Immune boosters

Fever

Natural Fever Management

fever thermometerI see many children in my practice with recurrent infections and lowered immunity. In these cases, I always check in with the parent about their usual routine for fever management. So many parents are scared of fevers and I spend a large part of the consultation educating about the importance of fevers, their role in immunity and how to manage them more naturally.  It is not uncommon for parents to give multiple doses of paracetamol or ibuprofen containing medicines to lower a fever. While every parent is well meaning and wants to ease discomfort in their child, these drugs are not without side effects. Many children overdose from excess paracetamol ingestion and it is the leading cause of paediatric hospital admissions and calls to poisons information hotlines.  Children aged between 1-3 years old have the highest incidence of accidental poisoning.

Why Do Fevers Occur?

coldFevers are a common occurrence in children and less common in adults possibly due to a child's immune system being more immature and many adults tend to suppress the fever response over the years and have a generally lower vitality. The most important thing to know is that fevers are not a disease but rather a symptom of another disease process. The body uses a fever to stimulate and enhance the immune system to deal with the actual disease process. A fever may occur in response to many different challenges that the body faces, including infections, burns, dehydration, heatstroke, vaccination, drug and alcohol use, excessive exertion and exhaustion. In babies and young children fevers can also accompany teething, overdressing and overexcitement. Most fevers that occur are the result of a viral infection and are considered a natural defence mechanism employed by the immune system.  Research has revealed that the raising of core body temperature destroys many viruses and bacteria which can only survive in a narrow temperature range. Fevers also enhance immunity through increasing white cell counts.

The thermoregulation of the body (temperature control mechanism) is a finely regulated process. While many people get alarmed that the body temperature is elevating and might not stop, it is important to understand that the fever process is finely regulated by the brain. The hypothalamus (brain region) acts like a thermostat and responds to substances in the body and can increase or decrease temperature states.  These substances called pyrogens are produced by the body but are also produced by infectious agents such as viruses and other pathogens. In most cases though the temperature rises to 39-40.5 and stops. In very rare cases, if the core temperature stays elevated for too long at a very high temperature above 41 degrees C, it is possible for the fever to cause damage to tissue and impair cell function.

But what about febrile convulsions – aren’t they dangerous?

brainThe fear of a febrile convulsion is certainly what drives many parents to turn to paracetamol or ibuprofen during a fever. A febrile convulsion or mini seizure normally occurs when the body temperature rises too rapidly and contrary to popular thinking is not due to how high the temperature is per se.  A febrile convulsion generally only lasts one to two minutes but can last up to 10-15 minutes. The actual risk of febrile convulsion is actually very low, only occuring in approximately 3% of children. These convulsions, while being stressful to witness, are actually benign, do not damage the brain or impair intelligence. There is no long term complications or increased risk of epilepsy or other seizures following a febrile convulsions. Research has shown that paracetamol does not decrease the risk of febrile convulsions. It is possible that as the medicines wear off, there can be a more rapid rise in temperature as the body attempts to increase the fever response and that might be a possible trigger for seizures.

Feed a Cold, Starve a Fever?

sick childLike many ‘old wive’s tales’ there is truth in this saying. When we eat while having a fever it diverts energy away from the vital response and can decrease our ability to fight the illness. In addition, it is possible that the body may misinterpret food substances absorbed from the gut as allergens during a fever response as it is on high alert. In most cases of fever, our body ensures we don’t eat too much anyway, as our appetite is often very low and we don’t feel like eating.  However, it is very important to remain well hydrated during a fever as the increased body temperature and sweating can lead to dehydration. Small frequent drinks of water and medicinal herbal teas are best initially in the early stages and then you can use bone or vegetable broth or diluted vegetable juices once on the mend.

It is normal for a fever to increase the heart rate and be accompanied by other symptoms such as a headache. Remember that when using paracetamol or ibuprofen to relieve a headache or lower the fever might make your child more comfortable, it will also make their body work harder to fight the infection. So instead of trying to bring a fever down, consider allowing it to do its job. I find in most incidences when a fever is allowed to run its natural course the patient

dispensaryrecovers much quicker. I have also found that in cases of chronic lowered immunity and recurrent infections, allowing a fever to run its course has an immune enhancing effect that boosts the vitality and helps to prevent another infection – effectively breaking the cycle of recurrent infections. There are some remedies that you can use during a fever to alleviate some of the unpleasant side effects but still support your body. I find homeopathic remedies can be effective and some herbal teas are useful.  Supporting your body with vitamins can also be a good way to enhance the immune response without lowering the fever.

