Do you have a question for Megan Sheppard? Email it to feel[email protected]aminer.ie or send a letter to: Feelgood, Irish Examiner, Linn Dubh, Assumption Road, Blackpool, Cork
I’ve developed a cyst in my left eye ■ which I’m treating with over-thecounter ointment. Is there a natural treatment you could recommend? >> Most cysts in the eye area will eventually go away of their own accord. Typically cysts are only considered to be an issue if they are infected, growing larger, or a malignant tumour. Inflammation, discomfort, and aesthetics are usually the main trouble with these cysts.
Your over-the-counter preparation will likely be helping to prevent infection, reduce swelling, and may also help to prevent the cyst from growing larger. You should certainly see a specialist if the cyst is causing any concern or alarming symptoms.
A warm compress can often provide relief when it comes to cysts and styes in the eyelids, and it can also help any material or fluid to drain out of the area. If your cyst is conjunctival (on the membrane covering the white of the eyeball), then lubricating eye drops may provide some relief.
Most cysts are a result of ongoing inflammation in the body, so it will certainly be beneficial if you eliminate inflammatory foods from your diet. This means choosing whole, fresh foods over processed, fried, and refined foods.
Foods which are particularly beneficial to eye health include dark berries, leafy greens, eggs, nuts and seeds, and brightly coloured fruits and vegetables (carrots, capsicum/peppers, sweet potato).
Ever since I’ve had my first child, I’ve suffered from cystitis. I try to drink as much water as possible during the day and always wear cotton underwear but I still get an episode about four times a year. What would you recommend? >> Recurrent cystitis is something of a nightmare. The most common physiological reason for repeat cystitis is bacteria entering the bladder via the urethra. Bladder and urinary-tract infections are far more common in women than men simply because the urethra is significantly shorter in females than males.
The bacteria usually responsible for cystitis is E. coli, responsible for 85% of all cases. The herbal remedy Uva ursi leaf (also known as bearberry) is the best natural treatment where recurrent cystitis is due to bacterial infection. Uva ursi works by remaining inert as it travels through the body until it is hydrolysed in the bladder, producing hydroquinone which effectively disinfects the bladder. Even better, this herb works just as well in preventing an episode as it does to treat an existing bout of cystitis.
Cystitis can also be non-bacterial in origin. In this case, it is often a reaction to perfumed soaps, talcs, and body care products; it can occur if the urethra becomes irritated by sexual intercourse, or it can be as simple as dehydration. You are already making sure that you are getting plenty of water, and wearing natural fibre underwear, so that is a great start.
Do make sure that you are using natural, non-perfumed body products, avoid using douches and talcs, always empty your bladder after sex, and continue to drink plenty of water throughout the day. Uva ursi is available as a tea, tincture, or capsules. I prefer the tea as it is quite pleasant tasting, and will contribute to your daily water intake. If you choose a tincture then take 20 drops (1ml), three times daily when you are dealing with an infection; or 15 drops, twice daily to prevent infection.
While I understand your desire to use natural remedies over antibiotics, do keep a close eye on your symptoms for any signs of infection such as blood in your urine, pain in your kidney region, nausea, vomiting, fever, or chills. If any of these symptoms show up, please call your doctor or go to an after-hours emergency room for treatment.
Many people recommend cranberry juice when it comes to urinary tract infections, however, the trouble is that unsweetened cranberry juice is very tart and so it is almost always sweetened with sugar, which bacteria thrive on.