I’m in my late 20s and have endometriosis which can be painful especially when I’m on my period. Is there a natural treatment you could recommend?

Endometriosis occurs when endometrial cells migrate outside the uterus. The disease is usually found in the pelvic cavity, but endometrial cells can travel to the lungs, causing pain and inflammation, especially during menstruation.

Each woman experiences the symptoms differently, although it causes physical and emotional distress, no matter how extensive. Fortunately, this condition usually responds favorably to dietary adjustments.

Essential fatty acids help reduce inflammation, one of the main pain factors in endometriosis. A vegan diet appears to help reduce symptoms in many patients, in part by increasing fruit and vegetable consumption. Bioflavonoids in brightly colored foods are powerful antioxidants that help repair tissue.

Citrus fruits should be avoided as they can irritate the digestive system, along with processed foods, alcohol and caffeinated beverages. If symptoms subside over a few months, you can slowly introduce these foods into your diet if you wish.

As for supplements, I suggest you invest in a high-quality B-complex, as B-vitamins help the liver eliminate excess estrogen.

One should be open to laparoscopic endometriosis surgery as it may help in the short term. However, this is no guarantee that the endometrial cells will not be displaced and cause problems again.

The book Endometriosis: The Key to Healing and Fertility Through Nutrition by Diane Shepperson Mills and Mike Vernon gives a good overview of dietary adjustments you can make.

For more information and support visit the Endometriosis Association of Ireland website at www.endo.ie.

I have a cough that is hard to get rid of. My doctor prescribed a course of steroids and antibiotics, which had little effect. What would you suggest?

Licorice root (Glycyrrhiza glabra) taken as a tea can be a helpful remedy when it comes to a persistent cough – especially if it’s disturbing your sleep. You can drink licorice tea throughout the day to support your immune system while soothing and healing your throat.

Licorice root is an excellent source of nutrients and contains vitamin E, phosphorus, B vitamins, manganese, iodine, chromium and zinc.

It also provides natural cortisone and contains glycosides, which means it supports immune health, helps nourish the adrenal glands and relieves fatigue and exhaustion.

Licorice root helps to dislodge excess mucus or soothe mucus in a dry cough. There is no need to sweeten licorice tea, as it is a naturally sweet brew that can be taken hot or cold.

Another herb to look out for is a common culinary ingredient that has long been used to support respiratory health. Thyme (Thymus vulgaris) has strong antiseptic properties thanks to the thymol it contains, making it an ideal choice for persistent coughs, respiratory infections, asthma and hay fever.

For herbal infusion, you will need a tablespoon of fresh thyme or a teaspoon of dried thyme and a glass of boiling water. Steep thyme for four to eight minutes and drink two to four cups daily.

You can combine licorice root and thyme to make an herbal infusion rather than taking them individually.

Zinc is essential for immunity as the body secretes the mineral into the liquid as an antiseptic. Tea, coffee and alcohol reduce the level of zinc in the body. You can quickly boost your zinc levels by taking zinc lozenges.

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