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Is Green Tea Your Friend or Foe?

How Something that is Good for Most People can be Harmful for others

Is green tea your friend or foe?Green tea is well-known for its health benefits. It is loaded with antioxidants and a variety of nutrients that have been shown to help brain function, assist with fat loss, may reduce risk of cancers, reduce your risk of heart disease, and many other impressive benefits.

So shouldn’t everyone drink green tea?

Everyone’s body works a little differently to everyone else’s. Some people naturally have more energy, have better eyesight, or better circulation, while others may react to certain foods, have dryer skin, or catch colds more easily. No two bodies ever work exactly the same.

One of the effects of green tea is to block the enzyme that breaks down histamine in our bodies (diamine oxidase, or DAO). Histamine triggers inflammation in the body, and typically causes allergy symptoms such as sneezing, redness, itching, etc. (Anti-histamine medications are often used to decrease these symptoms.) It also causes the reactions when you have a food allergy.

If you don’t produce enough DAO and are unable to break down your histamine properly, you could develop a histamine intolerance. Some common reactions associated with this intolerance include

  • Headaches or migraines
  • Nasal congestion or sinus issues
  • Fatigue
  • Hives
  • Digestive issues
  • Irregular menstrual cycle
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting

In more severe cases of histamine intolerance, you may experience:

  • Abdominal cramps
  • Tissue swelling
  • High blood pressure
  • Irregular heart rate
  • Anxiety
  • Difficulty regulating your body temperature
  • Dizziness

So if you have high histamine levels, it is best to avoid foods that contain a lot of histamine, foods that cause the body to release histamine, or foods that block DAO.

Foods High in Histamine

  • Fermented alcoholic beverages, especially wine, champagne and beer
  • Fermented foods: sauerkraut, vinegar, soy sauce, kefir, yogurt, kombucha, etc
  • Vinegar-containing foods: pickles, mayonnaise, olives
  • Cured meats: bacon, salami, pepperoni, luncheon meats and hot dogs
  • Soured foods: sour cream, sour milk, buttermilk, sourdough bread, etc
  • Dried fruit: apricots, prunes, dates, figs, raisins
  • Most citrus fruits
  • Aged cheese including goat cheese
  • Nuts: walnuts, cashews, and peanuts
  • Vegetables: avocados, eggplant, spinach, and tomatoes
  • Smoked fish and certain species of fish: mackerel, tuna, anchovies, sardines

Foods that Release Histamine

  • Alcohol
  • Bananas
  • Chocolate
  • Cow’s milk
  • Nuts
  • Papaya
  • Pineapple
  • Shellfish
  • Strawberries
  • Tomatoes
  • Many artificial preservatives and dyes

Foods that Block DAO

  • Alcohol
  • Energy drinks
  • Black tea
  • Green tea

Everything we eat or drink has an effect on the body in some way. Because every body functions a little differently, what is good and beneficial to one person’s health might be no good for someone else. For example, pears help to moisten the lungs so they can be helpful if you have a dry cough, but excessive use of pears during pregnancy may increase the risk of a miscarriage in some people.

If you are interested in finding out what foods are ideal for you, and for addressing any health problems you may have, we have two excellent naturopaths at our clinic. We also offer a free Comprehensive Assessment, to see what is going on in your body, what is causing any problems, and the best way to sort them out. (Terms and conditions- the Assessment is a completely free service, with no obligations whatsoever.) If you would like to have one done, please book soon while this offer is still available.

 

Why are My Iron Levels Low All the Time?

Low iron can make you feel tired and fatigued all the timeDo you suffer from any of these?

  • Tiredness or fatigue
  • Feeling weak
  • Getting tired easily during or after physical activity
  • Pale skin
  • Get injured easily
  • Brittle nails
  • Low immune system
  • Irritability
  • Body aches
  • Chest pains, a fast heartbeat, or shortness of breath
  • Headaches
  • Fainting, dizziness or light-headedness
  • Cold hands and feet
  • Hair and skin problems
  • A sore tongue
  • Unusual cravings, such as ice, dirt or starch
  • Poor appetite (especially in infants and children)

If so, you may be deficient in iron.

