GABA (gamma-aminobutyric acid) is one of the major neurotransmitters in our brain – and is a chemical that our brain cells use to communicate with each other.
It is a naturally occurring chemical that calms the mind and puts the brakes on brain activity when needed.
If you are easily overstimulated and often overwhelmed and stressed out, then your GABA might be depleted.
Other signs of GABA deficiency include:
While you can get synthetic GABA, as a naturopath I prefer to instead support the body to increase the production of GABA naturally. Nutrients such as Vitamin B6, glutamine and l-theanine (found naturally in tea) helps us produce GABA, as well as magnesium and kava.
Eating carbohydrates can also help, but it is important to choose low-sugar, unrefined sources such as sweet potato, wholegrains, legumes (beans) and fruit. Include oats and almonds as these also naturally support GABA production.
And in case you need another reason as to why to enrol in that yoga and meditation class, then it is worth noting that yoga has been shown to increase GABA in the brain of those who practice regularly.
Bianca* aged 37, came to see me about her insomnia and subsequent fatigue. She also wanted to quit smoking and reduce her drinking - she was enjoying 3-4 glasses of wine every evening.
She described herself as always being an anxious person, and also had been diagnosed with depression previously. Bianca had seen psychologists and psychiatrists frequently in the past, and at times had been on various antidepressants.
In her 20's, she had been, in her own words, " a bit rock and roll" - binge drinking and regularly taking recreational drugs - which she now felt she had been using to deal with her anxiety and depression.
She never felt completely well. Always tired and she had trouble thinking clearly.
Most nights she had trouble getting to sleep - sometimes she didn't fall asleep until about 3am, and then struggled to get up in the morning. As a result, she was often late for work, and on weekends wouldn't get up until the afternoon.
Bianca was worried about her current mood swings. She noticed that recently she had started lashing out with anger - "explosive rage" she called it. And her libido was low.
After taking her case history, I suspected that she may have Pyrrole disorder -the main biochemical features of this disorder are a severe zinc and B6 deficiency (amongst other nutrients).
A urine test to detect the disorder was organised, and 2 weeks later we had indeed confirmation from the laboratory that Bianca likely had Pyrrole disorder, which meant here body had trouble storing zinc, B6 and other nutrients - vital for mental health and hormonal health.
The next step was to supplement. When dealing with mineral and vitamin deficiencies, it is important to supplement very carefully, as reintroducing too much can cause side effects. So, an individual supplement regime was put together, gently introducing vitamins and minerals to Bianca over a period of time.
In addition to this, I also put together a herbal mix to support the nervous system.
After a month, Bianca came in to my clinic to tell me that she was able to fall asleep more easily, and sleep soundly. She felt better able to manage her mood and angry feelings during the day. What's more she had started to reduce the number of cigarettes she had daily - she noticed that she just didn't think about smoking as much anymore (addictive behaviour has been linked to Pyrrole disorders).
Two months later she reported her energy had improved significantly, and she has the motivation and energy to move from part time to full time work. She was sleeping really well, and found it easier to get up in the morning.
She also noticed that her skin had improved (she suffered from eczema) and her menstrual cycles were more regular and with less incidence of PMS - an example of how when we address the root cause of one thing, we end up improving other health conditions.
Three months later, and Bianca now feels that her energy has gone from 3/10 to 9/10 on average. She has given up smoking, and now only drinks on weekends, just having one drink at a dinner out.
This is a great example of how correcting a nutrient deficiency can have effects in many parts of the mind and body.
IRRITATED BY ALLERGIES?
Spring. At this time of year it seems like the world is divided into two groups of people. Those that don’t suffer from allergies. And those that do.
Now, if you are in the first group, then you have probably clocked the word allergies, and decided to skim past this article. But stay with me here, or at the very least, skip through to just before the last paragraph, because there I’ve got something just for you.
For those of you who DO experience the effects of allergies – sneezing, sniffling, watering eyes, itchy throat, coughs, headaches and feeling just damn irritated by it all, then here are some strategies to help you overcome your symptoms, and maybe even deal with the cause.
SO WHAT CAUSES ALLERGIES?
Allergies happen when your immune system has an abnormal reaction to a normally harmless substance (the allergen). The allergen will bind to antibodies, which then causes mast cells to release histamine, which in turn, causes inflammation. Where the histamine is released in the body will determine the symptoms experienced – a runny nose; itchy, watery eyes; shortness of breath and dry skin may all be signs of mast cells reacting in those parts of the body.
Typical allergens can include pollens, animal dander, dust mites and mould. You may be allergic to one or many things, and it is worthwhile getting tested to determine exactly what it is that your immune system over-reacts to.
GET YOUR PLUMBING HUMMING
A great part of our immune system resides in the gut, so it is important to take care of the digestive system. Probiotics can help to balance out intestinal flora, and adopting a clean-style of eating really makes a difference. When choosing probiotics, it is best to get advice as to which strain will work best for you. Probiotics with the LGG strain are often indicated for those with allergy-type symptoms.
An intolerance to certain types of food can make the symptoms of airborne allergies worse, so it may be worthwhile investigating this through food intolerance testing or trying to eliminate any foods you suspect may make allergies worse. Common foods which can cause problems are milk, eggs, wheat, peanuts, tree nuts, fish, soy and wheat.
