Acorn Health Blog

Acorn Health Blog

What we love is great health...

...and we like to write about how we can all achieve better health, naturally. Sometimes tips on how you can DIY to better health and sometimes on the therapies that can make a difference to you, your health and wellbeing.
Thank you for reading, We hope you enjoy :)

Hypertension (high blood pressure). What you can do to help yourself - naturally.

General Health & WellbeingPosted by Little Acorn Tue, May 16, 2017 10:49PM

Hypertension (hight blood pressure)

By Helen Duffy Naturopathic Nutritional Therapist

While your pulse is a measure of your heart health, your blood pressure tells you about the health of your arteries. Some people think that high blood pressure (hypertension) is just something that will happen to all of us as we get older, this simply doesn't have to be the case. Young people can also suffer from high blood pressure so it's not just an age-related condition. It's all about looking after your arteries so that they are in good condition, not constricted or 'furred up' so that it takes more effort to pump blood through them. Having high blood pressure increases your risk of heart disease, strokes and kidney disease so it's something that is important for us all to take seriously and do something about.

So if you have already been diagnosed with high blood pressure (hypertension) or would like to try and keep your blood pressure at a healthy level what can you do to help yourself?


  • • Eat a diet rich in a rainbow of fruit and vegetables. Aim for 8-10 portions every day. 1 portion is approximately 80g or about the size of your fist.
  • • Beans and pulses count towards your 8-10 portions of fruit and veg so include beans, chick-peas and lentils as part of your ten. These are high in potassium and rich in isoflavones which can help lower your cholesterol, something that often goes hand in hand with high blood pressure.
  • • Raw unsalted nuts are a great snack for taking to work. Measure out a daily portion (40-50g) and keep in a sealed pot as it's easy to indulge if you leave the whole bag on your desk! Walnuts, almonds and hazelnuts are high in beneficial fats and vitamin E, known to naturally thin the blood.
  • • Celery and bananas are rich in potassium which is important for lowering blood pressure. Aim for 4 stalks of celery every day and no more than 1 banana.
  • • Garlic and onions contain allicin which helps to relax and dilate blood vessels. After crushing or chopping garlic, leave it to rest on the chopping board to allow allicin levels to develop fully before adding it to your cooking at the last minute, or better still, eating raw.
  • • Magnesium helps to relax muscles and dilates the arteries. It's often low in people who are under stress and suffering from high blood pressure. Magnesium is found in green leafy vegetables, wholegrains, nuts, seeds and dark chocolate (enjoy in moderation, of course :-) ).
  • • For seasoning instead of salt, try Herbamare, available from Health Food Shops, which is a combination of herbs and sea salt to add lots of flavour.

This may seem like a lot so lets see how this could be achieved:

  • ◦ Breakfast smoothie – spinach, avocado, banana, coconut milk, ground flaxseed
  • ◦ Mid morning snack – carrot and celery sticks, hummus, blueberries
  • ◦ Lunch – chicken salad with rocket, watercress, peppers, radish, tomatoes, cucumber, walnuts and a baked sweet potato
  • ◦ Mid afternoon snack – apple slices topped with almond butter
  • ◦ Evening meal – baked salmon with roast root vegetables, broccoli and brown rice.




Think of changes you could make to your lifestyle:

  • • If you are a smoker, look for support to help you quit. Hypnotherapy can be a very effective tool. Why not have a chat with Sally, our hypnotherapist here at Acorn.
  • • Find a relaxation method that you enjoy. We have lots to offer at Acorn: yoga, mindfulness, massage, aromatherapy, reflexology.
  • • Get outdoors and exercise: walking briskly for just 20-30 minutes every day is an achievable goal for most people and walking in nature is great for reducing stress. Get yourself a dog or borrow a friends!
  • • Take some time every day to breathe deeply. Place your hands on your stomach and feel it moving slowly in and out as you slowly count, in for 5, out for 5.

If you are currently taking medication, please talk to your doctor if you are thinking of making any changes to your diet or lifestyle.