How Your Body Uses Iron

Its main use is to transport oxygen in your body, but it supports many other body and mental functions as well.

  • Iron is essential for red blood cells to carry oxygen
    One of the most important functions of iron is in the creation of haemoglobin, a protein in red blood cells, which transports oxygen from the lungs to the rest of the body. Without enough iron your body can’t get enough oxygen, leading to you feeling tired or exhausted.
  • Iron helps convert food to energy
    ATP (Adenosine Triphosphate) is the body’s primary energy source, and our cells require iron to convert the energy from nutrients into ATP. (This process is known as cellular respiration.)  Low iron means less ATP, which is another reason why low iron levels can make you feel tired and fatigued all the time.
  • Iron helps maintain a normal immune system
    Iron is necessary to produce and mature your immune cells (especially lymphocytes), which protect us from bacteria and viruses.
  • Iron contributes to normal brain function
    Iron plays an important role in maintaining normal cognitive function, including memory, concentration, alertness, learning, intelligence, language, and problem solving. Maintaining a good level of iron in our bodies helps us to ensure our brain is performing correctly and at its best.

What Causes Low Iron

Some of the common causes of iron deficiency include

  • Lack of iron in the diet – there are two types of dietary iron, haem iron (found in animal tissue) and non-haem iron. The body absorbs haem iron much more easily than non-haem iron. Dietary intake of iron could be inadequate for a variety of reasons, including a poorly balanced vegetarian diet or fad dieting.
  • Low ability to absorb iron – healthy adults absorb only about 10% -15% of dietary iron, but some people’s bodies will absorb even less. Iron is absorbed through your stomach and small intestine, so if these are not functioning well it can cause problems. Often surgery to these areas (including a gastric bypass or gastric band) will also affect how much iron you can absorb.
    The iron in plant-based foods is much harder to absorb than the iron in animal foods. So if you’re a vegetarian or vegan, it’s important to understand how to prepare iron-rich foods to make sure you absorb as much iron as possible.
  • Exercise – people who train a lot are prone to iron deficiency, because regular exercise increases the body’s need for iron in a number of ways. For example, iron is used to make new red blood cells, and hard training increases the rate of red cells being produced. Iron is also lost through sweating.
  • Inflammation – this is often overlooked as a cause of low iron, and one we commonly see in our clinic.
  • Blood loss – iron deficiency easily occurs in situations of chronic blood loss. Common causes include heavy menstrual periods, regular blood donation, regular nosebleeds, chronic disorders that involve bleeding (such as ulcers, hiatus hernia, bowel polyps or bowel cancer), and certain medications, particularly aspirin or other anti-inflammatory drugs.
  • Increased need – an adolescent growth spurt, pregnancy and breastfeeding are situations when the body requires more iron. If this increased need isn’t met, a deficiency can quickly occur.
    Babies need breast milk or iron-fortified formula for the first year. Those who have cow’s milk instead are more likely to develop an iron deficiency.

Why does inflammation matter?

In 2000, scientists discovered a compound called hepcidin, and deemed it the “Master Regulator” of iron metabolism.1 Essentially, hepcidin controls whether iron can get into and out of cells. This affects a few key processes related to iron metabolism:

  • Iron absorption from the digestive tract
  • Iron recycling from damaged cells
  • Release of iron from storage

Typically, hepcidin levels are increased when there is a high level of circulating iron. This reduces absorption of iron from the diet, reduces the amount of recycled iron released into the system, and converts more iron into the storage form, ferritin. All of this helps to protect the body from iron overload.

Inflammation can also cause hepcidin production to increase.2 The increase in response to inflammation helps our bodies defend against invading bacteria, viruses, or other pathogens. Foreign invaders need iron to survive and thrive, just as we do. Therefore, the body responds by increasing hepcidin levels, causing much of the available iron to be converted to ferritin and put into storage. The lack of iron in the blood suppresses the ability of these invaders to grow and multiply.

Ferritin levels are usually a good measure of your overall iron status, but in the presence of inflammation, they may act as an immune response marker instead of an indicator of your iron stores.

