Microbes and Antibiotic Resistance.

We have been messing with the microbiome on the planet for at least the last hundred years, with antibiotics, antiseptics, pesticides, fungicides and an attitude of annihilation. Now, relatively unknown species, once no threat, are rising as a major threat (drug resistant) because what used to hold them in check - other species of microbes - have been wiped out with powerful pesticides, fungicides & antibacterial products. In the case of the drug resistant fungus, Candida aureus, talked about in this New York Times article, it is believed that fungicides used in agriculture have led to its explosion to become a major threat in hospitals world wide.

Although the article doesn’t mention Australia, I did find that it is here, and is a notifiable disease of concern. It has been detected in Western Australia. It is certainly being taken seriously.

At this stage, these opportunistic microbes, such as the recent Candida aureus, are usually only a threat to the weak and vulnerable..newborns, the elderly, and those with weakened immune systems, many of whom can be found in hospitals.

As a Naturopath, I certainly encourage people to take this seriously and take the drugs the doctors prescribe, if infected and detected.

From a Naturopathic perspective... keeping the immune system healthy is the best form of prevention, and also treatment if conventional drugs fail, or alongside them. This can be done with a healthy diet, low sugar, lots of fresh fruits and vegetables, plenty of sunshine for Vitamin D (without burning), and managing stress levels to keep them low as much as possible.

Then we can make sure our zinc levels are adequate, that we get plenty of Vitamin C, check our Vitamin D status, and take herbs such as Elderberry, Echinacea, Cats Claw and Medicinal Mushrooms.

Essential oils such as tea tree also have their place but need to be used with care as they are toxic in quite small amounts, especially for children and babies. They are however complex molecules to which microbes can find it difficult to build resistance.

But let's not be part of the mentality of trying to kill off all the microbes in our environment- they keep themselves in check if the environment is basically healthy, with fresh air, regular basic cleaning and washing with soap and water, and sunshine where possible. I allow the sun to shine on my bed every morning through an open window, just because I can. Sunlight is a wonderful antiseptic. (Of course, hospitals are not normal environments and need a different approach.)

This is the real world we are living in nowadays. I feel it's worth thinking about and acting preventatively and proactively. The medical world is struggling to deal with the uprise of resistant microbes. Perhaps this will be an opportunity for us to work together, to acknowledge that the health of the immune system can be influenced by diet, lifestyle, and herbal and nutritional supplements….and we can step aside when they need to pull out the big guns of powerful new medicines, when needed.

Click on image to go to New York Times article

Click on image to go to New York Times article

Loneliness in relation to health and wellbeing

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Are you perhaps lonely? Loneliness is being considered an epidemic in recent studies. Sure, many people have many online connections, but there is a tendency to have fewer real life face to face regular connections, poorer solid social networks. Social media is, of course, one reason but its been heading this way for decades in western countries.

Loneliness is associated with a shorter life span- the equivalent of 15 cigarettes a day shorter, and even more of a risk factor than obesity- and with coronary heart disease and strokes. It is a risk factor for many diseases.

The elderly are particularly prone to loneliness, but it can occur at any age, of course. Loneliness causes stress. When we feel socially isolated, subconsciously we feel we must be more aware of threats in our environment, and this triggers stress. When we feel connected to and surrounded by people who care for us, that we can rely on to be there when we really need, that builds a sense of safety. Stress however leads to a cascade of physiological changes such as increased inflammation and blood pressure and lowered immunity.

Research has shown that in countries where social media use is highest, loneliness is also the most pervasive. Talking to people face to face is quite a different experience for the whole person, than chatting on social media, and social media connections cannot compensate for the human need for real connection. It builds real resilence on a personal and community level.

One of the best things we can do for our health and wellbeing, and the future of ourselves, our kids and extended families, and our whole community, is to build meaningful connections with other people, face to face. It is just as important as stopping smoking, eating well, getting enough exercise, drinking enough water and all the other things we tend to focus on. Loneliness is so pervasive that we don't even think about it as a health risk factor, but we need to.

Do you have plans to connect with at least one other person who you care about and who cares about you, face to face, this weekend?

Rhythm and Routine

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One of the things I have learned over the years is how much my body-mind loves rhythm and routine, and how calming that can be for my nervous system.

