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GLANDS AND THEIR FUNCTIONS

Adenoids, Adrenal, Gonads, Hypothalamus, Immune System, Kidneys, Lachrymal, Lymph Pancreas, Parathyroid, Parotid, Pineal, Pituitary, Prostate, Salivary, Sebaceous, Spleen, Sublingual, Submandibular, Sweat, Tonsils, Thymus, ThyroidGlands

Glands in the human body manufacture, control and regulate the flow of hormones, breast milk, saliva, tears, urine, sweat, antibodies, salt and other useful fluids and compounds.

Mental stress and anxiety influences the flow of hormones and other fluids. Glands are classified as ducted and ductless glands.

Ducted glands, also called exocrine glands, secrete some chemicals through ducts.

Ductless glands are called endocrine glands. Glands receive signals from the brain to release useful fluids. Endocrine glands release hormones directly into the bloodstream.

The word hormone was derived from the Greek word hormodezein which means "to arouse." While many hormones do arouse to create action in glands and organs, their primary function is to regulate glands and organs.

Hormones are the chemical messengers which facilitate the communication between the brain and the organs.

As the nervous system uses nerves to send the required information, the glands in the human body use blood vessels as information channels.

 

Disorders of the glands in the body include or can result in the following conditions:
 

 
ADRENAL GLANDS

 

These look like caps sitting on top of each kidney. Each adrenal is composed of two distinct regions: an outer area called the adrenal cortex and an inner part called the adrenal medulla.

Adrenal Cortex

Produces hormones that belong to a group of chemical compounds known as corticosteroids, corticoids or just steroids. The adrenal cortex makes many different steroids. The exact number is not known, but it is believed to be over 30. The adrenal cortex has three layers and each layer produces different corticosteroids. The steroids corresponding to the three layers are: the mineralocorticoid (outer layer), glucocorticoids (middle layer) and the androgenic steroids (inner layer).

Mineralocorticoids
Aldosterone is the main mineralocorticoid. It functions to cause the kidneys to reabsorb sodium and excrete potassium. This helps to keep these two ions in balance.

 

Glucocorticoids

Hydrocortisone is the principle glucocorticoid. Hydrocortisone help regulate the metabolism of carbohydrates, proteins and fats. It also helps humans cope with stress. Glucocorticoids cause a rapid destruction of certain white blood cells, thereby lowering resistance to disease. Because they depress the immune system, glucocorticoids are used to treat many autoimmune diseases. The production of glucocorticoids is under the control of the adrenocorticotropic hormone (ACTH). ACTH is produced by action of the pituitary gland.

 

Androgenic steroids

These hormones are called androgens and are male sex hormones. Testosterone is the main androgen. While the adrenals of males and females produce near equal amounts of androgens, males have an additional supply of androgens produced by the testes.

Addison's Disease
If the adrenal cortex produces insufficient amounts of glucocorticoids and mineralocorticoids the result is called Addison's Disease. The symptoms of Addison's include: electrolyte imbalance, fatigue, muscular weakness, vomiting, diarrhoea, loss of weight, low blood pressure and excess pigmentation of the skin (bronzing). Addison's Disease can often be controlled with hormone replacement therapy. Excess production of ACTH or a tumour within the adrenal cortex results in Cushing's Disease. The symptoms of Cushing's include: obesity, high blood pressure, a round "moon" face, muscular weakness, a tendency to bruise easily and poor healing of skin lesions.

Adrenal Medulla

Produces epinephrine and norepinephrine, often called adrenalin and noradrenaline. Both of these hormones are involved in the stress reaction called the "fight or flight response." When confronted with danger, these two hormones prepare our body to fight or to run. These hormones constrict the blood vessels of the kidneys and digestive system, dilate blood vessels in the heart and brain, raise blood pressure, and increase respiration. They constrict the blood vessels of the skin so that we will lose less blood should we be bitten, cut or shot. They rapidly convert glycogen to glucose, so that we might have extra energy. And these hormones cause more neurotransmitters to be available to our nervous system, so that our nerves can activate more muscle cells making us faster and stronger. All of these changes prepare us to respond to danger.

 

Foods rich in vitamin C and nickel can be beneficial for treating hypoadrenalism.

 

Tin supports the adrenal glands. In addition to low vitamin C (ascorbic acid) and/or vitamin B1 (thiamine), low levels of tin is a common nutritional cause of low adrenaline, which can lead to left-sided cardiac insufficiency. While fatigue or depression may be experienced with cardiac insufficiency of either side, breathing difficulties or asthma are more common with left-sided cardiac insufficiency and swelling of hands and feet is more common with right-sided cardiac insufficiency, regardless of the cause.
 


 

GONADS gonads

 

These are the sex glands and consist of the ovaries in females and the testes in males. Testes produce sperm and male sex hormones and ovaries produce female sex hormones.

 

The effect of sex hormones usually becomes noticeable between the ages of 12--15 years of age when humans reach puberty. Puberty is the biological event which brings the child into adolescence. It occurs about one to two years earlier in females than in males. Puberty begins when the pituitary gland in the brain releases the gonadotropic hormone. The gonadotrophic hormone acts on the gonads causing them to become functionally mature. When this occurs, the person will soon become reproductively mature and the gonads will greatly increase their production of sex hormones.

These sex hormones produce the secondary sex characteristics for the sexes. These are things such as facial hair in males, the appearance of breasts in females, pubic and axillary hair (hair in the arm pits), lower voice for both sexes and the other characteristics which describe men and women.

 

Three different groups of hormones are produced by the various organs of the female reproductive system. These are called the oestrogenic hormones (commonly called oestrogen). The first group, composed primarily of the hormone beta-estradiol is responsible for maintaining the uterine environment, and it also effects behaviour. The second group, composed primarily of progesterone, makes the uterus favourable to the reception of a developing embryo. The third, chorionic gonadotrophin, prevents ovulation during pregnancy.

The male sex hormones are called androgens. The main androgen is the steroid hormone known as testosterone. Testosterone causes males to have larger muscle mass and to be more aggressive in behaviour.

