Jackie*, a 37 year old accountant, came to see me in my Sydney clinic, wanting help with low energy, low motivation and difficulty concentrating at work. She told me that she would try to eat well during the day, but at night would eat compulsively. She craved chocolate and salty foods especially.
She had had a child 6 years ago, and in that time had gained almost 30 kgs and now weighed 102 kg, which made exercising difficult.
She had tried different diets, including shakes and then a low-calorie, home delivery meal program, but it left her feeling unsatisfied.
During the day she was very tired, but then would have trouble sleeping at night. She was plagued by regular headaches and had also developed eczema on her hands, inside the elbows and behind the knees.
A recent course of antibiotics had complicated things by causing bloating in the abdomen and reflux.
Her mood was very low, and she felt “heavy and stuck”. She found that she was not coping with stress very well.
We undertook some tests which showed that Jackie’s cortisol was elevated, and she also had an imbalance of several key nutrients.
WHAT WE DID
I first started Jackie on a six week nutritional detox program with specific strains of probiotics to support the liver function and establish a healthy flora balance in the gastrointestinal tract. We cut out many processed foods, especially refined carbohydrates and sugars, and started on a “cleaner” way of eating.
At the same time, I prescribed a herbal medicine to help support the nervous system, energy production, stress response and low mood; a high quality fish oil; and also a herbal and magnesium sleep formula.
By week two, Jackie reported a significant improvement in both mood and energy levels along. By week four, she told me her concentration had started to improve, and her bloating reduced. She felt that she now had the energy to start going for a regular 30 minute gentle walk each day.
After 6 weeks, her eczema had improved significantly, and Jackie noticed she didn’t get a headache as much, in fact she couldn’t remember when she had last had one. Even though we hadn’t yet started focusing on weight loss, she lost 4.5 kgs in those 6 weeks, and was thrilled with this.
She was keen to continue with weight loss as an objective, so we commenced on an efficient weight loss protocol with the aim to improve leptin sensitivity (the hormone which regulates appetite) and also discover if there were any particular foods causing inflammation.
By week 10, she had lost a total of 11 kgs. Jackie noticed that she could think more clearly and had a lot more energy and so had joined a gym, where she especially loved the aqua-aerobics classes. She had noticed that she was able to deal with challenges at work which previously used to stress her out.
Jackie had started to enjoy cooking and eating wholesome foods, and had cut out some specific foods which she noticed gave her a headache and skin rashes - a sign of inflammation in the body which can contribute to weight gain.
By week 14, she had lost a total of 15.5 kgs, and her energy had improved so much that she wanted to start training for a 5 day hike in New Zealand, something which had been on her dream list for a long time.
At this point, I moved from Sydney to Coffs Harbour, but I asked Jackie to promise to tell me when she achieved her hike.
Jackie’s case shows how strategic detoxification and weight loss can have so many positive effects on the mind and body. Jackie did all the hard work, but I was proud to be involved with such a positive change.
UPDATE: 3 Years Later
I received an email from Jackie recently who reported that she had spent her 40th birthday in New Zealand, where she completed a 10 day hike (her third long hike!).
She now weighed 72kgs, which was less than before she had her daughter. She had been offered a partnership in her accountancy firm, and she also cheekily shared that her libido had improved.
Her next goal was to start sailing, and to take the family sailing around the world for a year. I can’t wait to hear from her when she achieves this.
Thank you Jackie for letting me share your story today.
I am not going to make any wild claims that this body scrub will get rid of cellulite. There is no cream or treatment that will do this without diet and exercise. But since caffeine has been shown to minimise the appearance of cellulite (thanks to its temporary tightening effect) and scrubs can stimulate circulation and production of collagen, well I like to pretend that I am scrubbing away lumps and bumps every time I use it.
What I can say is that this scrub will leave your skin feeling smooth and soft. And gosh it smells so good.
Plus, you can make it yourself with ingredients you are likely to have in your pantry already.
You can use fresh coffee grounds, but I use spent grounds collected from my coffee machine. You can even ask your barista for their used grounds. They might look at you strangely, but they probably won’t forget your regular coffee order again.