As a culture, we tend to have become quite disconnected from the rhythms of nature- the daily rhythm of light and dark, the seasonal rhythms, the monthly cycles. We stay up late under artificial lights, we eat at erratic times. Many people live in a sort of constant chaos, with an overly overstimulated nervous system.

Research has shown that people who have been through trauma- which is most of us, but some are more extreme - can really benefit from simple things like regular meal times, and bedtimes. Children especially benefit from the sense of stability that routines provide.

Learning to make 3 regular meals a day for Dave, my husband, and I, has meant we resort to take -aways, restaurants or poor food choices far less often. It does take a bit of organisation to have food in the house and some plans of what to do with it, and it has taken me years to refine that, and set up systems, such as a weekly organic box of fruit and veg being delivered.

We go to bed at a similar time most nights. We have a morning self-care routine before we start work for the day.

It sounds so simple, but it can make a big difference to a dysregulated nervous system. It is a shift from being buffeted by chaotic mental energies, to tuning into the natural world we are part of, and the needs of the body.

Do you resonate?

How close are you sitting to your WIFI router right now?

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How close are you sitting to your WIFI router right now?

I just had a client who was sitting right next to hers all day every day for work. I have an electrosmog detector and it flashes warning (amber) within 3 metres of the wifi router, and red lights with siren sounds within 1 meter of the router. Of course, it is in a place as far from where we spend most of our time as possible.

The EMF detector also flashes red when placed on my mobile phone- even without a call happening- and close to my computer or iPad screens. I sit as far from any screens as possible when using them, because every cm of distance counts.

It's worth considering your cumulative daily exposure to EMFs, as we are surrounded by them in public and private places everywhere, and most people are married to their phones at the minimum. We don't know the long term effects but there is plenty of anecdotal evidence of negative health effects.

Please don't give your small children your phone or iPad to play with, if it is still connected to the internet. Their systems are so open and sensitive, baby's skulls are still soft. Turn it on aeroplane mode and let them play with a downloaded program if needed.

Just because everyone is doing it and they all seem ok, doesn't mean it's ok, really. Just because science hasn't had the funding to prove health issues beyond doubt, doesn't mean its not true. We are guinea pigs living in a sea of electromagnetic smog we are not evolved to deal with, and awareness of it is at least a good beginning.

Why is Menopause so hard (for many women)? Some thoughts.

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Are you a woman n your 40s or 50s, even 60s, and struggling with perimenopause or menopausal symptoms? Do you get the sense it just shouldn't be this hard? Our female ancestors didn't seem to have it this hard, so why do we?

Two things....stress, and an overloaded liver.

When the ovaries start to shut down the adrenals take over producing some of those hormones. When we are chronically stressed- which is completely normalised in our culture- our adrenals become overloaded and their capacity is stretched. So its a time when women often burn out and they simply can't cope with everything they could before, or they get depressed, anxious....its different for every woman.

The other issue is that it is our liver which processes the hormones in our body,. It breaks them down for excretion. Our liver also processes every toxin we bring into our body, including in food, in the air, in cosmetics and hair products, in sunscreen, in water......far more than any previous generations had to deal with. So our livers are overloaded. Just one of the symptoms of liver overload is hot flushes.

So....they are the two main areas that need lots of support for many women dealing with unpleasant menopausal symptoms. And it comes back to......

Looking after ourselves. Putting ourselves as a priority. Letting go of unnecessary obligations and focusing on what brings us peace and joy. Dealing with unavoidable stress by building our resilience, taking time for ourselves. And eating really well, supporting our liver by helping our detox processes.

It's a big topic, but a wholistic Naturopathic approach is to deal with the underlying issues, not just the symptoms. So it's also quite simple. It expresses slightly differently for every woman, but most of us are overloaded with toxins and stress.

Menopause is a sort of initiation for many reasons, but one is that we can't get away with putting everyone else first any more, our bodies won't let us. We have to look after ourselves as a priority. THEN, when we have adjusted our lives for more balance, we naturally step into our beautiful older woman power and beauty with grace. Our essence shines, and is no longer willing to be compromised.

Does this resonate for you?