 

See the Menopause page for information about the changes that take place when the ovaries stop producing oestrogen.
 


 

HYPOTHYMUS

 

Is situated in the brain and gives signals to the other glands particularly the pituitary. The hypothalamus controls blood pressure, hunger, gastrointestinal function, the feeling of fullness (after eating), thirst, water retention, bladder contraction, decreases heart rate, body temperature, sweating, sleep, wakefulness and alertness. It also initiates the anterior pituitary to secrete TSH (Thyroid Stimulating Hormone).
 


 

KIDNEYS

 

The kidneys extract waste and excess water from blood to make urine. The urine is sent to the urinary bladder through tubes called ureters. When the bladder is full, urine is released from the body through the urethra.

 

See the Urinary page for more information about kidney problems and natural remedies

 


 

LACHRYMAL GLAND (lacrimal gland)

 

Lachrymal Gland

Produces lachrymal fluid (tears), which moisten the surface of the eye, lubricate eyelids and wash away foreign bodies. Tears contain lysosomes, which are capable of breaking up bacteria and foreign bodies. Tears are a salty fluid that continuously bathes the surface of the eye to keep it moist.

 

Tears are a salty fluid which is produced continuously, to keep the surface of the eye from drying out and also to trap dust particles and other airborne material on a film of liquid. The "windshield wiper" action of the eyelids during a blink sweeps the surface clean every few seconds. Tears also contains antibodies (one of their components being lysozyme) that help protect the eye from infection.
 

The eyelids also provide a mechanical barrier against injury, closing reflexively when an object comes too close to the eye. The reflex is triggered by the sight of an approaching object, the touch of an object on the surface of the eye or the eyelashes being exposed to wind or small particles such as dust or sand.
 

Sjogren's Syndrome

If the lacrimal glands don't produce enough tears, the eyes can become painfully dry and can be damaged. A rare cause of inadequate tear production is Sjogren's syndrome. The eyes can also become dry when evaporation causes an excessive loss of tears, for example, if the eyelids don't close properly.

 

See the Eye page for more information on eye conditions and diseases and natural remedies to treat them.
 


 

LYMPH GLANDSlymphatic system

 

The lymphatic system is part of the immune system and is a channel that carries a clear or whitish fluid called the lymph.

 

Lymph
This is a clear fluid that travels via the lymphatic channels. This contains fluid, debris, chemicals, toxins, bacteria, viruses and lymphocytes on its way back from the tissues.

 

The lymph channels
These are a network of tubes or vessels much like the blood vessels that cover all the tissues of the body. The lymphatic channels get progressively smaller as they pass in to distant organs and tissues. For example, the vessel at the beginning of the arm is thicker. It branches into thinner tubes that progressively become thinner and thinner as they travel up to the fingers.

 

At the tips of the fingers the vessels may be the thinnest with places where they may be only a few cells thick. These are called lymphatic capillaries. The walls of the capillaries are usually single cell thick. This helps in the movement of the immunity producing cells called lymphocytes (type of white blood cells), and the toxins, germs and chemicals to move in to the lymph capillaries freely.

The arteries also branch similarly at the tips of the organs. These capillaries give out a clear fluid called the plasma. This plasma bathes the tissues and enters the lymphatic channels as lymph.

The lymph channels eventually drain at a large lymphatic vessel called the thoracic duct at the chest that drains into a blood vessel. All the filtered fluid, salts and proteins as well as the debris ends up in the blood stream.

The lymph nodes
The lymph nodes are small bean shaped glands or bulbs that tend to occur in clusters similar to grapes. Along the lymph channels reside approximately 600 lymph nodes. These act as filters that sieve off the harmful substances brought by the lymphatic channels. 

 

The lymphatic channels of the fingers, hand and arm for example comes to be filtered at the lymph nodes that lie at the elbow and the arm pit.

 

Similarly, those of the legs, toes and thighs drain into nodes behind the knees and the groin.

Lymph channels from the face, head and scalp drain at the nodes present at the back of the head, behind the ears and sides of the neck.

Some lymph nodes are located deeper within the body at the chest (between the two lobes of the lungs), around the coils of the intestines, in the pelvis etc.

Lymph Nodes Head and Neck
The lymph nodes contain two regions within them which include the cortex and the medulla. The cortex contains collections of lymphocytes. These contain predominantly B-lymphocytes and some T-lymphocytes. The B lymphocytes mature completely within the bone marrow while the T lymphocytes exit the bone marrow immature and attain maturity within the thymus. The lymphatic system also contains the thymus that lies behind the chest bone.

The lymphatic vessels entering the lymph nodes are called afferent lymphatic vessels and those exiting are called efferent lymphatic vessels.


Spleen
The lymphatic system also consists of other organs like the spleen that lies on the above left sided part of the abdomen. It acts like a large filter to remove worn out and damaged red blood cells from the blood and recycle them. The spleen also contains B lymphocytes and T lymphocytes. When blood passes through the organ these cells pick up the infections. See the Spleen page for more information and natural foods that protest the spleen.

Tonsils and Adenoids

These are also part of the lymphatic system and lie at the back of the throat. These are sentinels that protect the digestive system and the lungs from bacteria and viruses.

Functions of the lymphatic system

Drainage of fluid from blood stream into the tissues – The circulating blood through narrow vessels leads to leakage of fluid or plasma into the tissues carrying oxygen and nutrients to the tissues and carrying waste materials from the tissues into the lymph channels. The leaked fluid drains into the lymph vessels. This forms a circulatory system of fluids within the body.

Filtration of the lymph at the lymph nodes – The nodes contain white blood cells that can attack any bacteria or viruses they find in the lymph as it flows through the lymph nodes. The cancer cells may also get trapped similarly at the lymph nodes and thus lymph nodes act as indicators of how far the cancer has already spread.

Filtering blood – This is done by the spleen. The spleen filters out bacteria, viruses and other foreign particles.


