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Stress the Destroyer

StressStress can be a healthy thing; our stress response is there to help us deal with challenging or dangerous situations. If a tiger jumps out at you from behind a tree, your heart suddenly beats faster, your breathing gets faster, various muscles will tighten, your blood sugar levels rise, and non-emergency systems in your body are suppressed (such as your digestive system).  Your body is now in ‘Fight or Flight’ mode, which is great for emergencies.

We usually don’t encounter too many tigers in our lives, instead in our society we often have lots of little stressful situations throughout our day. Rushing to get ready in the morning, fighting the traffic, work pressure, family hassles, money worries, etc. Most of these pressures are based on a fear of not enough, and lack of time is one of the big ones.

Time Pressure

In this fast paced age, we hear that every minute counts. Day after day, week after week, all this pressure to achieve, meet goals, finish daily tasks, begins to build up inside of us until one day we are locked in the throes of time pressure. A chief contributor to time pressure is emotional identity. This happens when you invest a great deal of mental and emotional energy in a situation. All that energy can create tunnel vision, leaving you unable to see or appreciate other important things in your life. When someone or something interferes with that focus, the result frequently is irritation, anxiousness and frustration, especially when deadlines must be met. You push people away, neglect other areas of your life, but still proceed until eventually you lapse into emotional chaos. In the end, time pressure can seriously damage not only your relationships and quality of life, but even the situation in which you buried yourself to the exclusion of all else. Time pressure takes a toll on our nervous, immune and hormonal systems, and left unattended will likely produce cycles of anxiety, fatigue and temporary despair. As this process continues it makes us more susceptible to health problems.

Time Pressure Symptoms

Always rushed, too much to do, not enough time; mentally scattered, not feeling in control, tunnel vision, irritation at anyone or anything that breaks your focus, internal pressure, a gnawing feeling in your solar plexus, impatience, lack of compassion for self and others, feeling a constant slow burn inside, low grade stress and strain, feeling disconnected from life, decreased enjoyment of projects, relationships or life in general.

How Stress Affects Your Health

Stress is so common and has such a broad effect on the body that it is often a factor with almost any health problem. However, here are the most common ways it can affect you.

  1. Your Physical Body

We have already mentioned the physical changes in your body that stress causes, so let’s look at how these can affect your health.

  • Your heart beats faster and harder, increasing the risk of high blood pressure, heart problems and strokes
  • Various muscles tighten, often causing back, neck or shoulder problems
  • Blood sugar levels are raised, increasing the risk of diabetes
  • Non-emergency systems in your body are suppressed, so your digestion, immune system, and reproductive system (including your hormones and fertility) are disrupted. (Because your stomach is a muscular organ, it is particularly affected; in Japan, the stomach is sometimes referred to as ‘the reflection of stress’.)
  1. Your Energy Levels

Adrenaline and the other hormones we produce when we are stressed are stimulants. So too much stress over a long time will leave your body drained and depleted, causing you to constantly feel tired or burnt out, and can even lead to adrenal exhaustion or Chronic Fatigue Syndrome.

  1. Your Mental and Emotional State

Short-term stress can be a good thing- it can help stimulate your body and mind so that you can meet a deadline, perform better at sport, or cram for an exam. However, prolonged stress often causes the body to get stuck in the ‘Fight or Flight’ emergency mode all the time. When this happens, the constant mental or emotional stress accumulates in the body, causing the person to feel tense most of the time. Because of this accumulated stress in their body, any stress has a bigger effect on them than usual, and they may react more strongly to situations, so their internal stress builds up even more. Because of this, they may feel they don’t have much control of their life, which can create additional stress for them. Over time, this accumulated stress may manifest as anxiety, depression, poor sleep, irritability, cloudy thinking, relationship difficulties, panic attacks, etc.

  1. Fertility

When your body is stressed, it puts everything that isn’t directly related to survival on the back burner (like reproduction). Plus, stress and fertility involve many of the same glands and pathways – when stress hormones are being released in the brain, they wreak all kinds of havoc with your reproductive hormones.