And avoid sugar. It is very inflammatory and a high sugar intake has been shown to depress the immune system.
Eat up foods which contain high levels of vitamin C as it is a natural anti-histamine. Good sources include blackcurrant, broccoli, Brussel sprouts, citrus fruit, guava, parsley, pawpaw capsicum, pineapple, potatoes, raw cabbage, strawberries, sweet potatoes and tomatoes.
Speaking of pineapple, the nutrient bromelain, found in the sweet fruit, is a great remedy for sinusitis and hay fever as it thins out mucus. Nice.
Anti-oxidants in general is helpful, so eating a wide variety of fruits and vegetables is the way to go. Also includes lots of garlic in the diet – it is great for the respiratory system in general.
Look after your liver. Spring is a great time to consider a detox and eliminate (or at least try and reduce) habits which add an additional burden on the liver such as coffee, alcohol, junk and processed foods.
Replace your morning tea or coffee with a daily fresh juice of parsley, pineapple, lemon, cucumber, carrot and ginger.
Don’t forget to consider herbal remedies too.
Albizia works to stabilise those pesky mast cells to treat a runny nose, itching and asthma, and as an added bonus, also has a positive effect on mood and memory.
Another important herb used to manage allergies is the prettily named Perilla, from Eastern Asia, which is anti-inflammatory and anti-allergic, and is used for hay-fever, itchy eyes and skin, and sinusitis.
Other herbs that help deal with allergies include Elder Flower, Eyebright, Golden Seal, Horseradish and Nettle Leaf. There are also herbs which can modulate the immune system such as Echinecea, Korean Ginseng, Shiitake and Withania.
Make no mistake – herbs have a powerful action and can interact with other medications, so seek professional advice before using. Your best bet is to ask your naturopath or herbalist to make up you up a custom herbal blend for you, or recommend a suitable tablet formulation. There are some very effective practitioner-only supplements.
Something also to try is peppermint and lavender oil in a diffuser – this can help to clear the nose (and the mind). Great to have handy on your work desk.
SOME COMMON SENSE LIFESTYLE ADVICE
Obviously, you will want to avoid as much as possible the airborne allergens. Avoid grassy areas in springtime. Use pillow case and mattress protectors to keep dust mites under control. Some people find that using synthetic materials instead of animal product materials in the home helps, or even going to the measure of eliminating carpets and curtains. An air purifier or dust filter can also be effective.
Ensure you get plenty of sleep and drink lots of water – it is surprising how these simple measures can make a difference to allergy symptoms.
And don’t forget to address the mental irritation that allergies cause. Where possible, work to adopt a positive frame of mind and look at meditation and yoga to help calm the mind. Take your mind off your allergies by keeping a gratitude journal, and perhaps also have a “happy list” of about 15 things that you make feel happy, and commit to doing one straight away.
HELPING ALLERGY SUFFERERS
Even if you don't suffer from hay fever, I bet that someone close to you does. Be the best friend in the world, and organise an allergy-free date for someone you know who suffers allergies.
Perhaps an indoor picnic followed by a movie, and bring a gift basket filled with some home-baked low sugar treats, fresh citrus juice, and don’t forget a box of tissues! You’ll feel great knowing you have helped someone take their mind off their allergy symptoms.
One of the questions I often get asked in clinic is "How can I persuade my partner/family/kids/friends/co-workers to follow a healthier lifestyle?".
Sometimes the path to eating better and taking care of yourself can be very lonely, so it's a good question. Whether you have just discovered how much better you feel on a wholesome, nutritious diet; or if you have always taken care of yourself, it is natural to want others around you to enjoy the same benefits. And of course it is easier to keep on track yourself if those around you are not scoffing junk food or indulging in bad habits.
The first thing we often want to do to encourage someone to break a bad habit, or eat better, or remove negative thought patterns, is to TELL them what to do.
I don't know about you, but when someone tells me what to do, part of me (OK a big part) wants to rebel. Perhaps get passive aggressive, or stubbornly dig my heels in and refuse to take the advice, no matter how well-meaning it is. On top of that, someone pointing out your faults or telling you what to do makes you feel bad about yourself.
On some level, whether consciously or sub-consciously, we already know if we are doing something that does not serve us well, and having it pointed out to us makes us feel so much worse.
On top of that, continuing to nag will just dilute your message, until it is not heard at all.
So what do you do?
Well, to paraphrase Gandhi - "Be the change you want to see in others".
Be an inspiration to those around you by taking care of yourself. Be passionate about what you are doing, and let the enthusiasm spread to others. Lead by example and SHOW the benefits of being positive, embracing wellness and natural healing. Let them see how this leads to a happier state of mind and better health.
Be patient, be kind, be positive.
And be accepting if they won't change at all. It is a personal choice, and while you know that someone would feel so much better, more alive and happier if they took care of themselves, it is ultimately their journey.
"Think twice before you speak, because your words and influence will plant the seed of either success or failure in the mind of another." Napoleon Hill
If find myself recommending tahini to everyone lately, and so thought it was time to do a quick blog post on it. Tahini is rarely on any list of superfoods, but it should be.
