Stretch Therapy: The Low Down

Imagine waking after a long, restful sleep. Half-awake, you reach your arms overhead and extend legs, lengthening fingertips and toe tips in opposite directions as far as possible, taking a deep breath (or yawn) as you s-t-r-e-t-c-h… it’s natural, instinctive, and it feels amazing right? So why don’t we stretch more?

In my experience, most people have similar thoughts on stretching:

  • They don’t do enough of it 
  • If they did more, they would feel better and be less prone to injury
  • But it takes time they don’t have
  • They wish someone else could do it for them

STRETCH THERAPY

Whether you are active, or forced to sit for long periods of time at a desk, you may develop strength imbalances, muscle and joint tightness and a loss of range of motion leading to poor posture, ineffective breathing, pain and risk of injury.

Stretch Therapy is a table-based assisted stretch offering a full body assessment; targeted, pain-free stretches that focus on fascia (connective tissue found throughout the body), muscles, joints and the nervous system to restore natural movement to the body.

The use of comfortable straps helps to stabilize the client to the treatment table to facilitate complete relaxation which enhances the effectiveness of the stretches. We often have clients falling asleep during a session, relaxation is an important layer to what we do, down-regulating the nervous system as many of the factors that lead to unhealthy muscle tone are stress induced. We coordinate our movements to the client’s breath, allowing the body to switch from the sympathetic “fight or flight” mode that we are all too often stuck in, to the parasympathetic “rest digest” mode where healing begins.

IMPROVE POSTURE

What is causing the issues in the tissues? Poor posture can be caused by years of habitual physical patterns (sitting, computer gaze, text neck, previous injury to name a few) but just as influential is the emotional state of the person. When we are stressed, feel threatened or sad, we curl inwards to protect our most vulnerable center, our heart. The shoulders round forward, the breastbone collapses and breathing is limited. Even when the emotional vulnerability has passed, the physical posture may remain, this can convince the nervous system that we are still in distress. Posture and ease of movement are so critical to our overall wellbeing.

 In a trained Stretch Therapists hands, you can relax completely. You are encouraged to close your eyes and let us do all the work. We are specially trained to recognize the healthy and safe limit of each muscle, taking it into a new range of movement in small increments, never holding the stretch for long periods of time. This dynamic style of stretching warms and lubricates the joints and sliding surfaces of all of the tissues, allowing the nervous system to accept the new range of movement as healthy.

ELIMINATE PAIN

Stretch Therapy is dance-like, the therapist moving the client’s body in waves, spirals, circles and swoops. With the addition of traction, the stretches become fluid, dynamic and most importantly, pain-free. Movements are coordinated with breath so that the body releases into the new range without struggle or pain. We often have clients who have had some history of assisted stretching with a bio / trainer / physio, and all remark how completely different Stretch Therapy feels.

A client comment I hear often, “I never knew stretching could feel so good, it’s exactly what my body wanted but never knew it needed”.

The entire session is an assessment by the therapist who identifies areas of restriction of natural movement. Instead of focusing on individual muscles, this style of stretch asses and addresses the entire fascia line that connects chains of muscles, joints, ligaments, tendons, nerves and blood vessels via connective tissue. For example, we do not address just the tight hamstring, but rather the entire fascia line (superficial back line) that they sit in, that connects the bottom of the foot, all the way up the back body, ending just above the eyebrows. By assessing and stretching the entire line, the hamstrings are better able to lengthen safely.

MOVE BETTER

Stretch Therapy is valuable to every modern body that finds they are forced to remain stationary for long periods of time, has too little time or motivation to include stretching into their routine, from the athlete, to the weekend warrior, to the workaholic, to the stay at home parent who has little time to treat themselves to an hour of bliss. Human touch is healing, movement is medicine, Stretch Therapy offers an insight into the wonderful potential of each and every body to move freely and joyfully.

For those who are very restricted, a weekly session is recommended, and as the range of movement improves, we scale back to more of a maintenance regime of once every two weeks or once a month.

ACTIVATIONS

Although the Stretch Therapy addresses many tension imbalances in the body, often there is a long history of dysfunction that needs more tools to correct the pattern. For those who suffer from reoccurring injury or tightness that will not relent, I include Be Activated Muscle Testing and Activations. Here were test various muscle groups for under or overactivity, we activate or switch on neural drive to under-active muscles and make reciprocal-partner muscles work better together to stabilise a joint. This is an amazing tool to combine with the Stretch Therapy, particularly for those who take their physical training seriously. Should the activations work well on a client, homework activations are taught to the client to continue their gains. 

Currently there are only four certified Fascia Stretch Therapists™ in South Africa, and only two of those are Level 2 FST™ certified. Training is done in either Arizona, USA or Toronto, Canada. This style of assisted stretch is massively popular overseas and is set to follow suit in South Africa as more and more people recognize the importance of flexibility and mobility in maintaining a healthy and happy body.

Carly Bowden is based in Sandton – bookings can be made here.

In Linden, bookings can be made with Adele van der Walt here.

Photo credit: Chloe O’Dogherty from Kiss Kiss Photography. Model: 

Is My Vajayjay Broken?

Vaginismus. Not a dinner time topic, and one not often discussed, yet it is thought to affect about 17% of woman. “We have done over 10 000 sexual pain consultations at My Sexual Health”, says Dr Rudolph. This is a staggering number!

You may have recently heard term as Netflix has had two series broach the subject of vaginismus. ‘Sex Education’ and ‘Unorthodox’ both have pushed the envelope in highlighting women’s sexual health and opened the discussion.

“One in five women have pain during sex” states Dr Rudolph, “this is not normal“. Shocking right? “Vaginismus is sexual pain, associated with muscle spasms and a fear of penetration”. 

We wanted to give you holistic perspectives on the topic, as most articles on the subject are very clinical. We brought in experts to help from a medical background, providing a two part series on this topic. Covering the why, what and how in this article.

