The Importance of Detoxing to Improve Our Health, Energy Levels and Preconception Care

21st August, 2013

 Part 1

Fatigue, lethargy, difficulty concentrating, reproductive disorders, mood swings, recurrent infections, allergies and autoimmune disorders, are just some of the symptoms and conditions you may suffer with, due to an accumulation of environmental and microbial toxins in your body. Toxins are  eliminated by the body either by directly neutralising them, or excreting them in the faeces or urine. The liver, kidneys and intestines are the main organs of detoxification. However if these organs are under-functioning and become impaired due to illness, heavy toxic loads,  and poor diet, it may be worth looking at ways to support your digestive system and liver function.

Counterfeit drugsThe Types of Toxins the Body can be Exposed To

A toxin can be described as any compound that has a detrimental effect on cell function and structure.

Toxins can  be classified as:
Heavy metals
  such as lead, mercury, cadmium, arsenic and aluminium.

Liver toxicants such as chemicals, alcohol, drugs, solvents, pesticides, and food additives.
Microbial Compounds produced by yeast and bacteria in the gut, toxic amines, and toxic derivatives of bile.
Protein metabolites such as ammonia and urea are toxins that the kidneys are responsible for eliminating .

Heavy metals and liver toxicants can both give rise to a range of psychological and neurological symptoms such as headaches, fatigue, dizziness, depression, mental confusion and poor coordination (Murray and Pizzorno, 2003).

Microbial compounds have been implicated in psoriasis, Crohn’s disease, ulcerative colitis, allergies, asthma and immune disorders (Murray and Pizzorno, 2003).

Ionising Radiation effects (flying and X-rays), have been shown to contribute to abnormalities of sperm and ova, causing chromosomal damage and foetal malformations such as Down Syndrome (Naish, 2000). According to Naish an international flight or high altitude domestic flight is equivalent to one X-ray through your whole body. Naish suggests Reiishi and shitaki mushrooms, Burdock, Astragalus, Siberian Ginseng and B5 to aid recovery from exposure.

Other factors that contribute to the need to detoxify the body are

Poor dietary choices such as high sugar diets and junk food
Slow gut transit time due to highly processed foods and low fibre
Poor peristaltic function which slows down the elimination of stools
Hormonal imbalances

English: A restaurant dish consisting of small...

Chocolate cakes from Gaulupeau, Versailles

Testing for toxicity

 Heavy metals – the most reliable measure is hair mineral analysis.
 Toxic chemicals – a detailed case history is essential and possibly blood and fatty tissue   analysis. To measure the effects these chemicals have on the liver, a clearance test is useful and can measure compounds such as caffeine and benzoic acid when a specified amount is ingested (Murray and Pizzorno, 2003).  

Signs and Symptoms Indicating Poor Liver Function

The following list will also indicate if your liver is functioning under par and needs work to help support detoxification:
Diabetes, gallstones, 10 kilos overweight, psoriasis, a history of heavy alcohol use, anabolic steroids, oestrogens and oral contraceptives, history of viral hepatitis, and high exposure to certain chemicals or drugs such as pesticides, diuretics,  antibiotic, NSAID, thyroid hormone (Murray and Pizzorno,  2003).


Why is it important to undergo detoxification in preparation for conception? What dietary, herbal and nutritional steps can be advised to support the body in this process?

Intestinal and liver detoxification should occur four months prior trying to conceive to ensure positive results and to ensure your major organs of elimination are working efficiently. This way accumulated toxins won’t interfere with your hormone levels and health of your reproductive organs.

Having a healthy, functioning body primed with all the required vitamins and minerals to support a pregnant woman, with all the increased demands for iron, calcium, iodine and B vitamins and a growing foetus, is highly desirable to increase your chances of conceiving.

It is important to undergo intestinal detoxification to help reduce the absorption of toxic substances.  This is achieved by supporting the barrier function of the bowel, ensuring proper bowel elimination, and destroying harmful pathogens which may adversely impact on the health of the foetus and mother.