If you would like to find out more about how you can use nutritional therapy to help improve your health, then please contact me at Acorn for a FREE 15 minute chat or email helen.duffy@northstarnutrition.co.uk. You can book online by clicking here

Nutritional Therapy at Acorn Natural Health Centre

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What is a Knotted Muscle?

General Health & WellbeingPosted by Little Acorn Sat, March 11, 2017 03:35PM

What is a Knotted Muscle...?

By Anne Marie Allen

We’ve all had knotted muscles but do you know what they really are and are they actually knotted?

Well....

A muscle is made up of lots of tiny fibres when these fibres become compressed and stick to each they become tight and go into spasm, the spasm can be a series of small contractions or a prolonged contraction, however due to the compressed nature of the fibres they are unable to release themselves.

Blood flow to the knotted area is restricted new nutrients can’t get in and metabolic waste builds up causing soreness and pain.

In a bid to stop the pain the muscle is given a signal by the brain to rest, with underuse the muscle starts to shorten and tighten up.

Are you tied up in knots?


So what causes knots?

There are many things which can cause a person to develop a knot but the most common reasons for developing a knot are:

• accident or injury

• over use – exercise, weight lifting etc

• stress on the body – due to posture, repetitive movement, long time in the same position

• sedentary lifestyle

Knot prevention

There are a few things you to do to help prevent knots such as:

• stretching and relaxation – the gentle stretching in a yoga class would be good

• maintain a good posture

• exercise - trying to remember to stretch before and afterwards

• B vitamins potassium and calcium – our Nutritionist Helen Duffy can help you to find out if you are low on any vitamins or mineral and advise you what foods to eat to up your intake

• stop smoking

• keep moving don’t stay in the same position for too long

• eat a healthy diet

• stay hydrated

• plenty of regular sleep

• avoid holding your phone with your shoulder use your hand or an ear piece

• lighten your bag



Already Knotty? How can you get rid of your knots?

• Stretching - helps to reduce and avoid knots

• Massage - a massage brings new blood to the affected area the new blood brings with it a fresh supply of oxygen and nutrients and also takes away the build up of toxins that has accumulated. The massage will also help the muscle fibres to relax and loosen so that they move again

• Yoga – gentle stretching during yoga can be good at helping to reduce and avoid knots

• Rest



Where else can they cause pain?

A knot doesn’t just cause a pain where it’s developed knots, whats known as Myofascial Trigger Points can cause pain in other places known as referred pain for example:

• headaches

• neck and jaw pain

• lower back pain

• symptoms of carpal tunnel

• joint pain

• tendinitis

• tendinosis

• bursitis

• ligament injury

• due to the pain they cause knots can also contribute to depression

• and can cause reduced mobility


You can book a treatment with Anne Marie at Acorn Natural Health Centre Heanor, Derbyshire on 01773 687 349 or book online here: Check availability





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Plantar fasciitis. A common cause of heel/foot pain

General Health & WellbeingPosted by Little Acorn Tue, October 04, 2016 09:43PM

By Anne Marie Allen Reflexologist and massage therapist

Do you have heel pain? Its possibly plantar fasciitis (the most common cause of heel pain).

Plantar Fasciitis is a condition in which the plantar fascia has becomes damaged, inflamed and thickened at the point where it attaches to the calcaneus bone.



So what exactly does this mean?

The calcaneus bone is more commonly known as the heel. Along the sole of the foot is a sheet of connective tissue known as a ligament this is called the plantar fascia it runs from the heel, connecting the heel to the toes helping to support the arch of the foot as well as acting as a shock absorber for the foot, when this band becomes damaged at the point where it attaches to the heel bone it can become inflamed and thickened causing pain.

One in ten people will experience plantar fasciitis at some point in their life.

So what causes it?