THE UNHEARD OF AFFLICTION

We asked advice of women, who are experts in the field, to bring you the most comprehensive and up-to-date information.

Dr Elna Rudolph, clinical head at My Sexual Health (the largest team of sexual healthcare providers in South Africa). She is both a medical doctor specialising in woman’s sexual health and a sexologist. Hester Aswegen physiotherapist whose speciality is pelvic floor dysfunction and ante- and postnatal physio.

One of the main reasons why women suffer with sexual pain for as long as they do is because doctors don’t get the training needed to even diagnose or refer woman on for treatment. Sadly, a huge percentage of women never get diagnosed. Dr Rudolph reiterates “I always tell doctors that if they don’t have the knowledge about what is causing a woman’s sexual pain in their head, don’t tell her that it is in her head!”

And honestly that is what women frequently get told. The other option often given is a hymenectomy – surgery to make the vaginal opening larger! Often there is nothing wrong with the vaginal opening. Tragically, this story is not uncommon.

THE REAL LIFE IMPACT

At 24 years old, I got married. I could never insert a tampon and never knew why. I was assured by my mother that it would get easier when I got married. Penetration was impossible! Our marriage was eventually consummated through great difficulty and immense pain. To say the honeymoon was a disaster would be an understatement. My husband felt rejected, while I felt guilty at being unable to satisfy him. It placed a huge burden and strain on both of us.

I had become emotionally worn to a point where I would cringe every time my husband came near me, anticipating the pain. I was determined to resolve this. Our GP was clueless as to where to start with all this. Her advise was, ‘Just try and relax’.

Deflated, I then went to a gynecologist thinking that she would have all the answers, being a woman in this field. She booked me in for a hymenectomy which I did not need. The pain continued, making me feel like a complete failure.

Years later I found the courage to try seek help again after realising that my marriage was hanging in the balance and I could not take the weight of mentally preparing myself for the pain I had to go through to satisfy my husband.

“It can be very hard on relationships as the woman will often avoid sex due to the pain and the partner often doesn’t understand this.” Aswegen says. “Some women are too ashamed to talk to their partners. They feel it’s their fault, especially if they have been misdiagnosed, or they haven’t found the right doctor to help them and have been told they must just relax.”

RELATIONSHIP STRAIN

After the hymenectomy, I attempted to get a second opinion from a renowned Gynaecologist, but sadly the outcome was the same. Another surgery, no answers, more pain and more strain on my psychological, emotional and physical wellbeing. I came to the point of such desperation that I thought that it would be easier if my husband just went and had an affair.

As tragic as this is, it is not uncommon. “Many women continue to have sex, although it is painful, for years and years. They don’t know that there is help or they have asked for help and it did not work.  We do a lot to try and get the message out that there is help!” says Dr Rodolph.

“We often recommend counselling both for the individual as well as the couple to help them”, Aswegen adds.

UNHEALTHY MISCONCEPTIONS

There are unfortunately many misconceptions around Vaginismus, because it never spoken about. Aswegen stresses, “People don’t admit to sexual problems and therefore feel very alone and that nothing can be done about it. This can lead to a huge amount of emotional and psychological trauma.”

Here are some of the misconceptions:

  • The problem is in your head
  • All you need to do is relax
  • You too uptight or stressed – have some wine to loosen up
  • Change you position, you are doing it wrong
  • Is it that you don’t find me attractive sexually as a partner?

But here is the thing: women who suffer from vaginismus do get sexually aroused. They have normal wants and needs. Aswegen adds, “It is so important to explain to women that this is a physical condition where the muscles are too tight and they often have an unregulated nervous system or other factors like stress.”

Dr Rudolph goes on to add, “The most common cause is actually a strict religious upbringing.  Of course, one always has to ask about sexual abuse, but in our clinic it is less than in the general population.  Exposure to a traumatic examination or procedure, such as getting a urinary catheter inserted as a child, or a gynaecological examination of a young woman, might cause it.  There is a genetic link also and then medical conditions like provoked vestibulodynia or many other medical causes of sexual pain can cause vaginismus, including going into menopause or having gynaecological surgery.”

SOLVING THE VAGINISMUS RIDDLE

I asked Dr Roudolph why is there such a lack of knowledge in the medical field, regarding vaginismus.

 “We just didn’t have good training in sexual pain in South Africa up until now.  Everything I know about it I learned overseas.  I have 6 hour training program in sexual pain that doctors can do online now – that will help them diagnose and treat almost all forms of sexual pain.”

The different classes of Vaginismus according to Lamont Classification of Degrees (1976)

  • 1st degree vaginismus slight tightness of the pelvic floor, with reassurance and the patient could relax for her examination.
  • 2nd degree vaginismus, generalized tightness of the pelvic floor, the patient cannot relax but allows examination.
  • 3rd degree vaginismus, the pelvic floor spasm is severe that the patient lifts her buttocks off the bed and cannot be examined.
  • 4th degree vaginismus, the most severe tightness and fear, patient tightly closing the knees to prevent any examination.
  • 5th degree vaginismus a complete physical, psychological and physiological reaction -Increased heart rate, palpitations, hyperventilation, trembling, shaking, nausea or vomiting, crying uncontrollably, a feeling of light headedness and fainting, a desire to jump off the table, run away.

VAGINISMUS IS 100% CURABLE

If we could get one message across in this article, it’s that there is so much that can be done about sexual pain and that woman are not alone. Aswegen says, “The goal is to achieve good relaxation of the pelvic floor to allow for pain free sex. Additionally, normal function of the pelvic floor so that there are no other problems with the bladder or bowel either.” She goes on to say, “We want to teach women to have control over their bodies and give them the tools to manage the condition. For some it is once-off and for others they might need to manage it for the rest of their lives.”

Team Beauty Warriors had to ask the big question. Can woman who suffer from Vaginismus achieve a healthy sex life?

