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How Your Gut Affects Your Brain & Your Mood

The gut is the second brainThere have been a number of recent studies showing that the bacteria in our gut (microbiome) play a major role in determining our emotions. For example, gastroenterologists at the University of California performed brain scans on 40 healthy adults, and then looked at the different bacteria in their guts. Two of the strains of good bacteria were found to have very different effects on the way that brains grow and react to the outside world.

They found that those with higher levels of Bacteroides had thicker grey matter in the parts of the brain that help regulate moods (the frontal cortex, insula, and hippocampus regions).

Those with higher levels of the more common Prevotella showed less brain tissue in these same areas, but more connections between the emotional circuits [1]. These people also reported higher levels of anxiety, stress, and irritability (which are all controlled by the hippocampus).

One of the main reasons for the relationship between gut bacteria and mood lies in the connection between our regular brain and our “second brain” (the enteric nervous system) in our digestive system. Our guts don’t just turn food into energy; they make up an entire ecosystem of neurons and bacteria, both of which communicate with each other and with our head brain [2].

Many people have experienced how strong emotions can affect your digestive system. Your enteric nervous system may cause diarrhoea, nervous ‘butterflies’ in your stomach, vomiting, etc. during times of stress. Up to 90 percent of the cells in our digestive track convey information to the brain rather than receiving signals from it, so what happens in your gut may have a greater influence on your mood than your head does.

Because gut bacteria send signals directly to the brain, they may influence how brains take shape during development, causing those with different gut bacteria to have different brain structures.

A healthy human gut is home to many hundreds of different species of bacteria, all of which are affected by what we eat, where we live, and whether we take antibiotics [3]. So we are discovering that the phrase ‘we are what we eat’ applies to our minds and emotions as well as to our bodies.

If you have a digestive issue you would like to resolve, or if you suffer from anxiety, depression, or another emotional condition, feel free to book in for a free Comprehensive Assessment at our clinic. We can let you know what we think is causing the problem, if we think we can help you, and what treatments would be most effective. (Terms and conditions: the Assessment is a completely free service, with no obligations whatsoever.)

References

[1] Tillisch, Kirsten, et al. Brain structure and response to emotional stimuli as related to gut microbial profiles in healthy women. Psychosomatic Medicine. June 2017. doi: 10.1097/PSY.0000000000000493

[2] https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/the-fallible-mind/201701/the-pit-in-your-stomach-is-actually-your-second-brain

[3] https://www.psychologytoday.com/au/blog/the-fallible-mind/201712/good-mood-bad-mood-blame-the-bacteria-you-eat

Acne and Other Skin Problems?

(This article is almost entirely taken from a newsletter dated 9/2/18 from ‘The Compounding Lab’.)

The skin is influenced by other organs in the body, and this is especially true of the brain and the gut; scientists coined the term “gut-brain-skin axis” to describe the interconnection between these three systems. We understand from research and by modern studies confirming a strong associations between skin conditions (like acne, eczema and psoriasis) and both mental health problems and digestive disease.

Unfortunately, the conventional approach to treating skin problems does not acknowledge the important role of diet, lifestyle, and digestive health. Instead, it is almost entirely focused on suppressing the symptoms.

With all of this in mind, let’s compare conventional treatment with a Paleo-type diet and lifestyle for the prevention and treatment of acne and other skin problems.

Conventional Treatments for Skin Disorders

The most common treatments for acne include topical creams and gels like Retin-A, Differin, Benzac and Tazorac—which work by unclogging pores—and oral antibiotics, like doxycycline, tetracycline, minocycline, or erythromycin—which kills the bacteria that causes inflammation around the blocked pores. In teenage girls and young women, doctors might also use oral contraceptives as a means of attempting to regulate hormonal imbalances that can lead to acne. Finally, in the most severe cases of acne, doctors may prescribe a medication called isotretinoin, which was originally marketed as Roaccutane.

The effectiveness of these treatments varies. The creams and antibiotics help some quite a lot, while for others they have little effect. Oral contraceptives do seem to outperform placebo in the treatment of acne for teenage girls, but they must be taken for 3–6 months to have their maximal effect. Isotretinoin is a very powerful treatment for acne, which can even clear up severe, scarring breakouts that don’t respond to antibiotics, creams, or contraceptives.