Raise an immune reaction and fight infections – The lymphatic system especially the lymph nodes are over active in case of an infection the lymph nodes or glands often swell up in case of a local infection.

 

NATURE CURES LYMPH SYSTEM DISORDERS

 

Calendula, cleavers and mullien are three powerful herbs that can stimulate and cleanse congestion and mucus from the lymph system and relieve the symptoms of tonsillitis and other related swellings of the throat, neck, arms and groin.

 

To make a tea

 

2 parts calendula
2 parts cleavers
1 part mullein

Place the herbs in a small saucepan and cover with cold water. Heat slowly and simmer, covered for 20-45 minutes. The longer you simmer the herbs, the stronger the tea will be. Drink 2-3 cups a day for several weeks.

 


 

PANCREAS

 

The pancreas lies between the kidneys. Cells known as the islets of Langerhans are scattered throughout the pancreas. The islets of Langerhans have two types of cells: alpha cells which produce a hormone called glucagon, and the beta cells which produce a hormone called insulin. Insulin is the hormone which escorts glucose across the cell membrane. Without insulin, glucose cannot enter the cell and, therefore, cannot be used to produce energy. Glucagon functions to cause the liver to convert more glycogen to glucose, thereby, raising the blood sugar level.

If the Islets of Langerhans stop or lessen their production of insulin, the result is diabetes mellitus. The symptoms of diabetes include: loss of weight, excessive thirst, increase in urination, itching in the skin and fatigue. Because glucose cannot enter cells, the blood sugar level is high. This high blood sugar level causes sugar to be excreted in urine. High volumes of water are needed to remove the sugar from the kidneys. Since water is used for this purpose, thirst occurs to replace this lost water.

 

See the Diabetes page for more information and natural foods which can treat it.

 

Amylase is an enzyme that helps digest carbohydrates. It is produced in the pancreas and the salivary glands. When too much amylase is secreted the condition is called Hyperamylasemia (high blood amylase level)

 

Increased blood amylase levels may occur due to:

Acute pancreatitis
Cancer of the pancreas, ovaries or lungs
Cystitis
Gallbladder attack caused by disease
Gastroenteritis (severe)
Infection of the salivary glands (such as mumps) or a blockage
Intestinal blockage
Macroamylasemia
Pancreatic or bile duct blockage
Perforated ulcer
Tubal pregnancy
(may have burst open)


Decreased amylase levels may occur due to:

Cancer of the pancreas
Damage to the pancreas
Kidney disease
Toxemia of pregnancy

 

See the Liver page for more information and natural treatments for disorders of the pancreas, gallbladder and liver.

 

See the Urinary System page for more information and natural remedies for disorders of the urinary system.

 

See the Intestines page for more information and natural remedies for disorders affecting the intestines.
 


 

PARATHYROID GLANDS

 

On the back side of the thyroid gland are four small bodies known as the parathyroid glands. These are the smallest endocrine glands. The parathyroid glands produce the parathyroid hormone which plays an important role in regulating calcium and phosphate ions in blood. These two ions are important in nerve and muscle function and in maintaining bone structure. Vitamin D is important to the parathyroid glands because it promotes retention of calcium and phosphate. Without vitamin D bones cannot develop and they become soft and bend. This is the disease called rickets in children. Adults lacking in vitamin D can lose important minerals from the bones causing them to become porous and brittle and osteoporosis is the result.

 

10-15 minutes of midday sunshine on the skin can  provide all the body needs. It is not the same as sunbathing; the skin simply needs to be exposed to sunlight. Through a window is not enough. Over exposure of the suns rays can be dangerous for the skin but no exposure at all can be equally detrimental to the bones and teeth. Ultraviolet B (UVB) rays in sunlight convert cholesterol in the skin into vitamin D. During the winter months (October-April) when it is too cold to expose the skin to the sun and in the northern hemisphere there is not enough UVB rays from the sun anyway, it is advisable to raise the weekly intake of oily fish and cod liver oil.

 

Supplements must be vitamin D3 and not D2 and check that aspartame has not been added to chewable forms.

 

Natural Sources of vitamin D are: goat's milk, oily fish, wild mushrooms, eggs, cod liver oil

 

See the Bones page for natural remedies for disorders affecting the bones.
 


 

PEYER’S PATCHES

 

These are round or ovoid bundles of lymphatic tissue made up of unencapsulated lymphatic cells that protect the mucous membranes of the small intestines (the ileum) from infection. While the complete role and function of these lymphoid tissues is uncertain, they contain lymphocytes such as T cells and B cells so that when an infection occurs, the Peyer’s patches can protect the interior of the intestine.
 


 

PINEAL GLAND

Is situated in the brain and manufactures melatonin for correct sleeping patterns, helps with reproductive cycles, sends hormonal messages to the hypothalamus and needs sunlight to function properly. The pineal gland, attached to the lower surface of the brain, is considered an endocrine gland. The pineal gland secretes two hormones: serotonin and melatonin.

 

Serotonin

This functions as a neurotransmitter and has been proven to be involved in some depression. The pineal gland is stimulated to produce serotonin by sunlight.

 

Seasonal Affective Disorder
The lack of sunlight in winter can result in a type depression called Seasonal Affective Disorder or SAD. SAD can usually be treated with lights which mimic=k the sun's affect on the pineal gland.

 

Melatonin

This is a hormone which triggers sleep. Melatonin may also be useful to correct "jet lag," as it can be used to alter our "biological clocks."
 


 

PITUITARY GLAND

 

This is called the "master gland" because its various hormones regulate all other endocrine glands. It is located at the place in the brain where the sensory nerves originate near the top of the brain stem and is connected to the brain by a short stalk called the infundibulum. The pituitary gland is about the size of a cherry and is divided into three regions. Of these, the anterior (front part) lobe is the largest. The posterior (back part) is only slightly smaller than the anterior lobe. Between the anterior and posterior lobes is third region, the pars intermedia. Each of these regions produces its own group of hormones.

