Head lice – a back to school delight!

head lice

Head lice

Now that we’re well and truly back to school head lice is starting to make an appearance again.  It’s a good idea to check your children’s heads regularly particularly if they are scratching their scalp.  The itching can occur due to irritation from lice saliva! This itching can persist for weeks after lice are killed so just because the scalp is still itchy it doesn’t mean lice are still present.

Adult lice (the ones that lay the eggs) are quite small at about 3mm in size and are a grey/white colour.  They can be difficult to spot in fair hair.  They can live for about 1-2 days away from human contact.  Eggs are usually laid close to the scalp and can sometimes be confused for dandruff or dry skin.  If they are difficult to pull off this may be a sign that they are eggs.

Treatment should occur in anyone who has live lice.  Treatment can occur in two ways; medical and non-medical.


Medical treatment of head lice

Treatment lotions and shampoos are chemical based or non-chemical based.  The chemical ones such as KP-24, Quellada and Banlice kill the lice by poisoning them.  The non-chemical treatments kill the lice by physically coating them and suffocating them.  Examples of non-chemical treatments are Moov, Neutralice, Hedrin and Full Marks.

The most important part of using the medical treatment is to repeat the treatment process 7 days after the first treatment.  This is because any lice that may have hatched since the first treatment need to be killed before they lay eggs themselves.


Non-medical treatment of head lice

This treatment option involves either covering the hair with conditioner and then combing and removing eggs with your fingernails or using an electronic comb to electrocute the lice.

These options should be performed every 2 days for about 2 weeks to ensure no eggs are missed and then hatch.


Head lice treatment tips

I find that it’s a good idea to combine these techniques and do the combing and fingernail removal of eggs each night for the week between the medical treatments.

I also found it helpful to straighten my daughter’s hair a couple of nights after treatment as this loosened the glue on any remaining eggs so that they were killed and came off the hair easily.

Wash hair brushes and pillowcases in hot water and leave to dry in the sun or dryer to prevent reinfestation.

It is not necessary for children to be absent from child care or school after their first treatment.

Hair should be tied back or in a plait if hair is long to minimise lice transmission.  Remind children not to share hair brushes and to wear their own hat.

Nutrients depleted by oral contraceptives ie “the pill” and hormone replacement therapy

nutrient deficiencies caused by oestrogen

Many women use either an oral contraceptive pill or hormone replacement therapy (HRT).  It is the oestrogen in these medications that causes the nutrient deficiencies.  There are a couple of contraceptives and hormone replacement therapies that do not contain oestrogens but the vast majority do contain oestrogen.


Oestrogen containing oral contraceptives and HRT and nutrients depleted by them

Magnesium, zinc, B vitamins, vitamin C, most minerals and healthy microorganisms that live in our gut are depleted by oestrogen containing medications.

Deficiencies in these nutrients can cause fatigue, irritability, depression, insomnia, memory loss, heart disease, increased risks of stroke, breast cancer and other cancers, irritable bowel syndrome, nerve pain, hypothyroidism, candida and lowered immunity.


How to combat oestrogen nutrient deficiencies

A good quality multivitamin will provide the nutrients listed above.  Healthy microorganisms can be gained from a good quality probiotic.


Gut Health

gut health

Gut health is something that seems to be talked about everywhere.  The health of our guts is being linked to almost every health condition there is.

Words like microbiome are thrown around with most of us not sure what this is and why it’s important.


Gut microbiome

The term gut microbiome basically refers to the microorganisms that live in our gut.  Gut is not a crude word it is another way to say gastrointestinal tract.  The microorganisms (mainly bacteria) that live in our gastrointestinal tract help us digest food and absorb the things we need to absorb from our food.  Everyone has a different gut microbiome though there will be some similarities.


Unhealthy microbiome

If you have an unhealthy microbiome your levels of good and bad bacteria will be out of whack.  This can occur following a course of antibiotics, from eating badly, due to stress and due to illness.

An unhealthy gut can lead to a weak gut lining.  This enables bacteria to escape from the gut and get in to the blood stream.  This is turn leads to a response from our immune system.  The resulting inflammation is a large factor in the potential cause of many health conditions.


How to have a healthy gut microbiome

Our gut microbiome starts to develop while we are in the womb.  Many factors affect the types of microorganisms a person has such as whether they were born by vaginal or caesarean, whether they were breast or bottle fed and the health of their parents.