But the potential side effects and risks of these treatments is often substantial, and in some cases, life-altering. For example:

  • Long-term use of antibiotics has a profoundly negative impact on gut health, one that we are only beginning to understand. Given that disturbances of the gut microbiota are associated with everything from anxiety and depression, to obesity and diabetes, to autoimmune disease, the consequences of taking antibiotics for months or years should not be underestimated.
  • The list of possible side effects associated with oral contraceptives is extensive. It  includes nausea, vomiting, constipation, acne, hair growth in unusual places, crushing chest pain or heaviness, extreme tiredness, DVT, fatty liver, weight gain, and swelling of the joints.
  • The possible side effects and complications for isotretinoin  are downright scary. In fact, due to the number of adverse events reported (including severe fetal abnormalities in women taking Roaccutane during pregnancy) and an FDA-issued “black box” warning, Roche stopped manufacturing Roaccutane in 2009. Roaccutane  has also been linked to inflammatory bowel diseases like ulcerative colitis and Crohn’s disease, as well as an increase in suicides and permanent memory loss.

In the case of other skin disorders like psoriasis and eczema, treatment often involves oral and topical steroids. These also come with a long list  of side effects and risks!

I don’t discount the psychological suffering that acne and other skin conditions can cause, but when dietary and lifestyle changes plus hormonal balancing can often mostly or completely resolve the condition, then it’s difficult to make an argument for putting yourself or your loved ones at risk with these medications.

So what about your hormones? Well if gut bacteria imbalances and inflammation are the two main culprits, acne is also influenced by hormones. This is because of the Gut – Liver connection. The liver has to clear out and break down excess hormones. For women , when the  androgen receptors are particularly sensitive, these hormones can trigger excess oil production and cause skin cells to become sticky, leading to clogged pores and breakouts. The androgens we look at is DHEA and testosterone, also often seen elevated in PCOS (Polycystic ovarian syndrome) . Checking your hormones levels is always encouraged for optimum health.

How can you tell if your acne is hormonal? Clues include breakouts primarily on your lower face (specifically cysts along the jawline and even down the neck) and acne flares before or during your period.

An Anti-Inflammation Diet for Skin Disorders

Acne and skin disorders are shockingly common in the modern western world, but nearly unheard of in hunter-gatherer cultures. That should tell us that there is something about our modern diet and lifestyle that is contributing to skin disease. It also suggests that returning to a way of eating and living that more closely mimics our ancestral template could be an effective means of preventing and treating skin problems.

The most important thing to understand about virtually all skin disorders is that they are inflammatory in nature.

So they key to addressing them is to follow an anti-inflammatory diet and lifestyle. For example

  • Eliminate the highly processed modern foods that provoke inflammation, such as refined flour, excess sugar, and industrial seed oils (Soy and Corn Syrup).
  • Regular physical activity, which reduces inflammation and strengthens immune function.
  • Promote getting adequate sleep, which has also been shown to reduce inflammation and support healthy immune function.Eliminate alcohol and caffeine; drink water instead.

So if your diet has been “SAD” (the Standard Australian Diet), then guess that I would expect to see some nutritional deficiencies. And yes another common cause of skin disorders in the modern world is nutrient deficiency. In the western world we are commonly overfed, but undernourished.

Yes can you believe it UNDERNOURISHED! So often we do mineral and vitamin levels in what would seem a healthy person and they are deficient in so many key nutrients. In fact, more than half of Australians are deficient in zinc, calcium, magnesium, vitamin A, vitamin B6; and about one-third are also deficient in riboflavin (B2), thiamine (B1), folate (B9) vitamin C, and iron and Iodine.

In addition to reducing inflammation, the Anti-inflammation Diet works well for skin conditions because it’s so nutrient dense. Studies have shown that the meat, fish, vegetables, fruits, nuts, seeds, and starchy tubers featured in the Paleo diet are the most nutrient-dense foods we can eat.

Finally, Paleo is a very gut-friendly diet, which is important given the strong evidence of the gut-skin connection.  So I would encourage anyone with skin disorders to do the 30 day Paleo reset anti inflammation diet. This will dramatically reduce your inflammation and reduce acne, then we can set about rebuilding a healthy microbiome and help clean the skin.

