What is Seed Cycling and Does it Work?

Seed cycling is a dietary lifestyle habit that aims to positively improve hormonal health, specifically for women and their menstrual cycle.  It is theorised that through altering the consumption of seed types during the menstrual phases, those particular phases then function in a healthier manner.  

A woman’s menstrual cycle is a vital sign of health for a woman.  It is a monthly indicator of hormonal health and particular irregularities are signs of potential imbalance.  The Shift Podcast, Season Two goes into more detail about this, find it here.

As a brief recap, your menstrual cycle consists of four distinct phases:

  1. Follicular Phase (Days 1-14)
  2. Ovulation
  3. Luteal Phase (Days 15-28)
  4. Menstruation

Hormones regulate these phases.  In particular, oestrogen and progesterone play a huge role in varying degrees. Your ovaries produce both oestrogen and progesterone. They produce two oestrogens known as oestrone and oestradiol.  Oestrogen helps the body to develop and release the egg (ovulation), whereas progesterone thickens the lining of the uterus to prepare it to accept a fertilised egg (conception).  There are many health benefits to these hormones for women including keeping your bone, hair, skin and nails healthy; preserving memory and assisting in mood regulation; and supporting a healthy immune system. 

OestrogenRises during the follicular phase, and lowers during the luteal phase.
  • Important for ovulation, libido, and conception
  • Necessary for balancing moods
  • Helps to maintain quality sleep
  • Supports healthy bone and muscle structures
ProgesteroneRises during the luteal phase, and lowers during the follicular phase.
  • Important for pregnancy (also known as the ‘Mother Hormone’)
  • Assists regulating energy
  • Helps support relaxation and sleep onset
  • Supports skin health

So, back to seed cycling.

 

Follicular Phase – Days 1-14 (Menstruation)

Flaxseeds (Linseeds) + Pumpkin Seeds

 

Luteal Phase – Days 15-28 (Ovulation)

Sesame Seeds + Sunflower Seeds

 

How to Consume

Try adding one to two tablespoons of freshly ground seeds to your diet each day.  Refrain from buying the pre-ground packaged seeds as some of the oils are very delicate and it is likely that they are rancid.  This is especially true of flaxseed.  You can grind up a batch and place in an airtight container in the fridge or freezer for two weeks at a time.  

Some ideas:

  • Smoothie ingredients.  A great way to do this is by putting them in your blender container overnight with a little water, add the rest of your ingredients the next day.  Blend together and enjoy!
  • Add to oat or gluten-free porridge recipe.
  • Mix into some coconut yogurt or chia pudding.
  • Simply put the ground seeds in water and drink it down!

As seeds are very high in soluble and insoluble fibre, make sure you keep hydrated when adding them into your diet, to prevent constipation.  The recommendation is at least 2L (eight glasses) of water a day, before taking into consideration exercise output, season (and if you’re sweating a lot) and coffee intake (which dehydrates the body).  

 

For the Science Lovers! … The Evidence!

The science behind seed cycling is lacking, however, it is an age-old practice.  Despite there being a lack of research on seed cycling itself, there have been studies conducted on the actual seeds.  Each seed contains specific nutrients, including vitamins and minerals, as well as essential fatty acids.  

  • Flaxseeds are phytoestrogenic and have a modulatory effect on your hormones.  Research has shown them to be beneficial in PCOS patients, where it can have beneficial effects on insulin and triglycerides.  It has also been found to alter oestrogens in a beneficial way, helping the body to eliminate any excesses.  Also, flaxseeds are a source of beneficial fibre and omega-3 fatty acids, both of which are beneficial to hormonal health. 
  • Pumpkin seeds provide a source of zinc and lignans (a phytoestrogen).  Research has shown that pumpkin seeds may assist in preventing breast cancer due to their effect on estradiol production and particular oestrogen and progesterone receptors that have effects on hormone-dependent tumour production.  Also, it has been postulated that zinc deficiency in women may enhance period pain and cramping due to high levels of prostaglandins.  From this, zinc works to inhibit the metabolism of prostaglandins, which in turn assists with blood flow to the uterus to calm uterus contractions and pain during menstruation. 
  • Sesame seeds provide a source of essential fatty acids, calcium, lignans and other vitamins and nutrients.  They have been shown to enhance vitamin E activity, which is an antioxidant.  Antioxidants assist in liver detoxification, especially for excess oestrogen.  Vitamin E also assists in stimulating progesterone production.  
  • Sunflower seeds provide a source of vitamin E, magnesium, zinc and copper, which are all supportive of healthy hormonal processes.  They also contain plant compounds known as phenolic acids and flavonoids, which are functional antioxidants that are important for liver detoxification for excess oestrogen. 

