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Naturopath Case Study (Hives, Sinus, and Sleep Problems)

Deep peaceful sleep

About Naturopathy

Our bodies are entirely made up of what we put in our mouth, and so how things work in our bodies is almost completely dependent on what we eat and drink. How well these ingredients are absorbed, how well they are formed into the different compounds and hormones the body needs, the reactions between these compounds, and how well all these processes are controlled determines our health (or health problems).

Naturopathy involves the use of natural medications and diet to improve how all these processes are taking place, and to resolve health problems and diseases. While this may sound like simply giving someone a few vitamins and a some diet changes, the human body is incredibly complex, and so naturopaths need to have a highly detailed understanding of

  • How the body functions (what chemical processes take place in the organs, brain, etc)
  • How things go wrong if it doesn’t have the right chemical ingredients
  • How to provide the correct nutrients or herbal compounds to restore the correct chemical balance in the body, so that it is able to repair any damage, get the organs working correctly again, and have the cells of the body performing the way they are meant to.

As you would expect, this takes a very high level of scientific and medical knowledge and experience. To register as a naturopath, you must have completed a four year full-time degree. You must also belong to a professional association, and complete additional Continuing Professional Development training every year.

(For more information, please visit our naturopathy page.)

Case Study

Sarah (not her real name) came to the clinic with bad hives on her neck, arms, back and thighs. The hives had a significant impact on her appearance, and were causing her a lot of discomfort and distress.

Sarah had received an allergy skin-prick test, which showed she had sensitivities to 5 different foods. She had eliminated these from her diet, but this made no difference to her symptoms.

Her health history included a continual sinus infection, and she took four courses of antibiotics for this in 2019, which did not get rid of it.

Sarah took advantage of our free Comprehensive Assessment offer, and also had an Organ Function Test. The Test showed that her digestive functions were low, it was likely she had food intolerances, her liver was congested, and her adrenaline levels were high.

The Assessment also established that she had excessive inflammation in her digestive system, and that the congested liver was causing a build-up of toxins in her system. The food intolerances seemed to be the result of the weak and inflamed digestive system. As digestive issues, food intolerances, and skin conditions all usually respond well to naturopathy treatments, it was recommended she have a consultation with one of our naturopaths. Acupuncture treatments were also recommended to help reduce the inflammation in her digestive system.

At the initial session, her naturopath conducted further testing, including iridology (examining the irises of the eyes), examining her nails and tongue, checking her acidity levels, and testing her zinc status. From this she determined that Sarah’s digestive system was not breaking down and processing her food correctly. The partly-digested particles of food were entering her blood stream, and causing a reaction by her immune system. The constant triggering of the immune system in this way was the major cause of her hives. Her stress levels and liver function were also factors (itchy skin conditions are often related to the liver not functioning well).

A treatment plan was created for Sarah, to

  • improve the breakdown of food by her digestive system
  • address the over-reaction of her immune system
  • help her (and her body) deal more effectively with stress

Three practitioner grade, prescription-only supplements were given to address each of these areas.

The first product contained ingredients that

  • Reduce histamine levels
  • Help healthy immune regulation and function
  • Improve digestive immune functions
  • Improve the natural liver detoxification processes
  • Here’s the technical details in case you are interested (just skip if not)
    • Helps to make the body more tolerant to allergens and reduce allergic reactions by addressing the underlying causes of allergies, such as immune dysfunction, inflammation, detoxification processes, and gut barrier function.
    • Supports control of the immune system and healthy immune function. The product includes Glutamine and Shiitake mushroom, which increase secretory IgA secretion to prevent antigen adhesion and translocation through the luminal epithelial surface. Also contains Baical skullcap and Reishi to help to regulate T helper 1 (Th1) and T helper 2 (Th2) balance. Baical Skullcap also exerts an anti-allergic effect by regulating T cell-mediated responses (including decreasing IgE and increasing IgG2).
    • Reduces intestinal permeability and inhibits allergen permeation. Baical Skullcap, glutamine, zinc, vitamin A and vitamin D act upon the tight junctions of the intestinal epithelium. Baical Skullcap helps prevent allergic responses to foods by inhibiting allergen permeation.
    • Symptomatic relief of allergies via anti-inflammatory and mast cell stabilising mechanisms. Baical Skullcap, Milk Thistle and Reishi inhibit the release of histamine from mast cells. (In a randomised controlled trial, Perilla Frutescens leaf extract was shown to suppress immunoglobulin response and inflammation in mild allergic rhinitis.) Choline intake leads to an increase in membrane phosphatidyl cholinexv and helps relieve urticaria and allergic rhinitis symptoms. Vitamin D also has an anti-inflammatory effect due to suppressing the production of Matrix Metalloproteinases (MMPs).
    • Milk thistle helps the liver’s natural detoxification processes, which helps to remove immunologically active materials, reducing immune reactions.

The second product was a combination of two immune-correcting and anti-inflammatory probiotic strains, designed to

  • Maintain healthy immune system control in the body
  • Reduce the occurrence and severity of allergy symptoms
  • Again, here’s the technical stuff in case you are interested
    • Regulates the immune system: Lactobacillus rhamnosus LGG and lactobacillus paracasei (LP-33TM) help to promote immune regulation by interacting with dendritic cells within the gut associated lymphoid tissue (GALT), stimulating the production of regulatory T cells and increasing production of regulatory cytokines such as IL-10 and TGF-beta. LGG also promotes a shift towards an enhanced anti-inflammatory response by a heightened secretion of anti-inflammatory cytokines and decreased secretion of pro-inflammatory cytokines.
    • LGG has bi-directional immunomodulatory effects – stimulatory when an increased response is needed and down-regulatory when attenuation is appropriate. 20 billion CFU of LGG daily has been shown to reduce immune hyper-reactivity by strengthening the gut mucosal barrier integrity.
    • LP-33TM modulates inflammation and immune reactions by interacting with these cells and, together with LGG, inducing development of regulatory T cells which can down regulate IgE, a Th2 cytokine involved in allergy. A double-blind, randomised, placebo-controlled trial on 425 subjects with allergic rhinitis compared the effects of LP-33TM or placebo over a five week period. The LP-33TM group demonstrated significant improvements in their Rhinitis Quality Of Life (RQLQ) score, nasal and ocular symptoms.

