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Natural Caffeine Substitutes

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Hi! I recently began working night shift (11 pm to 7 am) and I was wondering if there are any natural supplements other than caffeine that I could take to help me stay awake. Thanks!

Mike Keefe, Halifax, N.S.

Response from Nutritionist: Heather Scott, RNCP, Wallace, NS

Adjusting to working a night shift can take time both physically and mentally. It's very important to support yourself nutritionally to ensure consistent energy levels and overall good health. Avoid energy-robbers such

as sugar, alcohol, tobacco, fats, caffeine, white flour products, and highly processed foods, all of which starve the body of essential nutrients and fibre. Stress also depletes energy.

Follow a good healthy, varied diet, rich in whole foods, complex carbohydrates and a wide range of nutrients. Include more fresh vegetables and fruits, grains, nuts and seeds. Eat less red meat and more cold water fish, such as mackerel, salmon, sardines and tuna, rich in essential fatty acids which are vital for the health of the nervous system.

Bee pollen and royal jelly, both bee products, are excellent for increasing energy levels almost immediately. (Bee pollen may cause an allergic reaction in some people. Discontinue use if rash, wheezing, discomfort or other symptoms occur).

Some herbs contain natural substances that calm anxiety-causing exhaustion, or stimulate the nervous system to combat fatigue. Siberian ginseng is effective in reducing fatigue due to nervous exhaustion. Check your health food store for a herbal combination formula that will help to boost energy.

A nutrient-rich breakfast before work and frequent meals (i.e. every 4 hours) will help to maintain normal blood sugar throughout your "day" and avoid fatigue. Take a break or a nap, if possible, before onset of extreme fatigue. Often, just a 15-minute walk in fresh air can revitalize and refresh. Deep breathing exercises by an open window are also useful for helping to oxygenate the body and clear a fuzzy brain. When you're not at work, adequate sleep and moderate daily exercise will support energy levels.

Heather can be reached at (902) 257-2428

Response from Homeopathic Doctor: Sara Carrington, DIHom(pract), Charlottetown, PEI

Although each person needs to be assessed individually for the homeopathic remedies and dosage best suited for them, these are some examples of common homeopathic remedies I would suggest.

Arnica 12C or 30C twice a day for a week is often used by those who have difficulty readjusting to time changes. Those who have nausea, dizziness/vertigo or diarrhea along with the tiredness will often use Cocculus 12C or 30C. One would then take a "constitutional remedy" (a remedy specifically for an individual's immune system or vital force) to receives long-term effect for adjusting to time changes. The "constitutional remedy" could be one of twelve basic remedies or one of a number of other choices depending on the client's symptoms.

Sara can be reached at (902) 892-9355

Response from Naturopath, Charlotte Tanquay, ND, Fredericton, NB

To help stay awake and alert, many men find it helpful to take 1 - 2 Korean Ginseng capsules with each meal on a regular basis. It can be taken at night with your night lunch and then there is no need to wake up from your daytime sleep to take it. Women find it more effective to take Siberian Ginseng.

Charlotte can be reached at (506)-450-9440

Dear Natural Choice Journal,

My friend is having cancer treatments, how does she go about buying a wig? Linda Blanchard, Charlottetown, PEI

Response from Charles Caswell, from the Maritime Hair Loss Clinic, Charlottetown, PEI

Cancer treatments do not always result in hair loss. If, and when it does occur, it usually happens very rapidly. If you feel that the loss of your hair will greatly disturb you, it is best to be prepared. Before you begin treatments, contact a local wig specialist so that arrangements can be made to have the perfect wig ready for when you need it. You need to select a suitable make, style and colour to meet your needs.

Wigs can vary dramatically in quality and price. Prices range from $75 to $400 for synthetic hair and over $1000 for human hair. Synthetic hair wigs require less maintenance as the style is built into them. Human hair when washed reacts like your own natural hair and has to be properly styled with dryer and curling iron.

Since hair loss due to cancer treatments is temporary, I recommend a good quality synthetic hair wig as they look very natural, require much less maintenance and are reasonably priced. Washing a synthetic hair wig need only be done once every 3 to 4 weeks. When washed, the style never leaves it and can be easily re-styled.

I also recommend you attend a Look Good, Feel Better workshop to get help and information on wigs and other head coverings. Good luck with your treatments and God Bless.

Charles R. Caswell, Maritime Hair Loss Clinic, Charlottetown at 892-4247.

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