Tuesday, November 29, 2011

A day in the life: Clare's Food for a Day

A day in the life

As health practitioners, we are always talking to patients about ways of cleaning up their life to make healing easier. Making dietary changes is one of the big topics that comes up in most consultations. The main things we're talking to patients about is cutting down or cutting out booze, coffee, sugar, processed foods. Sometimes when patients are showing signs they may be a candidate for metabolic syndrome and type II diabetes we suggest a month of resensitising themselves to insulin - by cutting out grains, fruit and sugar for a month. For people who have muesli or cereal for breakfast, sandwich for lunch, pasta for dinner - a diet without grains would seem impossible.

Well for me, it's the daily standard. I have gluten intolerance, and a slightly unhappy thyroid gland, which makes me a prime candidate for a very low grain diet. I eat plenty of vegetables and get my carbohydrates from veggies and small amount of fruit. If you want some ideas about what you can do if you're not eating a wheat based product - check out what my typical day of food looks like.

As much as it may be tough to have someone tell you to cut out on x,y,z from your diet, make sure it's something they have done themselves so they know what they're talking about. Some may hate me for it, but yes in my case I do walk the walk as well as talk the talk!! It is indeed possible to live a happy and full life without caffeine, alcohol, sugar or bread.

So what did I actually eat last Tuesday?

Tuesdays are a busy day for me, and one of the worst nutritional days of the week for me for this reason. It's my one day at clinic that I finish late, so I like to give myself a bit of a sleep in. I wake up around 8am, do my morning yoga, make breakfast and get ready for work. I always have a cooked breakfast, I find it sustains me really well throughout the morning and into the early afternoon. On this particular day, I ate an egg, some bacon, mushrooms, sundried tomatoes, a roasted artichoke and some cucumber - all cooked in extra virgin coconut oil NOT olive oil. A pot of liquorice tea helps to support my adrenal function, and you can see my other powdered supplements there that I take each day - a magnesium drink and a zinc+vit c combo.

Women's multi, CoQ10, Vitamin D, a general probiotic (nothing out of the ordinary so far), Adrenal Gland extract, chinese herbal formula Rehmannia Six (Liu wei di huang wan), and a thyroid support supplement. Phew, what a list!!

Then I head into work for the day, starting around 11am. On this particular day however I left my lunch behind, so emergency lunch it was. I popped over to the local supermarket and picked up some salad, some smoked salmon and a yummy mustard/balsamic dressing. Out of the 10s of brands on the shelf, it was the only one that was sugar free - it's such an eye opener to read your labels before purchasing food items. If you're not already a label reader, you should start, so that you can become a conscious consumer.

I found 30 minutes between patients to eat my lunch, to sit down and just quietly chew. Then back to work, with patients through until 7:30pm. I find a get a bit peckish throughout the afternoon - so there's always something on hand to tide us through. Today it was a little pile of macadamias, some dates and some blueberries.

Berries are just so magnificent at this time of year, so I make the most of it and happily snack on them whilst they're in season.

Finally I finish work at 7:45pm and head home. I'm home by 8:10pm, a quick whip up in the pan of some kebabs, and a plate of salad and I'm sitting down to dinner by 8:20pm. Organic chicken kebabs cooked in coconut oil, salad with olive oil and balsamic dressing. I overcatered, and couldn't finish my kebabs so tomorrow's breakfast here we come! An hour or so of winding down on the couch, then I head off to bed.

Total food preparation time for the day: 15 mins
Added sugar = None
Could have done better? - Normally I eat more veggies, it's hard to get enough when eating salad because there's so much air and not a lot of bulk, but all in all it's not a bad nutritional day.

Friday, November 18, 2011

High Testosterone in women - it's more common than you think.

High testosterone levels in women are one of the leading causes of a range of conditions - the most prevalent and commonly diagnosed is PCOS. We have a large number of women attend our clinic with a diagnosis of PCOS, majority of them have never been told about the possibilities of what might cause their condition, that their condition is not necessarily permanent, and that there are things they can do on a daily basis that can change the course of their disease and improve their symptoms.

A range of underlying abnormalities lead to PCOS, infertility, abnormal menstrual cycles, hormonal acne, including:
  • insulin resistance, often secondary to obesity
  • elevated hormonal androgens, primarily testosterone
  • lowered progesterone levels causing erratic ovulation.   

    Signs of high tesosterone in women:
    • darker hair growth on the body
    • hair growth on face and bellow the belly button
    • acne that appears on the face the same time every month

      High testosterone is commonly found in the average city-dwelling under-the-pump working woman.
      Treatment for the symptoms of high testosterone can vary according to the problem you report to your doctor. Treatments can range from:
      • oral contraceptive medications to control hormonal acne
      • clomiphene tablets to aid in ovulation for fertility issues/PCOS
      Clomiphene tablets maybe combined with steroid tablets to suppress androgen production - most often in women who are wanting to conceive. However this does not address the underlying issue, and is unfortunately associated with an increased rate of miscarriage if conception does occur. Forcing ovulation with clomiphene is not useful for all women, and can cause damage to your fertility if it is not suitable for you.
      To check your testosterone levels (and other hormones) you must see the free amount of hormone circulating in your body, this is done via saliva testing. The causes of elevated testosterone are:

      • A high sugar and carbohydrate diet
      • Ovarian and adrenal dysfunction
      • Your body converts too much hormone precursors into testosterone (excess aromatisation)
      • Impaired liver detoxification function
      • Supplementation with testosterone
      • Low sex hormone binding globulin (SHBG)
      • Increased stress
      • Insulin resistance
      • Low thyroid function (TSH should be between 0.5 – 2)
      Obesity and PCOS
      Women who are obese may be predisposed to PCOS and elevated testosterone.  Fatty tissue produces oestrogen and stores oestrogen, leading to hormonal imbalances that affect the development and ripening of immature follicles within the ovary. Fatty tissue also secretes excess androgens leading to many of the masculine signs and symptoms of PCOS (eg facial hair).  Thus weight loss and control for those with weight issues is a must, especially if weight is carried around the abdomen.

      Researchers describe ‘belly fat’ an active "organ", one that churns out hormones and inflammatory substances. ‘Abdominal fat is thought to break down easily into fatty acids, which flow directly into the liver and into muscle’ according to Lewis Kuller MD DPH, professor and past chair of epidemiology at the University of Pittsburgh School of Public Health.
      The increase in hormone production and inflammatory substances produced in the abdominal fat lead to overworking the liver and reducing the effectiveness of hormonal clearance. In a cascade of endocrine effects, insulin becomes less effective in controlling blood sugar, insulin resistance can sets in, and here we have yet another cause of PCOS (see earlier post on PCOS).

      Blood Sugar Levels and Testosterone

      Type II diabetes OR high sugar intake in diet causes insulin resistance and is a major cause of PCOS. Type II diabetes is controlled with drugs like Metformin, or as studies have shown, a low carbohydrate combined with exercise is as effective but without the side effects of medication. A low GI sugar free diet is a must for anyone with PCOS symptoms. The close relationship between insulin resistance and diet control is a number one priority for anyone wanting to cure themselves of high testosterone or PCOS.  Insulin up-regulates the production of testosterone, and high blood sugar levels present in "carbohydrate specialists" who are eating muesli for breakfast, sandwiches for lunch, fruit for snacks and pasta for dinner, are a big part of the problem for most women with hormonal imbalance.

      Other factors that impact on insulin are low levels of magnesium, high carbohydrate and sugar intake, coffee and smoking.

      The role of the liver
      Dysfunctional liver detoxification pathways also contribute to hormonal imbalances in women, leading to acne, anovulation and PCOS. The liver is responsible for clearing built up hormones in the body, especially via the sulphation and glucoronidation pathways. When the liver is overloaded with the use of alcohol, caffeine, pharmaceutical or non-pharmaceutical drugs, the clearance of elevated stress hormone, environmental toxins, cleaning agents, aerosolized paints, thinners, or under attack by viral hepatitis, then the liver is unable to clear hormones from the blood stream. Estrogen and testosterone levels then build up. 

      The treatment for a stressed liver is stress reduction, gut detox and liver detox. Look over the blog on stress (http://bit.ly/lxCh9o) to see that stress is not just physiological, and all stressors must be removed or reduced. Speak to a healthcare practitioner to guide you through a gut and liver detox (which may also aid in weight loss). Bacterial, yeast build up or parasites in the bowel prevent toxin and hormonal clearance from the body. The gut should always be checked for the presence of any of these problems and be addressed before commencing a liver detox, otherwise toxins and hormones are unable to be effectively cleared from the body and re-enter circulation.

      Other Causes of PCOS
      An Adrenal gland dysfunction, Chronic high stress levels or an adrenal tumor – Imbalanced levels of the stress hormone cortisol and sex hormone DHEA, both secreted from the adrenal glands create stress in the body which impacts on ovarian function, which causes PCOS.  Your diurnal variation of cortisol throughout the day can be tested at our clinic via a saliva test. Contact us for a referral for a saliva hormone testing kit.