 

Pituitary Anterior Lobe

This produces the somatotrophic hormone, which in people is commonly called the human growth hormone (HGH). If this hormone is produced in greater than normal quantities, the bones grow very long. HGH acts to prevent the epiphyseal junction from forming, thus making continued growth possible in these bones. The result of this greater than normal production of HGH is pituitary giantism and people with this condition may grow to be 9 feet tall. Giantism is accompanied by a corresponding increase in size of the internal organs. If there is an increased secretion of HGH after the appearance of the epiphyseal line, the long bones do not grow. However, there is growth in the bones of the face, hands and feet. This condition is called acromegaly.

Deficiency of HGH causes pituitary dwarfism. If dwarfism is recognized early in a child or adolescent, HGH produced through genetic engineering can be administered causing the child to grow.

A second hormone produced by the anterior pituitary is prolactin. In mammals, prolactin stimulates the production of milk in the mammary glands which is used to nourish the young. It may also stimulate maternal behaviour.

 

A third hormone secreted by the anterior pituitary is the thyroid stimulating hormone. This hormone causes the thyroid gland to function, and if this hormone is absent, the thyroid gland shuts down.

The anterior lobe of the pituitary also produces the adrenocorticotropic hormone (ACTH). ACTH influences the amount of various corticoids produced by the cortex of the adrenal glands. Corticoids help regulate the amount of minerals in our bodies, as well as carbohydrate metabolism.

The anterior pituitary also produces the two gonadotrophic hormones, the follicle-stimulating hormone and the luteinizing hormone. The follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH) causes both egg cells and sperm cells to mature so that reproduction can occur. The luteinizing hormone (LH) works with the follicle-stimulating hormone to prepare the female body to nourish a developing child during pregnancy.


Pituitary Posterior Lobe

This secretes two hormones, the antidiuretic hormone (ADH) and the oxytocic hormone. ADH controls the reabsorption of water from the kidneys into the blood stream. If this hormone is deficient, the blood stream does not reabsorb water from the kidneys and urine is formed in excess amounts. The resulting disease, called diabetes insipidus, may result in the excretion of as much as 10 gallons of urine per day. ADH also increases blood pressure. Once it was believed that a separate hormone, called vasopressin, acted on the walls of arteries to produce an increase in blood pressure (hypertension); but it was recently discovered that vasopressin is, in actuality, ADH. A diuretic drug stimulates urination, usually by decreasing the action of ADH. By doing this, diuretic drugs are useful in controlling high blood pressure.

The oxytocic hormone (oxytocin) causes the contractions which lead to child-birth. The oxytocic hormone also increases blood pressure and decreases the formation of urine during pregnancy.

 

Pituitary Pars Intermedia

This produces a hormone called intermedin. Little is known of the function of this hormone in people. In fish it functions to darken the scales.
 


 

PROSTATE

 

The prostate's purpose is to help with the male reproductive system. It makes up to 70% of the fluid that is ejaculated during intercourse, mixing its secretions with the sperm that are made in the testicles. The prostate also contracts at the time of ejaculation to prevent retrograde (backward) flow of semen into the bladder. See the Urinary page for more information about prostate problems and natural remedies
 


 

SALIVARY GLANDS

 

salivary glands

Are situated in the buccal cavity and secretes amylase. Amylase is an enzyme that helps digest carbohydrates. It is produced in the pancreas and the salivary glands.

 

Salivary glands produce as much as a quart of saliva each day. Saliva is important to lubricate the mouth, help with swallowing, protects teeth against bacteria and aids in the digestion of food. The three major pairs of salivary glands are:

Parotid glands - on the sides of the face
Submandibular glands - at the floor of the mouth
Sublingual glands - under the tongue
 

There are also several hundred minor salivary glands throughout the mouth and throat. Saliva drains into the mouth through small tubes called ducts.

Sore, Swollen and Bleeding Gums
Dental health usually focuses on preventing cavities in the teeth. But it's important to pay attention to the gums, too. Gums play a major role not only in dental health, but in the overall well-being. In many instances, swollen and bleeding gums are a sign of gum disease. However, there are a number of other factors that could be causing gum problems. See the Teeth page to find out more and for natural protection and treatments of gum and teeth problems.
 

When there is a problem with the salivary glands or ducts, symptoms such as salivary gland swelling, dry mouth, pain, fever and foul-tasting drainage into the mouth may be experienced. Many different problems can interfere with the function of the salivary glands or block the ducts so that they can not drain saliva. Following are some of the more common salivary gland problems:

Salivary Stones or Sialoliths

The most common cause of swollen salivary glands, salivary stones are accumulations of crystallized saliva deposits. Sometimes salivary stones can block the flow of saliva. When saliva cannot exit through the ducts, it backs up into the gland, causing pain and swelling. Pain is usually intermittent, is felt in one gland, and gets progressively worse. Unless the blockage is cleared, the gland is likely to become infected.

Viral Infections

Viral infections such as mumps, flu and others can cause swelling of the salivary glands. Swelling occurs in parotid glands on both sides of the face, giving the appearance of "chipmunk cheeks." Salivary gland swelling is commonly associated with mumps, occurring in about 30% to 40% of mumps infections. It usually begins approximately 48 hours after the start of other symptoms such as fever and headache.

Other viral illnesses that cause salivary gland swelling include the Epstein-Barr virus (EBV), cytomegalovirus (CMV), Coxsackie virus and the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV). See the Virus page for more information and natural food remedies and protection against viral infections and disease.

Bacterial Infections

These generally cause one-sided salivary gland swelling. Other symptoms such as fever and pain will accompany the swelling. The bacteria are typically those found normally in the mouth, as well as staph bacteria. These infections most often affect the parotid gland. Dehydration and malnutrition increase the risk of getting a bacterial infection. See the Bacteria page for more information and natural foods to protect against and cure bacterial infections.

 

Sialadenitis

Bacterial infection of the salivary gland, most commonly the parotid gland, may result when the duct into the mouth is blocked. Sialadenitis creates a painful lump in the gland and foul-tasting pus drains into the mouth. Sialadenitis is more common in older adults with salivary stones, but it can also occur in babies during the first few weeks after birth. If not treated, salivary gland infections can cause severe pain, high fevers and abscess (pus collection).