However, inflammation in the body can come from other sources apart from invaders. These include strenuous exercise, a niggling injury, contraceptive pills, digestive problems, allergies or food intolerances, inflammatory bowel disease, excess weight, autoimmune diseases, poor diet, stress, and lack of sleep.

Understanding Your Blood Test

Your blood test will often include your levels of

  • Haemoglobin – which the red blood cells use to transport oxygen from your lungs to the cells of your body
  • Serum iron – measures the level of iron in the liquid part of your blood.
  • Transferrin – transferrin is a protein in your blood that transports iron, and your body produces transferrin according to your iron needs. When its iron stores are low, the transferrin levels should increase, and your levels should be low when there is too much iron. (Usually about one third of your transferrin is being used to transport iron.)
  • Total Iron Binding Capacity (TIBC)– this is a good indirect measurement of transferrin. (A pathology lab will normally measure either the transferrin levels or the TIBC.)
  • Transferrin saturation: this is the percentage of transferrin that is filled with iron.
  • Ferritin – ferritin is the main protein your body uses to store iron, so this is a measure of the amount of iron stored in your body

The balance of these readings is often helpful in determining what is causing your low iron.

In many types of iron deficiency the transferrin and TIBC may be high. Remember that the TIBC and transferrin are not measuring the amount of iron in the blood but the ability of the blood to carry iron. When the body lacks iron, it increases the amount of transferrin to gather as much of it as it can.

(Women using the contraceptive pill will often have high transferrin levels as well.)

On the other hand, those with chronic inflammation usually have low transferrin (or TIBC).

Here is a summary of the typical test results for the common types of iron deficiency.

Iron deficiency caused by Serum iron Transferrin or TIBC Transferrin
saturation
Ferritin
Low intake, low absorption, blood loss Low High Low Low
Chronic inflammation Low Low Low Normal / high

This chart is only a very general guide. For example, after strenuous exercise, your demand for oxygen will have increased, so your levels of transferrin will be higher short term. But if you over-exercise over a long period, the chronic inflammation may cause your transferrin levels to become low. And over time, if your body is not absorbing iron as fast as it is losing it, your ferritin levels will also become low.

So interpreting blood tests correctly requires careful evaluation, and a knowledge of the person’s diet and lifestyle.

Improving your iron levels

Obviously, the most important thing is to identify and address what is causing the problem. Having said that, some of the more common considerations are

  • Diet– an increase in foods that contain plenty of iron in an easily absorbed form is often important.
  • Absorption – it is very common to find that the person’s digestive system is not absorbing iron easily, so improving digestion is necessary most of the time.
    The tannins in tea and coffee bind to the iron and interfere with absorption, so cut back on the amount of these you drink, especially around mealtimes.
  • Address any inflammation or infection – low grade inflammation can occur almost anywhere in the body for a variety of reasons, however the digestive system is a very common source.

Taking iron supplements

Don’t take these if you don’t need to.

  • Unnecessary iron supplementation can interfere with your body’s absorption of other minerals, including zinc and copper.
  • Some prescribed iron supplements can cause constipation, nausea, vomiting and diarrhoea, especially if they are taken on an empty stomach. Some can even cause internal bleeding (making the iron levels worse instead of better!).
  • About one in 300 people have haemochromatosis, which is an inherited disorder that causes the body to absorb more iron than normal. Excess iron damages their body’s tissues and increases their risk of cancers and heart disease. People with this condition need to limit how much iron they consume.

The best iron supplements are easily absorbed by the body, and contain extra vitamin C to increase the absorption rate. They contain a bio-available form of iron, and are very unlikely to cause any of the side effects associated with some of the others.

If your iron levels seem to be low all the time, just check with your doctor first to make sure there isn’t anything serious happening. Then we can check what is going on in your body and recommend the correct diet, supplements or treatment for you, to help you get your energy and spark back again. We even offer a free Comprehensive Assessment, to perform a detailed check of how your body is working and the best way to sort it out. (Terms and conditions- the Assessment is a free service, with no obligations whatsoever.) So if you would like to enjoy better energy and better health, please give us a call.