Your pituitary gland is the link between your hypothalamus (brain) and your endocrine system (hormones). It communicates with your ovaries through your bloodstream; first, it releases hormones that tell your eggs to mature, and then it releases hormones that cause ovulation. When you’re stressed, the hypothalamus and pituitary gland are engaged in another chain reaction; the hypothalamus releases a hormone called CRH, which causes the pituitary to produce another hormone (ACTH), which in turn triggers the adrenal glands. This stress circuit temporarily shuts down your other hormonal systems, including reproduction, so your body can divert all of its energy into dealing with the perceived threat.

Or, in simpler terms: if your brain is busy with stress, it may not send the right messages to your ovaries, which means you won’t ovulate. If there’s no egg, the sperm have nothing to fertilise naturally, and you won’t fall pregnant. Even if you are still ovulating, some studies suggest that stress can reduce blood flow to the uterus and cause issues with implantation.

The Stress Solution

We often hear people say that they realise how stress is affecting them, but they can’t do anything about it. They can’t change the way their kids are behaving, they can’t quit their job, the bills keep coming in, etc. They also don’t have time to meditate, exercise or take time out every day. The answer is to clear out the accumulated stress from their body, which allows them to feel calm, relaxed, in control, and not get stressed easily. Usually this involves calming and relaxing the nervous system, and switching it from ‘Fight or Flight’ to the healthier ‘Rest, Repair and Reproduce’ mode. Often we will need to settle the person’s adrenaline levels down as well, particularly if they are feeling tired all the time. Acupuncture and naturopathy are both excellent for correcting the nervous system and the adrenaline levels. (A combination of the two is often ideal.)

If you suspect that stress may be an issue for you, please book in for a free Comprehensive Health Assessment so that we can check and let you know the extent of accumulated stress in your body, as well as the best way to treat it.

Read Your Way to Better Health

Taking the time to read and learn something new may not seem like it would impact our health, but it has multiple benefits.

When you read and relax, your heart rate and adrenal system gets a rest (research done in the UK in 2009 showed reading to be more effective at reducing stress than tea, music, and even walking). Keeping your brain active keeps it healthy, and can stave off Alzheimers in people who don’t carry the gene. It reduces muscle tension, and can help you sleep. 

So: pick up that book you’ve been meaning to read. Your body and brain will thank you.

Australian Natural Medicines Lead the World


Extensively tested for naturopaths‘Practitioner-Products’ are only available from qualified practitioners who are equally invested in your health and wellbeing.

Australian Natural Medicine companies lead the world in manufacturing nutritional and herbal supplements. In contrast, supplements manufactured in other countries, including the US, may not always meet the quality and safety standards expected by consumers.

Manufacturing standards are not as stringent in the US, China, India or elsewhere as they are in Australia. Products produced in some of these countries may have elevated levels of heavy metals, pesticides, or microbial contaminants as they are not screened for these in many countries. They may also contain low levels of stated herbal active ingredients, the wrong herb entirely, or be adulterated with other unknown ingredients. This poses a serious risk to unwell and vulnerable patients.

The Australian made supplements we provide are extensively tested throughout their production.

  • Herbal ingredients are tested before they go into a formula to ensure the correct material is used
  • Nutritional ingredients are tested to ensure the correct composition
  • Products are manufactured under stringent Good Manufacturing Practice conditions
  • Finished products are then tested again to confirm that active ingredients have survived the manufacturing process
  • Microbiological tests are performed to ensure safety before release
  • Products are placed on stability trials so that you know what is on the label is in the product

Australian regulations insist upon the manufacture of natural medicines to pharmaceutical standards. In most countries supplements are considered “foods” so it is not compulsory to perform any of the above tests. For example, studies have confirmed that a high percentage of US made products do not contain ANY of the ingredients or contain different ingredients than stated on the label.

Your health is the most important asset you have. Nurture it and be rewarded by the investment.

You deserve the best!

