Perimenopause & Menopause

Being female and getting to your mid to late forties means you may be starting to wonder what menopause is going to be like for you. Will you suffer from the dreaded hot flushes, mood swings and weight gain or will you cruise through the change of life gracefully? The answer to this question will be different for each woman depending on her genetics, stress levels throughout life, any other medical conditions, surgeries and any hormonal issues throughout the fertile years. The important thing to remember is that menopause will be much easier if you take care of your body and adrenal glands in particular during your thirties and forties.

Menopause is a time of hormonal transition, as the ovaries gradually stop functioning and cyclically producing reproductive or sex hormones. Perimenopause signifies the start of this transition phase and can last several years prior to actual menopause.

Signs you could be going through perimenopause include:

  • Highly variable hormone fluctuations
  • Cycles becoming, shorter, longer or totally irregular
  • Bleeding becoming lighter, unpredictable or heavy.

Menopause is defined once a woman has ceased having a period of at least 12 months. Most women will reach menopause between the ages of 45 and 55 and still have over a third of their lives to live beyond that, so it’s important to manage this transition in the least stressful way possible. The severity and duration of menopause symptoms vary greatly and may include:     

  • Hot flushes & night sweats
  • Bloating and or weight gain
  • Crawling and itchy skin
  • Headaches or migraines
  • Sore breasts
  • Fatigue
  • Urinary problems
  • Vaginal dryness
  • Mood swings/anxiety/depression
  • Low libido
  • Brain fog or memory problems

Aside from these symptoms once a woman has been through menopause, she is more susceptible to stress on other organs and systems including the heart and cardiovascular system, bones, thyroid, adrenal glands, pancreas, pituitary and nervous system. Once menopause occurs and the ovaries have ceased function, the female body now relies on the adrenal glands for the production of sex hormones to assist health, stamina, and vitality throughout the rest of life. The adrenal glands are also responsible for stress hormone production throughout life and this is why it’s so important to manage the stress response in middle age to make the transition into menopause smoother.

What must be remembered is that menopause is a normal process of life. This transition is part of natural ageing and as with most health conditions, prevention is better than cure. To help make the transition through menopause smoother, put practices into place early in life to ensure optimal hormonal, nervous system and cardiovascular health.

Natural Menopause Treatment

If you are experiencing perimenopause or the symptoms of menopause, the good news is, most of the time hormone replacement therapy is not necessary. There are herbal, nutritional and lifestyle supports that can help reduce unwanted symptoms and help you continue to live a full and vital life. Pairing some useful natural therapies with the right diet is very effective in helping to ease menopausal symptoms.

Dealing with menopause can be an incredible stress on your life. At Brisbane Natural Health we love working with women during this transition, helping them to regain their energy, balance their moods and get back living a life that they love. Call us on 07 3367 0337 and make an appointment with a naturopath or acupuncturist at our Brisbane clinic to help.

Like this post? Please share the love!

Natural Cures for Cold Sores

Cold sores are annoying and painful lesions that occur due to an outbreak of the herpes virus – usually HSV – 1. Over 30% of people have experienced cold sores and there are even more people that carry the virus. Once the herpes virus is contracted it remains in the body for life. It resides in the facial nerve branches and can be opportunistically reactivated by stress or damage.

Cold sore breakouts commonly occur when the body is run down, the immune system is under strain or you are nutritionally depleted. They can also be triggered by physical damage to the lips from sun exposure, very cold weather, kissing, microdermabrasion or dental surgery.


How do you treat cold sores naturally?

The natural treatment of cold sores is focused around removing the risk factors. Our naturopaths and acupuncturists work to help cold sore patients deal with stress more effectively, most their immune systems and support their health using herbs and nutritional supplements. In particular, immune boosting and antiviral herbs can be helpful to prevent outbreaks or to clear up lesion faster.

Topically, lemon balm essential oil is very useful. Applying a 20/80 lemon balm essential oil and coconut oil blend to your lips and surrounding areas at the first onset of the cold sore (when you get burning or tingling in the prodromal phase) and throughout the day to assist with healing can help to shorten the duration of the outbreak.


Lysine and Arginine role in cold sores

The herpes virus requires the amino acid arginine in order to replicate. Lysine on the other hand, has an inhibitory action on arginine, starving the cold sore virus of arginine which inhibits replication.

