Aah, the holidays – after Christmas & New Year, some of us have enjoyed Auckland Anniversary weekend, and those of us in New Zealand have Waitangi Day off to look forward to on 6th February.
Even if we don’t go away on holiday, we can still enjoy a “staycation”. It is a good opportunity to take stock of our lives, re-evaluate & perhaps re-set the course for the coming year. This may be in the form of establishing small good habits (eg, ensuring there is no food or dirty dishes left on the kitchen bench before leaving the house) to bigger things, like reducing portion sizes or committing to a regular exercise regime, or deciding whether what we do for work is really what we want to be doing with our lives.
The build-up to Christmas and the summer holidays can be a very stressful time, something noted in an article in “The Listener” by an overseas author just before Christmas 2017; they marvelled how, unlike the Northern Hemisphere, we have Christmas, New Year, summer holidays and the end of the academic year all at once – no wonder many of us feel under pressure.
The summer break can be a good opportunity for us to examine how we manage our stress and we can explore coping strategies which suit us best. Stress is something we all have from time to time – some people more than others. Sometimes it can be good (helping us focus to meet a deadline), sometimes not so good (eg trying to fit too many things into one day, or making a presentation to a boss or to colleagues or to a public audience). Scientifically speaking, stress is an evolutionary adaptation to help us survive. It temporarily increases awareness & can improve physical performance for short periods of time. It speeds up the heart rate, breathing & raises blood pressure, which keeps us alert and tense. However, this is not meant to be sustained for long periods of time, as it can initiate health problems such as anxiety attacks, hypertension & obesity.
Some of us are stressed more often, & some of us stress out about everything. We can feel stressed even when there’s nothing specific we can identify as the cause – we are just tense and anxious all the time. This is where stress has evolved into chronic stress. This is nothing to be guilty about, it just is, and sometimes we need to seek support from an outside source. This is where making an appointment with a health professional comes in.
In some cases, going down the medical route may be appropriate. A visit to a GP may result in medication, perhaps only short-term, to give you space to sort yourself out. A GP may also refer you on to a specialist.
However, in many cases, a visit to a naturopath for an overview of where you are at and for a safe place to discuss the problem & the factors contributing to it and to put in place a holistic plan is a good place to start. Naturopaths will discuss with you your lifestyle and help identify hotspots which may be causing distress & disturbing your equilibrium and then help you troubleshoot accordingly. You can be assured that you will be treated with respect and compassion, and of course everything discussed remains confidential. We look at diet, exercise and how you spend your down-time & tailor-make a strategy. It may be surprising just how effectively a little regular exercise can decompress stress and anxiety!
Meditation (or prayer) may provide answers. The adrenalin we experience when we are in stress mode is directly counteracted by meditation, which induces the exact opposite thing in the body; it slows down breathing, heart rate and reduces blood pressure.
Meditation does not have to be a big commitment – just a few minutes a day can make a big difference. It’s enough just to establish the habit.
Also, disregard the popular myths about “emptying the mind”. Meditation is about being present and paying attention to your thoughts.
In our clinical practice we have had some excellent results with clients who have chosen to go with guided meditation or imagery; they choose a setting which they particularly relate to and conduct themselves through a progressive meditation or pathway. This can be done either still and quiet in a room in your house, or, if you are that kind of person, it can be an active meditation, that is, done while walking. There are many apps you could look at, or ask your naturopath.
Then the idea is to try & apply the mindfulness mindset to your life in general; practise calming your mind and centring yourself whenever you can.
Sometimes when you come to talk to us about stress and anxiety management, as well as diet, exercise & lifestyle discussion we may prescribe a herbal formula, herbal tea or a supplement designed to help you relax.
The beginning of the year is a great time to address the issues of stress and anxiety, to take control and put a plan in place. If this is something you need help with, please do not hesitate to call us on 09 282 3588 to book an appointment with Marion or David.
I am proud to announce I now qualified to perform DNA Genetic Profile Testing! This is a cutting-edge science that can reveal a lot about your potential health and future well-being.
These questions and MORE can be answered by knowing your DNA profile.
