5 Things to Think About Before you Order your Triple Shot

We looooove coffee, right? And if you talk to the right people, you will hear that caffeine is very good for you. It has, in fact, been shown to improve cognitive performance, mood and alertness and protect against age-related cognitive decline and Alzheimers Dementia – which sounds pretty amazing right? Well, it is! For most people, it really is. What we forget sometimes when exciting research comes out touting the benefits of our favourite hot beverage is that the world is complex and that individuals (that’s you!) have individual reactions and often these are not accounted for in clinical trial results. There are a few things that will affect the way that your body responds to caffeine and it is important to keep these in mind whether to order your daily triple shot or not. 

  1. Time of day – if you drink your coffee first thing in the morning, chances are that most of the caffeine will be out of your system by the time you want to go to bed and your sleep will not be ill affected. If you have your second latte at 3 pm to get you through the afternoon – you may find yourself twiddling your thumbs at 10 pm when you want to sleep or tossing and turning throughout the night. Note: the 3 pm slump is a sign that your adrenal glands might be a little tired or that you suffer from low blood sugar – both are things your naturopath can help you with.
  2. Your unique metabolism – there are fancy tests you can do to determine how your body metabolises caffeine, but there are some simple tests you can do at home (or in the café) too. If you get anxiety, palpitations, sweaty palms, diarrhoea or insomnia, there is a good chance that your body has a stronger than usual response to caffeine or clears caffeine more slowly than other people’s and you may need to take it easy on the coffees and drink them in the first half of the day. Caffeine is a strong stimulant and if you are prone to anxiety or are a highly-strung person, it might not be the best morning treat for you.
  3. What else is in your coffee aside from caffeine? Coffee is not just made up of caffeine and (almond) milk. The coffee bean contains a complex array of substances that will affect the way the caffeine works in your body. Coffee can also contain a high level of mould and many non-organic coffee beans will also contain pesticide residues. Again, doing some home sleuthing and paying close attention to how you feel after coffee from certain coffee shops will give you an idea of which bean is best for you.  I suggest finding a coffee shop or two that serve organic coffee that doesn’t make you feel horrible and sticking with these.
  4. Whether you have eaten or not. If you have food in your belly, you will absorb the caffeine more slowly than if you grab a coffee before breakfast. For many people who experience blood sugar issues (those of you who get ‘hangry’ will know what I’m talking about), a coffee will exacerbate low blood sugar and make you feel extra hungry and extra jittery as your body kicks in the stress response to help deal with the low blood sugar. It’s best to have something substantial in your belly before heading to your favourite café.
  5. What else you put in your coffee. Having your coffee with milk or a milk alternative will often be a little gentler on your gut and your nervous system than if you order a long black. This is because the fat and the protein in these ‘milks’ will slow down the absorption of caffeine. Also, consider how much extra sugar or sugar alternative you add to your coffee. Not that these will necessarily make you feel very different, but can have a profound impact on your health. If you are adding 2 sugars to your coffee and you have 3 coffees per day, that’s a total of 6 teaspoons of sugar every day. Which is a lot! Consider slowly cutting back, your body will adjust as you reduce your sugar intake and soon you will only need a sprinkle. If you use artificial sweeteners, then I suggest you consider switching back to the original sugar. Studies show that artificially sweetened drinks are associated with diabetes, cardiovascular disease and cancer and are not recommended for regular intake.

Gemma Martin, a naturopath with over 10 years experience in natural therapies and is experienced in treating all kinds of conditions – from the simple to very complex.

To make an appointment with a naturopath at Brisbane Natural Health, call us on 07 3186 5676

Three Words to Change your Relationship

Who remembers that giddy time in the beginning of a relationship –  when all the happy hormones are in play when you are constantly in the throes of lust, desire, and attraction and you just can’t keep your hands off one another! You remember?… talking late into the night, missing each other terribly when you’re apart? This is an emotionally intense, uplifting and magical time for couples. 

Yet, inevitably, one day, reality kicks in. And it here we begin to get weighed down by the dullness of domesticity, the stresses of work and feel the loss of the spark. While this sounds like doom and gloom in the romance and passion stakes, fear not…It is not the end, it actually is the beginning of a deeper and longer lasting connection – real love.