Cysts
Cysts can develop in the salivary glands if injuries, infections, tumours or salivary stones block the flow of saliva. Some babies are born with cysts in the parotid gland due to a problem with the development of the ears. It can appear as a blister or soft, raised area. Cysts may interfere with eating and speaking.
 


 

SEBACEOUS GLANDS

 

These are the glands in the skin that secrete an oily/waxy matter, called sebum, to lubricate and waterproof the skin and hair. They are especially abundant on the face and scalp but are distributed all over the body except for the palms of the hands and soles of the feet.

 

Sebum (Latin meaning fat or tallow) is made of triglyceride oils, wax, squalene and metabolites of fat-producing cells. The sebaceous glands are classified as holocrine glands because sebum is produced within specialized cells and is released as these cells burst. Sebum acts as a delivery system for antioxidants, antimicrobial lipids, pheromones and provides hydration of the skin. Sebum is odourless, but its bacterial breakdown can produce odours. Sebum is the cause greasy hair and earwax is partly composed of sebum.

 

Conditions caused by disorders of the sebaceous glands include: acne, seborrhoea, sebaceous cysts, hyperplasia, sebaceous adenoma and sebaceous gland carcinoma.

 

Acne is caused by the skins pores being clogged by too much sebum which allows bacteria to flourish.

 

Seborrhoea is the name for the condition of greasy skin caused by excess sebum.

 

See the Skin page for natural remedies for greasy skin and acne.
 


 

SWEAT GLANDS

 

Perspiration (sweating, transpiration, or diaphoresis) is the production of fluids secreted by the sweat glands in the skin. Two types of sweat glands can be found in humans: Eccrine glands and apocrine glands. The eccrine sweat glands are distributed over much of the body.

 

In humans, sweating is primarily a means of thermoregulation which is achieved by the water-rich secretion of the eccrine glands. Maximum sweat rates of an adult can be up to 2-4 litres per hour or 10-14 litres per day.

 

Evaporation of sweat from the skin surface has a cooling effect due to the evaporation of water. Hence, in hot weather, or when the individual's muscles heat up due to exertion, more sweat is produced. Animals with few sweat glands, such as dogs, accomplish similar temperature regulation results by panting, which evaporates water from the moist lining of the oral cavity and pharynx. Primates and horses have armpits that sweat like those of humans. Although sweating is found in a wide variety of mammals, relatively few, such as humans and horses, produce large amounts of sweat in order to cool down

 

Hyperhidrosis

Hyperhidrosis means excessive sweating. It can be localised or affect the whole body. Sweating is controlled by the brain, which sends signals along nerves called “sympathetic nerves” to the small sweat glands in the skin. These nerves are part of the “autonomic nervous system” which controls many unconscious body functions. Increased sweating is a normal response to a rise in body temperature and to emotions such as anxiety.

 

Localised symmetrical hyperhidrosis is the most common type of hyperhidrosis, this affects certain body sites (localised), and both sides equally (symmetrical). The palms, soles, under arm skin, face and scalp, or a combination of these, can be affected. The cause is not known. It often begins in the teens, and tends to improve slowly as you get older. This type of hyperhidrosis is also called focal or primary hyperhidrosis.

Generalised hyperhidrosis (affecting the whole body) can be caused by some illnesses including infections, and by hormonal conditions including the menopause, diabetes and an overactive thyroid gland. This type of hyperhidrosis is called secondary hyperhidrosis. Some medicines can also cause excessive sweating, including fluoxetine (Prozac) and similar antidepressants. Sometimes no cause can be found.

Disease or irritation of the sympathetic nerves is a rare cause of increased sweating, either generally or in localised areas (typically just on one side).

Anxiety can trigger or worsen hyperhidrosis, but this does not necessarily mean that the affected person is unusually anxious or stressed. Sometimes worry about sweating can create a vicious circle making the problem worse.

Hyperhidrosis is a feature of some rare inherited conditions. There is a trend for the common localised symmetrical type to run in families and up to a third of sufferers may have a family member with the condition.

Symptoms of hyperhidrosis
Visible sweat, wet clothes and a clammy handshake can be embarrassing and can interfere with work and personal relationships. Some people find hand sweating produces problems writing on paper.

Hyperhidrosis affects the water-producing (eccrine) sweat glands and not the apocrine sweat glands which produce the more oily type of sweat which causes odour, especially under the arms. Therefore bad odour is not a direct result of hyperhidrosis; however, if sweaty feet get soggy inside shoes, overgrowth of harmless skin bacteria can cause a bad smell.

 

Alcohol, certain medications and spicy foods can bring on an episode of hyperhidrosis.
 


 

THYMUS

 

Thymus Gland

The thymus is located in the upper part of the chest. It is made of two lobes that join in front of the trachea. The thymus is an important part of children’s immune systems. It grows larger until puberty and then begins to shrink. The gland produces thymosins, which are hormones that stimulate the development of antibodies. The thymus also produces T-lymphocytes which are white blood cells that fight infections and destroy abnormal cells.

The thymus gland is very active in childhood. It plays a crucial role in developing and improving a child’s immune system. The main thymus gland function is to produce and process lymphocytes or T cells (in T cells ‘T’ stands for thymus derived). Lymphocytes are white blood cells which are also known as leukocytes. After the white blood cells mature, they leave the thymus gland and get settled in the spleen and the lymph nodes, where a fresh batch of T cells is produced. These white blood cells are the body’s immune system and protect the body by producing antibodies that stop the invasion of foreign agents, bacteria and viruses. These cells also ensure the proper functioning of the body system and look after the wear and tear of the organs.

 

Another function of the thymus gland is to prevent the abnormal growth of cells that may lead to cancer. The T lymphocytes travel from the bone marrow to the thymus gland where they remain until they get activated. After maturity, the lymphocytes enter the blood stream. From there they travel to other lymphatic organs and provide defence mechanism against diseases.