The DNA Genetic Profile Testing enables us to identify genes predisposing you to a disease, allergy, and/or any potential health risks. This is empowering because if you know more about your unique risk factors, you can make healthier choices that will improve your genetic expression (Genetic expression is how your genes create important proteins in the body – for good health or bad).
The DNA Test is a simple and non-invasive saliva test which is sent overseas, and costs NZ$499. You only need to do the test once in your lifetime, because your genes don’t change. Only your genetic expression can! How your genes express depends on many factors – diet, toxic exposure, lifestyle factors, and even your habitual mental states! This area of gene expression is called Epigenetics, an exciting new field of study which could be the cutting edge of medicine.
With what you will know about your gene profile, and what we already know about epigenetics, you will be in the driving seat with your health.
The full DNA Profile Testing programme will consist of a pre-consultation, the DNA test, and a follow-up consultation with recommendations specifically tailored to your unique profile.
Please get in touch to find out more, and to book your programme.
What do sinus problems look like? Well, do you suffer from the following:
If you have one or more of the above symptoms, it may be a sign that your sinuses are inflamed or blocked.
These are essentially inflammation of the mucous membranes in the sinus cavities; when these are inflamed they produce extra mucous. The mucous may discharge through the nose or run down the back of the throat, which may mean you are constantly clearing your throat or coughing. Alternatively, the sinuses may be so swollen inside that the mucous cannot drain out, in which case the congestion means you are more likely to have a headache and face pain. Incidentally, blocked or inflamed sinuses are right above the long roots of your top teeth, so you may also experience tooth pain – it may not be reason to see the dentist!
Sinus problems may originate from a headcold that has never cleared up properly, or it may be from a long-standing food or substance sensitivity, or some people experience troublesome sinuses at the change of season.
While part of the treatment for sinus trouble can be applied to all causes, some treatment is specific to each causative factor. This is where the biofeedback scanner (QXCi) can be very useful. The biofeedback system identifies blocks that inhibit the body’s natural energy flows, such as a virus or a food sensitivity. It is of course much more effective to treat the sinus problem if the underlying factors are treated as well.
So, if a contributing factor is food sensitivity, the advice would of course include recommendations to avoid the food. If it is a virus (lingering or acute) or a seasonal, environmental sensitivity such as pollens, we at Holden HealthCare advocate using specially formulated phenolics. Seasonal sensitivity may indicate a constitutional imbalance as well; acupuncture can be very effective to address this.
At your consultation herbal medicine may be appropriate for your sinus condition; your herbalist will make up a formula designed especially for you.
Some useful things you can do at home to ease the pain include:
To find out more about the factors behind your own sinus problems and how to treat them more effectively, book in for a QXCi biofeedback appointment with Marion by phoning Holden Healthcare on 09 282 3588 or email us.
Breast cancer is the most common cancer in women in both developed and developing countries. Early detection increases survival, and we at Holden Healthcare encourage women to participate in routine screening programs. The average age of diagnosis is 60, however there is a growing incidence of breast cancer in younger women – nearly 6 per cent of breast cancers in Australia and New Zealand develop in women younger than 40.
It is well understood that there is increased risk for women who have a family history of breast cancer. What is less well known is the association between breast cancer and controllable risk factors of alcohol consumption and abdominal obesity.
Breast cancer is a term used for a variety of cancers that originate in the breast. Broadly it is categorised whether it begins in the ducts (about 90% of breast cancers) or in the lobules, and whether it is in situ or invasive. Some may be a mixture of in situ and invasive. Some of the less common breast cancers can arise in other structures in the breast, such as the lymph.
Staging describes the extent to which the cancer has developed. The most commonly used is Stage 0-IV, Stage IV being the most advanced.
The letter N followed by a number between 0 and 3 indicates the number of lymph nodes near the breast to which the cancer has spread. Therefore for example DCIS N(2) indicates ductal carcinoma in situ, with 2 lymph nodes affected.
Medical recommendations may include surgery, chemotherapy, radiotherapy and hormonal treatments.
After breast cancer diagnosis, find a good holistic health care professional who can provide guidance about all the natural and complementary therapies that may help you. It is easy to get overwhelmed by the volume of advice on the Internet, so it is important to find an experienced and well-qualified naturopath who can help you determine what is the best way ahead for you. Be comfortable with the person you choose – you may be working together for some time.
