Me­gan Shep­pard

Irish Examiner - Feelgood - - Health -

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 find it dif­fi­cult to get through long win­ter nights. I work of­fice hours which means it’s dark when I get home. I don’t think I suf­fer from SAD but I no­tice my en­ergy lev­els are higher dur­ing the sum­mer. What would you rec­om­mend? >> SAD (Sea­sonal Af­fec­tive Dis­or­der) does not nec­es­sar­ily need to man­i­fest as de­pres­sive episodes. There are a num­ber of symp­toms that fall un­der the def­i­ni­tion of SAD. Rang­ing from in­creased ap­petite, sweet crav­ings, and weight gain, through to fa­tigue, en­ergy slumps in the af­ter­noon and evening, and an in­creased de­sire for sleep­ing longer and later than usual, th­ese symp­toms are of­ten brushed aside.

How­ever, even if it is not SAD you are ex­pe­ri­enc­ing, the rec­om­men­da­tions for this dis­or­der can help every­one to cope with the colder months and shorter days.

Hor­mones and brain chem­i­cals con­trol­ling mood and sleep­ing pat­terns are the first place to be­gin. Sero­tonin reg­u­lates sleep pat­terns, body tem­per­a­ture, ap­petite, li­bido and emo­tions. You can boost pro­duc­tion of this im­por­tant hor­mone by eat­ing a high­pro­tein snack about two hours be­fore bed­time. Vi­ta­min D, which is ac­tu­ally a hor­mone and not a vi­ta­min, is es­sen­tial to get­ting us through the win­ter months. Lev­els of vi­ta­min D drop sig­nif­i­cantly due to the lack of avail­abil­ity with de­creased day­light hours.

You can store vi­ta­min D to help ward off symp­toms of SAD. You only need two sun­shine hours per week, and even over­cast days where you don’t ac­tu­ally see the sun will pro­vide enough ex­po­sure to make this im­por­tant hor­mone.

Get­ting a small daily dose of nat­u­ral light is not only cru­cial to our well­be­ing, the vi­ta­min D it helps to cre­ate is also es­sen­tial for the main­te­nance of strong, healthy bones, and plays an im­por­tant role in the reg­u­la­tion of skin cell growth. If get­ting two hours a week of nat­u­ral light is dif­fi­cult to achieve. then you can sup­ple­ment with vi­ta­min D3. Take as di­rected on the la­bel. My teenage daugh­ter de­vel­oped glan­du­lar fever about nine months ago. While she is thank­fully over the symp­toms, she has very lit­tle en­ergy — school leaves her ex­hausted. Is there a herb or sup­ple­ment she could take? >> It is a real blow to strug­gle with some­thing like glan­du­lar fever dur­ing your teenage years.

Your daugh­ter will have re­cov­ered from the fever, sore throat, fa­tigue and body aches that typ­i­cally oc­cur with glan­du­lar fever, how­ever, the ten­der swollen lymph nodes might still be present. Lymph nodes or glands work to elim­i­nate in­fec­tion from the body, so they be­come en­larged as they at­tempt to fight off the virus re­spon­si­ble.

The Ep­stein-Barr virus (EBV) is thought to be the cul­prit in most cases of glan­du­lar fever, which is why my first rec­om­men­da­tion is to get her some Elder­berry cap­sules or ex­tract. Elder­berry has pow­er­ful an­tivi­ral prop­er­ties and has been shown to specif­i­cally de­stroy the EBV. Many health pro­fes­sion­als be­lieve that this same virus is re­spon­si­ble for chronic fa­tigue syn­drome (CFS).

A diet rich in whole­foods with a fo­cus on plenty of fresh fruit and veg­eta­bles, and nu­tri­tious broths, soups, and smooth­ies is im­por­tant so her body is be­ing loaded with nu­tri­ents in their most sim­ple form. Get­ting plenty of rest and not over-ex­er­cis­ing is also im­por­tant.

Glan­du­lar fever af­fects the im­mune sys­tem, with a much higher sus­cep­ti­bil­ity to ev­ery cough, cold, and ’flu. Simba, from The Lit­tle Herbal Com­pany, works by reg­u­lat­ing the im­mune sys­tem in­stead of sim­ply boost­ing it. Simba is made from a tu­ber called hy­poxis heme­ro­cal­lidea, or the African Potato. This rem­edy has been trea­sured in Africa for many gen­er­a­tions as a tra­di­tional medicine to treat a num­ber of con­di­tions, es­pe­cially where com­pro­mised im­mu­nity causes a sig­nif­i­cant drop in en­ergy lev­els.

Take one cap­sule three times daily on an empty stom­ach (for max­i­mum ben­e­fit this should be up to 30 min­utes be­fore or two hours af­ter food). It costs €33.15 for 90 cap­sules , but it is more cost ef­fec­tive to buy three or more bot­tles (see lit­tle­herbal-in­ter­na­tional.co.nz).

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