, iron, potassium, copper, magnesium, zinc and manganese. Rooibos also contains anti ageing antioxidants.


Tea tip: The perfect brew at bedtime – brew for three minutes or longer for the fullest taste.


Black tea: Black tea, the most popular tea in the UK, has lower antioxidant levels than green tea but it can still help to reduce the risk of heart disease and lower cholesterol levels. It also has anti cancer properties. But be careful of this tea as it contains more caffeine than green tea and can cause restlessness and irritability.


If you are drinking black tea then to reduce caffeine, throw away the first cup from the pot within the first 30 seconds of brewing. The following cups will contain less caffeine but have all the antioxidants. The tannin in tea can also block the uptake of minerals including iron so always drink black tea away from food and do not take with food supplements especially iron supplements.


Tea tips: Try iced tea – brew, then allow to cool and drink with ice, lemon and sprigs of mint.