 

The thymus also produces a hormone called thymosin, which stimulates the T cells in the other lymphatic organs to mature. This gland also produces another hormone called thymopoietin, which is protein present in the mRNA (messenger RNA) and is encoded by the TMPO gene.

In some cases, the thymus may become underactive. The individual may have a weak immune system and be prone to many infections and allergies. These infections can be chronic and may continue for a long time. When there is a lack of T cells in the body, it can lead to immunodeficiency diseases. The person suffering from immunodeficiency diseases may show symptoms like extreme sweating, puffiness or soreness of the throat, swelling in the glands and depression. Malnutrition and a deficiency of protein, at an early age, can lead to the slow or limited growth of the thymus, thus impairing the normal functioning of the lymphocytes. Thus ensure that your child eats a well balanced meal and also has the right amount of proteins.

 


 

THYROID GLAND

 

This is located in the throat, lying along side of the larynx. It is shaped like the letter H. The thyroid gland uses iodine and the amino acid tyrosine to produce the hormones thyroxin and triiodothyronine. Both of these hormones function to regulate cellular metabolism. Metabolism refers to all of the processes that make energy available to cells. As such, these hormones regulate the conversion of glycogen (stored glucose) to glucose.

 

Symptoms of declining thyroid function are dry skin, hair loss, sensitivity to hot and cold, unexplained weight gain, missing outer third of eyebrows, constipation, brittle nails, high or low blood pressure, susceptibility to infections, muscle weakness, osteoporosis, joint or muscle pain, cystic breasts or ovaries, chronic sinusitis, slow heart rate, temporomandibular joint syndrome, dental problems, headache and increased cholesterol levels.

Hypothyroidism

The deficiency of thyroxin results in a reduction in the metabolism rate. If hypothyroidism occurs during infancy or childhood the result is called cretinism. Cretinism is characterized by stunted physical growth and mental retardation. If hypothyroidism occurs in an adult, it results in such symptoms as: reduced body temperature, a decrease in blood pressure and heart rate, dryness of the hair and skin, loss of energy, weight gain and depression.

 

Foods to avoid if suffering from hypothyroidism:

 

broccoli, brussel sprouts, cabbage, cassava, cauliflower, flaxseeds, kale, kelp, lima beans, millet, mustard greens, peanuts, peaches, pine nuts, plums, prunes, soybeans, spinach, strawberries, sweet potato, Sweded, turnips

 

Many processed products such as soy sauce, energy bars and chocolate contain soybean oil (soy lecithin) and should also be avoided.

 

The above foods can result in depressed iodine / thyroid functions.

Hyperthyroidism

The opposite condition results from an over-production of thyroxin. The symptoms of hyperthyroidism include: rapid heart rate, increase in blood pressure, increase in metabolism (resulting in weight-loss), oily skin, an increase in body temperature, excess sweating, and nervousness. People suffering from hyperthyroidism may eat very large amounts of food and still lose weight. Hyperthyroidism is treated by removing part of the thyroid gland and by the use of drug therapies.

 

In hyperthyroidism, where milder forms of nutritional therapy such as para-aminobenzoic acid or magnesium have not been very effective, bromine can be very effective in human and animals and, provided the correct amount is used, no side effects are experienced.  Bromine inhibits both, T4 thyroxine and T3 triiodothyronine hormones, and in some cases only a short course of bromine is needed to return (hyper) thyroid functions back to normal.

 

Natural foods rich in bromine are:

 

chlorella, kelp, seaweed, sea salt and spirulina.

Goiter

This is an enlarged thyroid gland, which results in a swelling in the neck. A goiter can result from either hyper or hypothyroidism, but it is more common in hypothyroidism. A goiter is generally caused by a lack of iodine. The thyroid stimulating hormone of the pituitary gland causes the thyroid gland to work. But without iodine, no thyroxin is produced. The pituitary gland responds to this by making the thyroid gland work harder and harder. Therefore, like a muscle, the thyroid gland gets bigger. Iodine is gained from seafood and from vegetables grown in soil which contains iodine. Iodine is often artificially supplemented in the diet by including it in salt (iodized salt). If natural sea salt is not processed and refined, where all the valuable mineral content is stripped to sell in other industries, it would naturally contain all the iodine that is required. Natural unrefined sea salt can be obtained especially from France where the processing keeps all the mineral content intact.

 

Natural Sources of Iodine
artichokes, citrus fruits, egg yolk, fish liver oils, garlic, halibut, kelp, oily fish, pears, pineapples, sea salt, seaweed, shellfish, watercress

 

Natural Sources of Tyrosine
cottage cheese, egg whites, oily fish, poultry and game birds, pumpkin seeds, shellfish, seaweed, tofu, turkey

 


 

HORMONES

 

Peptides consist of two or more amino acids. Polypeptides and proteins both contain ten or more amino acids, but peptides consisting of more than fifty amino acids are classified as proteins.

 

Peptide hormones are produced by the endocrine glands (pituitary, thyroid, pineal, adrenal, pancreas) or by various organs such as the kidney, stomach, intestine, placenta, or liver. Peptide hormones can have complex, convoluted structures with hundreds of amino acids. Human insulin is identical to pig insulin, except that the last amino acid of the B-Chain for the pig is alanine instead of threonine.

 

   Hormone

Number of
amino acids

Function

     

Insulin

51

Lowers blood glucose level, promotes glucose storage as glycogen and fat. Fasting decreases insulin production.

Glucagon

29

Increases blood glucose level. Fasting increases glucagon production.

Ghrelin

28

Stimulates release of Growth Hormone, increases feeling of hunger.

Leptin

167

Its presence suppresses the feeling of hunger. Fasting decreases leptin levels.

Growth Hormone

191

Human Growth Hormone (HGH), also called somatotropin, promotes amino acid uptake by cells and regulates development of the body. Growth hormone levels increase during fasting.

