A few of you have asked what alternatives to use to replace mainstream chemicals, so I thought I would write a short list. You can Google anything nowadays, so I am sure you will find plenty more!
Garden and bugs
A great bug deterrent for plants is a mix of garlic, grated soap, chilli flakes, mixed in water and use in spray bottle on your plants. White vinegar on its own or with soap flakes, sprayed directly onto weeds can ‘wither’ them within a few hours.
Some plants are not as susceptible to vinegar. A waxy coating or a “hairy” (fuzzy) surface may interfere with the absorption of the vinegar. This is the type that would suffer more by adding the soap to a vinegar weed killer recipe. (1)
If you can pull out your weeds it is much better for our soil and our health.
To deter flies coming in your house try putting basil plants near the doors. There are also some great bug zappers, fly traps and mosquito deterrents and zappers available in camping stores and online.
White (home brand) vinegar, Its antibacterial, antifungal, inhibits mould, and has been shown to kill the Flu virus. Anti bacterial sprays and soaps don’t do this. They just break down the natural barrier of your skin and expose you to some nasty toxins. There are some great natural antibacterial soaps and hand washes based on olive leaf extract and tea tree oil and other essential oils. Lemon essential oil is highly antibacterial and clove essential oil is great for killing mould (be careful with this one as its pretty potent).
Bi carb soda is great for dirt you have to ‘scrub” and mixed with white vinegar makes a pretty potent cleaner!
White vinegar and newspaper makes a great glass and mirror cleaner! You probably already know that one…..
If you would prefer to buy one, the ‘Eureka’ eucalyptus and citrus spray is a great multi purpose cleaner. Its great for bathrooms and cleaning tables. I use it in my clinic and it smells great! It doubles up as a relief of aches and pains and can be sprayed onto cuts to disinfect them.
‘Eco store’ are a natural range of cleaning products and include dishwashing and clothes detergents.
Most soaps contain animal fats (sodium tallowate) and synthetic fragrances. Not really that nice to rub all over your body. There are now some great natural soaps in the supermarkets. I prefer the coconut oil based ones, but olive oil and goats milk soaps are also very soothing and nourishing for the skin. Dr. Bronner’s do an organic range of soaps and skin care. Check out:
The one big thing to avoid in skincare and make up is parabens. They have been shown to contribute to cancers. Try and avoid any long sounding chemical names. A must have is ’The Chemical Maze’ book. This pocket seized book has a comprehensive listing of chemicals in food, cosmetics and household products , analyses them and tells us what the potential sides affects can be. Get it at Booktopia here: http://www.booktopia.com.au/the-chemical-maze-bookshelf-companion-bill-statham/prod9780957853584.html?source=pla&gclid=CN_x8-XJttACFQqAvQod6kgGUQ
I have come across some great natural skin care over the years, and it just keeps getting better! Depending on your skin and your needs you can choose from Antipodes, who also have a completely natural face moisturiser with sunscreen. They have a range that suits every skin type. I also love the local ‘Renew me’ natural anti-aging skincare range for mature skin, made in Adelaide and available only online.
A range of body moisturisers I like are Avalon organics , Weleda and Dr. Bronners. Trilogy do the best hand cream I have ever come across- their ‘Ultra Hydrating hand cream “. For anyone that washes their hands a hundred times a day like me and needs to give them extra hydration.
And talking about washing hands, avoid those antibacterial washes. Apart from making bacteria more resistant, they destroy the natural barrier and of your skin, causing a ‘leaky ‘ skin barrier which is more susceptible to dermatitis. Look for a natural pH balanced hand wash. The best I have found is Melrose liquid castile soap was made from lots of lovely organic oils such as olive and flaxseed.
There are a lot of mineral make ups out there. Beware of the powders as they clog your pores. Try the liquid minerals from Inika, a fairly new and organic range of make up. I am using it right now and find its great! I also love Young Blood and Vani -T (also local). Miessence also have a range of very pure makeup, skin care and toothpaste.
Pure by phytocare make a great Papaya ointment for lips and cracked irritated skin. This one doesn’t have any petrochemicals in it like the Lucas paw paw has (the one in the red tube).
Sunscreens without the nasties
Moogoo have a great sunscreen with an SPF of 40+. UV natural have a range from sports to baby. You cant go past the popular coconut oil , although I would not recommend to rely on it if you are in the sun for hours on end. But it acts as a natural sun protectant and the more you use it, the more effective it becomes.
I really love the Biologika organic range of deodorants. They smell divine! They double up as perfumes as the essential oils they use are quite strong. But there are plenty of others that are natural and aluminium free. You can also use essential oils instead of perfumes, and make up your own unique scent with a mixture of a few of them.
Vicco , Miessence and My magic mud are some great natural toothpastes, free of chemicals and fluoride. They are great for sensitive teeth also.
Watersco. Australia have great portable water filters. They get rid of 99.9% of fluoride and alkalise your water. There are also Alkaway filters and for plumbed under the sink filters ‘Wellness Filters’ are very good.
There are a huge amount of natural alternatives out there, to help make ourselves healthier and create a healthier, safer planet to live on.