WHAT YOU NEED
4 tablespoons spent or fresh ground coffee
2 tablespoons Himalayan or dead sea salts
3 tablespoons coconut oil
1 teaspoon vanilla bean extract or vanilla bean powder
WHAT TO DO
Mix all in a bowl and scoop into a jar
HOW TO USE IT
Use about a tablespoon as a scrub in the shower. If you are worried about coffee grounds going down the drain, then tape a chux cloth over the drain to collect the grounds.
Turmeric first came to my attention about 15 years ago when I was a naturopathic student and the spice had started to get some serious attention in both the natural medicine and scientific community.
We knew that in countries where people use turmeric extensively in cooking, that the intake seemed to be associated with a lower level of certain chronic conditions including arthritis, gastrointestinal diseases and even cancer.
Traditionally turmeric was used to strengthen overall energy of the body, to improve digestion, regulate menstruation, relieve arthritis, gallstones, bruising, immune conditions (such as cold and flu) and toothache.
Clinical trials are now showing evidence that turmeric can help with :
- Dyspepsia and peptic ulcer
- Hyperlipidaemia – such as high cholesterol
- Certain cancers
- Inflammatory disorders including asthma and irritable bowel
- Psoriasis (when used externally)
Some evidence is even emerging that turmeric can assist with mood disorders with greater effectiveness that Prozac, and also beats Ibuprofen as an anti-inflammatory. However, unlike these medications, turmeric is safe and well tolerated in most people.
High-standard turmeric is now available in capsule form, however turmeric golden paste is a powerful way to get these benefits.
Personally, I definitely notice a difference when I haven't had turmeric for a couple of weeks - my little arthritic toes ache.
Below is an easy-to-prepare Golden Paste recipe, plus 7 different ways to use it in food.
I also share some thoughts on dosage.
WHY BLACK PEPPER BOOSTS TURMERIC BLOOD LEVELS
Curcumin is the active ingredient in turmeric and responsible for its golden color, but it is not readily absorbed by the body. Once ingested, most of the curcumin gets quickly metabolized before it can get absorbed. Piperine (the heat in black pepper) helps make curcumin more bio-available as it temporarily slows the liver from removing it from the blood.
We now know that the bioavailability, serum levels, and levels of absorption of curcumin all improved dramatically when both are present. (Although traditional cultures discovered this thousands of years ago).
One study found that when even 2 g. (a good dose) of curcumin was ingested, serum levels stayed very low. However, when 20 mg. piperine was added to curcumin the bio-availability increased by 2000%!
And it doesn’t take much. Even just a little pinch of black pepper – 1/20th of a teaspoon – can significantly boost levels.
INGREDIENTS FOR MAKING TURMERIC GOLDEN PASTE:
1/2 cup turmeric powder (125 g) – Use organic powder. I just love the Changing Habits Turmeric Powder, as I know that Cyndi goes out of her way to source raw ingredients which meet her strict standards.
1 cup water (250 mls) or a bit more to get desired paste consistency
1 teaspoons ground black pepper (7.5 mls) (or even 1/2 tsp. if pepper is too irritating)
1/4 cup (70 ml) un-refined Coconut oil – enhances the bio-availability of curcumin another seven to eight-fold
When eaten with fat as is done in India, curcumin can be directly absorbed into the bloodstream through the lymphatic system thereby partially bypassing the liver.
QUICK & EASY DIRECTIONS
Add turmeric to water in a pan. Heat gently along with stirring. Do this till you get a thick paste, approximately 6 to 10 min. Adjust thickness by adding some water or adding a bit more turmeric.
Finally, add the pepper and oil. Keep stirring to ensure that all ingredients are mixed properly. Allow it to cool.
Bottle in clean jar with tight-fitting lid and refrigerate it for 4-5 weeks or more. This will ensure you can make it once and use for days.
Okay, so now you’ve slaved (not exactly true, I know) to make your golden paste. What do you do with it?
7 EASY AND FABULOUS WAYS TO USE TURMERIC GOLDEN PASTE
1.) Take half a small spoonful (~ 1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon) and chase it with water…all done! It’s one very popular way if you don’t like the taste (over quickly, no fuss or bother) and my favourite to spread it out through the day. One teaspoon is equal to ~2,000 mg. Best to take smaller quantities 3-4 times per day, especially if battling chronic neuro-degenerative, cardiovascular, pulmonary, metabolic, autoimmune diseases, or cancer.
2.) Turmeric honey. Some may not like turmeric paste’s taste by itself. Adding good quality honey makes the job easy.