“Yes absolutely. Vaginismus can be overcome completely with the correct management and normal pain-free intercourse can be achieved,” Aswegen replied with great confidence. She went on to say “Vaginismus is curable. 100 % curable.”

Dr Rudloph ended off by saying, “Women have to see themselves as being equal to men and claim their right to sexual pleasure. It is theirs for the taking!”

Don’t miss our next article on vaginismus, it will include different treatment modalities, at home interventions and medical aesthetics.

Stop the Clock with Good Nutrition

As I hit the “Big 4-0” today, I might as well embrace it in the best way possible: by discussing optimum nutrition & lifestyle choices.

Ageing is inevitable, but the speed at which we age is not. There is so much you can do to slow the ageing process. We need to consider not only adding years to our life, but how to add life to our years! The decisions we make from our 40s onwards can directly influence our quality of life in later year. For many of us, optimum nutrition can add 10 healthy years to our lives. Genes account for a quarter of how we manage the ageing process – the rest is down to diet and lifestyle.

Incorporating exercise and optimum nutrition into your everyday lifestyle slows down aging. You will enjoy clearer skin, glossy hair, a firm, toned and fit body, and an agile mind. This can help boost your immunity which helps to protect yourself from physical and mental degenerative diseases and enjoy a healthier, longer life.

Avoid or reduce stress

Sleep well. Avoiding or reducing stress may prove to be an important life extension factor. Prolonged stress causes depletion of the adrenal hormone DHEA. Low DHEA levels are associated with an increased risk of many chronic diseases, including Alzheimer’s, cancer and heart disease, and of ageing in general.

Include the omega-3 and -6 essential fats in your diet

An important component of a healthy ageing diet are the omega-3 and -6 essential fats. Not only do essential fats keep cell membranes smooth and soft, they also help the membranes to do a better job of controlling what goes in and out of cells. Without enough fats in the cell membranes, they are not able to retain water and lose their plumpness. So include plenty of healthy fatty foods in your diet, such as fish, coconut oil, butter, nuts, seeds, and olive oil. Have seeds in salads, as snacks, or ground up and on granola, yoghurt or soup.

Eat whole grains

Given the importance of keeping our digestive tract and liver in good working order, it is important to have a diet that includes unprocessed foods naturally high in fibre, such as whole grains, vegetables, lentils and beans.

Eat more raw food

Cooking destroys enzymes and vitamins, and minerals may be thrown out with the cooking liquid. Overcooking leads to free radical formation and poor absorption of nutrients and any process that turns food brown produces carcinogenic compounds. So cut down on the microwave, cooker, grill oven and toaster, and start eating more salads, fresh juices and blended foods.

Eat more antioxidant foods

The deeper the pigment, the more antioxidants a fruit or vegetable contains. Carrots and tomatoes contain beta-carotene, a precursor to vitamin A, vitamin C is found in fruit and veg and vitamin E is found in seeds, nuts and fish. Anthocyanidins are high in blue and purple foods, such as berries and red grapes.

Exercise 30 mins daily

Cardio exercise is an all-natural way to lift your mood, improve your memory, and protect your brain against age-related cognitive decline. In other words, it’s the closest thing to a miracle drug that we have. A wealth of research suggests that any type of exercise that raises your heart rate and gets you moving and sweating for a sustained period of time has a significant and beneficial effect on the brain as well as your heart.

Following a blood sugar balancing lifestyle

It often seems like there can’t be a single best diet for your health. But a growing body of research suggests that a meal plan focusing on vegetables, protein, and healthy fats has key benefits for losing weight, keeping the mind sharp, and protecting the heart and brain as you age.

Never smoke

No other habit has been so strongly tied to death. In addition to cancer, smoking causes heart disease, stroke, lung diseases, diabetes, and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, which includes emphysema and chronic bronchitis

Sticking to a healthy body weight

When it comes to quickly assessing the health of large groups of people, a measure called body mass index, or BMI, can be helpful. Generally speaking, a BMI of between 18.5 and 24.9 is considered within the “healthy range” for healthy adults over age 20. Because of this, it makes sense that the latest study used this BMI range to define what they considered an “optimal” body weight. Essentially, they found that people who fell within that BMI range tended to outlive people who fell outside of it and were either overweight or underweight.

Drink lots of water as water makes up 67% of the body

For more information on ShazEats, visit her website and Instagram, or else see author panel below.

Bliss: Ease Your Pregnancy with Massage

Pregnancy massage has been valued as an effective therapy in nearly all cultures around the world for thousands of years.  Dating back to India as part of their Ayurvedic culture just over 3000 years ago as well as documentation found in the early Greek and Minoan civilizations dating back 5000 years ago, all state the benefits of regular pregnancy massage for mom and baby.

Pregnancy massage is a fast-growing must-have! A recent survey conducted revealed that 8 out of 10 pregnant women would love to receive regular pregnancy massages. More and more health care providers are recognizing the benefits their patients receive during pre-natal massages. Some hospitals now offer massage in their pre-natal units worldwide.

THE HORMONAL ROLLERCOASTER Pregnant women

The nine months of pregnancy can be a rollercoaster of emotions for mom-to-be, from exhilaration to anxiety, stress, and happiness, you name it, you will experience it.  Not only are your emotions highly charged, but physically your body will undergo massive changes to sustain and help develop your little bundle of Joy!

The biggest cause hereof, are your massive hormonal changes. Although these hormones are essential for a healthy pregnancy, they can leave you feeling emotionally and physically exhausted. The escalation in progesterone and estrogen can cause you to experience extreme mood changes. The hormones can also cause pregnancy depression or anxiety, this should always be monitored by your physician.

MAKING SPACE FOR BABA

Numerous anatomical and physiological changes occur during pregnancy that strain the muscles and skeleton, particularly the pelvis, which in turn may lead to discomfort and pain in the lower back, leg cramps and hip pain.