Be sure to have your partner or someone close involved as an integral part of your healing process.
It is best to eat a primarily vegetarian diet rich in vegetables and fruits. Eliminate red meats and completely avoid caffeine & trans fats found in commercially processed foods. Eat complex carbohydrates and fibre-rich foods. Consume fish and some nuts for protein. Your naturopath will help draw up a personalised list of foods and frame up a menu plan for you.
Always consult with a herbalist for the most appropriate herbs for you. This may, for instance, include lymphatic herbs which may improve the function of the lymph system and can actually help absorb cysts. Herbs that regulate hormone function and balance the endocrine system may also be included in your herbal formula. Taken as directed, herbal formulas can be a powerful therapy on the road to health. Safety in prescribing is an important part of a herbalist’s training, and you can be confident that your qualified herbalist understands the interactions between taking your prescription medications and herbal medicine together. In fact, some research studies show better outcomes for some patients who choose to combine conventional and herbal medicine than for those who use conventional medicine alone.
There are specific supplement protocols which your naturopath can advise you on. There may be nutritional deficiencies which may be most effectively dealt with in the first instance by supplements. It is well worth the investment to consult with a trained and experienced naturopath who can discern the quality and also the appropriateness of the supplements available, especially when taken in conjunction with prescription medications.
We are not just our physical selves, and there are various practices such as massage, exercise outdoors and creative expression through a form of art, to name a few, which help relieve stress and bring about a more relaxed outlook, all beneficial in recovery from breast cancer. Your naturopath and medical herbalist can discuss these further with you and determine with you which works best for you.
We at Holden Healthcare take your health seriously and are well-trained and experienced in the care of breast cancer patients. See here for further information on what we can offer you.
If you would like to discuss this further with us, please do not hesitate to call us at Holden Healthcare on 09 282 3588
With very best wishes,
Prostate cancer is cancer of the prostate gland, a walnut sized gland surrounding the urethra (the duct through which urine is passed) just below the bladder.
Prostate cancer is most common in men over the age of 40, and is rare in younger men. By age 60, one man in 9 will be diagnosed with prostate cancer. Australia and New Zealand have the highest incidence of prostate cancer in the world (but, fortunately, not the highest mortality rates).
In New Zealand, over 3000 men per year are registered with prostate cancer and 600 men die from it (Ministry of Health New Zealand).
First step is a Prostatic Specific Antigen test (a blood test) and the physical exam, known as the Digital Rectal Exam (DRE). The DRE is performed by a doctor while the patient lies down on their side or on their stomach; the doctor slips on a pair of disposable gloves and examines the size and hardness of the prostate by inserting a finger into the rectum. The prostate can be felt through the rectal wall. It is important to have the DRE, however reluctant you may be, because a man may have a normal PSA but still have aggressive cancer nodules.
If the findings are cause for concern, ie the PSA is above 3 (for a man aged in his 50’s) and the prostate feels hard and enlarged, the GP will refer you to a specialist for further investigations.
If you have results that may indicate prostate cancer, consult the specialist the GP refers you to.
Complementary medicine can produce some promising results, either alone or in conjunction with the conventional medicine pathway, depending on the person and on the cancer itself.
Either way, treating the person and the environment in which the cancer lies is of utmost importance for the best outcome. This will include lifestyle, exercise, diet and selected supplements.
Goals may include management of insulin sensitivity, detoxification, low body fat and increased muscle mass. This will be delivered by dietary and lifestyle advice.
Exercise six days a week – this will be a combination of walking/aerobic exercise and weight or resistance training.
Meditation / mindfulness or positive thinking. There is a lot of research which shows that managing stress, whether conscious or sub-conscious stress, is effective in reducing cancer markers. This is because stress fosters inflammation in the body, and inflammation is one of the triggers for cancer.
Diet: reducing or avoiding red meat, sugar, alcohol, cigarettes and increasing chemoprotective foods and spices such as tomato, turmeric, cruciferous vegetables such as broccoli will be discussed. Your practitioner will cover this in depth with you.
Vitamin D, folic acid and sulphurophane are among the supplements that may be relevant. Some herbal medicine may also be appropriate and effective, and may be prescribed for you, depending on your own individual needs and other medications taken.
