It doesn’t matter what your addiction is, drinking, drugs, gambling or even social media, natural treatment goals are similar across the board; to address any physical damage done, to nourish and protect the brain and increase the brain chemicals that are often lacking such as GABA (gamma aminobutyric acid) which calms our nervous system down and dopamine which offers a sense of reward in life. Often serotonin is also low, particularly if alcohol is the drug of choice as people often self medicate depression with addiction and alcohol in  itself is a depressant and hence the Read More

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Sounds like an odd question to ask but if you are struggling with brain fog or poor memory, suffering from mood disorders such as anxiety and depression or even psychiatric disorders such as schizophrenia, chances are you have neuroinflammation which is just a fancy way of saying inflammation and oxidative stress in the brain is making your brain hot and leaky and adversely affecting its ability to function. Causes of neuroinflammation include: Read More

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Infused Oils are an easy and effective introduction to the world of herbs in your own home, allowing you to start taking responsibility for your own health and that of your family. You can even use some herbs you have growing in the garden. Infused oils are most amendable to herbs which have properties that are best applied topically. Read More

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At this time in Australia we do not have mandatory registration of natural therapists such as naturopaths, herbalists and naturopathic nutritionists. Registration is voluntary.  It is a way to ensure that practitioners have adequate qualifications Read More

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New research presented at the European League Against Rheumatism has alarming consequences for fertility. Women with mild musculoskeletal pain were treated with three different non steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDS) for 10 days and then tested for ovulation. Compared to a 100% ovulation rate in the control group only 6.3% to 27.3% of the test group ovulated depending on the test drug with the drug diclofenac having the lowest rate (6.3%) and etoricoxib having the highest with just over one quarter of subjects ovulating. One of the drugs tested (naproxen) is a commonly used drug for period pain. It begs the questions how many women out there are tearing their hair out trying to fall pregnant whilst unwittingly taking these drugs and does it extend to all NSAIDS which includes over the counter medications containing ibuprofen. NSAIDS have been typically linked to erosion of the gastric lining but here we have another side effect with devastating consequences.

Read More here.

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Sometimes in clinic I may either get you to request your GP to order certain tests or I may order certain functional tests myself. As the latter are not bulk billed I usually reserve these for clients I feel will absolutely benefit from testing or those who have plateaued in their treatment results. The types of tests I may direct you towards your GP for include basic thyroid tests, iron studies, vitamin D, folic acid, B12, multiplex PCR (test for 10 different gastrointestinal infections) and homocysteine. These tests serve as a red flag for certain conditions and also inform my decision making around whether further tests are warranted. If you have had recent blood tests it is always a good idea to bring a copy along to your next appointment, even if you are told everything is OK. The ‘normal’ range is quite generous on a number of tests and sometimes I can look for patterns when all of the tests are viewed in conjunction with one another.

A number of other functional tests are also available which I may order to gain valuable insight into your condition. The information they provide ranges from the small but crucial to quite comprehensive overviews of certain systems in the body. A summary of the tests I commonly order are below:

  1. MTHFR (methyltetrahydrofolate reductase) gene mutation: a sizable proportion of the population has a mutation which controls the conversion of folate into its active form in the body. It has varying degrees of consequences for fertility, cardiovascular health, gastrointestinal health, detoxification capacity and mental health depending on whether you have one or two copies of the mutation. The mutation can occur at two locations on the gene.
  2. Pyroluria: A hereditary disorder which causes an excess of pyrroles in the blood due to a defect in haemoglobin (oxygen carrying molecule in the blood) synthesis. Pyrroles cause you to excrete vitamin B6 and zinc in large quantities causing a deficiency. The symptoms include anxiety, insomnia, problems concentrating, inner tension and problems with tissue integrity, including intestinal permeability. It is a vicious cycle condition in that it both causes and is exacerbated by stress and leaky gut.
  3. Functional Liver Detoxification Profile (FLDP): this differs from the standard liver function test your GP may order in that it provides insight into how well your liver is detoxifying and which detox process is malfunctioning so that appropriate herbs and nutrients can be provided to support that process. For example those with a salicylate intolerance show malfunction in a particular detox process called glycination.
  4. Thyroid Profile: expanding on the standard TSH (thyroid stimulating hormone) test your GP may order I may gain insight into whether your thyroid is functioning to capacity by ordering TSH, thyroid hormones (T3 and T4) an inactive thyroid hormone called reverse T3 (rT3) and thyroid auto antibodies.
  5. Hair Mineral Analysis Test: The hair gives most reliable insight into accumulation of toxic heavy metals but can also provide information about nutrient ratios in the body.
  6. Stool tests: These tests vary widely in their costs and the amount of information they provide. They can contribute to the understanding of how the gastrointestinal tract is functioning (e.g., breaking down food), inflammatory markers in the gut, amount and diversity of good bacteria and most valuably any infection, both pathogenic bacteria, yeasts and parasites and any overgrowth of commensal (normal) bacteria residing in the gut which can cause a host of symptoms in their own right.

These are just a snapshot of tests which are available to you. I always provide information and discuss costs before ordering tests but any of these tests are available to you at any time if they are considered appropriate.