(Based on a 2016 handout by Biomedica Nutraceuticals)

Simple Ways to Help New Parents

 new parents, acupuncture for fertility

When friends or family have just had a baby, it can be hard to know how to help – especially as going around to visit or drop something off might wake them or the baby, or interrupt them when they’re too stressed or tired to deal with visitors. Here are some simple ideas that may make the perfect offering for your loved one.

Food deliveries that can sit on the doorstep are ideal – make a laminated sign that they can stick on their door saying “baby and parents sleeping” so people know that it’s not a good time to knock or ring the doorbell. Ask that people put the food in an esky or send something that won’t go off if it’s sitting outside for a few hours (like dry pancake mix, dry pasta and a jar of good vegetable sauce, etc) while parents and baby are unavailable.

Cleaning services can be wonderful for new parents who just don’t have the time or energy to clean their house – they may not be comfortable with family or friends scrubbing their toilet, so getting a few people to chip in for a professional cleaner might be the best option. Have them come at a regular time every week or fortnight, so that the new parents are prepared for their arrival.

Similarly, a laundry service can be a wonderful thing – organising for them to just put their clothes somewhere that they can be picked up, and then dropped back off clean, dry and folded. A professional service may, again, be preferable here as they may not be comfortable with family or friends doing their laundry.

Many new mothers suffer various aches, pains and issues after the trauma of giving birth – from issues with bladder control to aching muscles. A voucher to come and see a natural therapies provider who can help them alleviate those symptoms can be a wonderful thing – they can book when they have time and feel up to it, and a little pampering and care for them during this transitional period can make a huge difference.

‘Don’t See a Natural Therapist!’

Proper Assessment is CrucialRecently a Facebook post on a local community page was critical of natural therapists, saying you should not see one “instead of seeing a real doctor who uses the most modern, advanced and scientific practices.” This article is based on our reply.


I do not believe that conventional medicine always has all the answers. We receive a constant stream of clients coming to us who have been to their doctor or specialist, who haven’t been able to identify what their problem is, or are unable to provide a satisfactory solution for them. Many of these are chronic conditions such as digestive problems, immune problems (including allergies and food intolerances), period problems, fertility, long-term pain, constant fatigue, and a variety of significant chronic diseases, such as diabetes, etc. Natural therapies work by IMPROVING the body and how it is working, to allow the body to heal itself.

As a very basic example, if someone is constantly suffering from colds and flu, we would improve their immune system to help prevent that happening in the future. Since the immune functions are strongly connected to the digestive system, this may involve improving their digestive system also. Conventional medicine usually works on relieving the symptoms rather than improving the body, whereas we believe in treating the causes of the problem as well as the symptoms. Side-effects from natural therapies are very rare, and if you can solve a patient’s health problem naturally, without resorting to drugs or surgery, I think they will usually be better off.

So there is a place for both approaches, hence the term ‘Complimentary Medicine’ for natural therapies. Obviously there will be many cases where conventional medical treatment is important, and there will also be many cases where natural therapies work best. The ideal is for both camps to work together for the highest good of the patient. Hence we have patients referred to us by doctors, and we refer some of our patients to doctors as well.

There are a number of doctors who specialise in ‘Nutritional and Environmental Medicine’, which is virtually what naturopaths do. Please check out the website for some basic information about the approach of these doctors (and of naturopaths). There are also many doctors who only use acupuncture to treat their patients, or use it in conjunction with conventional medical treatment. I personally have two colleagues who are doctors but choose to practice natural therapies instead, and four other colleagues who practice both as GPs and as natural therapists. So the two approaches are not mutually exclusive.


  • These days naturopaths and acupuncturists 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. (Our naturopath actually has two Bachelor of Health Science degrees, one in Naturopathy and one in Western Herbal Medicine.)
  • Acupuncturists are also registered with the Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency (AHPRA), which is the government authority responsible for registration of doctors, pharmacists, dentists, podiatrists, etc.
  • The Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) allows properly qualified and registered natural therapists to prescribe ‘For practitioner dispensing only’ products, which are more powerful natural therapy supplements, not available over the counter.
  • All ‘For practitioner dispensing only’ products are formulated from extensive scientific research on the effectiveness of their ingredients for the condition. (Details of this research is available from all ‘practitioner only’ suppliers.)
  • Acupuncture treatments are covered under Workcover.
  • It is important to use a natural therapist that is registered with a professional Association. That way you know they will be properly qualified, have to adhere to a professional Code of Conduct, registered with health funds, and required to undertake Continuing Professional Development studies.