      Stress and PCOS
      Stress, perhaps you may need to think about that one again…..Stress can not only cause ovarian dysfunction but cortisol can suck up our levels of progesterone, as progesterone is a precursor to make cortisol.  PCOS and the resulting lack of ovulation can be due to a lack of progesterone.

      Low levels of Progesterone
      The lack of progesterone is detected by the hypothalamus, which continues to try to stimulate the ovary by increasing its production of GnRH, which increases the pituitary production of FSH and LH. This stimulates the ovary to make more estrogen and androgens, which stimulates more follicles toward maturation. If these additional follicles are also unable to produce a matured ovum or make progesterone, the menstrual cycle is dominated by increased estrogen and androgen production without progesterone. This is the fundamental abnormality that creates PCOS. (Ref 5)

      Progesterone can be supplemented with herbs and natural progesterone cream which we can write you a referral to get. Reduction of stress is paramount.

      Low Sex Hormone Binding globulin
      SHBG Sex hormone-binding globulin (SHBG) or sex steroid-binding globulin (SSBG) binds to sex hormones, mostly to testosterone and estradiol. These hormones circulate in the bloodstream, bound mostly to SHBG and only a small fraction is unbound, or "free," and thus biologically active.  Thus,  SHBG inhibits the function of these hormones. (Ref 6 )

      Causes of Low SHBG are: Use of the Oral Contraceptive Pill – OCP, Excess protein, alcohol, thyroid disease and excess soy consumption. (Ref 7)

      Androstenediol can be taken to increase testosterone, as it converts directly into testosterone, and is used mostly by weight lifters to build strength and increase immunity.

      Low thyroid Function
      A poorly functioning thyroid gland affects adrenal gland function, and the liver's ability to detoxify testosterone via the sulphation and glucoronidation pathways. This leads to higher testosterone levels and lower SHBG, see above.

      Pituitary dysfunction
      This will lead to an abnormal secretion of other menstrual related hormones, causing anovulation, and a build up of follicles within the ovaries. This is the last call, and should be checked if all else fails.

      Low levels of Magnesium
      Recently, there are  reports about correlations between insulin resistance and deficiency of magnesium.  Some of mechanisms is when there is magnesium deficiency, magnesium fails to activate tyrosine kinase of insulin receptor and hyperinsulinemia stimulates magnesium excretion. It is expected that the exact mechanisms between insulin resistance, metabolic syndrome and magnesium metabolism. (Ref 8)

      Elevated Boron levels in the blood
      Unknown to the vegetable of fruit consumer, toxic Boron levels are in soils derived from marine evaporites and marine argillaceous sediment, which can carry thourgh into the food we eat, unless eating organically.  The most important source is irrigation water, but others include wastes from surface mining, fly ash, and industrial chemicals (ref 9). Hair levels of iron, boron, calcium, and zinc are often concomitantly elevated with lead burden. Lead exposure includes welding, old leaded paint (chips/dust), drinking water, some fertilizers, industrial pollution, lead-glazed pottery, and newsprint. (Ref 10)
      Boron's link with high testosterone is via its effects on decreasing serum magnesium serum which can impact on insulin resistance (Ref 7).

      Elevated Copper 
      Copper reduces adrenal and thyroid function, see above.
      Medical conditions that may be associated with excess copper include: biliary obstruction (reduced ability to excrete Cu), liver disease (hepatitis or cirrhosis), and renal dysfunction. Symptoms associated with excess Cu accumulation are muscle and joint pain, depression, irritability, tremor, hemolytic anemia, learning disabilities, and behavioral disorders. See Dr Kaslow webpage on copper-zinc imbalances.
      However, it is important first to rule out contamination from hair products and dyes, bleaches, swimming pool/hot tub water, and washing hair in acidic water carried through copper pipes. In the case of contamination from hair preparations, other elements (aluminum, silver, nickel, titanium) are usually also elevated.

      Sources of excessive copper include contaminated food or drinking water, excessive Cu supplementation, and occupational or environmental exposures. Insufficient intake of competitively absorbed elements such as zinc or molybdenum can lead to, or worsen Cu excess.  (Ref 11)

      Copper and Boron may be tested via hair mineral analysis, with a referral from our clinic.

      Aromatises Inhibitors
      Aromatise inhibitors (AIs) are a class of drugs used in the treatment of breast cancer, ovarian cancer and in post menopausal women

      Anti-estrogen aromatase inhibitors offer their anti estrogenic effect by blocking the enzyme responsible for synthesizing or converting testosterone into estrogen via a process called aromatization. Thus their effect is to decrease estrogen and increase free testosterone and insulin growth factor levels in the body. 

      I think I might have a problem with my testosterone levels
      Although there are many causes for elevated testosterone, we can usually determine which cause is related to your symptoms quite quickly and effectively. At the Discover clinic we use clinically proven herbal and nutritional supplements to directly bring down testosterone levels, regulate insulin levels, treat thyroid imbalances, increase liver detoxification pathways and help clear heavy metal build up.  With the correct treatment, and sound advice on diet PCOS can be very well treated. PCOS is definitely not a life sentence.


      4. 2007, ‘Risks of Belly Fat’, WebMD, viewed 7/7/11 - www.webmd.com/diet/risks-weight-around-waist-7/belly-risks?page=2
      5. PCOS and Infertility viewed on the 27/10/11 at http://www.ovarian-cysts-pcos.com/progesterone.html
      6. Wikipedia, viewed on the 27/10/11 at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sex_hormone-binding_globulin
      7.   ARL pathology, Healthscope Manual, pg 96
      8. 2005,  Higashiura K, ‘Magnesium and insulin resistance’,  Clin Calcium. PUBMED, 2005 Feb;15(2):251-4. [Article in Japanese] Second Department of Internal Medicine, Sapporo Medical University School of Medicine. PMID:15692165, [PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
      9.  Ross O, 1997,    Boron toxicity,      Plant and Soil, Chapter 12,  193: 181–198, CSIRO Land and Water, P.M.B., P.O. Aitkenvale, QLD 4814, Australia_, 2Water Management Research, Kluwer Academic Publishers. Printed in the Netherlands.
      10. Jeremy E. Kaslow, MD, FACP, FACAAI Physician and Surgeon,  Lead, Found on  the 24/10/11 on the  Dr.Kaslow.com site  - http://www.drkaslow.com/html/hair_analysis.html
      11. Viewed on the 27/10 11 at -http://www.drkaslow.com/html/hair_analysis.html

      Friday, October 21, 2011

      Constipation in Babies and Children

      There are many causes of constipation:
      -    overeating
      -    irregular eating times
      -    weaning the child too early
      -    stress
      -    not drinking enough water
      -    eating ice-cold foods
      -    drinking ice-cold drinks

      Treatment of Constipation
      -    regular meal times without snacks
      -    avoiding frozen foods like ice-cream
      -    drinking room temperature water instead of chilled water
      -    reduce cold-energy foods
      -    eat more foods that are easy to digest and lubricate the intestines

      Foods to Lubricate the Intestines (avoid if bowels are loose or poorly formed)
      -    bananas
      -    nuts and seeds
      -    prune juice
      -    fig syrup
      -    apples, pears, oranges, plums, cucumber, mung beans, tomatoes,

      Foods to Avoid
      -    ice-cream, frozen yoghurt, icy poles (except very hot days 35 degrees +)
      -    reduce the amount of high protein foods (eggs, meat) that exacerbate constipation
      -    spices, fried or grilled foods, fatty and rich foods

      Friday, October 14, 2011

      Pregnancy Pack - Buy this pack for the ones you love

      Healthy Labour and post labour

      This pack is designed to treat both the mother and her baby.

      1.        Labour tincture – Made with herbs to promote energy and blood. This tincture is used during labour to help the mothers endurance and to promote the labours onset. The labour tincture is designed to sipped throughout labour.

      2.        Blood tonic drops – Is used by the mother to boost blood and energy after labour. A lot of blood is lost after labour, and this blood needs to be replenished to increase breast milk, boost energy and prevent post natal depression. There are also herbs that help clear out the uterus of old blood and prevent infection. Please take 1 teaspoon 3 times a day in water for at least 3 weeks after birth.

      3.        Ultra Flora restore – Boosts healthy flora (friendly bacteria) in the intestines. Babies receive their positive intestinal bacteria via their mother’s breast milk. A positive bacterium maintains a normal healthy gastrointestinal system and digestive function. The intestines are where we absorb our vitamins and minerals, and healthy intestinal flora is crucial for a strong immune system.

      To buy this pack contact :
      Discover Chinese Medicine
      Ground Floor
      Suite 3,193A Lennox St,
      Richmond, VIC 3121
      P          03 9013 1777
      E          contact@discovertcm.com.au
      W         http://www.discovertcm.com.au

      IVF & Fertility

      Five of the seven rules froma Chinese Medical practitioners perspective:

      STAY WARM – An old Chinese saying “You can not cook a bun in a cold oven”

      Before and after the transfer, and throughout the pregnancy make sure that your feet are warm. According to Chinese medicine the essence that creates embryos comes from Kidney qi. The kidney meridian starts at the sole of the foot, so if we let the feet get cold then the cold travels up the channel and into the Kidneys, reducing their vitality. This also applies if your trying to conceive and through out your first trimester.