In conclusion, seed cycling is postulated to be an effective way of supporting hormonal health.  If you do decide to give this a go, consider buying your seeds organically.  Organic food has been found to contain more nutrients than conventional, as well as remove the toxic chemical load from pesticides commonly used on crops these days.  For more information on this refer to Episode 8 of the Shift Podcast, Season Two.

So your naturopath said…”no gluten”!

Why do we ask you not to eat gluten even if you don’t have Celiac’s Disease?

The main reason is that your gut is so very important to your overall health. The lining of your gut is the largest surface that provides a barrier between the environment and your body, thus it is crucial that the gut lining has the ability to critically select out what may enter and what shall not pass!

Leaky gut refers to an alteration in what your digestive tract allows to enter your body, compared to what it eliminates as waste. A large number of chronic inflammatory diseases including irritable bowel syndrome, Chron’s disease, asthma, arthritis, autoimmune diseases and autistic spectrum disorders have been associated with leaky gut.  Current research tells us that leaky gut increases after exposure to gluten in all individuals whether you have a predisposition to coeliac disease or not. If you have any kind of inflammation occurring in your body, removing gluten is a simple, dietary way to address one of the key underlying drivers or causes of that inflammation and work towards having the best gut health and therefore overall health outcomes.

 

Why is gluten so rough on our digestive system?

Gluten Triggers Inflammation

Gliadins and glutanins are two main components of the gluten protein occurring in wheat, barley, rye and oat seeds or grain. It is thought that gliadins are most implicated in the immune reaction that occurs in celiac disease, but glutanins and gliadins are so similar in structure that they are both considered to be inflammatory and can trigger an immune system reaction.

Zonulin

It sound’s like an alien planet, but it’s in your gut and opens up “doorways” in your intestinal lining to allow nutrients and other molecules to get in and out of your gut. Too much zonulin, opens these “doorways” too far, allowing toxins, large immune- reactive protein molecules, intestinal contents and bacterial waste to enter your bloodstream. This not only triggers inflammation and immune response but also increases the workload on the liver to filter out “garbage” for disposal. In other words, too much Zonulin equals leaky gut.  

The triggers for too much Zonulin include overgrowth of harmful bacteria or yeasts in the gut, parasitic infections and the consumption of gluten.  

Regardless of whether you have the genes for celiacs or not, the gliadin in gluten has been shown to significantly increase Zonulin in the gut.

 

But what about all the B vitamins and fibre I’ll miss out on?

B Vitamins are abundant in many foods, not just those containing gluten. Unprocessed gluten-free grains such as brown rice, quinoa, teff, legumes, vegetables and meats and offal are all great sources of B vitamins.   Eating a variety of foods from the various food groups is the key to balanced nutrition, and is completely doable without touching gluten.

Just because it’s gluten-free doesn’t mean it’s good for you:

The mistake many make when going gluten-free is to look for replacements in the supermarket which are labelled gluten-free. The problem with this is that the usual substitutes most sort after are bread, pasta, biscuits and crackers.  The market has portrayed gluten-free to be a healthier option, but in many cases, this is not true. Often, gluten-free products contain more refined grains, additives and sugars to maintain a similar appearance, taste and texture of the original product attempting to be cloned.  For example, a gluten-free brownie doesn’t automatically become a healthy option and some gluten-free bread are higher in sugar, white flours and food additives than regular bread.

A gluten-free sweet still remains a treat or sometimes food.  In order to improve your overall health, the fundamental key is to eat less processed, packaged food overall. Your practitioner will help you with this.

 

What foods contain gluten?

If your practitioner has asked you to avoid gluten, this means any product that is derived from :

  • Wheat
  • Spelt
  • Kamut/Khorasan
  • Barley
  • Rye
  • Triticale
  • Khorasan
  • Oats

This may include cous cous, semolina, bourghal, bulgar.

Also remember to check the labels on foods which you may not have thought contain gluten grain products such as wraps, condiments, muesli bars, ice-creams, vinegar, some supplements.

Common foods misinterpreted as gluten-free are: mountain bread, sauces, cous cous, bourghul or tabbouli, noodles, ice-creams, yoghurts, milk containing malt. Always check the ingredients list!

 

How strict do I need to be?

You may not have to avoid gluten 100% forever. Unless you are a celiac, you are not allergic to gluten and the occasional indiscretion may not be critical to your health. Your naturopath will advise you on whether any forms of gluten can be introduced along the way or at a later date, and what to look for to avoid inflammation and optimise nutrition.

