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Health store help

Looking for advice on natural wellbeing? Your local independent health stores can offer a wealth of knowledge and expertise. This issue we speak to Claire Longwill, store manager of Food For Thought, Buncrana, Co Donegal

Independent health store advice on natural help for hormonal issues

Hormonal issues can be distressing for women, and many customers ask for our advice in Food for Thought. The main product we recommend for PMS/PMT is agnus castus (chaste tree). This is a traditional herbal medicinal product used to relieve minor symptoms of premenstrual syndrome which range from anxiety, mood swings, irritability, sore breasts and so on.

PMS occurs seven to 14 days before menstruation, the main cause is thought to be an imbalance between oestrogen and progesterone levels in the body. Agnus castus acts on the pituitary gland, and increases the level of progesterone relative to oestrogen. We recommend taking 15-20 drops twice daily in a little water, not just when the symptoms appear.

Another supplement we recommend for PMS/PMT is vitamin B6 as it helps your body produce more progesterone to help repair your system. B6 helps to regulate the mood and stress hormones in your body. A deficiency in progesterone can make PMS more acute in women suffering from PMS.

We also recommend omega 3 fish oil as this regulates hormonal activity, reduces tiredness and fatigue, maintains normal healthy skin and supports muscle function. We recommend one to two capsules daily.

For someone with heavy periods vitamin B12 can help if taken daily, because it replenishes red blood cells. When taken with fish oil, B12 can ease the discomfort linked with period pain.

A common symptom of PMS/PMT is sensitivity and tenderness in your breast area. Evening primrose oil is often recommended for this. It is a rich source of linoleic acid and gamma-linoleic acid (GLA), both of which are omega-6 essential fatty acids and involved in the production of hormone-like substances called prostaglandins. We recommend one to two capsules daily, if possible with vitamin E to protect cells from stress and damage.

The menopause can lead to a number of different hormonal issues for women. The main symptoms we hear about are hot flushes, night sweats, low moods, joint pain, anxiety and sleeping problems. These issues come through the door almost every week. Here at Food For Thought the main product we recommend for women going through this period is sage. This herb helps to rebalance the sweat regulating mechanism in the brain. Sage can help to bring your body temperature back into line. You can choose to take it either during the day to help reduce daytime flushes or before you go to bed to reduce night sweats. Sage is generally safe to take with HRT as it doesn’t have any hormonal action.

With the change of hormones the menopause can lead to anxiety, sleeping problems and even mild depression. For this we recommend avena sativa drops. This comes from the oat plant, which is full of calming soothing nutrients. This herb works at a gradual pace, so building this up in your body can help to build up a resistance to stress and a more calm state of mind.

Due to hormonal changes, lack of sleep is a very common problem we hear from women going through the menopause. We recommend valerian and hops to promote a peaceful refreshing sleep. These herbs will help women who have difficulty falling asleep, trouble staying asleep, waking very early and waking feeling unrefreshed. These herbs can be taken long term, but not if you are on other sleeping medication.

We recommend taking 30 drops in a little water 30 minutes before bed.

Who’s who and what’s what at Food for Thought, Buncrana

Claire Longwill is the senior sales person at Food for Thought. “Paul Brogan, the shop owner opened Food for Thought in 1997. It has moved location a couple of times but now we are in a great position on the main street. We get lots of passing trade and footfall, which means lots of new customers coming through the door.

“Our customers tend to be health conscious – they often know what they are looking for and do their research before they come in. They may ask for particular products. We have a lot of local customers who come back to us because we offer a unique one-on-one service and will make every effort to find the products that suit them best.

Age wise, we get everyone from infants to our oldest customer who will be 100 in September, as well as parents buying for small children who are fussy eaters and older children sitting exams who are stressed. We also get fitness enthusiasts coming in looking for protein for body building and magnesium spray or tablets for recovery after running.

“Good sellers are multivitamins, fish oils and B vitamins for energy boosting. We sell frozen foods and have fridges with alternatives to meat, dairy-free yogurt, cheese, ice cream and pizza. We stock prepacks of nuts, seeds, beans and other dried foods and get bread delivered every Wednesday and Friday, including spelt and honey bread, gluten-free products, and sourdough bread. We love to stock local Inishowen honey , but this is seasonal. So look out for it in August – it can really help our local customers with hay fever.

“Our beauty section includes moisturisers, hand creams, natural hair dyes and gift sets as well as essential oils and diffusers, which are very popular. We stock a full range of eco cleaning products – washing up liquid, laundry liquid, dishwasher tablets and floor cleaner.

“Above the shop we have a therapy room where Siobhan Monaghan offers reflexology and pregnancy reflexology, body massage and head massage. We also have a massage chair that gives a deep tissue massage. There is also a small compact exercise room for people who want to do one-on-one training with a personal trainer.

“Our loyalty card is very popular. For every €100 you spend in Food for Thought you get €5 off your next purchase. A recent development are special offer leaflets called Super Seven. These are seven products within the shop that are on offer.

“We often have tastings with things like gluten-free baking, sourdough bread and tonics; and it can really help to try before you buy. We also stock alkaline water that customers can try, and if they are interested they can buy the machine to install in their home through us.

“And a great bonus for our customers, which not everybody knows about, is 30 minutes free parking on the main street.

Visit: Food for Thought, 51 Upper Main St, Buncrana, Co Donegal
PHONE: 074 9363550
SPEAK TO: Paul Brogan, owner; Claire Longwill, Grainne McLoughlin and Catherine Burns, senior sales people.

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