As you can see, these days naturopaths and acupuncturists are starting to be recognised as genuine health professionals.

It is also worth noting the following.

  • 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. (However, 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 the 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.


As is the case with all primary care health professionals, it is important that natural therapists can determine when a patient needs to be referred to a medical doctor. This is an essential part of naturopathy and acupuncture courses, and is also a key part of providing the best possible care for your patient.

Every health professional will have their own methods of evaluating the body. For example, a dentist, physio or an optometrist will perform a different examination on a patient to a GP. Our approach to health problems is different to that of medical practitioners, since our aim is to improve the patient’s body so that it can correct the problem itself. To sort out a patient’s health, we first need to be able to evaluate how their body is functioning. Some of the things we may wish to check can be determined by blood tests, so we may request that a patient obtain one if we need to evaluate their iron levels, cholesterol, thyroid hormones, ESR, check their kidney function, etc.

However, there are many things that are important to us that a blood test or scan cannot determine, such as if the patient has low levels of stomach acid (a common cause of many digestive problems), the extent of man-made toxins in their liver, the extent that stress is affecting their nervous system, if they have a chronic sub-clinical sinus infection or small intestinal bacterial overgrowth (SIBO), etc. So naturopaths and acupuncturists have developed their own systems of evaluating the health of different aspects of the body, including whether a particular organ is overactive or underactive. Of course, if something showed up as a serious concern, we would refer that patient to a GP for the appropriate medical tests as well.

The Japanese palpation assessment can be used to quickly evaluate how well the digestion, liver, immune system, thyroid, adrenals, large intestine, lungs, and nervous system are functioning. It also indicates the level of toxins in the body, how good the patient’s internal circulation is, their level of stress and anxiety, structural alignment issues, hormonal imbalances, and blood sugar imbalances. It can also be used to confirm the improvements that are taking place in the patient’s body from their treatments.

The ancient Chinese actually knew a fair bit about the body and how it works. For example, they discovered that the heart pumped blood continuously around the body 2,000 years before it was discovered in the west.


The ancient Chinese had a great healthcare system. Everyone would be under the care of a local therapist (acupuncturist or herbalist), and you paid your therapist while you are well, and stopped paying them when you were not! This not only made healthcare more affordable, but also placed a heavy emphasis on the therapist preventing any diseases developing in their patients.

Unfortunately, Australia is currently heading towards a future health ‘crisis’, with an ageing population and government medical costs increasing rapidly. In the US, it is predicted that by 2025, chronic diseases will affect 49% of the population. People with chronic conditions already account for 81% of hospital admissions, 91% of all prescriptions filled, and 76% of all doctor visits. Australia is expected to follow the same path; people are living longer, but are more likely to suffer from disease and poor health in their later years. Because natural therapies focus on improving the body and increasing the patient’s health, they can play a huge role in the prevention or improvement of many illnesses. (I sometimes jokingly tell my clients that my job is to put the nursing homes out of business.)

Thanks for your interest in this topic Andy. Natural therapies are such a huge area that it is only possible to cover some very basics in a forum such as this. Some things are also far easier to demonstrate than to describe, so if you would like to find out more and experience what we do, it would be worthwhile booking in with us for a free Comprehensive Assessment.

Tiredness vs Fatigue

Tired Girl

It can sometimes be hard to tell if we’re just tired, or suffering from adrenal fatigue. Only a trained medical specialist will be able to tell you for sure, but here are some basic hallmarks to help you figure out whether you should see a doctor – or (and!) just try to get some more sleep.