The third product was a herbal formula to

  • Calm her nervous system
  • Reduce the effects of nervous tension and stress on her body
  • Improve relaxation and sleep
  • Relax her muscles

Sarah was also given a Diet Plan to help identify and eliminate any specific dietary triggers for her hives.

At her second consultation in 4 weeks, Sarah was excited to report that the hives had cleared up completely. Her sinus infection had also improved significantly, and she no longer had to use a nasal spray for it.

As her hives and sinus infection were virtually eliminated, we turned to another health issue she had. For many years Sarah would wake up at 2 am, and most times couldn’t get back to sleep after that. This was affecting her energy levels, her mental function and clarity, and her mood.

On investigation, we found that Sarah’s Sympathetic Nervous System (SNS) was over-active. The SNS is associated with the ‘fight or flight’ response, and keeps the body from relaxing and going to sleep properly. It also increases the body’s stress response, disrupts the digestive system, causes muscle tension, increases blood sugar levels, puts additional strain on the heart (possibly raising blood pressure), and many other impacts on health.

Again, Sarah was prescribed a high-potency practitioner level supplement to address the underlying cause of her problem. The ingredients

  • Help the body to have a more normal, healthy stress response
  • Help the metabolism and synthesis of the body’s important neuro-transmitters, including the calming neuro-transmitter GABA2
  • Technical bits
    • Provides highly bioavailable magnesium, B vitamins, vitamin C and zinc, which are all nutrients required to be able to cope with stress effectively and may be depleted in chronic stress. The adrenergic effects of stress induce a shift of magnesium to the extracellular space, increasing urinary excretion and depleting body stores. Magnesium deficiency adversely affects excitatory neurotransmitters such as serotonin and acetylcholine and is associated with stress.
    • A double-blind, placebo controlled trial using 6.0 g of taurine per day investigated its impact on stress symptoms and biochemistry. This study showed taurine to inhibit the stress-induced release of adrenaline. Magnesium, B vitamins, vitamin C and zinc are required to regulate the stress response as co-factors in neurotransmitter synthesis.
    • Zinc is essential in modulating the stress response. Zinc levels have been found to be deficient in people with generalised anxiety disorder. Exposure to acute stress increases serum glycocorticoids and induces metallothionein synthesis which consequently decreases serum zinc.

At her next appointment 3 weeks later, Sarah was overjoyed to report that she was now sleeping through the night and getting 7-8 hours sleep each time.

It is important to note that every person and their conditions are different, and each case requires careful individual diagnosis of what is causing their problem. Sarah had a very quick improvement for several conditions she had endured for many years, but each person’s body improves at a different rate, and so improvement may take longer for another person. However, with the correct assessment, diagnosis, high-quality supplements or herbs, and/or dietary advice being followed, there will be good results in the vast majority of cases.

If you have health problem you would like to get rid of, please consider booking in for a Comprehensive Assessment. We can then look at what is going on in your body, what is causing the problem, and the best way to sort it out. (The Assessment is a completely free service, with no obligations whatsoever.)

A Healthy Microbiome for Better Gut Health, Immune Health, and Mood Health

Roles of the Microbiome


The ‘microbiome’ is a popular topic at the moment for anyone interested in their health and well being, but what exactly it is? You may have heard about the good bacteria living in your digestive system, and might have thought about taking a probiotic to support them. Your body contains an internal community of a massive 38 trillion microbes (not just bacteria), and this community is referred to as your commensal microbiome, or microbiome for short. The guts of it is, when your microbiome is healthy it helps make you healthier, and when it is unhealthy it makes you less healthy.

When healthy and balanced, your microbiome has a range of wide-reaching effects on your health, such as creating important vitamins you need, helping to control and boost your immune system, assisting with waste elimination through healthy bowel functions, and even affecting your mood and mental state.1

However, diet, lifestyle and other factors can reduce both the number and the diversity of these organisms in our gut. This can create an environment where pathogenic (disease causing) organisms have the opportunity to establish themselves and ‘take over’ parts of your digestive system. This state of imbalance is termed ‘dysbiosis’, and often results in a broad range of health issues, including digestive problems, nutrient deficiencies, or a compromised immune system (which can lead to food intolerances, allergies, or frequent infections).

The following are the most common diet and lifestyle factors that can have a negative impact on the health of your microbiome.

Five Ways You can Upset Your Microbiome

  1. Eating a low fibre diet: as your gut microbes rely on the fibre in your food for fuel, a low fibre diet leads to a reduction in the diversity of your microbiome.(Evidence shows that those who eat more than 30 different types of plants/vegetables each week have a much more diverse microbiome compared to those who consume 10 or fewer types.2
  2. Alcohol intake: the consumption of alcohol can result in dysbiotic changes in your intestinal microbiome, and also triggers gastrointestinal inflammation.3 (If you’re consuming more than one standard drink per day, your microbiome’s probably keen for you to abstain a bit more often.)
  3. Unmanaged stress: when you are stressed, the release of the stress hormone cortisol plus adrenaline sensitises your body to inflammation, including gut inflammation.4 This disrupts the gut environment, compromising the conditions your beneficial microbes need to flourish.
  4. Leading a sedentary lifestyle: lack of exercise has also been linked to reduced microbial diversity in the gut (another good reason to get your body moving).
  5. Antibiotic use: a round of antibiotics leads to some of the core commensal organisms being destroyed. Antibiotics are designed to kill off bacteria, but unfortunately many of the good ones are destroyed as well. This leaves the gut susceptible to microbiome imbalances and dysfunction.

Improving Your Microbiome

Avoiding or addressing the diet and lifestyle factors mentioned above is important for improving the health and diversity of your microbiome. However, perhaps the most important thing you can do to help, is to consume a diet rich in plant based fibres, which will provide a great food source for the beneficial organisms to flourish.

Microbiome Foods Table

Figure 1: Foods that Feed Your Microbiome

If ‘bad’ (pathogenic) bacteria and other organisms have established in your gut and are creating dysbiosis, there are specific natural products to correct this. For example, antimicrobial herbal medicines can be used, including pomegranate (Punica granatum),5 nigella (Nigella sativa),6 and myrrh (Commiphora myrrha).7,8 These herbs work to eliminate unwanted organisms in the gut.