My top 10 suggestions  to rebalancing your microbiome and removing acne are

  1. Daily professional strength probiotic
  2. Anti-inflammatory  diet with loads of fibre and prebiotics (no dairy and no grains for 30 days then occasionally), AND ADD G-BOMBS in your diet (Greens-Beans-Onions-Mushrooms-Berries-Seeds)
  3. A high quality exfoliation wash with BHA (beta hydroxy acid) and AHA (alpha hydroxy acid). Use once or twice daily to remove the dead cells that block pores. We also add avocado oil for a natural antibacterial cleanse.
  4. Moisturise with a clarifying cream that is water soluble and doesn’t block the pores.
  5. Replace minerals and vitamins that are missing: therapeutic levels of zinc, calcium, magnesium, vitamin A, Vitamin E vitamin B6;  riboflavin (B2), thiamine (B1), folate (B9) vitamin C,  iron and Iodine , Molybdenum and Biotin are often needed.
  6. Good fats like Omega 3 and 6: however, they MUST be high quality.
  7. Hormonal balance with appropriate herbal treatments can be very effective in stabilising hormonal surges and mood changes.
  8. Topical B3 to dab on the acne lesion: Nicotinamide applied topically has been shown in scientific studies to improve many skin conditions, including acne vulgaris, rosacea and melasma.
  9. Exercise each day and naturally detox.Eight (8) hours sleep each night.

Cheers,

Mary-louise Condon

Bpharm  PCCA  ABAAHP

If you have a skin issue you would like to resolve, feel free to book in for a free Comprehensive Assessment at our clinic. We can let you know what we think is causing the problem, if we think we can help you, and what treatments would be most effective. (Terms and conditions: the Assessment is a completely free service, with no obligations whatsoever.)

‘Wait and See’ Best Approach with Antibiotics

A recent review found that most patients who waited up to 48 hours before taking antibiotics didn’t need them. Doctor Geoff Spurling from the University of Queensland said that “The findings of this review are reassuring on all these fronts. Antibiotic use fell from 93% in the immediate antibiotic group to 31% in the delayed antibiotic group. This is a really big reduction.”

“In 11 trials and over 3,500 participants, there was no increase in complications with a delayed script,” he said.

Australians are some of the biggest users of antibiotics in the world, which is causing a huge antibiotic resistance problem. A study by the Medical Journal of Australia found that over two million antibiotics are unnecessarily prescribed each year to Australians with colds.

“Compared to other countries with similar health systems, Australia uses an awful lot of antibiotics for respiratory tract infections. Many of these scripts are unnecessary,” Dr Spurling said.

Antibiotic resistance already contributes to tens of thousands of deaths each year,

“For some infections we are on our last line of defence with no new antibiotics in the pipeline. Imagine if we were unable to do routine orthopedic surgery, treat cancers with chemotherapy, or if people started dying from an infected skin cut or a urine infection,” Dr Spurling said.

“Delayed antibiotics is a safe and effective strategy which can make the job of reducing antibiotic use easier.”

For more information, visit this article.

We believe that the best solution is for people to strengthen their immune system. Please read our article on ‘Why a Good Immune System is Vital for Your Health‘.

Vitamin B3 Helps Prevent Miscarriages & Birth Defects

B vitamins have always been very important in pregnancy, such as B6 for morning sickness, and folic acid to prevent spina bifida in babies.

Now scientists at the Victor Chang Institute in Sydney have found that a deficiency of a molecule known as NAD is a major cause of women having multiple miscarriages, or babies being born with heart, kidney and spinal defects. This vital molecule is important for normal development of organs, and you can get it by taking B3.

The scientists gave pregnant mice with the NAD gene knocked out a regular dose of B3, and they found it prevented miscarriages and birth defects, over-riding the genetic block. The head of the Victor Chang Institute, Professor Bob Graham, said the discovery could potentially help millions of women around the world.

Studies from the United States have shown up to a third of women have low levels of NAD in their blood and aren’t getting enough B3 vitamin in their pregnancy supplements.

For more information, visit this ABC News Article on the research.

However, please note that

  • Miscarriages and birth defects can be caused by other factors apart from lack of Vitamin B3
  • B3 comes in several forms, which act slightly differently in the body
  • Higher levels are required during pregnancy
  • However, excess B3 can have side effects
  • It is important to take the right combination of B vitamins, as taking one on it’s own can cause deficiencies of other B vitamins

If you are considering starting a family, we recommend seeing one of our Brisbane naturopaths to check you are getting the right levels of B3 and other essential pregnancy nutrients (such as folic acid, iodine, zinc, etc.) in your diet or in your supplements.