Your naturopaths at Holden Healthcare are well-qualified and experienced practitioners who practise compassionate healthcare and can offer you a health plan going forward from diagnosis.
We look forward to being included in your healthcare team!
Senior Naturopath, Medical Herbalist & Nutritionist
Prostate image creative commons licensed from Wikimedia.
Naturopathy – what does this word conjure up for you? The key to this word is the beginning part, “nature” or “natural”. By this we mean something that is not artificial or synthetic. A naturopath is a qualified practitioner who practises healthcare according to natural principles.
Many of us these days have become aware of the vast range of choices in lifestyle and in what we buy. This can be anything from choosing an organic orange or chocolate-and-orange flavoured confectionery item, to cotton or polyester shirts – in each case, the one is closer to a natural form and the other is more synthetic and processed.
Consciously or unconsciously we make these choices all the time. Sometimes we make the natural choice because we think it’s the right thing to do, sometimes we choose the more processed item because it is more convenient or perhaps cheaper. But how about health? This should definitely be a factor in our decision-making, for as Augusten Burroughs said, “When you have your health, you have everything. When you do not have your health, nothing else matters at all.”
When considering your own health (if you do not have a medically diagnosed condition), do you consider it to be “pretty good”? What if you’d forgotten what it felt like to be healthy? To maximise your health potential, consider visiting a naturopath. A naturopath is trained in the application of medical science; this includes an in-depth understanding of pathology from both orthodox and complementary healthcare viewpoints, and includes performing diagnostic assessments using both orthodox and complementary methods. A naturopath will give you an objective evaluation, and, if they agree that you are “pretty good”, that’s terrific, but if they can identify areas that could be worked on, they will give you a plan with some recommendations. These may include dietary and lifestyle advice, and they may recommend supplements and/or herbal medicine. If you are being offered herbal medicine, do check that the practitioner is qualified to do so; if you are taking prescription medications, your registered medical herbalist is trained how to prescribe herbal medicines compatible with your pharmaceutical regime.
“When you have your health, you have everything. When you do not have your health, nothing else matters at all.”
To make the most of your health or to understand it better, make an appointment with Marianne Stobie, an experienced and registered naturopath and medical herbalist at Holden HealthCare – you may be given a plan for the health issue that has been of concern, and you may discover renewed energy and passion for life!
At this time of year many of us take time off work to relax and celebrate the summer holidays with friends and family. In many households, this involves hosting gatherings and parties with edible and drinkable treats.
Most of our clients at Holden HealthCare come away from their consultations with dietary advice, what to eat and what to avoid. However, let’s bear in mind that unless you are coeliac, have an anaphylactic (life-threatening) reaction or an immediate reaction such as diarrhoea and cramps (or if there are other serious circumstances present), these dietary guidelines may be relaxed a little occasionally. Far from being extremist, modern naturopathy is about regaining balance in our lives, and Christmas and New Year is a time where applying the 80:20 principle (do everything right 80% of the time, and allow things from the “naughty” list 20% of the time) can come into its own for a short period.
So, we may have more alcohol and sugary food than normal over the festive season without feeling guilty if our normal pattern is more restrained.
Remember that we have other tools apart from pharmaceutical medication if we feel worse for wear. Vitamin C (as a supplement or as squeezed lemons) and plenty of water is excellent to help rehydrate after imbibing excess alcohol, and bicarbonate of soda in water is helpful for settling a stomach queasy after too much rich food.
If you have been told that your digestive enzymes are low, then our summer fruits that are coming into stores now are great to perk these up – think of kiwifruit or pineapple, mango or pawpaw, and have a slice or two or a small glass of their juice before meals – a delicious way to make sure you are getting nutrients from the lovely food you may be serving or being served.
All toxins (and yes, alcohol is one too!) pass through the liver, and these days there are many tasty salads which incorporate liver cleansing foods.
A favourite, and so easy to make, is the Grated Beetroot and Carrot salad. Both these vegetables are very liver-friendly.