Then, to regenerate and rebuild the health and diversity of your microbiome, specific probiotic strains can be used. Some of these include

  • Lactobacillus rhamnosus (LGG): one of the most studied probiotic stains in the world, research shows taking LGG promotes the growth and function of key core commensal bacteria.
  • Saccharomyces cerevisiae (boulardii) (SB): multiple investigations have shown that boulardii reduces antibiotic-associated loss of bacteria, whilst also supporting the rapid restoration of the microbiome after antibiotic use.9
  • Lactobacillus acidophilus (NCFM)10 and Bifidobacterium animalis lactis (Bi-07): are two strains also highly indicated to protect and support a healthy microbiome.11

So even though diet, lifestyle or antibiotic use can upset your microbiome, there are plenty of natural medicines and diet options to restore it’s health as well, and improve the wellbeing of your whole body.

Free Assessment

If you have any digestive or immune problems, or want to improve your mood or general health and well being, we offer a free Comprehensive Assessment, to establish what is going on in your body, what is causing the problem, and the best way to sort it out. (Terms and conditions- the Assessment is a completely free service, with no obligations whatsoever.) Please call us on 3376 6911 if you have any questions at all, or ring or book online if you would like to make an appointment.


The above table and much of the information in this article is from a Metagenics blog titled ‘5 Ways You Might Upset Your Gut Microbiome and What to Do About It’.

1. D’Argenio S. The role of the gut microbiome in the healthy adult status. Clinica Chimica Acta. 2015;451(Part A):97-102.

2. Buschman H, Bright D. Big Data from World’s Largest Citizen Science Microbiome Project Serves Food for Thought. [Internet]. San Diego (CA): UC San Diego School of Medicine. 2018 [cited 2018 July 05]. Available from:

3. Engen PA, Green SJ, Voiqt RM, Forsyth CB, Keshavarzian A. The Gastrointestinal Microbiome: Alcohol Effects on the Composition of Intestinal Microbiota. Alcohol Res. 2015;37(2):223-36.

4. Guilliams TG. The role of stress and the HPA axis in chronic disease management. Point Institute, Stevens point (WI). 2015;80.

5. Abdel-Haffez E, Ahmed A, Abdellatif M, Kamal A, Toni N. The efficacy of pomegranate (Punica granatum) peel extract on experimentally infected rats with blastocystis spp. J Infect Dis Preve Med. 2016;4(1):1-6.

6. Salem EM, Yar T, Bamosa AO, Al-Quorain A, Yasawy MI, Alsulaiman RM, et al. Comparative study of Nigella sativa and triple therapy in eradication of Helicobacter pylori in patients with non-ulcer dyspepsia. Saudi J Gastroenterol. 2010 Jul;16(3):207.

7. Fathy FM. Effect of mirazid (Commiphora molmol) on experimental giardiasis. J Egypt Soc Parasitol. 2011 Apr;41(1):155-77.

8. Basyoni MM, El-Sabaa AA. Therapeutic potential of myrrh and ivermectin against experimental Trichinella spiralis infection in mice. Korean J Parasitol. 2013 Jun;51(3):297-304. doi: 10.3347/kjp.2013.51.3.297.

9. Moré M, Swidsinski A. Saccharomyces boulardii CNCM 1-745 supports regeneration of the intestinal microbiota after diarrheic dysbiosis – a review. Clinical and Experimental Gastroenterology. 2015;8:237-55.

10. Anderson JM, Barrangou R, Hachem MA, Lahtinen SJ, Goh YJ, Svensson B, et al. Transcriptional analysis of prebiotic uptake and catabolism by Lactobacillus acidophilus NCFM. PLos ONE. 2012;7(9):e44409.

11. Mäkeläinen H, Saarinen M, Stowell J, Rautonen N, Ouwehand AC. Xylo-oligosaccharides and lactitol promote the growth of Bifidobacterium lactis and Lactobacillus species in pure cultures. Benef Microbes. 2010 Jun;1(2):139-48.

About Acupuncture

Lady receiving acupuncture

Did you know that acupuncture is the second most-used therapy on earth? It has been used for thousands of years on billions of people throughout the world.

How it Works

Despite extensive research, the exact mechanism of how acupuncture works is still unknown. One of the areas acupuncture is best-known for is resolving pain, and in this regard it may be the result of

  • Stimulating the body’s healing processes
  • Improving blood flow
  • Relaxing tight muscles
  • Releasing endorphins
  • Reducing inflammation

or a combination of these.

However, acupuncture is used for many conditions other than pain. On a more general level, one of the best ways to understand how acupuncture works is to think of the acupuncture points as tiny controls for the body, that can be turned up or down to adjust the way the body is behaving. There are many hundreds of these points, and over thousands of years we have learnt the ways they influence the body.

What Can it be Used For?

Acupuncture is known for resolving pain, however this is only the tip of the iceberg in terms of what conditions it can treat. As a small sample, is has been proven to be effective for anxiety, fatigue and nausea related to many chronic diseases, hayfever, morning sickness, etc. Many health practitioners may also recommend acupuncture as an adjunct treatment that may assist with IVF.

How Accepted is Acupuncture?

Acupuncturists as Health Professionals

  • Acupuncturists must complete a 4 year full-time degree. These are usually a Bachelor of Health Science through private accredited colleges or a university such as Charles Sturt University, Southern Cross University, University of New England, University Of Western Sydney, University of South Australia, and the La Trobe University
  • They are registered with the Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency (AHPRA), which is the government authority responsible for registration of doctors, pharmacists, dentists, podiatrists, etc.
  • Acupuncture treatments are covered under Workcover
  • Acupuncturists must also be registered with a professional Association, who ensure they are properly qualified, adhere to a professional Code of Conduct, and undertake Continuing Professional Development studies. (They also arrange for them to be registered with health funds.)

As a result, acupuncturists are coming to be recognised as genuine health professionals.

Health Funds

The federal government performed a review of the evidence of effectiveness for all natural therapies, and in 2019 stopped health funds from covering any natural therapies except acupuncture, Chinese herbal medicine, remedial massage, and myotherapy, as there was strong evidence for the effectiveness of these treatments. (An appeal has been lodged in relation to naturopathy, as the latest evidence was not used in this regard, and naturopathy is likely to be also added to therapies health funds can cover.)

GST Exempt

Medical services are exempt from GST, and acupuncture, naturopathy and herbal medicine are all specifically listed as exempt services in the GST Act.


Acupuncture is of course widely used in hospitals in many Asian countries, especially China. (There is a hospital in Japan which only uses acupuncture.) However it is also used in many hospitals in western countries such as the United Kingdom, USA, Sweden, and in some hospitals in a limited capacity in Australia (including 2 in Brisbane).