References:

  1. [1] Park, Christina H., et al. “Hepcidin, a urinary antimicrobial peptide synthesized in the liver.” Journal of biological chemistry 276.11 (2001): 7806-7810.
  2.  [2] Ganz, Tomas, and Elizabeta Nemeth. “Iron sequestration and anemia of inflammation.” Seminars in hematology. Vol. 46. No. 4. WB Saunders, 2009.

Naturopathy May be Covered Again by Health Funds

Government to Review Rebates for Natural Therapies

Naturopathy may be covered again by health fundsThe federal government stopped health funds covering most natural therapies from 1st April 2019. (Acupuncture and remedial massage are still covered.) However, after a backlash from supporters of natural therapies, the government has now commissioned a review of the evidence for naturopathy and a number of other natural therapies, to see if they should again be covered by the funds. The government had made it’s original decision based on a 2014-15 review of natural therapies, which was clearly out of date.

Here is the press release from the Minister for Health announcing the review. Government Review of Natural Therapies for Health Funds

Also, here is a video by Dr Kerryn Phelps, a high-profile GP, saying why the government preventing health funds covering many natural therapies was a bad idea. On her Facebook page, she says “As a GP and conjoint professor at the National Institute of Complementary Medicine, I will continue to fight the Morrison Government’s decision to remove the complementary therapies yoga, pilates, tai chi, Western herbal medicine and naturopathy from receiving private health insurance rebates.

Practitioners want certainty and patients want choice. Internationally, health systems are adopting complementary therapies rather than shunning them.

Thousands of practitioners and patients have gotten in touch with me due to sheer frustration at the Government’s decision that comes into effect today. The medical evidence for complementary therapies exists and they can be part of an effective medical treatment program for patients.

A total of 16 natural therapies have been banned from receiving private health rebates from April 1 because the Morrison Government thinks they lack scientific evidence. The problem is that the evidence relied upon to make this decision was out of date, with no studies included that were more recent than 2014.

Around 80 per cent of Australians use natural medicines and treatments. The move was designed to push down private health premiums, but experts admit it will have a minimal impact.

I spoke to Sky News today and said the following: “I think that the net was cast far too wide for these complementary therapies. I have asked the Health Minister to reconsider the list of prohibited therapies and particularly to remove from that list yoga, tai chi, Western herbal medicine, naturopathy and pilates so that people can continue to get value from their private health insurance for these modalities.

“I think it is very important that both sides of Government understand the importance of integrated therapies for individual choice. We have people who are integrating a variety of complementary therapies which do have support, with evidence, for their healthcare, and particularly for their preventative healthcare and for recovery and rehabilitation.

“To not be able to get the value out of your private health insurance by being able to use these therapies of choice is a very backwards step. It is certainly out of step with what is happening internationally. One example is that for low back pain in the NHS in the UK, first line therapies are tai chi and yoga, yet these are two of the therapies that are being removed from the list of subsidies for private health insurance – I think that this needs a rethink.”

Open Day Special Offer

Saturday 1st June 2019

Open Day Special OfferDiscover a Happier, Healthier You

Would you like to feel well, have more energy, get rid of a constant pain, or be free of a health problem that won’t go away?

Would you like to experience naturopathy or acupuncture, and have a 15 minute massage?

At our Open Day, you can find out if natural therapies can resolve your health issues, or help you to enjoy a happier, healthier and more vital version of yourself. The Day includes

  • 15-20 minutes with a naturopath (to find out about naturopathy, or how naturopathy can help your condition), and
  • 15-20 minutes with an acupuncturist (to find out about acupuncture, see if acupuncture can help your condition, or have a short demonstration treatment), and
  • 15-20 minutes with a massage therapist (to have a massage, or be assessed and find out if massage can effectively treat your condition)

Bookings are essential and cost just $15 (payable at the time of booking). On the day you can choose to put this value towards the cost of a full treatment at our clinic, or we will donate it to a local charity, Enhanced Care. (Enhanced Care do great work providing respite care for children and young adults with high needs/multiple impairments.)