      This means no bare feet on cold surfaces! Open toed shoes and wearing light shoes in colder months is also not appropriate. If your toes are cold, then you need to wear sox and appropriate shoes, even if that means wearing shoes rather than sandals in a Melbourne summer.

      Before the transfer book in to see your Chinese doctor before the transfer, if this is not possible then take a warmed wheat bag or used a moxa stick on your lower abdomen and lower back before the transfer. Keep your lower abdomen and back warm, but not hot, especially throughout the first trimester. This means wearing clothes that cover your lower back and tummy, ie. tuck in your shirt, wear high waist pants or skirts or wear a home made kidney wrap, made from cloth or wool.


      No caffeine, this includes black teas like earl grey, English breakfast, green teas, coke and Pepsi, and of course no coffee! Caffine also reduces the body's absorption of iron. Decaf is full of chemicals so stay away from this also. 

      There is minimal caffeine in white tea, and no caffeine in herbal teas, so enjoy these teas instead. If you are a heavy coffee drinker wean yourself off coffee over a 2 week period.

      Relax. This means mentally and physically. Let go of your worries for today, do not worry about timelines or dead lines, and try to stay away from situations that make your frustrated or anxious.

      Practice a light form of yoga, gentle Iyengar or Hatha yoga, and let your instructor know that you are trying to conceive and want to drop your stress levels.

      High impact exercise is good in moderation, but not just before a transfer, and not during pregnancy as it raises Cortisol our stress hormone too much.

      Good levels of Progesterone is important to hold a fertilized egg within the womb. Progesterone gets converted to Cortisol, so if you are stressed or exercising too much or too hard, then you are more likely to miscarry.

      Energy that you expend outwards is energy that could be feeding another life inside of you. Take time to do things that make you relaxed, watch a movie, walk in the park, get a massage, get a facial ect.


      In China, acupuncture is often daily for 7 days and then a few days break and then repeated again. Discover Chinese Medicine recommends acupuncture once to twice a week leading into an IVF. Come in for at least 10 treatments before your transfer, and try to fit this in 6 weeks before transfer if possible.

      Women having IVF treatment can boost their chances of falling pregnant by 65 per cent simply by having acupuncture.
      A review combining the results of seven previous studies has found that acupuncture also increases the chances of having an ongoing pregnancy (beyond 12 weeks from gestation) by 87 per cent - and nearly doubles the chance of a successful live birth, increasing that by 91 per cent. Ref 1  

      Acupuncture can reduce Cortisol levels, balance hormones, and increase blood flow to the uterus. For more information about how acupuncture can help with fertility and IVF this website has many article links; visit http://www.acupunctureivf.com.au


      Folate (folic acid) is very important during this time. So eat plenty of green, leafy vegetables like asparagus, spinach, kale, turnip greens, collard greens, beans, peas, etc. Also, there should be plenty of folic acid in your prenatal vitamin.

      Calcium & magnesium citrate should also be in the pre natal vitamin supplement. To obtain good levels of calcium eat fish where the bones are eaten like sardines and consume dairy if possible. Black Beans, Nuts, pumpkin seeds and cooked spinach all contain magnesium.

      Taking a supplement of iron is recommend if you iron stores are on the low side.   Good sources of iron include: lean beef and lamb, poultry, fish , eggs, chick peas, lentils, kidney and lima beans, green vegetables such as broccoli, cabbage and spinach

      Eating foods high in vitamin C will also help you to absorb iron if you consume them at the same time. Try drinking a glass of water with a quarter lemon when eating green vegetables or legumes.

      A pro DHA can help with an “irritable uterus”, and also build good levels of essential fatty acids in your system, essential for baby’s brain and nervous system development.

      Eat lots of fresh and organic foods when possible to increase the vitamin and mineral levels n your body.

      To aid the Thyroid make sure iodine is part of you prenatal supplement.


      Undiagnosed, untreated or insufficiently treated thyroid conditions can endanger your pregnancy, increasing the risk of miscarriage, intrauterine growth retardation, pre-term labor, stillbirth, and cognitive problems/mental retardation in your child. Ref 2

      Successful Fertility clinics often include thyroid testing as part of a fertility testing.  Undiagnosed and untreated thyroid problems can not only impact on fertility but also worsen pregnancy symptoms such as fatigue, hair loss, depression, and morning sickness.

      Thyroid stimulating hormone - TSH is released from the pituitary gland, which is responsible via a feed back loop to control the levels of the active thyroid hormones released from the thyroid. If the active thyroid hormones are low then the pituitary asks the thyroid to work harder by releasing more TSH. If TSH is elevated, then this is an indication that you thyroid is underactive.

      In America the healthy reference range for the Thyroid Stimulating Hormone- TSH is between 0.5 – 2. Australia’s reference range is between 0.5 – 4. This means that even when your TSH levels are at the higher end off ‘so called healthy’ in Australia, American physicians would be treating you. The Australian reference ranger has a larger leeway for underactive thyroids to be called ‘healthy’ thyroids. If you have seen a G.P about your thyroid in the past, and had a thyroid function test that came back within reference range, request to see your results again, if your TSH is above 2, and your not falling pregnant, you may need to boost thyroid function with vitamin, mineral and herbal supplementation before you start trying to conceive again.


      1. A. Cresswell, ‘Fertility spike from acupuncture’ The Australian , Health editor, February 09, 2008.
      2. .  M. Shomon ‘ Just When Can You Become Pregnant?’ Based on Information from the NIH, About.com Health's Disease and Condition, 2009. Viewed on the 14/10/11  thyroid.about.com/od/hormonepregnantmenopause1/a/fertility.htm

      Thursday, July 7, 2011

      Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS) – It's not a Life Sentence.

      Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS) is the most common endocrine disorder affecting women in their reproductive years. Causing a wide range of clinical symptoms, it is currently the leading cause of infertility in women.

      The name of the syndrome is actually an anomaly as it may occur in women without ovarian cysts. Symptoms range from obesity, hirsutism (male pattern hair growth) alopecia (Hair loss), acne, virilisation (male characteristics), amenorrhea (Loss of period), high cholesterol levels, hypertension, insulin resistance, exhaustion, decreased libido, obstructive sleep apnea syndrome and the appearance of acanthosis nigricans (black to brown, poorly defined, velvety hyperpigmentation of the skin).

      There may also be a psychological component to PCOS for certain women who experience depression and/or anxiety. This may be hormonally related, or due to self esteem issues related to the expression of PCOS symptoms.

      Twenty percent of women have a build up of ovarian follicles on ultrasound screening, however only 7-8 % of these women are diagnosed with PCOS. When any anovulatory state exists for a period of time, the ovaries tend to become polycystic, as findings have shown that 70- 80 % of women who not ovulate regularly suffer from PCOS (Tricky, 2003, pg.333).

      According to the NIH criteria, to be diagnosed with PCOS, ‘a woman has to present with chronic oligoanovulation and either biochemical or clinical signs of androgen excess’ (DiMarcantonio, 2008). Ultrasound technology is also used for confirmation of the presence of the syndrome. According to Allahbadia & Agrawal, the ultrasound morphological features to diagnose polycystic ovaries requires the presence of twelve or more follicles in each ovary, each measuring 2-9mm in diameter, and/or increased ovarian volume, above 10 ml (2007, pg.16).

      The disturbances that occur in the normal process in ovulation are the cause of the build up of ovarian cysts, which are actually multiple follicles in the ovaries. These follicles grow to half or less the normal size. In a normal cycle, one follicle would continue to grow and release an egg, however in PCOS the follicle stalls halfway.

      Endocrinologic studies reveal an array of underlying abnormalities leading to the cause of PCOS including insulin resistance, often secondary to obesity, in association with a build up, or overactivity of hormonal androgens, causing erratic ovulation.

      Conventional doctors may prescribe Clomiphene tablets to aid in ovulation for fertility issues.  Clomiphene tablets maybe combined with steroid tablets to suppress androgen production. However this does not address the underlying issue. Suppression is not a long term answer, nor is it helping your body.

      Let’s look at how PCOS develops in the body, and how to naturally and indefinitely reverse the syndrome.