Acupuncture to be Covered under Medicare?

The Australian Acupuncture and Chinese Medicine Association (AACMA) has approached the federal government to include acupuncture in the Chronic Disease Management Program. Under this Program, doctors can refer a patient to an allied health therapist, and Medicare covers part of the cost of the treatment.

Considerable research evidence was provided to the Chief Medical Officer on the management of pain by acupuncture, and especially chronic pain. As a result, he has recommended an application to the Federal Minister for Health for acupuncture to be included. So as a proven drug free alternative, acupuncture is being looked at favourably for the management of pain. The withdrawal of codeine as an over the counter medication, and the potential opioid crisis, have each made acupuncture an even more attractive option.

How Old is Acupuncture?

The earliest written records of acupuncture are around 200 BC, making it one of the oldest health care systems in the world. However there is some evidence that the practice is much older than that. Sharpened stones and long sharpened bones appear to have been used around 6,000 BC for acupuncture treatment.

Also, the body of a 5,300 year-old man was discovered frozen in the Italian Alps in 1991. ‘Otzi’ was covered with 61 tattoos (including dot-like points around joints), which some researchers believe may have been used as an early form of acupuncture. Some lines and dots were directly over areas which suffered from degenerative diseases, and many corresponded to traditional acupuncture points. So a simple form of acupuncture may have been practiced in Europe over 5,000 years ago.

Different Types of Acupuncture

There are 2 main styles- Japanese and Chinese acupuncture. The Japanese style

  • Involves post-graduate training and study once you have graduated as a Chinese acupuncturist
  • Is normally much more gentle and comfortable than the Chinese. (Many people find their treatments quite relaxing, and some even fall asleep during them.)
  • Is more in-depth, as there is usually a much more detailed assessment performed
  • Has an emphasis on treating the causes of the problem as well as the symptoms
  • The skill level required is much higher than for Chinese acupuncture, but when done correctly it is often more effective

Our Therapists and Treatments

All of our acupuncturists use the Japanese style, We also only use the finest quality, pre-sterilised, disposable needles, which are made in Japan rather than in China. (These needles are hair-thin and designed for maximum comfort as well as effectiveness.)

Free Assessment

If you have a health issue and would like to find out if acupuncture can resolve it, we offer a free Comprehensive Assessment. (Terms and conditions- the Assessment is a completely free service, with no obligations whatsoever.) Please call us on 3376 6911 if you have any questions at all, or ring or book online if you would like to make an appointment.

Why Most Vitamins can be a Waste of Money

Are vitamins a waste of money?

I am not a fan of over-the-counter products generally. These products are not designed to be prescribed, but are made to be safe for anyone to take (children, elderly, those with serious health issues, on strong medications, etc.). Because any effect is very mild, they usually have very little therapeutic benefit. The aim is to sell as many as possible, and they compete with other products on price and advertising. As quality is not important, some contain nutrients in a form that is difficult to absorb, or they may contain fillers or other additives.

Practitioner-prescribed products are designed to achieve the maximum therapeutic effect. They are only provided by a trained therapist after assessing the client and giving careful consideration to precisely what their body needs, including

  • What health issues they have (which increases the need for certain nutrients)
  • The level of nutrients in their body already
  • Any medications they are taking
  • The strength of their digestion, and how well they are absorbing their nutrients

The therapist then chooses the ideal product for them and the appropriate dosage. As a small example, if someone has arthritis, the therapist may prescribe a mixture of high-quality glucosamine and chondroitin sulphate to help rebuild the cartilage. However,

  • Most people with arthritis will also be low in other nutrients that help the glucosamine and chondroitin sulphate to work properly, so will likely need some of these in any product prescribed
  • If the person’s stomach is a little underactive and they are not breaking down proteins well, they may need something to assist the absorption of the glucosamine and chondroitin sulphate
  • If the person is taking a lot of fibre, they may need to reduce this to allow the minerals required to rebuild the cartilage to be absorbed
  • Depending on how bad the arthritis is, the therapist may prescribe a higher dose than the one recommended for the general public. (However, higher doses should only be taken under the direction of a trained professional.)

Practitioner-prescribed products are of the highest quality and compete with each other on their therapeutic benefit. Each company is constantly trying to come up with products that work more effectively than their competitors, which will then be prescribed more often.

To improve your health, or to get good results for any condition, you need the right diagnosis, the right treatment, and the right dosage. I don’t feel that over-the-counter products look after any of these properly.

As a result, we see far too many people spending lots of money on products that are not helping them at all.

If you would like to see if the products you are taking are improving your health or not (or even making it worse), or would like to find out what nutrients are important for you, please book in for a 15 minute Focus Consult with our naturopath (currently at the introductory price of only $15). Be well!

You may also be interested in reading Australian Natural Medicines Lead the World.


Green Tea a Potent Anti-Viral Treatment

Green tea is an anti-viral

A group of compounds in green tea called catechins are known to have antiviral properties, and a study has found that taking green tea liquid or powder was an effective preventative for viral infections. The study was published in the Journal of Biological Engineering, and the authors concluded that green tea extracts ‘demonstrated potent viral inactivating activity’.

(Note: whilst it is likely that green tea and green tea extracts provide effective prevention against a broad range of viruses, there is no evidence to date that they are effective against the COVID-19 virus.)

We recommend gargling with freshly made green tea, and then swallowing the tea, every day.

How Simple Soap Kills the Coronavirus

How soap destroys coronavirus

Washing your hands with soap is one of the best things you can do to help stop the spread of coronavirus. A single drop of ordinary soap in water is enough to rupture and kill many types of viruses and bacteria (including COVID-19). Why is it so deadly against them?

Soap is made of pin-shaped molecules, with a hydrophilic (‘water-loving’) head, and a hydrophobic (‘water-shunning’) tail. The hydrophobic tail repels water and prefers to link up with oils and fats. So if you put soap molecules in water, they tend to form little bubbles, called micelles, with the water-loving hydrophilic heads on the outside, and the water-avoiding hydrophobic tails on the inside.

Many viruses and bacteria have lipid (fatty) outer layers. These outer layers are like double-layered micelles, with two rings of hydrophilic heads between two bands of hydrophobic tails. The layer also contains protein spikes that allow viruses to infect cells (or for bacteria, perform various important actions that keep them alive). Some of the viruses with this structure include the coronaviruses, HIV, hepatitis B and C viruses, and herpes viruses. (The bacteria with this lipid outer layer include many of those that attack the intestines, nose, throat and lungs.)