Natural Fever Management Tips

When dealing with a fever, you should aim to support yourself or your child by staying warm, keeping well hydrated and getting plenty of rest.  The onset of sweating will often resolve the fever, but do not force your child to be over dressed or covered to stimulate this.  As a general rule, if you or your child is still shivering or has cold hands or feet, do not attempt to lower the temperature as the body is still raising the temperature to the optimal level.  Wait until the body is universally hot or sweating has started, as this heralds the climax of temperature. The body will naturally bring the temperature down when it deems that the time is right.

RED FLAG : redflag
  • While most fevers can be managed safely at home, always seek medical advice when fevers are accompanied by other major or severe symptoms such as persistent cough, vomiting, headache with neck stiffness, respiratory distress or marked mood disturbance or when fevers are very high and continue for more than 24-48 hours.

 

 

Summary of Tips For Managing Fever and Keeping Hydrated
  • Offer plenty of water or rehydrating formulas but avoid using juice or milk as hydrating agents

broth

  • Use homemade bone broth or vegetable broths / soups once on the mend. Recipe is available here.
  • Herbal teas such as rosehip, yarrow, elderflower & peppermint can help with fever and cold symptoms.

homoeopathy

  • Homoeopathics such as Belladonna, Aconite are great for sudden onset fevers.
  • Tepid baths and sponging can make children more comfortable and will help to lower the fever a little if you feel it needs to.
  • Make sure  you or your child child gets plenty of rest and sleep!

 

 

 

 

Garlic

garlic-picWe just harvested our garlic crop. It is always great to pull up the garlic heads after their six month gestation period over the cooler months. Organic garlic is a wonderful addition to both the kitchen and the medicine cabinet! 

Garlic is rich in a range of sulphur compounds, which are thought to be responsible for its flavor and aroma. One of the main medicinal agents from garlic is the substance known as allicin. But interestingly, allicin is not found in its natural state in garlic. Allicin is actually formed from the coming together of two compounds that garlic contains, called alliinase and alliin. When the enzyme allinase reacts with the compound alliin — which happens when garlic is chopped, minced or crushed  — they form the special compound known as allicin. The reaction happens very quickly and the allicin that is produced is what gives garlic it’s distinctive smell and flavour.

Allicin is a great therapeutic agent and has been found to be effective as a natural antibiotic and anticancer agent and it can also help cardiovascular health - in particular will help to lower cholesterol, reduce blood sugar and high blood pressure. I often prescribe garlic as an antimicrobial agent in my treatment of digestive issues, particularly SIBO (small intestinal bacterial overgrowth) and it is also great for colds, sinus and chest infections and as a natural antiseptic.

Unfortunately when garlic is cooked, the allicin is destroyed, so it is best to eat it raw, freshly crushed and left to sit for 10 mins or so to get the best medicine. The best way to simultaneously peel and crush garlic is to use a heavy knife blade and bash it hard. The garlic shell will easily come free and the garlic can be chopped or smashed with the back of the knife.

garlic-smash

garlic-crush

Crush garlic and leave for 5-10 mins to maximise the allicin content

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Of course garlic still tastes great in cooking when it is roasted or braised, we just don't get the medicinal benefit. You can crush some garlic and mix with herbs and butter to make a nice final addition to everything from steamed veggies to soups, pastas or served on top of a steak. Garlic can be added to pine nuts or cashew nuts and blended with basil and olive oil to make a delicious super food pesto dip.

For sore throats or cough crushed garlic can be mixed with honey and taken as a sweet syrup medicine.

Make sure you source organic garlic when buying garlic as much of the imported garlic comes from China and it is treated with bleaching agents, antifungals and other chemicals that prevent sprouting. Methyl bromide is one such chemical routinely used in garlic harvesting and production and this is a highly toxic agent that can impact on the respiratory and nervous systems. Imported garlic tends to have much less flavour as well!

parsley

Parsley is a great cure for garlic breath!

 

Lastly, what's an article on garlic if you don't mention garlic breath!?  There are many folk cures to help with garlic odour and garlic breath. I find using a lemon and bicarb soda is a good way to take the smell off the hands.  Some good cures for garlic breath include chewing on parsley or sucking a lemon wedge. However eating an apple or drinking green or peppermint tea can also be a good idea. These all contain substances called polyphenols which can inactivate the sulphur compounds that contribute to garlic's odour.