Firstly, it is an amazingly high source of well-absorbed calcium.
Secondly, it contains essential fatty acids.
Thirdly, it's slightly bitter taste stimulates the digestive system, meaning that we break down food more thoroughly in the gut and increase our uptake of nutrients.
And lastly, it is soooo useful in recipes. You can use it as a thickener for sauces, dressing and dips, and it makes a good substitute for nut butters.
You can make your own by grinding sesame seeds - here is a great recipe, or pick up a jar of hulled or unhulled tahini in the health food aisle. Unhulled tahini is darker and has more nutrients, but is also more bitter. If you are trying tahini for the first time, then I recommend you go for the hulled version first.
Here are some ways that I use tahini:
A Changing Habits recipe
If you want to provide a non-chemical based vitamin C for yourself and your family, then Camu Camu powder is a must have! It is one of the richest sources of nature-based vitamin C available and based on scientific research, is more powerful than isolated, processed ascorbic acid (synthetically made Vit C). Camu Camu contains approximately 460x more Vit C than an orange, making it an incredibly immune boosting natural food supplement and a perfect addition to these immune boosting gummies. Manuka honey is also added for its antibiotic, antimicrobial, anti-inflammatory and antiseptic properties which helps the body to fight infection and prevent the growth of bad bacteria. It’s soothing to the digestive system and also helps remove toxins from the blood, as well as aiding the liver to function more efficiently. Gelatin is used not only for the setting agent, but also because of its immune boosting properties, aids sleep, easily digestible, supports skin, nail, hair and teeth health, aids detoxification and so much more!
Prep: 5 mins
Cook: 10 mins
3.5-4.5 Tbsp grass-fed organic gelatin
1 cup filtered water
Zest of 1 lemon or orange
1-2 Tbsp Manuka honey
3/4 cup orange or lemon juice (mandarin is great too)
1 - 1.5 Tbsp camu camu powder
1. Mix the gelatin and filtered water together in a small saucepan, set aside for a couple minutes and allow it to thicken and 'bloom' . (Please Note: the more gelatin you add, the harder your gummies will turn out).
2. Once the gelatin and water have thickened, add the saucepan to the stove top and dissolve the gelatin on a low heat.
3. Once the gelatin has completely dissolved, remove it from the heat and allow it to cool for a few minutes. Then stir through all the other ingredients to combine.
4. Pour the mixture into a pouring jug (for ease) and carefully pour the mix into little moulds. Place in the fridge to set. Depending on the size of your moulds it will make around 50-60 bite sized gummies.
5. When they have set, remove the gummies from their moulds and place into an air tight container and keep them in the fridge. If you have trouble removing the gummies from the moulds, use a small teaspoon to make it easier (they won't look as pretty though).
The beautiful thing about naturopathy is that it allows for an individual, comprehensive and holistic approach to each person I see. I might have 10 people come to see me about a headache, and yet the treatment plan for each will be completely different.
I do notice, however, that there are some core pieces of advice which applies to the majority of clients, and in general is good advice for everyone.
As always, if you have any questions or concerns about your health, you are best to see a healthcare practitioner (like a naturopath!) to talk about your individual case.
1. Avoid gluten and particularly wheat.
Unfortunately the wheat and some other grains we consume today is not the same as the wheat that our grandparents enjoyed. Modern farming practices, genetic modification and processing means that so many people, particularly those with autoimmune conditions, are negatively affected by wheat consumption.
It used to be that generally only those with coeliac disease had an adverse reaction to wheat, but not now, as outlined in the brilliant documentary "What's With Wheat".
Gluten-free is no longer a fad, and I often find that this piece of advice results in the most dramatic changes for the better for many clients.
Modern living, medications, processed foods and antibiotics means that many of our gut flora is out of balance. Probiotics have now been clinically proven to show results for immune, skin, mental and digestive health, and even in weight management and child behaviour.
We now know that you need to be selective about which strain you use - seeing a healthcare practitioner trained in probiotics, like a naturopath, is important before taking probiotics.
3. Fish oil
Due to the processed foods in our diet, we don't get the levels of omega 3s we used to, and so fish oil supplementation is often required for cardiovascular and skin health, and for incredible anti-inflammatory action. There are some things to be aware of when it comes to fish oils though, and I've written about them here.
4. Know the foods that don't agree with you
There is more evidence that certain foods can cause inflammation or a negative immune response in the body, and can be responsible for not just digestive symptoms, but also conditions such as arthritis, migraines, autoimmune conditions, hormonal disorders, skin problems, asthma, hayfever... the list goes on and on.
You can work out which foods that don't work for you either via a rotation or elimination diet, or through an appropriate food allergy or intolerance test from a naturopath or healthcare practitioner.
5. Reduce your toxic load
We are all exposed to toxins on a daily basis, and while our liver and other organs do a great job in dealing with them generally, it certainly helps the healing process to avoid toxins where we can.
The website www.lowtoxlife.com is a brilliant resource on how to phase out toxins.
And don't forget to avoid toxic people as well :)
6. Take time out
I swear this is on almost everyone's "prescription pad" from me. Most of us simply do not get enough rest.
Whether you take a holiday, a long weekend or simply try to get to bed half an hour earlier, your body will thank you for it.