When you wash your hands with soap and water, you surround any micro-organisms on your skin with soap molecules. Remember that the hydrophobic tail of the soap molecule tries to get away from water and to link up with fats, like the lipid outer layer of a virus. So the tails of the soap molecules wedge themselves into the lipid layers of the virus, breaking up the layer. According to Prof. Pall Thordarson (acting head of chemistry at the University of New South Wales), “They act like crowbars and destabilize the whole system.” Crucial proteins then spill from the ruptured membranes, destroying the virus.

Some of the soap molecules also disrupt the chemical bonds that allow viruses to stick to surfaces, lifting them off the skin. Soap micelles also form around particles of dirt and the fragments of viruses and bacteria, suspending them in floating cages. When you rinse your hands, all the micro-organisms that have been damaged, trapped and killed by soap molecules are washed away.

So to help stop the spread of COVID-19, please

Herbs that have Anti-Viral Properties

Scientific testing of herbs

(We cover Medicinal Herbs first, then Kitchen Herbs. The more technical information is marked in green, so you can skip these parts if you like.)

Medicinal Herbs


Both Echinacea purpurea and Echinacea angustifolia have antimicrobial and immune-stimulating properties. They are used for the treatment of viral infections such as influenza, as well as middle ear infections, vaginal candida, and to improve wound healing. A high dose of Echinacea is helpful if you feel susceptible to coming down with something or if you have been exposed to those with infections. (Echinacea is generally not used with auto-immune disorders.)

However, Echinacea is generally considered more effective for infection prevention. A lipophilic extract of Echinacea root rich in alkylamides will prime the immune response before virus exposure, and then sustain it once the virus takes hold.

(In the acute stage of the virus, other antiviral herbs such as Liquorice and sweet wormwood (the latter in pulsed doses), and other immune herbs such as Andrographis and holy basil, become more important.)


Astragalus membranaceus increases white blood cell counts and interferon, thereby increasing the body’s resistance to disease. It is best taken long-term to enhance immune functions, and is especially effective for those with a history of recurring respiratory infections, anaemia, or chronic fatigue syndrome.

Astragalus is contraindicated in progressed Lyme disease.

In Chinese herbal medicine, Astragalus is generally contraindicated in acute infections, except where there is energy deficiency. It has been used in herbal formulations to treat recent viral epidemics, but is more often included in preventative formulations. As per the Chinese herbal medicine guidelines, Astragalus is particularly indicated for prevention when a person has compromised immunity and/or resilience.

Hence, Astragalus can be safely taken for prevention but is best stopped once acute symptoms develop (unless there is advice to the contrary from a skilled Chinese herbal practitioner).

However, once the infection is over, it is very helpful for recovery from any after-effects, such as post-viral fatigue.


Andrographis paniculata has extensive evidence in reducing the incidence, severity and duration of acute respiratory infections (as evidenced by positive results in a meta-analysis, which included 33 studies). It has been shown to stimulate both the antigen-specific and non-specific immune response, as well as increase NK cell activity, antibody-dependent cellular cytotoxicity and antibody-dependent complement-mediated cytotoxicity, thereby supporting host immune defences.


This herb is an immune stimulant and has antiviral properties. It is primarily used as a cough or cold remedy, as it helps to break a fever, ease flu symptoms, and clear congestion.

The use of the black elderberry (Sambucus nigra) during acute respiratory viral infections is relatively new, arising from research conducted in the 1970s. Initial investigations revealed antiviral activity, and this remains a research focus. However, later research has indicated a role for the herb in enhancing immune responses, especially cytokine production. (Elderberry increases the production of inflammatory cytokines IL-1beta, TNF-alpha, IL-6 and IL-8.) Meta-analysis certainly supports its benefit when administered during acute viral infections.

A clinical trial in 473 patients (including many with confirmed influenza A and/or B) found that a combination of elderberry and Echinacea given as soon as possible for 10 days after symptoms developed was as effective as the antiviral drug oseltamivir. There was no suggestion of harmful effects or induction of cytokine storm (the authors used the term septic shock to flag this possibility). In fact, adverse events were higher in the antiviral drug group.

In another large trial involving 312 economy class passengers traveling from Australia to an overseas destination, participants took elderberry continuously from 10 days before flying overseas until five days after arriving at the travel destination. Most cold episodes occurred in the placebo group (17 versus 12), however the difference was not significant (p = 0.4). Placebo group participants had a significantly longer duration of cold episode days (117 vs. 57, p = 0.02) and the average symptom score over these days was also significantly higher (583 vs. 247, p = 0.05). These data suggest a significant reduction of cold duration and severity in air travelers. The herbal treatment was well tolerated, with no serious adverse events.

Medicinal Mushrooms

Medicinal mushrooms can boost immunity by providing polysaccharides- complex sugars that stimulate an immune response. They are very beneficial as preventatives during cold and flu seasons and are also useful when actively fighting an infection.

Shiitake MushroomLentinus edodes. Shiitake is highly prized as food and medicine. It is especially high in zinc and contains several types of polysaccharides that stimulate white blood cell activity and moderate immune function. It has antiviral and antibacterial properties and is showing promise as an anti-tumour medicine. It also helps to protect the liver and lower cholesterol.

Both shiitake and reishi mushrooms activate the innate immune system, triggering the production of NK cells, lymphocytes, neutrophils, macrophages, and inflammatory cytokines.

ReishiGanoderma spp. Reishi has been used in China and Japan for over 4,000 years, and is called ‘the immortality mushroom’.

It enhances and controls immune cell functions, and is effective against a very broad range of pathogens; amongst other properties, it is antibacterial, antiviral, and antifungal. (As it moderates the immune system, allergy sufferers may find reishi helpful in reducing inflammation and over-sensitivity. It is often valuable for those undergoing cancer treatment, as it helps protect the body from radiation damage, lessens pain, and improves appetite. Reishi is also an adaptogen, and so helps mitigate the physical and mental impact of the stress response.)

Reishi has been shown to bind to cell surface receptors of immune cells, leading to alteration in the activities of macrophages, T helper cells and natural killer (NK) cells, activate peripheral blood mononuclear cells, promote lymphocyte proliferation and differentiation, and inhibit viral replication.

