Feeling Good with nutritional therapist Nikki Dake

Shrug off summer stress and chill out
Simple herbs and spices can bring you relief and improve your quality of life

People seem to associate stress and depression with the winter months, but summer brings its own problems and by the end of July many people are run ragged, coping with high temperatures, humidity and, perhaps, the school holidays. Stress is a spiralling complaint – the more you worry about it, the more it increases.

Early symptoms can be as diverse as panic attacks, decreased libido and cold sores. The spiral can be broken simply by analysing the source and dealing with it; but that’s often easier said than done. The medical options are dire, including Prozac, Valium and Xanax, all of which pose risk of addiction. Herbal alternatives are excellent, especially St John’s Wort (SJW), which the Greeks have used for centuries. SJW has been much maligned but studies suggest it’s not only as effective as some prescription drugs, it also has fewer side effects. Must be why the pharma barons financially support media diatribes rubbishing it!

The origins of any herbal supplement are paramount; it’s why I emphasise buying reputable brands like North American Herb and Spice. Their SJW formulation of crude full strength wild herbs from remote mountain regions supplies high levels of flavonoids and hyperforin, the active constituent believed to support the brain’s neurotransmitters.

NAHS have also combined SJW with other wild herbs and gingko biloba to make Neuroloft which, they suggest, makes a great stress-buster. Gingko is the world’s oldest living tree species and the leaves have been used in herbal supplements for over 5,000 years; it’s been well researched for its effects on improving blood circulation and cognitive performance.
Ripple Creek brand also combines SJW with gingko and adds in Siberian ginseng – also known as eleuthero – which is well documented as an adaptogen, helping the body to deal with stress by supporting the adrenal gland.

I could eulogise forever about these three alone leaving me no room for two stress-busting oils – lavender and myrtle. Lavender is a wonderful calming agent with true healing properties when used as a tea made from the leaves, or topically. Aromatherapy oils should never be taken internally, but there’s a medicinal quality Oil of Lavender (main picture), with excellent curative powers for tension, stress-induced stomach discomfort and much more.
Myrtle is not well documented, but Dr Cass Ingram’s book Lifesaving Cures recommends it for a wide spectrum of problems from skin complaints to fungal infections. If flagging libido is causing stress – as well it might! – myrtle will be your true friend; not only an aphrodisiac but stimulatory when strategically applied. Again aromatherapy essential myrtle oil should never be used neat on the skin or internally, but NAHS myrtle preparation with olive oil is both safe and effective. Don’t wait to be stressed to try it!

Warning: SJW and gingko are so efficacious they are contraindicated when chemical medication is also prescribed for stress or circulatory problems. Don’t take gingko with blood thinning/heart medication like Warfarin or Thiazide diuretics. Don’t take SJW with ANY anti-depressant. I would also suggest, if you have a fair skin, avoid baking in the sun; sometimes sun and SJW can cause a skin reaction. Anyone interested to run their prescription medication through my safety checker, please contact me on [email protected]

All supplements mentioned, mail order from Tigon (UK) Ltd or call Derek on 0044 (0)116 236 6841. Don’t forget to say you read about it in ‘seven’.

Your questions answered

What’s the current thinking on Vitamin A?
In May you wrote about concerns re Vitamin A and calcium absorption. Any updates for those with osteopenia?
Mrs RP, Paramali

Yes – my suppliers have been wonderful!
Vitamin A is essential for regeneration of cells but may have antagonistic effects on Vitamin D (Cholecalciferol) in bone metabolism. Either deficiency or excess of Vitamin A increases likelihood of fracture, so you need the correct intake but preferably in the beta-carotene (vegetable) form which can be converted into Vitamin A when required. It’s the retinol (derived from animal liver) factor of Vitamin A that causes concern; I have long suggested that Cod Liver Oil is outdated.

Biocalth replied: “Vitamin A is only an issue when dealing with fish liver oils. Retinol is stored only in the liver and all liver products contain high levels. Omega Fish Oil / Omega 3 Fatty Acid supplements generally use fish body oil; these pose no risk and can be taken along with Biocalth.” As I’ve written before, Biocalth contains calcium bonded to L-threonate (a natural carrier), which helps speed it through the intestine, assisting efficient delivery to the bones. For more information and ordering, visit

Yasoo helpfully pointed me in the direction of which described several Swedish studies where retinol intake was abnormally high and hip fractures were more frequent. Yasoo’s Dr Neophytou concluded: ‘Our Omega T has negligible vitamin A – we don’t add any!’ So you’re OK with that excellent supplement or with their Antioxidant Factor which contains pre-vitamin A which is not converted unless needed. Find Yasoo at local pharmacies and health food outlets.

(Osteopenia, for those who don’t know, is the early stage of osteoporosis. Sufferers should supplement with BioCalth and Omega-T. See [email protected],