I was going for my morning jog down to the beach today, like I do every day (but sometimes it’s a bike ride on the beach or inside Pilates when it’s raining ) and it is the most beautiful spring day we have had so far. Fresh air in my lungs, about to get the sea air into my lungs. A man was in his front yard spraying weed killer (glyphosate) everywhere. And when I say everywhere, he wasn’t spot spraying he was spraying the whole lawn. So I ran down a side street to get away from this poison.
Such as downer, but the good thing is it has inspired me to write a blog on toxins! Well, some of them anyway….
Pesticides are chemicals which destroy the cells or nervous system of a living thing, be it a weed or an insect. It makes sense it can affect the cells and nervous systems of any living thing!
When I worked in a naturopathy clinic in the Adelaide hills I saw some of the most unhealthiest people from farms and vineyards who regularly used chemicals on their gardens, crops, vineyards and around their own homes.
The Australian department of health have warned the public about the use of pesticides,
please see the excerpt below. The first sentence is a bit scary!
Disadvantages of using pesticides
- If pesticides are not used correctly, they can affect human health or cause serious injury or death to the pesticide operator, other people or household pets.
- Pesticides can also directly affect other non-target animals. For example, a gardener spraying his garden to kill caterpillars will probably also kill harmless ladybird beetles and praying mantises.
- If pesticides are used incorrectly or applied wrongly, they may find their way into places where they are not wanted, for example, they might be washed into rivers or into the soil.
- Pesticides can enter the food chain
And here is a Government list of pesticides and their trade names https://www.environment.gov.au/protection/publications/ocp-trade-names
1 WEED KILLERS / ROUND UP / GLYPHOSATE
Glyphosate (Round Up) is a chemical used in weed killers that has been around since the 1970’s. This was after DDT was banned. DDT has been found to be effecting the environment 20 years later (1)
The Environmental health association or EPA, have been long interested in the reduction of chemicals in your environment. This link tells about the so called ‘inert’ chemicals have been proven to kill human cells
And if you think it is safe, think again. We were once told asbestos and DDT was safe and look at what has happened years later. They are both now banned worldwide because they are dangerous. Also, Monsanto, the people who make these chemicals are one of the biggest companies in the world (who produce GE/ GMO seeds and Round Up ) they clearly have the money to make it sound safe and try and stop any bad press. (and I am sure no one can afford to sue them, as they a multi billion dollar corporation).
2 FLY SPRAY AND INSECT SPRAYS and DEET
Fly sprays are used regularly by many people without a thought. Permethrin is a common ingredient in fly and surface sprays and has been found to a potential endocrine disruptor and to be mutagenic in humans (2)
It is a very wise idea to use fly spray when only absolutely necessary, as there are many natural options available such as fly traps and insect ‘zappers’.
Brad the ‘bug man’ from March Biological control says;
‘ Was using chemical sprays ever safe? Certainly not. Sure the fly sprays don’t affect us right away like it affects the flies and other insects. But when fly spray is used, we do inhale it and repeated use of it enables the toxic chemicals to accumulate in our body till it reaches an amount when it will affect us. ‘ (3)
DEET which is a common ingredient in mosquito repellents, is absorbed through the kidneys and skin and its highly toxic with repeated usage.
“ It’s a scary chemical, and it’s definitely to be used only as a last resort, if at all, to protect yourself from insect bites” said Ronnie Cummins, national director of the Organic Consumers Association, based in Minnesota. (4)
I think that’s enough said to encourage people not to use it.
3 WHITE ANT KILLER
This is a personal story for me. I became very ill when I was exposed to white ant treatment (done against my will as I was not the owner of the house ) in a home I was living in some time ago. It affected my nervous system so much I could hardly walk for 2 or 3 months. It was debilitating and similar to Multiple Sclerosis. It was frightening. It made me very concerned that it may happen to others.
There are a few commonly used white ant treatments which are all considered toxic to humans. This information from the government will tell you how toxic these chemicals are. Some are highly toxic. Check this out!
PERFUMES AND COSMETICS
Our skin is our biggest organ. So it makes sense not to cover it in chemicals! We absorb everything we put on our skin. Did you know before a woman leaves the house in the morning she can potentially expose herself to around 100 chemicals. This is from soaps, hair products, perfumes, deodorant or antiperspirants, skin care and make up! Then hopefully she doesn’t get into a brand new car as it will out gas formaldehyde (nervous system toxin) and plasticisers (hormone disruptors) for up to a year. Keep your windows down if this is you! A good tip is to place cut up onions around the car to absorbs the outgassing. Weird I know, but it really works….
Parabens in cosmetics are now well known as contributing to cancer. These chemical are used as a preservative and can be called anything from ‘methylparaben’ to ‘butylparaben’.
Aluminium is used in antiperspirants. It gets absorbed directly into the lymphatic system and has been linked with Alzheimer’s disease and breast cancer. See more at Pub Med https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/12123643 and https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/9575492.
CHLORINE and FLUORIDE IN WATER
Chlorine and fluoride are known are ‘ halogens’ and both Inhibit the absorption of iodine. Iodine deficiency is leading to more people becoming pre-disposed to thyroid gland dysfunction or disease and to some cancers.
