Presentation: Depression and Anxiety. Can we prevent the Blues?

I’m presenting at the Natural Therapies & Natural Health Expo on “Depression and Anxiety. Can we prevent the Blues?” – 11 August. Hope to see you there.

Upcoming Seminars on Nutrition and Herbal Medicine (Jan-Feb 2006)

I will be presenting some seminars on Nutrition and Herbal Medicine at Nature Care College in January and February 2005. Please contact Nature Care College for more information.

Topics include:
Advanced Iridology
Naturopathic Approaches to Digestive Disorders
Exploring Natural Approaches to Chronic Fatigue Syndrome
Naturopathic Approaches to Musculoskeletal Disorders
Therapeutic Applications for Amino Acids

I will also be presenting at the Nature Care College Open Day (21 January 2006) on:
Philosophies of Natural Therapies
Naturopathy

ATMS Practitioner Seminar: Fibromyalgia – More than a pain in the neck

Hi everyone. I am presenting an ATMS Practitioner Seminar on the topic of “Fibromyalgia – More than a pain in the neck” on 25 September 2005. If you are a health professional or student, contact the ATMS Office for ticket purchase details.

Chaste Tree for the relief of symptoms of the premenstrual syndrome

Chaste Tree (Vitex agnus-castus) is very beneficial for the relief of symptoms of the premenstrual syndrome (PMS). It is one of my favourite herbs for women’s health and regularly prescribe it. Depending on the presenting symptoms, I typically combine Chaste Tree with other herbs, such as Dong Quai, Corydalis, Crampbark, Dandelion Root, Ginger, Milk Thistle, Paeony, and Turmeric. This combination covers most women’s health issues. Ginger and Turmeric work via anti-inflammatory effects. Corydalis and Crampbark help with pain relief. Dandelion Root and Milk Thistle are for liver function and Milk Thistle improves detoxification. Dong Quai and Paeony are for female reproductive health and have been found beneficial for premenstrual syndrome. I increase broccoli for its health benefits and suggest to consume it every day. Big fan of Broccoli and one of my favourite vegetables. Highly nutritious. I co-prescribe Magnesium and tend to prescribe 150-200 mg twice daily. I may prescribe an additional dose if bad cramping and pain. Vitamin B6 is for hormone and neurotransmitter regulation. It also works with the metabolism of delta-6 desaturase and the metabolism of fatty acids. Depending on the situation, I might increase Vitamin B3 for its circulation effects, along with energy production, neurotransmitter regulation, and metabolism of fatty acids. Vitamin C can be added for additional antioxidant and anti-inflammatory effects. I am a big fan of Ashwagandha and regularly prescribe it for anxiety, stress, and as an adaptogen. Ashwagandha is very beneficial for supporting women’s health, particularly with PMS, anxiety, and stress.

A randomised, double blind, placebo controlled, parallel group comparison over three menstrual cycles. The trial consisted of either active (fruit extract ZE 440: 60% ethanol m/m, extract ratio 6-12:1; standardised for casticin; one 20 mg tablet once daily) or placebo (matched for appearance, size, colour, taste, and smell).

Main outcome measures: Main efficacy variable: change from baseline to end point (end of third cycle) in women’s self assessment of irritability, mood alteration, anger, headache, breast fullness, and other menstrual symptoms including bloating. Secondary efficacy variables: changes in clinical global impression (severity of condition, global improvement, and risk or benefit) and responder rate (50% reduction in symptoms).

Improvement in the main variable was greater in the active group compared with placebo group (P<0.001). Analysis of the secondary variables showed significant (P<0.001) superiority of active treatment in each of the three global impression items. Responder rates were 52% and 24% for active and placebo, respectively.

Chaste Tree was found to be an effective and well tolerated treatment for the relief of symptoms of the premenstrual syndrome.

Reference: Schellenberg R. Treatment for the premenstrual syndrome with agnus castus fruit extract: prospective, randomised, placebo controlled study. BMJ. 2001 Jan 20; 322(7279): 134-7.

PS I am enjoying writing these articles for my website on top of the regular newsletter mailouts. Eventually I will reduce the number of mailouts and focus on my website as in the future it will be more accessible for people and reduce paper.

Chamomile, Fennel, and Lemon Balm in the treatment of breastfed colicky infants

A randomised, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial was to investigate the effectiveness and side effects of a phytotherapeutic agent with Matricariae recutita (Chamomile), Foeniculum vulgare (Fennel), and Melissa officinalis (Lemon Balm) in the treatment of infantile colic.

The daily average crying time for the treatment group was 201.2 minutes per day (SD 18.3) at the baseline and 76.9 minutes per day (SD 23.5) at the end of the study; for the placebo it was 198.7 minutes per day (SD 16.9) and 169.9 minutes per day (SD 23.1) (p < 0.005). Crying time reduction was observed in 85.4% subjects for the treatment group and in 48.9% subjects for the placebo (p < 0.005). No side effects were reported.

Conclusion: This study shows that colic in breastfed infant improved within 1 week of treatment with an extract based on Chamomile, Fennel, and Lemon Balm.