According to Dr. Mark Holder, from the University of British Columbia, who is heading up a research team studying happiness, this all can change with just three words. He outlines some their findings in a TedTalk,  “The Three Words That Can Change Your Life”.

This work resonates on a deep level for me as a relationship therapist. 

Exploring and learning new ways to nurture fulfilling, passionate and dynamic relationships speaks to the tools for strengthening emotional connections, and repairing emotional disconnections. 

Dr.Mark Holder’s work suggests that this path of fostering deeper emotional connections requires us to take the time to enquire how happy our partner is,  and it is as simple as asking the question…and listening to their answer. 

Holder explains that listening is not just about taking in information. Listening is an act of love that validates the speaker. And so the magic, the sweet spot is regularly using these three words  in your relationships:  “Tell me more.”

It is this intention that lets your partner know that their story matters to you. Reinforce this by following up with the words: “What happened next?”

It is powerfully therapeutic to feel truly heard, knowing that your partner is not itching to say their piece; will not interrupt, be dismissive, offer solutions, or be judgmental.

Today, you can begin. Have that conversation with your partner, and make a commitment to take some quality time for yourselves, no matter how busy you are. Your relationship matters and your connection is everything. 

 

Rebecca Brewster, Counsellor, Hypnotherapist and Psychotherapist at Brisbane Natural Health

To make an appointment with Rebecca at Brisbane Natural Health, call us on 07 3367 0337 or click here to book online now.

Sore muscles after exercising: Is it normal?

Having delayed onset muscle soreness is common after exercise but it’s nothing to be alarmed about. It usually means that your muscles are getting stronger. 

Mild soreness is a natural occurrence after any kind of physical activity most frequently experienced in the beginning stages of a program. Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness, also known as DOMS is a common result of physical activity as our muscles go through quite a bit of physical stress when we exercise. 

A common result of physical activity causes tissue to stress beyond what it’s accustomed to. It’s perfectly normal to experience this discomfort between 24-48 hours post activity and it can be the body’s signal to the brain that it needs a rest. 

DOMS occurs when the muscle is performing an eccentric contraction or lengthening contraction. For example, running downhill or the lengthening portion of a bicep curl. During this action, a small microscopic tear occurs in the muscle – this creates damage to the muscle fibres. The aches and pains are a result of this and indicate that the muscles are adapting to a new fitness program or regime.      

 

5 Easy tips to speed up recovery and reduce DOMS:

Get more sleep

Sleep deprivation can have significant negative effects on recovery for all performance levels. 

Drink plenty of water

Exercising while dehydrated can cause greater damage to muscles and reduce the body’s ability to repair itself. Water is usually enough for most individuals looking to replenish fluids. 

Make foam rolling your friend

Rolling out muscles with a foam roller or spikey ball can help remove knots and prevent muscle imbalances from forming. 

Gentle stretching

When muscles are in recovery mode they tend to tighten up which leads to feelings of soreness. Slow, gentle stretching of the area will relive that tight feeling and diffuse pain. 

Light massage

Massaging a sore muscle can help reduce tightness while promoting blood flow which will help speed recovery and shorten the duration of DOMS.

 

 

 

 

Natural Cures for Constipation

Health begins in the gut, and constipation is just one of many signs that your digestive system is out of balance. A healthy bowel motion consists of waste products from digestion, bacteria, undigested food particles, salt, bacteria, toxins and other compounds. The colon is a key organ of detoxification and elimination which is critical to the function of almost every other system in the body.

Imagine if you didn’t empty your garbage bin regularly; waste would overflow into the surrounding room, scraps could putrefy and release unpleasant odours and gases, and undesirable creatures would be attracted to the mess. A similar analogy can be applied to the bowels. If wastes are not removed effectively and efficiently, they can putrefy, damage the integrity of the lining of the gut, and cause a recycling of some toxins back into the body creating an increased workload on other organs such as the liver.

