5 Home remedies to beat the cold weather and change of season blues

1 – Essential Oil antiseptic blend – for cold, flu, sinus congestion, stuffy nose and headache.

Add to water :

Eucalyptus oil 5 drops

Lavender oil 5 drops

Peppermint oil 3 drops

Tea Tree Oil 3 drops

*Use to inhale over a bowl of steaming hot water: Place oils into a litre of boiling hot water. Being careful not to tip it on yourself, place a towel over your head and the bowl to create a steam chamber for you to inhale the essential oil vapours and clear a stuffy head.  

*In a diffuser or oil burner to imbue the home or office with cleansing, refreshing, smells. Place the oils into the water chamber as directed by your choice of diffuser.

2 – Chesty night – time cough relief – suitable for infants through to adults.

You will need:

4 slices of fresh onion

A couple of drops of olive oil

Cling film/plastic wrap

Thick socks

A willingness for your bedroom to smell like soup in the morning. (A small price to pay for cough relief during the night)

Before bed, rub a small amount of oil on the soles of the feet. Careful place the sliced onion rings on the soles of the feet and hold in place with the cling film.  Pull your socks over the top and hop into bed. The sulfur compounds in the onions will infuse through the blood-stream into the lungs and help relieve mucous congestion and cough. Works great on kids. A jump-suit or one-piece outfit is recommended to prevent babies and toddlers distributing the onions all through the room/house.

3 – Home – made cough syrup

You will need:

1 large red onion

1 small chilli (optional)

Approximately ½-1 cup raw honey

Slice the onion into rings and dice the chilli. Place into a wide mouthed glass jar.  Cover with honey and allow to steep in a cool place for 1-3 days. To relieve a dry or raspy incessant cough or scratchy throat, take a teaspoon full of the mixture as required.

4 – Sniffle Tea – A brew for your stuffy nose…

You will need:

1 lemon, washed well.

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1/8th teaspoon cayenne

2 teaspoons grated fresh ginger

2 teaspoons raw honey

3 tablespoons apple cider vinegar

600ml boiling filtered water.

Cut the lemon in half and squeeze the juice into a tea pot or coffee plunger. Drop the skins in there as well.  Add the remaining ingredients and allow to brew for 10 minutes before drinking. Great for hayfever, sinus and sore throat. If you’re super keen you can also add a clove of fresh raw garlic crushed for extra antibacterial punch!

5 – Circulation Boosters – help keep your hands and feet warm in the cold weather.

As you know exercise, and a hot bath do wonders for improving circulation, but you can also include certain foods in your diet to keep your blood circulating happily:

Try:

Cayenne Pepper – Take a pinch of cayenne pepper in a cup of warm water with a teaspoon of black strap molasses. Drink 1-2 cups daily.

Turmeric & Ginger – Replace your morning coffee with a hot turmeric latte. Spice it up with some ground ginger, cardammon, cinnamon and raw honey.

Make soups, curries and casseroles with extra chilli, garlic, rosemary and turmeric to help keep your blood thin and metabolism on the go.

Snack on some almonds, walnuts, macadamias and your favourite nuts and seeds as a good source of the circulation boosting vitamin E.

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5 ways to combat cold & flu season

In Traditional Chinese Medicine, we believe our bodies have a type of Qi, or energy called “Wei Qi”. Wei Qi is our protective Qi and is located on the surface of the body. You can think of Wei Qi as the immune system – its job is to keep out invaders such as harmful viruses and bacteria.

As an acupuncturist, I’m always being asked by patients how they can increase their immunity at this time of the year. While most people know the importance of washing their hands there are a number of other ways you can help keep those bugs away. In addition to Acupuncture here are a few simple things you can do to help improve your immune system.

Exercise

The New York Times recently ran an article about a study which examined the relationship between regular exercise and healthy immune response.  Although mice, not humans were used in the study, it showed that mice who exercised regularly were better able to fight off infections. While exercise is important, there have been studies showing that over-exercising can actually harm your immunity, so remember that moderation is key.

 

Wear A Scarf

In Traditional Chinese Medicine, the nape of the neck is believed to be particularly susceptible to invasion by the wind element, which means colds and flu. Therefore, covering your neck is important, especially on cold, windy days or when you are sitting close to an air conditioning vent or fan.