 

 

 

 

 

 

natural treatment for autoimmune disease

Natural Treatment for Autoimmune Disease

We have seen a real increase over the past few decades in a host of diseases that are often called diseases of affluence. These degenerative diseases are on the rise include heart disease, cancer and a category known as autoimmune diseases.

Antibodies attack normal healthy cells in the body in cases of autoimmune disease.

Antibodies attack normal healthy cells in the body in cases of autoimmune disease.

Autoimmune diseases are a broad category that share a common immune dysfunction – essentially when the body attacks itself. In autoimmune diseases, the body fails to recognise itself correctly and starts to see its own tissues or cells as foreign it begins to attack the tissue as if it is a foreign invader. Immune cells, called antibodies, are created against our own tissue and launch an attack which destroys and damages the tissue.

Autoimmune diseases can affect many different parts of the body and there are thought to be more than 80 known autoimmune disorders. For example in rheumatoid arthritis the antibodies are directed against the joints causing inflammation, pain and loss of mobility. In Hashimotos or Graves disease the body makes antibodies against a person’s thyroid causing an overactive or underactive thyroid disorder. Other autoimmune diseases include inflammatory bowel disease (ulcerative colitis and Crohns diease), lupus, multiple sclerosis and type 1 diabetes. All autoimmune diseases result in destruction of tissue which leads to loss of function over time. Some people can get more than one autoimmune disease.

General symptoms of autoimmune disease may include fatigue, malaise and low grade fevers. Symptoms of autoimmune diseases can come and go with some cases going in to remission for years. Many patients report increased stress as a prelude to developing an autoimmune disease or as a flare up of existing autoimmune disorder. This can seem odd as we know that stress normally has a negative effect on the immune system as increased levels of the stress hormone, cortisol, has an immune suppressant effect. So this reveals the complexity of the immune system – a system that has a delicate balance that can be easily upset.  Interestingly, many women find that their autoimmune disease goes into remission while they are pregnant as the immune system normally is mildly suppressed during pregnancy.

Causes of Autoimmune Disease

viral autoThe exact cause of autoimmunity is not known, but there are some theories as to why the immune system becomes aberrant. Other than stress, mentioned above, other triggers known to stimulate autoimmune disease can be infections – in this case the immune system gets a workout and the heightened activity appears to increase certain immune cells that can cause autoimmunity. Research has shown that viruses are behind many autoimmune disorders, with different potential actions such as molecular mimicry, bystander activation and the persistence of a virus that leads to high antibody levels. Multiple sclerosis, myocarditis and diabetes are three immune-medicated diseases often linked with virus infections. Allergies are another possible cause of autoimmune diseases. There is much research being done to identify possible allergens that can mimic our own body cells. For example some allergens have a very close resemblance to our own cells. The immune cells constantly circulate looking for the allergens but when they find the similar looking body cells they can attack these by mistake.

Treatments for Autoimmune Disease

Conventional treatments for autoimmune disease include suppressing the immune system with drugs (such as steroids) or it may require replacing a hormone or substance that has become deficient. For example in Type I diabetes, destruction of the pancreas impedes the output of insulin so the patient is required to inject insulin to maintain health. In Hashimotos disease, patients need to have thyroid hormone as the destruction of the thyroid tissue decreases the output of this essential hormone.

Getting sunshine for vitamin D is essential for treating autoimmune disease.

Getting sunshine for vitamin D is essential for treating autoimmune disease.

Naturopathic treatments assess the whole person and tries to identify imbalances that can cause dysfunction. Reducing the allergenic load of a patient can calm the immune response and may bring about a reduction in the symptoms of some types of autoimmunity. Assessment of an individual’s diet and digestive health is a very important component of managing autoimmune diseases. Removing potential food allergens and following an anti-inflammatory diet can definitely help some autoimmune diseases. Vitamin D deficiency has now been linked with a range of autoimmune diseases as the nutrient interacts with our genes and modulates our immunity. Many patients I have seen with autoimmune disease are very deficient in this important nutrient and correcting deficiency is essential.

Echinacea is a great immune modulating herb.

Echinacea is a great immune modulating herb.

Other nutrients such as omega 3 fats and certain herbs can bring about a reduction in inflammation and pain in some patients. There is often a mistaken belief that immune boosting herbs such as Echinacea should not be used in autoimmunity. This is incorrect, as many of the immune supportive herbs actually work to normalise and modulate immune function rather than stimulate it per se. For example in cases where the immunity is overstimulated the herbs can help to calm the response and in cases where the immune system is underactive the herbs can stimulate a normal response.