Saffron and Depression

Saffron stamens are the part used for both cooking and medicine

Saffron stamens are the part used for both cooking and medicine

Herbal remedies can be as effective as pharmaceutical drugs, for mild to moderate depression. In an examination of the previous studies on saffron, it was found that saffron is “superior to placebo” and “not inferior to antidepressants” for mild to moderate depression. https://www.thieme-connect.de/…/abstract/10.1055/a-0660-9565

St John’s Wort is more well known and also effective, and in some products is now being combined with saffron for depression. Yes, that’s the same saffron we use in cooking, that turns your rice bright yellow. It is the stamen of a beautiful crocus flower.

Herbs never have just one effect, like drugs are designed to do, and both of these herbal medicines have a wide range of wonderful uses. And very few side effects, unlike pharmaceutical drugs.

Even if one is not classically considered “depressed”, these herbs can help balance the nervous system, gladden the heart, and are wonderful for times of unrest and upheaval, and I often think of them for during menopause. They can help with rough sleep patterns.

What’s more, there is not really any risk in giving them a go, unless you are already on antidepressants. Then, while St Johns Wort is contraindicated, saffron can still be used.

Of course, there are many other factors to consider and the whole picture is always important. But its good to know these wonderful medicines exist, is it not?

St John’s Wort, or as one herbalist calls it, St Joan’s Wort.

St John’s Wort, or as one herbalist calls it, St Joan’s Wort.



More vegetables please.

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Something my clients hear me say a lot is to eat more vegetables, fruit and legumes because hardly anyone eats as much as is optimal. I don't advocate any one diet for clients (I am not vegetarian although some of my clients are and I support that), but hardly anyone eats even the government recommended 2 fruit and 5 veg servings a day. And I would say if you need to heal from chronic health issues, that would be an absolutely bare minimum.

One of the best things you can do for your gut health, heart health, cancer prevention, and to lower overall inflammation in the body, (which is an underlying condition for many chronic illnesses), is to eat more plant-based foods.

Many people fall back on bread or other grain-based products, as their staple- toast/cereal for breakfast, sandwiches for lunch, pasta for dinner- because they are so convenient, but they are a little acidic on the body, especially the white versions. Fruit and veg are alkalising and provide a much better foundation especially if one has chronic health issues or inflammation. Legumes are usually forgotten and I just want to remind people about them.

Not only do I recommend more vegetables, fruit and legumes as the basis for any diet, but also more VARIETIES of fruit, vegetables and legumes.

We live in an era and a place where we have such an abundance of variety! If you find yourself bored with apples and bananas, when was the last time you had black grapes, figs, persimmons, fresh raspberries, honeydew melon, mango or papaya? Or blood oranges, fuyu persimmons, or the many different varieties of plums available at the moment? They are not expensive compared to chronic illness, takeaway food, or a bottle of wine!

For vegetables, how about the different types of pumpkin now in season; fennel bulbs; orange or yellow capsicum; try a different type of onion than normal; okra; Chinese veg like pay choy; fresh asparagus, sweet potato; different cucumbers; or even a different type of potato than normal? These different colours and types all feed different beneficial gut bugs.

For legumes, which are particularly beneficial for our gut microbes with their fibre, there are chickpeas, black beans, brown or green lentils, butter beans, soy beans, cannelloni beans, kidney beans, and all the wonderful dhal lentils such as mung, urid , red or adzuki. There are even pastas now made purely from legumes.

I encourage you to try something new this week. Try and eat the rainbow every day! Recipes abound online- just google your ingredient! I am loving the Yum app on my iPad, which I keep in the kitchen when I am cooking. I can look up an ingredient I have in the fridge, and find dozens of recipes containing that ingredient.

I hope I have inspired you to have some fun with colourful plant foods and get healthy at the same time.

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What do you do first thing in the morning? Here's some suggestions....

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What do you do when you first wake up in the morning? I notice what I do when I first get up can affect my whole day! We don't always wake up feeling great (I don't), but here are 3 easy things that I do, and suggest for first thing in the morning, that are self-caring and can help us get off on the right foot.

1. Drink a large glass (or two) of lemon (or lime) water as soon as you get up. Adding a squeeze of lemon, or the juice of half a lemon or lime, to a large glass of pure water, first thing in the morning, kick starts the liver and wakes it up, stimulating its detoxification processes, and helps to flush out toxins and get the bowels ready to move. Adding lemon to water activates the water and makes it alive, which helps the body to recognise it, making it far more hydrating than plain water. Lemon water is alkalising, and most of us tend toward being too acidic. It is full of minerals and vitamins. You can add honey and/or ginger if you like.