 

Try A Saline Nasal Spray and/or a humidifier

When the heat is on inside your home or office, your nasal passages can become very dry. This is a problem because your natural nasal secretions are one of the body’s primary defences against viruses and bacteria. By using a basic, inexpensive saline nasal spray several times daily and a humidifier at your home and office, you can decrease the likelihood of viruses entering your sinuses and leading to a cold or flu. Using a saline nasal spray also helps flush out viruses that are already within your nasal passages.

 

Sleep

Your body produces substances called Cytokines during sleep. Certain types of cytokines play a role in immune functions, so it makes sense that the less sleep you get, the fewer cytokines are produced. Studies show that people who don’t get 7-8 hours of sleep per night are more likely to catch a cold and take longer to recover from colds.

 

Take a Chinese Herbal Formula

There are Chinese Herbal combinations which are very helpful for people who experience recurrent colds and respiratory infections. You must always see a trained herbalist, since there is no one herb which is good for everyone’s situation. It must be individually tailored to your health history and constitution. Herbs can also be helpful if you do come down with a cold or the flu.

Written by Angela Marshall – Acupuncturist at Brisbane Natural Health

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5 scientifically proven ways to reduce the risk of your children developing allergies

We are often told that allergies and allergic asthma are inherited disorders and that there is probably nothing that can be done about our children developing them as they grow up. Well, the more we learn about genetics, the more we are coming to realise that genes can be switched on or off due to environmental triggers. When your baby is in utero their DNA is very susceptible to environmental signals, which is why it is so important that you understand how your choices will affect your children’s health down the track. 5 recent scientific studies looked at links between maternal food intake and environment and infant/child outcomes for asthma and allergies

 

  1. Taking the right probiotics – Probiotics such as Lactobacillus rhamnosus GG and L. rhamnosus HN001 have both been studied and found to reduce the incidence of eczema in children born to supplemented mothers. L. Rhamnosus HN001 was also effective in reducing allergic disease (diagnosed by skin prick test) in children born to supplemented mothers. Probiotics are bacteria that when consumed send healthy signals to the immune system – discouraging a ‘rampant response’ like we see in allergic conditions. It is likely through this action that probiotic consumption by mums helps reduce allergic issues in children. Mum’s are advised to start with these specific probiotics at least 3 months prior to birth and continue through breastfeeding[i].
  2. Keep your sugar intake to a minimum – high maternal sugar intake is associated with an increased risk of allergy and allergic asthma. Children of mothers who consumed the highest amount of ‘free sugar’ (sugar added to cooked foods, honey, syrups and fruit juice), compared with the lowest amount had a 38% increased risk of allergy and 101% increased risk of allergic asthma[ii]. Women in the lowest group consumed 1.6-34.0 g sugar per day vs women in the highest group who consumed 82.4 – 345.1 g sugar per day.
  3. Avoid plastics – in mothers who’s urine was examined for phthalates, the concentration of phthalate found directly correlated to occurrence of allergic asthma in their children. Researchers think that the plastic chemicals switch off genes required for regulating the immune system and this might be how plastic exposure is linked to allergic asthma[iii].
  4. Get dad healthy before you start trying – Fathers who have been smokers have 3 times higher risk of having children with early-onset asthma than those who have never smoked. In this article, the authors suggest that the amount of time the father have quit for prior to conception does not necessarily influence the risk of the outcome for the child, but we do know that we can positively influence gene expression with a super healthy diet, lots of nutrients and stress reduction. This same article noted that paternal exposure to welding also increased the risk of asthma[iv]. Make sure that you have both of you on a comprehensive preconception program for 3-6 months before getting started with baby making.
  5. Eating nuts – research shows that eating peanuts (so long as you don’t have an allergy to them) during pregnancy may reduce the risk of nut allergies in your children[v]

So keep in mind that you do have an influence over your children’s health outcomes. We certainly do not know everything that will have a positive or negative effect on our babies, but we can use the information that we do have to make informed decisions to get the best possible outcomes for our little bundles of joys.

[i] Kalliomäki M, Salminen S, Arvilommi Het al. Lancet 2001;357(9262):1076-9.