Other herbs such as Hemidesmus have more of an immune suppressant action. I have used immune modulating herbs many times with good outcomes in patients with autoimmunity. Consulting with a professional naturopath or herbalist is always the best way to get the right formula matched to your individual case.

Hopefully, more research in the future will uncover the causes behind autoimmunity and bring about increased understanding, improved prevention and better treatments.

 

Adrenal Health

Adrenal Health

suprarenalThe adrenal glands are small glands that sit like a hat on top of the kidneys. They are powerful little endocrine glands that manufacture and secrete steroid hormones such as cortisol, DHEA (which in turn can be made into oestrogen and testosterone) as well as adrenalin (sometimes called epinephrine). Many of the hormones produced by the adrenals are essential for good health and vitality, so if your adrenals aren’t functioning well, there can be widespread impacts.  They modulate and support the function of every tissue, organ and gland in your body to maintain balance during stress or illness to help you heal or keep you alive. The adrenal hormones closely modulate many metabolic processes in the body:

  • the utilization of carbohydrates and fats
  • reproductive function and fertility
  • the conversion of fats and proteins into energy
  • bone density and muscle mass
  • inflammation and immune function
  • the distribution of stored fat  – especially around your waist
  • normal blood sugar regulation
  • proper cardiovascular function
  • gastrointestinal function and digestion

 

Some of the signs that your adrenals are struggling include:

stressENERGY & MOOD

  • low energy, tired all the time
  • up and down or erratic energy
  • tired but wired feeling
  • irritable, easily angered, cranky
  • depressed, sad, teary, anxious

SLEEP

  • poor sleep, waking often, insomnia, night sweats
  • increased need for sleep, excessive sleep
  • waking unrefreshed and tired in the morning

IMMUNE

  • recurrent illness (colds, flu, sinusitis)
  • take a long time to recover from simple disorder
  • chronic & autoimmune conditions like eczema, arthritis & allergies.

obesityDIGESTION, WEIGHT & BODY COMPLAINTS

  • headaches and migraines
  • craving sugar or caffeine
  • weight gain (especially around belly), difficulty losing weight,
  • digestive problems (irritable bowel, nausea)
  • muscle tension and pain
  • chest pain, difficulty breathing

Stress and Adrenal Function

It is important to understand the role of stress and how it influences adrenal function when we are looking at improving the function of the adrenals and optimizing energy and vitality.

The body has an inbuilt survival mechanism which allows us to mobilize its resources to escape or fight off danger and survive. The fight or flight response is a well known cascade of physiological effects that harness energy and strength to enable us to survive. While we may have evolved dealing with real life threatening situations (such as escaping from a wild animal or enemy clan) our bodily response to modern day stresses are the same. We don’t differentiate very well between true life threatening stress and mere emotional stress, because the part of our brain that responds to stress needs to act quickly and automatically. Taking time to consider the options and engage the rational mind, may delay actions that could be costly or deadly.

tired business manModern life for many of us is fraught with constant low grade stress. Even being available and switched ‘on’ 24/7 can often give us a feeling of mild stress. We are always anticipating the next thing to do or the next stress to deal with. Common stresses that I see amongst my patients include work dissatisfaction, a difficult boss, financial stress, relationship dramas and parenting demands. Then we also have the issues of environmental stress such as air pollution, electromagnetic radiation and chemicals in food and water. The stresses in turn can lead to a variety of physical and psychological health problems that can themselves be a further source of stress.

It is also the job of the adrenal glands to keep our body’s reactions to stress in balance so that they are appropriate and not destructive. Cortisol has a protective anti-inflammatory and anti-oxidant activity that can help to minimize the inflammatory reactions in allergies and autoimmune disorders.

Adrenals & Reproductive Function

The adrenals are also responsible for producing DHEA which is a precursor to oestrogen and testosterone and thus have a role in reproductive function. Prolonged stress is a well known cause of reproductive dysfunction and in women can lead to delayed or lack of ovulation, erratic cycles or heavier periods.  In men, chronic or acute stress can impact on hormones and lead to lowered sperm count and poor libido in men. After mid-life when the ovaries and testes start to decline in function, the adrenal glands gradually become the major source of the sex hormones circulating throughout the body in both men and women. These hormones themselves have a whole host of physical, emotional and psychological effects, from the level of your sex drive to the tendency to gain weight. Thus, I find in my patients that the function and integrity of the adrenal glands is an important predictor of how easy or trouble free a woman's experience of menopause will be.