      1. Women who are obese may be predisposed to PCOS.  Fatty tissue produces oestrogen and stores oestrogen, leading to hormonal imbalances that effect the development and ripening of immature follicles within the ovary. Fatty tissue also secretes excess androgens leading to many of the masculising signs and symptoms of PCOS.  Thus weight loss and control for those with weight issues is a must, especially if weight is carried around the abdomen.
      Researchers describe ‘belly fat’ an active "organ", one that churns out hormones and inflammatory substances. ‘Abdominal fat is thought to break down easily into fatty acids, which flow directly into the liver and into muscle’ (WebMD, 2007). Thus overworking the liver and reducing hormonal clearance. During this time insulin can also become less effective in controlling blood sugar, so insulin resistance sets in, yet another cause of PCOS.
      2. High stress levels and a ‘maxed’ out liver also contribute to hormonal imbalances in women, leading to acne, anovulation and PCOS. The liver is responsible for clearing built up hormones in the body. When the liver is overloaded with the use of alcohol, caffeine, pharmaceutical or non-pharmaceutical drugs, overloaded with the clearance of elevated stress hormone, environmental toxins, cleaning agents, aerosolized paints, thinners, or under attack by viral hepatitis, then the liver is unable to clear hormones from the blood stream. Estrogens and testosterone levels then build up. 

      The treatment is stress reduction and a liver detox. Look over the blog on stress to see that stress is not just physiological, and all stressor must be removed or reduced. Speak to a healthcare practitioner to guide you through a liver detox (which may also aid in weight loss).

      3. Diabetes which causes insulin resistance is a major cause of PCOS. Diabetes is controlled with drugs like Metformin and a low carbohydrate and sugar diet. This diet is a must for anyone with PCOS symptoms. The axis around insulin resistance and diet control is a number one priority for anyone wanting to cure themselves of the syndrome.

      4. An adrenal gland dysfunction, or tumour, can lead to the adrenals secreting excess androgen (so can chronic stressors). Please see you G.P to get this checked if you predominantly experience male pattern hair growth and acne.

      5. Pituitary dysfunction will lead to an abnormal secretion of other menstrual related hormones, causing anovulation, and a build up of follicles within the ovaries. This is the last call, and should be checked if all else fails.

      1. Trickey,R, 2005, ‘Women, Hormones and the Menstrual Cycle’, Allen & Unwin, Second edition, NSW Australia

      2. DiMarcantonio. T, 2008,’ Controversy around the diagnosis of PCOS continues’ Endocrine Today, viewed 7/7/11 -www.endocrinetoday.com/view.aspx?rid=27868

      3. Allahbadia, G. & Agrawal, R., 2007, ‘Polycystic ovary Syndrome’, Anshan Ltd, England.

      4. 2007, ‘Risks of Belly Fat’, WebMD, viewed 7/7/11 - www.webmd.com/diet/risks-weight-around-waist-7/belly-risks?page=2

      Friday, July 1, 2011

      DAMP. What is it. How did I get it. How do I clear it.

      You may have heard the Chinese Medical term 'Dampness'.  What exactly is damp? How did it get there, and how do you get rid of it?

      Internal dampness is directly due to the impaired transformative and transportive function of the digestive organs which results in some form of pathogenesis within the body, organs and meridians. Dampness can be thought of as the condition of "high humidity" inside the body.

      A Damp condition creates symptoms of sluggish energy, a tendency to gain weight, a feeling of heaviness in the body, joints and or head, swelling or water retention, distended abdomen, sticky stools, loose bowels, phlegm discharge from lungs or nose, nodular masses, a sound of water sloshing in the stomach and or stomach rumblings, sores, weeping eczema, profuse purulent leukorrhea, turbid urine and stools containing mucus, no thirst, fatigue, and the tongue is often puffy with teeth marks and a greasy tongue coating at the back of the tongue. In Chinese Medicine, dampness is considered to be the cause of many illnesses such as high cholesterol, cancer, metabolic disorders, chronic fatigue syndrome, Candida, Herpes outbreaks, fibromyalgia, allergies and environmental illness.

      A collection of dampness over long periods of time generate heat to build in the body due to the nature of damp blocking Qi and blood flow. The damp and heat mixed together may lead to such problems as inflammation, allergies (especially food allergies), high blood sugar, weight gain, and urinary tract infections. Symptoms can include heaviness, a sensation of fullness in the chest, a smelly and sluggish bowel, abdominal pain, leukorrhea, eczema, and deep yellow colored urine. The tongue is commonly has a greasy coating.

      Raw food is a controversy to Chinese medical practitioners. Traditional Chinese doctors work on the principle that raw food may be full of vitamins nutrients, however raw food can be very hard to digest and absorb these nutrients. This is the reason why we do not feed young babies raw food. Everything we feed a baby is cooked, warmed and soft. Baby food is easy to digest and thus nutrients are easily extracted.When the digestive system is not firing properly it is better to stay away from raw food until the digestive system has gained strength, this is especially true for anyone suffering from a damp condition. It is better to eat food that is is easy to digest and warming in nature.

      What should I eat? Food Therapy for Dampness & Phlegm -

      General Principles:

      •    Ideal cooking methods are steaming, boiling, grilling, soup. Ideally always eat cooked meals that are warm when you eat them.
      •    Avoid sugar, concentrated sweeteners, high glycemic index foods, yeast (check labels especially if you have Candida signs), alcohol and fruits except citrus and berries.
      •    Avoid raw foods including salads and raw fruit (whole or juiced) until damp has cleared and digestion is stronger.
      •    Eat a whole food diet and remove foods that are difficult to digest such as milk products, (small amounts of yoghurt are ok) soy milk, animal fat, greasy foods, and food and liquids that are cold in temperature ie. Icy or cold drinks, especially beer. (this also means we say good bye to ice cream)
      •    Eat regularly, avoiding heavy meals especially in the evening
      •    Eat rich, nutritious meals in small quantities that are well distributed throughout the day.
      •    Eating on the run or when you’re stressed creates dampness as digestive enzymes are low or not available at these times. Food banks up when we eat at these times.
      •  Limit the intake of nuts. Sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds, walnuts and almonds are less congesting however.
      •    Worry, pensiveness and mental overwork often negatively affect the transporting and transforming function of the Spleen and contribute to deranged water metabolism as internal dampness. Take a deep breath, and spend a little quite time alone or start a meditation practice.
      •    Overeating creates dampness due to food backing up. Eat until your 80% full.
      •    Regular stretching and exercise (eg yoga) is an essential part of treatment
      •    Increase the amount of mild spices in the diet (not chilli)
      •    Avoid deep fried and ‘junk’ food
      •    Avoid wheat and gluten products (wheat, rye, oats, barley)
      •    Vinegar, mushrooms, fermented foods can also create damp – avoid if you experience Candida
      •    Watch your Vitamin C intake, over 1-2g per day can contribute to dampness.
      •    Avocado, banana and tropical fruits are absolutely forbidden in the morning.

      Beneficial foods:

      Vegetables: Pumpkin, sweet potato, celeriac, squash, zucchini, carrot, parsley, Include all green leafy vegetables: broccoli, bok choy, cauliflower, brussel sprouts

      Protein: chickpeas, black beans, yam, peas, walnuts, chicken, beef, lamb, liver, kidney, tuna, mackerel, anchovy

      Beneificial spices:  Onion, leek, garlic, turnip, fresh ginger, cinnamon, nutmeg, fennel, cumin, coriander, cardamom, star anise, turmeric. 

      Drinks: green tea, lemongrass and ginger

      Unfortunately a Western diet is damp in nature. You may feel like you have to completely revolutionise your diet and lifestyle to get rid of Damp. All Western students of Traditional Chinese medicine thought the same thing when they found out about damp too. But once you make the change to a non damp diet you will feel younger,  look younger, loose weight, your skin will thankyou and you will feel energised, refreshed and liberated.

      If this information is too much or confusing don’t opt out, just simply stick to a Japanese diet (except the tempura) and you’ll be fine.

      Thursday, June 23, 2011

      Dont R.I.C.E an injury, just R.C.E and later add some heat - Why Icing your lower Back can Damage your Energy Levels & Fertility.

      Traditional Chinese (T.C) Doctors argue to not apply ice to an injury, unless it’s the head. T.C doctors spend much of their time removing cold from their patients to stop pain, increase digestion, kidney function, boost fertility and immunity. So when patients go an ice their bodies, the progress they are making in their health after a treatment from a Chinese doctor may actually start to regress.

      When you look at how cold effects liquids, then think about what cold would do to your blood? When the blood becomes cold, the blood congeals, stopping nutrient supply to our injury. This is why a T.C. Doctor would never recommend icing any part of your body. Even an acute injury, in this instance you may want to apply the R.C.E principle, R.I.C.E with out the Ice. After 24 hours you may want to increase blood flow to an injured area. This will increase the nutrients that blood provides to an injury, you would actually apply heat.

      Human beings are warm blooded.  This means our resting body temperature is around 36.6 degrees, if our kidney yang and thyroid are working properly that is. If we think about the homeopathic principle ‘like cures like’, then applying cold to an ‘injured’ warm blooded being could actually be counter productive.

      T.C Doctors are also very carful in advising their patients to NEVER apply cold to the lower back, abdomen or sole of the foot. This denotes the area of the Kidney Organ and corresponding end point of the Kidney meridian. According to Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) the Kidneys are known as the “Root of Life”, this is because the life essence that we receive from our parents which denotes the health of our entire life resides in the Kidneys. Like every Organ the Kidneys have a Yin and Yang aspect, however the Kidneys Yin and Yang are the foundation of the Yin and Yang for the entire body. This means the body’s ability to regulate temperature, control fluids and water metabolism, energy levels, sexual vitality and fertility are all dependant on the regulation of the Kidneys Yin and Yang.