[ii]  Bedard A, Northstone K, Henderson, JA, Shaheen SO. European Respiratory Journal. 2017:50; 1700073

[iii] Jahreis S, Trump S, Bauer M et al. Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology, 2017.

[iv] Svanes , Koplin , Skulstad AM, et al. International Journal of Epidemiology, 2016

[v] Frazier AL, Camargo CA, Maslpeis S, et al. JAMA Pediatrics, 2013

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10 ways to get better sleep

Having difficulty falling asleep or staying asleep can be very frustrating and becomes draining over time. Here are some safe, easy and tried and true strategies for getting you the deep, restful slumber that your body so desires:

  1. Avoid stimulating activities at night time – this includes working (!), playing on your phone, watching TV and even vigorous exercise.
  2. Turn off your screens – aside from being mentally stimulating, the wavelength of light coming from your phone and computer screen tells your brain that it is wake time and will inhibit your ability to fall asleep easily
  3. Avoid stimulants later in the day. The magic time to stop drinking tea or coffee is different for everybody, but a good rule of thumb is to avoid caffeine after midday. For some people that even means putting the chocolate bar away as these contain caffeine too. Try rooibos tea if you are used to a black tea or dandelion to replace coffee – it’s not the same but it is a great substitute. Also, be sure to limit your overall coffee intake to 1-2 single shots per day
  4. Get some exercise – burning up some energy during the day is a great way to allow your nervous system to relax and help you get into a healthy sleeping habit. For some people, night time exercise can be too stimulating, so getting your walk or run in the morning is probably best.
  5. Write lists of things you need to do tomorrow and leave them at work. Often we cant sleep because we are thinking of all the things we need to do at work (or at home). By writing a list, we are letting ourselves know that we have thought of the things that need doing and by leaving it where is belongs (at work), we don’t have to mentally take work home with us and think about it as we try to fall asleep
  6. Take a nice long bath with Epsom salts an essential oils. I recommend ½ -1 cup Epsom salts and lavender oil to calm the body and the mind
  7. Try some relaxing herbal teas after dinner – favourites are chamomile, valerian, passionflower and lemon balm – these help to calm your nervous system ready for sleep
  8. Switch your phone to flight mode – so that your sleep is not interrupted by text messages or emails and to reduce the electromagnetic frequency (EMF) coming from your phone sitting on your bedside table – EMFs are known to disrupt brain waves and sleep patterns
  9. Turn the lights down – bright lights tell the brain that it is day time and that you should be awake. Have you ever noticed how when you go camping, you fall asleep easily at 9pm even though at home you can stay awake till 11pm no worries? Part of the reason for that is the lack of artificial light when you are camping – try and recreate this effect in your home. After dinner and the clean up, switch off your overhead lights and use lamps or candles instead.
  10. Try some sleep hypnosis – there are hundreds of these on youtube and for use as aps on your phone. I suggest finding a hypnosis with a voice that you like and then downloading it to your phone so that you can listen as you drift off and still have your phone wifi switched off to avoid the EMFs. Hypnosis gives your brain something to focus on so that it can easily drift off into sleep without getting caught up with thoughts that could keep you awake.
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5 Possible Signs of Thyroid Trouble

Many people experience symptoms of low thyroid function despite their blood tests showing that everything is normal.  Generally, thyroid screening tests such as TSH will only pick up the more serious cases of thyroid disease, but even mild dysfunction and sub-clinical hypothyroidism can cause debilitating symptoms such as fatigue, low mood and stubborn weight problems. It is possible for your thyroid tests to read normal at the same time as your body making antibodies which attack your thyroid.  Below is a list of possible signs your thyroid could be in trouble.

  1. Weight Changes – Sneaky weight gain or difficulty losing weight despite a good diet and plenty of exercise is the most common complaint among people with an underactive thyroid or sub-clinical hypothyroidism.
  1. Debilitating fatigue, depression and anxiety are some of the most disruptive symptoms of poor thyroid health.
  1. Menstrual Irregularities & Fertility Issues – Undiagnosed and untreated thyroid disease can be a cause for infertility as well as sub-fertility and menstrual problems such as absent or heavy bleeding.  In a recent study, a total of 394 infertile women visiting an infertility clinic for the first time were investigated for thyroid stimulating hormone (TSH). Of 394 infertile women, 23.9% had an underactive thyroid. Int J App Basic Med Res 2012;2:17-9
  1. Hair & Skin changes- if you have started to notice your skin become dry or rough, your hair feeling course, dry, brittle or falling out more than usual, this could be a sign your thyroid needs some help.
  1. Family History – If you have a family history of thyroid problems, you are at a higher risk of having a thyroid condition yourself.   Some older family members may refer to thyroid problems as gland trouble or goiter, or may suggest their weight problems are glandular.