Celebrating 10,000 Clients

Celebrating 10,000 clients!We have recently achieved the milestone of having 10,000 clients! Here we are presenting our 10,000th client, David, with vouchers for a free massage, acupuncture treatment and naturopathy session.

Presenting David with vouchers for free treatments

Thank you to everyone who has come into the clinic over the years, and allowed us to become part of your lives (client number one still visits us monthly!).

It is probably a good time to reflect on our journey to get here. All of my life I have had a strong desire to help others, and I loved the idea of using nature to heal the body. So soon after the start of my adult life I decided to become a full-time natural therapist. After graduating as an acupuncturist, I started treating clients from a room in my house, but this felt unprofessional. I also wanted to raise the standing and profile of natural therapies, so 21 years ago I moved to the Westlake Professional Centre and established Centenary Natural Therapies Clinic. Having other therapists meant that we could improve the lives of many more people than I could treat myself, so I found a Brisbane remedial massage therapist to work there as well. Originally the clinic had no proper rooms, only curtains, and there was no air-conditioning, so in summer we had to keep the front and back doors open to get a breeze through, and in winter we froze! We were next door to a vet, and sometimes the mournful howls of a dog alone in a cage would resonate through the clinic. Not ideal conditions! But I soon renovated the clinic, putting in 3 treatment rooms, air-conditioning, carpet, nice furniture, etc.

My philosophy was always to provide the highest standard of treatments possible, so I embarked on a quest to find the best therapists that I could (which still continues today).

So the clinic steadily grew in quality, reputation and client numbers. Five years ago, I decided that we needed larger, purpose-built premises, so we moved to the Jindalee Village shopping centre. The new clinic has 6 treatment rooms, and we used an interior designer to optimize the appearance. Each room has extra sound-proofing, is computer networked, and the 5 rooms for massage and acupuncture all have electric treatment tables. We now have 2 massage therapists, 4 acupuncturists, 2 naturopaths, and 3 reception/admin staff at our clinic. I am proud of each of them, not just because they are great at what they do, but they are all great people as well, which is even more important.

We constantly strive to provide the highest quality treatments possible, and I believe that our dedication to excellence has led us to become arguably Brisbane’s best natural therapies clinic, and certainly Brisbane’s most awarded clinic.

If you have any type of health problem, we would love to see if we can sort it out for you. Just book in for a free Comprehensive Assessment, and we can check what is going on, what has caused the problem, and the best way to sort it out. Have a great life!

Peter

How Takeaway Food Containers and Plastic Water Bottles Can Lower Fertility

Happy and healthy mother and babyNew Australian research has found that common chemicals used in cleaning products, foods, cosmetics, and plastic containers could be impacting on women’s and men’s fertility.

Dr Mark Green, a Melbourne University expert in reproductive biology, examined how endocrine-disrupting chemicals (EDCs) could negatively affect reproductive health. In a radio interview he said that chemical exposure to these chemicals could occur from a variety of sources, including the lining of tin cans and receipts.

“Overall there’s probably about 800 chemicals throughout different products that are used through our industry and all our household items. But the main ones you may have heard of, things like BPA,” he said.

“Then we’ve got things called parabens, which are sort of preservatives, those are the ones that are in our shampoos and conditioners, but also in some of our food products.

“The other class [is] probably the phthalates … they’re the things that are making plastics soft and flexible … the ones that are in soft squeezy plastic water bottles or take-away containers,” he said.

He said the chemicals were particularly prone to be ingested if the food contained in the containers was fatty.

“These chemicals love to jump into that food, so over time if we’re consuming low levels of that, then it can be built up in our bodies,” he said.

We know that people who have high concentrations of these chemicals take longer to conceive, also those people that go into fertility clinics, they’re having even higher levels in their blood and reproductive tissues,” he said.

“Unfortunately … we know that’s going to have downstream effects on their health and their children’s.”

“… It’s really just about education in terms of, don’t leave that plastic water bottle in the sun and then go back and drink it. Or don’t heat your food in those takeaway containers; put it into a bowl and then heat it.”