Using the amino acid L-Lysine can help to suppress the herpes virus, due to this inhibiting relationship with Arginine. Taking 1000mg of L-Lysine daily for prevention can help, and up to 1000 mg four times a day for an active treatment. Pairing this with some zinc and vitamin C can help with the tissue healing process.


What foods can prevent cold sores?

Foods that support your immune system can help to prevent outbreaks. In particular, berries, lemons, pineapple, onions and garlic may be useful. Read more about boosting your immunity here.

Foods higher in L-Lysine such as mung beans, fish, eggs and red meat can also help.


What foods can cause cold sores?

As mentioned above, the herpes virus requires the amino acid arginine to replicate. When you eat foods that are high in arginine, and in particular, those that have high arginine to lysine ratio, you can feed the virus and cause or exacerbate an outbreak..

These foods can trigger the herpes virus to activate:

  • Chocolate
  • Nuts (especially almonds, peanuts and cashews)
  • Coffee
  • Rice (can be high in a gluten free diet)

If you need help with cold sores call Brisbane Natural Health on 07 3367 0337 and make an appointment with one of our Naturopaths now.

Like this post? Please share the love!

Detox isn’t just for hippies, addicts, or those on a spiritual journey!

It’s a toxic world we live in.  According to the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) and the US National Toxicology Program (NTP) there are over 900 identified potential cancer causing toxins in our environment. This is not to mention the literal tens of thousands of chemicals our bodies are exposed to everyday, that may not cause cancer specifically but harm our bodies in numerous other ways.

We are exposed to toxins every day from :


  • Lifestyle factors (nutrition, tobacco use, physical activity, etc.)
  • Naturally occurring exposures (ultraviolet light, radon gas, infectious agents, etc.)
  • Medical treatments (chemotherapy, radiation, immune system-suppressing drugs, etc.)
  • Workplace exposures (chemicals in printing ink, photocopiers, fumes from car exhausts, industrial carpets, cleaning products etc.)
  • Household exposures (cleaning products, body care and hair care products, carpets, polishes and furniture finishes, water supply)
  • Pollution

For any particular person, the risk of developing cancer or other health issues as a result of exposure to toxins depends on many factors, including how they are exposed to a toxin, the length and intensity of the exposure, and the person’s genetic makeup.


There is no longer a pure, uncontaminated place on this planet. Even Antarctica, considered one of the most pristine environments on earth, has documented levels of persistent chemical pollutants like pesticides, industrial chemicals, flame retardants and heavy metals like mercury and arsenic.


With this in mind, we have two choices. We can allow toxins to accumulate in our bodies and deal with the problems when they arise; or we can be proactive and do what we can with the knowledge we now have, to minimise our exposure and enhance our body’s means of getting rid of the stuff it doesn’t need.  A regular “spring clean” or detox is like a maintenance check for our body, mind, lifestyle and environment.


Detoxing or cleansing is simpler and easier than you might think.  Fortunately we are all unique and there is no such thing as a one size fits all solution for detox or your health.  This is why its best to talk to your naturopath for a tailored and supervised program to help you get the best results in line with your specific health needs.


In the meantime here are 3 things you can do now to reduce your exposure to toxins:

  1. Filter the water you drink, even if it’s tank water. If taking water to work or school, use a stainless steel or glass water bottle rather than plastic.
  2. Exercise to work up a sweat most days. Sweating is a form of detoxification. 
  3. Replace hair and body products with toxin free alternatives. For example, coconut oil makes a great hair moisturiser and can be used to make an easy deodorant. Plant based shampoo and conditioner comes in all types. We have a selection of our favourites in store at Brisbane Natural Health.

Anne-Marie McDonald B.


Like this post? Please share the love!

