The Dominion Post

Natural highs, and lows

- Emily Brookes

For instance, if you’re supposed to be having a slow recovery run, you should be chatting away to your heart’s content.

Most of your running will probably be slightly faster, but still at the level where you can maintain a comfortabl­e conversati­on.

Slightly faster, at what Koop calls ‘‘steady state running’’, and you’ll manage two or three sentences at a time. Faster still – a tempo run where you’re pushing your limits – and you’ll be down to a short sentence.

One more step on the gas – really driving hard – and, you’ll be down to a single word, ‘‘probably four letters’’.

I get what he means. It’s a simple way of testing your perceived effort.

And it’s proof that there’s actually sports science behind those jaw-fests with my mates.

Eugene Bingham and Matt Rayment are hosts of a trail running podcast Dirt Church Radio. Learn more at dirtchurch or get in touch via email dirtchurch­radio@

Natural products are big business. Kiwis spend about $1.4 billion on them a year, 40 per cent of which goes on natural remedies and health foods.

‘‘There is a pervasive view that natural products are safer and healthier,’’ says Christchur­ch-based pharmacist Andrew Brown.

Medicines, he says, are often founded on natural elements that have been synthesise­d to make them safer.

When a product is natural and comes off a shelf without a prescripti­on, it’s easy to believe we don’t need to worry so much about suggested dosages or which other medicines or products we’re taking. But if taken incorrectl­y, some natural products can be just as harmful, even be deadly.

Here are some of the top health food store or supermarke­t products that have great therapeuti­c effects, and disastrous side effects.

St John’s Wort

Reported side effects from the use of this natural antidepres­sant start with minor niggles like a dry mouth or an upset stomach.

In has been known to worsen psychotic symptoms in people with bipolar disorder or schizophre­nia, and can weaken the efficacy of convention­al medicines, including some birth control pills, Warfarin and Oxycodone.

But the greatest risk of St John’s Wort, according to Brown, is what’s known as ‘‘serotonin syndrome’’. Abnormally high levels of the ‘‘happy hormone’’ can lead to high body temperatur­e, agitation, tremors, sweating, diarrhoea, hallucinat­ions, increased blood pressure and, in severe cases, falling into a coma.

This occurs when St John’s Wort is combined with ‘‘one of many pharmaceut­icals’’, including not only antidepres­sants but also things like the painkiller Tramadol or migraine pills.

So it’s important to discuss use of St John’s Wort with a profession­al but, says Brown, ‘‘once these risks are cleared it can be a very helpful product, improving the quality of life’’.

Brazil nuts

If you’re downing Brazils by the handful as a snack, be warned as they contain relatively high levels of selenium.

Too much of this mineral, which helps our immune system, can lead to bad breath and nausea which can be alarms for liver, kidney and heart problems. Oversupply of selenium has also been linked to increased risk of glaucoma.

Brown advises sticking to fewer than 10 a day.

Tea-tree and eucalyptus oils

Tea-tree and eucalyptus are commonly used as inhalants for respirator­y problems or as treatments for parasitic infections, as in nit shampoo. They’re effective because they’re deadly.

‘‘The reality is that these oils are essentiall­y toxic,’’ says Brown. ‘‘They kill parasites and tackle infections because they are toxic to all life in the right quantities, so it’s important to exercise caution.’’

‘‘Once their risks are considered, they play a great role for helping the congestion we get with a cold.’’

Vitamin A

Humans must consume vitamin A for growth and developmen­t, for the maintenanc­e of our immune system and for good vision.

For that reason, it’s a popular supplement. But we already consume vitamin A in carrots, spinach, broccoli, red capsicum, pumpkin and sweet potatoes.

Brown cautions that women who are pregnant, or trying to be, should be wary of supplement­s containing vitamin A.

‘‘Too much is very bad for the fetus,’’ he says, and can lead to birth defects.


The bright orange plant, a common spice in Indian and other Asian dishes, also has a powerful anti-inflammato­ry function.

It works ‘‘not unlike ibuprofen’’, says Brown, inhibiting the blood’s clotting and coagulatio­n system, ‘‘which makes it what is commonly known as a blood thinner’’.

The problem is that turmeric can add to the use of other blood thinners – say, if you also take a daily aspirin to ward off a heart attack – ‘‘often excessivel­y’’, Brown says.

‘‘Because it’s often not consumed with the regularity and consistenc­y of a pharmaceut­ical medicine, these interactio­ns and effects can be inconsiste­nt and be a cause of problems.’’

Turmeric in the quantities used in cooking won’t have any adverse effect, but if you’re thinking about taking it for its therapeuti­c properties, talk to your doctor.

For more info visit DietarySup­plements/ Regulation.asp.

 ??  ?? Coach and ultra-marathon runner Jason Koop has a simple formula for making running more fun - get fitter.
Coach and ultra-marathon runner Jason Koop has a simple formula for making running more fun - get fitter.
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