All the supplements, nutritional advice and herbal medicines in the world won't work so well unless you are rested.
7. Develop a wholesome, loving relationship with real food
I get so mad about some of the marketing claims made by processed food manufacturers - these include packet cereals, margarine, "snack bars", and drinks. Coupled with some poor dietary advice, I am seeing a lot of clients who are malnourished, and confused about what to eat.
It is also important to lose the guilt when eating foods you love, and instead focus on whole real foods that satisfy.
My advice is simple - eat real food - choose eggs and avocado or porridge instead of processed cereals; enjoy a handful of nuts instead of a muesli bar; don't buy the packaged pasta meals and make your own from scratch. Yes, I know it takes time but your health is so much better for eating real food, that you will find you have more time with all that extra energy and wellbeing. Truly!
Need some advice for your particular health needs? Book in and see me in person. I'd love to help. Head over to my bookings page to make an appointment online.
Over 2 years ago I decided to stop using antiperspirants and deodorant sprays, after reading an article by a well-respected professor in environmental toxicology that the number one indoor air pollutant in your home is deodorant spray. I was also breastfeeding my son at the time, and was uncomfortable with the idea of exposing him to a toxic bundle of chemicals each time he had a meal.
“But my antiperspirant/deodorant is the only one that works… But all natural ones have failed…” you might say. Read on. Trust me.
Let's look at the ingredients in many antiperspirants and deodorants.
Aluminium based compounds are the element that makes an anti-perspirant do what it says. Some research has suggested that these aluminium compounds may be absorbed by the skin and cause changes in estrogen receptors of breast cells. Because estrogen can promote the growth of both cancer and non-cancer breast cells, some scientists have suggested that using the aluminium-based compounds in antiperspirants may be a risk factor for the development of breast cancer (although a clear link has not been established as yet).
Parabens in their many forms are a class of artificial preservatives widely used in cosmetics and personal care products that are being investigated for their possible role in breast cancer. Parabens mimic the activity of estrogen in the body. Since estrogen promotes the growth of breast cancer cells and a woman is eight times more likely to develop breast cancer in the part of the breast closest to the underarm, scientists are studying the connection.
Propylene glycol—a humectant which means it keeps substances from drying out, and it was originally developed as an anti-freeze, but is now included in some deodorants and antiperspirants – oh, and many commercial ice creams! It is a neurotoxin known to cause contact dermatitis, kidney damage, and liver damage. In propylene glycol’s Material Safety Data Sheet (MSDS), published by the National Institute for Occupational Health and Safety, workers are urged to avoid skin contact with the toxic chemical as it may cause eye and skin irritation, gastrointestinal irritation and discomfort, nausea, headache, vomiting, and central nervous depression. So nope, I don't want to put it on my skin.
TEA and DEA (triethanolamine and diethanolamine) adjust the pH, and used with many fatty acids toconvert acid to salt (stearate), which then becomes the base for a cleanser. They both could be toxic if absorbed into the body over a long period of time where DEA can cause liver and kidney damage and TEA can cause allergic reactions. These chemicals are already restricted in Europe due to known carcinogenic (cancer-causing) effects.
Triclosan is an artificial antimicrobial chemical used to kill bacteria on the skin and other surfaces. Triclosan is a skin irritant and may cause contact dermatitis. Recent studies suggest this chemical may disrupt thyroid function and other critical hormone systems. The American Medical Association recommends that triclosan and other
“antibacterial” products not be used in the home, as they may encourage bacterial resistance to antibiotics that can allow resistant strains to flourish. The FDA has now banned effective 2017, the use of triclosan in cleansers and handwashes – WINNING!
And then there are artificial fragrances - these cause a whole host of problems from headaches and skin allergies to hayfever-like symptoms.
Is it any wonder our bodies revolt eventually with allergies, inflammation and even possibly cancer, when one of the most permeable parts of our skin is pumped with the above list of chemicals every day? It's crazy to think how we might have got here.
I hear you though, you don’t want to stink. I don’t either! As I mentioned, I have used natural deodorant, fragrance free for over 2 years now, and no synthetic fragrance skin care or bath / shower care of any kind for a bit longer.
Recently I forgot my natural deodorant so I ended up using an antiperspirant which rhymes with "Sharona". Oh my god - by the end of the day I stunk! And I developed a nasty rash under the arm.
I hadn’t had BO for a couple of years so it was really unsettling and I felt super self conscious. So, the moral of the story? These synthetic fragrances could actually be causing some of the BO you might get, yet we ironically reach for heavier fragranced products to cover up the excessive BO.
So what to do instead?
First of all, what you eat can make a difference. I do find that if I have had a less than great diet (processed foods, alcohol, too much coffee) then I might pong a bit.
Generally, if my immune, nervous and lymphatic system are working well, then I just don't tend to smell, so looking after these with good nutrition and herbs helps a lot. Chlorophyll drops or greens powders are great to support internal cleansing.
The next thing is to look at clothing - natural fibres such as cotton, wool and bamboo are the ones to wear.
And then, there is a whole host of natural deodorant alternatives, which you can find at the health food store.