Prolactin

198

Initiates and maintains lactation in mammals

Human Placental Lactogen

191

Produced by the placenta late in gestation

Luteinizing Hormone

204

Induces the secretion of testosterone

Follicle Stimulating Hormone

204

Induces the secretion of testosterone and dihydrotestosterone

Chorionic Gonadotropin

237

Produced after implantation of an egg in the placenta

Thyroid Stimulating Hormone

201

Stimulates secretion of thyroxin and triiodothyronine

Adrenocorticotropic Hormone

39

Stimulates production of adrenal cortex steroids (cortisol and costicosterone)

Vasopressin

9

Increases the reabsorption rate of water in kidney tubule cells (antidiuretic hormone)
Cys-Tyr-Phe-Gln-Asn-Cys-Pro-Arg-Gly

Oxytocin

9

Causes contraction of mammary gland cells to produce milk and stimulation of uterine muscles during childbirth
Cys-Tyr-Ile-Gln-Asn-Cys-Pro-Leu-Gly

Angiotensin II

8

Regulates blood pressure through vasoconstriction
Asp-Arg-Val-Tyr-Ile-His-Pro-Phe

Parathyroid Hormone

84

Increases calcium ion levels in extracellular fluids

Gastrin

14

Regulates secretion of gastric acid and pepsin, a digestive enzyme consisting of 326 amino acids


 



NATURAL REMEDIES TO TREAT DISORDERS OF THE GLANDS

The following natural foods can treat disorders of the glandular system. Elimination of toxins such as alcohol, drugs, tobacco, food additives, refined and processed foods and sugar will also help to heal conditions connected with the body's glands.

Drink at least 6 glasses of bottled mineral water per day

Fruit
blackberries, cranberry juice, grapes, papaya, raisins

Vegetables
alfalfa, kelp, root vegetables, seaweed, watercress

Herbal teas
burdock root, bdellium gum, comfrey, dandelion, green, horsetail, Irish moss, liquorice rootmandrake, milk thistle, mullien, sarsaparilla, Siberian ginseng, suma

Spices
black pepper, nutmeg, paprika, turmeric

Avoid
turmeric if taking anticoagulants (blood thinning medication) aspirin or ibuprofen or have blood clotting problems, have heart problems and during the first trimester of pregnancy
ginseng if pregnant, breast feeding or suffering from high blood pressure, asthma, emphysema, fibrocystic breasts, blood clotting problems and cardiac arrhythmia.

Cleanse and Detoxify

 

Through stools, urine, tears and sweat the body rids itself of toxins that would otherwise build up and lead to gland problems and disease. Fevers and skin eruptions are a natural part of the cleansing process and shouldn't be suppressed. Cleansing allows the body to restore balance and occurs when imbalance is too great and threatens health and life. Ingesting live organic natural plant foods encourages this process. Visit the Cleanse and Detoxify page to find out which natural foods can help the body clean itself inside and out.
 


 THE IMMUNE SYSTEM

The human immune system is an incredibly complicated armoury which can learn, through out the life of the human, to defend against most forms of bacteria, fungi, virus, worms and other parasitic organisms. It produces nature ‘killer’ cells and antibodies which attack these microbes before they can become established and cause damage to tissues and organs.

How the human behaves and lives their life greatly affects the abilities of the immune system. Poor diet, lack cleanliness, stress, lack of physical activity, alcohol and drugs, trauma, over exposure to microbes and toxic chemicals and serious infections or disease can overwhelm and greatly reduce the immune systems strength and may lead to major illness and a shortened life.

Simple colds can lead to pneumonia and pleurisy which is the greatest killer of the elderly because their immune system has been reduced in capability. Scientists are not yet aware of why this happens. It could be that the body cannot produce so many killer cells anymore and this allows the viruses, bacteria and fungi to proliferate and overwhelm the system.

The immune system remembers each attack and when the same microbe is detected it will release the right kind of killer cells. It could be, that as the human ages, memory of previous attacks of the virus is forgotten as too many killer cells have died off by natural apoptosis and not been replaced.

The human immune defence system is made up of the following organs and glands:

  • appendix
  • bone marrow
  • lymph nodes and lymphatic vessels
  • peyer’s patch
  • spleen
  • thymus
  • tonsils

TISSUE AND ORGAN TRANSPLANTS

Those who have had an unnatural transplant of tissues or organs from another living organism must have their immune system suppressed so that rejection of this tissue does not take place. This can cause many illnesses and often requires lifetime administration of steroids and other immune suppressing drugs.

A fragile balance between healthy immunity and non rejection of the foreign tissues is very difficult to establish. Mostly, it is a case of trial and error and the transplant patient may have to suffer many episodes of infections and rejection before the balance of drug administration is found.

It should be known that even a cold can become serious for someone whose immune system is compromised by the anti-rejection drugs they must take. Relatives, friends and anyone else who comes in to contact with a person who has to take anti-rejection drugs must be very cautious about passing on any contagious infections.

AUTOIMMUNE DISEASE

Autoimmune diseases can affect almost any part of the body including the blood vessels, brain, eyes, heart, glands, joints, kidneys, lungs, muscles, nerves, skin and the digestive tract.

The first sign of an autoimmune disease is inflammation, which can cause redness, heat, pain and swelling depending on what part of the body is targeted. If the disease affects the joints, as in rheumatoid arthritis, there can be joint pain, stiffness and loss of function. If it affects the thyroid, as in Graves’ disease and thyroiditis, it might cause tiredness, weight gain and muscle aches. If it attacks the skin, as it does in scleroderma/systemic sclerosis, vitiligo, and systemic lupus erythematosus, it can cause rashes, blisters and colour changes.

Many autoimmune conditions are not restricted to one part of the body. For example, systemic lupus erythematosus can affect the skin, joints, kidneys, heart, nerves, blood vessels etc and type 1 diabetes can affect the glands, eyes, kidneys and muscles etc.

Scientists do not yet know what causes autoimmune diseases. In most cases, a combination of factors may be responsible. It could be because of diet, genetics or a virus may even trigger it.