  • is the direct result of physical, emotional or mental exertion, or lack of sleep
  • can make you feel irritated and forgetful
  • can be relieved through rest alone


  • has a wide range of causes and contributing factors
  • does not significantly improve with extra sleep and rest
  • can be characterised by any or all of the following: difficulty concentrating, anxiety, a gradual decrease in stamina, difficulty sleeping, dizziness, impaired reflexes/slower response times (both physical and mental), poor immune system, loss of appetite and increased sensitivity to light
  • may result in withdrawal from friends, family and social activities

If you suspect you’re suffering from chronic fatigue, it’s important to see a medical professional sooner rather than later; early detection and treatment can shave weeks, months or even years off your recovery time and rule out serious disease or dysfunction as the cause of your ongoing exhaustion.

How to Choose a Good Massage Therapist

Remedial Massage Brisbane

There was an article in the South West News/ Springfield News (24/2/16 edition) about ‘dodgy’ massage therapists. This topic is of great importance to us, as an entire profession is being tarnished by a small number of unscrupulous or unqualified individuals. We have heard a variety of complaints regarding various massage therapists, ranging from receiving no benefit from a treatment, to worsening their condition, to actual sexual assault. The right remedial massage therapist can make a huge difference to your health and wellbeing, by relieving muscular and structural pain, reducing muscular tension, improving your circulation, and relieving accumulated stress in your body. We strongly recommend that anyone seeking a massage treatment observe the following guidelines.

1. Safe Environment?
Never visit a massage therapist in their home, or in an isolated environment, or have them come to your home, unless you are very sure about them.

2. Are They Qualified?
Ask what their qualifications are, and where they studied. If you have any doubts at all, ask to see their diploma or certificate, which should be on display or easily accessible by them.

3. Are They Registered?
Ask if they are registered with a professional Association, and if their treatments are claimable from health funds. Do not deal with a therapist that isn’t registered with an appropriate professional Association!

4. Are They Professional?
You will need to provide your relevant personal information (such as your full name, date of birth, and contact details), particulars of what you are seeking a massage for, the history of your condition, and any other relevant health information. (For you to be able to claim from your health fund, the therapist must carry out a thorough consultation and assessment prior to your massage, and keep detailed records of your treatment.)

5. Professional Premises?
Do the premises look clean and the staff appear professional in speaking with you? Medibank Private will only allow claims for massage treatments carried out in a ‘clinical’ setting, and not a ‘retail’ setting, such as beauty, relaxation or recreation premises. Are the rooms purpose-built with sound reduction to avoid conversations being overheard, or do they just use curtains? How does their website look? Does it have detailed information about each therapist?

For Therapeutic Massage

If you are looking for a therapeutic massage rather than a relaxation massage, please also ask the following.

6. Experience as a Therapist?
Find out how long they have been practicing. It is also worthwhile asking how long they have been working at their current clinic.

7. Experience with Your Condition?
Don’t be afraid to ask this question. Is this an area that they specialise in, or is it something they rarely treat?

For the Best Possible Treatment

It is good to also check

8. If You are Not Happy?
What will happen if you are not happy with your treatment or results that you obtain? (A highly reputable clinic will provide a refund if you are not satisfied with their work.)

9. Clinic or Home?
There is no selection process for a therapist working from their home, or renting a space in another business. A reputable clinic will be very careful about the quality of the therapists that work from their premises. Also, a clinic will normally be able to keep providing treatments for you if your regular therapist is sick or on holidays. And a professional clinic will usually offer Hicaps services, so that you can claim from your health fund on the spot.

Finally, if you are not happy with anything, please complain to the owner, or speak to the therapist’s Association.

As we mentioned earlier, correctly performed massage treatments can make an enormous difference to your health and the quality of your life. Not only that, they can leave you feeling great!

At Centenary Natural Therapies Clinic, we guarantee to have the best therapists in Brisbane- if you think you have had a better massage anywhere else, we will give you your money back! We have chosen the best possible remedial massage therapists, carefully selected for their skills, knowledge and experience. Each of them is fully qualified, has around 15 years experience, and is a member of a professional Association. If you want to quickly and effectively sort out your muscle stiffness or pain, please book in to see us soon.