These factors are not something that we can change now.  What we can change is our exercise habits, eating habits and use of antibiotics.  (Incidentally antibiotic means anti living thing).  Regular exercise is important.  Eating a diet that contains a wide range of foods is the best way to improve the gut microbiome to have a wider range of microorganisms.  Limiting the use of antibiotics to situations where they are absolutely necessary is an important way to sustain the health of our gut microbiome.

Nutrient deficiencies caused by blood pressure medications

nutrient deficiencies caused by blood pressure medications

Before delving in to specifics I will discuss how medications affect nutrients.

How medications affect nutrients

There are a few ways that medications can affect how our bodies absorb vital nutrients.  The medication may

  • Take hold of a nutrient and pass it out of the body
  • Change the pH in the gastrointestinal tract so that the nutrient can’t be absorbed properly
  • Increase or decrease the body’s ability to move nutrients around the body
  • Increase or decrease the activation of nutrients so that they can be properly absorbed

Some medications need particular nutrients in order for them to be able to work also.


ACE Inhibitors and nutrients depleted by them

Angiotensin converting enzyme inhibitors (ACE Inhibitors) are one of the most commonly used families of blood pressure medicines.  Examples include; ramipril, enalapril, lisinopril, quinapril, fosinopril, trandolapril and captopril.

Nutrients that can be depleted by these medicines are zinc, magnesium, potassium and calcium.

Deficiencies in these nutrients can cause hair loss, slow healing of wounds, loss of taste or smell, prostate problems, loss of sex drive, frequent infections, leg cramps, weight gain, bone loss, high blood pressure, higher risk of cancer


Calcium channel blockers and nutrients depleted by them

Another commonly used family of blood pressure medicines.  Examples include; amlodipine, nifedipine, felodipine, diltiazem and verapamil.

Nutrients that can be depleted by these medicines are potassium, calcium, vitamin D and possibly Co-Enzyme Q10.

Symptoms that can occur due to deficiencies in these nutrients are fatigue, leg cramps, frequent infections, thirst, muscle weakness, bone loss, confusion, high blood pressure, confusion, heart disease and rapid or irregular heartbeat.


Beta blockers and nutrients depleted by them

Examples of beta blockers include; atenolol, metoprolol, sotalol and bisoprolol.

Beta blockers can deplete the body of Co-Enzyme Q10 and melatonin.

Symptoms that can occur due to deficiencies in these nutrients are insomnia, disrupted sleep, increased risk of cancer, autoimmune disorders, muscle cramps, memory loss.


Centrally acting blood pressure medications

Clonidine and methyldopa are examples of this.

Co-Enzyme Q10 can be depleted by these.

Depletion of Co-Enzyme Q10 can result in fatigue, weakness, muscle and leg cramps, memory loss, frequent infection, liver damage, higher risk of heart attack, higher risk of cancer.


It is important to know that you may be deficient in these nutrients if you take any of the listed medicines.

Supplementation with nutrients is important to prevent the effects of depletion.

It is not possible for me to suggest particular supplements that would suit everyone and their situation.  Please discuss with your Pharmacist, Naturopath or GP before starting a supplement.

Stay tuned for ways that I can help you individually with your health.



Drug Muggers, Suzy Cohen


Valentine’s Day

self love on Valentine's Day

Well it’s the theme of the day.  I don’t have a “Valentine” but I’m happy for all those that do.  Rather than espouse the view that it’s a day for Florists, chocolate and card makers to make money I believe any opportunity to tell someone you love that you love them is great.

Should we need to have a special day to remind people to show their love?  Perhaps not however we are all very busy and often put off things for another day.  Knowing that the 14th of February is the day to declare our love makes it easier for some to show their appreciation.


Self love

I asked a friend what they did today on their day off.  The answer was yoga, guitar practice, swim at the beach, reading a book and having a nap!  That’s the ultimate in self love as far as I’m concerned.

Even if we have no one to tell us that they love us or that they appreciate what we do for them we can still tell ourselves that we love and appreciate who we are.  I’ll be spending some time before bed tonight reading a book as a reward for how hard I’ve been working lately.


Valentine’s Day any day

How cool would it be to wake up one day and discover that your partner had decided that day would be a Valentine’s Day of sorts?  Imagine having a day that wasn’t your birthday, anniversary etc where you were cherished for who you are?

After working really hard over the last several weeks I’m looking forward to some days off over the next few weeks.  I think I’ll show myself some self love with some rest and relaxation, time to read, swim at the beach etc.  I appreciate myself for what I do for my children and am looking forward to showing myself some love.