Stress Management – the key to healthy adrenals

corporate yoga womanLearning to manage our stress is essential for health and wellbeing on all levels. Much of what I do with many of my patients is help them make choices and create strategies that can moderate their stress. We go through all the events or situations which contribute to their stress load and identify the things that they can change in a practical sense. In some cases, even just changing our attitude or perception of situations can help decrease the effect of these stresses on our health and wellbeing.

Generally I find the two best strategies for managing life’s inevitable stresses are exercise and relaxation/meditation.  Some people find one is enough, but most people will benefit from doing both. In terms of exercise, though,  I want to emphasize that it is important to not overdo it. While many of us use exercise as a stress management tool, sometime it can add more pressure and physiological demands on our system. Many patients I have treated for adrenal fatigue and burnout have been over-exercising. Once they slowed down and did more gentle approaches, they started to improve.

I am a big fan of having a daily practice of some kind, such as meditation, yoga or breathing. Having a regular activity that allows us to pause and get perspective can make a big difference in how we feel and cope with stressful events. Learn more about managing stress with specific meditation and breathing tools I can teach you here.

 

Herbs & Nutrients for Adrenal Health

The first thing to know when it comes to supporting your adrenals is to ensure you choose foods and eating patterns that stabilize your blood sugar. Skipping meals or eating high carbohydrate or sugar laden foods will put more pressure on your adrenals (as well as your liver and pancreas!) Choosing regular meal times and ensuring there is a good quality protein (think eggs, nuts, seeds, dairy, meat/fish) at each meal. Protein and good quality fats will create a stable slow burning energy and avoid blood sugar swings. It is also good to avoid caffeine which can be too stimulating on worn out adrenals. There are a range of nutrients that can support optimal adrenal function and energy and normally I prescribe specific supplements designed to support the adrenal glands, that often include B vitamins, zinc, amino acids etc. You can learn more about foods and how they support energy here.

Holy Basil - a great herb for supporting the adrenals.

Holy Basil - a great herb for supporting the adrenals.

Herbs that support adrenal health are normally referred to as adrenal tonics or adaptogens. Kidney herbs can also be useful for supporting the adrenals. Some of my favourite adrenal herbs include Rhodiola, Withania, Siberian Ginseng, Licorice, Oats and Holy Basil. These herbs can help support our body to adapt and better cope with stress and promote good levels of energy. Generally speaking these types of herbs are taken for a period of at least 6-8 weeks and often for a number of months to get the best results in building resilience, conserving energy and preventing burnout during stressful or demanding periods.

 

So in summary, having well functioning adrenals is essential for optimal health. Take time to look after yourself, make healthy food choices, get regular exercise and manage your stress and you will be rewarded with healthy adrenals which will flow on and impact the rest of your body, mind and spirit!

 

Thyme

creeping thyme.JPGTime for Thyme!

Thyme is one of my favourite herbs in the dispensary for complaints such as colds, coughs and bronchitis.

The medicinal benefits of thyme have been recognized for thousands of years in many different regions and countries throughout the world. Thyme has a range of medicinal actions including anti-microbial, anti-inflammatory and anti-spasmodic. In addition to thyme chest congestion remedies and using it for respiratory issues such as sore throats, thyme has also been used for arthritis and urinary tract complaints.

Thyme is rich in aromatic essential oils, which is another reason that aside from its use in my clinic, it is also a popular herb in my kitchen for cooking! It pairs well with roast vegetables and meats and the effects of its essential oils on the gut mean that it can also improve digestion. The powerful essential oil has even been shown to be a potent inhibitor of harmful bacterias such as Staph and the tincture of thyme has been found to be beneficial for acne.

balmThyme is an ingredient in my popular lung and cough tea. Another great way to use Thyme is by making a chest rub, that can be a wonderful addition to your winter medicine kit! It is much like the classic Vicks vaporub but uses natural oils and beeswax rather than petroleum jelly as a base (which like other mineral oils and paraffin can leach minerals out of your body). It is super easy to make and lovely to use.

Managing Stress

Managing Stress

givingMany of you know I have been researching the heart and its role in our health and wellbeing for some time. I am fascinated with all the new research that shows that the heart is much more complex that a simple pump, instead being a highly developed organ of perception and insight. In many studies, the heart responds before the brain to stressful events and can even predict future events and stresses before they happen (!)
Along the way, some of you have learned a technique for stress management from me called heart breathing which can help shift you into a state of peace and calm. I am excited to now offer a tool and device which gives additional insight and feedback on how well you are managing stress and the impact your state of mind is having on your health. These range of important and simple tools and practices can help manage your stress and teach you how to get out of mental and emotional chaos and into peace and balance!