Raw honey has its own health benefits. Adding raw honey to paste enhances its already existing health benefits. Just mix the paste with honey (to desired taste)
3.) Add to warm or cold milk. Golden turmeric milk is one of the most popular ways to take turmeric daily. Turmeric milk is extremely popular in Asian countries. I prefer to use use almond milk, cashew milk or additive-free coconut milk as dairy is inflammatory for some clients.
Simply add some turmeric paste in your milk and maybe a little honey or stevia (please not artificial sweeteners).
4.) Add to meals and hot soups. Simply add a dollop of golden paste. I’ve found I can ‘hide’ it in dishes with other stronger flavours.
5.) Add to smoothies. There’s no limit to innovations you can do here. Experiment. Add turmeric golden paste to all kinds of smoothies and make your favourite ones even healthier.
6.) Add it to rice. Turmeric golden paste can easily be added to rice. You can add 1 or more teaspoons after you have cooked the rice while still warm which enables smooth mixing.
7.) Turmeric tea. You can add 1/4 teaspoon turmeric golden paste to a hot cup of already-brewed tea, add honey, maybe a splash of almond milk, and your quick turmeric tea is ready. The taste and texture may not seem like a “normal tea” as it has black pepper and oils … but it is tasty; I have tried it.
DOSAGE FOR TURMERIC GOLDEN PASTE
Ground Turmeric: 1 teaspoon (2,000 mg. or 2 grams)
According to the traditional medical community, 2,000 mg – 3,000 mg, and this is considered the maximum amount of standardized turmeric curcumin you should take per day, although some studies show that 8,000 mg per day can be taken without any effects of toxicity. If taking higher doses, it is always best to work with a healthcare practitioner, especially if you are pregnant or wanting to conceive.
Studies show that you will start to notice a positive effect after 2 weeks, however as most conditions which benefit from turmeric are chronic, treatment with turmeric should be considered long term.
(References available upon request).
There is a saying (and I believe it was made popular by Woody Allen) that “80% of success is showing up”.
I find that the hardest part of exercise is actually getting myself dressed for a workout, and then getting to the gym or outside.
For some reason, I resist putting on workout clothes and shoes, and then have to talk myself into getting out the door.
There have even been times when I have managed to get ready, get as far as the gym door or carpark, and then find an excuse as to why I shouldn’t work out.
Even though I know that after the first 5 minutes I will really begin to enjoy myself, and find exercising easy and effortless. Even though I know that after a workout I will feel freaking amazing. I have never, ever, regretted exercising.
The more I get to the gym, or the beach, the more I want to do it. It becomes easier, and as I start to feel better physically and emotionally, and have more energy, I tend to look after myself better in other areas.
I have had a few clients confide in me that it is a bit the same when it comes to booking their first appointment to see me.
They know they need to do something to change their health. They know they need access to knowledge, advice, tools and perhaps investigative tests to help unlock the keys to better health.
But the hardest part is actually committing to attending that first initial appointment. Some have procrastinated about booking the appointment. Some clients have no problems booking in, but then will cancel at the last minute.
But those that do come in, find that after that first few minutes of the appointment, that the whole process of managing their health becomes easier.
They know I have their back.
They receive the treatment plan that I put together especially for them.
I give them the knowledge and tools, and create a step-by-step outline of what they need to do to either feel less bloated, lose weight, gain more energy, have less pain in their joints, deal better with stress, or cope with the health condition which has been holding them back.
That is why I have made it as easier as possible for clients to book and pay online for their first appointment.
Because 80% of success is just showing up. After that, we are in it together.
I can help you go from burnt-out, stressed, lethargic and unmotivated to energetic, enthusiastic, vibrant and healthy.
I can also help with anxiety and low mood, weight management, bloating and other digestive troubles, women’s health and skin problems.
If any of the above sound like you, and you are ready to make your health a priority, then book your appointment online now. And then show up :)
One of the most frequently asked questions I get is how can a naturopath help me lose weight?
Weight management is one of those areas that naturopathy can really make a difference. Because we don’t have a “one size fits all” approach, and have a lot of tools and strategies available to us, naturopaths tend to achieve very good results for our weight loss clients, and most importantly, help our clients keep the weight off as well.
Why is this?
First of all, naturopaths are trained in nutrition. We keep up to date with the latest research in nutrition, and are often aware of new emerging science in this area.