According to The Practitioner Guide to Integrated Detoxification by Meatagenics (2004) endotoxins from dysbiosis and excess levels of oestrogen have a dysregulating effect on the Hypothalmic Pituitary Adrenal axis which may result in derangements of the Hypothalamic Pituitary Gonadal axis with subsequent reproductive problems.

Intestinal detoxification

Initially if inflammatory conditions are present such as allergies, eczema, psoriasis it may be beneficial to eliminate wheat and dairy from the diet and other known allergens as they may damage the gut wall and cause dysbiosis. Wheat and dairy are the most common offending food allergens (Pizzorno & Murray, 2003).

Fibre is able to bind to toxins in the gut and promote their excretion. Water soluble fibres are best such as a large variety of fruit and vegetables especially apples and pears, guar gum, and psyllium husks. In addition cruciferous vegetables such as cabbage inhibit the carcinogenic effects of chemicals, increase the healing of the gut wall and increase the rate in which the liver changes oestrogen into the water soluble form which can be excreted in the faeces. High fibre reduces the amount of oestrogen able to re-enter the bloodstream, which helps prevent hormonal imbalances.

Probiotics such as Lactobacillus acidophilus increase healthy bacteria in the gut, act as immune system modulators and prevent the colonisation of the gastrointestinal tract by variety of pathogens due to the production of antimicrobial substances such as lactic acid, acetic acid and hydrogen peroxide (Braun & Cohen, 2005).

According to Naish (2000) probiotics will help eliminate the precursors to oxidants which are damaging to a baby’s DNA, proteins and other essential nutrients.

Glutamine acts as fuel for intestinal mucosa and lymphocytes, improves gut immunity by increasing IgA levels, supports gut mucosal growth and promotes healing and bowel rescue (Osiecki, 2002).

Zinc resolves intestinal permeability problems which will aid in the reduction of toxic absorption and is essential for specific and non specific immunity (Braun & Cohen, 2005). It also restricts endogenous free radical production and is a possible scavenger of free radicals (Braun and Cohen, 2005).

I hope this helps those who are interested in detoxing. In the next couple of weeks I will post Part 2 which will include liver detoxification and some general dietary and herbal advice to aid detoxification. If you need more specific advice to help with detoxing or you are suffering from any of the conditions and symptoms I mentioned throughout this article don’t hesitate to call me on Ph 0432 540 996 to book in for a detailed consultation. 


Bone, K. 2003 A Clinical Guide to Blending Liquid Herbs, Churchill Livingstone, USA
Braun, L, & Cohen, M. 2005 Herbs and Natural Supplements An Evidenced Based Guide, Elsevier, Australia
Meatagenics  Article Preconception and Pregnancy Care May 2004 Metagenics Product Guide 2005
Naish, F. 1999 The Natural Way To A Better Pregnancy, Transworld Publishers, Australia
Naish, F, & Roberts, J. 2000 The Natural Way To Better Babies, Preconception Health Care for Prospective Parents, Random House, Australia.
Naish, F. 2000 Natural Fertility, Sally Milner Publishing, Australia
Osiecki, H. 2002 The Nutrient Bible, Bio Concepts Publishing, Australia
Pizzorno, J & Murray, M. 1998 Encyclopaedia of Natural Medicine, Prima Publishing, USA

Important Vitamins and Minerals for the Nervous System

1st March, 2013

Most B vitamins are important for the nervous system and can help support a number of different complaints such as anxiety, depression, and nervous exhaustion. Magnesium and many of the B vitamins listed are important cofactors in the production of certain amino acids and neurotransmitters such as, serotonin and dopamine, which can impact on mood and alertness.

B vitamins are however best taken as a B complex, rather than individually, to prevent depletion of any one B vitamin, which can occur if you are taking a high dose of any single B supplement. It is best to take B vitamins in the morning to help provide energy throughout he day.

Calcium and Magnesium are two very important minerals to support stress, anxiety, nervous twitches and muscular cramps. Like alot of minerals they are absorbed better in the evening. Not all B vitamin  and Calcium andMagnesium supplements are made the same, and their quality and efficacy can vary greatly.

It is best to chat with your naturopath about obtaining good quality practitioner only brands, to help you reach the correct therapeutic dose to treat your particular condition. If you need advice about this don’t hesitate to contact me Monique, on 0432 540 996.