Simple grate a raw beetroot and a raw carrot (some like to grate in an apple as well), mix well and add a little salt, pepper and red balsamic vinegar, and a tablespoon of pumpkin seeds. A dash of pure maple syrup is nice. A tiny bit (½ teaspoon) of umeboshi plum paste cuts through any blandness and is so-o-o good for digestion. But don’t overdo it, it is very strong! It is also wonderful for morning sickness, by the way.
Any type of green smoothie or berry smoothie is full of antioxidants and can help you feel virtuous the morning after a big night.
Once it is all over, a one-day fruit or vegetable juice fast can give the body a chance to recover. Contact your practitioner for tasty combinations. And make sure you drink plenty of clean, filtered water – one guideline is 1 glass per 10kg of your own bodyweight.
If after the celebrations are over you feel that you need an extra liver clearance boost (feeling sluggish, skin not looking so good, or weight gain), do not hesitate to book in to see Marianne the Medical Herbalist for an herbal liver tonic (liquid tincture or tablet, your choice) or for more nutritional recommendations to build on the foundations of good health which were laid in 2016.
Wishing everyone a Happy Christmas and all the very best for 2017!
With the warmer weather starting to come through, many of us are starting to dust off the exercise gear and training shoes to get fitter for the summer.
Sometimes we can get put off from exercising because of the aches and pains that can follow. This can be offset by proactive self-care strategies.
Firstly, we need to ensure that we are adequately hydrated before, during and after exercise. Filtered water is the best, however those of us who exercise intensely or in the hot sun and sweat heavily may be wise to replace lost electrolytes as well. Adding ⅛ teaspoon of Himalayan or Real Salt to a litre bottle of water is effective; ½ teaspoon of maple syrup together with a squeeze of half a lime (or small lemon) can help the taste as well as replacing some glucose.
A sachet of Lypospheric Vitamin C or other good quality vitamin C, such as Naturopath’s Own Daily C at 1000mg dose per day, is effective as an antioxidant and to help repair micro-tears in sore muscles.
Turmeric is a spice native to the Spice Islands and has long been used in Asian cuisine and medicine. The same part of the plant, the rhizome, has been used in Western herbal medicine since the Middle Ages and has enjoyed a revival in recent times. By its stimulating action on general circulation and also its anti-inflammatory properties, it is of value in bringing symptomatic relief to musculoskeletal aches and pains, with particular focus on joint mobility. It’s valuable not only to those with osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis for this reason, but also for those of us with an active lifestyle.
Turmeric has become well-known as a liver and gallbladder tonic and as such it is well regarded as supportive in those undergoing radiation therapy and there are clinical trials demonstrating turmeric’s potential benefit in cancer patients. It is useful in treating skin conditions where they are associated with impure or coagulated blood, especially in radiation dermatitis.
Therapeutically, the bioavailability of Turmeric has been questioned, and research has shown that it is much better absorbed in the human body when
taken with some form of fat. This is why Ayurvedic (Indian) use of Turmeric combines it with milk or yogurt. Recipes for these are available at the clinic.
Of course, as a food the concentration is limited for therapeutic uses, although it is fine for maintenance levels. For more focused therapy, 1 -2 tablets per day of Turmeric, containing not less than 90mg of the active curcumin and phospholipids for absorption per tablet, is the best way of delivering an effective dose.
If you would like to follow this up, please contact me at Holden Healthcare to discuss if this is right for you. Turmeric is contraindicated for pregnant women and at high doses for people who are taking blood-thinners and some anti-inflammatory medications.
Marianne Stobie, Senior Naturopath at Holden Healthcare.
On my return from a two week trip to China (a bucket list must!) there was a definite change of season in New Zealand, with fallen linden tree leaves covering my street and with a nip in the air in the mornings. A beautiful time of year!
Rapid temperature changes, whether from cold to hot, but more predominantly from hot to cold, are stressful to the human body as we adapt to maintain balance. Add exposure to upper respiratory viruses to this and our immune systems are challenged to fight these bugs off, especially if we already have a health condition to manage to start with.
It is a good idea to continue exercise, particularly when the heart rate is raised and sweating occurs, as the higher temperature helps to kill off the unwanted viruses. Take care, however, not to chill down too quickly afterwards, again because of the stress of changes of temperature.