      Yin and Yang are two opposite states which have the ability to transform into the other. Like Day to Night, female to male (all embryos’ starts as female), interior to exterior, cold to hot. The Yin in our bodies is cooling and moisturizing in nature, and the Yang, warming and moving in nature.  We can damage the Yin by over heating our bodies and can damage the Yang by allowing our body to become cold. This is especially so if we allow these extreme temperatures to effect the region of the Kidneys, the lower back and the lower abdomen.

      This means the Kidneys are vulnerable to extreme temperature conditions, like applying Ice to the lower back, or letting the cold in by wearing short tops or low waisted jeans (watch this when cycling).  The Kidneys vitality are especially effected by cold as they are also known as the “Fire of the Gate of Vitality”, and when we loose that fire we loose the function of the Kidneys.

      The Kidneys Yin and Yang are interdependent upon the other. Like an oil lamp, the Yin is the oil and the Yang is the flame. If the oil decreases the flame will decrease and visa versa. So by internally heating the body up with heating foods, heating pharmaceuticals, hot herbs, excessive sauna use including (Bikhram Yoga) or exhausting the body at night, we not only damage the Yin but the Yang also.  Just as if we allow the body to become cold by either exposing our body to the cold or exhausting the body in cold conditions, excessive sex or using cold pharmaceuticals like anti-biotics, we can also damage the Yin.

      Infertility is usually due to Yang deficiency

      Applying cold to a mans back or abdomen for some time can damage his Kidney yang and lead to erectile dysfunction. Women should also be extra careful in not ice their abdomen as their womb is sensitive to the cold. The womb can trap the cold inside it, which is very difficult to remove as it is deep in the body. Trapped cold in the womb can lead to congealed blood and therefore painful periods and infertility. There is an old T.C Doctors saying “you can not cook a bun in a cold oven”. A woman’s temperature naturally rises with the “Yang hormone” progesterone in the second phase of her menstrual cycle (the implantation stage).  If she falls pregnant then progesterone is made in abundance and the body’s temperature remains high. This means if we do not have enough of the Yang hormone to heat the body up, the baby will not hold.

      It is also important to note that after birth you should definitely NOT apply ice to the perineum to reduce swelling!! This can be disastrous to period pain and fertility in the future.

      Thursday, June 9, 2011

      How to fix your digestion with Chinese medicine.

      When a patient arrives to a Chinese Medicine clinic with signs of bloating, loose stool, gas, gurgling in their belly, foggy thinking, cold hands and feet, poor circulation, easy bruising, varicose veins, hemorrhoids, heavy menstrual periods in women, and fatigue they call it ‘Spleen Qi deficiency’.  All of these symptoms, according to Traditional Chinese medicine, relate to poor digestion.  Poor digestion can be caused by: poor eating habits, eating late at night, not eating regularly, over eating, eating too much cold or raw food, drinking with meals, worry, overwork, illness, eating inappropriate foods for your constitution, stress, food allergies and certain medications.

      With a weakened digestion, you are not able to effectively absorb all the nutrients in your diet - leading to malnutrition and fatigue. Struggling to digest and process the foods you eat leads to further digestive upset such as abdominal bloating. Without the proper nutrients, your circulatory system and blood vessel integrity can also become weakened – leading to easy bruising, varicose veins and poor circulation. The key to recovery is to strengthen the digestion so that your body can be nourished once again.

      Dietary advice for Spleen Qi deficiency is focused on good quality nutrition that is easily digested. Raw food in particular is difficult to digest, as the cell wall of plant material is incredibly tough to penetrate – therefore minimal nutrition is available to us and it passes through as fibre. Cooking vegetables and stewing fruit (in water only - no sugar required!) breaks the cell wall of the plant, making it easier for us to access the nutrients within. As your digestion improves, you can gradually reintroduce small amounts of raw food at the end of a meal – however it can be several months before you reach this stage.

      It is also important to avoid any foods that you have an allergy or intolerance to. This reaction does not necessarily have to be an anaphylactic type reaction with throat swelling or eyes puffing up, but can also be a reaction that happens at more of a micro level. Food intolerances are immune responses that occur typically as a result of increased intestinal permeability (sometimes called “leaky gut”).  Chronic inflammation in the gut wall leads to increased permeability, essentially the gaps that would normally let through digested proteins (called amino acids) are enlarged due to the inflammation and this allows some proteins to make it through your intestine wall and into the blood stream before they have had a chance to be broken down into an acceptable format. Your body then identifies the food protein as a foreign protein substance that shouldn’t be there and launches and immune response. With repeat exposure to the same food this immune response solidifies so that your body reacts on each exposure to that food.

       It can be especially worthwhile to test for reactions to common allergens such as wheat, gluten and dairy products, this can be done by avoiding all possible sources for at least 2 weeks, and then reintroducing and checking for re-emergence of symptoms.

      However the fastest and most accurate way to find out which foods your body is sensitive or intolerant to is to do an IgG Food Sensitivity Test. The IgG food sensitivity test is a blood test that detects antibodies that your body has developed against certain foods. You may have an allergen to foods like, corn, eggs, certain nuts, or yeast. It is very difficult to ascertain our allergens to these types of foods, as they are hidden in so many processed foods that we eat, and we may not know when we are eating them.

      Removing foods that you have an IgG reaction to can help to alleviate symptoms associated with exposure. Common symptoms include:
      -    constipation
      -    loose bowels/diarrhea
      -    abdominal pain/cramping
      -    bloating
      -    fatigue
      -    low mood/fluctuating mood
      -    skin conditions

      This IgG food intolerance test can be ordered through practitioners at our clinic, Discover Chinese Medicine.

      Anti-Candida Protocol

      Going on the Anti-Candia protocol is a great way to boost digestion, even if you do not have Candida. For those with tiredness or other Candida type symptoms you should follow this diet for the next 20 days. Avoid the following foods and ingredients as strictly as possible:

      •    Alcohol
      •    Sugar (check labels!!)
      •    Yeast
      •    Cheese
      •    Fermented products including miso, tofu and other soy products, vinegar etc
      •    Mushrooms
      •    Gluten grains (wheat, rye, oats, barley)
      •    Processed foods, non-organic produce
      •    Fruit

      Avoiding these foods will limit the energy source for fungal overgrowths and allow the body a chance to restore balance.  At the end of the 20 day period, you can resume your normal diet. Reintroduce foods slowly, one group per day, and keep an eye out for negative reactions. It may be the case that you need to avoid these foods for longer.

      Candex is a herbal formula that DiscoverTCM prescribes that combines ingredients to fight fungal infection and restore a natural balance of flora to the digestion and vaginal areas. This will help stubborn cases.

      If you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to contact the clinic. Good luck!

      General Principles for Eating to boost digestion:

          Absolutely avoid all raw food including salads. Salads using steamed vegetables are ok in warm weather.
          All foods to be cooked and eaten warmed, long slow cooking, soups, broth & stews are idea.
          Chew all food thoroughly to help reduce the strain on your digestion
          Simple combinations of a few ingredients,
          Smaller meals more often,
          Regular meal times
          No excess fluid with meals, overeating, missing meals or eating while working.
          Avoid food that is more than one day old. 

      Increase protein intake, the best source of protein is animal protein, especially organic chicken (soups and stock), and green leafy vegetables are high in Iron content.  In vegetarian diets folic acid and Vit B12 can be taken as supplements.

      Beneficial foods:

      Light grains especially white rice and rice porridge (congee), oats, roasted barley, sweet rice, pumpkin, sweet potato, celeriac, squash, carrot, corn, parsley, chickpeas, black beans, yam, peas, walnuts, stewed fruit, chicken, beef, lamb, liver, kidney, tuna, mackerel, anchovy.

      Moderate amounts of spices:  Onion, leek, garlic, turnip, pepper, fresh ginger, cinnamon, nutmeg, fennel and other kitchen spices.

      Small amounts of natural sweeteners:  Molasses, dates, rice syrup, barley malt & palm sugar.

      Restrict or avoid:
      Uncooked, raw foods, salads, raw fruit (whole and juiced), wheat, sprouts, and cereal grasses, raw vegetables, tomato, spinach, tofu, millet, seaweeds, salt, too many sweet foods and concentrated sweeteners, brown rice, Vitamin C (over 1-2g per day). No yeast.

      Especially avoid ice cream and dairy (except a little butter and yogurt), sugar, chocolate, nuts and seeds (except walnuts) and nut butters, spicy food, large amounts of black pepper.

      Friday, May 20, 2011

      Stress - How it creates havoc for our health.