Constipation is by definition, infrequent or incomplete bowel motions. Constipation can mean hard, dry and small bowel movements or bowel motions occurring less than three times per week. If your bowel motions do not fit this checklist for what is considered normal and healthy, then you may be constipated and need to become a “poo detective” to make some changes.

Healthy Poo Checklist:
✓ You empty your bowels 1 to 2 times daily.
✓ No straining.
✓ No pain.
✓ Smooth, sausage-shaped log or a few smaller pieces.
✓ Takes no longer than 10 minutes to complete.
✓ Brown to dark brown in colour. (Red or black stools require medical attention)
✓ Consistent in its characteristics from day to day.

While constipation may be caused by irritable bowel syndrome or some gastrointestinal infections, it is most commonly caused by a lack of water intake and low fibre intake.
Constipation can also be caused by the overuse of laxatives, leading to a “lazy bowel”. The bowel walls have muscles which contract and relax rhythmically to move bowel contents along. If they are not looked after correctly, just like the other muscles in your body, they too can lose tone and become weakened, leading to constipation.

Some natural ways to relieve constipation include:

Water in adequate amounts is critical to healthy bowel motions. You want to aim for roughly 8 glasses of filtered water everyday.

Fibre is the indigestible part of plants that can act as an intestinal broom. Insoluble fibre draws water to itself as it passes through the bowel, softening and bulking the stool supporting regular bowel motions. Resistant starches also fall in the fibre category and are essential for supporting healthy microbial balance in the digestive tract. Eating approximately three handfuls of vegetables with your main meals and including nuts, seeds and legumes are all good ways to get enough fibre in your daily intake. Partially hydrolysed guar gum is a water-soluble fibre that shows promising results in clinical studies for improving the frequency of bowel motions, reducing straining, and reducing abdominal discomfort.

Good Gut Bacteria are critical to our health. They have many important functions in the body, including assisting in digestion and breakdown of foods, absorption of nutrients, production of energy, vitamins and other important compounds for the body. To help support a healthy gut colony or microbiome, including fermented foods in your diet such as yoghurt, saurkraut, kombucha, kimchi or pickles. Foods containing resistant starches such as bananas, onion, garlic, jerusalem artichoke, asparagus can also help to feed the microbes in your gut, creating a healthy environment in which for them to flourish.

Rest and digest. We often underestimate the importance of chewing our food properly, and taking time away from work to switch our body into digestion mode. Eating consciously and mindfully allows your body to send the right signals to the stomach to break food down properly, pass it successfully through the digestive tract, trigger nutrient absorption and healthy waste elimination. Eating at work or on the go detracts from these messages getting through to your digestive tract, slowing the whole process down.

Your naturopath and acupuncturist can also assist you to resolve constipation by discovering the underlying causes and creating a specific treatment plan to suit your unique circumstances. Our toolbox includes herbs, nutrients, and functional foods to enhance the overall digestive process, allowing for an adequate breakdown of foods, optimal absorption of nutrients and effective elimination of toxins. The goal of treatment is to return the bowel to natural healthy function and avoid the use of laxatives.

 

To make an appointment with a naturopath at Brisbane Natural Health, call us on 07 3106 8790 or click here to book online now.

Dry Needling

Dry Needling specifically treats musculoskeletal pain. A fine, single-use needle is inserted into a dysfunctional muscle with the aim of returning it to its optimal state. Studies have shown there to be a localised increase in blood flow and a release of endorphins as soon as a needle is inserted; both positive reactions to reduce pain and dysfunction.

What is a trigger point?

A trigger point is a contraction in a tight band of muscle which causes pain when palpated or squeezed, in a specific site and/or referring to other areas of the body. Trigger points can cause symptoms such as numbness, tingling, weakness, or lack of normal range of movement.

Dry Needling Vs Acupuncture?

It is important to know that Acupuncture and Dry Needling are two very distinct modalities. Dry needling is based upon the western medicine paradigm.

It is used for soft tissue correction, which involves inserting extremely fine and painless needles into muscle fibres, causing a local twitch response. This, in turn, helps to deactivate and resolve trigger points in the muscle and release constriction. Acupuncture, on the other hand, is based on the principles of traditional Chinese medicine and the stimulation of Qi (pronounce Chi).