Naturopaths are also well versed in how hormones can affect weight. We understand the relationship between reproductive, adrenal and thyroid hormones, and how an imbalance in one hormone can go on to affect those hormones which influence how we store fat. We also have testing methods available to us to pinpoint if there is a specific hormone balance in a client, and then can recommend a combination of specific nutrients and herbal medicines to help restore balance in this area. In these clients, sometimes just rebalancing hormone levels can result in weight loss, even without any significant changes in diet.
Which brings me on to nutrition. Often undetected food intolerances can cause inflammation throughout the body, which can result in… you guessed it… weight gain. A variety of food intolerance testing is available to naturopaths to help work out which foods may be causing the body to hold on to fat and extra fluids, resulting in a puffy, bloated appearance.
Emotional health is also something that naturopaths can help with. Often clients with a long-term weight loss are subconsciously holding on to the extra weight for emotional reasons. Naturopathy can help address this with lifestyle advice and herbal medicines which help strengthen the nervous system.
If sugar cravings or poor liver function is part of the client’s health picture, then we are also able to look at addressing this. Herbal medicine is particularly helpful with sugar imbalances and improving liver function. Naturopaths are also able to organise tests to help look at what is happening in these areas.
Most naturopaths have available a wide range of nutritional programmes to help with weight loss. As a naturopath, I take some time during a consultation to help work out with the client which is the best approach specifically for them. Some clients do best with a structured programme with prescribed meal plans or natural meal replacement options (although definitely not those chemical-laden “diet foods and shakes”!). Some may be interested in trying approaches such as paleo, primal, vegan, low carbohydrate or the HCG programmes. Others just need some professional guidance to help tweak an existing good diet to get results. Or perhaps it is to be accountable to someone through regular follow up appointments.
If you think naturopathy may be able to help you with weight management, consider booking in for an initial consultation to get started.
This morning I went to make my favourite Bliss Balls for Easter. I usually use the I Quit Sugar recipe, as it is so chocolatey, and not too sweet.
But halfway through getting prepped I realised that I only had a tiny amount of nut butter. So I substituted half with tahini. The result was very successful! Tahini adds a creaminess plus loads of calcium - definitely a winner.
1. Place nuts and oats in a food processor and process until coarsely chopped. The mix should be slightly chunky to help hold the balls together.
2. Place nut and oat mixture in a large mixing bowl and stir through the cacao, cinnamon, chia seeds and sea salt. Add the nut butter, tahini and rice malt syrup.
3. Using your hands, rub the ingredients together. The mix should be quite dry and will not stick together. Gradually add in the hot water, using your hands to work the moisture through the mixture.
5. Once mix starts to come together, shape mixture into balls.
6. Roll in desiccated coconut and store in an airtight container in the fridge to harden up before serving.
Rhodiola Rosea also known as “golden root” is an adaptogen herb with tremendous fat burning, energy enhancing and brain boosting power.
Adaptogens are a group of plants that can help your body adapt to physical, chemical, and environmental stress and rhodiola is one of the most effective in this family.
This unique herb grows at high altitudes in the arctic areas of Asia and Eastern Europe.
Historically the Vikings used rhodiola to enhance physical strength and the Sherpa people used it to climb at high altitudes including Mt. Everest.
The Russians have used rhodiola benefits extensively over the past 70 years mostly for improving work performance, insomnia, fatigue, depression, and increasing athletic endurance.
It works really well with other herbs in mixes I prepare individually for clients (particularly busy working women and mums) when I need to help someone increase their energy, burn belly fat, improve mood, fight stress, and generally just feel better able to take on the day like a warrior queen.
Some time ago I was gifted a wonderful, musty-smelling but obviously well-loved book. I was so delighted as I adore vintage books, and discovering that it was all about family health and medicine made it so much more special.
And what a gem of a book it is turning out to be. Titled “Modern Medical Counsellor – A Practical Guide to Health” published in Melbourne, Australia in 1959, it offers almost a 1000 pages of medical and health science of that time.
Now, I must admit that I was prepared to have a bit of a scoff at the advice given in the pages of this 1950’s text. The world in general, but especially our knowledge of health and medicine has advanced so much in 60 or so years, hasn’t it?