      Stress can be caused from a wide array of bad lifestyle choices and difficult circumstances. Stress is mostly unavoidable in the modern age. From a health perspective, when we are talking about stress we are making the distinction between stress and feeling overwhelmed. The majority of us have many stressors in our lives, but we don't consider ourselves to be suffering from stress. However this feeling of being "stressed" is what we would call feeling overwhelmed which is usually experienced once stress levels start to get really high. In daily life a certain amount of stress can be useful, however if you have filled your life with work and family commitments plus social commitments, charity work etc and couple it with inadequate relaxation time and less than amazing nutrition - even if you're coping well with it all - it's a recipe that we call stress. If our daily lives are filled with the body combating many stressors, then there is very limited leeway for dealing with life's challenges that inevitably come our way.

      One of the least understood and unrecognised aspects of stress are that stress includes physical, chemical, emotional and electromagnetic factors. The major stressors follow:

      Physical                                                   Chemical              
      Inactivity                                                  Sugar      
      Toxins (including drugs,                             Infection
      Pesticides, additives, immunizations ect)    Nutritional Imbalance
      Inadequate light                                        Nicotine
      Allergens                                                 Caffeine
      Temperature extremes                              Alcohol
      Trauma                                                    Xeno-estrogens from plastics
      No sunshine for at least an hour a day
      Being indoors in “managed” air
      Sleeping outside of our natural circadian rhythm

      Emotional                                               Electromagnetic     - Positive ions  
      Fear                                                       Mobiles              
      Anger                                                     Refrigerators, microwaves      
      Guilt                                                       Television
      Anxiety                                                  Computers
      Depression                                             Printers, photocopiers      
      Pain                                                       Airplanes
      Inadequate sleep, shift work (sleeping     Fluorescent lights
      during the day)
      Lack of meaning or purpose in life
      1. (Shealy, pg.7, 1996)

      Normally the body is able to balance these stressors, and align the body to a homeostatic level. However, if stress continues the body can adapt, which changes the efficiency of the stress reaction. Every time we adapt to one stressor, whether it be nicotine, electromagnetic radiation, inadequate sleep ect, then we lower our threshold for a new stressor. 2. (Selye,1974)

      A non coffee drinking individual would ordinarily require a cup of coffee to double norepinephrine production, and someone who has adapted to cigarettes might only require two-thirds or half a cup of coffee. When you have adapted to three or four stressors, or even hundreds, it may take less than half as much of a new stress to cause an alarm reaction. The Stress builds up, and we become vulnerable to small stressors more and more.

      Even though we become vulnerable to stress, interestingly enough we can also become addicted to the sensation of stress, especially if we grew up in a stressful environment, or were encouraged to place ourselves in stressful situations as teenagers to achieve success, higher grades, accolades and for winning competitions.
      The neurotransmitter serotonin is also elevated during stressful times. Serrotinin tends to make us feel satiated or satisfied, and also makes us feel slightly euphoric. The release of high levels of serritonin could be a link to our addiction to stress.

      Like caffeine, when Serotonin is released it triggers the release of adrenaline, which allows the body to work through the stress, as It kick starts our sympathetic nervous system (the Fight or Flight response) which quickens the heart rate, elevates blood pressure, increases our sensitivity to pain, light, sound and smell, increases aggression and speeds up mental activity.

      This is obviously useful in life or death situations, and in stressful circumstances that we can not avoid. However, when we get bombarded by exogenous stressors mentioned in the chart above then we start to tax the body in many ways, which leads to a long list of health issues.

      An overproduction of adrenaline causes nervousness, panic attacks, anxiety, phobias, extreme mood swings and bouts of aggression.  Also, as adrenalin is not quickly renewed,  if we become addicted to the sensation of serotonin and adrenalin in the body, stress, and or caffeine for that matter, for long duration's, our adrenal reserves get used up. This leads to symptoms of exhaustion, anxiety and depression, known as adrenal fatigue.

      Over time the serotonin levels can decrease and we may develop a deficiency of Serotonin in the brain which can cause depression (now causes by adrenal fatigue and low serotonin) and it can also upset the appetite mechanism which may lead to obesity or other eating disorders such as anorexia and bulimia nervosa and may be responsible for insomnia, as serotonin converts to melatonin which helps us sleep.

      A person low in Serotonin will be inclined to consume greater amounts of sugar in an attempt to increase Serotonin production and this may lead to sugar addiction. 3.  (J. Plesman, The serotonin connection). Remembering sugar is an addictive and stressful chemical on the body, which may have gotten us here in the first place. Sugar addiction can then lead to insulin resistance, which causes unstable concentrations of blood glucose, causing fatigue, moodiness and sugar cravings, and can then lead to diabetes over time.

      As we eat large amounts of sugar or refined carbohydrates, our insulin levels increase to mop up the sugar. The spike in insulin can also create a spike in some of our hormones known as androgen, mostly androstenedione and testosterone. This can then create hormonal imbalances, which can create PCOS, hirsutism (male hair growth patterns in women), male pattern balding, and over time aromatizes into estrogens. High Estrogens are linked in with incidence of endometriosis, fibroids, cysts, heavy / irregular periods and breast cancer.

      This elevated insulin in this circumstance blocks the utilization of fat cells as a source of energy, thus causing obesity, or storing fat around the waist line. Wild fluctuations in blood sugar levels causes the body to produce excess adrenaline, once again.  The cycle continues.

      These interrelationships of stress are almost certainly a prime contributor to the body’s loss of homeostasis and a gradual progression of chronic stress adaptation-maladaptation-exhaustion stages. It is probable that by the time you adapt to any given stress that it will be difficult for you body to maintain in balance in all hormonal levels.

      The results of Chronic Stresss (Exhaustion)

      Stress hormone Cortisol increases 24 hours a day
      Sex hormone DHEA decreases
      Insulin erratic (metabolic fluctuation)
      Poor sleep recovery
      Immune system significantly deficient
      Major illnesses begin
      -    Heart disease
      -    Stroke
      -    Cancer
      -    Infection
      -    Autoimmune disorders
      -    Degenerative diseases

      Although research shows a strong correlation between chemical, physical and emotional stress and patients diverse symptoms, most physicians do not evaluate even the most basic measures of stress, or address hormonal fluctuations.

      When Cortisol (our stress hormone) is elevated in our body’s from Chronic stress and from the adaptation stress response then the body must use up a master hormone called Pregnenolone to then make Cortisol. The more Pregnenolone used up to make Cortisol, the less there is to make other hormones such as Progesterone, estrogen, DHEA, testosterone ect., which then has a cascade effect on mood, energy levels, libido, menstrual issues, fertility, immunity response, youthfulness, weight issues, high cholesterol, diabetes from insulin insufficiency, susceptibility to heart attack, stroke, cancer, osteoporosis and much more.

      How to Combat Stress

      Moderate exercise,

      Increase water to 8 glasses a day,

      Avoid creating a build up of serotonin in the body by allowing the serotonin to convert to melatonin at night time by going to bed before 10.00pm and having at least 8 hours rest a night in complete darkness. (See blog on Are you sleeping in the dark?).

      Avoid situations that create volatile emotions

      Avoid stressful situations that you can avoid like long distance running, sky diving, or driving to work in the city.


      Qi Gong, Yoga, deepen your breath

      Listen to music.

      Go for a walk.

      Acupuncture and herbal medicine.

      Avoid stressful foods like sugar and caffeine.

      Avoid the use of SSRIS (Serotonin reuptake inhibitors). For depression try an everyday   a Hatha yoga or Tai qi class or practice at home. Eat food with Tryptophan, take B vitamin supplement and SAMe.

      Reducing the use of electronic equipment which releases positive ions. Also use a negative ionizing machine, which will help balance serotonin levels.  (The Ionizing study) http://www.djclarke.co.uk/file06.html

      Correct chemical and hormonal imbalances by a hypoglycemic diet together with an omega-3 fatty acids supplement.

      Considering exposure to emotional stress may be  the main cause of symptoms, it is to seek some sort of emotional transformative counseling and or kinesiology.

      Observe your addictions, and ask yourself “Why do I crave this, and does this serve me”?

      This is THE treatment to restore a person to health.

      1.    C. Shealy M.D. PhD, DHEA, The Youth and Health Hormone, Keats Publishing, Connecticut, 1996,  
      2.    Selye.  H, Stress without Distress, Lippincott co, Philadelphia, 1974
      3.    J. Plesman, BA(Psych), Post Grad Dip Clin Nut, The Serotonin Connection. www.hypoglycemia.asn.au/articles/serotonin_connection.html

      Friday, May 6, 2011

      Mercury and its effects on the Body.