Personally, I reall like the Black Chicken Axilla paste available at www.nourishedlife.com.au. Axilla is an effective natural deodorant which is known to out perform even the mainstream chemical laden brands. This paste keeps you fresh without inhibiting your sweat glands' ability to dispel toxins. It contains a unique blend of natural ingredients including Arrowroot, Sodium Bicarbonate and Organic Coconut Oil which work together to absorb moisture. I find this amazingly effective and I can even skip a day and still be OK.
Some people find they get a bit of irritation when they first try Axilla (don't rub it in too hard or apply immediately after shaving), which might mean you need (and don't laugh) an armpit detox. Read more here about how to go about this first.
CREDIT: Low Tox Life
We have all by now heard the very good news that chocolate can be beneficial for your health. In pre-Columbian Mesoamerica, chocolate was considered a “food for the gods”, was used in religious rituals and cacao beans were such a precious commodity that they were even used as a form of currency.
Today we are fortunate that chocolate is readily available, but the big problem is that a lot of commercial chocolate you buy is full of things that are best avoided… such as hydrogenated vegetable oils, sugar, artificial sweeteners, additives, preservatives, colours, flavour, powdered milk solids, and much more.
There is a lot of exciting research coming to light about raw cacao, and the benefits of the cacao bean and dark chocolate. These benefits extend to the heart, vascular system, brain, aging, mood and energy. This is in some part due to the fact that raw cacao is abundant in antioxidants, minerals, vitamins and many unique properties. Cacao contains twice the antioxidant content of red wine, and up to three times that of green tea. These antioxidants can improve cognitive impairment and produce nitric oxide with some great cardiovascular benefits.
The ORAC Score measures the benefits of antioxidants. Here is a comparison of the ORAC score per 100 grams for some common foods known to have a high antioxidant level, listed in descending order.
• Dark Chocolate – ORAC 13,120
• Milk Chocolate – ORAC 6,740
• Prunes – 5,770
• Raisins – 2,830
• Blueberries – 2,400
• Blackberries – 2036
• Kale – 1,770
• Strawberries – 1540
• Spinach – 1260
• Raspberries – 1220
• Brussel Sprouts – 980
• Broccoli – 890
Another important nutrient found in cacao is theobromine (a chemical related to caffeine). Theobromine was discovered in cacao and a few other plants in the 19th century and by 1916 it had been extracted from the bean and was being used in medical treatment for oedema and angina. In modern medicine the compound theobromine is used as a vasodilator, this means it can dilate smooth muscle such as the blood vessels, bronchial tubes, large intestine. It is also used as a diuretic and heart stimulant. Recent research shows the effects of how theobromine can lower blood pressure as well as help with asthma.
Unlike caffeine, theobromine does not have an addictive nature or have the same strong affects as caffeine has on the nervous system. The cacao bean can have up to 10% of its weight made up of theobromine, the effects of the theobromine on the body can be up to 6 - 10 hours after consumption.
Importantly, as many of you will attest, chocolate enhances the mood and boosts energy.
So what is the best way to obtain the benefits of chocolate without the nasty hydrogenated fats and processed sugars? Raw cacao powder is now readily available in health food stores, along with raw cacao chocolate bars in an amazing variety of flavours.
Or experiment and make your own raw chocolate truffles. These make great presenters and look great packaged up in a pretty box or cellophane wrap and ribbon.
Raw Chocolate Truffles
• 1/2 cup of sunflower seeds (or any other seeds you have on hand)
• 1/2 cup walnuts (or any other nuts you have on hand – cashews are wonderful too)
• 1/2 cup dates
• 1/8 teaspoon sea salt
• 4 tablespoons raw cacao powder
1. Process the nuts in the food processor. Keep processing them until you can't see the nuts anymore, but stop processing before they get too soft looking.
2. Add the dates, sea salt and cacao powder. Process again until everything is well mixed and clumped together.
3. Roll the balls in your hand and form balls. You may also like to roll the completed truffles in goji berries, coconut, cacao powder, etc.
These keep well in the fridge.
I recently gave a workshop, and the most commonly asked questions revolved around fish oils.
Ever since researchers noted that native sub-actic populations were quite stout and yet didn’t have many of the chronic diseases of industrialised society, fish oil has been in the research pipeline. The results of 20+ years of publications, on balance, point to fish oil having big health benefits chiefly through its potent anti-inflammatory effect (helping with everything from cardiac disease and mental health, from skin conditions to arthritis).
However, for years I’ve told most of my clients that while they think they have this base covered, the junk they’re buying at the chemist or supermarket store isn’t helping. Now a recent study highlights that fact.
This study compared the effectiveness of 4 different types of fish oil, including concentrated (and more expensive) fish oil, cheaper concentrated fish oil, cheap krill oil and unconcentrated salmon oil.
The more expensive concentrated fish oil was found to be far, far more effective.
Furthermore, it is worthwhile remembering that fish oil can go rancid - even in capsules. So if you are buying a big bottle of fish oil that was sitting in the bargain bin outside the chemist for some time, and then that sits on your kitchen bench for even longer, then chances are it has gone off on the inside. Rancid fish oil actually CREATES inflammation in the body, the exact opposite of what you want.