The pelvis goes through a tilting process, whereby room is made for your growing baby and your uterus. As the pelvis tilts the spine also arches inward. This causes a change in the center of gravity and in the later pregnancy stages causes the pregnancy waddle, your body is trying to accommodate skeletal changes. This change in center of gravity now also places a lot of strain on the muscles – particularly the lower back region. Some expectant moms experience sciatic pain which is a sharp shooting pain from either lower back or buttocks down to your lower legs, this is aggravated by muscle strain that irritate the sciatic nerve.

Progesterone is one of the hormones that loosens all the smooth muscles & ligaments in the body allowing for the big 9 months stretch. This is an important effect needed for the growth of the baby, but the negative side is that, this is one of the major causes for your muscular discomfort.

MASSAGES BRING YOU JOY ..LITERALLY!

Let us take an in-depth look at the numerous benefits regular pregnancy massage can offer you whether at home or at your nearest spa.

Massage is known to stimulate the production of endorphins, the body’s built-in pain relief and mood enhancing neurotransmitters, you undoubtedly are familiar with the sensation the release of these hormones bring; they are behind the rush you get after a good exercise session or a good laughing fit to name a few.

In terms of enhancing mood and aiding anxiety and depression, Dr Tiffany Field pioneered the way for pregnancy massage studies. She is a director of the Touch Medical Institute in the Department of Pediatrics at the University of Miami, School of Medicine.  She is a renowned expert in the field of pregnancy massage based on data collected from many pregnant women. She carefully divided the women into two test groups. One group had regular pregnancy massage therapy sessions prior to birth and the other not. She had carefully questioned the woman during the stages of their pregnancy to analyze their mental state.

She concluded that woman who went for regular pregnancy massage had decreased depression, anxiety, leg & back pain. She also concluded that their Cortisol levels were decreased. Cortisol is what we refer to as the stress hormone that is released in your body and aggravates things like depression and anxiety. Not only does Pregnancy Massage elevate endorphins, but it also increases the release of serotonin, which aids in better sleep as well as increased release of dopamine which is another “feel good” hormone.

The pregnancy hormone Relaxin lives up to its name. Many pregnant women experience hip pains in their second or third trimester, which is usually caused by the loosening of the ligaments holding together the sacroiliac joints, which connect your spine to your pelvis. While this joint-and-ligament relaxation helps with the birthing process, it can cause pain in your hips, lower back, and legs as the weight of your uterus bears down on your newly mobile bones and joints. It can result in inflammation, misalignment or bones grinding against bones.

By using specialized pregnancy massage techniques, we can drastically reduce a pregnant mom’s discomfort in the hip area.

As your beautiful bump grows, the lower spine will curve inward to support your baby’s weight and the top of your spine will curve slightly outward to support the growth of your breasts. This change in posture causes the muscles along your spine and particularly on the lower back to take strain. This strain induces lactic acid release which causes the muscles in your back to become rigid and stiff and is accompanied by pain. Massaging this area with specialized and pregnancy safe massage techniques will help to stretch and smooth the rigid muscles as well as improve lymphatics and circulation in order to help release the toxic build up, allowing for fresh oxygenated blood to fill the area and heal. Not to mention how amazing and pain free you feel after a good massage!

LESS DISCOMFORT FOR EXPECTING MOTHERS

A pregnant woman’s circulatory system takes a big toll. Your body produces 50% more blood volume, so your circulatory system is working twice as hard to circulate blood through it. Massage activates the nervous system, which in turn causes the blood to circulate more freely, enhanced circulation improves oxygen in the blood, heart and arteries and allows her blood to flow more freely, preventing and minimizing the risk of swelling. For your baby, massage during pregnancy increases systemic blood circulation, so oxygen and nutrients can reach the fetal cells, providing greater nourishment and a better health index for the growing baby.  By stimulating and draining lymph, you will also experience an improvement in the feeling of fatigue and tiredness.

Swelling is a normal part of pregnancy that is caused by the additional blood volume. Normal swelling, which is also called Oedema, is experienced in the hands, face, legs, ankles, and feet. This extra retention of fluid is needed to soften the body, which enables it to expand as the baby develops.  Swelling may be experienced at any point during pregnancy, but it tends to be noticed around the fifth month and can increase drastically in the third trimester.

Factors that can increase Oedema are summertime heat, standing for long periods of time, long days of activity, diet low in potassium, high level of caffeine consumption and high level of sodium intake.  To relieve Oedema, you must get fluid moving through and out the body, gentle pregnancy massage drainage techniques is ideal for this. A study published in the International Journal of Nursing Practice found that pregnant women, who were given 20min foot massages daily had significantly less Oedema than those who did not.

Headaches may occur at any time of your pregnancy, but they tend to be most common during the 1st and 3rd trimesters. During the 1st trimester, your pregnant body experiences a surge of hormones and an immediate increase in blood volume, these two changes can cause more frequent headaches. Headaches may be further aggravated by stress, poor posture, or changes in your vision.  Headaches during the 3rd trimester tend to be more related to poor posture and tension from carrying the extra weight.  Regular pregnancy massage can help alleviate tension and stress in your back muscles which could offer instant relief after a pregnancy massage session.

We now know that stress plays a major factor in the risk of preterm labor, we have also established that regular pregnancy massage can reduce our stress hormones and elevate our happy ones. As per the study done by Dr Tiffany Field, the findings in her study groups was that the women who had regular pregnancy massages reduced the risk of preterm labor drastically as well as experiencing significantly less labor pain and the study revealed that their labors were 3hrs shorter on average.

With all these benefits, we believe that a pregnant woman should have massage at the top of her nine-months-bucket list!  You can either request your trained therapist to book for @ Home Massages or why not get your partner to skill up and get their hands massaging!

The Massage You Desperately NEED

CBD is all the rage at the moment and in times these, it’s no wonder. So you have heard about CBD oil and you may have heard about the vapes and the skincare benefits, but did you know you could have a CBD massage?