 

Using this cutting edge emwave pro device from HeartMath we can assess how stress is impacting on you and teach you how to get yourself into a healthy mind and body. When you are operating from a place of inner balance, the benefits are widespread including improved moods, balanced hormones, anti-ageing effects, better digestion and robust immunity.
HRVUsing the HeartMath tools and technology gives us important bio-feedback which can help to change our nervous system’s response to stress, and in turn achieve new levels of health and wellbeing.  The device displays heart rate variability which gives you accurate feedback on what your internal state of being is, displaying it in wave patterns. (see picture right)

 

When we experience stressful or negative emotions such as tension, anxiety, irritation, frustration and anger our heart rhythm pattern becomes irregular and incoherent, which negatively affects many aspects of health from digestion to immunity and hormones. It can also negatively impact on brain function, performance and our moods and sense of well-being.  In contrast when we experience positive emotions such as love, gratitude, appreciation, compassion and joy our heart, brain and respiratory system experience optimal function and promotes health and wellbeing throughout the body.

 

vitalityIf you would like to learn some simple stress management methods to shift your inner state out of busyness, stress and chaos into inner peace, calm and effectiveness, then make an appointment for a stress busting session.  Get accurate feedback with a scientific tool and learn to manage anxiety, depression, anger and watch how your health and happiness improves!

Vitamin C

Vitamin C - not just for colds!

When we think of Vitamin C we often think of it in relation to colds and immune health. But vitamin C is a vitamin with far reaching effects and benefits in the human body.

Did you know that humans are one of only a couple of species (including guinea pigs) who cannot manufacture their own vitamin C? Even plants make vitamin C!  The theory is that we lost the ability to produce it over time because our diets were rich in vitamin C and we no longer needed to make it.  However, most of us now have a diet that is rich in processed foods and we do not live as close to nature – so in most cases we do not get our foods straight from the garden and our vitamin C intake has been much reduced.  Vitamin C levels decline easily in foods once they are picked or processed, so that by the time we eat even so called ‘fresh’ foods thelevels are often very low.

Animals are known to increase their production of vitamin C when they are sick or stressed – sometimes to amazing levels.  Acting as a free radical scavenger (or antioxidant), vitamin C is able to protect the body against toxins and stress.  Scurvy is the classic sign of gross vitamin C deficiency – giving rise to easy bruising, skin lesions, bleeding gums, depression and fatigue. While most people consume enough vitamin C to prevent overt scurvy – which is about 50mg per day, there are also theories that many western people suffer from a more chronic kind of scurvy – due to insufficient vitamin C levels.  This has been implicated in a range of conditions from cardiovascular disease to cancer, skin conditions, premature ageing and diabetes.  It is an essential nutrient for adrenal health and when we are under stress we go through lots of vitamin C.  Anyone who smokes, will also use up around 5-10mg of vitamin C per cigarette, so there is another reason to quit!  Vitamin C also acts as a natural anti-histamine and is great for allergies and inflammation.

While focusing on a healthy diet rich in vitamin C foods is recommended , supplementing is also worthwhile – particularly if you suffer from stress, immune dysfunction or your diet is not always optimal.  Foods rich in vitamin C include most fruits and vegetables – particularly wild berries, rosehip, acerola cherry, guava, parsley, citrus, capsicum, tomatoes.

The native Australian fruit the Kakadu plum (pictured right) has the highest known source of vitamin C – giving around 1000-5000mg per 100g! Meats – especially liver also contain vitamin C.  Remember that cooking foods will reduce the vitamin C content by around 50%, so be sure to have some raw foods in your diet.

Supplements can be in powder or tablets and should really contain bioflavonoids for best effects, as this is how they occur in nature.  Massive doses of injectable vitamin C have also been used in modern medicine for treating cancer.  As a water soluble nutrient the risk of toxicity is minimal as it is readily excreted when consumed in excess.  The standard of bowel tolerance is often used when dosing vitamin C supplements. As loose stools are a transient sign of excess intake, we generally recommend dosage be scaled back if this occurs.

Please discuss this if you think you could benefit from vitamin C next time you visit the clinic, and we can look at the best one for you from the range of vitamin C supplements, I stock.

 

 

The Common Culprit in Snoring, Infections, Behavioural Problems & Overcrowded Teeth

 

So what do snoring, ear infections, behavioural problems and overcrowded teeth all have in common?