Vitamin B5 – Pantothenic Acid


Whole grains, legumes, cauliflower, broccoli, salmon, avocado, egg yolk, liver, milk, sweet potatoes, mushrooms (Osiecki, 2002; Braun & Cohen 2005; Haas, 1992)

English: Three eggs with double yolk


Stress, adrenal support, energy, demyelination, panic attacks (Osiecki, 2002; Braun & Cohen, 2005)

>10gm may lead to diarrhoea (Osiecki, 2002)

Vitamin B6 – Pyridoxine


Cereal, chicken, egg yolk, brewer’s yeast, salmon, tuna, walnuts, bananas, sirloin steak (Osiecki, 2002; Braun & Cohen, 2005; Haas, 1992)

English: Roasted chicken Español: Pollo asado



Anxiety, stress, autism, schizophrenia, Parkinson’s disease, muscular disorder, dysmenorrhoea, carpal tunnel disease

500mg can lead to peripheral neuropathy (Osiecki, 2002; Braun & Cohen, 2005)

Vitamin B9 – Folic Acid


Eggs, beans, green leafy vegies, lentils, beans, yeast, mushrooms, broccoli, asparagus, brussel spouts, cabbage, spinach (Osiecki, 2002; Braun & Cohen, 2005; Haas, 1992)


Stress, restless legs, insomnia, mental illness, periodontal disease, preconception and pregnancy, cervical cancer (Osiecki, 2002; Braun & Cohen, 2005)

Essentially non toxic (Osiecki, 2002)

Vitamin B12 – Cobalamin


Egg yolk, brain, oysters, salmon, sardines, clams, meat, milk, cheese (Osiecki, 2002; Braun & Cohen, 2005; Haas, 1992)

Maasdam cheese


Post natal depression, insomnia, memory loss, MS, restlessness, shingles, dementia, attention deficit, diabetic neuropathy, MS (Osiecki, 2002; Braun & Cohen, 2005)

General lack of toxicity (Osiecki, 2002)



Almonds, buckwheat, dairy products, sardines, soybeans, green leafy vegies, white self raising flour, egg yolk, tofu, molasses (Osiecki, 2002; Braun & Cohen, 2005; Trickey, 1998; Haas, 1992)

English: Shelled almonds (Prunus dulcis) Itali...


Cramps, menstrual cramps, PMT, pregnancy, lactation, high blood pressure, post menopausal (Osiecki, 2002; Braun & Cohen, 2005)

Generally non toxic (Osiecki, 2002)



Almonds, cashews, soybeans and flour, whole grains, wheat germ rye flour and whole wheat flour, eggs, seeds, kelp, broccoli, beetroot, spinach, dried figs and apricots (Osiecki, 2002; Braun & Cohen, 2005; Trickey, 1998)

Brown Rice, Asparagus and Chickpeas


Chronic fatigue, diabetes headaches, depression, irritability, anxiety, HBP, palpitations, PMT, stress, restless legs, tics, cramps (Osiecki, 2002; Braun & Cohen, 2005)

Only > 15gm (Osiecki, 2002)

Braun, L, & Cohen, M. 2005 Herbs and Natural Supplements An Evidenced Based Guide, Elsevier, Australia Gropper, S, Smith, J, & Groff, J.2005 Advanced Nutrition and Human Metabolism, Wadsworth, USA Haas, E. 1992 Staying Healthy with Nutrition, Celestial Arts Publishing, USA Osiecki, H. 2002 The Nutrient Bible, Bio Concepts Publishing, Australia Trickey, R. 1998 Women, Hormones, and the Menstrual Cycle, Allen & Unwin, Australia

What Affects Iron Defeciency?

Woman pregnancy month by month.

February 19th, 2013

Iron is a mineral, that helps transport oxygen around the body with the aid of red blood cells called haemoglobin. It is predominantly stored  in ferritin complexes in the liver, bone marrow and spleen. Most healthy people have 4-5 g of iron in their bodies.