Team Beauty Warriors was invited to have one just before corona lockdown, lucky me, it was much needed and well-timed. If you are a bit hesitant after hearing all sorts of information – not sure if CBD is brain-altering and you just want to try a milder version of it, or if you are in desperate need to reduce anxiety or chronic pain, here is our insider take on the CBD massage.

Prior to the massage we spoke to head trainer and CBD expert from Goodleaf Amy Paterson, and asked her why we should try a massage incorporating CBD oil.

“For those with chronic pain and muscle soreness, CBD will change the way you manage daily living.” When asked how, Amy went on to say, “As an anti-inflammatory, CBD helps to manage neuropathic pain and provides relief of muscle tension without adverse side effects.”

The massage was booked at Urban Bliss Wellness Spa. Massage specialist Gugulethu began the treatment with myrrh and CBD roller on the temples to ease head tension and headaches, then she asked me to inhale the scent three times. Six drops of CBD oil were mixed with grapeseed carrier oil and another 4-6 drops were used neat on areas of concern either for pain or inflammation.

The massage was conducted with long flowing strokes aimed to ease tension. Specific focus was paid on sore and tight muscles, pain or injuries, and the pressure was adjusted to work out muscle tension. It felt like a stress release massage that was deeply relaxing. For days thereafter, I was left with a sense of calm and ease and would highly recommend it if you are coping with stress, anxiety, chronic pain, inflammatory conditions, tension, emotional strain or are unable to calm an overactive mind. For those who have suffered from burn-out or heading that way, regular CBD massages are a must.

Beauty Warriors Tip: book the massage for a late afternoon session or on a weekend as I had a desire to go to bed after the treatment and give my body the downtime it needed after the massage. Also and this one is vital, if you are taking CBD drops internally half the dosage the day you have the massage.

Urban Bliss Wellness Spa informed me that they have also treated clients who suffer from Parkinson’s, fibromyalgia, and arthritis, and their clients have had great benefit from regular treatments.

It all sounds wonderful I know, but I did have a few questions as to how effective the CBD massage is on its own? Also if I have been using the drops daily and whether I should combine the two? I sat down with Director and head of marketing of Elixir Africa, Zaheera Bham Ismail to shed some light on the above, and here is what she had to say.

“CBD is known to aid with anxiety and have a calming effect. It assists with pain relief and also works as an anti-inflammatory. CBD can be absorbed into the body sublingually (placed under the tongue), ingestion, topically, or via inhalation. When CBD is applied to the skin, it doesn’t reach the bloodstream but can be absorbed through the skin’s surface to interact with the nearby cannabinoid receptors. CBD is also permeable to the skin through the pores when applied liberally during the massages. Research published in the European Journal of Pain (2015) found that “topical CBD application has therapeutic potential for relief of arthritis pain-related behaviors and inflammation without evident side-effects.” I think it’s imperative to be aware of the quality of the CBD products being used. When purchasing any products, always look for the following: is it a reputable brand or company? Do they have associated COAS (independent lab tests)? And are they SAHPRA compliant? Companies like Elixir thrive on providing premium grade products to its consumers by ensuring all these boxes are ticked.”

On the question about combining both the drops and massage, Zaheera went on to explain, “The SA legislation allows for a maximum dosage of 20mg per day. It’s imperative that you monitor the dosage. In addition to premium-grade CBD, Elixir also offers effect-based oils that can be matched with the massage oils and we have calculated this to ensure that you don’t exceed the daily recommended allowances. Numerous studies suggest that CBD interacts with receptors throughout the body to create balancing and healing effects. Combining both, the topical and the oral ingestion will provide a more enhanced effect for the client.”

So there you have it, we give CBD massage a huge thumbs up!

Endometriosis: The Silent Disorder

Endometriosis is an often painful disorder in which tissue similar to the tissue that normally lines the inside of your uterus — the endometrium — grows outside your uterus. Endometriosis most commonly involves your ovaries, fallopian tubes and the tissue lining your pelvis. Endometrial tissue may spread beyond pelvic organs in some cases.

Endometrial growths, much like the lining inside the uterus during menstruation, may also become inflamed and bleed, causing the tissue to remain trapped in the body. It can further lead to the growth of scar tissue, as well as cause adhesions of fibrous tissue sticking together.

Endometriosis is a problem more women suffer from than any of us realize. Many women suffer in silence, and even more women suffer without really knowing what is wrong. It affects 1 in 10 women and is a painful disease affecting women in their reproductive years and can lead to infertility.

As an endometriosis warrior myself, I can definitely say that endometriosis affected me emotionally, in my case, not just because of the constant pain but also because it is unbearable pain that no one can see, and because endometriosis is not very commonly known amongst women and people in general, I sometimes felt that people did not take me seriously, which was a very isolating experience in an already vulnerable state.

“Pain is the most common symptom, and women with endometriosis may experience many different levels of pain.”, says Dr Hanelie Pienaar of Wilgers Life Hospital, a specialist gynecologist with a special interest in endometriosis.

Other symptoms may include:

  • Very painful menstrual cramps. The pain may get worse over time.
  • Chronic (long-term) pain in the lower back and pelvis
  • Pain during or after sex. This is usually described as a “deep” pain and is different from pain felt at the entrance to the vagina when penetration begins.
  • Intestinal pain
  • Painful bowel movements or pain when urinating during menstrual periods. In rare cases, you may also find blood in your stool or urine.
  • Bleeding or spotting between menstrual periods.
  • Infertility, or not being able to get pregnant.
  • Stomach (digestive) problems. These include diarrhea, constipation, bloating, or nausea, especially during menstrual periods.

