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.

Why Bone Broth?

It is said in Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) we receive qi from our parents and from what we put into our bodies. We take the breath from air into our lungs and food into our stomach and spleen and together they make Qi and blood.

By using bone broth you will nourish the kidneys, support our vital essence (qi), and build blood.

TCM views, blood as an essential fluid.  This means that without blood, your body will not be able to perform its usual functions.  When blood is used throughout the day, it has to be replenished. Stress, exercise, work, and studying are just a few ways that your body uses blood.  Bone Marrow is where the body makes both red and white blood cells. By using bones filled with rich marrow, we are able to extract this property and infuse it into our own cells.  By drinking nutritious bone broth, you are giving your body what it needs to heal itself.

According to TCM theory, bone marrow is produced from Kidney Jing. So, basically drinking a cup of bone broth daily is like drinking a cup of Kidney Jing.

The main functions of the kidneys include:  storing essence, controlling reproduction along with growth and development, producing marrow, controlling the bones, and manufacturing blood.  Because of these main functions, it is easy to understand why drinking bone broth would help to nourish the kidneys. A deficient kidney could lead to impotence and infertility, weak knees and lower back pain, tinnitus, poor memory, and fatigue.  By strengthening the kidneys, bone broth supports skin, nails, joints, connective tissue, as well as the immune system. It contains concentrations of stem cells which have the ability to become red blood cells, white blood cells, and platelets. Red blood cells carry oxygen throughout the body, white blood cells are crucial for the immune system, and platelets are clotting factors.

Bone broths will give your body a much-needed boost.

Using bone broths will increase the production of qi and blood. Specific types of food such as dates, goji berries, dark leafy greens, and oysters replenish blood. Others such as sweet potato, peanuts, glutinous rice, and prawns restore qi.

Then there are some foods such as bone broth, that will nourish both qi and blood. Bone broth is both nutritious and delicious. Bone broth is made by simmering the bones (from beef, chicken, pork, or lamb) for an extended period of time in order for the gelatin and collagen in the bone marrow to break down and infuse into the broth.

There are four secrets to making good bone broth:

1. Use the highest quality organic bones you can find. Bones from grass-fed animals is best.

2. Add a good splash of apple cider vinegar to the water to draw the minerals out of the bones into the broth.

3. Roast and brown the bones in the oven before adding them to the stock. This gives you a richer flavour.

4. Cook on the lowest temperature for 24 to 48 hours to draw out the gelatin and minerals from the broth.

5. Be in the moment when you’re making it—and see the process as a therapy in and of itself.

Bone broth truly is a super food and daily consumption is highly beneficial for the body. If you can’t make your own, we recommend Meadow and Marrow broth concentrates to make an instant cup (available in the clinic).

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.


Natural Treatment of Depression

Depression can be a crippling condition that really needs a proper diagnosis from a medical practitioner or psychologist. Patients diagnosed with depression experience a persistent decline in their mood, which can be associated with low motivation, social isolation, poor sex drive, tiredness, excessive sleep and weight gain. It is important to note that these symptoms can be due to other factors such as nutritional deficiencies adrenal fatigue and thyroid dysfunction – so assessing these factors is essential in figuring out if the issue is truly depression or another physiological process masking itself as depression.

Why do people get depressed?

Often we experience a decline in mood or a desire to go into our cave and hibernate as a response to a major life stressor or trauma – and this is a very normal response to those situations. If you think about it, it makes sense that when life hits the fan (so to speak) we take time out of our normal activities to lick our wounds and to recover. If you are feeling down in response to a break-up, loss of job or loss of a loved one, it is probably a normal response and may actually be important for you to take this time out for yourself. If you are feeling excessively down and there is no good reason for it, then there is likely something going on with your neurochemistry and thinking patterns causing this, and it needs attention.

Neurochemistry is a fancy name for the chemical signals that your brain sends from one neuron to another. When we have an imbalance in our neurochemistry, we can not send healthy signals and can feel depressed as the message is not getting through – or even anxious as the message gets through but just too loud. Chemical messages require building blocks to be produced (just as a cake needs the right ingredients to rise) and the right stimulus to be released (and the cake needs to go into the oven at a certain temperature) so that the signal is sent from one neuron to the next. Naturopathy works to supply the building blocks in the form of vitamins, minerals and amino acids for the chemical messages, helps to reduce neuroinflammation (low level brain inflammation that is linked to depression) with the use of herbal medicine, nutritional medicine and gut healing, and encourages the brain to send healthy signals so that you can feel better. Sometimes fixing these issues can be quite fast and easy, and other times it takes a long time to figure out the imbalances and re-establish good function.

What if I was just born this way?

Often we are born with a predisposition towards a certain neurochemical pattern, which means that we may be predisposed towards anxiety or depression, but our genetics are not the end of the line when it comes to these conditions. We can support and modify our physiology to improve function and quality of life by providing the building blocks for healthy neurotransmitters, supporting the structure of neurons with omega 3 fatty acid, promote healthier neural pathways with herbs and calm down the damaging effects of the sympathetic nervous system (fight or flight system) with herbs and nutrients. Our physiology is not static – it is in constant flux in response to the internal and external environment – and that means that it can always change. A good book to read is Normal Doidge’s “The Brain That Changes Itself” to understand just how malleable the brain is. Think about your physiology as the type of car you have. You may have been born with a Ferrari or perhaps a Volvo – these cars are going to have different strengths, weaknesses and functions, but regardless of the type of car – they can be running very well or terribly depending on the level of service we provide them. If you never change the oil, use crappy fuel and flog your vehicle – it is not going to run very well – and likewise in the opposite direction – given the correct love and care, each vehicle has the ability to perform at it’s absolute best. The same can be said for your biology and brain function. Given the right conditions, it can perform at it’s absolute best or its worst – and that is where naturopathy can really help – getting your car on the road and running at full capacity.

Is it just herbs and nutrients?

Aside from the neurochemistry, the other aspect of good mental health is the thought patterns that we have become accustomed to. They say that there are pathways of the brain that become like superhighways, with thoughts speeding down them as this is the fastest track. For example, you may have a thought or belief that you are not good enough and any time that someone cuts you off in conversation or doesn’t listen intently, you may find your brain immediately going down this pathway of ‘that happened because I am not good enough’ – strengthening this neural pathway and consolidating that negative belief. Working with practitioners who specialize in providing you with the tools to recognise unhealthy beliefs and thought patterns and create new and healthier neural pathways is as important as making sure that you have healthy neurotransmitter function. Practitioners such as hypnotherapists, psychologists, and some specialised counselors can assist in these areas and are a great adjunct to naturopathic care for depression.

The bottom line is that there is always something that can help. When you feel depressed, you can feel very helpless and stuck, but it is important to have hope and to know that there are people out there to help you. Our bodies and our minds want to be well, sometimes we need to do a little digging and investigative work to figure out what is holding us back from ultimate good health, but there is always something that can make a difference.

If you are concerned about your immediate safety, please contact a crisis centre such as beyond blue 1300 22 4636 or lifeline 13 11 14 or go straight to your local GP.


Natural Treatment of Alopecia

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

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


What can we do about it?

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

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