 

References:

Leaky Gut & Autoimmune Disease https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22109896

Zonulin, a regulator of epithelial and endothelial barrier functions, and its involvement in chronic inflammatory diseases. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25734566

 


Autumn is here.. Why not plant a vegetable garden?

Do you find yourself daydreaming about that vegetable garden you have always wanted to plant?  Perhaps it is a simple herb garden, or maybe your dreams involve lines of crops in the countryside (and chickens, of course!).  Well, that country block may not be around the corner, but cooler weather certainly is!  And that means it is the perfect time to start a garden.

What are the benefits of gardening in Autumn?

Well firstly, the air isn’t as warm so it is much more comfortable to be outdoors.  But putting our comfort aside, what do the plants have to say?  Most plants enjoy being established during this time, as they don’t have to battle the hot sun and humidity. Also, the ground and soil become more friable and moist, making planting much easier.  Deciding on what vegetables to grow is another factor, which will depend on where you live.  For example, wintertime in Brisbane is the perfect time to plant tomatoes, green leafys, radish, cabbage, cauliflower, broccoli, broccolini, carrots, basil, dill, parsley, and so much more.  

What if my soil needs improving?

Compost is the answer (to almost everything garden-related).  Autumn is another great time to set up a composting system or a few!  There are many ways to compost, from worm farms, compost bin systems, or a pallet system.  Composting allows you to reuse materials (such as food scraps and garden waste) to then create beautiful rich material that improves soil health and plant growth.  

I am a new gardener, where do I begin?

You can begin anywhere you want!  There are no right or wrongs in growing plants, just give it a go.  Just like anything new, find yourself some great resources (such as books or videos) relevant to your dreams and begin reading and watching.  Perhaps you have a friend willing to lend you a hand and give you some pointers.  

Photos by Nicole Orlowski Photography

Growing food in your own garden is a wonderful hobby and creative pastime.   Not only does it teach us about the cycles of nature and the way that our food is grown, but it also grounds us and brings us back to the greater connection of living on this earth. In the wise words of Geoff Lawton, “You are what you eat, and if you don’t know what you eat, then you don’t know who you are.  You have lost that connection.”

Why not delve into the world of growing food?  You’ll be chomping on a delicious red and ripe tomato, or a crunchy orange carrot in no time!

Inflammatory Bowel Disease – Crohn’s & Ulcerative Colitis

Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis are 2 types of autoimmune inflammatory bowel diseases (IBD) that affect various parts of the gastrointestinal system. Alongside with mainstream medical treatment, both these conditions can be co-managed with naturopathic treatment to bring about a reduction in symptoms and better health outcomes for people suffering with IBD.  

Crohn’s Disease

Crohn’s disease generally affects the distal ileum (last part of the small intestine) or the colon. Common symptoms that people with Crohn’s may experience include chronic diarrhoea, abdominal pain, fever and weight loss. Remissions are common with Crohn’s disease and surgery may be required at times, if obstruction occurs. 

Ulcerative colitis

Ulcerative colitis usually begins in the rectum and as it develops, it affects the mucosa of the colon, sometimes spreading to the entire colon. Symptoms of ulcerative colitis may include attacks of bloody diarrhoea with mucus present, strong defecation urgency and lower abdominal cramping. Other symptoms that may occur include fatigue, fever and weight loss. As with Crohn’s disease, remissions are common.     

Naturopathic management of IBD

Although naturopathic treatment can be used to successfully manage IBD, it must be noted that as with other autoimmune conditions, naturopathic treatment may take up to 12 months or more with ongoing naturopathic care and flare ups may still occur from time to time. Naturopathic treatment of IBD addresses these conditions from various angles in order to treat the whole person. 

Firstly, intestinal inflammation needs to be reduced and the microbiome balance restored, as well as intestinal permeability corrected. This may be achieved through the use of specific herbal medicine, nutritional supplements and probiotics, as well as dietary modification to support the healing process. This step also ensures that the digestive function is improved in order to aid the body to more effectively break down and absorb nutrients from our diet. Secondly, the nervous system must be supported in order to reduce stress, fatigue and to increase psychological resilience. This can be achieved with a combination of herbal medicine and lifestyle modification such as exercise, meditation, or hypnotherapy/counselling. Finally, ensuring continuity of treatment and compliance with prescriptions will help to ensure that patients are giving their bodies the best chance to heal.     