Although the exact cause of endometriosis is not certain, possible explanations include:

  • Retrograde menstruation. In retrograde menstruation, menstrual blood containing endometrial cells flows back through the fallopian tubes and into the pelvic cavity instead of out of the body. These endometrial cells stick to the pelvic walls and surfaces of pelvic organs, where they grow and continue to thicken and bleed over the course of each menstrual cycle.
  • Transformation of peritoneal cells. In what is known as the “induction theory,” experts propose that hormones or immune factors promote transformation of peritoneal cells — cells that line the inner side of your abdomen — into endometrial-like cells.
  • Embryonic cell transformation. Hormones such as estrogen may transform embryonic cells — cells in the earliest stages of development — into endometrial-like cell implants during puberty.
  • Surgical scar implantation. After a surgery, such as a hysterectomy or C-section, endometrial cells may attach to a surgical incision.
  • Endometrial cell transport. The blood vessels or tissue fluid (lymphatic) system may transport endometrial cells to other parts of the body.
  • Immune system disorder. A problem with the immune system may make the body unable to recognize and destroy endometrial-like tissue that’s growing outside the uterus.

Treatment options

Not all treatments work well for all women with endometriosis. Also, endometriosis symptoms may return after the treatment is stopped or, in the case of surgery, as more time passes after the procedure.

Some treatment to relieve pain may include hormone therapy, pain medications, surgical treatments, certain massages to relieve stress and inflammation, and pelvic floor physiotherapy. There is also other at home treatments like a hot water bottle, following a healthy balanced diet etc

According to Margarita Loannou, Spa operations manager from Legacy Balance Spa Group South Africa, the Muscle Ease Treatment that is available at The Leonardo Spa is an ultra-relaxing treatment, with its gentle warmth and fragrant scent of lavender flowers that helps you gently reduce stress and ease pain. With a combination of light strokes, pressure and stretching, this very original body massage using Thai-inspired warm pouches filled with lavender flowers, eliminates tension knots one by one and restores balance to the whole body.

Living with chronic pain, especially of such a sensitive nature can take a toll on your emotional state, leading to stress, anxiety, and depression, therefore if you are struggling with your diagnosis, please seek professional help. There are also support groups both online and physically where you will find information, as well as other women who share your experience so that you do not have to feel alone.

Endo Warriors South Africa NPC: https://www.facebook.com/endowarrior/

South African Endometriosis Support: https://www.facebook.com/groups/1319002964863357/

Sources:

  • Dr Hanelie Pienaar
  • Dr Isabel Deist
  • Margarita Loannou from Legacy Balance Spa Group South Africa
  • Mayo Clinic

Fight The Fear Of Covid-19 With Our Body Boosters.

Right now, the whole world is panicking. All we are hearing about is COVID-19…

The pandemic known as COVID-19 is a virus that has been spreading through continents at a rapid pace. This new strain of coronavirus, previously not identified in humans, is the cause of an outbreak of a respiratory illness. As it attacks your body, your immune system will try to defend it, but if your immune system is compromised then you stand more of a chance of getting sick.

There is a lot of advice about “how to wash your hands”, “using hand sanitizer” and of course “the lockdown” but what we aren’t talking about is how food plays a vital role in times like these, especially as it helps reinforce your immune system.

Your immune system is essential for survival, it is a vast network of cells and tissues on the lookout for invaders such as bacteria, viruses, parasites and more and once these enemies are spotted, a complex attack is initiated. Providing your immune system with the correct nutrients through a balanced diet will assist in fighting off disease and keeping you healthy. So, besides this lockdown, sanitising and washing your hands, what you eat, and drink directly impacts how well your immune system functions and how well it protects you from foreign invasions.

Considering this, in addition to a balanced diet, here is quick essential food guide to boosting, strengthening, and fortifying your immune system:

Fruits

Citrus Fruits: All citrus fruits, such as oranges and sweet limes, are rich in vitamin C (ascorbic acid). Vitamin C is essential for enhancing our immune system and helps keep infectious diseases at bay. Citrus fruits help detoxify all chemicals and toxins from the bloodstream as well as an antioxidant for necessary absorption of iron in the body.

Fresh Berries: Berries are tiny, tasty and tantalizing colourful and are amongst the healthiest foods you can eat. Not only are they delicious and nutritious but do provide several impressive health benefits. Berries are rich in antioxidants, vitamin C and K, manganese and other micronutrients which make berries a super disease fighting fruit.

Kiwi: Kiwi is no ordinary fruit, both in the way it looks as well as its nutritional content. If you thought lemons and oranges were the highest sources of Vitamin C, think again. Compared to lemons and oranges, kiwis have twice as much vitamin C per 100 grams.

Guava: Guava is considered a traditional remedy for a range of health conditions, but it is drinking the guava leaf that has shown promise as an antiviral agent for flu treatment. Researchers have found that guava leaf tea inhibits the growth of viruses that causes the flu.

Cruciferous Vegetables

I have spoken about them before, and I cannot stress enough how important it is to include cruciferous vegetables in your daily diet. These types of vegetables are a diverse group, which grow in different colours, shape and sizes and share several nutritional benefits. These delicious vegetables such as broccoli, cabbage and kale, are rich in folate, vitamin A, C and K, they are also believed to have plant-based compounds that may boost your immune system, help lower inflammation and reduce the risk of developing cancer. These non-starchy, immune boosting vegetables can be eaten raw, steamed but blending or juicing is equally beneficial.

Nuts

Almonds: Almonds are an excellent source of antioxidants, vitamin E which can be found in almonds, plays a vital role in immune function. Just a small handful or a quarter cup can be a healthy snack that may be beneficial in boosting your immune defence.

Sunflower Seeds: Another excellent source in vitamin E are sunflower seeds. These seeds can make a tasty addition to salads and breakfast bowls.

Walnuts: Walnuts are known to be one of the most concentrated food sources of nutrient provided by nature. Rich in phosphorus and potassium, low in sodium, good sources of Vitamin B1, B2, B3 and particularly B6. Walnuts also contain iron, magnesium, calcium, zinc, copper, and manganese, all these components help with a stronger immune system.

Other

Garlic: For centuries, garlic has been used both as a food ingredient and a medicine. When garlic is crushed, chewed, or sliced, it produces allicin – a compound which has shown to boost the disease fighting response when encountering viruses that cause the common cold and flu.