Acupuncture and Fertility

acupuncture in brisbane

Acupuncture reduces stress, which increases fertility

When people are under stress, the hormone cortisol is released in the brain. This disrupts hormone levels, and that in turn impacts fertility – in fact, stress can stop ovulation entirely or cause spasms in the uterus and fallopian tubes (preventing implantation). Acupuncture releases endorphins, which counters the effects of cortisol and reduces stress.

If you’d like to learn more about the use of acupuncture for fertility, we’d love to hear from you – you can get in touch with us here.

All About Vitex

brisbane natural fertility treatmentVitex is another name for chaste tree berry (“vitex agnus castus”), a very popular and effective herbal medicine that helps promote ovulation. Essentially, it does this by preventing your pituitary gland from producing too much prolactin; prolactin inhibits ovulation. It also has opiate-like constituents, which can help calm your nervous system.

While it can do people a world of good, it should always be used under the supervision of your primary care physician, as it’s an incredibly potent herb and can cause more problems than it solves when used incorrectly, or for too long a period of time.

Some things to consider before starting Vitex include:

How long you’ve been off the pill

If you’ve just come off the pill, it’s important to give your pituitary gland and ovaries some time to learn to “talk” to each other again before introducing a strong herb – if you give it some time, you may find you don’t need Vitex at all.

If you’re already taking fertility drugs (including IVF)

Combining Vitex with ovulation-stimulating drugs can result in a serious condition called ovarian hyper-stimulation syndrome.

Where you are in your menstrual cycle

Because Vitex is intended to promote ovulation, you should be taking it during your follicular phase (prior to ovulation). If you have irregular periods, it may be difficult for you to determine when that is. A good rule of thumb is to start taking it as soon as your period has ended, and take a break when your next period arrives (taking a break helps it to remain effective).

If you suffer from PCOS

If you suffer from PCOS, it is possible that Vitex may make things worse. It can raise levels of luteinizing hormone in the body, and for some types of PCOS, levels of this hormone in the body are already way too high.


While Vitex is available over the counter, again, we strongly recommend talking to your primary care physician before you start taking it as it is incredibly potent, and may not be right for your specific condition.

If you have a health issue, we recommend booking in for a free Comprehensive Assessment at our clinic. 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. (Terms and Conditions- the Assessment is a completely free service, with no obligations whatsoever.)

How Stress Can Affect Your Fertility

If you’ve been trying to get pregnant for a while, you’ve probably had dozens of well-meaning friends tell you to just relax, to stop actively trying and it’ll happen. While this gets more frustrating than reassuring very, very quickly, there is a kernel of truth to this: studies show that stress can affect your fertility, and make it much harder for you to fall pregnant.

The pituitary gland is the link between your hypothalamus (brain) and your endocrine system (hormones). It communicates with your ovaries through your bloodstream; first, it releases hormones that tell your eggs to mature, and then it releases hormones that cause ovulation. When you’re stressed, the hypothalamus and pituitary gland are engaged in another chain reaction; the hypothalamus releases a hormone called CRH, which causes the pituitary to produce another hormone (ACTH), which in turn triggers the adrenal glands. This stress circuit temporarily shuts down your other hormonal systems, including reproduction, so your body can divert all of its energy into dealing with the perceived threat.

Or, in simpler terms: if your brain is busy with stress, it may not send the right messages to your ovaries, which means you won’t ovulate. If there’s no egg, the sperm have nothing to fertilise, and you won’t fall pregnant. Even if you are still ovulating, some studies suggest that stress can reduce blood flow to the uterus and cause issues with implantation.

If you’ve got a stressful job or are really invested in getting pregnant (as most prospective parents are), it’s not as easy or simple as just deciding to be less anxious. There are natural treatments like herbal medicine and acupuncture which can help get your stress levels down, and your system back on track, before you decide to try more invasive methods like IVF or artificial insemination. If you’d like to know more, contact the clinic and we’ll be able to provide some natural fertility advice based on your specific situation.