Remembering to throw a jacket into the car when going to work to allow for temperature fluctuations and to keep warm when the temperature drops in the early evening.
Eating properly is always a foundation stone for good health, and especially when the weather changes from warm to cool. Now is the time to reintegrate hot dinners, soups and casseroles. Using warming spices like ginger, cinnamon, cardamom and curry powders are beneficial at this time – for instance, Thai pumpkin soup is nutritious and comforting! Ingredients include red curry paste, pumpkin and coconut cream - see www.taste.com.au/recipes/21007/thai-pumpkin-soup/181/ for the base recipe, and add Asian fish sauce, onion, garlic, and seasoning to taste.
On the subject of garlic, use it liberally in your diet or if that is not practical in your household, buy some garlic capsules. Garlic has antioxidant and antimicrobial activity, and is anti-inflammatory and anti-viral too. Its immune-stimulating actions earn it a place in our toolkit to combat winter chills and ills. Of course it also has a lot of evidence-based research for its cardiovascular benefits too. The main caution is if you are taking blood-thinning medication, in which case moderate dietary use of garlic is fine, but it is wiser to stay away from garlic supplements.
Vitamin C is well-known in doses between 500mg – 2000mg per day is a must for its immune-enhancing and anti-inflammatory actions.
Herbal medicine is also very effective for immune support. Many people know about Echinacea, but here I want to mention Astragalus.
Astragalus root is originally a Chinese plant, but has been widely adopted by Western medical herbalists as a tonic and treatment for colds, ‘flu and other chronic viral infections, either on its own or together with other herbs such as Echinacea and Licorice. Research has shown that Astragalus activates and stimulates the proliferation of various immune cells. Traditionally, Astragalus is not used in the active phase of an infection (the first 2 days of a cold, for instance) but comes into its own straight after the end of the active phase, when it significantly helps to speed recovery and shorten the duration of symptoms.
If you would like a liquid herbal immune support formula tailor-made for you, or herbal advice, do give Holden Healthcare a call to book an appointment to see me and I can make something up to suit your own individual needs.
It’s January and even though some of us may not have gone away for our holidays, most of us have had an opportunity to get outside in the sunshine.
Aside from the benefit of warmth helping us relax, skin exposure to the sun helps maintain levels of vitamin D3, essential for a healthy immune system and balanced mood, and many naturopaths will advocate regular time spent outdoors without sunscreen – usually 10 minutes or so in the summer will be sufficient.
However, it’s easy to get carried away with enthusiasm and overdo sun exposure, and the sting of sunburn is familiar to many of us. Apart from covering up with sunscreen (be sure to check that yours does not contain damaging chemicals – see your naturopath for recommended products), what else can we do?
The protective qualities of a substance called astaxanthin has been shown by researchers to be effective in prolonging the length of time one can spend in the sun. However, you will still need to be careful and monitor your unprotected time outside!
Astaxanthin is a red pigment produced by algae when they are stressed, and is a powerful antioxidant which helps protect them from changes in their environment. The algae are eaten by sea animals such as salmon, krill and crayfish and the astaxanthin contributes to their distinctive pink colour. Astaxanthin is available naturally to us as foods when these types of seafood are eaten in our diet, but if you are unable to get these in your diet every day then see your naturopath who will be happy to direct you to a suitable supplement, such as Sanderson’s Superior Red Krill Oil, one capsule a day taken with food is sufficient for most.
Always remember to stay hydrated when in the sun (coconut water is very refreshing and helps replace lost electrolytes) and moisturise your skin well; organic coconut oil is effective and also has a pleasant fragrance.
A delicious way to enjoy astaxanthin after a sunny day out with friends and family is to marinade salmon fillets in a little soy sauce (gluten-free options are readily available in supermarkets) with lemon juice, garlic and ground black pepper and cook them on the barbecue – remember, the fish will cook through quite quickly, so be careful not to char it! Serve with chopped avocado slices in a fresh green leafy salad.
As astaxanthin is an antioxidant, it has other benefits as well as being sun-protective. It has anti-inflammatory properties too, and therefore has many applications for us without the side-effects of pharmaceutical drugs, making it a wise choice for people who are on blood-thinners such as Warfarin and Clopidogrel and for people with peptic ulcers.