   Primary Iron Deficiency tends to affect:

  •  Vegetarians, the elderly, and people with protein calorie malnutrition
  •  It is also more common during periods of growth, due to the expansion of blood volume, which occurs in infancy, adolescence and pregnancy
  • It is the most common cause of anaemia, although this is the last stage of iron deficiency
  • Enzymes involved in energy production and metabolism requiring iron are the first to be affected by low iron stores  (Braun and Cohen, 2005), often leaving people feeling tired for months. If you are concerned about your iron and energy levels, testing your serum ferritin levels is the best way to determine body iron stores.

     Secondary Iron Deficiency is a result of:

  • blood loss, gastrointestinal problems affecting absorption (coeliac disease), and increased destruction of red blood cells
  • excessive menstruation is the most common cause
  • Iron deficiency is the most common deficiency in the world

Figure 2 - Schematic of Maxwell model using on...





Some Deficiency Signs and Symptoms

  • fatigue and lethargy
  • cardiovascular and respiratory changes
  • pale inner eyelids and palm creases
  • pale nail bed
  • brittle hair
  • decreased resistance to infection
  • poor mental and motor function
  • reduced thyroid function
  • difficulty maintaining body temperature in the cold

Old Women







Vegetarians and Iron Stores

  • The Dietary Reference Intakes recently suggest that vegetarians need to increase dietary iron by 80% to compensate for the lower iron bioavailability of 10% from a vegetarian diet (Hunt, 2003).
  • The recommendations of 33 mg of iron for a vegetarian woman of childbearing age is difficult to meet with foods alone, especially when most assessments of their dietary intake fall in the range of 11-18 mg/d (Hunt, 2003).
  • However the vegetarian food guide pyramid calculated on a (2000 kcal) diet would be most beneficial for vegetarians trying to obtain 32-36 mg Fe/d (Hunt, 2003).

                                                                    Iron Sources

  • Haeme iron – found predominantly in animal sources: lean red meat, liver, poultry, fish, oysters, clams, shellfish. It is absorbed 2-3 times better than non-haeme forms.
  • Non – haeme iron – found in plant and dairy products: nuts, legumes, vegetables, fruit, dried fruit, grains and tofu.

Public domain photograph of various meats. (Be...

English: Fried tofu for cooking Bahasa Indones...

Fried tofu

Seafood and Beancurd Hotpot - Vegie Valley

Two Juglans regia walnuts.



                                               Factors that Enhance Non-Haeme Iron Absorption

  • Acids – 20mg of ascorbic acid has been shown to increase levels by 39% (Braun & Cohen, 2005). Pizzorno & Murray, (1998) suggest 500 mg of Vitamin C with each meal.
  • Red meat increase absorption by 85% (Braun & Cohen, 2005).

Citrus fruit slices

                                        Factors that Inhibit Non-Haeme Iron Absorption

  • Iron from a vegetarian diet is likely to be substantially less available for absorption because of the different form of iron and other constituents that inhibit iron absorption
  • Polyphenols found in tea and coffee, red and white wine
  • Phytic acid (whole grains), and oxalic acid (spinach, chocolate, berries)
  • Calcium (milk) can reduce absorption by up to 70%, also other dairy products and eggs
  • Zinc competes for absorption
  • Achlorhydria and antacid use
  • There are many drug interactions with iron, tetracycline antibiotics, antacids and L-dopa to name a few

English: A photo of a cup of coffee. Esperanto...

Recommended Daily Allowance
Children (1-11 years) 6-8 mg
Children (12- 18 years) 10-13 mg
Men >19 years 7mg
Women (19 to menopause) 12-16 mg
After menopause 5-7 mg
Pregnancy/lactation 10-20mg

Before taking any iron supplements get your iron levels tested and consult your naturopath or doctor. Supplements are used to treat or prevent iron deficiency but need to be used with caution because excess use can be dangerous and lead to organ damage.

Inappropriate iron supplementation in children can inhibit growth in non deficient children

Braun, L, & Cohen, M. 2005 Herbs and Natural Supplements An Evidenced Based Guide, Elsevier, Australia
Hunt, J 2003 ‘Bioavailability of Iron, Zinc, and Other Trace Minerals from Vegetarian Diets’ AJCN, Vol 78, No 3, 633s-639s, viewed 27th February 2007 http://www,

Vitamin D: What is it good for and how do we get it?

