Category Archives: Women’s Reproductive Health

Herbal Medicine in Pregnancy

Mothers to be often reach out for consultations during pregnancy for guidance on optimal health or health issues experienced during pregnancy.  While optimal nutrition is always the best option, there are many herbal remedies which can be considered during pregnancy for various ailments. As education is something which I am an enthusiastic promotor of, I often refer clients to my favorite herbal medicine reference book for pregnancy: The Natural Pregnancy Book: Herbs, Nutrition, and Other Holistic Choices by Aviva Romm.  This book is full of nutrition and herbal medicine recipes, exercises and posture modifications, lifestyle suggestions and herbal medicine guidance for common health issues experienced during pregnancy (from stretch marks to hemorrhoids and vaginal infections to ankle swelling and nausea) there is something here for every expectant mother.

 

Vancouver Holistic Doula Certificate Program

Vancouver Holistic Doula Certificate Program – Offered through Pacific Rim College

The Holistic Doula Certificate is a 13.5 week, 270-hour program that prepares students to work as both Doulas and Post-partum Doulas. It is the most comprehensive Doula program offered in North America.

The education and training provided within the Holistic Doula Certificate Program is based on complementary and integrative approaches, bridging Western Medicine with holistic therapies. The program provides strong education and practical foundation in many therapeutic approaches, thereby creating competent and confident Doulas when working with labouring mothers and building their practices. No single therapeutic approach or discipline taught is meant to be comprehensive and to lead to students becoming practitioners in that particular area. Instead, each component adds to the Doula’s competency and thus value to the labouring mother and her family. By gaining comprehensive education in a variety of disciplines, program graduates will be poised to change the current standards of what it means to be a Doula in North America. All students are eligible to partake in the Doula Mentorship once they have completed all classroom requirements of the certificate program.

Graduates of this program can use knowledge and experience gained to establish a private all-inclusive Doula services business or join or create an integrative health clinic or birthing centre

Intro to Herbal Medicine for Doulas – DLA105

Vancouver Course Instructor: Katolen Yardley, MNIMH, Medical Herbalist 

Herbs have been used for millennia to assist in childbirth. This course covers the fundamentals of herbal medicine in the context of pre-pregnancy, pregnancy, birth, postpartum, and baby and child care.

For more information visit: Holistic Doula Certification Program

Red Raspberry Leaf Herbal Tea

Written by Katolen Yardley, MNIMH ~ Medical Herbalist

The medicinal use of red raspberry dates back to the early 1500’s as raspberry leaf tea became popular throughout Europe, China, and North and South America. The Latin name is Rubus ideaus, also known as wild or garden raspberry; it grows widely throughout north america, found in thickets around fields and is frequently planted in gardens for the fruit it bears. The leaf and fruit are used medicinally.

Red raspberry is a popular tonic for women’s reproductive health, drank daily by teenagers to gently regulate the menstrual cycle, or drank regularly to prepare the body for a healthy pregnancy – however Red Raspberry is most known for its tonic effects during pregnancy. With centuries of safe and frequent use during pregnancy; raspberry is the best known and safest of all pregnancy tonic herbs, used to strengthen the reproductive system, to encourage fertility, used to prevent miscarriage, increase milk production and reduce the pain during labor and facilitate an easier childbirth.

Traditionally red raspberry leaves were drank as a tea from the beginning and throughout pregnancy, its benefits include:

  • A tonic herb used to increase fertility in both men and women. Raspberry leaf is an excellent fertility herb when combined with Maca, Red Clover and Nettles.
  • An astringent herb of benefit for preventing miscarriage and hemorrhage. Raspberry leaf tones the uterus and helps prevent miscarriage and postpartum hemorrhage from an atonic uterus.
  • Easing of morning sickness. Raspberry leaves’ assist with gentle relief of nausea and stomach distress throughout pregnancy.
  • Reducing pain during labor and after birth. By toning the pelvic and uterine muscles used during labor and delivery, Raspberry leaf can help minimise many possible complications and extended labor.
  • A galactagogue: Assists in the production of breast milk in a nursing mother.
  • Providing a safe and speedy birth. Raspberry leaf works to encourage the uterus function without tension. It does not strengthen contractions, but allows the contracting utering muscles to work more effectively and so may make the birth easier and faster.

Other applications: Astringent herbs such as red raspberry can be used to reduce symptoms of a sore throat, when prepared as a tea and used as a throat gargle – is also useful for reducing inflammation of bleeding gums and mouth ulcers and used for diarrhea and leucorrhea. The astringent properties can be used as an external wash for skin wounds, hemorrhoids and open sores to encourage a closing of the tissues and wound healing.