So if you have an ongoing health problem, are tired all the time, or in pain, this special offer could be the beginning of a great new chapter of your life. Please book online or give us a call on 33766911 now to secure your place.

Moxa- Another Way of Treating Acupuncture Points

moxa on acupuncture pointsIf ever you walk into our clinic and notice a light smoky smell, don’t worry, it just means that moxa has been used in one of our treatment rooms. Moxa is one of the least-known but most effective methods of treating in Chinese and Japanese medicine. It is especially valuable in helping damaged parts of the body to fully repair and recover.

We often come across clients who have had an old injury which they sustained when they were young, that is now starting to play up and cause them pain. These are injuries that have never fully healed, and have remained as a weak area in their body. The injury starts to cause pain or stiffness over time as muscular tension increases in the area, or the location gradually becomes even weaker.

A weakness will often develop in any part of the body that has been damaged, abused or overused. For example, someone who constantly uses their eyes staring at a computer screen may find that their eyesight starts to deteriorate over time. Or a person who drank heavily when they were young will be more prone to liver problems when they get older.

Moxa is often very effective in treating these old weakened or damaged areas. It increases the blood flow into the damaged area, and stimulates the body’s healing and repair processes. It can be used to treat a damaged area that has started to play up, or even to prevent problems developing in the future.

Moxa can also be used to treat people who are scared of the idea of having acupuncture treatments.

What is Moxa?

Moxa is made by drying, crushing and sifting the leaves of a special herb (Artemisia argyi). The use of moxa is an important part of any acupuncture training, and we use it in most acupuncture treatments we perform at our clinic.

How is it Used?

There are said to be over 50 methods of using moxa, but the main techniques we use are:

    • ‘Rice-grain’ moxa, where we stand up a piece of extra-high quality moxa the size and shape of a small grain of rice on an acupuncture point. The moxa is lit with a special incense stick, it smoulders for a few seconds, then is extinguished just above the skin, so that a light warm penetrates into the acupuncture point and body. The more rice-grain moxa pieces are used on the point, the deeper the warmth penetrates into the body. Rice-grain moxa is used to treat acupuncture points.
    • ‘Cone moxa’ uses a roughly a teaspoon of high quality moxa shaped into a cone. This is also placed on an acupuncture point, lit, smoulders down, and is removed when a slight warmth is felt. (See the picture at beginning of this article.) Cone moxa is often used to adjust a treatment.
    • ‘Warm-needle’ moxa, where a small clump of moxa is placed on the handle of an acupuncture needle and lit. The heat from the smouldering moxa warms the area around the needle, and also passes down the needle deep into the body.

tiger warmer

Tiger Warmer

  • A ‘Tiger Warmer’ is a thin metal device with a stick of moxa inside it. The Tiger Warmer is stroked over an area or pressed on an acupuncture point to treat the area or point. We often recommend clients purchase one as a simple method to treat themselves at home. (‘Elephant Warmers’ are much bigger versions for treating a large area, such as the lower back for back pain, or the abdomen for period pain.)

How Does Moxa Work?

It is important to realise that the warmth from moxa has a completely different effect on the body to other types of heat. There has been plenty of research into how moxa produces its effects on the body, and many theories have been put forward, but there are no clear answers yet. Originally it was thought that the essential oils in the plant may have produced the benefits, but now it is believed that the unusual frequency of the far infra-red heat produced by the smouldering moxa causes the changes.

Grades of Moxa

For rice-grain moxa, we only use the highest grade from carefully selected, superior quality plants gathered from the Ibuki Mountain in Japan during midwinter. This moxa consists of the hairs from the leaves of the plants, and is so pure that virtually no smoke is produced when it burns. This grade is known as ‘Gold moxa’ due to its colour (and possibly its scarcity and price!).

For cone and warm-needle treatments, we use Extra Pure Wakakusa Grade moxa, a very high quality moxa from the leaves of the plant.

History

Moxa has been used as part of acupuncture treatments for around 3,000 years, and some people believe that it was even used to treat people before acupuncture was developed. In Japan, it is traditional for a child to receive a moxa treatment from the head-man of their village whenever they have a birthday, to ensure good health for them. And in China, the soldiers used to carry moxa kits, so that when they couldn’t march any further, they would moxa themselves so they could keep marching.