Vitamin D3 is synthesized in skin by Sunshineexposure to direct sunlight (ultraviolet B radiation) and obtained in the diet mostly in fish liver oils and salt water fish. In some developed countries, milk and other foods are fortified with vitamin D. Most people don’t realise that it affects every system of the body and a deficiency can contribute to many illnesses, including diabetes and heart disease. The best way to increase your Vitamin D level is by exposing your body (torso, limbs or both) to the sun for fifteen minutes, at least three times a week. This should happen at safer times of the day like early morning and late afternoon, when the sun isn’t too hot, to minimise your chances of getting burnt. However, many people are unable to do this in the cooler months and need to take supplements in the form of tablets or Vitamin D drops to boost their levels.

What is Vitamin D and what does it do?

  • Vitamin D is a prohormone with several active metabolites that act as hormones. Vitamin D is metabolised by the liver and then converted by the kidneys to active vitamin D.

Actions of Vitamin D and Its Metabolites




Promotes bone formation by maintaining  appropriate calcium and phosphate concentrations

Immune system

Stimulates immunogenic and antitumour activity. Decreases risk of autoimmune disorders


Enhances calcium and phosphate transport


Enhances calcium reabsorption by the tubules

Parathyroid glands

Inhibits parathyroid hormone secretion


Stimulates insulin production

What are the different ways you could become Vitamin D deficient?

A brighter future - Ruth Jotua, 24, mum-of-two

1. Inadequate exposure or intake: Inadequate direct sunlight exposure (or sunscreen use) and inadequate intake usually occur simultaneously to result in clinical deficiency. Latitude, season, time of day, air pollution, cloud cover may contribute to lack of exposure (Cannell et al, 2008).

2.  Reduced absorption: Malabsorption can deprive the body of dietary vitamin D. Causes of fat malabsorption are: pancreatic enzyme deficiency, Crohn’s disease, cystic fibrosis, sprue, liver disease, small bowel disease, surgical removal of bladder. Symptoms: greasy stools, diarrhea.

3.  Abnormal metabolism: Vitamin D deficiency may result from defects in the production of 25(OH)D or 1,25(OH)2D occurs with a chronic renal disease.

4. High concentrations of melanin in the skin slows down the production of Vitamin D and aging greatly reduces the production of skin and impairs the ability of the skin to make Vitamin D (Cannell et al, 2008). Therefore dark-skinned people need longer UV exposure times (Cannell et al, 2008).

5. Obesity is also a major risk factor for vitamin D deficiency as larger amounts of body fat further increase requirements (Cannel et al, 2008).

Picture of an Obese Teenager (146kg/322lb) wit...

What are the Potential Impacts of a Vitamin D Deficiency?

  • Inadequate exposure to sunlight predisposes to vitamin D deficiency. Deficiency impairs bone mineralization, causing rickets in children and osteomalacia in adults and possibly contributing to osteoporosis.
  • Severe deficiencies are very common in newborn infants and pregnant women especially African-Americans.
  • According to Cannell et al (2008) vitamin D deficiency is associated with cancer, cardiovascular disease, hypertension, stroke, diabetes, multiple sclerosis, rheumatoid arthritis, inflammatory bowel disease, periodontal disease, macular degeneration, mental illness, chronic pain, and a propensity to fall.

  • Vitamin D deficiency may predispose to glucose intolerance, altered insulin secretion and type 2 diabetes. Its’ replenishment improves glycaemia and insulin secretion in type 2 diabetes. Vitamin D is also thought to have a direct effect on pancreatic beta-cell function (Palomer et al, 2008).
  • A cross-sectional population study of South Asian women found that chronic pain was three times more likely to occur among those with the lowest 25(OH)D levels (Cannel et al, 2008).
  • In the largest recent open study 83% of 299 patients with idiopathic chronic low back pain were found to be severely vitamin D deficient (Cannel et al, 2008).
  • A recent meta-analysis of 18 randomised controlled trials indicated that even in small doses vitamin D reduces total mortality (Cannell et al, 2008).