Why should you be concerned?  Low-normal thyroid function is more of a heart attack risk than smoking, cholesterol or hypertension.  Sub-clinical hypothyroidism is linked with atherosclerosis (hardening of the arteries). Low-normal thyroid function contributes to 60% of heart attacks!

According to the Australian Prescriber, underactive thyroid or hypothyroidism occurs in 10% of the adult population and 90% of these cases are autoimmune. ie. where the immune system attacks the thyroid gland.  Women are approximately 7 times more likely than men to suffer with hypothyroidism and it commonly occurs 2-12 months after childbirth or around menopause.

Feel more energetic and enthusiastic, lose weight naturally and reduce your risk of ongoing health problems with the professional help of your Naturopath.

Written by: Anne – Marie McDonald B.Nat

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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.

 

 

 

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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

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

Method:

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

Pastry:
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

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All about MATCHA

What’s so great about MATCHA?

Matcha is a fine bright green powdered form of specially grown and processed green tea, Camellia sinensis. Historically this tea was used by Japanese Zen monks in the 8th century, as a ceremonial drink for its calming and clarity inducing properties.

The really great thing about green tea, and particularly Matcha is that it has many health benefits, supported by both historical records and literally thousands of scientific studies.

Green tea has a great reputation for it’s health giving benefits as a result of the compounds chlorophyll, theanine and catachins. Matcha green tea is grown in the shade, enhancing its levels of these valuable compounds significantly. 

Here is a quick approximate comparison of the variation of compounds in green tea compared to Matcha.

Compound Green Tea Matcha – 1 teaspoon powder
EGCG (epigallocatechingallate) 80mg per cup 240mg per cup
Theanine 4mg per cup 20mg per cup
Caffeine 31.8mg per cup 68mg per cup

So what do these fancy pants compounds do?

Mood & Brain Food

A 2017 study showed that match tea intake improved attention, memory and suppression of distraction when compared to control subjects.  This was attributed to the unique balance of green tea phytochemicals L-Theanine and caffeine.  L-Theanine reportedly improving relaxation and calmness and reducing tension. The study found that when compared to using caffeine in the form of coffee, green tea had equal or better alertness and focus benefits than coffee without the associated anxiety or jitteriness.

Healthy Heart & Arteries

In a 2016 study, Matcha was shown to improve HDL cholesterol (the good cholesterol), reduce LDL cholesterol (the bad guy), reduce blood glucose levels and improve antioxidant levels in rats fed a high saturated fat diet in combination with Matcha. In other words rats eating hamburgers reduced their cardiovascular risk if they had Matcha powder with their meal. This showed good potential for Matcha consumption improving fat metabolism, blood sugars and inflammation. Go green!

Detox

Unfortunately we live in a world laden with all kinds of toxic compounds, many of which we are exposed to constantly without our conscious knowledge. PCB’s or polychlorinated biphenyls are one such class of toxic chemical compounds which are found in electrical equipment, inks, glues, flame retardents (used in our clothes, carpets and furnishings) and paints. The unfortunate thing about this compound is that is volatile, it can be measured in our soils, drinking water and in the air we are breathing. PCB’s accumulate in our tissues and in those of the animals we eat. Matcha to the rescue! A recent Japanese study showed that rats fed a diet of PCB’s along with Matcha were able to excrete up to nine times more PCB’s in their faeces and also showed reduced distribution of PCB’s in their livers as compared to rats who missed out on the Matcha.

There are many more studies supporting the health benefits of matcha and green tea for everything from protection against cancer to the removal of mould toxins from the body. Do yourself a favour and switch out a cup of coffee per day for a nice Matcha latte!

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Paleo brownies with raw chocolate ‘icing’

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6 signs that you may have SIBO (Small Intestinal Bacterial Overgrowth)

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