 

Through the use of an integrative approach alongside your mainstream medical treatment, naturopathic treatment can yield effective results for patients with IBD.

If you would like to find out more about naturopathic treatment at Shift Clinic, or if you would like to book an initial diagnostic and assessment session with one of our naturopath, please call Shift Clinic on 07 3367 0337.

What Clouds Your Judgment In Times of Stress? – A mindful way to move through our stress responses.

The experience of stress is a topic that everyone can relate to. We all experience it from time to time and some of us experience it frequently. 

How we manage stress can vary greatly from person to person and can make all the difference in the damage it can do us. 

What changes the experience of stress  for each of us is our perception of this stressor and how we respond in real time in the moment. 

It’s worthwhile to become aware of our own patterns as it can allow us some awareness into our triggers and to begin to learn new ways of moving through stress without its cumulative effects impacting our body and minds.

What might your initial response be when something unexpected or unfortunate happens? 

In Buddhism they talk about these stress responses as the “five hindrances” because these patterns become habitual ways people react to challenging circumstances that cloud clear judgment and block access to sound decision making. We all have varying combinations in response to different circumstances.

If your car breaks down on the way to work for example, we may find ourselves engaging in any of these reactions. Most of us identify most strongly with one or two of these.

  • Do you start fretting?  This inner dialogue might look something like this: “I’m going to be so late now that I’ll probably lose my job and I’m lucky to have a job in the first place in these times and it will be the very reason I lose it…”etc etc.  This is where our minds start worrying on a loop about real or imagine situations that haven’t happened yet.
  • Do you get angry and blame others? This response could see you pick up the phone to yell at your partner for not knowing this could happen earlier! In  this reaction our first instinct is to look to another person to find fault and let loose all our frustration and anger.  
  • Do you tend to lose heart and feeling defeated. “Ok well that’s it. My car will probably never work again and there’s probably no point doing anything.I’ll wait for the tow truck to take it to the wreckers and I won’t be able to go to work today or probably the rest of the week as I’ll just need to recover. 
  • Personalising:  This inner dialogue seems to always finds a way to blame yourself.  “This always happens to me, If only I had left 5 minutes earlier I would have passed this spot it would have been ok. It’s all my fault, I’m not fit to be driving, I don’t deserve a car…”It’s linked to insecurity, self-blame and lack of confidence.
  • Sensual Soothing: This might be distracting ourselves with anything other than the issue be it eating a sugary treat, shopping, pouring a glass of wine.

The good news is with some awareness and attention we literally have the power to re-wire our brains. 

Learning ways to self-soothe to disrupt these patterns is a vital part of taking control of what we truly have the capacity to control – our responses, reactions and inner experiences.

A remedy here is to look at the R.A.I.N formula, a Buddhist method for investigating our reactions.

R: Recognize it. Recognise the thought, the inclination. Sometimes its helpful in this space to name the emotion we are feeling. It’s in this recognition, we are beginning to allow ourselves to be separated from our thoughts, to witness them but know we are much more than our thoughts. This non-identification acknowledges that this is just a passing process that comes and goes, not who we are.

A: Accept it. This doesn’t mean being resigned to it, but accepting that’s what we feel like doing in that moment and finding some self-compassion. 

I: Investigate it, be curious. What is it like? • Physically (How does it feel in the body? Is it pleasant? Unpleasant? Does it change?) • Emotionally • Energetically (such as feelings of rushing, sinking or lifting) • Cognitively (What beliefs or stories do we tell ourselves?) • Motivationally (is there an urge to act or cling?) 

Part of this investigation might be to talk about this with a trusted person – this can be a friend, family member and confidante or even a therapist. 

N: Nurture. The mind, body and soul need soothing after stress. It allows us to more easily find the deep self-compassion we truly need. Types of nurturing that offer real comfort, not just another numbing device are things like walks in nature, deep breathing exercises, activities with a mind body connection like gentle exercise, yoga or relaxation meditation. See the stressful experience through to the end with the support of some true comforting and nurturing time.

It’s helpful to first explore the hindrance and investigate it. Often just recognizing a hindrance is enough for it to fall away, but like any muscle, forming new pathways takes time and practice.

Why not take this time  and as the whole world is shaken up and turned on its head to allow our brains and bodies to absorb new ways of healing the damage that stress does and finding freedom.

 

Rebecca Eather is a Clinical Hypnotherapist and Counsellor at Shift Clinic and can help find remedies and creative solutions to our default patterns in times of stress that do not serve us.  She works gently and cooperatively with people needing help with anxiety, depression, stress management, addiction, grief and loss, life transitions, low self-esteem and healthier relationships.