Diseases that can be affected or caused by an autoimmune condition:

  • Alopecia
  • Arthritis
  • Autoimmune Hemolytic Anaemia
  • Autoimmune Hepatitis
  • Dermatomyositis
  • Diabetes (type 1)
  • Glomerulonephritis
  • Granulomatosis with Polyangitis
  • Graves’ disease
  • Guillain Barré syndrome
  • Idiopathic Thrombocytopenic Purpura
  • Myasthenia Gravis
  • Myocarditis
  • Multiple Sclerosis
  • Pemphigus/Pemphigoid
  • Pernicious Anaemia
  • Polyarteritis Nodosa
  • Polymyositis
  • Primary Biliary Cirrhosis
  • Psoriasis
  • Rheumatoid Arthritis
  • Scleroderma/Systemic Sclerosis
  • Sjögren’s Syndrome
  • Systemic Lupus Erythematosus
  • Thyroiditis
  • Uveitis
  • Vitiligo

 

NATURE CURES FOR IMMUNE SYSTEM DISORDERS

The immune system needs good, regular nourishment. Deficiencies of vitamins A, B6, B9 (folic acid), C and E and minerals copper, iron, selenium and zinc can lower the immune system response to bacteria, virus, fungi and parasites. See the A-Z of Nutrients p XXX and the A-Z of Minerals p XXX for natural resources.

People who live in poverty and are malnourished are more vulnerable to infectious diseases but this may also be because of hygiene practises and being more subjected to infectious microbes.

It is claimed that many supplements and magic pills can boost the immune system but unless the overall diet is widely varied and nutritionally balanced, hygiene practises are sufficient and constant exposure to noxious chemicals, pollution and toxic drugs are eliminated, this will not happen. The fundamental reason for a lowered immune system must be addressed first.

Many common natural foods can nutritionally support the body’s glands and thus improve the immune system:

Alfalfa, anchovies, ash gourd, aubergine, avocado, bananas, basil, beef, berries, black currants, brassicas, buckwheat, carrots, chlorella, cinnamon, cloves, coconut, comfrey, coriander, courgette, cumin, dulse, eggs, fennel, garlic, ginger, peppercorns and live yogurt and other probiotics.

When nutrition is good the following herbs can work with the immune system and help fight off infection and parasites such as:

Aloe vera, andrographis, arnica, ashitaba, astralagus, baobab, bdellium gum, black cohosh, black seed, blessed thistle, blue vervain, burdock, cat’s claw, chaga mushrooms, chaparral leaf, cleavers, damiana, dandelion, dong quai, echinacea, ecklonia cava, false unicorn, gingko biloba, ginseng, goat’s rue, liquorice root and olive leaf.

IMMUNE SYSTEM BOOSTER

 Ingredients

  • 1/2 tablespoon of cinnamon

  • 1 garlic clove crushed

  • 2 tablespoons of ginger powder

  • 1/2 tablespoon of ground chilli peppers

  • 100 ml (3.5 oz) freshly squeezed lemon juice

  • 2 tablespoon of honey

Method

  • Add crushed garlic, ginger powder, chili powder and cinnamon to the lemon juice.

  • Mix all the ingredients and add the honey last.

  • Let the syrup rest for 3 hours on a room temperature.

  •  Keep the syrup in a closed glass container and store it in the fridge.

  • Every morning, before eating anything, take one tablespoon of the syrup to strengthen the immune system and cleanse the liver.

  •  If suffering with any infections including colds or influenza, take one tablespoon of the syrup, three times a day half an hour before meals.

 

NATURE CURES BOOK

"Nature cures not the physician"
Hippocrates 460 BC

Other pages of interest

Medicinal Herbs and Spices shows how to make toxic free and nutritious natural home remedies from powerful antibacterial, antifungal, antivirus and anti parasite wonder foods.

Micro Diet Sprouting is an easy way to gain high nutrition (which leads to an enhanced immune system) from small portions of food.  Find out how to grow your own sprouts using a jam jar and just a daily rinse of a small amount of water.

Brine pickling using sea salt and water only, is a way to store vegetables, herbs, spices and fruits for a year. Create spicy tasty pickles and provide vital phytonutrients as well as extra vital probiotic friendly bacteria for the intestines.

Hygiene, Toxins & Health for how to use home grown herbs as safe allergy free cleaning products for the body and home.

Cleanse & Detoxify to find out what natural foods can cleanse the entire system and protect against infection and disease.

Raw Juice Therapy which can cleanse of the system of toxins and help recovery from many illnesses and diseases.

A-Z List of Natural Food for information about all foods nutritional and health benefits.

A-Z List of Ailments for information about conditions, infections, diseases, natural remedies and cures.

All comments welcome. If you would like a link to this website or have any suggestions please email:

health@naturecures.co.uk

DISCLAIMER: The information on this website is not intended to diagnose medical problems, prescribe remedies for illness, or treat disease. It's intention is solely educational. If you are in any doubt about your health, please consult your medical or health professional.

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HAZARDS TO HUMAN HEALTH


Acrylamide
Addictions

Aerosol Air Fresheners
Alcohol
All-purpose Polishes
Anaemia
Animal. Faeces, Saliva and Dander
Art & craft products
Artificial Sweeteners
Aspartame

Bacteria
Beeswax Wood Polish
Brominated Flame Retardants
Cancer
Candles
Cleaning products
Coffee
Cosmetics
Deodorants
Diabetes
Drugs (recreational)
Dry Cleaning Products
 


Female Genital Mutilation
Food Additives
Food Poisoning
Fungi and Yeasts
Fungicides

Hair Dye
Heavy Metals
Herbicides
Hereditary Conditions and Conception
Herpes
High Blood Pressure
Immune Deficiency
Insect Bites

Lyme Disease
Malaria
Medications (prescribed)
Mosquito Borne Infections
Mould
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Nutrient Deficiency
Obesity
Pain and Inflammation

 


Paint
Parasites and Worms
Pesticides
Plastics
Radiation

Salt in the Diet
STD infections
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Strokes
Sudan1 Food Dye
Sugar
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Talcum Powder
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Toxins
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