Plantar fasciitis can be caused by:

  • • Sudden damage from an activity such as jogging, dancing etc
  • • Gradual wear and tear

Certain situations can increase your likelihood of developing Plantar Fasciitis these are things such as:

  • • Being on your feet a lot especially if you’re not used to it
  • • Recently starting a new exercise routine or changing exercise venue e.g. jogging on the road instead of a tread mill
  • • Shoes with poor cushioning or ache support
  • • Being overweight
  • • Overuse or sudden stretching of the sole of the foot
  • • Having a tight Achilles tendon, this is the tendon at the bottom of the calf, can effect a person’s ability to flex the foot increasing the likelihood of damaging the plantar fasciitis
  • • Wearing flat shoes e.g. sandals
  • • Having a job that means spending a lot of time on your feet

What are the symptoms of Plantar Fasciitis?

  • • Pain on the foot this can be anywhere but is typically just in front of the heel (4cm ish)
  • • Pain is worse in the morning when just getting up or after sitting down for long periods
  • • Pain can be worse after going for a long walk or after being on your feet for a long period
  • • Sudden stretching can make the pain worse
  • • Going on tip toes or walking up stairs can make pain worse
  • • Plantar fasciitis can be in both feet at the same time
  • • Area of pain can appear visibly swollen

What if I just ignore it?

Continuing as you always have and ignoring the plantar fasciitis can result in:

  • • Chronic heel pain that stops you living your normal life
  • • Extra foot problems
  • • Knee, hip or back problems can develop as a result of compensating for the plantar fasciitis

So how can it be treated?

As well as visiting the doctor for an official diagnosis and medication there are several natural ways that can help to speed the recovery of your Plantar Fasciitis as it can sometimes take up to a year for Plantar Fasciitis to get better.

These include:

  • • Rest as much as possible, avoiding long periods on your feet and long walks
  • • Supportive shoes that cushion the heel
  • • Avoid flat shoes
  • • Orthoses – insoles these are available from shops such as sports shops, pharmacies
  • • Strapping and splinting: strapping the heel with sports tape can help with the pressure on the heel, your GP or podiatrist can show you how to strap and splint your foot so that you can do it at home
  • • Stretching, stretches that stretch both the calf and the plantar fasciitis can help to improve flexibility and relieve pain, even if just one foot is effected try to do the stretches described below with both feet to ensure balance

Towel Stretches
A good stretch to do before getting out of bed in the morning so before going to bed put a long towel somewhere handy that you’ll be able to reach it.\Loop the towel around your foot and gently use it to pull your toes towards your body. Keep the knee straight repeat three times for each foot.

Wall stretch
This can be done anywhere, any time even whilst you’re waiting for the kettle to boil! Put both hands on the wall, shoulder height. Put one foot in front of the other the front foot should be about 30cm (12”) away from the wall. Keeping the back leg straight, bend the front knee and lean into the wall, you should feel a stretch in the calf muscle hold for a few seconds, now relax.
Repeat ten times before switching legs; if possible try to do this stretch twice a day.

Stair Stretches
Stand on the bottom step of your stairs facing the stairs, feet slightly apart, heels hanging off the step. Holding on to the rail for support, lower your heels, you should be able to feel the calves tighten. Hold for a count of 40.
Return to the starting position and repeat six times

Chair Stretches
Sitting on a chair with your knees at right angles move your feet so that your heels are touching but the toes are pointing away from each other. The heels should be kept flat on the floor. Lift the toes upwards, ensuring that the heel remains on the floor, you should be able to feel the Achilles tendon and calf muscle tighten, hold for several seconds before relaxing. Repeat ten times.
Try to do this stretch whenever you sit down aiming to repeat it about five or six times a day, when your having a cup of tea or whilst your watching TV are good times to give it a try.

Dynamic Stretch
Sitting down roll the arch of the foot over an object such as tennis ball, can of beans or a drinks can, if you use a drinks can you can put it in the fridge so that’s it’s lovely and cold, some people find that the coldness of the can helps relieve the pain. Roll the arch of the foot over the object for several minutes & repeat this exercise twice a day.


Can complimentary therapies help?

Yes!