The leaf contains: tannins, flavonoids, fragarine, the leaves are rich in vitamins including iron, vitamin C, calcium, B vitamins and many minerals including phosphorus and potassium – all of which are needed during pregnancy. Thus making the tea a useful aid to ensure adequate minerals and for gently preventing iron deficiency anemia during pregnancy.

Red raspberry leaf contains the chemical fragarine, an alkaloid chemical, found to strengthen uterine muscles, tone the tissues of the pelvic region for an easier childbirth, helps to reduce the risk of bleeding and hemorrhage during labor and ensures in an easier delivery.

Raspberry can be safely drank before, throughout, and after pregnancy, and certainly consumed, used in 3 or more cups in the last trimester of pregnancy. During birth the infused tea of red raspberry can be drank hot or cold during labor or the tea can be frozen into ice cubes (prepared beforehand) and sucked on during labor, reportedly used to assist with expelling the placenta, encouraging the flow of breastmilk, and restoring the reproductive system and hormones after birth. Continue to consume the tea after birth to stimulate milk production and to encourage hormones to normalize after birth. Click here to purchase Red Raspberry Leaf Tea.

Check out our complete herbal care line for pregnancy, breastfeeding and babies at www.alchemyelixir.com some items of interest include:

Herbal Medicine and Womens Health

 Taught by Katolen Yardley, MNIMH – Medical Herbalist

Join us for an information evening exploring common herbal remedies, nutrition and relevant supplementation for common hormone imbalances and womens health: including PMS, fluid retention, fatigue and menopause related issues.

Date: Thursday May 12, 2011 from 6:30 until 8 pm.

Location: Alchemy & Elixir Health Group # 320-1026 Davie St. Vancouver BC  – co-sponsored with Choices Market

Cost: $ 10 Space is limited.

Space is limited. Call to preregister 604 683 2298 or email info@alchemyelixir.com

9 Nutrition Tips For Menopause

~ written by Katolen Yardley, MNIMH, Medical Herbalist

Optimal nutrition and herbal medicine can play a role in minimizing adverse menopausal symptoms such as hot flushes and night sweats, play a role in prevention of heart disease and osteoporosis, lessen vaginal dryness and support the nervous system for insomnia, headaches and depression.

Healthy Nutrition through Menopause

1. Consume whole foods: fresh fruit and vegetables (6-8 servings daily), legumes, whole grains (such as brown rice, millet, buckwheat, quinoa, spelt) and water.

2. Don’t skip meals.

3. Consume animal products in moderation, emphasizing free-range non-medicated chicken and cold water fish (salmon, mackerel, halibut, herring, sardines) and ensure adequate vegetable protein intake throughout the day.

4. Increase consumption of phytoestrogenic foods, vegetable proteins, seaweeds and home sprouted seeds and legumes (alfalfa, mung beans, fenugreek, sunflower, adzuki sprouts), which provide the body with phytoestrogens, chlorophyll, vitamins and minerals, essential fatty acids and easily digested protein.

5. Lower consumption of dairy products while replacing with other high calcium foods

6. Avoid alcohol, black tea, chocolate, coffee and other caffeinated products.

7. Avoid salt, refined sugar and processed packaged foods which all put additional stress on the liver, affecting normal hormone clearance and elimination, aggravating both hot flushes and frequent urination. These foods also make the blood more acidic, prompting the release of calcium from our bones to act as a buffering agent; increasing the excretion of calcium in the urine (and a loss of calcium in the bones).

8. Flax seed meal (freshly ground) in a smoothie or sprinkled over cereal will provide excess fiber for healthy bowel function and to help absorb estrogen metabolites in the stool to ensure adequate clearance out of the body. Alternatively use 2 tblsp whole flax seeds soaked in 1 cup water, covered, overnight and add into a smoothie.

9. Consume foods known to support liver function: beets, artichokes, watercress, burdock (gobo), dandelion greens and dandelion coffee, turmeric, and garlic.

Herbal Medicine for Menopausal Symptoms can assist with:

  1. hot flushes and night sweats
  2. flooding
  3. depression and fatigue
  4. headaches
  5. insomnia, anxiety and stress related conditions
  6. memory and concentration enhancement
  7. heart palpitations and elevated blood pressure
  8. urinary frequency
  9. peace of mind and improved quality of life

For health program (and custom blended plant medicine) tailored to your specific health concerns during menopause, consider booking a clinic appointment. To read the complete article written by Katolen Yardley on herbal medicine and women’s health (including fertility, PMS, and hormonal imbalances) click here…

Katolen Yardley, MNIMH is a Medical Herbalist, specializing in Western and European Herbal Medicine, with clinical experience since 1995. Her personal interest in health lies with the emotional connection to wellness and dis-ease. Her private practice specializes in womens health issues, skin dis-ease, digestive and nervous system disorders and believes in providing usable tools for the client taking responsibility for his or her own health. If you are wanting a personalised health program designed for your and your unique health history, then email us or call us at 604-683-2298 to set up your clinic appointment.