Chlorine is a pesticide and its sole purpose is to kill living organisms. When we consume water containing chlorine, it destroys cells and tissue inside our body. Dr. Robert Carlson, a highly respected University of Minnesota researcher whose work is sponsored by the Federal Environmental Protection Agency, sums it up, “the chlorine problem is similar to that of air pollution” and adds that “chlorine is the greatest crippler and killer of modern times!” (5)
‘Research conducted on the health effects of chlorinated drinking water have demonstrated a variety of toxicity issues. Several studies have found that communities using chlorinated or chloraminated drinking water have an increased risk of bladder, kidney, and rectal cancers ‘(6)
Hopefully you filter your drinking water so you don’t ingest chlorine, but what about showering or bathing In it? Studies show that we absorb up to 50 times more chlorine through our lungs and skin than when we drink it.
“The steam we inhale while showering can contain up to 50 times the level of chemicals than tap water, due to the fact that chlorine and most other contaminants vaporize much faster and at a lower temperature than water. Inhalation is a much more harmful means of exposure since the chlorine gas (chloroform) we inhale goes directly into our blood stream”. (7)
We are all going to get exposed to heavy metals unwillingly, whether we like it or not. Petrol fumes contain lead or cadmium and even some light globes contain mercury!
But willingly, you have a choice. Heavy metals we can avoid are found in makeup/ cosmetics (especially the well-known brands), Dental amalgam fillings, in some fish and our water supply.
The law states that mercury is not allowed to be placed in landfill because of its toxicity, yet its placed into our teeth!
Mercury is also found in some vaccinations in the form of thimerosal (8) along with formaldehyde (commonly found in flu’ vaccinations).
We all know the incidences or cancer are a lot higher in places like Port Pire and Broken Hill from lead exposure. Lead is known to be unsafe in any levels in the body. This link will show you the evidence
Arsenic is found in insecticides and pesticides. (9) It’s worth buying organic produce for that reason, especially rice which is very high in arsenic. (unless of course its organic, which is very readily available in supermarkets).
PLASTICS AND BPA
Most people know about BPA nowadays. Or have at least seen the BPA free bottles you can buy everywhere. Bisphenol-A (BPA) is a well know endocrine (hormone system) disruptor. But plastics still contain other chemicals that are harmful such as phthalates and diethylstilbestrol which can leach from the plastics especially with heating. Cling wrap is also toxic and the chemicals can leach into your food. See this article for more information.
THE ALTERNATIVES MEAN BETTER HEALTH FOR EVERYONE AND OUR ENVIRONMENT !
There are also many chemicals in household cleaning products and clothes detergents. If you are using a highly perfumed clothes ‘brightening and whitening’ detergent, then it is being absorbed from your clothes through your skin. Some use very fine glass crystals that make the clothes appear brighter. This can irritate the skin and break down its natural barrier. Household cleaning products commonly contain ammonium and bleach which are toxins I would suggest to avoid. There are so many natural alternatives, even white vinegar and Bi-carb soda do the trick for most cleaning jobs!
Will you re-assess your chemical exposure? There are so many natural alternatives nowadays that it would be healthier and wiser to reduce your exposure to chemicals. After all, we are killing our planet, but in the meantime, we are killing ourselves with toxin overload. Some scientists are predicting that we are sending ourselves into extinction as a human race…….now that is scary……
Supermarkets and health food shops all have natural alternatives to these chemical laden products. They are easy to find, and even easier online! This company has a passion for it
And for people who have the time and love ‘do it yourself’ for natural recipes check out Australia’s Shannon Lush at http://shannonlush.com/
For anyone that is interested to find out more and maybe explore the option of doing a detox (and I don’t mean starving yourself), then please come in for a consultation and I will give you a complimentary book, “ Your guide to detox” .
You can contact me on 0419 106 019 or at email@example.com
5 METAGENICES DETOX GUIDE
6 & 8 http://www.globalhealingcenter.com/natural-health/chlorine-cancer-and-heart-disease/
“I’ve got a gut feeling about this”. We have all used this expression at some stage of our lives. There is a real relevance to this as our gut really does influence our feelings!
One way this happens is through the vagus nerve. This nerve joins your brain to your intestines, and along the way connects other organs also, such as the heart. It is one of the largest nerve systems in our body, second to the spinal cord. The vagus nerve influences our parasympathetic nervous system, which is the ‘rest and digest’ part of our nervous system.
This ‘enteric nervous system’ of the intestines is known as the second brain
Stress, fatigue and anxiety reduces vagal nerve activity. When there is poor vagal nerve activity this manifests as low digestive enzymes secretion and therefore poor digestion of foods and poor gallbladder function. This poor gut function then leads to overall inflammation in the body and this inflammation inhibits vagal activity. It’s a vicious cycle! It can lead to IBS symptoms (irritable bowel syndrome) with symptoms such as erratic bowel movements, bloating, flatulence and intestinal cramps.
Poor vagal activity → Decreased gut, pancreatic and gallbladder function
Mental health disorder → POOR BRAIN FUNCTION decreased gut immune system & intestinal blood flow
Leaky blood brain barrier ← pathogenic gut bacteria
and activation of microglial cells leaky gut, low grade inflammation
*Microglial cells are immune cells which can cause inflammation of the brain.
Leaky gut …. Leaky brain
Leaky gut or intestinal permeability is when your small intestine becomes more permeable and unwanted molecules are absorbed back into the blood stream instead of being excreted. This is a leaky gut barrier.