You can check the freshness of your fish oil by biting into a capsule. If it tastes like fresh fish, then you are probably OK. If it tastes bitter, rancid or unpleasant, then it might not be that good for you. I often recommend fish oils that you take off the spoon as you can always taste whether it is OK, and you also get a good therapeutic dose that way.
There are many other factors to consider when buying fish oil - including the ratio of EPA/DHA (types of fatty acids) - differences here help us know whether your fish oil is best for mental health or cardiovascular health for example. If you are going to shell out on a supplement, then you might as well get the one which is formulated for the particular effect you are after.
Of course, it is always good to get your fish oil from fresh fish as well. Some varieties are better than others, but that is a whole other blog post (or kettle of fish, so to speak!).
Next time you are in for a consultation, feel free to ask me for a recommendation on the fish oil best for you. I am not aligned with any particular manufacturer or supplier, so happy to provide an unbiased recommendation.
What's the deal with coffee? And why do some people do well on diets, and others don't? Why are these two topics related?
You might have noticed lately that there seems to be a few studies coming out about coffee. And they are confusing, right?
One study tells us that coffee will help prevent cancer. The next tells us that coffee may cause cancer. Coffee helps us lose weight. Coffee is bad for cardiovascular disease. And so on.
So what do we make of this information? Do we drink coffee or don’t we? Maybe we can limit it to one or two cups a day. But is that enough to get the benefits? Or is it too much?
And then there are the diets. Paleo, Primal, Atkins, Vegan, Low Carb, Low Fat, High Carb, High Fat, Fasting, Eating more…. Where do you start to work out what is best for you?
The easiest way to cut through the confusion is to remember that we are all different. Very different.
Our genomic make-up, the environment we live in, the food we eat, the activities we undertake, whether we are stressed or relaxed, how much sleep we get, our family history, our hormone health, our happiness levels all vary and make us the individual we are.
This is something that naturopaths have always taken into account when helping our clients get healthier. It is why your first consultation with us can take up to 90 minutes, and we also make use of some pretty comprehensive questionnaires and use functional pathology testing in clinic to get a holistic picture of who you really are.
It is why we recommend you consult with someone trained in vitamins, minerals and herbal medicines before taking supplements. What works for one person, may not be great for another.
And now we even have access to looking at your how your genomic profile influences your health. As we learn more about our genes, we are starting to get some pointers to a range of health clues through genomic profiling tests which can tell us:
• Your ability to metabolise sugar and, in turn, your risk of diabetes.
• Your in-built stress response and the impact stress has on your body.
• Your personal need for a range of key nutrients vital for health including omega 3, vitamins, and CoQ10.
• The best way for you to reduce and maintain healthy cholesterol and blood pressure levels.
• Your liver detoxification ability.
• The optimal amounts of fats and salt your body requires to support health.
• Your risk for late onset lactose intolerance and coeliac disease.
• How your body responds to caffeine and the impact caffeine has on your body.
• Bone health for prevention of osteoporosis.
• Your oestrogen detoxification ability.
• Your inflammatory response to food and lifestyle.
• Antioxidant response and antioxidant levels.
• The best exercise regime for strength and stamina for you.
• And even your seasonal variation to sleep, mood, appetite and social activity.
The emerging science of epigenetics reveals that how genes express themselves are influenced by what we eat and ingest, our lifestyles, emotions and environment.
By accessing your genetic profile, you can learn how to optimise your diet and modify your lifestyle to “turn of” genes that have the potential to cause harm and “turn on” genes that help to prevent disease.
It is an exciting time we live in to be able to access this information.
PS – if you want to learn more genomic wellness testing, then right this way!
It is getting chilly, and at the moment, a salad just doesn't cut it.
Here are 5 easy lunch ideas to try instead...
1. Ingenious Noodle Pots
3. Paleo Pizzas
I blame the smartphone.
We are so used to having everything instantly that we have forgotten how to wait.
We want everything right now. Whether it is a piece of information, our coffee order, or a response from someone; we have little patience if something is taking longer than we think it should. Even Facebook will rate a business's page based on how quickly that business responds to messages. We want everything now!
On top of that, we are always on the go. In fact 24 hours, 7 days a week. We keep ourselves busy, busy, busy and rarely take the downtime to do nothing. And if we do, we feel bad that we aren't doing something.
We are incredibly impatient when it comes to our health too. We feel sick and want something that will fix it right now.
The thing is, our bodies don't realise that we are living in the 21st century. Our adrenal glands struggle to pump out the large quantities of noradrenalin we demand it to get up and start everyday.
Our over-anxious minds struggle to slow down so we can rest properly. I mean blissed out, completely relaxed rest.
We start to burn out with all the caffeine and sugar we feed it to keep going, and then our livers don't get a rest from the alcohol we drink to try and slow down.
Have a cold? Then we take something to "soldier on".
Many cultures of ancient times valued and appreciated the body's need for downtime. These cultures understood the moon cycles (often linked to menstrual cycles) and that during menstruation women needed to retreat and be introverted. They understood and respected the seasons of the year and that in winter we needed to slow down and sleep more. If only our workplaces respected this as well!
Many cultures also knew that we need significant rest after traumatic events - for example mourning periods lasted for months and years. Today we get 2 or 3 days of bereavement leave.