But after an initial flick through the title pages, my prejudices started to fall away as I spotted chapters dedicated to “Diet”, "Climate", “Mental Attitudes” and “Growing Old Gracefully". Hmmmm. This book was starting to look like it covered the pillars of naturopathic health philosophy which looks at an individual's nutrition, lifestyle, environment and emotional health when considering treatment options and advice.
And then I came to Chapter 18 “Natural and Other Rational Remedies”.
Let me repeat that. Natural and Other Rational Remedies.
It was at this point that I was won over. And surprised. I had a vague perception that by the 1950’s, natural remedies were beginning to be put aside (and even scorned) as pharmaceuticals and surgery were on the ascendant.
It made me think about how often in what we consider mainstream and orthodox medicine today, do we see the words "natural" and "rational" in the same sentence. Sadly, with many looking to discredit natural medicine in favour of new pharmaceuticals, you rarely see the word “natural” and “rational” in the same sentence today.
This text now had me intrigued. What actually was the current medical thinking on natural medicine in 1959?
Let quote directly from the book.
“There continues to be much talk about ‘nature’ and ‘natural’ remedies in connection with the treatment of disease. There is so much solid truth and good sense in this talk…we also hear the word ‘rational’ applied to various remedies or treatments. This word is properly applied to whatever is the logical or reasonable remedy given in any case. A truly natural remedy is always rational.”
“It should be self-evident that the most reasonable way to fight a disease is to find its cause and then to remove or correct that cause. And since the body has numerous natural defences and great powers of self-repair and restoration, another reasonable way to fight disease and restore health is to reinforce or co-operate with the body’s own defence and restorative forces, thus increasing the effective of these natural remedies.”
Wait, what! These paragraphs are essentially the underlying principle of naturopathy - aiming to work with the body’s own innate ability to heal, rather than fight against these natural processes.
The book then goes on further to talk about patients who “give far too much credit to the drugs and seem to think that they should seek primarily for some pill, powder, medicine, tablet or injection to use in treating every variety of disease in any of its stages. Such individuals will leave a doctor who gives their case careful study and then tells them to change their habits of eating and working but gives them no prescription to take to a chemist, and go to another doctor who takes but a minute or two in questioning and examining them and then prescribes from two to half a dozen different kinds of medicines. Sometimes a physician who would prefer to make a much greater and more nearly exclusive use of natural remedies is forced by these circumstances to write prescriptions in order to keep the patient under his care long enough for the natural remedies he recommends to take effect.”
Wow. The more things change the more they stay the same.
Now I don't want to go into the whole debate of pharmaceuticals and natural medicine right now - I believe there is a place for both where appropriate. But it would appear from this book that so many individuals look for the “fast fix” or silver bullet” to take away symptoms without addressing the underlying cause. And that this way of thinking has been in place for some time.
What I think we are starting to see now, however, (and research backs me up on this), is that more and more are turning back to natural medicines, and indeed consulting with natural and integrative practitioners who are able to take the time to really delve into a patient’s case on a wholistic level.
It makes sense. We have evolved over many thousands of years along with the plants that have provided our much of our food and medicines. Our bodies simply haven't adapted to the rapid increase in chemicals in our day to day living. So is it any wonder that we see side effects from our reliance on modern drugs, processed foods and cosmetics? And then find that the solution we really need is to take the time to look after ourselves with food and herbal medicines, just as our ancestors have for millennia?
I see so many clients are finding that the quick fix hasn't been serving their long-term health, and instead are getting lasting results by the use of herbal medicine, good solid nutrition, and living in harmony with our natural environment. This does take time and is not always a fast fix. And there can be so much to investigate with each person to figure out the right combination of natural medicines as we are all so different. An initial consultation with a naturopath can take up 90 minutes and that is really just the beginning of the journey to helping a client to bring their health back into balance.
So it is just wonderful, as a naturopathic practitioner who believes wholeheartedly that nature provides us with what we need to stay well, to have this affirmed in the pages of a medical text. Even if it is from the 1950's. I think our grandparents had the right idea when it came to taking care of ourselves - just eat real food and respect the herbal lore of our ancestors. By all means, turn to modern medicine when we need to, but let's also use the gifts of nature to stay well.
Food for thought indeed.
In the meantime, I’m going to read on, and perhaps share more wisdom from this 1950’s text on medicine in future posts.
The chapter “Survival in Atomic Bombing” is no doubt going to be fascinating...
Naturopath, Nutritionist and Herbalist