Natural Treatment of Alopecia

Hair loss or alopecia is a relatively common, but often very disturbing condition affecting approximately 2% of the population worldwide, with no significant difference in incidence between men and women. Alopecia can be classed as alopecia areata (affecting patches or specific areas of hair loss) or totalis (complete hair loss). Both conditions are quite distressing and can often be associated with psychological disturbance. Even hair thinning can cause significant distress – this can be seen in both men and women. The good news is that this condition is treatable – it can take some time and persistence, but the hair does eventually grow back. There are different causes for alopecia, and these include:

  • Hormonal imbalance – excess testosterone in women or a high conversion of testosterone to dihydrotestosterone (a stronger type of testosterone which has a greater effect on hair follicles) in men and women
  • Autoimmune disease – this is where the immune cells attack the hair follicles, causing the hair to fall out
  • Thyroid disease – both hypo and hyperthyroidism can cause hair loss.
  • Nutrient insufficiencies – often low iron, zinc, folate, vitamin D, vitamin B12 and vitamin A levels have been associated with alopecia
  • Stress – affecting every system in your body, stress is a common cause of hair loss. In this case, most likely your body is prioritising the most important functions over the others and having nice hair is not considered as critical by the body in terms of its priorities
  • Scalp infections – certain infections on the scalp will cause the hair to fall out. Common infections include ringworm, Trichomycosis Nodularis and folliculitis (inflammation of the follicles) and these can all cause hair loss
  • A combination of the above factors


What can we do about it?

Finding the root cause is always the best way to treat any condition. Rather than throw a bunch of supplements and dietary advice at you and hope that something sticks, it is best to investigate underlying inflammatory, autoimmune, nutritional, infective and stress-related causes and treat these, as they are what is driving the condition. Hormones require balancing through herbal and nutritional medicine and ensuring the correct detoxification pathways are open and running effectively. This can take up to 6 months, but will also provide an improvement in skin, mood, gut and overall health.

Autoimmune conditions can take a lot longer to heal as we are retraining the immune system and working on gut health to re-establish a healthy immune response. Treating stress and nutrient deficiencies is often not too difficult with the assistance of herbal medicine, dietary optimisation and stress reduction techniques, and results can be seen earlier in these cases. When there is an infection in the scalp, we need to look at supporting the immune system to get rid of the infection, using topical agents to kill off any unwanted bacteria, as well as re-establishing the healthy balance of microflora on the skin. Whatever the root cause may be, there is always a way to assist in improving body system functions, promoting tissue repair and getting you on the way to having your hair back!

Like this post? Please share the love!

5 Signs of a Healthy Period and How to Know When it Needs Fixing

Like this post? Please share the love!Like this post? Please share the love!

Five Tips for Healthy Aging

Like this post? Please share the love!Like this post? Please share the love!

Weight loss – why is it such a big deal?

Like this post? Please share the love!Like this post? Please share the love!

Spicy Morrocan Chickpea & Lentil Soup with Chermoula

Ingredients: Serves 4-6

Chermoula marinade:

1 handful of fresh coriander or parsley

4 tablespoons olive oil

1 clove garlic

1 teaspoon ground cumin

1 or 2 fresh red chilli’s (deseeded)

Juice of 1 lemon

Zest of 1 lemon

sea salt – pinch.

Place all ingredients for Chermoula in the blender and pulse until smooth. Set aside to develop flavour.



1 tablespoon Olive Oil

1 fennel bulb, chopped

2 onions diced

3 cloves garlic diced

2 tins organic tomatoes (or 2 cups homemade chunky passata)

1/2 teaspoon ground ginger – or 2 teaspoons fresh grated ginger

1/2 teaspoon ground turmeric

1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon

4 cups vegetable broth or stock

1+ 1/2 cup dried chickpeas (soaked overnight)

1/2 cup red lentils

1/2 cup green/brown lentils

2 bay leaves

sea salt to taste

1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper

extra water to make soupier if needed.

Saute onion, fennel, garlic in the olive oil until translucent. Add the ginger, turmeric, cinnamon, pepper and allow aromas to develop before adding the tomatoes/passata. Cook for 10 minutes on low heat, stirring occasionally. Add the lentils, chickpeas, broth and bay leaves and allow to cook on low heat for approximately 30-45 minutes or until chickpeas are tender and soup has thickened.  Season to taste and serve topped with as much spicy Chermoula as you like.

Voila! Enjoy

Like this post? Please share the love!

7 Swaps to go Gluten Free

7 Swaps to go Gluten Free….

Have you been asked to trial a gluten free diet, or recently been diagnosed as gluten intolerant? Sometimes making changes to your daily food choices can become overwhelming.

Unfortunately, a common thing that happens when a new diet comes into “fashion” is that the market responds with a myriad of new food like products in attempt to make the consumer’s life and food shopping easier. The problem is, many of these food products are highly processed, high in sugar and void of nutrition, making them almost as damaging as the gluten itself.