Significant Interactions

  • Cardiac drugs, erythromycins,  psychotropics, and grapefruit juice may adversely interfere with Vitamin D intake.
  • Anticonvulsants, corticosteroids, cimetidine, theophylline, and orlistat may lower 25(OH)D levels
  • A number of studies found oestrogen and progesterone raised vitamin D levels.


  • Oral vitamin D treatment is more difficult than treatment with UVB light because the amount of vitamin D varies with body weight and fat, age, skin colour, season, latitude and sunning habits (Cannell et al, 2008).
  • Recommended direct sunlight exposure is 5 to 15 min (suberythemal dose) to arms and legs, or face, arms and hands, at least 3 times a week (Merck Manual, 2008).

So if you haven’t checked your Vitamin D levels before, it might be a good idea to do so. You may, like many Australians, be deficient in Vitamin D which could negatively impact on your health and well being. As a naturopath I am able to assess how your levels could be contributing to certain conditions and offer you the correct nutriitional support and advice to address these issues. I am also able to supply you with Practitioner Only Vitamin D drops to boost your levels, rather than the large over the counter tablets, making it easier to take and digest. So if you need any support or advice don’t hesitate to contact me Monique on 0432 540 996 or check out my On-Line Consultation Page.



Cannell, J, Hollis, B, Zasloff M, Heaney, R. (2008). “Diagnosis and treatment of vitamin D deficiency” Expert Opinion Pharmacotherapy 9(1): 107-18  Merck Manual Vitamin D Deficiency, 2008.

Palomer, X, Gonzalez-Clemente. (2008). “Role of Vitamin D in the pathogenisis of type 2 diabetes mellitus”. Diabetes

Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome

Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS) is an endocrine disorder that affects approximately 10% of women and is more complex than just having polycystic ovaries. Twenty per cent of all women have multiple ovarian cysts but only those with additional hormonal irregularities have polycystic ovarian syndrome. PCOS is a condition that can present at any age, including children. The symptoms and the severity vary greatly between women and can be treated naturopathically. The principal features are:

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  • Lack of regular ovulation and/or menstruation, hirsutism (excessive hair growth) and weight gain.
  • Other features may include pain during sexual intercourse, Acanthosis nigricans (dark patches of skin, a sign of insulin resistance), acrochordorns (skin tags),
    prolonged periods of PMS like symptoms (bloating, mood swings, pelvic pain, backache) and depression.
  • The causes are unknown but insulin resistance), diabetes, and obesity (present in 40% of PCOS patients) are strongly correlated.
  • Prolonged periods of not ovulating leads to infertility (75%), menstrual bleeding disorders (1/3), hirsutism (60%), acne and increased risk of endometrial cancer, miscarriage, cardiovascular disease including stroke, high blood pressure and dyslipidaemia and diabetes mellitus in women with hyperinsulinaemia (high blood sugar levels).


  • In PCOS the ovary is intrinsically without defects.
  • Imbalances in Follicle Stimulating Hormones levels and Luteinizing Hormone levels (these hormones control what is happening in the ovaries)  can lead to an increase in male hormones from the ovaries.
  • The ovaries are affected by the excess amounts of male hormones and their conversion to oestrogen (a female hormone) in the ovaries’ peripheral tissues.
  • PCOS is therefore characterised by excessive oestrogen and androgen production.
  • Increased male hormone production (androgens) by the ovaries contributes to the ovarian follicles premature break down and reabsorption into the ovaries leading to poly (many) cystic ovaries and persistent non ovulation occurring.


  • Diagnosis includes: – pelvic ultrasound often identifying a ‘string of pearls’ effect due to follicles remaining in the ovaries, ovary 1.5 to 3 times larger than normal.
  • History taking for menstrual patterns, obesity, hirsutism.
  • Elevated serum (blood) levels of androgens including dehdroepiandrosterone sulfate (DHEAS) and testosterone.