Ankle Injury

Acupuncture for Ankle Sprains

Ankle injuries are a very common orthopaedic injury. Most ankle sprains heal with conservative treatments like RICE therapy (rest, ice, compression and elevation) however for many people that do not heal as quickly as expected the next step for treatment can be unclear. Whether its a sprain or fracture acupuncture is an important form of treatment to consider when recovering from an ankle injury. 

Have you suffered multiple ankle sprains? Do you roll your ankles easily? Is there some swelling that just won’t go away following an old ankle injury? Are you finding that your ankles feel weak and unsteady walking on uneven ground? If so – acupuncture might be the answer to address those new or old ankle injuries.

Why is my ankle taking so long to heal?

It isn’t uncommon to hear this question? A common misconception is that a broken ankle will heal slower than a sprain. The fact of the matter is a bone fracture usually takes six to eight weeks to heal, while a ligament sprain can take between three and six months to heal. The time difference in healing a bone versus a ligament all comes down to blood flow. Bones have a much better supply of blood to assist healing, whereas ligaments have a poor supply and naturally take longer to heal.

Acupuncture treatment for ankle instability

The most common cause of ongoing ankle instability is:

  • Inadequate rehabilitation, 
  • A sprain that has been left untreated,
  • repeat sprains on the same ankle 

Following an ankle sprain, it is recommended that you seek medical advice as soon as possible. Often what starts off as a simple grade 1 sprain can end up a severe grade 3 sprain if left untreated. This can lead to deactivation of the muscles that support the ankle and ongoing stability problems in the long-term. Acupuncture can help to stimulate these muscles and help them function at their optimal level again.

How does acupuncture benefit ankle pain?

Stimulation of acupuncture points can increase blood flow to the injured area and bring nourishment to the tissues to promote healing. Acupuncture is very effective in alleviating pain, improving the range of motion and decrease. A combination of acupuncture, moxibustion, electrical stimulation and Chinese liniments can be very effective for both acute and chronic ankle injuries.

How do I know when my ankle is healed? 

When it comes to ankle sprains, the key sign of healing is stability with use. Here are 5 signs that you haven’t fully recovered from your ankle injury.

  • Limited range of motion (dorsiflexion)
  • Unable to weight bare on the ankle confidently without pain 
  • Difficulty balancing on one leg with the sense that the ankle is going to give way 
  • Pain with running 
  • A general lack of confidence in the ankle

Shin Splints

Shin splints or Tibial Syndrome is one of the most common running injuries that I see at Shift. It can affect both professional and recreational athletes equally and it’s not only runners that get affected. Tennis players, basketballers, indoor soccer players, netballers, all those high impact knee jarring sports. A simple change to your training routine can be the change that brings on the symptoms.

WHAT CAUSES SHIN SPLINTS?

The most common cause of Shin splints that I often see, stems from an increase in the intensity of training programs, a change to harder running surfaces or running hills regularly. All of these can increase your risk of shin splints. The following conditions can also put you at a higher risk of getting shin splints:

• Flat feet (overpronation)

• Shoes that lack support or don’t fit correctly

• Weak core muscles, hips or ankles

• Not stretching before and after exercise

TYPES OF SHIN SPLINTS

There are two types of shin splints:

1. Medial shin splints – common among people who have a collapsed medial arch or flat feet. This is the most common type of shin splints and often effects the lower 1/3 of the inside of the shin.

2. Anterior shin splints – this type is more common with runners who over-train on hills, as it requires repetitive use of the tibialis anterior muscle. Ironically, pain is typically worse when running downhill.

HOW ARE SHIN SPLINTS MOST COMMONLY TREATED? 

The keyword here is “treated” and should be replaced with “resolved”. Unfortunately, conventional Western medicine techniques don’t do much for treating shin splints. While the following methods are routine, they don’t actually get to the root of the cause and once most athletes return to exercise the original injury will resurface, sometimes leading to more extensive damage.

The most common approach to treatment is icing and resting the injured leg, and also using painkillers or anti-inflammatories. Herein lies the most obvious challenge. Telling a runner to stop running and expecting that they will adhere to the advice. Well, I have met a few runners and athletes in my time and this is near impossible for most.

In a desperate attempt to rid themselves of the pain, some people are forced into making questionable choices along the way. Usually, the first step is to invest in a different and usually more expensive pair of running shoes. Next people try different stretches or go and spend a small fortune on orthotic interventions. The most concerning approach from my point of view, however, is the reliance on the use of non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs). These days we just want to get on with things and don’t realise that we are just masking the pain and indirectly causing more damage in the long run. Often people will continue running and masking symptoms with NSAIDs. This, however, can lead to more severe micro-fractures or compartment syndrome.