Ginger: Ginger is a well-known herb and spice. Adding ginger to your meals or used in a tea, will help the immune system perform optimally by boosting it when it is under-active or suppress it when it is overactive

Water

A key component to a functioning immune system is drinking enough clean water daily. Water is essential for every metabolic function in the body, as it delivers nutrients to cells and helps remove toxins and waste. When there is a lack of water, the areas prone to bacteria and virus overgrowth, such as the throat, are vulnerable to colds and flus.

So, if you were wondering what more you could do to protect you and your family; besides hand washing and social distancing, these key nutrient tips mentioned above are basic ways to keep your immune system functioning optimally, which help keep you healthy and give you a sense of control during these uncertain times.

Beauty Warriors Tip: I know not many people are diligent when it comes to getting the flu vaccine before flu season starts, but during these times, it may be recommended just to give your immune system all the help it can get. No one wants to catch the flu during a pandemic. The flu vaccine is readily available through pharmacies and GPs – please call them ahead of time to confirm their COVID-19 protocols.

Stay home. Stay safe.

Dangers of Microneedling at Home

In a technologically advanced, and not to mention, expensive world, we tend to seek ways to ‘do it yourself’. Whether it is finding home remedies for health issues, doing tasks for school for my 6-year old, or beautifying myself (because time is always an issue).

That is the truth of our modern, hasty life. But where do I draw the line?

“Oh, I saw someone on Youtube remove their appendix with a scalpel…maybe I should try that!”

One of the most popular aesthetic treatments that can be done in a salon, clinic or medical practice is microneedling. This treatment has been around since 1995 and has grown in its popularity and techniques ever since. It can be used in a broad spectrum of dermatological conditions such as acne scarring, scar revision and wound repair, skin rejuvenation, pigmentation, fine lines and wrinkles, enlarged pores and the transdermal delivery of active ingredients. The possibilities of this treatment are endless. It is a form of Collagen Induction Therapy (CIT) which offers clinical results without the surgical costs or inconvenience.

The theory behind microneedling is to make the skin believe that it has received a wound, therefor setting off a healing cascade to produce more collagen. Growth factors are released leading to the synthesis of Matrix Metalloproteinase and the deposition thereof in the dermis. In a study it was shown that 1 microneedling session every 4 weeks for 4 sessions, could improve collagen and elastin synthesis with 400%.

This treatment was nicknamed ‘the poor man’s laser’ as medical devices have become very expensive for practitioners to buy. When this treatment is combined with other treatment modalities such as chemical peels, the effect is magnified.

All this sounds too good to be true. I almost want to run and get my own device. But let’s look at the adverse side effects that can happen if this treatment is not done in a professional environment.

This video was published on Youtube about a lady who is doing her own microneedling at home.

Recognize the dangers of doing this treatment at home?

  • There are no sterilizing/sanitizing techniques before or after the treatment, therefore there is a high possibility of contamination or local infections
  • There is no consideration of medical history that may influence the treatment or products used.
  • A topical numbing solution is used without knowing the adverse side effects of these solutions and the toxicity to the body, being exposed to Lidocaine/Prilocaine/ Tetracaine, etc.
  • A 36-needle cartridge was used which is used for bodywork and scar repair because of the bigger configuration of needles
  • A needle depth that ranges between 1mm and 2.5mm was used during the procedure. Needle depth needs to be adjusted according to areas where skin thickness and sensitivity varies. Researchers described needle depth and penetration. 0.5mm-1mm for fine lines and wrinkles, 1-1.5mm for acne scarring, etc. This is worked way too deep into the deeper dermal layers, causing blood to run over the skin.
  • The ingredients of the product that is used are unknown as well as the benefits or adverse side effects that this may cause after penetration
  • Water was used to lubricate the area. There is a reason we have a waterproof barrier in our skins, so that water and other substances cannot penetrate the skin.

Possible Adverse side-effects:

  • PIH – Post inflammatory Hyper/ hypopigmentation (too much trauma)
  • Erythema – Inflammation! Inflammation causes Ageing!
  • Aggravation of acne
  • Reactivation of Herpes
  • Systemic hypersensitivity
  • Local infections
  • Bruising
  • Release of Interleukin 6&9 may cause scarring
  • Exposure to toxic or irritating substances causing allergic contact dermatitis
  • Numbing cream used – numbing cream gets absorbed into the blood stream, may lead to allergic reactions.

In the last few years, we have seen an explosion of these devices being sold online for anybody to obtain. Whether you are a trained professional or not.

Remember that there are Qualified Professionals that are trained on these devices to work in a safe manner, with the ethical protocol. They have the experience and they know how to deal with adverse side effects. They know how to combine different treatment modalities to give you the best possible results that you could hope for.

If you need any information on these treatments, phone a salon/clinic/medical practitioner near you and ask questions. Ask about the therapist’s qualifications, the type of treatments they offer, the active ingredients that they use. It is important to understand the aftercare after a procedure. Care about your skin and trust your therapist.

‘Beautiful skin requires commitment, not a Miracle’

-Erno Laszlo

The sweet tooth: Is fruit sugar bad or good for you?

Eating more fruits and vegetables, or your “5 a day” is one of the world’s most common health recommendations. Fruits are healthy – they are real, wholefoods. They are known to some as “nature’s fast food” being convenient, easy to carry and prepare.

However, fruits are known to be high in sugar compared to other wholefoods, so it is possible to wonder whether they are truly healthy after all.

I am about to clear up the confusion on this topic once and for all.

As you and I know, refined sugar, such as found in chocolates and sweets, has categorically no nutritional value, whereas fruits not only contain natural sugars but are also full of vitamins, minerals, fibre and antioxidants that help promote a healthier lifestyle.