Choosing The Best Calcium Supplement

Choosing the best calcium supplement requires the skill of filtering through endless marketing choices coupled with some basic education on calcium terminology.

Calcium is a mineral required for the activation of several enzyme functions throughout the body and optimal function of all body processes. Calcium is known as a coenzyme required for regulating the heartbeat and blood pressure, the normal contraction of muscles, prevention of cardiovascular disease, for conduction of nerve impulses, is involved in blood clotting, maintaining strong healthy bones and teeth and helps to prevent the absorption of lead.

Calcium is blended with other compounds to form a pill, There are numerous types of calcium on the market, from bone meal, oyster shell calcium and calcium carbonate, coral calcium, chelated calcium, calcium phosphate, calcium gluconate, calcium lactate and calcium citrate; even TUMS has been marketed as a calcium supplement….whoooah..overload!!! Which type does one choose?

Types of Calcium in Supplements

  • Calcium citrate is currently the best type of calcium on the market and is easily absorbed. It can be taken anytime during the day, even on an empty stomach, although I generally recommend taking Calcium Magnesium pills at bedtime to enhance sleep and relaxation.
  • Oyster shell calcium, bone meal and dolomite: these naturally occuring calciums may contain heavy metals, including lead, and have a low absorption rate.
  • Coral Calcium has been associated with many cure-all claims, (to me, this is always a sign to be a little wary) and is essentially a calcium carbonate supplement, one not well absorbed by the body!
  • Contrary to brilliant marketing…TUMS is not an adequate calcium supplement. In fact, this is a terribly misleading claim…First, the calcium found in TUMS is a carbonate source, not well asorbed by the body; plus TUMS is an antacid (antacid= it decreases the amount of hydrochloric acid in the stomach), ironic though… that our body requires adequate levels of hydrochloric acid (stomach acid) for any calcium absorption to occur. So even though TUMS contains calcium, be-it a source already poorly absorbed, the fact that TUMS functions to neutralise stomach acid renders the calcium almost useless to the body.
  • Calcium lactate and calcium gluconate: These products contain a low content of elemental calcium. Thus large dosages of these products are required to meet the daily recommended allowance.

Other Minerals in a Calcium Supplement?

1. Always take Calcium together with Magnesium.The mineral, magnesium, is a catalyst enzyme used to ensure that all the calcium absorbed into the bones, stays in the bones…A lack of magnesium interferes with nerve and muscle message relay and deficiencies can cause muscle weakness, muscle twitching and symptoms of PMS. A high consumption of meat, increased amounts of Vitamin D and Zinc all increase the bodies need for magnesium.

2. Vitamin D: known as the sunshine vitamin, one of the only vitamins the body cannot manufacture on its own.Stimulates absorption of Calcium.

3. Zinc: a mineral involved in the absorption of Calcium.

4. Boron: A trace mineral used for healthy bones and muscles, assists the metabolization of calcium and magnesium. Studies indicate that boron can help prevent post menopausal osteoperosis and build muscle.

These trace nutrients can assist the absorption of calcium, helping this mineral stay in strong healthy bones -where it belongs.

How Much Calcium to Take?

The National Osteoporosis Foundation and the National Acadamy of Sciences recommend the daily allowance (RDA) of calcium at 1000-1200 mg daily for adult men and women.

For a pill to contain this dosage unit, it would be very large and difficult to swallow, thus it is necessary to take 3-4 pills per day to meet the recommended daily allowance.

Fast Facts on Elemental Calcium

Always identify the amount of elemental calcium, (found by reading the fine print on the label) when choosing a calcium pill.

Labelling is often misleading, the elemental calcium is the actual amount of calcium that your body can absorb, and it is always lower than the total calcium. Avoid getting mislead by labels, some manufactures do not even identify the elemental calcium amount on the label and unless you are educated about the elemental calcium level, it would appear that you are getting a higher amount of calcium than you actually are.

If the product label does not identify the elemental calcium levels, then choose another brand!

For example, a pill containing 500mg of Calcium Carbonate provides 200mg of elemental calcium. Hence one pill, in this example, only provides 200mg of calcium, not 500mg… Meaning that you would need to take 5-7 pills daily (not 2-3 pills) to reach the daily RDA of 1000-1200 mg.

For more information on quality calcium magnesium supplements visit our online holistic health market at Alchemy & Elixir Health Group

~ written by Katolen Yardley, MNIMH, Medical Herbalist