WILL TAKING A REST FROM RUNNING SOLVE THE PROBLEM?

Even with complete rest, the pain can take 6-8 weeks to resolve but the problem usually manifests itself again very quickly after resuming running.

ACUPUNCTURE FOR SHIN SPLINTS

There are a variety of techniques that different acupuncturists employ for treating shin splints. Regardless of the system used, the goal of acupuncture is to promote circulation, loosen the muscles around the tibia and prevent recurrences of the problem.

HOW TO KNOW WHEN YOUR SHIN SPLINTS HAVE HEALED?

 I often get this question and it is mostly due to prior failed attempts in their return to training. The best indicators that you can confidently return to your exercise routine is:

• The affected leg is as flexible as your non-affected leg and feels just as strong.

• You can now put excessive weight on the leg that had the shin splint without pain.

• You can exercise without pain.

WANT PROOF?

A random controlled trial from 2002 found acupuncture to be more effective than any other combined therapy.

Acupuncture & Tibial Stress Syndrome [Shin Splints]. Journal of Chinese Medicine 2002 vol 70.

Spring Clean

Now that warmer weather has arrived leaving us in no doubt about the arrival of spring we turn to new rituals. Packing away our bulky winter woollies, making room for lighter brighter clothing. The slow cooker tends to be stored in the back of the cupboard, fresh salads replacing slow-cooked soups, and the inevitable renewed gym membership to give ourselves a body overhaul for summer. These are all the external signs that spring cleaning is underway but what about internal signs? Do we pay attention to what is happening on the inside?  With the renewed burst of energy and lightness, that spring brings it is a good time to consider giving our internal workings an overhaul and tune-up. 

In assessing how our internal health is checking our skin, hair, general vitality and alertness are a good way to go. Changes happening inside will be evident externally and dull skin, brittle nails and a general feeling of lethargy are strong indications that an internal ‘spring clean’ and tune-up is in order. 

We often have a perception that a detox involves giving things up and living on lettuce leaves and consuming some disgusting concoctions each day. But this is not the case, as an abundance of vital and beautiful fruits and vegetables start to arrive at the supermarket, putting together a detox and giving your body an overhaul can be a tasty, inspiring and invigorating thing to do. 

Starting the day with drinking some warm water, apple cider vinegar, lemon juice, a dash of maple syrup and cayenne pepper, this kick starts your liver, digestion and gets you ready to begin a day of nourishing yourself back to energy and vitality. 

Do an inventory of the following foods and see how many are in your current diet. 

Omega-3’s 

Check your Omega-3 intake. These are an essential fatty acid, anti-inflammatory and necessary to take either as a supplement or in food. Our bodies don’t make them. For the best sources, try fish oil or algae and flax oil if you are vegan.

How is your essential vitamin and mineral intake 

Daily B vitamins generate energy, are absorbed in our gut and can be overly consumed under times of stress and alcohol intake.  Having sufficient B vitamins will help manage stress and balance your overall mood. Brewer’s yeast and whole grains are rich in B vitamins while meats are high in B12. Fresh fruit and vegetables contain essential B vitamins. 

Herbs and Spices for detoxing

Incorporating detoxifying spices and herbs. Dandelion, turmeric, milk thistle, and nettle all support the liver by circulating nutrients. These can be incorporated into the diet in dandelion coffee, replacing caffeine, Tumeric lattes, with nut milk, getting rid of dairy, adding bitter greens to your salad will stimulate your digestion. 

Feed the gut 

Lactobacillus acidophilus and Bifidobacteria Bifidus ar a couple of the bacteria that keep the digestive tract and immune system healthy all year round. In addition to supporting good health, pre and probiotics produce vitamins that assist with digestion. If you’re lacking the correct balance of bacteria you may find yourself bloated, craving sugars and generally feeling flat and off. The coconut of water Kefir, kombucha, coconut yoghurt, Kim Chi, Sauerkraut and other fermented foods are essential to maintaining a healthy immune and nervous system.   

Building Vitamin D

Get outside! Sunlight converts on the skin to vitamin D, having a healthy liver is essential for this process. Vitamin D is fat-soluble and often best consumed as supplements or through foods like eggs, salmon and soy.

