The Dominion Post
Natural highs, and lows
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 radio.com or get in touch via email dirtchurchradio@ gmail.com
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’’.
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.’’
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 medsafe.govt.nz/regulatory/ DietarySupplements/ Regulation.asp.