Common assessments for associated conditions are:

  • Fasting biochemical screen and lipid profile.
  •  A 2 hour oral glucose tolerance test (GTT) in patients with risk factors such as obesity and family history may indicate impaired glucose tolerance in 15 –30% of women with PCOS.

How I Can Help You As A Naturopath

  • Reducing weight and insulin resistance are key in addressing what is believed to be the underlying cause of the syndrome.
  • If you are overweight, losing weight will help lower insulin levels. Following a low GI diet and taking specific minerals and herbs such as Gymnema sylvestra, magnesium and chromium, would be some of the steps factored into a tailored weight loss program to achieve this crucial aim.
  • If hirsutism and acne are features of your condition, decreasing male hormones is very important. This can be done with certain herbs such as Paeonia lactiflora, weight loss and phytoestrogens.
  • Regulating your menstrual cycle, and restoring fertility can also be achieved with certain herbs such as Paeonia lactiflora and Chamaelirium luteum.
  • If you are menstruating every three months there probably is no medical need to regulate your periods if not desired. However if you don’t menstruate regularly, endometrial hyperplasia (overgrowth of cells in the uterine lining) is likely to occur and is a significant risk factor for the development of endometrial cancer.

I hope this was informative and of some help to those who have the condition. If you would like specific tailored advice and support with Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome ring Monique on
0432 540 996.


Artichokes: Great to Eat and So Good For You

October 27th, 2012

Artichokes are a beautiful vegetable to eat and grow and have been used as a liver tonic in traditional western herbal medicine for centuries. I’m actually growing some right now, they are prolific, and need very little attention. If left unpicked they produce the most incredible purple flower head.

They are however, fantastic to cook up and have been included in Mediterranean cuisine, as far back as the 9th century. At the end of this blog I’m going to include my mother’s stuffed artichoke recipe  that requires a little bit of time, but well worth the effort. Artichokes are in season now so if you’ve never cooked them before this is the time to do it. My children beg me to make this dish regularly because it’s so delicious and fun to eat.

My Home Grown Artichokes

                                              Medicinal Use

In herbal medicine, it’s the leaf that is used to extract a particular bitter constituent called cyanarin, that makes it such a useful liver herb.
It’s great for lowering cholesterol, and it increases bile flow, which aids digestion and constipation.
A review of clinical data between 1936 to 1994 showed that globe artichoke extract lowered cholesterol and triglyceride levels from between 5% to 45%, reducing the risk of coronary heart disease.
Globe artichoke extract is also know to improve nausea, flatulence, belching and fat intolerance. It’s also high in folate, and has reasonable amounts of iron, and magnesium.

Lil’s Stuffed Artichokes

4-6 fresh artichokes
6 pieces of fresh bread roughly blended
1 clove of chopped garlic
12 anchovies chopped up
15-20 kalamata olives
2 tablespoons of chopped capers
Small bunch of parsley
Handful of mint leaves (optional)
Balsamic vinegar
Olive oil
Salt and pepper


  • Combine all dry ingredients into a blender and roughly blend, so it looks coarse, but not chunky.
  • Transfer ingredients into a bowl and add the oil, vinegar, salt and pepper. Mix it in with your hands ensuring the ingredients are nice and moist. If you need to moisten the ingredients a bit more just add a dash of oil and vinegar. The mix shouldn’t be too wet.
  • There is no exact science, taste to adjust seasoning. If you want to add more mint or parsley go ahead.
  • Remove a layer of the outer LOWER leaves of the artichokes, give them a wash, turn them upside down and bang them gently on your chopping board. This helps open the leaves up a little and makes it easier to stuff them.
  • Collect small amounts of the stuffing mix with your hands, pull the leaves back gently and stuff them. Not every leaf needs to be stuffed but make sure the mixture is divided evenly amongst all your artichokes.
  • Also ensure that the central part of the artichoke is stuffed.
  • Find a pot that will snuggly fit all the artichokes so they are supported by one another. Sit them upright in the pot and add enough hot water to cover the artichokes a quarter of the way up. Do not submerge the artichokes in water or you will lose all your filling.
  • Drizzle some olive oil on top of the artichokes and in the water.
  • Gently simmer away on the stove top for an hour or so with the lid on, checking the water level regularly and topping up with water if needed.