My comment: Very promising results. Could Chamomile, Fennel, and Lemon Balm show benefit in children and adults with bloating, distension, and other digestive issues? I have been using these herbs, plus others (such as Turmeric and Milk Thistle), for the management of digestive conditions since the beginning of my career.

Savino F et al. A randomized double-blind placebo-controlled trial of a standardized extract of Matricariae recutita, Foeniculum vulgare and Melissa officinalis (ColiMil) in the treatment of breastfed colicky infants. Phytother Res. 2005 Apr; 19(4): 335-40.

What is Vitamedicine?

Since my post on Vitamedicine a couple of years back, people have been asking me about Vitamedicine. I have been using Vitamedicine since starting clinic in January 1999. The word “vitamedicine” was formed from the Latin word “vita” meaning “life” and medicine, that being what I call “life medicine” or medicine for life (for the long-term). Vitamedicine is a personalised holistic system of health care with a core set of philosophies, principles, and practices. Vitamedicine looks at the whole person, physically, mentally, emotionally, socially, and environmentally, and focuses on the person’s individual needs. It is person-centric (looking at the big picture). It aims to address the underlying causes of health issues and to promote optimum health. It takes into account the lifestyle factors of the person. Vitamedicine utilises traditional knowledge and science.

Aspects of Vitamedicine include: treating the whole person, identifying and treating the cause/s, prevention and health promotion, regular hydration, nourishing with wholefoods, using herbal medicines to support the healing process, daily physical activity and regular movement, mindfulness and meditation, sleep, and rest.

If you’d like to know more about how Vitamedicine can be of benefit to you, come in for an appointment at the clinic.

Rhodiola: an Adaptogen

Rhodiola (Rhodiola rosea) is a popular plant in traditional medical systems in Eastern Europe and Asian with a reputation for stimulating the nervous system, decreasing depression, reducing irritability, enhancing work performance, and improving fatigue. Rhodiola is classed as an adaptogen. An adaptogen has the ability to increase resistance to a variety of physical, chemical, and biological stressors. I often combine Rhodiola with Ashwagandha, Ginkgo, Lemon Balm, Passionflower, Rehmannia, Magnesium, and B Vitamins for stress, anxiety, memory, cognition, irritability, and fatigue, among other health conditions.

Reference: Kelley GS. Rhodiola rosea: a possible plant adaptogen. Altern Med Rev. 2001 Jun;6(3):293-302.

Nutrition, Herbal Medicine, and Lifestyle Medicine courses and seminars

I’ve been regularly asked to write short courses and present seminars on Nutrition, Herbal Medicine, and Lifestyle Medicine. The exciting news is with the success of the Mind Body Spirit Festival in May, I will be having another stall in November.

Tribulus terrestris for Men’s health

I have been using Tribulus (Tribulus terrestris) since 1998 for men’s health, particularly for libido, stamina, and endurance. I was treating several rugby league players in 1999 for stress and fatigue. A common issue they had was low libido due to all the training they did as they were elite players who were in First Grade and were representatives. Tribulus greatly benefitted them. They found they had more energy during the game and performed better overall because they felt better.

I often combine Tribulus with Ginkgo, Ginsengs (American, Korean, Siberian), Ashwagandha, Rhodiola, Vitamin B3, and Zinc. If there is muscle tension and stress, I will add Magnesium at 150-200 mg twice daily. Vitamin B3 and Ginkgo are very helpful for improving circulation and work as vasodilators.

Reference: McKay D. Nutrients and botanicals for erectile dysfunction: examining the evidence. Altern Med Rev. 2004 Mar; 9(1): 4-16.

Courses in Nutrition, Herbal Medicine, and Lifestyle Medicine

I’ve been regularly asked to write short courses and present seminars on Nutrition, Herbal Medicine, and Lifestyle Medicine. The exciting news is that I will be at the Mind Body Spirit Festival in May. Looking forward to seeing you there.

Vitamin D, Calcium, and Bones

Vitamin D is critically important for the development, growth, and maintenance of a healthy skeleton from birth until death. It plays an essential role in maintaining healthy mineralised bones of the skeleton. The major function of vitamin D is to maintain calcium homeostasis. Vitamin D increases the efficiency of the intestine to absorb dietary calcium. When there is inadequate calcium in the diet, vitamin D communicates to the osteoblasts that signal osteoclast precursors to mature and dissolve the calcium stored in the bone. Vitamin D deficiency is a major unrecognised health problem. Vitamin D deficiency has long lasting effects. It causes rickets in children, osteomalacia, and osteoporosis in adults. Chronic vitamin D deficiency may have serious adverse consequences.

I see the numerous benefits of Vitamin D on improving health (above that of bone health) and see supplementation of Vitamin D increasing in the next few years due to its various health benefits.

References:

Holick MF. Vitamin D: A millenium perspective. J Cell Biochem. 2003 Feb 1; 88(2): 296-307.

Holick MF. Vitamin D and bone health. J Nutr. 1996 Apr; 126(4 Suppl): 1159S-64S.

