A process of elimination
We ask the holistic health experts for advice on how to get your waste removal system up to speed.
Your liver and kidneys work hard, all day, every day, to rid your body of rubbish. However, if they are overburdened, they will signal their need for help in various hard-to-ignore ways. Here’s how to help your body help itself.
Between four and eight percent of Australians will suffer from painful kidney stones, which occur when salts in the urine form a solid crystal, blocking the flow of urine and causing infection, kidney damage, or even kidney failure. If you have had one, then the odds are high that you will get another within five years. They may require medical intervention to get rid of them. However, according to naturopath and vice president of the National Herbalists Association of Australia (http://www.nhaa.org.au/), Leah Hechtman, there are natural methods to treat and prevent kidney stones and to ensure you don’t get them in the first place.
“Your body is made up of 60-70 percent water, depending on your age and health, so it is crucial to drink enough pure water,” urges Hechtman. “Tap water won't cut it - it has to be filtered or spring water and you need sufficient electrolytes to enable the water to be absorbed into your cells.” How much water do you need to drink? Try the following rule: for every kilogram you weigh, drink 30ml of water over a day. Remember extra is required to compensate for coffee, tea, and alcohol consumption, and exercise. Hechtman also recommends Himalayan pink salt, fresh vegetable juices, vegetable broths and miso, and diuretic teas, such as celery, parsley and dandelion.
“We should usually have one bowel movement a day,” says Natalie Kringoudis, Doctor of Chinese Medicine and Acupuncture and founder of The Pagoda Tree in Melbourne (www.thepagodatree.com.au). “If you’re not moving your bowels daily, and you feel uncomfortable, bloated or gassy, then it may be time to seek some help.”
“There isn't a one-size-fits all approach,” says Kringoudis. “Some people simply have no urge to move the bowel; others find it painful. Get into the habit of attempting to move the bowels daily, increase fibre and water intake and reduce gluten and refined foods. Omega 3-rich oils, such as fish and olive oil, will help by lubricating the gut.”
Haemorrhoids are the swelling and inflammation of veins in the rectum or anus. Prolonged sitting, pregnancy and ageing can all contribute to haemorrhoids. If you often have constipation and strain when you’re having a bowel movement, you can cause haemorrhoids. According to Keri Krieger, an acupuncturist at Gwinganna Health Retreat (http://www.gwinganna.com.au/), while they are indeed painful and need treatment, they are also a symptom of another issue. “With haemorrhoids we see an expression of heat in the large intestines causing pain and swelling,” she explains. “From a traditional Chinese medicine perspective, this is usually the result of spleen or liver deficiency. With a deficient spleen, we see prolapses - a lack of the 'holding up' function - and with the liver, a creation of stagnation or blockages.”
“I would treat the underlying deficiency with acupuncture before working on points on the lung, large intestine and stomach meridians,” says Krieger. “The main focus would be the Bah hui – this is the point on the crown of the head which is great for 'raising things up'. Decrease your alcohol and coffee intake, and avoid over-eating. The originating deficiencies can be a result of overwork, physical strain such as childbirth and chronic constipation, and poor diet.”
The homoeopathic medicine Hamamelis can help if your haemorrhoids are bleeding and sore, or if they are protruding like clusters of grapes. Take 30c, three doses daily, for two days. Liquid vitamin E and wheatgerm oil are both reputed to be effective – put them on a cottonwool ball and apply it a few times a day. Try easing haemorrhoids with a warm, wet teabag. The warmth soothes and the tea’s tannic acid reduces swelling and promotes blood clotting.
Love your liver
“You only have to remember how low you felt on a Sunday, having drunk a large amount of alcohol the previous night, to see what a dampening effect overloading your liver can have on your mood and energy,” says nutritionist Natalie Savona, author of The Kitchen Shrink (http://www.nataliesavona.com/). “Or, you may have noticed how eating fatty, processed foods leaves you feeling sluggish, lethargic and unmotivated afterwards.”
It is not just how toxic a substance is that makes it harmful, but also how efficiently your body is able to process it. “It is important to eat a diet that nourishes your gut, liver and kidneys,” stresses Savona. “This means fresh, minimally processed foods which are low in sugar, low in animal and processed fats, high in fibre and rich in nutrients. The other thing to remember is to take time to relax and enjoy your food. By sitting down and chewing well, you set up the correct sequences of food processing in your digestive tract, and by resting for at least 10 minutes after you have finished eating, you can vastly improve your digestion.”