Digestive support

Eating bitter greens, like endive, arugula, rocket and peppermint all help with digestion, encouraging the production of stomach acid and the release of bile. Having some water or mineral water and Angostura bitters with a meal will also support digestive enzymes.  If you’ve been feeling constipated or bloated these past few months, it may be time to start eating more bitter foods. 

Try Organic 

Try to moderate exposure to toxins found in animal-sourced foods. If you eat meat, opt for meat that’s free of antibiotics and hormones — just make sure you read these labels on the packaging. Switch things up and reach for colourful vegetables and fruits throughout the day. Buying organic fruits and veggies limits toxin exposure, but there are some foods like avocados and watermelon that don’t need to be bought organic. Check out the dirty dozen and clean 15. 

Moving everything through 

Eating soluble fibre helps to keep you full while slowing digestion to balance your blood sugar. As soluble fibre moves down the digestive tract it absorbs water and helps the body eliminate hormones and cholesterol. Try foods like avocados, kidney beans, peaches, prunes or oat bran. Include some Chia seeds in your day.

Balance body, mind and soul

Try and find something in the gym that works for you, yoga, Pilates, boxing. Whatever it is. Not only will working out give you more energy, but your body and mind can destress as well. Find a gym with a sauna to speed up your detoxing process.

Get the right advice

Often no matter how good our intentions are going it alone can be challenging. That’s where the team at Shift at Brisbane Natural Health can support you on your journey and be the best version of you. Our Naturopaths can put together a program that will work for you. Checking your digestion, thyroid, hormones and other organs and providing additional support where needed. This way once you start you know that you will end up in a better place when you complete your own personal ‘Spring Clean.’ The emotional wellness team can help you check your emotional baggage and create clear space and clean page to move into Spring with.

Why IBS is Not A Real Diagnosis

So, you’ve been suffering from gut issues for a few years or longer and you finally get along to your GP who may or may not have referred you for some testing or sent you off to see a gastroenterologist. After some poking and prodding, and maybe pooing into a cup so your poo and can be tested for nasty things, you are told that you have a condition called Irritable Bowel Syndrome or IBS. Yahoo! You have a diagnosis. But what does this really mean and what can you do about it? You may be prescribed a medication or you may be told that there is not much that can be done for IBS. Either way, often, a path to recovery is not part of the discussion, or most importantly, a chat about WHY the bowel might be irritated in the first place. 

Let’s start with a discussion about what a syndrome is. A syndrome (as opposed to disease) is a cluster of symptoms – to be diagnosed with a syndrome, you have to meet the criteria of X number of symptoms from a list of many.  What this means is that although a lot of people suffer from this same group of symptoms (and therefore must be recognised medically – or else we are all crazy), there is no one test that can diagnose the issue as there is no one single process in the body that can be considered aberrant.  So why then are these symptoms arising? Well, sometimes in human health, there are multiple reasons for symptoms to occur. This means that there might need to be several events happening at the same time for the condition to show up. In addition, your body might be reacting to the environment in a way that the next person’s body does not react, so what may cause IBS in one person may not cause any discernible issues for the next. Essentially what this means is that in order for recovery to occur, each patient needs to be assessed on an individual basis and the underlying cause for them be identified. From here, a healing process can occur. 

What can be causing IBS? 

There are so many different elements influencing our gut function every day – it is important to consider them all. The first is always the food that we eat as this comes in direct contact with the lining of the gut and is often a source of irritation. Many of the foods that we eat today were just not made for processing by the human gastrointestinal tract, and although some seem to handle them better than others, for the patient with IBS, they need to be considered as part of the problem as a first approach. If I was to put a bunch of lotions on my skin every day and I developed a rash that was red, painful and caused my skin to peel off, it would be silly to disregard the lotions as potential irritants. The same applies to the food that we eat – this is essentially ‘applied’ to the skin of the gastrointestinal tract and therefore must be considered as a potential irritant. 

The microbiome (or gut flora) is another area that should always be looked at in IBS cases. The microbiome is a couple of kilograms of bacteria, yeasts, viruses and archaea that inhabit the gastrointestinal tract.  These ‘bugs’ should ideally be in balance to support our gastrointestinal health, immune system, brain function and hormones (probably every physiological function really). If they become damaged through the use of antibiotics, pesticides in foods, stress, improper dietary habits or the use of medications, then we get an imbalance and this can lead to the symptoms associated with IBS. Sometimes there are parasites, bacteria or yeasts growing in the gut that just don’t belong there, and sometimes it is bugs that should be part of a healthy ecosystem, but have started to take over and cause problems in the ecosystem. Either way, comprehensive stool testing can uncover these imbalances or infestations and assist your practitioner in guiding you through rebalancing the gut flora and resolving symptoms.