Holick MF. Calcium and vitamin D. Diagnostics and therapeutics. Clin Lab Med. 2000 Sep; 20(3): 569-90.

Effects of kelp supplementation on thyroid function in euthyroid subjects

Kelp has numerous health benefits, including thyroid, hair, and skin health.

A double-blind prospective clinical trial was conducted involving 36 healthy euthyroid (thyroid gland is functioning normally) subjects. Subjects were randomly assigned to receive placebo (4 alfalfa capsules per day), low-dose kelp (2 kelp capsules and 2 alfalfa capsules per day), or high-dose kelp (4 kelp capsules per day) for 4 weeks. Thyrotropin (thyroid-stimulating hormone or TSH), free thyroxine, and total triiodothyronine (T3) were assessed at weeks 0, 4, and 6. Response to thyrotropin-releasing hormone stimulation, urinary iodine excretion, and basal metabolic rate were determined at weeks 0 and 4.

TSH concentrations did not differ significantly between week 0 and week 4 in the placebo group (P = 0.16) but increased significantly in both the low-dose kelp (P = 0.04) and high-dose kelp (P = 0.002) groups. Free thyroxine concentrations decreased slightly but significantly after 4 weeks of placebo but were unchanged in the low-dose and the high-dose kelp groups. In contrast, total triiodothyronine (T3) levels did not differ significantly after 4 weeks of placebo or low-dose kelp therapy but were significantly decreased after high-dose kelp therapy (P = 0.04). Similarly, the thyrotropin-releasing hormone stimulation test showed no significant change in poststimulation TSH after 4 weeks in the placebo or low-dose kelp groups but revealed a significantly increased response after high-dose kelp therapy (P = 0.0002). The 24-hour urinary iodine excretion showed dose-dependent increases in the two kelp study groups. All thyroid laboratory values returned to baseline 2 weeks after cessation of kelp supplementation, except for TSH in the high-dose kelp group, which was significantly decreased.

Conclusion: Short-term dietary supplementation with kelp significantly increases both basal and poststimulation thyroid-stimulating hormone (TSH). These findings corroborate previous studies on the effects of supplemental iodide given to euthyroid subjects for a similar period.

Clark CD et al. Effects of kelp supplementation on thyroid function in euthyroid subjects. Endocr Pract. Sep-Oct 2003; 9(5): 363-9.

Institute News

The Institute has been gaining momentum since opening early 2002. A number of seminars and presentations have taken place, with a recent seminar on respiratory health in November. I enjoy presenting on nutrition, herbal medicine, and lifestyle changes and am planning some presentations for 2004. Stay tuned…

Passionflower in the treatment of generalised anxiety

Passionflower (Passiflora incarnata) is one of my most favourite herbs. Have used it with patients since day 1. I tend to combine it with Ashwagandha (Withania), Chamomile, Lemon Balm, Rehmannia, Rhodiola, Inositol, and Vitamin C.

A double-blind randomised trial compared the efficacy of Passiflora incarnata extract with oxazepam in the treatment of generalized anxiety disorder. Patients were allocated in a random fashion: 18 to the Passiflora extract 45 drops/day plus placebo tablet group, and 18 to oxazepam 30 mg/day plus placebo drops for a 4-week trial.

Passiflora extract and oxazepam were effective in the treatment of generalised anxiety disorder. Oxazepam showed a rapid onset of action. On the other hand, significantly more problems relating to impairment of job performance were encountered with subjects on oxazepam. The results suggest that Passiflora extract is effective for the management of generalised anxiety disorder, and the low incidence of impairment of job performance with Passiflora extract compared to oxazepam is an advantage.

Reference: Akhondzadeh S et al. Passionflower in the treatment of generalized anxiety: a pilot double-blind randomized controlled trial with oxazepam. J Clin Pharm Ther. 2001 Oct; 26(5): 363-7.

What is Vitamedicine?

I have been using Vitamedicine since starting clinic in 1999. The word “vitamedicine” was formed from the Latin word “vita” meaning “life” and medicine. I have built my career on Vitamedicine and have very big plans for the future. Won’t say too much now, but I can say that the plans are strong and the steps are in place. Vitamedicine is a personalised holistic system of health care with a core set of philosophies, principles, and practices. Vitamedicine looks at the whole person, physically, mentally, emotionally, socially, and environmentally, and focuses on the person’s individual needs. It is person-centric. It aims to address the underlying causes of health issues and to promote optimum health. It takes into account the lifestyle factors of the person. Vitamedicine utilises traditional knowledge and science.

Aspects of Vitamedicine include:
– Treating the whole person
– Identifying and treating the cause
– Prevention and health promotion
– Regular hydration
– Good nutrition and nourishing with wholefoods
– Using herbal medicines to support the healing process
– Daily physical activity and regular movement
– Mindfulness
– Meditation
– Sleep
– Rest

Additional aspects of Vitamedicine include:
– Lifestyle counselling and coaching
– Massage
– Health spa
– Hydrotherapy
– Music therapy
– Dance therapy
– Art therapy
– Exercise therapy
– Sports medicine and fitness

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