Let’s get one thing straight…being gluten allergic (Coeliac’s disease) or gluten intolerant is NOT a fashion or a fad! In fact, gluten is one of the most difficult proteins for our bodies to digest and it is also one of the most inflammatory foods irrespectively of whether you are a Coeliac sufferer or not. If you are allergic to gluten, it is critical to your health that you avoid gluten 100%.

Just because the packet says Gluten Free, doesn’t mean its good for you!

Take a look in this list for some healthy food swaps to help you go gluten free and continue to make healthy choices.

Swap For…
Your morning slice of toast Sweet potato toast.

Homemade breads – try out some paleo bread recipes, try some gluten free alternative flours such as rice, buckwheat, fava or chickpea flour.

Your bowl of weetbix or other wheat based cereals. Quinoa Porridge

Chia Pudding

Home made muesli or granola using nuts, seeds, coconut flakes, millet, brown rice flakes etc.

An omellette

A bowl of miso soup

Your BLT or chicken salad sandwich Salad with grilled chicken or fish.

Brown rice sushi

Free range, organic bacon with tomato on a slice of homemade gluten free bread with fresh avocado

Nori seaweed sheet with smoked salmon, baby spinach, avocado and saurkraut.

Crackers Rice cakes or Quinoa cakes.

Homemade seed crackers

Home made sweet potato or vegetable crisps.

Your 3pm muffin or biscuit Make your own at home with almond flour, flax meal, coconut, tapioca flour etc. There are heaps of great gluten free or grain free recipes online.
Salad Dressing Make your own at home with extra virgin olive oil, apple cider vinegar, sea salt, pepper. Add a dash of tamari and use sesame oil for an asian twist.
Chips, crisps, snacks, desserts Sweet potato or broccoli chips are easy to make and delicious!

Dark raw chocolate.

Stew some fresh fruits and serve with coconut yoghurt in place of ice confection desserts.

So you see, there are heaps of great options when you are going gluten free and you certainly won’t go hungry. All it takes is learning to look at foods a bit more closely, along with a little planning and preparation. Start by mastering one meal at a time – you’ll be surprised how this will become your new “normal” and you will wonder what all the fuss was about to begin with.




Like this post? Please share the love!

Gluten Free Apple Turnovers

There’s nothing like warm apple pie on a cold winters evening! Here is a healthier gluten free take on a classic that is just as good if not better than the original.

PASTRY (have all ingredients at room temperature)
2 ¼ cups gluten free flour eg. Bob’s Red Mill Gluten Free All Purpose Baking flour
¼ cup tapioca flour
¼ teaspoon Himalayan salt
¾ cup xylitol or ½ cup coconut sugar or rapadura sugar
50g organic butter at room temperature
50g coconut butter at room temperature (optional –or can use 100g butter)
1 egg beaten (poor egg, you really should apologise!)
4 tablespoons organic unhomogenised milk or coconut milk

5 medium red delicious apples
5 medium granny smith apples
1 teaspoon ground allspice
¼ cup filtered water


1. In a medium size saucepan place the peeled, cored and diced apples with the water and allspice. Cook on a low heat with the lid on, stirring occasionally to prevent sticking.
Cook until tender but not mushy – about 15-20 minutes. Set aside to cool.

2. Pre-heat the oven to 180 degrees Celsius.

3. Prepare your baking trays with some non-stick bake on paper or silicon baking sheets

Place all dry ingredients in a bowl and mix well. Make a well in the centre of the mixture and add the beaten egg. Mix until combined. Add the milk and mix well. Add the soft butter and work into a dough consistency. You may need to add a little more flour if the mixture is too sticky to roll.

On a lightly floured bench, divide the dough into 12 portions. Roll a portion into a ball and then roll out to about 8mm thickness in a roughly circular shape. Place a smallish dessertspoon of cooked apple onto the centre of the pastry circle and fold into half pinching the edges of the turnover together with your fingers. Gently poke the top of each turnover with a fork to allow for breathing holes. Brush with milk and place onto your baking tray.
Repeat until your tray is full, then bake for 10-15 minutes or until golden brown.
Remove from tray onto a cooling rack and lock the doors to make sure you still have your batch for its intended!

Recipe created by Brisbane Natural Health Naturopath and Nutritionist Anne-Marie McDonald

Like this post? Please share the love!