The impact that big life events has on us are also not marked as they once were. Whether we have started or ended a relationship, moved house, had a new baby or started a new job, we are expected to keep going at the same pace as always.
The thing is, in nature, things take time.
You can't just plant a seed in the ground and expect a fully-grown tree to spring up straight away. You need to water it, give it the right nutrients, have cycles of warmth and coldness, light and dark. And wait.
It is the same with achieving long term health. You have to give yourself time. The right nutrients. Periods of rest. Periods of activity. And be patient.
For true wellness - on a physical, mental and emotional level, we simply can't bypass the laws of nature. Sure, we can obtain a quick fix or band-aid solution, but for long term good health, we have to work in with the cycles and laws of nature.
Nearly every one of my clients are overworked and struggling to keep pace with the expectations of society. Every single one. Too much depending on adrenalin. Too much fast food. Too many quick fixes. Not enough self care and nurturing.
It is often the cause of so many health conditions.
I've been there too. I get it. It is incredibly hard to take the time to heal ourselves properly.
Society just doesn't make it easy for us to slow down.
But sometimes, we just have to.
The only way though to change things is to put your health first. You have to prioritise it.
Sometimes that means making difficult decisions such as taking time off work. Asking for space. Making time to cook from scratch. Making more time for exercise. Most importantly, more time for rest.
And, I'll say it again, it simply has to be done. You can't hurry biology or nature. Our body's have evolved with a slower pace of life over thousands of years. Which is why we are now burning out as things speed up so quickly.
Let's be more gentle on ourselves. More gentle on each other. And more patient.
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...
Everyone loves these bikkies - crisp, sweet and suitable for gluten and nut-free lifestyles. I prefer to use Rapadura Sugar (evaporated cane juice) for maximum minerals and a lovely caramel taste.
Adopted from a recipe at http://www.superhealthykids.com
As a naturopath, I get approached by a LOT by acquaintances and even people I don't know to buy and sell Multi-Level-Marketing (MLM) health products and suppplements. There have been many different brands during the rounds over the years, with Isagenix, Doterra and Juice Plus seeming to be the most popular at the moment.
Now I am all for people striving to be a healthier version of themselves by improving nutrition, and using beautiful plant-based herbals.
What I am not for are people without any formal health training or qualifications whatsover selling products that make certain health claims. More so, when the sellers are motivated by profit and sales, rather than understanding the specific health needs of who they are selling to.
And frankly, some of these products are not what they are cracked up to be. A popular weight loss meal replacement is full of synthetic food-like substances such as isolates, concentrates, fractionates, non fat products with isolated vitamins and minerals and quite a lot of sugar added in the guise of maltdextrin, brown rice syrup, polydextrose and maltitol syrup, along with flavours and emulsifiers. You are far better of making your own smoothie with fresh fruits, vegetables, nuts and seeds to get a similar nutritional value - and much less expensive too.
Essential oil brands certainly offers a quality range of essential oils, however they often recommend that customers can ingest the oils. The Therapeutic Goods Authority expresses that even trained and qualified aromatherapists are not allowed to recommend it except for culinary use. It's so dangerous unless you are able to monitor kidney function. Also, some companies call their oils 'therapeutic' or 'pharmaceutical' grade. There is actually no such thing, it's merely a marketing term.
For the general healthy person, these products may be OK and even have a good short term effect if they are replacing more processed or harmful options such as convenience foods or more chemically-laden skin care. But for those who are sensitive or health-compromised in any way, they can be dangerous.
Naturopaths, nutritionists, herbalists and aromatherapists undertake significant training (I'm talking years here), and are aware of the safety concerns, contraindications and cautions of all the foods, herbs and essential oils they recommend. We follow an ethical code of conduct and are aware of our limitations. Generally we are not tied to one particular brand or product either. Products we do have access to are approved by the Therapeutic Goods Authority and strictly regulated.
Don't risk your health or waste your money by allowing a "friend" to sell you products which may not be right for you. Eat real food and consult with a qualified practitioner before buying any supplements. It will save you money (and possibly your health) in the long term.
I have been wanting to write a blog post for a while on this, and then I found one which articulated so well what I have been wanting to say, that I am reposting it here. It has been written by the marvellous Jules Galloway, a fellow naturopath who is doing some awesome work.
Here it is in it's entirety (reposted from www.julesgalloway.com).
Yours in good health, Josie
"I’m fired up today.
Fired up because last night I witnessed a thread unfold on Facebook that made me realise that there is still so much work to do.
It was in a business group for women that is 19,000-strong, and began with a discussion about a new ad on TV that suggests that 9.1% women are gluten free. The thread started with a comment that included the words “WTF is wrong with our women that they choose to miss out on vital nutrients because it’s fashionable?”
REALLY??? YOU THINK I’M DOING THIS BECAUSE I FOLLOW FASHION?
Fashion, fad, pseudoscience, attention-seeker, hypochondriac… I’ve heard them all, and I’ve had a gutful of people being cut down for taking steps to restore their health. Whatever happened to women supporting other women?