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One of the most common questions I get asked by my clients is what can I eat to sweeten my food instead of sugar? This gives you some indication of just how addictive sugar is. The thought of going on a sugar free diet is just too much to bear.  The blame can be placed squarely on the food industry which laces processed food with refined sucrose and fructose. Evidence shows these are stronger stimulants of the reward system of the brain than cocaine, releasing the calming brain chemical dopamine and losing its effectiveness over time meaning you need a bigger dose to get the same soothing result. Is it any wonder people are drinking liters of soft drink a day? Added to the addiction are the health implications of eating loads of sugar; weight gain, inflammation, insulin resistance, poor immune function and dental caries.

One of the problem with foods containing sucrose and fructose is that they contain empty calories. This simply means they contribute to weight but not to the functioning of the body (including the conversion of those calories into energy) because they are also nutrient poor. So providing you are not trying to lose weight I generally recommend the odd treat be cooked with natural, unprocessed sources of sugar that also contain nutrients. These include raw honey, maple syrup and rapadura sugar (dehydrated sugar cane juice). For those who are on a weight loss journey it’s best to avoid all sources of sugar so that the taste buds can be retrained to accept and even appreciate the wealth of foods available that are not sweet. However, if this is not possible I recommend stevia, xylitol and a new sweetener on the market called coconut nectar. This has a low glycemic index but, unlike its trendy predecessor agave syrup, is not high in fructose. Fructose has its own extra set of problems as some people are intolerant to it and it can be converted to blood fats in the liver thereby creating another risk factor for heart disease. Consumption of fructose also plays havoc with satiety signals meaning you have trouble knowing when to stop eating.

The sweeteners to avoid like the plague are… guessed it, the artificial ones, the best known of these being aspartame. These sweeteners are neurotoxic, forming formaldehyde in the brain, and cause bladder cancer in rats. Due to their meteoric rise in the food industry there have not been any long term studies on their safety in humans but they are chemicals that are not compatible with the human body so my advice is don’t be a guinea pig. Studies do demonstrate that consumption of foods containing these sweeteners do not lead to weight loss but instead further sensitize the taste buds to expect sweet foods on a regular basis.

There is another group of sweeteners called the sugar alcohols for example mannitol. They are very easy to spot as the food package will say “excessive consumption will cause a laxative effect”. This is because they contribute to the sweetness of food but are not fully absorbed into the blood stream thereby reducing the rise in the blood sugars. It is the portion retained in the digestive system that causes bloating, flatulence and diarrhoea.  Some people are more sensitive to this than others.

My advice to sweetening is the same as that for all food. Stick as close to nature as is humanly possible and avoid processed food. If you find yourself craving sugar it is generally a strong sign that you need to break that strong addiction that is easily established or you have a chromium deficiency which becomes more pronounced with every extra gram of sugar you consume.

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Garlic! The food we love to avoid for it’s odor producing properties but of all the times of the year now is the time to consume it. Not the bland, white odorless varieties shipped in from overseas either but the pungent, locally grown varieties for their sulfur containing compounds such as thiosulfinates and sulfoxides which not only provide the flavour but are responsible for the health benefits as well.
Garlic has an abundance of actions which contribute to the prevention of infection during the winter months. Not only does it strengthen the immune system but it a broad spectrum anti-microbial action which helps to protect against viruses such as colds and flus and secondary chest infections. It can also help to protect against the gastro bugs which appear to be doing the rounds at the present. Studies also confirm that garlic can help to lower blood pressure and cholesterol with independent plaque reducing activity on the blood vessels walls. Studies also reveal that, due to its selenium content, garlic lowers the risk of certain cancers such as oesophageal, laryngeal and ovarian cancers.  So the downside, of course, is the healthier you are by consuming garlic the stinkier your breath. This can reduced by eating parsley at the same time.
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New research published in the Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease demonstrates that a type of cocoa called lavado cocoa extract may be protective against Alzheimer’s Disease. Mice were genetically engineered to induce the disease and then fed three different types of cocoa including lavado which is miminally processed and is rich in antioxidants called polyphenols. The extract reduced the formation of Aβ oligomers in the mouse brains. These are molecules which clump together blocking synaptic impulses and activating inflammation which induces nerve cell death. This is the main physiological cause of the memory defict seen in Alzheimer’s disease. Polyphenols are also found in fruit and vegetables but this is another great excuse to indulge in cocoa, especially if you have a family history,  and like anything the less processed the better in my opinion.

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Practitioner Only Products (POPs) are literally products that can only be prescribed by practitioners of the naturopathic modalities such as Naturopaths, Nutritionists and Herbalists. The reason they are restricted to these professions is because they are products which contain ingredients in higher amounts and/or in more bio-available (you absorb more into your bloodstream or do not need to convert them) forms. Obviously the  advantage these products offer is that they are much more effective for the ailment for which you require treatment.  Practitioner only products have also passed through more quality assurance checks to ensure purity and cost effectiveness. It is required that practitioners conduct a thorough consultation prior to prescribing POPs.  This ensures that you are taking the most appropriate product for your condition, you are less likely to suffer allergic reactions, the product will not exacerbate any other existing condition and that the ingredients won’t interact with medications you take. Practitioners  can also ensure that you do not take too much of any one nutrient, which can happen quite easily if you are taking more then one product. The danger being that you can create a deficiency in another nutrient or side effects from the excess. For example an excess of vitamin b6 can cause pins and needles in the arms and legs and too much zinc can lead to a copper deficiency.

Currently there are some online naturopaths and chemists, motivated by money, who are trying  to circumvent the rules by selling POPs online without a consultation. It is a irresponsible practice which also steals the livelihood away from your local practitioner. I encourage you to always seek the advice of your practitioner who will prescribe you the most effective and appropriate product for your condition.

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