This is more prevalent today and I see it regularly in my clinic.
Leaky gut can be caused by;
- food allergies or intolerances
- intestinal dysbiosis (imbalance of bacteria in bowels)
- pathogens such parasites, bacteria or candida
- from frequent antibiotic use
- ongoing severe stress
- poor dietary choices.
- Poor digestion and/or low stomach acid
- Excessive alcohol intake
- Frequent NSAIDS, antacids or aspirin use
Leaky gut leads to inflammation which can increase production of cortisol (from the adrenal glands) and reduces the function of the inhibitory neurotransmitters such as GABA, which makes us feel calmer. Therefore leaky gut can lead to anxiety. It can also result in poor sleep, reduced production of serotonin and melatonin (our sleep hormone) and chronic pain.
The inflamed brain, anxiety, fatigue and poor memory
Leaky gut can cause symptoms such as fatigue, brain fog, anxiety and even depression.
These symptoms occur when the leaky gut causes inflammation in the body, and this inflammation can access the brain (the blood brain barrier) and lead to negative brain and mood health. If this is ongoing it reduces brain cell function. If it happens in the hippocampus of the brain, this contributes to low mood and cognitive function, therefore memory is affected.
“Inflammatory, toxic and oxidative stressors that arise from leaky gut can deteriorate blood brain barrier integrity. This allows the passage of unwanted compounds into the central nervous system, setting off a cascade of damaging reactions”. (1)
An example of this is the high levels of ‘MMP -9’s’ in people with schizophrenia and depression. MMP-9 is ‘matrix metalloproteinase -9’ which is a specific proteolytic enzyme which breaks down the ‘extracellular matrix’ (the complex meshwork which fills the space between the cells of your body’s tissues).
Leaky gut breaks down tryptophan, which is an amino acid needed for the production of serotonin (our happy hormone) and melatonin (our sleep hormone). You produce neurotransmitters such as serotonin and dopamine in your gut. It also activates our HPA axis, which is the communication of the hypothalamus, pituitary (glands of the brain) and the adrenals. Which can over activate the production of cortisol and adrenalin, leading to anxiety.
Over exercising is a form of inflammation which can contribute to leaky gut. So if you have a leaky gut then reduce your exercise to light to moderate.
When homocysteine levels are high, as mentioned in my previous blog on MTHFR, this results in inflammation and MMP-9 and increases intestinal permeability (yes, the leaky gut again!). This high homocysteine can be linked to having the MTHFR gene mutation.
What to do
Treat leaky gut with change of diet and lifestyle, antimicrobials, pre and probiotics and gut healing supplements. As treating leaky gut is quite complex and individualised to each person, consulting a naturopath is the best course of action here. Anti inflammatory herbs such as curcumin (in turmeric) and fish oils can be taken.
Reduce stress, anxiety and reduce exercise if there is too much.
Stimulate the vagus nerve. You can do this by singing loudly, gagging (even though not fun), gargling several times a day, with coffee enemas (not for everyone) and yoga. You could try the following exercise;
Yoga poses for digestion and vagus nerve stimulation
Kneel on a yoga mat with your buttocks on your heels. Put a rolled blanket on your lap and let it rest against your lower abdomen. Inhale to lengthen your spine and then exhale and lean forward over the blanket. Try to reach forward far enough so that you ribs are over the top of the blanket. Slowly walk your fingers forwards reaching your head down towards the mat. Breathe fully and stay in the pose as long as you like. To exit the pose just walk your hands back into a seated position.
Also deep breathing, in for three and out for five, shuts off the sympathetic nervous system ( the ‘flight and fright’) and allows for vagal activation (which activates the parasympathetic nervous system to do with – resting and digesting!)
If you have a leaky gut then adhering to an anti inflammatory gluten and dairy free diet for at least 6 weeks is recommended. I also suggest the avoidance of all sugars and processed foods. Anti inflammatory diet would contain oily fish, nuts and seeds, organic eggs, lots of organic vegetables, some fruit and limited gluten free grains such as organic brown rice, buckwheat and quinoa (they are really seeds).
Gluten has been shown to harm the gastrointestinal tract, brain and nervous system. A third of people with gluten sensitivity show no symptoms. Wheat is especially highly processed now days and it is harder to digest.
Eliminate known allergens and food sensitivities or test for these. You can also try an elimination diet and slowly introduce one food at a time to observe reactions.
Mood and gut health, to sum up…
Having and maintaining a good bacterial balance in the gut will improve;
- Digestion and nutrient uptake
- The immune system
- neurotransmitter production (ie serotonin)
- protection against toxic agents and heavy metal toxicity that can reduce mental and cognitive health
- prevention leaky gut
- prevention of local infections which can cause mood imbalances
As it is a two way street, anxiety and stress can cause leaky gut and leaky gut can cause anxiety and low mood. Re-establishing the microflora (the good bacteria) in the intestines plays an the important role of maintaining healthy moods in the long term.
If you suspect you have a leaky gut or are experiencing any of the above mentioned symptoms, please contact me for a consultation.
Biological mood management and mental health. Stacey Jarvis.
Dr. Sircus “The function of the vagus nerve”
(1) FX Medicine spring 2014. ‘The state of mind – How gut health affects the brain’. Bioceuticals trade manual
The digestive and renal systems ; Henry Oseiki and Fiona Meeke
“All disease begins in the gut” - Hippocrates
Candida alblicans are symbiotic (diverse organisms that live together) microbes which has co-evolved with humans.