Basic Ways to Reduce Your Exposure to Endocrine-Disrupting Chemicals

  • Don’t re-heat food in plastic take-away containers
  • Avoid re-using soft plastic water bottles
  • Avoid handling receipts
  • Reduce your consumption of canned food

(This article is based on an ABC News item http://www.abc.net.au/news/2017-10-14/reduced-fertility-rates-common-chemicals-food-cleaning-products/9050212 .)

Related articles

Hormone Disruptors https://www.cntc.com.au/fertility/endocrine-disruptors/

Boosting Fertility Naturally https://www.cntc.com.au/fertility/boosting-natural-fertility/

Male Fertility Down by 50%

boosting fertility

An increasing proportion of men are becoming infertile, with sperm counts declining by more than half between 1973 and 2011. This is according to a review and analysis of 185 different research studies conducted on men in Australia, New Zealand, North America, and Europe. The analysis also showed that sperm counts are continuing their downward tend in these countries.

However, there was no decline in fertility for men from South America, Asia, and Africa over the same period!

The reviewers suggested that the results may be like a “canary in the coal mine” for our society. (Canaries were used in old coal mines to warn when dangerous gases such as carbon monoxide reached a certain level in the mine. These gases would kill the canary before the miners, telling them to leave the tunnels immediately.) They warn that the lifestyle and environmental factors which are gradually destroying our fertility may be damaging our overall health as well. Some of these factors include chemicals such as hormone disruptors and pesticides.

Natural therapists have long believed that many of the chemicals we are now exposed to in our daily lives can have a detrimental effect on our health and fertility. Often low fertility is considered to be due to the female partner, however male fertility problems are becoming more and more common. (For more information on fertility, please read our ‘Boosting Fertility Naturally’ article, or search for ‘fertility’ on our website.)

(Reference: http://www.medscape.com/viewarticle/883370?nlid=116919_4562&src=wnl_dne_170726_mscpedit&uac=153616SR&impID=1397224&faf=1)

New Chronic Pain Treatment

Chronic pain

Several of our Brisbane acupuncturists attended a seminar recently on the latest developments in Japanese acupuncture. There were some excellent new treatments, including one for chronic pain that is not improving with regular treatment. It is called the DLPFC treatment, and treats the part of the brain that relates to long-term pain (the Dorsolateral Prefrontal Cortex). The belief is that sometimes this part of the brain can get ‘stuck’ and keep registering the pain even after it has gone. The treatment is designed to help this part of the brain to switch off so that the person stops experiencing the old pain.

This treatment is not for everyone; it only works in cases where the condition has already been treated but the pain is still there. Having said that, some of our clients with very stubborn pain are reporting great results.

If you think that you may be a candidate for this treatment, please book in for an Assessment with Peter.

Peanut Allergy Breakthrough

No more peanut allergies?

Improving Digestion May Be the Way to Solve Allergy Problems

In a recent study by Australian researchers, children with strong peanut allergies were given a daily mixture of peanut powder and a probiotic. In 80% of cases, the children stopped having any reactions to the peanuts, and 70% of them still had no reactions 4 years later.

This is great news, and we are very pleased that the medical profession is becoming aware of the strong link between digestive health and the state of the immune system. There has been some good research in this area in the last few years.

Every case is different, however in our Brisbane Naturopath Clinic we usually find that a major factor in food intolerances and allergies is a condition known as ‘Leaky Gut Syndrome’. This is where the small intestine absorbs particles of food that are too large, and when they enter the blood, the immune system thinks they are a foreign invader and attacks them. The bacterial balance in the large intestine also plays a crucial part in the health of the digestive system (which is why giving the probiotic was so helpful in this study).

If you have digestive problems, food intolerances, allergies, or an auto-immune problem, consider taking advantage of our free Comprehensive Health Assessment.

Socks for the Homeless

Donating socks for the homelessThe Brisbane Motorcycle Street Feed group provide free hot, home-cooked meals for the homeless. Once a week they feed between 150 and 300 people, and Michael Devlin of More Real Estate is an active member of this group. In winter, Michael also collects socks for the homeless to help keep their feet warm.

We are very pleased to have donated over $500 worth of thick, hard-wearing socks to help make the lives of those without homes a little more comfy.

Brisbane Motorcycle Street Feed Facebook page