After World War II, the Americans occupied Japan, and banned the use of acupuncture and moxa, believing them to be barbaric and primitive practices. They had no idea how much opposition they would encounter! Traditional practitioners banded together and mounted a massive campaign, enlisting the help of doctors and scientists who understood the value of these practices. After a long legal battle, the therapists prevailed, and so these practices survived.[1]

In Japan, moxabustion (treatment by burning moxa) is considered a therapy in its own right, and there is separate registration for acupuncturists and moxabustionists. However, most acupuncturists incorporate some degree of moxa treatments in their practice. It is common in Japan for acupuncturists and moxabustionists to teach their clients how to perform simple moxa treatments on themselves at home for their condition, and platform or ‘stick-on’ moxa is commonly sold in various shops as a form of self-treatment. The person sticks the small cylinder of moxa on the painful spot, lights it, and removes it when the right level of warmth is felt.

So if you notice a light smoky smell when you come to the clinic, you know that someone has just had their body boosted and strengthened!

For more information about moxa and how it may be able to help you, please talk to Peter or one of our other acupuncturists.

[1] Practical Moxibustion Therapy, by Junji Mizutani, R.Ac., 1998

New Weight Loss and Hormonal Balance ProgramMetabolism and hormone balance program

Metabolic Balance

‘Metabolic Balance’ is a hormone and metabolism re-balancing program, designed to reset your body’s metabolic functions. In a nutshell, it helps you use energy and burn fat at your body’s optimum level.

The program was developed by German nutritional medicine expert Dr Wolf Funfack and food scientist Silvia Bürkle, and is the result of 25 years of scientific research. After a detailed blood test, your results are sent to Germany, where your inflammatory markers, blood glucose levels, TSH thyroid results, and many other factors are analysed. A diet is then designed for you to regulate your hormone levels, particularly your insulin, and optimise your health.

So each Metabolic Balance diet plan is completely unique. An individual nutrition plan is provided which specifies healthy and varied meals, and an android app is available for assistance.

The program consists of 4 phases over 4 months to reset your body. It is based on sound scientific research, and the program is suitable for the vast majority of people but not for everyone. It is most beneficial for those who have excess fat that refuses to budge even after doing all the right things, or those with stubborn hormone problems. However, it is also great for those who just want to optimise their health and wellbeing.

We believe that the Program may well be

  • the most scientific
  • the most advanced
  • and the most individually tailored

health and weight loss system available.

The Four Phases of the Program
• Phase 1. This phase begins the process of detoxification and elimination and is key in preparing your metabolism for the next phase. (Phase 1 lasts for 2 days.)

• Phase 2. For the first two weeks, you must eat only the foods specified in your personal nutrition plan. After that, the occasional treat meal will be reintroduced into your diet, which you can enjoy whatever you like. During this phase, your metabolism will slowly start to adjust and become more efficient.

• Phase 3. This is the relaxed-adjustment phase. During this phase, you can begin to bring in additional foods to your daily meal plan. With your body’s new and heightened sense of awareness, you should instinctively know which foods are right for you. You can also now enjoy an occasional treat meal or even a glass of wine. More important, you will learn how to take a healthy approach to special occasions. Your Metabolic Balance therapist will continue to support you and monitor your progress during this phase.

• Phase 4. The maintenance phase is the final phase. On the basis of your knowledge of and experience with the previous three phases, you may now experiment for yourself and get to know which foods are right for you. You can begin to slowly ease yourself away from the plan, while still following the nutrition advice you have learnt during the program. (Even at this stage, you will be able to remain in contact with your Metabolic Balance therapist.)

One of our naturopaths Margaret McNamara has completed the training to become an accredited Metabolic Balance therapist, so we are now offering this remarkable program.

If you would like to find out how well the program would work for you, please book in with Peter for a complimentary Health Assessment. (Terms and conditions- the Assessment is a completely free service, with no obligations at all.) Or, if you have already had a consultation with Margaret within the last 6 months, you can send us an email and she can advise if you are a suitable candidate.

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.