Candida albicans in particular, is a yeast that we all have living in our intestines, urinary tract and vagina (for you girls). It is the most common yeasts in the human body. It is usually kept under control with the friendly lactobacillus and bifidobacteria in our gut. When it gets out of control and overgrows, it can overpopulate the bowel and other parts of the digestive tract such as oesophagus, mouth and genito -urinary tract and also can become systemic, which is known as candidiasis.
“When allowed to proliferate, candida alblicans has the ability to change from its normal yeast- fungal form to a mycelial – fungal form. The mycelial fungal form of candida produces rhizoids, which are long, root like components that are able to pierce the walls of the digestive tract and break down the protective barriers between the intestines and the blood. Penetration of the intestinal wall by fungal candida contributes to increased intestinal permeability and systemic candida infection.” (1)
Candida produces alcohol and acetaldehyde, which are toxic by-products, and cause the ‘hung over’ feeling and fatigue that many people experience. This can cause an extra burden to the immune system and liver.
Symptoms will vary from person to person and depend on how long the person has been suffering and where their inherent weaknesses are. They can include;
Gastrointestinal disturbances such as diarrhoea, bloating, flatulence, constipation, nausea
Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS)
Fibromyalgia or chronic fatigue sydrome
Joint aches and pains
Anal and/or vaginal itching
Carbohydrate and/or sugar cravings
Sensivity to mould can be related to candidiasis
How does candida overgrow?
There are many factors that let candida overgrow. Common causes of candida overgrowth are;
Oral contraceptive pill use and changes in hormones
Poor diet, high in sugar processed foods and carbohydrates
Decreased or poor immune function
Low stomach acid
Decreased gut motility and poor digestive function
Altered intestinal pH
It is also seen in some disease states such as;
Grave’s disease (auto immune hyperthyroidism)
Diverticular disease/ diverticulitis
Chronic skin disorders
This what candida looks like in your blood;
The candida buds are white. The other larger round circles are red blood cells.
Leaky gut or intestinal permeability.
Candida can lead to intestinal permeability or ‘leaky gut’. We have a protective intestinal barrier and when it becomes damaged, it becomes leaky, where the mucosal surface lets pathogens, toxins, proteins and antigens through the intestinal wall into the blood stream with detrimental effects.
Leaky Gut could be implicated as a primary contributor to asthma, food allergies, chronic sinusitis, eczema, hives, migraines, irritable bowel syndrome, fungal disorders, fibromyalgia, and inflammatory joint disorders including rheumatoid arthritis. It also contributes to PMS, uterine fibroid, breast fibroids, chronic fatigue syndrome and pediatric immune deficiencies.
Candida can be difficult to treat as it can become resistant to treatment, either conventional medical or naturopathic. This is because its produces a ‘biofilm’ to protect itself against invasion, like antibiotic resistant bacteria does.
To Diet or not to diet…
The “anti candida diet” should not be used alone. This is because candida needs to be killed, and cannot be starved just by simply changing your diet.
An anti candida diet along with the suitable treatment plan for the individual is very important.
The most important foods to avoid are sugar (including honey, and other natural sugars), wheat, processed foods and dairy products. Alcohol contains sugar and needs to be avoided and so does coffee. Some people with Candida infections can also develop an intolerance to yeasts, and find avoiding yeasts and fermented foods helpful. These include bread, vinegar, pickles, alcohol, vegemite, mushrooms, cheese, processed meats, peanuts, and old nuts which can be rancid and mouldy.
Kill off that nasty yeast…
Natural anti fungal agents include herbs such as, garlic, andrographis, olive leaf, golden seal, phellodendron, and Pau D’arco . For resistant biofilms oregano, thyme and rosemary oils are effective. Caprylic acid and lauric acid found in organic coconut oil can help kill candida. Adding liberal amounts to your diet and if needed, using coconut oil vaginal pessaries can give great welcome relief.
Healing the leaky gut and restoring a good balance of bowel flora is imperative. Healing a leaky gut can take time and a change in lifestyle and diet. There are many substances to use such as cucurmin and L- glutamine.
Correcting the terrain
To inhibit candida overgrowing, your ‘internal terrain’ needs to be improved as candida can only overgrow in an unhealthy one. Normalising your bowel habit is a great start. You should have at least one complete bowel movement a day.
Probiotics (the beneficial bacteria) come in many strains and some are more beneficial for people with candida overgrowth than others. Prebiotics such as arabinogalactans and slippery elm (these are both barks) help us produce good bowel flora and eating a high fibre diet (from vegetables) will help promote beneficial bowel bacteria. If leaky gut is a known, then there are certain D-lactate producing probiotics and fermented foods that should be avoided as they can further enhance the leaky gut. Green tea and grapeseed extracts inhibit the growth of organisms in the gut.
Low stomach acid or hypochlorydia can contribute to candida overgrowth. A good digestive enzyme complex with betaine hydrochloride will ensure you are digesting foods properly. Correcting the pH in the stomach, intestines and blood is important. A good diet and a good probiotic will influence this pH. Avoiding antacids (for example Quik–eze) and stomach acid blockers (such as Nexium or Losac) is imperative also as these will inhibit proper digestion of foods and alter the digestive pH.