      It can be confusing to decide what to do about eating fish and shellfish. Fish and shellfish are rich in omega-3 fatty acids, which is the building block for hormones, including sex hormones. It is important to have Omega 3 in the diet because if your sex hormones become deplete then symptoms like low sex drive, infertility, low mood and energy levels just to name a few, may occur. Omega 3 is also a precursor in making a strain of hormone known as prostaglandin type 3, which reduces inflammatory cursors and thus overall pain in the body. Inflammatory cursors are elevated in arthritic conditions and other painful conditions like long standing period pain and migraines.
      Fish is a good source of quality protein and low in saturated fat. Eating fish can contribute to a healthy heart, and is also important in the brain growth and development in children.
      Unfortunately, along with the protein and fatty acids, many types of fish and shellfish contain methylmercury. Mercury is a toxic metal with significant effects on the thyroid.  While large doses of mercury can induce hyperthyroidism, smaller amounts can induce hypothyroidism by interfering with both the production of thyroxin (T4) and the conversion of T4 to T3. Mercury disturbs the metabolism of copper and zinc which are two minerals critical to thyroid function.  Gray hair can be an indication of mercury accumulation, more so in females than males.
      Mercury causes disruptions to the immune system functioning and promotes the production of IgG and IgE autoantibodies which also are involved in autoimmune thyroid disease and inflammatory conditions.
      Mercury has a very long half-life in the body and has been found in cancerous tissues.
      It also has a negative impact on the brain and nervous system, specifically affecting memory, attention span, cognitive thinking skills, language development and visual and fine motor skills especially in children. This is seen particularly in babies who were exposed to methylmercury in the womb through their mother's eating of fish and shellfish during pregnancy.
      Methylmercury can build up in your body. This means that even if you aren't pregnant now, methylmercury buildup from overconsumption of fish could still be present if you become pregnant up to a year later. For this reason, any woman who plans to become pregnant in the future should try to follow the same recommendations as those who are pregnant or nursing.

      Select Freely from this list   
      Crab (Domestic)
      Croaker (Atlantic)
      Haddock (Atlantic)*
      Mackerel (N. Atlantic, Chub)
      Perch (Ocean)     Plaice
      Salmon (Canned & Fresh)**
      Sole (Pacific)
      Squid (Calamari)
      Trout (Freshwater)

      eat six servings or less per month
      Bass (Striped, Black)
      Cod (Alaskan)*
      Croaker (White Pacific)
      Halibut (Atlantic)*
      Halibut (Pacific)
      Mahi Mahi
      Perch (Freshwater)
      Tuna (Canned
      chunk light)
      Tuna (Skipjack)*
      Sea Trout

      Eat three servings or less per month   
      Avoid eating:
      Mackerel (Spanish, Gulf)
      Sea Bass (Chilean)*
      Tuna (Canned Albacore)
      Tuna (Yellowfin)*   

      Avoid Eating
      Mackerel (King)
      Orange Roughy*
      (Bigeye, Ahi)*

      Least mercury: Less than 0.09 parts per million, Moderate mercury: From 0.09 to 0.29 parts per million, High mercury: From 0.3 to 0.49 parts per million, Highest mercury: More than .5 parts per million (not suitable for human consumption)
      * These fish are endangered due to overfishing   ** Farmed salmon contains higher levels of PCBs (in  the fat portion)
      *** Fish are high in purines – not recommended for gout sufferers

      Where has the fish been farmed?
      Look or ask where the fish has been farmed or what part of the worlds ocean has the fish has been pulled from. Buying fish from Australia and New Zealand is always safer than parts of Asia and South America where Mercury levels in the water are higher.

      Amalgam Fillings and Mercury
      There is ample evidence that mercury leaches from dental amalgam fillings and contributes to thyroid disease and anemia.  If you have any amalgam fillings in your teeth the mercury is known to leak into the body after many years.  It is advisable to pull out amalgam fillings at least a year before you fall pregnant. If you have many fillings then you should pull them out one at a time, as it has been found that pulling the filling out also releases Mercury. So as to not overload the body with mercury toxicity during the removal, do not get them removed all at once.

      Perhaps the negative effects we see from vaccines are at least partially the result of toxic metals. The association of autism with vaccinations may be related to mercury toxicity. Please think about how many vaccines you administer to your child at one time, as there are studies showing sudden autistic behavior after a large vaccination course administered in close succession.

      Contact Lens Solution
      Thimerosal is the mercury-containing preservative that was used in contact lens solutions. Hopefully there are no more of these solutions on the market but if you use contact lens solutions check the label.

      How do I clear Mercury from my Body?
      Milk and quite likely estrogen cause an increase in the absorption of mercury., so removing dairy or reducing dairy consumption may help. Also, doing a hormonal test to see if your estrogen levels are in a good range and not elevated is also advisable. Elevated estrogen levels, also known as estrogen dominance is quite common these days with so many xeno-estrogens in our foods, food containers, and with the use of hormonal contraceptives.
      Selenium is the key mineral which protects the body from mercury toxicity.  One study showed that cilantro (Chinese parsley) helps remove mercury from the body and protects the body from pre-cancerous lesions. Also, Zeolites can remove heavy metal toxicity from the body if taken consistently for a few months.

      Thursday, April 21, 2011

      Out of Sorts, tired, low mood? Are you sleeping in the dark? How could staying awake late into the night be detrimental to your health?

      The Yin and Yang Hormones of the Pineal gland, and the link between Serotonin and Melatonin Production in relation to light sensitivity via the Pineal gland.

      The pineal gland is the size of a pea lying in the center of the midbrain. It reaches its largest mass during childhood, and calcifies and shrinks with age. It is responsible for the production of both neurohormones, Melatonin and Serotonin.

      The Pineal Gland is necessary to regulate the function of all organs of the Endocrine System in the body, these are the Pituitary Gland, Thyroid + Parathyroid Glands; thymus, adrenals, Pancreas, and the Ovaries/Testes.
      All of the endocrine organs/glands secrete their hormones into the blood stream. The Pituitary Gland stimulates the secretion of these hormones, while the Pineal Gland applies the brakes on them through Melatonin. If the endocrine organs/glands release too much of their hormones, ie. when we are stressed, then the Pineal Gland releases Melatonin to counteract these hormones. This means that Melatonin protects the body from exhaustion of hormones and energy, and the aging process.
      Melatonin also up regulates the parasympathetic nervous system, which calms the body and mind. It is made at night time, and protects the body from exhaustion, which in Chinese Medicine this is known as a Yin attribute.
      Yin and yang can be looked at like an oil burner, the yang is the flame and the yin is the oil. The fire or the body is dependant on the nourishment of the oil. If the oil is used up, the oil burner cracks and dries up. It is an interesting link to make that Melatonin is a Yin hormone and Serotonin is a Yang hormone, and both are interdependent upon each other.

      The Pineal Gland is a photosensitive organ, and how it functions is dependent upon light. The amount of Melatonin produced by the pineal gland is determined by the amount of light received during the night, less light means more melatonin is produced, more light means we produce less melatonin. During nighttime sleep, melatonin levels in the body rise, reaching a peak between 11 PM and 2 AM, and then drop dramatically when a new day dawns. Interestingly, these are the same hours in which the Chinese believe the body makes Yin substances.
      So when the body no longer receives light the Pineal releases melatonin, and its partner hormone Serotonin is at its lowest levels, and vice versa, melatonin production is reduced when the body perceives light and serotonin production is increased. Meditation (a Yin activity) has also found to increase melatonin levels.
      It has recently been discovered that the pineal gland detects light through the whole body, not just through the retina in the eye. This means that even if you wear an eye mask at night, the pineal gland will still detect light being emitted under your door, or through cracks in your blinds. So ensure that your room is inky black at night by sealing up all cracks that may let light in. This will ensure that the pineal gland makes the right amount of melatonin, and does not over produce Serotonin (more on this discussed later).
      The Effects of Melatonin.

      Melatonin alleviates mental stress, improves sleep, adjusts the body's biological clock, relieves jet lag, strengthens immunity, increases the body's resistance to germs and viruses, and prevents cancer and senile dementia. This is why night workers and those who sleep with the light on have a lower immunity to disease and a higher propensity to develop cancer than others.
      It also controls over-stimulation of the sympathetic nerves to lower blood pressure and slow the heart rate, thus reducing the impact on the heart, and due to its calming effect on the body it can also up regulate the digestive system.

      Two studies in the U.S. have shown that bright light at night reduces melatonin production and induces estrogen secretion in women, which in turn increases the incidence of breast cancer among female night workers. Research on infants who died from sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS) found that the babies had underdeveloped pineal glands, which lowered melatonin levels and weakened the brain's ability to deal with free radicals (molecules with an unpaired electron), thus making the brain vulnerable to free radical damage. Another study on children and adult hypochondria suggests that the melatonin levels of psychiatric patients are lower than those of healthy people.


      Serotonin is found to have a large effect on our mood and perception, but it is also a muscle- and vasoconstrictor, and plays an important role in sleep, appetite, memory, aggression, sexual behavior, cardiovascular activity, respiratory activity, motor output, sensory and neuroendocrine function. Serotonin gets released when stress is involved. The increased serotonin triggers the release of adrenaline, which allows the body to work through the stress.