Reflexology is a wonderful treatment as its so relaxing but it can also be beneficial to Plantar Fasciitis because it stretches and relieves heel pain as well as helping to release muscle and foot tension. During this wonderful treatment ligaments and muscles in the calf and foot are relaxed and loosened, circulation is boosted, flexibility is improved and the bodies systems are healed and balanced and returned to normal, this can be helpful on many levels especially if an overactive immune system is causing problems.

Combined with a leg massage to help release tension in the Achilles tendon and leg muscles, massage can also help break scar tissue, loosen muscles as well as helping to remove toxins from the muscles and ensuring that circulation of blood and oxygen is boosted and improved.

So which one do I choose Reflexology or Massage?

The good news is you don’t have to choose one; I do a wonderful treatment which combines a full Reflexology treatment with a full Leg Massage especially to help give relief.
You can book here: Reflexology with massage

you can email us at hello@acornnaturalhealth.co.uk
www.acornnaturalhealth.co.uk



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What really is Nutritional Therapy?

TherapiesPosted by Little Acorn Sun, September 11, 2016 09:02PM

By Helen Duffy - Nutritional Therapist

Hello! My name is Helen and I am a fully qualified Naturopathic Nutritional Therapist. I trained for three years with the College of Naturopathic Medicine in London and Birmingham and am registered with BANT (British Association of Nutritional Therapists) and the CNHC (Complementary and Natural Healthcare Council) who assure that all their members are well trained, qualified and insured.

So what is Naturopathic Nutritional Therapy and how could it help me?

Some people simply want to check that they are on the right track with healthy eating, a kind of 'nutrition MOT' if you like, but most people I see want help with a particular condition or symptoms.

As a Nutritional Therapist, I recognise that each person is an individual with unique requirements and histories. This means that I take the time to explore your current and past health and lifestyle in order to define a personalised nutrition plan designed exactly for you and what you want to achieve rather than a 'one size fits all' approach.

Nutrition has to be one of the main elements, along with our genes and environment, that determines how our bodies will cope in the world we live in. You often hear the phrase 'You are what you eat' and, absolutely, this is so true in many situations. However, there is maybe, a more accurate phrase 'You are what you absorb' as many people can seem to eat nutritious, healthful foods, yet still something isn't quite right. Maybe they still lack energy, still find it difficult to lose weight, still have that annoying PMS each month, still have blood pressure a little bit too high or achy joints in the morning. This may be that regardless of how much nutritious good food you are eating, if your body isn't able to do something with all that goodness, it's just passing straight on through (if you know what I mean!).

In a Naturopathic Nutritional Therapy consultation we look beyond a person's set of symptoms to find the underlying imbalance in the body which is preventing the person from feeling their best. On many occasions, this may lead back to the person's gut and poor absorption of nutrients due to years of prescription medication, stress or inappropriate food choices, to name a few. Nutritional Therapy works with a person (often alongside their GP and current meds) to rebalance and optimise the body systems in order to achieve health and vitality.


What happens in a consultation?

An initial consultation lasts about an hour and during this time I will need to know as much about your current and past health and lifestyle as possible. We will then identify goals that you would like to work on and agree how much you are prepared to change in your current nutrition habits and lifestyle. I will then develop a personalised plan focussing on these areas which will be sent to you 48 hours after your consultation. There may be some short term nutritional supplements or functional testing recommended so that we can really pinpoint exactly what is going on inside you body and therefore focus your plan more precisely. Most people will work with their plan for 4-6 weeks and then return for a follow-up appointment to see what progress has been made or address any difficulties that have arisen. One important point to make here is that your plan won't necessarily be about eating less of all the things that you love, it will be about eating better and allowing your body to experience the health and vitality that comes from feeding each and every cell in your body exactly what it needs.

As Hippocrates said, 'Let food by thy medicine; let medicine be thy food.' Your body will thank you for it :-)

For a FREE 15 minute chat to find out how Nutritional Therapy could help you, contact Acorn or email helen.duffy@northstarnutrition.co.uk


www.acornnaturalhealth.co.uk

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