However, as with Astragalus, the main role of medicinal mushrooms is for infection prevention and they can be discontinued during acute infection onset to make way for other higher priority herbs.

Research suggests that the branched chain beta-glucan polymers found in the fruiting bodies of various mushroom species seem particularly adapted to heightening immune vigilance against potential pathogens. Interaction of mushroom beta-glucans with dectin-1 receptors may even be able to “train” the innate immune response. Trained (innate) immunity (TI) can be induced by a variety of stimuli, of which BCG (Bacillus Calmette–Guérin vaccine) and beta-glucan have been particularly studied. Both BCG (via NOD2 signalling) and beta-glucan (via dectin-1) can induce epigenetic changes that lead to TI. Interestingly, because of the discovery of TI, BCG is currently being investigated as a prevention for acute respiratory viral infection amongst 4,000 healthcare workers.

Pau D’arco

The inner bark of Tabebuia impetiginosa, an Amazonian tree, can be used to treat colds, influenza, herpes and viral stomatitis (mouth sores, such as a cold sore). It contains quinoids that inhibit virus replication by damaging the DNA and RNA inside the viral protein that would normally insert itself in a healthy human cell and replicate.

St John’s Wort

Hypericum perforatum is well-known for its ability to help mild depression and neuralgia, but it also has potent antiviral chemicals called hypercin and pseudohypericin that proactively fight off viruses. In particular, it is especially useful against viruses that masquerade as human cells, such as Herpes, HIV and Hepatitis C.

(St John’s Wort is of particular interest at present, as it is considered to be effective against ‘enveloped’ viruses, and COVID-19 is an enveloped virus. However, there is as yet no firm evidence that St John’s Wort is effective against COVID-19.)


Althaea officinalis; the herbal extract of the marshmallow plant soothes irritated respiratory tissue and builds immune function.

Herbs and Fever Management

 (Patients with COVID-19 infection requiring intensive care unit (ICU) admission have shown higher concentrations of granulocyte colony-stimulating factor (GCSF), IP10, MCP1, MIP1-alpha, and tumour necrosis factor-alpha (TNFalpha) than patients that have not required ICU admission, suggesting that a cytokine storm may be associated with the disease severity.[1])

One important area of herbs for managing viral infections is the role of diaphoretic herbs in stage II. Their appropriate use could prove to be critical in preventing the development of a cytokine storm.

A diaphoretic is an agent that literally is used to promote sweating, and in the context of a fever, diaphoretic herbs were used to manage the febrile phase of an infection. In modern herbal practice, diaphoretic herbs are still considered appropriate in fever management, including remedies such as Mentha x piperita (peppermint), Achillea (yarrow), Sambucus (elderflower), Matricaria (chamomile), Tilia (lime flowers) and Asclepias tuberosa (pleurisy root). Their objective is to help to facilitate the fever as a “slow burn” (usually the range 100–102°F or 37.8–38.9°C), ensuring that this important physiological response is supported, but kept at a level that is comfortable, restorative and not harmful to the person.

They work best when taken hot, as in an infusion or decoction.

Liquorice Glycyrrhiza glabra. The herb (not the sweet) contains a substance called glycyrrhizin that reduces the replication of viruses and halts their ability to penetrate replicate inside healthy cells. It has been noted to be effective in the treatment of many viral illnesses, including HIV strains and viral hepatitis. Liquorice is soothing for sore throats and dry coughs. It helps heal irritated tissues, and reduces inflammation and coughing (anti-tussive).

However, Liquorice is not advised if you have high blood pressure or during pregnancy.

In the classical model of pathogenesis, induction of fever is mediated by the release of pyrogenic cytokines such as Tumor Necrosis Factor (TNF), interleukin (IL)-1, IL-6, and interferons into the bloodstream in response to exogenous pyrogens from infecting agents. These are the same cytokines that are largely responsible for cytokine storm. Hence, diaphoretic herbs might well reduce the risk of developing cytokine storm during an infection.

This might be disregarded as idle speculation, except for the eclectic experience with diaphoretic herbs during the Spanish flu pandemic, where they were regarded as key remedies. Drawing from just one of the many testaments to the value of diaphoretic herbs from that time, as reviewed by Abascal and Yarnell: “One physician, who saw 10–35 patients with influenza per day during the epidemic began treatment by mixing 2 teaspoons of boneset and 1 teaspoon of pleurisy root tinctures in a cup of hot water. This was given immediately with a second dose 15 minutes later, a third dose half an hour later, and a fourth dose an hour after the first dose. He reported that this treatment typically reduced a fever of 103–104ºF by 3–4º in a few hours. Yet another physician reported that boneset was always a significant remedy in influenza.”

(We now know that boneset contains low levels of pyrrolizidine alkaloids, so other diaphoretic herbs should be used instead.)


These herbs will support a focussed initial immune response, including enhanced cytokine signalling, and thereby reduce the risk of any infection progressing to the stage III development of cytokine storm.

Herbs are best given in combination, and informed use of herbal prescribing can improve clinical outcomes. In the context of reducing the risk of cytokine storm after an infection has taken hold, the valuable role for the inclusion of diaphoretic herbs in the treatment protocol needs to be given due attention.

Kitchen Herbs

Some common kitchen herbs are helpful to build your immunity and ward off respiratory illnesses.

Garlic Allium sativum. Garlic is anti-viral, anti-bacterial and anti-fungal. The compounds allicin and alliion are responsible for all of these actions, and garlic also has antimicrobial properties.

GingerZingiber officinale. Ginger is very heating and is a diaphoretic, so is excellent for the early stages of a ‘cold’ (viral) type of infection, with symptoms such as feeling cold, sneezing, nasal congestion with white phlegm or a runny nose with clear phlegm, and little or no fever. It may also include muscle stiffness or aches, or a cough with clear or white phlegm. (Do not use ginger for a ‘hot’ or bacterial infections, which involve feeling hotter, a sore throat, or yellow or green phlegm.)

Ginger contains anti-inflammatory compounds, helps to expel mucus, and can ease coughs and deep-seated respiratory congestion including bronchitis.

The best way to use ginger is to chop the root up, boil it, and drink the liquid as a tea. You will usually need to dilute it, and can add a little honey if you wish. Drink frequently until your symptoms have gone.