      It is important to note that SSRI-AntiDepressants activate Serotonin receptors. When you elevate your serotonin levels the stress hormones cortisol and adrenalin are secreted from the adrenal glands. They give the human personality a boost, producing a euphoric state, which can last for a prolonged period of time. This is how SSRI-AntiDepressants initially produce the deceptive results the doctor and patient are both expecting.
      It is important to note that if patient takes SSRI’s for a prolonged period of time, or they have too much prolonged light exposure increasing their serotonin production and thus an increase of the stress hormones being released, this will drain the adrenal glands to exhaustion. Initially the stress hormones are elevated, and then they crash to very low levels when adrenal exhaustion sets in. If untreated, Adrenal Exhaustion will lead to seriously declining physical health. Many (former) SSRI-AntiDepressant users reported fatigue as a long term side-effect or were diagnosed with "Chronigue Fatigue Syndrome." People suffering from stress are generally diagnosed with this disorder. Symptoms range from simple exhaustion to much more complex problems that are secondary to excessive output of adrenal hormones in the bloodstream, leading to Adrenal Exhaustion. Unlike the other hormones, it takes a long time before the Adrenal Glands have their adrenaline levels restored.

      An increase in serotonin levels also produces rushes of insulin, dropping sugar levels and chemically inducing hypoglycaemia (low blood sugar) in this way. Heightened insulin levels are also closely linked with an increase of hormones known as androgens, which is linked with female hirsutism (male hair growth patterns) and PCOS – Poly Cystic Ovarian Syndrome). Furthermore it has been established that too much serotonin damages blood vessels, particularly in the lungs, and may also harm heart valves. This would be due to the fact that serotonin is a powerful vasoconstrictor.

      What does this mean and how to treat
      Melatonin levels must be in a good balance with their Yang partner Serotonin. It seems in a hyper stimulated society that elevated Serotonin levels seem to be a predominant factor. So Increasing melatonin and decreasing serotonin and corresponding stress hormones may be the way forward.
      As melatonin levels reach a peak between 11 PM and 2 AM, and then drop dramatically when a new day dawns, you should get to bed early and turn off the lights to ensure that you are in deep sleep between 11PM and 2 AM, and that there is enough dark time for the full production of Melatonin to take place, and there is complete darkness in the room that you sleep in.
      Together with the Pituitary Gland, the pineal gland has the next highest blood circulation after the kidneys. As the pineal gland is dependant and nourished by a good blood supply, inversions that bring blood flow to the head are beneficial.
      It is not protected by the blood-brain barrier and therefore the Pineal gland is fragile to any substance entering the bloodstream. It is, for instance, very sensitive to fluoride which is put into most of Australia’s tap water systems. A water filter that removes fluoride will be helpful.

      How Can I Influence my Melatonin Levels?
      Melatonin exists in small quantities in many plant species, it may be helpful to include them in your diet : oats, sweet corn, rice, ginger, tomatoes, bananas and barley. Intake of other foods such as kelp, soy beans, pumpkin seeds, water melon seeds, almonds, peanuts, yeast, malt, and milk.
      Lower food intake ensures normal melatonin levels. Research shows that old mice given less food have healthy pineal glands like those of young mice, and can regulate melatonin production. Their melatonin levels are 80 percent of those found in young mice, compared to 40 percent for old mice without food restriction.
      Research shows that melatonin production is higher in women who meditate. Physical exercise during the day increases melatonin levels, while night exercises have the opposite effect. Therefore, it is advisable to eat less, meditate, exercise and work during daylight hours.
      The Pineal Gland is sensitive to electromagnetic fields (EMF), thus, electromagnetic waves from computer monitors, cellular phones, microwave ovens, and high voltage lines, suppress the activity of the Pineal Gland and reduce melatonin production. EMF also affects serotonin production. So ensure you turn off your mobile phone and all electrical appliances via the electrical output before you go to bed, and reduce the amount of time you spend talking on your mobile, and how often you use your microwave. Move away from high voltage lines!
      Another factor involved in affecting the Pineal Gland can be excessive high or even toxic levels of an SSRI-AntiDepressant in the bloodstream. Certain individuals have a metabolic deficiency in the metabolism of anti-depressant medication named the cytochrome P-450 enzyme which clears out any build up of SSRI’s. Grapefruit juice can help to stimulate this pathway in the liver to promote detoxification via this pathway.

      Thursday, April 7, 2011

      The High FSH Craze

      The High FSH Craze

      Within the last ten to 15 years, reproductive medicine has made quite a fuss made over high Follicle Stimulating Hormone (FSH) levels. Chinese medicine doesn’t focus so much on the unqualified meaning of laboratory values like Western medicine does; we view lab results energetically according to what is behind them, rather than providing meaning to the absolute numerical value.

      The body energetically views the ovaries as “essence”, an elemental potential, like the primordial follicles within them. Follicles are only potential until they begin to interact with their internal environment, which is responding to cues coming from our interpretation of our external environment. All of this is subject to change when we change our internal environment, and our response to our external environment. FSH, on the other hand, is viewed as “heat”, which activates the potential of the ovaries’ essence in the form of eggs, and resulting blood levels of estradiol (or yin). When the essence is adequate, it doesn’t require much heat to ignite the ovaries. When the essence is weak (due to stress, lack of restoration, follicular malnourishment, and the demands of life), it takes more heat to induce the necessary ovarian response, indicative of present ovarian health.

      To put it simply and in energetic terms, those who have high FSH and low estradiol levels generally have too much heat, in relation to the underlying essence capable of responding to FSH stimulation. Although optimal FSH values are seen as <10, The Fertile Soul Method ® has helped women whose FSH values are well over 100 conceive naturally. First, however, we have had to energetically reduce their heat, and maximize their essence, which allows the FSH to activate healthy follicles.

      Although Western medicine views the reproductive system as an ever deteriorating disease process waiting for intervention, Chinese medicine employs a different lens. We view the body/mind/spirit as an ever adaptive system, which, when given appropriate environmental cues, has a miraculous ability to manifest its highest potential.

      Thursday, March 31, 2011

      How to relieve Morning Sickness

      Morning Sickness

      Symptoms of “morning sickness” may start at any time from the time of the first missed period, or not until the 10th week of pregnancy. Morning sickness can occur at any time of the day, in the morning, later in the day, or throughout the day. Roughly 75% of women suffer from morning sickness, and a small percentage of women experience ongoing symptoms beyond the first trimester.

      To relieve morning symptoms

      Try to have a low fat protein snack such as yoghurt or nuts immediately before bed. This can help to sustain you throughout the night, as morning sickness can be exacerbated by hunger.

      In the morning before getting up, eat a plain biscuit or a banana. Remain in bed for about 15 minutes, then slowly rise and have a light breakfast.

      For symptoms that persist during the day

      Where possible, REST when your body calls for it. Put your feet up with your head slightly elevated and rest. Get help with home and work commitments wherever possible.

      Eat small, frequent meals, ie 6 meals per day instead of 3. Some women find that nausea is reduced if they don’t have food and fluid at the same time.

      Don’t take your emotions to mealtimes, create a calm atmosphere and allow yourself ample time to eat your meal.

      Avoid high fat foods especially fried foods.

      Avoid spicy foods and any foods that you know upset you.

      If the smell of cooking or hot food makes you feel ill, try to eat cold foods instead.

      Fluid Intake
      Fluid intake is vital, especially if your symptoms are moderate to severe. Ensure you are getting enough fluid. 6-8 glasses per day is a minimum.

      If you find water difficult to swallow at this time, try the following which can help you to get some nutrients and stay hydrated:
      weak tea
      diluted fruit or vegetable juices
      flat lemonade
      dry ginger ale
      milk drinks
      sports drinks

      Still Struggling?
      If you are really struggling even to keep down fluids, and you are already using the acupressure points suggested, an acupuncture treatment can help to more powerfully clear the nausea and vomiting. See also the information about the herbal capsules.

      Snacking can help to reduce symptoms of nausea. Stick mostly with plain and bland foods at this stage:
      - Toast with jam or honey
      - Sandwiches with low fat fillings
      - Baked potato with baked beans
      - Low fat milk puddings and yoghurt
      - Breakfast cereal with low fat milk
      - Boiled or scrambled eggs
      - Fruit salad, stewed or fresh fruit
      - Low fat soups
      - Cold meat/fish (home cooked)
      - Boiled rice

      Supplements that can assist
      B6 can reduce severe nausea and vomiting, and is best taken as part of a B complex, or sourced from sesame seeds, chick peas, bananas, sweetcorn, raisins, hazelnuts
      Magnesium is depleted by vomiting. Nuts, pumpkin seeds, beans, avocado and broccoli are good sources.
      Zinc requirements increase during pregnancy, zinc deficiency can worsen nausea. Ginger is a good source of zinc.

      Herbal Medicines
      In your kit you have been given a course of anti-nausea herbal capsules.

      These capsules are proven by research to reduce morning sickness, and do not contain ingredients that would harm the baby or compromise the pregnancy in any way.

      Dose: 1-2 capsules each time, up to 4 times per day. Take only as needed.

      Further information about this formula, including research trials conducted, please contact the clinic.

      Still No Improvement?
      If symptoms are severe despite following the earlier mentioned actions, please seek medical attention.

      It is important that you are able to ingest appropriate amounts of nutrients and fluids to avoid dehydration and potential risks to the pregnancy.