One of the biggest misunderstandings today, is that sugar in fruit will make you gain weight but what people do not realise is that there is an important difference between sugar in its natural form (the way nature intended) and the devilishly addictive refined sugar we are familiar with and use every day in our coffee or tea. In saying this, we are going to explore the effects both fruit sugar and refined sugar has when metabolised in our bodies.

This is where things can get a bit sticky, we need to understand that fructose and glucose are found in both fruit and refined sugars, even though they are created differently, our bodies cannot tell the difference. Both these sugars are similar in chemical formula, but they have a different metabolic fate.

In short, the metabolism of fructose from dietary products happens primarily in the liver where there is a conversion of fructose to glucose before it enters cellular respiration whereas glucose is metabolised within the cells throughout the body and readily enters glycolysis – which in not-so-technical terms is on-demand fuel for the body to maintain function.

So now that we have a basic understanding of how sugar in general is metabolised, we can now establish why eating fruit is proven to be beneficial to your health.

Foods loaded with refined sugar that contain little to no fibre allow sugar to quickly travel through the bloodstream causing that sugar high and crash. On the other hand, fruit is an excellent source of fibre – one banana provides about 20 – 25% of your recommended daily fibre intake and this has been proven important for protection against bowel cancer. Fruit is also an excellent source of potassium; this can help lower blood pressure, as well as flavonoids (these are antioxidants) that may reduce your risk of heart disease.

Now that we have squashed the misconception that fruit sugars are not bad for you, moderation is still the key to any healthy diet. Regardless of which sugar you are consuming; I still recommend that you are better off reaching for a piece of fruit than a chocolate or sweet.

Fruit sugars ward off your sweet tooth and will keep you feeling full for longer, Hang in there and don’t always give in to that late-night garage stop pit stop.

Only The Best for Your Breasts

Would you believe that 80% of women wear the wrong bra size! It shouldn’t surprise me, my friends have often complained about their bra strap cutting into them or their underwire poking into bits it shouldn’t. You can relate, right? There are days you can’t wait to get home just to take your bra off! But there is absolutely no reason it should be like this.

Our February Beauty Warriors event was held at The Bra Guru’s flagship store in Craighall and theme was all around ‘Owning your feminine’. We had managing director and expert bra fitter, Taryn Palacios gave us first-hand information on what NO ONE ever told you about bras. The first misconception she broke was the difference between a bra measurement and a bra fitting.

Everyone has been into department store at some stage to have a bra measurement, but trust me – it is no comparison to a bra fitting. What Taryn said made absolute sense:

“A measurement is simply a guideline, I would be very wary of someone giving you your size based on a measurement alone. Your true size is determined by the style of bra that suits you and that is why we recommend a bra fitting service over a measurement.”

She was 100% right: I had my first ever bra fitting with her at the event, a service that they offer complimentary.

Confession first: I am one of those women who were fixated with bra size. Hear me out, I started off with a perfect B cup, took the pill and sized up, breast fed my daughter for half a second and sized up again. As she grew, so did my breast size, but thankfully my size 34 band size stayed stable. I honestly thought, I would have a nervous breakdown if I had needed anything larger than a D cup.

To my horror and shock, Taryn fitted me into a size 32” E-G cup, depending on the style. Once I got over myself, which took a while, and questioning her a hundred times over about the cup size, I am absolutely in-love with the fit of the styles we decided on. They give a beautiful silhouette in my clothes and great coverage, which is what I always wanted. I was definitely part of the clueless 80%.

Bra Guru caters for people of all shapes and sizes with band sizes from 28”-58” and sizes A-K cup.

Taryn went on to talk about what are the most common misconceptions about bras/bra fittings, here they are:

  • That all bras fit the same
  • Your size is the same throughout your life,
  • Bras are uncomfortable
  • Wire bras are more supportive than no-wire bras.

What can you expect during the fitting? Firstly, you don’t stand there starkers; neither does she fondle your breasts. It is all very discreet, in a beautifully appointed room. Taryn stands behind you and whisks in and out with different bra styles, all the time, monitoring fit and comfort.

Our bra expert tip: when fitting, bend forward slightly once you have tried on a bra and gently scoop your breast inwards, to see how the bra would fit once it has shifted in the day for the best fit.

“90% of the support of a bra comes from the back band and only 10% should come from the shoulder band, not the other way around. It is important to know that you shouldn’t be wearing the same bra for years, as they stretch. Bras do have an expiration date, but a good quality one can last you longer. When your bra starts to become uncomfortable it is a sign that you need a new style or size.” says Taryn are some of the essentials you should be aware of, she goes on to say, “If your bra band is riding up your back that is a true sign that your bra is now too big and offering you NO support. “When it comes to bra shopping look for style that a versatile and one you can wear with most clothing items, we highly recommend our Perfect T-shirt Bra.

I asked Taryn, how would I tell the different bra styles or different styles for different sizes? “It can be very tricky because so many times we will wear a style that is not doing what it needs to do out of desperation. If your breasts are not fully covered and the band around your body does not feel a little bit firm then I would say the style is not for you. We also have to consider bra style vs breast shape, the shape of your breasts will also determine what may and may not work for you.”

She finished the session off by talking about aftercare advice to make your underwear last, “All intimate wear benefits from hand-washing, this is more of a quick rinse in mild soapy water. Garments should be left to dry away from harsh direct sunlight. Bras with thicker foam cups must be stored differently to avoid damaging the foam.”

When I asked Taryn, what makes the Bra Guru so unique; her answer was “Our professional one-on-one service sets us apart. When it comes to finding the perfect size and style, private and professional service is paramount. We offer comfortable fitting rooms where all the bras are brought in for you and are fitted to make sure the size and style is correct. Bra shopping must be quick, discreet and painless, and we can guarantee this at any of our studios! We are also home to The Perfect Bra.”

Team Beauty Warriors have secured a 10% discount until the end of February on selected ranges at the Bra Guru. Hurry and contact them today to get the right fit:

+2711 8860871 | taryn@thebraguru.co.za | www.thebraguru.co.za