PeppermintMentha × piperita. Peppermint is also a diaphoretic but is very cooling, so is used for the early stages of a ‘hot’ (bacterial) type of infection, with symptoms such as feeling hot or having a fever, sore throat, and yellow or green phlegm. Use it as a tea and drink frequently.

Onions Allium spp. A centuries-old remedy for breaking up lung congestion is to sauté onions in a little olive oil, placed them on a cloth, apply to the chest while still warm, and let it sit for about half an hour. The aromatics in raw onions can also help calm a cough.

Green TeaCamellia sinensis. Green tea contains a group of flavonoids called catechins, which appear to inhibit viral infections by blocking the enzymes that allow it to reproduce. Green tea has been known to be effective in inhibiting HIV, herpes simples and the hepatitis B virus. For best effect, gargle with the tea then swallow it.

Olive LeafOlea europea. The leaves of Olive trees contain a substance called elenoic acid, and calcium elonate has been identified as a powerful inhibitor of a wide range of viruses in laboratory tests, including influenza, herpes, polio and coxsackie viruses. These substances block the production of enzymes that allow viruses to replicate.

Horseradish Armoracia rusticana. Horseradish has strong decongestant and antimicrobial properties. After grating the roots, put them into vinegar or honey immediately to prevent the loss of the effective compounds. (Wasabi in Japanese restaurants is usually made from Horseradish.)


The information contained in this article is meant for general use only, and must not be used to replace medical advice or treatment. In particular, if you have any possible COVID-19 symptoms, such as sore throat, fever or shortness of breath, you must seek immediate guidance from a medical professional or call the Coronavirus Health Information Line for advice (ph. 131 450).

When prescribed by a qualified professional, medicinal herbs can be effective for a wide range of viral and bacterial infections. Naturopaths undergo years of training in the use of herbal formulas, and an experienced naturopath can prescribe a powerful combination of herbs tailored to your specific needs. (Only the highest quality medicinal herbs are used at our clinic.)

You may also be interested in reading our article on Improving Your Immune System.

We are currently running a special offer of a 15 minute consult with our naturopath for only $15. These can be carried out in person or by Skype or Facetime. Please give us a call if you would like to book in for one, or you can book online.

[1] Mehta P, McAuley DF, Brown M, Sanchez E, Tattersall RS, Manson JJ, et al. COVID-19: consider cytokine storm syndromes and immunosuppression. Lancet [Internet]. 2020 Mar 16 [cited 2020 Mar 17]. doi: Available from:

Improving Your Immune System

Your immune system is your defence against viruses

Your immune system is the only defence your body has against a virus (including the coronavirus), and how badly it affects you is directly related to how strong your immune system is. So protecting yourself again viruses should include
  • Washing your hands very regularly
  • Social distancing (keeping at least 1.5m away from others)
  • Strengthening your immune system

By getting your immune system stronger, you will also help reduce the chance of you spreading the virus to other people. There are a variety of ways to do this.

The Basics

  • Getting enough sleep (6-8 hrs), maintaining a healthy exercise regime, sunshine, fresh air, and keeping stress levels in check
  • Eat a healthy, well-balanced diet, with an abundance of fresh vegetables, raw crushed garlic, nuts, fresh high anti-oxidant foods (especially broccoli and kiwifruit), and good quality protein. These help to feed your beneficial gut bacteria to boost your immune resilience. (Garlic has the added advantages that it is anti-viral, plus helps with social distancing!)
  • Don’t overindulge with alcohol, as it is bad for your gut flora and immune functions.
  • If you smoke, action a quit plan.

Intermediate Help

  • Over-the-counter products such as probiotics, vitamin C, zinc, vitamin D, etc. Vitamin D reduces the chances of developing acute respiratory infections (including influenza). However stop taking vitamin D if you come down with a cold or flu, as it may make your symptoms worse.
  • Drink and gargle green tea. Even more so than drinking it, gargling green tea has been shown to reduce the rate of contracting influenza and the common cold. The tannins in green tea have also been shown to have broad anti-viral effects topically.
  • Eat probiotic foods daily. Consuming probiotic foods regularly or taking a probiotic supplement has been shown to reduce the risk of developing an upper respiratory tract infection. (if you would like to take a supplement, please talk to us about the ideal one for you.)

Advanced Level

  • To strongly improve your immune system requires professional-strength, prescription-only products from a naturopath or similar health professional. These are individually prescribed for each person, and may include specific probiotics targeting certain aspects of their immune system, high-potency supplements, or specific herbal preparations. These products are very potent and effective, but as the prescription and dosage is tailored to each individual, a consultation with the therapist is necessary.

We are currently running a special offer of a 15 minute consult with our naturopath for only $15. These can be carried out in person or by Skype or Facetime. Please give us a call if you would like to book in for one, or you can book online.

Keeping You Safe from Coronavirus

Coronavirus hygiene

Here are some of the extra precautions we are taking to help keep you safe when you visit our clinic.



  • All clients will be asked to use our hand sanitiser when they come into the clinic (and their therapist will check that this has happened)
  • Our receptionists disinfect our reception counter (including our Eftpos terminal), reception work area, front door handles, toilet door handles, etc. at least twice a day
  • Our receptionists use hand sanitiser a minimum every 2-3 clients
  • We ask our clients to swipe their own Eftpos/credit card and health fund card
  • Disinfectant spray is kept at our reception and used regularly

Social Distancing

  • The chairs in our reception area are placed 1½ metres apart
  • Naturopathy sessions can be by Skype or Facetime
  • Products can be posted to you ($10 postage)
  • You can arrange to park in our carpark, and we can bring your products to you and put them in your car

Cleaning and Sanitation

  • All rooms are disinfected at least once a day
  • Hand sanitiser available for everyone on our reception counter and in each treatment room
  • Computer keyboards in each treatment room are sterilised after each acupuncture or remedial massage treatment


  • As is already normal required practice, acupuncturists and massage therapists must wash their hands thoroughly after each treatment
  • Quality facemasks are used by all therapists
  • Our naturopaths use hand sanitiser after they have touched a client (for example taking their blood pressure)
  • Shaking hands with clients is not allowed
  • All of our staff receive free professional-strength immune supplements prescribed by our naturopath to look after their health and the health of our clients during this virus period.
  • Staff training and discussion sessions on the virus and our requirements are held regularly
  • (If a receptionist or therapist meets any of our criteria for clients not attending our clinic, they must self-isolate for at least 2 weeks)


Obviously, no-one will be allowed in the clinic who

  • has a fever, or has developed a cough, sneeze, shortness of breath, a sore throat or fatigue/tiredness within last 2 weeks. (Sneezing is not normally a symptom of the virus, however it is a major cause of spreading it.)
  • Exceptions may be provided by our Head Therapist if he determines their symptoms are not consistent with coronavirus (for example, someone who has a chronic asthmatic cough).
  • has been in contact with anyone who may have been exposed to the coronavirus
  • has been overseas in the last 2 weeks

We will refer anyone to a doctor or hospital for testing if they have any possible symptoms of the virus.