Acupuncture diagnoses using complex theories, meaning only a qualified and registered Acupuncturist or Chinese Medicine practitioner can treat with Acupuncture. Many health professionals utilise Dry Needling as a method for the treatment of musculoskeletal pain, including Myotherapists, Physiotherapists, Podiatrists and even some GP’s.

Acupuncture

Acupuncture began in China more than 2000 years ago and has been a major part of their health care system ever since. It involves fine, single-use needles being inserted into very specific points along the body’s meridians which are found on every corner of the body including the hands, feet, and head. The individual points have a specific function and are chosen depending on the condition being treated.

Acupuncture helps conditions based on symptoms using ancient Chinese theories. These theories aim to achieve wellness and to restore balance throughout the body.
The techniques are gentle and the practitioner spends quality time with the client to ensure a positive experience occurs.

Cyclical Vomiting Syndrome

Cyclical Vomiting Syndrome (CVS) is a condition causing recurrent attacks of intense nausea, vomiting, abdominal pain and sometimes headaches or migraines. Attacks can last from a few hours to several days at a time. The condition is more prevalent among children, and seems to occur less frequently in adults. Many children will grow out of the condition once they reach adulthood. CVS is debilitating, and can be dangerous if dehydration occurs.

A person suffering from CVS typically has pale skin, abdominal pain, nausea, and vomiting, but some patients will also experience diarrhoea, headaches, migraines and light sensitivity.

The cause of CVS is largely a mystery, but there do seem to be some common themes amongst those who suffer with CVS. While the cause is elusive, common triggers for CVS episodes include overexertion, fatigue, hormonal changes around a woman’s menstrual cycle, infections, lack of sleep, temperature extremes, alcohol consumption, allergies, extended periods without eating, and certain foods. Some of the food triggers associated with migraines such as chocolate, cheese and monosodium glutamate, are also considered triggers for CVS.

There are no tests to specifically confirm CVS, rather the diagnosis is based on ruling out other possible causes of the vomiting or abdominal symptoms. Cyclical Vomiting Syndrome is believed to be a class of migraine.

Similar to migraines CVS has four stages.

Symptom free phase – no symptoms appear to be present between episodes.
Prodromal phase – nausea appears with or without abdominal pain. This phase can last a few minutes to several hours.
Vomiting phase – nausea and vomiting can be violent. There is an inability to eat, drink or take medicines without vomiting. Drowsiness, exhaustion, and dehydration may occur.
Recovery phase – after the vomiting stops and skin colour, vitality and appetite returns.

 

What can be done?

The medical management of CVS often involves avoidance of triggers, symptomatic relief such as the use of medications to reduce nausea, stop vomiting and maintain hydration. Pharmaceuticals may be used also to prevent future episodes if attacks occur greater than once per month. Medications may include tricyclic antidepressants, beta blockers, antihistamines, anticonvulsants and sometimes antibiotics. These medications can be helpful in some cases in the short term, but often come with side effects such as fatigue, drowsiness and are not ideal for the quality of life or long-term use.

Naturopathic care acknowledges that CVS has many and varied potential causes, that no two people are alike, and as such, there is not a one size fits all medicine. In saying that, there is some good evidence for certain nutrients and herbs for this condition and these may be considered where relevant. For example, the cell’s ability to generate energy is considered to be a mechanism which may be affected in CVS. This is similar to what can happen with migraines and there is some evidence that coenzyme Q10 and L-Carnitine may be useful in addressing this cause and alleviating symptoms. Your naturopath may consider these as part of your treatment if indicated as part of the whole picture of your health. Naturopathic support options may also include stress management, emotional wellness practices and the use of herbal and nutritional formulas suited to your needs.

CVS is a challenging condition to live with and a potentially complex condition to treat, however, naturopathy offers the opportunity to manage the symptoms, treat potential underlying causes holistically, and reduce the need for medication which may have detrimental side effects with long-term use.

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.

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.

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.

Naturopath