The immune system needs to be supported to help fight candida. This may include taking vitamin C, vitamin D, zinc and herbs such as Astragalus and Echinacea and maybe bovine colostrum, if tolerated. Reducing or avoiding stress and getting plenty of rest help your body fight the infection further.
As fighting candida needs a holistic and aggressive approach to be successful, I would recommend the help of a knowledgeable naturopath. I can be of such help. This also means you can monitor your progress and know how long to continue your treatment plan for. I have helped my patients with candida of over 15 years now with great success.
If you would like help, please book a phone or Skype consultation or if you are in South Australia you can visit me at my clinic in Glenelg South.
I was told I had chronic fatigue by a naturopath when I was 22. I could function on a daily basis, but barely, as I dragged myself through days with no energy, intense cravings for sugar and bread, a cloudy / fuzzy head and IBS symptoms which kept me guessing what to eat every day and usually left me flat on my back with abdominal cramps every night. Some days I found it even difficult to talk or think straight. I would also get hypoglycaemia (low blood sugar levels) daily, even though I ate like a horse and had suffered a few mild panic attacks. I also had anxiety, which I thought at the time was normal.
Now 23 years later, I look back and realise it was adrenal dysfunction, leading to adrenal exhaustion, but no one had really explained this to me, not even the naturopaths I then saw. Or that it was triggered by digestive problems, stress and EBV (Epstein Barr Virus, it causes glandular fever which I had when I was a teenager). Although, they really helped me on the road to recovery and I am very grateful they helped me. This also led me to study naturopathy later on in my 20’s, which I now practice and am very passionate about!
Adrenal dysfunction or adrenal insufficiency
Have you heard of adrenal exhaustion? Or Adrenal insufficiency? More and more commonly people are suffering from this syndrome now days. Almost everyone will experience some form of adrenal dysfunction at some time in their lives. I say ‘dysfunction’, as the adrenal glands can be overactive, underactive, or fluctuate between the two. More on these stages of dysfunction later in the blog.
What do the adrenal glands do?
The adrenal glands are our 2 glands that sit above our kidneys. ‘Ad’ ‘renal’ means over the kidneys! They are about the size of a walnut. One of the main purposes of the adrenals is to help our body deal with stressors from different sources.
There are two parts the Adrenal gland, the adrenal medulla (the main part) and it surrounds the middle part of the gland; the adrenal cortex.
Hormones produced in the adrenal medulla;
- Adrenaline and noradrenalin- the flight and fright or stress hormones
Hormones produced in the adrenal cortex;
- Glucocorticoids –mainly cortisol, cortisone and also corticosterone, include controlling inflammation, helps control resistance to stress and with glucose formation.
- Aldosterone - which increase water retention and blood pressure
- Androgens such as DHEA - the hormone involved in the production of the sex hormones, testosterone and estrogen, and plays a role in cholesterol balance and bone density.
When there is too much stress to the adrenal glands…..
The adrenals react to all kinds of ‘stressors’ such as allergies, injuries and illnesses, emotional or physical stress - including exercise, not getting enough sleep or sleep problems, poor diet, high carbohydrate diets, stimulants (i.e.; caffeine, alcohol and sugar) and hormonal imbalances. The sympathetic nervous system controls the adrenal ‘medulla’; when stimulated produces adrenaline and noradrenaline.
Stage 1 - The Alarm phase.
Generally the beginnings of stress when you feel anxious and ‘stressed out’ and stuck in the ‘flight and fight’ response
Signs and symptoms of the alarm phase include-
- anxiety, racing thoughts
- rapid pulse, palpitations
- Disrupted sleep and nightmares
- easily startled
- frequent worry and racing thoughts
- loss of or increased appetite
- elevated blood pressure
During this stage Cortisol levels are high and DHEA levels are high.
Stage 2; The Adpation or Resistance Phase.
You can fluctuate between fatigue and anxiety
Symptoms can include;
- Intense anxiety
- Hormonal imbalances
- Allergies/ infections
- IBS – irritable bowel syndrome
- Low thyroid function
- Reduced sex drive
- Emotional tension
- Weight gain or loss
- Elevated cholesterol
During this stage Cortisol is high or normal and DHEA is low.
Stage 3 - The Exhaustion phase.
Your adrenals are burnt out and you’ve crashed!
The Cortisol levels and DHEA levels are both low and the adrenal glands are producing insufficient levels of these hormones. You can have;
- Decreased stress tolerance
- Depleted energy and immune system
- Back pain
- Chemical sensitivity
- Depression/ nervous breakdown
- Salt and sugar cravings
- Increased abdominal fat
- Chronic fatigue
- Swollen glands/ sore throat
- Dry skin, red palms, clammy hands
- Lowered blood pressure, and postural hypotension. Postural hypotension is when your blood pressure drops on standing quickly from a sitting or lying position causing dizziness or even fainting.
- sparse hair
- scanty perspiration
- mid back pain/tenderness which is known as “Rogoff’s sign”
- frequent urination
Other adrenal insufficiency signs
Another set of signs that someone has a tendency to adrenal insufficiency is to do with their body shape. Their arm span is taller than their height, their second toe is longer than their big toe, and their index or pointer finger is longer than their ring finger.