The National Coronavirus Helpline is 1800 020 080.

We ask for your patience and understanding with these requirements, which we believe are necessary and important. The situation with COVID-19 is still evolving, and we will continue to review our requirements and update them as required, to protect everyone as much as we can.

We also recommend everyone strongly boosts their immune system. Your immune system is the only defence your body has against viruses (including the coronavirus). The stronger your immune system, the less likely you are to contract a virus, and if you do, the milder your symptoms and the more quickly you will get over it.

If you would like to do this or just have your immune system assessed, we suggest booking in for a free Comprehensive Assessment at our clinic. (Terms and conditions- the Assessment is a completely free service, with no obligations whatsoever.) As the saying goes, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure, so rather than buying toilet paper, please look at protecting yourself effectively. 🙂

The Coronavirus- Now a Case of When, Not If

Computer Image of Coronavirus

With the continued spread of the coronavirus around the world, one of our leading virologists has declared that eventually everyone in Australia will contract it. Most people will experience ­it as a bad cold, however the elderly and those with heart or lung conditions will be at much greater risk.

University of QLD’s Infectious Disease expert and Virologist, Associate Professor Ian Mackay, said it was unrealistic to expec­t that the virus could be containe­d.

“It doesn’t look like that virus is ever going to go back in its box,” Professor Mackay said. “And so we’re likely to have the virus ­become what we call an endemic virus, or a virus that’s just with us for life. We already have four of these coronaviruses, mostly causing colds. We get them every year. They peak during winter but they still move around between us during­ the rest of the year as well.”

“So it’s likely this might become one of those. If that’s the case, at some point in the coming months or years we’re all going to get infected­ because we’ve all been infecte­d by these other endemic viruses. We know that they just spread among us.”[1]

Professor Robert Booy from the National Centre for Immunisation Research and Surveillance also said that COVID-19 would eventually affect a significant percentage of the population.

“It could be within a few weeks. it could be one to two months, [but] it’s going to come here,” he said. “I don’t think we can stop this.”[2]

Children Safer, Elderly More at Risk

Professor Ian Mackay also said that the age group with the most deaths from the COVID-19 virus was the over-80s. “Younger people don’t seem to be getting severe disease.”

Chief medical officer Dr Brendan Murphy confirmed that that one of the surprising features about the virus was how few children seemed to have been identified as infected.

“It’s very unusual compared to influenza,” he said.[3]

Researchers found most people only developed mild symptoms, and the fatalities occurred in people who already had serious health conditions such as cardiovascular disease, diabetes, high blood pressure or cancer.

So far, no children at all have been reported as having serious complications, and those most at risk of dying were aged over 70, with an even greater death rate in people aged over 80.

Unlike with the flu, pregnant women do not appear to be at increased risk of contracting the virus and developing complications.

Coronavirus Cases and Death percentageHow Dangerous is It?

The Australian Department of Health estimates the fatality rate in China is 3.4 per cent, however the fatality rate outside China was only 1.6 per cent.[4] (SARS had a rate of 9.6 per cent.)


For the majority of people who contract the virus, their symptoms will be minor, such as a sore throat, fatigue, coughing, and a runny nose. However, a few may develop more serious symptoms like difficulty breathing. In the most severe cases, the virus causes pneumonia, which can be deadly.

Elderly people, or those with underlying health conditions, such as diabetes or high blood pressure, are more likely to experience severe symptoms.

What We Can Do

We will never get rid of viruses, as they are constantly changing and evolving. New viruses appear every year, and any vaccine will always be one step behind a virus. So how do we protect ourselves from them?

Good Hygiene

Just like reducing the risk of catching or spreading a cold or flu virus, good hygiene is important.

  • Wash your hands frequently. Regularly and thoroughly wash your hands with soap and water, or clean them with an alcohol-based hand rub.
  • Maintain social distancing. Maintain at least 1 metre distance between yourself and anyone who is coughing or sneezing.
  • Avoid touching eyes, nose and mouth. Hands touch many surfaces and can pick up viruses. Once contaminated, hands can transfer the virus to your eyes, nose or mouth. From there, the virus can enter your body and can make you sick.
  • Practice respiratory hygiene. Make sure you, and the people around you, follow good respiratory hygiene. This means covering your mouth and nose with your bent elbow or tissue when you cough or sneeze. Then dispose of the used tissue immediately.[5]

Seek Medical Care Early

Stay home if you feel unwell. If you have a fever, cough and difficulty breathing, seek medical attention and call in advance.

Improve Your Immune System

Your immune system is the only defence your body has against the coronavirus, and how badly it affects you is directly related to how strong your immune system is.

  • Mildly Help Your Immune System- this includes getting enough rest, exercise, sunshine, fresh air, fruits and vegetables, and reducing stress.
  • Moderately Help Your Immune System- over-the-counter products such as probiotics, vitamin C, zinc, etc.
  • Strongly Improve Your Immune System- professional-strength, prescription-only products from a naturopath or similar health professional. These are individually prescribed for each person, and may include specific probiotics targeting certain aspects of their immune system, high-potency supplements, or specific herbal preparations. These products are very potent and effective, but as the prescription and dosage is tailored to each individual, a consultation with the therapist is necessary.


It is worth noting that when you contract a virus, your immune system will work out which antibodies are effective against it so that it can get rid of it. The body is then much better at dealing with similar viruses in the future, as it already has a blueprint for that type. (The more viruses your body is exposed to, the better your immune system will become.) So if you are a reasonably healthy person and you contract a mild coronavirus infection, it may actually help you resist these types of viruses when new ones develop in the future.

Free Assessment

If you would like to strongly boost your immune system or just have it assessed, we recommend booking in for a free Comprehensive Assessment at our clinic. (Terms and conditions- the Assessment is a completely free service, with no obligations whatsoever.)