(Oh, and side note – I’m not missing out on ANY vital nutrients by eating this way – but that’s another blog post entirely…)
I was reminded of the time recently when this very topic was brought up on a top rating TV show, in that instance the gluten free diet was labelled a “fad” by the co-hosts. Weird… I thought the definition of a “fad” was something that was around for a very short period of time. I’ve been GF for the better part of a decade, and I can’t see it ending anytime soon. Surely we’ve outgrown the “fad” label simply by the sheer amount of time that gluten free foods have been popular?
BUT WHAT SCARES ME IS THIS:
How many women listen to outdated opinions such as the comment above, and it prevents them from embarking on a gluten, dairy or sugar free diet? How many women are putting off their wellbeing because they don’t want to feel singled out in social situations or risk being labelled as flaky?
WE ARE SICK PEOPLE TRYING TO GET WELL, NOT SUPERFICIAL FAD-FOLLOWERS
I’ve been working in the natural health industry for nearly 15 years, I’ve been a qualified practitioner for over 10 of those, I’ve also been GF for a large amount of that time, and I can assure you that the vast majority of people with a gluten intolerance are not “making it up” because they think it’s cool. You know what I think would be cool? Being able to walk into a bakery/cafe/deli/wedding/party and eat anything I want without worrying about feeling sick afterwards. I used to cry my eyes out after social events, wishing I didn’t have to eat this way. I had massive FOMO around food. Worse still, often I would cave in and eat gluten to fit in, so that I wasn’t singled out as being difficult, and then I would feel unwell for days, sometimes weeks. It affected my digestion, my skin, my hormones, my immune system, my energy levels and my mental health.
I can assure you that the majority of my clients don’t feel “fashionable” when they turn down a pizza date with friends or can’t eat the birthday cake at a party. They’ve made a conscious and informed decision to do this for their health’s sake. And it’s bloody hard sometimes.
I was inspired by the (many!) comments that followed in the Facebook thread, detailing personal experiences with a gluten free diet. There were reports of better skin, improved moods, anxiety levels decreasing, thyroid health improving, autoimmune diseases being kept in check… it went on and on. But throughout the thread there remained a vocal few who were keen to debunk the gluten free diet, rather than stop and listen to the vast amounts of evidence before them.
ACCORDING TO SOME, THERE ARE STILL ONLY TWO TYPES OF GLUTEN SENSITIVITY – COELIAC DISEASE, AND NONE.
Seriously – how long do we have to wait before gluten intolerance/non-coeliac gluten sensitivity is accepted? Why are people ignoring the mounting scientific research? Why are those of us being proactive about our health still being singled out as doing it to feel special?
If you want good, solid evidence, watch Cyndi O’Meara‘s new movie “What’s With Wheat.” The experts are there. The studies are there. But for some reason, there are people who would rather stick their heads in the sand and pretend this research doesn’t exist. (Maybe they’re scared they’ll have to give up gluten?)
Honestly, if you want to continue eating gluten (and you’re sure it doesn’t affect you) – FINE! Really – I’m cool with that. Not everyone is gluten intolerant. Not by a long shot. But my job is to support those women who are making the changeover to a healthier diet (one that’s right for them), not to try and win over those intent on disproving the theory. If you can eat gluten without repercussions – lucky you! Have some for me. But all I ask is that you don’t go after the ones who are making these changes in their lives.
We live in a nation that is increasingly overweight, where type two diabetes is rife, where conditions like autism, depression, anxiety and ADHD are increasing, where there are unprecedented amounts of chemicals being put in our foods, and now we’ve used so many antibiotics that we have created unprecedented resistance. And we’re putting our energies into debunking a gluten free diet? I think we need a shift in our priorities here."
...And one of those ingredients is water!
It is that time of year when the mozzies are out and about. Before you reach for the commercial insect repellent though, consider a natural option. One that skips harmful ingredients – in particular DEET.
DEET is a common ingredient in conventional insect repellents designed to repel mosquitoes. However, for some people, DEET can be an eye and skin irritant, and may even cause neurological problems.
One plant native to Australia that mozzies are repelled by is lemon myrtle (I really LOVE this plant, can you tell?). Other plant sources that will see mosquitoes and other insects turning away include any of the mint family, lavender, eucalyptus, citronella, lemongrass, rosemary, tea tree, cloves, cedar and catnip. The below recipe was made with some lemon myrtle from a tree I have growing in the garden, but you can use the same recipe for any of the above herbs if you happen to have them handy – they work well with a variety mixed together too.
2-3 cups of lemon myrtle leaves (fresh or dried)
1 cup boiling water
1 cup witch hazel, rubbing alcohol or vodka
Crush the lemon myrtle leaves a little in your hands or a mortar and pestle. Pour the boiling water over the top of the leaves in the mortar and pestle or a bowl, and grind them a little more to help release the oils.
Cover with a plate or lid – important to stop the oils evaporating – and leave until cooled. Remove the leaves and mix the water with the witch hazel or alcohol.
Pour into a spray bottle and store somewhere cool, or in the fridge. To use, spray on your skin or clothing. You may need to spray this more regularly than commercial repellent, but you can do so freely knowing it is safe for you, and little kiddies too. And personally, I think it smells much better than commercial repellent.
(RECIPE ADAPTED FROM WWW.THESLOWPOKE.COM)
Naturopath, Nutritionist and Herbalist