This eclectic array of common childhood complaints may seem diverse and unrelated but in fact they all have a common root cause.  I thought to write about this as I just came across a new study* that reported preschool kids who snore are three times more likely to also suffer from behavioural disorders.

The researchers could only come up with a couple of plausible causes for this - including poorer sleep and lack of oxygenation to the brain.  While these are certainly going to play a small role, in my opinion, there is a much more likely reason for this.

 

For many kids, especially three to six year-olds, loud snoring is caused by enlarged tonsils or adenoids. Enlarged tonsils and adenoids are also linked to recurrent ear infections and of course tonsillitis.   Conventional medical solutions normally involve surgery to remove the adenoids or tonsils to improve the child's breathing and reduce their ear and throat infections.  While we can survive without adenoids and tonsils, I think we can do better than simply whipping out these important immune organs.

From my perspective this is just symptomatic and fails to address the underlying problem, which is nearly always food intolerance and environmental allergens.  When children are exposed to allergens either through the diet or through the environment - their immune system reacts by producing more mucus to help trap the airborne allergens and also it releases immune agents (such as histamine) and increases the output of antibodies and other immune cells. The tonsils (and neighbouring adenoids) are a first line of defence and where our immune system does much of its production of the important immune cells.

All this immune activity causes an enlargement in the adenoid and tonsillar tissue.  Adenoids can get so large that they seriously impede on the airways - and not enough air can be obtained from normal nasal breathing leading to kids resorting to mouth breathing.

And now - here is where the crowded teeth issue comes along.  When we breath through our mouths, we must have our lips apart and our tongue tends to move away from resting in the upper hard palate where it belongs.  The muscular pressure of the tongue and lips are largely responsible for shaping the upper palate into a nice broad arch.  Without this support, the palate tends to grow less favourably and more a narrow palate results - which in turn cannot comfortably house the emerging adult teeth. Then we get overcrowded teeth - which is a very common problem today.

Lastly, let's look at behaviour. This is where food allergies come in.  Of course, I agree with the researchers that children who snore are more likely to get poorer sleep and decreased oxygenation to the brain and this will have a hangover effect on learning and behaviour.  When kids are tired, they get more easily frustrated and have less capacity for delayed gratification which can lead to 'behavioural issues'.  From my clinical experience with kids with behavioural disorders though, I generally find that it is food intolerance (along with a generally poor diet) that is driving the problem. Intolerances to common foods have been linked to digestive issues and in turn can affect the way the brain functions.  When we can sort this out, children can function more normally, learn better and be happier and more resilient.

 

My motto is that children are always doing the best they can  - given the circumstances they find themselves in.  Kids don't deliberately want to be annoying, aggressive or mean. Their capacity to cope with the world is a combination of learnt behaviour and modelling from the adults closest to them,  alongside a delicate interaction with their environment - food, water, allergens and other everyday exposures.

Let's start treating kids with the respect, intelligence and sensitivity that they deserve and create an environment and healing paradigm that allows them to truly flourish.

 

 

 

 

* Research paper can be found here

Spring is almost here…

 

Time to detox!

Spring is just around the corner and it is time to do a little spring cleaning.....inside and out.

But don't go grabbing the broom and cloths and start attacking your dusty shelves and corners just yet. I am meaning a little body cleanse is what is in order.

The seasons of spring and autumn are traditionally the best time to do detoxing, fasting and cleansing. These seasons are more gentle than the extremes of summer heat or the winter cold.  The body naturally shifts towards desiring a change in diet and lifestyle during these in between seasons.

In spring we tend to lighten up the diet with more salads, fruits and vegetables , while in autumn we often want warmth and denser foods to sustain us in the cold.  In previous times, when we lived closer to the land, the extremes of the seasons were more obvious. Nonetheless, our bodies still experience the seasonal shifts and it is great to work with this energy.

The shift from the cold towards the warmth of spring, brings with it a need to lighten up - both our food and our mood.

 

To assist you in giving yourself a little spring cleanse, energy boost and to help create a few good habits that will sustain you right through summer - I have created the Equinox Detox!  

Click here to learn more or register for the program.
To celebrate the launch of this new online group program, I am giving some lucky person a *free* registration.
Just comment below about why you might benefit from doing a detox.
  • Is it more energy?
  • Do you want to lose weight?
  • Would you like to feel younger?
  • Maybe you want to boost your immunity?
I will be selecting the lucky winner on 15th August, just in time to start the program on Monday 3rd September!

GOOD LUCK EVERYONE!