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2. Go outside and connect with the morning sun, when you can. This may seem a bit esoteric, but studies are showing that morning sunlight in the eyes (not staring) and on the skin helps with melatonin production in the evening, and therefore promotes healthy sleep patterns. Basically, it lets the body know its daytime, time to produce those daytime hormones, so that come night, the body will naturally switch over to those nighttime hormones. It is also a beautiful way to get outside, put your bare feet on the earth, and connect with the beauty of nature for a minute or more, which is wonderful for the nervous system.

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3. Have some breakfast. Skipping breakfast is one way to stress out the body, and imbalance our blood sugar. While intermittent fasting can be good when done well, if you have any sort of adrenal fatigue, it is not so appropriate (because the adrenals have to kick in to balance blood sugar), and it can also mess with women's hormones. I recommend IF only for 12 hours overnight for most stressed out, anxious or fatigued women. Having a healthy breakfast for most of us, is a self-caring nurturing thing to do, that sets us up for the day in many ways.

I do these 3 things every morning, along with some movement (yoga, walking) and meditation. It is my favourite time of day, but if you are not a morning person and struggle to get going, just these 3 things might help you get off to a better start, and lay foundations for good health as well.

It is the little things we do daily that matter most in the long term, not the occasional big things like detoxes and major diet changes.

Do you have a morning routine that you love?

Are you addicted to sugar? Here's an idea.....

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Are you addicted to sugar? Do you need that snack with sugar a couple of times a day- a chocolate bar, a "healthy" bliss ball, some icecream, a drink with sugar added? Its hardly a personal weakness....sugar is everywhere. It can seem very challenging to break the habit.

Years ago I got out of the sugar rut by going cold turkey. I just decided to stop when someone I loved encouraged me to. And in those days I was much more "paleo" and avoided much fruit and ate more meat. It worked. I haven't really eaten much sugar since then and I rarely crave it.

However it's not what I recommend nowadays, and I haven't found "just go cold turkey" particularly effective for most people. Addictions are tricky because we only have so much willpower, and with all the stress and things pulling on our quota of willpower, its pretty hard to use willpower to break an addiction. A stressful day, an upset, and our hand reaches for the sugar almost by itself and we watch it without being able to stop it. I have certainly been there.

What I realise nowadays is how valuable fruit is, and I eat lots of it- as in, a lot. So does Dave my husband. Fruit when eaten as part of a fairly lowish fat diet, does not raise blood sugar or act like table sugar in the body at all. It provides a whole food that feeds and nourishes the cells including the brain with the fuel they prefer, glucose.

Nowadays I recommend eating plenty of fruit to transition away from addiction to sugar.

Craving sugar? Have some grapes, a mango, or whatever takes your fancy. It is NOT the same as sugar, at all. Fruit is a food which feeds your cells in the way they love, directly. It is a whole food, with fibre and untold amazing nutrition, nourishing you in so many ways. It also assuages that craving for sugar.

I would suggest eating fruit freely, without fear, to move away from sugar addiction. But you might like to keep your fat intake moderated, as fruit and fat are not such a great combination.

I do eat fruit at the end of meals though. I often crave something sweet at the end of a meal and fruit does the trick. And yes, food combing rules tend to say that's not ok, but it works for me.

Do you love fruit but have been scared into thinking its just another form of sugar and therefore bad?

Adaptogens for Modern Life Part 1

Ginseng roots

Ginseng roots

Adaptogens are herbs that give us strength, stamina and stress relief. They have so many benefits for our modern lifestyles, and have been used traditionally for thousands of years. We are fortunate to have such access to so many of them nowadays. 

Adaptogens include such classic herbs as all the different Asian Ginsengs, Astragalus and Licorice, Indian”rasayana” herbs such as Tulsi and Shatavari, and mushrooms such as Reishi. 

This amazing class of herbs has wide ranging benefits such as for:

adrenal fatigue, 

promoting longevity, 

anxiety and depression, 

arthritis, 

enhancing athletic performance, 

improved brain function, 

healthy breathing, 

cancer support, 

cardiovascular support, 

regulating blood sugar, 

digestion, 

eyesight, 

promoting strong immunity and recovery from illness, 

liver support, 

mind-body- spirit connection, 

sex hormone regulation,

insomnia, 

stress, 

weight management

and much more. 