I think this is very interesting;
“John Tintera, M.D. was an early pioneer in recognizing and treating adrenal insufficiency. He wrote that salt is a diuretic and that hypoadrenocortics (patients with low adrenal cortex function) retain fluid because the body is trying to hold onto the salt. When enough salt is consumed, the body takes what it needs and excretes the rest. If the ankle oedema is due to insufficient salt, the oedema will usually disappear in three days after taking adequate salt. If it does not disappear in five to six days, potassium may also be needed. Vitamin B6 is also helpful for oedema not only because it has a diuretic effect but also supports the adrenal cortex.” 
So when you see a person being licked by a dog next time think of that person maybe having adrenal insufficiency! If you do add salt to your diet, make sure it is a good quality mineral salt such as Himalayan or Celtic sea salt.
So which phase are you?
You can fluctuate between all three phases, but when people generally get to the exhaustion stage they generally stay there until they have treatment/ change their lifestyle and diet and they will gradually improve. Some people, if they are at the exhaustion stage take up to a year to feel better and to get the adrenals back to normal. If it’s taken a year or two, or even ten years to get your adrenals to exhaustion stage then you can’t expect them to restore to normal function overnight! Each stage is treated very differently with diet and supplement suggestions and lifestyle changes.
Rebuilding your adrenals and your energy
To rebuild the adrenals, you should avoid all stimulants where possible. This includes caffeine in chocolate, coffee, cola and guarana in supplements, sugar, alcohol, and white flour products/ refined starches. Reduce stress and get plenty of sleep.
Eating for your adrenals
- Eat within 2 hours of waking up
- Eat frequently through the day to regulate your blood sugar levels, at least every 4-5 hours. This will prevent a drop in your blood sugar levels and will make a difference to your adrenal health and energy levels.
- Eat good quality protein at every meal. These can include organic free range eggs and chicken, fish and nuts and seeds.
- Eat a wide variety of whole, natural foods
- Combine a healthy fat, protein and carbohydrate source with every meal
- Eat lots of vegetables, especially the brightly coloured ones and preferably organic
Nutrients for adrenal health
Magnesium is a very important mineral for adrenal gland function. It is estimated that at least 80% of the population are magnesium deficient. Please be aware that there are many forms of magnesium and they are not all the same! Practitioner ranges have the most bio-available forms, meaning they are very efficiently absorbed. Potassium and magnesium together are the ‘nervous system Nutrients’. (2).
B complex vitamins are important but may be too stimulating for some people when they are extremely adrenally fatigued. In these cases, magnesium, potassium and vitamin C are the best nutrients to nourish the adrenals glands. ‘Activated’ B vitamins should be used for more efficient absorption. Vitamins B5 and B6 especially help to restore adrenal function. Always take a B- complex if you are taking singular B vitamins to avoid an imbalance occurring. Be careful during intense anxiety as the B vitamins maybe too stimulating, also when there is Chronic fatigue, take small amounts to begin with and see how you feel.
Herbs for adrenal health
There are many herbs for the adrenal glands that can help strengthen the adrenals, but also act as adaptogens. Adaptogens help your body adapt to stress and protect the adrenals from any ongoing stressors. An example of an adaptogen are; siberian ginseng, panax ginseng, withania and Rhodiola. I use other herbs simultaneously to strengthen the adrenals glands, such as Rehmannia and licorice. When there is anxiety, herbs such as withania, skullcap, magnolia and ziziphus, are great to reduce the flight and fright hormones. It is important to check your Thyroid function through a basal body temperature testing or a thyroid function test. The thyroid gland may need support also. The adrenals and thyroid work together to help regulate the nervous system.
Relax and meditate
The adrenals cannot rebuild themselves when they continually stimulated. It’s like whipping a dead horse! If you are tired, avoid ‘soldering on ‘, as this will only make the adrenals weaker. De- stress often, by meditating or doing yoga or Tai chi. Have regular massages and enjoy some time to yourself every day. During times of anxiety more intense exercise may be needed to help the body rid the stress hormones and relieve tension.
Have an Epsom salt bath before bed to get you into a deeper sleep. If you haven’t got a bath, have a warm shower and afterwards rub some lavender oil on your temples. Magnesium oil can be rubbed on the tops of your feet before bed to give the same effect as the Epsom salt bath (Epsom salt is magnesium). Sleeping well and for at least 8 hours a night is an integral part of helping the adrenals recover.
Try and practice breathing from the lower part of your diaphragm. Too many people shallow breathe when they are stressed or have anxiety. Breathe in for a count of 3, and out for a count of 5, when you feel anxious or finding it hard to get to sleep.
Also, our adrenals are patterned from birth, we pick up stresses in utero (the womb) and during childhood, which can have long term effects on our adrenal glands. In families, there may be a genetic pattern, where the all of family members have a similar weakened adrenal response.
No matter what stage you are in, there is a sure road to recovery! I am here, better than I have ever been in my life, to help you recover also!
Please contact me if you feel you have a problem with your adrenals
1; an excerpt From Angela Hywood on ‘The Adrenal insufficiency syndrome’
NLS Salivary hormones training manual, 2009
Do you get sad and down in winter? In Australia about 1 in 300 people are effected by seasonal affective disorder. (1)
Especially in the southern states of Australia where there is less sun and cooler temperatures in winter.