Probiotics & Fermented Foods

 

Exploring the Many Health Benefits of Probiotics & Fermented Foods

Our digestive tract contains hundreds of different species of bacteria that may be either beneficial to our health or harmful. 

The good bacteria are involved in many functions including the production of vitamins, maintaining the growth and health of gut cells and boosting immunity.

The harmful bacteria can contribute to candida (thrush), weight gain, immune and behavioural disorders.

More than 70% of our important immune cells live in the gut and are dependent on healthy bowel flora!

 

History of Fermented Foods 

Most cultures around the world include some fermented foods in their traditional cuisine. From fermented dairy in Europe to lacto-fermented pickles such as sauerkraut in Germany, kimchi in Korea and miso soup in Asia.  Any properly fermented food generally contains bacteria that are beneficial to health.

Unfortunately, our culture has slowly moved away from sourdough breads to yeasted breads and our diet contains very few foods rich in healthy flora – other than yoghurt.

 

 

You only have to walk down the refrigerated aisle at the supermarket to see the massive range of yoghurts and cultured dairy products. However, it is essential to know that there is a big difference between many of the yoghurts on the market!

Most of the commercial yoghurts contain sugar, fruit or artificial flavours and may or may not contain any added bacteria.  Always look for a natural yoghurt that has no additives or sugar and has added probiotics, such as acidophilus and bifidobacteria.

Sugar is added to improve flavour but may cause a decline in the potency or health benefit of yoghurt.  Many yoghurts (especially low fat ones) contain as much as 10-15% sugar which has the potential to contribute to weight gain and aggravate diabetes.

 

Children and adults alike, can sometimes be reluctant to enjoy a sour taste when they are used to sweetness.  If you are weaning children off sweeter yoghurts on to a healthier natural yoghurt, you can always add a small amount of freshly diced fruit or honey to add sweetness until they acquire a taste for sourness.

It may also be worth trying different brands of natural yoghurts as some are creamier and less sour than others.  I find my homemade yoghurt to be delicious and naturally sweet and creamy without the intense sourness.  My kids are happy to eat it plain - it is normal yoghurt to them.  They find it hard to stomach much of the regular sweetened yoghurts when they have them occasionally (at the grandparents)!

 

You can also use probiotics supplements to restore the healthy gut flora.  Probiotics contain either a single species or a range of live microbial agents to help colonise the gut and restore balance in the body. These are essential following any gastric disturbance such as diarrhoea but are also essential following antibiotics when good and bacteria are destroyed.  Because probiotics are living organisms that are sensitive to heat and light, they should be kept refrigerated and most types should be sold from a fridge in the clinic or shop (except freeze dried preparations).

 

There are specific health conditions and illnesses that have been shown to improve with probiotics. 

These include the digestive disorders:

  • ulcerative colitis
  • Crohns disease
  • irritable bowel syndrome
  • colon cancer
  • gut infections

 

It seems obvious that the function of the bowel may be improved with correct levels of bacteria, however there are other conditions that are also benefitted by probiotics. These include autoimmune diseases such as MS and rheumatoid arthritis and behavioural issues such as ADHD and autism.

 

Allergies can also be improved when the bowel flora is correct and studies have shown that pregnant women can prevent allergies in their babies by supplementing with probiotics during pregnancy.  Babies are naturally exposed to flora in the birth canal that help to colonise their immature guts after birth. Thus with caesarean birth, the baby misses out on this exposure and is more prone to allergies and gut issues.

 

Interestingly, breastfeeding also helps to colonise the infant gut with good flora and will go a long way to improving and preventing allergies, gut disorders and will boost generally immunity.

 

Clearly our overall health is directly related to bacteria in our environment and our gut. While some bacteria are harmful, the vast majority play an essential role in maintaining and supporting our health.

Try some traditional lacto-fermented condiments or natural yoghurt to boost the good guys in your gut on a daily basis and supplement with a probiotic if you have a health complaint that might benefit from this.

 

 

 

 

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To me Karen is an absolute angel! I highly recommend Karen to anyone who is going through the whole ‘roller coaster’ journey of IVF. It was so lovely to actually have someone that actually listened to me, it was in 2010 when we decided we would give IVF one last go before having a break. Karen put me on a super tonic which I call her ‘magic potion’ and after a few weeks in taking this my FSH levels dropped dramatically and this was my lucky month and my dream had finally came true. I always feel so positive every time I leave Karen’s rooms, I’m so glad that I found her I can never thank her enough for my positive out come!
Megan Wolarczuk
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