Tibetan elderly woman- Adaptogens have widespread traditional as well as modern use for surviving difficult environments, and to promote healthy ageing.

Tibetan elderly woman- Adaptogens have widespread traditional as well as modern use for surviving difficult environments, and to promote healthy ageing.



Did you know that there are several types of herbs called "ginseng"? 


This is a common form of ginseng product taken in Asian countries

This is a common form of ginseng product taken in Asian countries


Panax/ Asian/ Korean Ginseng

The most well known, and well researched, is Korean or Asian Ginseng (Panax ginseng). This ginseng alone has almost 4000 scientific publications on it- it is a very well studied herbal medicine. Asian countries have cultivated it extensively. The Korean people have used it for thousands of years, for calming and strengthening the mind and soul, opening the heart, and prolonging life. 

We tend to use Asian ginseng for restoring vitality, especially when there is adrenal fatigue, and building the immune system. It has been found useful in cancer, chronic fatigue syndrome, and autoimmune diseases.  Herbalists have used it to delay progression of Alzheimers, often combining it with other herbs such as gingko, bacopa and tulsi. It has a long traditional use as a male sexual tonic. 

I recommend this wonderful and safe medicine for many people as it has so much evidence and long term traditonal use, and is so appropriate for our modern times. Long term use is traditional. It is the most “hot” and stimulating of the ginsengs, which may be an issue for those with very exhausted adrenals, but when balanced with other herbs can be very effective for adrenal fatigue.   I often add it in small amounts to herbal mixes for anything related with fatigue. I take this herb myself. 

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One of many popular ways to take Panax Ginseng in western countries.

American Ginseng (Panax quinquefolius)

This ginseng has a long history of use by Native American peoples, and some cultural groups have considered it their chief medicine plant. It has been used for general debility, recovery from illness, as a tonic for the immune system. As with Asian Ginseng, it has been seen as a spiritual medicine, a gift from the gods to give protection, for love, and to enhance the power of other herbs. This ginseng is also used for depletion of the adrenals and chronic fatigue. It is only mildly stimulating, and is fact is considered cooling . It is quite expensive and has been overharvested in the wild, but is now being cultivated more widely. 

The leaves of American Ginseng have also been used traditionally

The leaves of American Ginseng have also been used traditionally


Siberian Ginseng (Eleutherococcus senticocus)

This is a milder adaptogen and is not really a ginseng but has similar properties. It builds immunity and has been very useful for cancer patients in their recovery. This herb increases endurance and speeds recovery after exercise and has been used by athletes and shift workers. It is useful for stressed Type A type people who don't really look after themselves properly, and it is also very good for adrenal fatigue and ADHD. It is equally useful for men and women. It is an inexpensive herb. 

This is a professional only, quality brand that I can access

This is a professional only, quality brand that I can access


Indian Ginseng / Ashwagandha (Withania somnifera)

This is also not a ginseng, but has been used in India historically for similar purposes. Its name refers to its horse-sweat like smell and the story goes that this herb gives the strength of a stallion. It is used, like the previous three herbs, for general debility, adrenal fatigue, as an aphrodisiac, It is a particularly calming rather than stimulating adaptogen, and this quality lends itself to a wide range of uses in modern times. It is a well studied herb that is rich in iron, and it is being used by many women for this reason. I use this for autoimmune conditions such as Hashimotos Thyroiditis. It is a herb that I put in my regular morning smoothies, often by the heaped teaspoon- fortunately it is fairly inexpensive. It is often used with milk and other herbs as a tonic in Ayurvedic medicine, and is good for insomnia. 

Ashwagandha- the root is used

Ashwagandha- the root is used

I would love to share more about the wonderful world of adaptogens in future newsletters…I consider many of them my regular herbal allies, and I encourage you to also eplore using one or more to enhance your health and wellbeing, whether you have chronic health issues, or are just getting older and wish to preserve your health as long as possible. 

Resources: 

Book: Adaptogens, Herbs for Strength, Stamina and Stress Relief, by David Winston and Steven Maimes

Iherb Ginsengs  Please aware that I cannot be sure of the validity or quality of products on iherb as they are not monitored by our Australian regulatory body, the TGA. However, I realise many people buy from there regularly despite this. 

I have access to many professional grade and quality guaranteed herbal products. Please contact me if you would like me to access something for you.