SAD is also known as ‘ winter blues’ and is a mood disorder that affects people in the winter months when there is less sunlight. These people get down and depressed in the winter months, have less energy and sleep for longer than usual. They may also experience weight gain, mood swings irritability, have appetite changes and be hypersensitive. Withdrawing from social situations is also common.
BUT…. Did you know that you can also get the opposite in summer? When there is more sun and longer daylight hours some people experience more anxiety and energy and less sleep. Melatonin is our sleep hormone produced by the pineal gland in the brain.
In the colder winter months, the reduction in sunlight means our melatonin is produced earlier in the day and sometimes its production is also prolonged in the mornings. This upsets our ‘ circadian rhythm’ which is our internal 24 hour sleep/ wake cycle. Research suggests that SADs is to do with the delay in our circadian rhythm. These changes in melatonin also influence our serotonin levels which is our ‘happy ‘ hormone and in turn influences our mood.
More on Melatonin ….. for more than just sleeping
Melatonin also regulates core body temperature, is immune enhancing and has antioxidant properties. Most people are familiar with it helping lessen jet lag whilst traveling.
It treats age related insomnia and improves sleep efficiency in Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s and Hungtinton’s diseases.
It also reduces blood pressure in people that are hypertensive (already have high blood pressure. )
C’mon get happy again!
Natural Treatment options
US research showed that walking 3 times a week for 30 minutes if you are depressed can make you feel less depressed. I would recommend if you suffer from SADS you exercise every day and outdoors so then you get natural sunlight and vitamin D as well. Sunlight stimulates the pineal gland in the brain to produce melatonin at night time to induce sleep and regulates our circadian rhythm.
A dose of sunlight first thing in the morning can help with our serotonin and melatonin production and set our body clock or circadian Rhythm.
The more we are exposed to sunlight the more serotonin we produce which can stave off day time melatonin and depression. Melatonin makes us feel sleepy and is produced as the sun goes down.
Research has shown that 15 minutes of blue light therapy is equivalent to 2 hours of natural sunlight. Blue light is used as research has found that this specific colour light stimulates the part of our retina which differentiates night time from day time. You can read more about this HERE
Jeff Collings, clinical director of sleep and snoring solutions company MCS Australia, recommends busy office workers getting little to no natural light keep a blue light box on their desk. “A ten minute burst when you are feeling a little low can really perk you up. The light works instantly and is completely natural.”
Bright white full spectrum light at 10,000 lux, blue light at a wavelength of 480 nm at 2,500 lux or green (actually cyan or blue-green) light at a wavelength of 500 nm at 350 lux are used, with the first-mentioned historically preferred. (3)
For comparisons on the different types of light therapies available, check out http://light-therapy-lamps-review.toptenreviews.com/.
Pub med have many research papers on Light therapy and depression. Have a look at this one “The efficacy of light therapy in the treatment of mood disorders: a review and meta-analysis of the evidence” HERE
Professor Trevor Norman is a psychiatrist in Melbourne and he says research into bright light therapy has offered the most hope. “In one study at the Austin Hospital in Melbourne, they found sitting in front of a bright fluorescent light effectively reduced symptoms.” (4)
To Supplement or not to supplement?
A study showed that St. Johns wort improve the condition in those who regularly experienced winter depression. Is has been shown to be more effective in conjunction with light therapy. Other adrenal and adpatogen hebs can lift mood and help us feel more alive in the winter months. These include the ginsengs, Siberian and panax, and other herbs to keep in mind are Rhodiola and Withania. Withania is one of my favourite herbs. It helps us with moods, sleeping, reduces anxiety and has mild antidepressant qualities.
Vitamin D and Essential Fatty acids
If you are getting less sunlight then you may be vitamin D deficient. Vitamin D is important for all round brain health as vitamin D receptors in increase nerve growth in the brain. Optimal levels are at least 100 mol/l. As vitamin D is fat soluble taking it with fats will increase its absorption. Omega 3 fatty acids are also important for brain health. These fats found in fish oil help stabilise moods and emotions.
5HTP or 5 – hydroxytryptophan, an activated form of the amino acid tryptophan, is the precursor to serotonin, along with co factors vitamin B6, magnesium and folate. This is a practitioner only product and is best discussed with your naturopath.
Researchers at Oregon Health and Science University (OHSU) have found that melatonin, a naturally occurring brain substance, can relieve the doldrums of winter depression, known as seasonal affective disorder, or SAD. I would not recommend this in all cases.
Get your gut health right!!
The majority of serotonin is produced in our gut. So it’s imperative to have a good balance of the gut flora. Eating a healthy diet of fresh foods with plenty of vegetables will help our gut produce more of the good bacteria. You may crave carbohydrates and processed foods but they will only encourage growth of the bad bacteria and result in less serotonin production. A good quality probiotic will be valuable here.
So to Sum up
A combination of different therapies is suggested to counteract SAD. I would recommend that if you suffer from this, that you exercise and get sunlight daily at the very least. Come and see me for a consultation if you would like more help with this or any other aspects of your health.
You can contact me on 0419 106 019 or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
2 Sleep, health and consciousness, a physicians guide. Reza Samvat and Henry Oseki.