Finally, the nervous system can be a contributing factor in the irritation of IBS and it is recognised that stress and anxiety are often part of the IBS symptomatology. Stress, anxiety and depression can all cause gastrointestinal symptoms such as constipation, diarrhoea and bloating. In turn, an imbalance in the microbiome or consumption of the wrong foods can cause neurological symptoms such as anxiety and depression. This is called a bi-directional relationship which means that a gut issue can cause brain symptoms and brain issues can cause gut symptoms. Sometimes it is important to tackle both issues at the same time to get lasting relief for both areas of health. 

The good news is that whatever the underlying cause of your symptoms is, they are fixable! A comprehensive stool analysis is a great start to assess your microbiome and figure out imbalances there. Your naturopath can help guide you through foods that might be irritating your gut and support your nervous system too. Healing IBS symptoms is not something that will happen in an instant, but with the right conditions, and a little bit of time, your gut can certainly heal and you can look forward to a symptom-free future.

To chat with a naturopath about how we might be able to help you, please call 07 3367 0337 and book a complimentary 15-minute assessment. We hope to help you soon ☺  

Tennis Elbow

Tennis Elbow” is the most common chronic pain condition affecting the elbow. Despite the name, only 5-10% of sufferers actually play tennis.

Tennis elbow is also known as

  • Lateral epicondylalgia
  • Lateral epicondylitis
  • Lateral epicondylosis

How does it develop?

Tennis elbows is a painful condition that presents with pain in the outer elbow and usually involves inflammation of the tendons that attach to the boney area on the head of the humerus.  Usually a repetitive stress injury, tennis elbow is caused by overuse of the forearm muscles, creating strain and tears in the muscle and tendons.

Often I see this condition come about from people who have repetitive occupations or hobbies. Carpenters, gardeners and manual labourers often develop both tennis and golfer’s elbow type pain. This is due to constant lifting and moving of heavy objects which puts too much strain on the elbow joint. Personally, I first started to experience elbow pain after lifting and constantly carrying my very clingy daughter. Like many overuse injuries, the onset was gradual.

Symptoms of Tennis elbow:

  • A slow onset, weakness of the forearm
  • Tenderness of the lateral (outer) elbow
  • Pain travelling down the forearm.
  • Pain when lifting or gripping anything heavier than a coffee cup
  • Pain may become worse by rotating the forearm.
  • The pain exacerbated by overuse, fatigue or wet weather

Note

“Golfers Elbow” occurs on the inner side of the elbow and is much less common than tennis elbow. Both injuries respond well to a course of regular acupuncture.

Standard treatment of tennis elbow

More and more doctors are recommending cortisone injections. Cortisone is a steroid with strong anti-inflammatory effects. In most cases, it can provide long term relief, but I regularly see patients who experience only short term gains. If cortisone is unsuccessful your doctor may then refer you to a specialist for further investigation.

Can Acupuncture help my Tennis elbow?

We see elbow pain regularly at BNH, both acute and chronic cases.  The consensus is that the longer the joint has been inflamed, the slower it is to fully recover. The point is that the sooner you can seek out acupuncture treatment the better and quicker the outcomes.  For the best results, you will normally require a number of acupuncture treatments. The number of sessions required will be established following an initial assessment of the injured elbow. Aside from resting the elbow, acupuncture is very good at relieving elbow pain for good.

Research

Acupuncture therapy for patients suffering from tennis elbow has shown itself to be an excellent alternative to steroid injections. Twenty-one out of 34 patients who were treated with acupuncture became much better-completely free of pain. Many of them had previously been given one or more steroid injections without improvement.

Acupuncture Therapy for Tennis Elbow

Treating the whole person

The most significant benefit of choosing acupuncture, rather than other kinds of needle-based therapies, is that your acupuncturist can assess your  whole-person signs and symptoms and tailor a whole-body treatment plan for you. Acupuncture embraces a holistic approach to the treatment of tennis elbow.

 

Prevention

• Warm-up – before you start work or sporting activities take a few minutes to warm the muscles of hands, forearm, upper arms and shoulders. This can be as simple as gently massaging these areas.

• Stretch – Develop a daily stretching routine that targets the muscles of the hands, forearms, upper arms and shoulders.

• Rest – Take days off from activities that can aggravate the condition. If you perform repetitive tasks that involve gripping or typing during the week try and avoid these movements and tasks on your days off.

If the pain from your tennis elbow continues to persist gives us a call to find out how we might be able to help you.