                                                  How to Eat Them

  • You will know when they are ready if you pull on some of the artichoke leaves and they come away easily. The house will also smell amazing.
  • There is only one way to eat stuffed artichokes and that is with your hands. It’s a bit messy but lots of fun.
  • Place the artichokes in a bowl on the table with a bit more olive oil drizzled on top. Select the fattest looking artichoke you see and start to dismantle it leaf by leaf with your hands. The stuffing will be stuck to the leaf, so you need to turn the leaf stuffing facing down and pull the stuffing and the ‘meat’ of the leaf off with your teeth.
  • You will notice that the base of the leaf is juicy and tender and will become more so as the layers of the artichoke are gobbled up. Not all the leaf is edible, only the tender bits that pull away with your teeth.
  • Finally you reach the prized artichoke heart. Heavenly !!
  • Good Luck and Happy Eating and remember they are sooo good for you.

    Stuffed artichokes, Thanksgiving Day 2007.

    Stuffed artichokes

Psoriasis Treated Naturally

September 28th 2012

Part One

Psoriasis – It’s More Than Skin Deep

Psoriasis can be a tricky condition to treat. I tackle this condition from the inside out, using a multi-pronged approach. Yes, it’s important to treat the skin topically, but it’s equally important to treat the digestive, immune and nervous systems to address the underlying causes.

The skin is one of the largest organs for eliminating wastes, so this is where underlying imbalances in your body may present. If your liver, kidneys and bowels (other major organs of waste elimination) are not functioning effectively, your skin may be the place where unwanted toxins accumulate, which can contribute to the development of psoriasis.

It’s important to take a good look at your diet and make appropriate changes if necessary. This may  include removing wheat and dairy for a period of time. Wheat and dairy are the two most common foods that your body can react to in a negative way, often causing problems in your small intestines and leading to inflammation in the skin.

Naturopaths believe there is a strong link between the health of your gut and how the rest of your body functions. Between 70-80% of the bodies immune cells reside in the gut including T helper cells. If unhealthy bacteria and damage to the lining of the gut occurs due to specific common antigens like wheat and dairy or alcohol and drugs, an autoimmune reaction may occur leading to the development of psoriasis.

Although it is not proven how T cells are activated in psoriasis, it is known that specific T cells ( which normally protect the body against infection) can migrate to the surface of the skin, stimulating keratinocytes and trigger the release of inflammatory markers, which can lead to hyperproliferation and inflammation of skin cells. The body tissues are attacked by its own immune system, this is why it is seen as an autoimmune response. It is also not uncommon for psoriasis sufferers to have other autoimmune disturbances such as thyroid problems, vitiligo and alopecia.

Increasing good amounts of fruit and vegetables in your diet and essential fatty acids found in deep sea fish like salmon, tuna and sardines is important to help reduce inflammation. It’s also important to reduce proinflammmatory foods such as red meat, saturated fats, alcohol, sugar and other refined foods. Acidic foods such as coffee, oranges, and tomatoes should also be limited. Drinking lots of water also helps with eliminating unwanted wastes.

I personally formulate an herbal medicine liquid mix to support the liver, skin and nervous systems. It may include herbs such as Rehmannia, Licorice, Sarsaparilla, Schisandra and St Mary’s Thistle. Prescribing nutritional supplements is often necessary such as probiotics, vitamins A, D, C and E, zinc and selenium. Together they work on improving the integrity, structure and healing of the skin and digestive system. They also improve immune function in general and in the gut. It is however important to take the correct therapeutic doses and to consult a qualified naturopath. I also use a specially formulated skin cream that has high amounts of Vitamin D and herbs created by a leading naturopathic company, to apply on a daily basis.

I wanted to give a brief overview of the pathophysiology of psoriasis and my next blog entry will include the key points in addressing psoriasis naturopathically.

English: A plaque of psoriasis.

English: A plaque of psoriasis. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Psoriasis of the back.

Psoriasis of the back. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)


Pathophysiology of Psoriasis:

  • Psoriasis is a chronic, relapsing, thickened proliferative skin disorder due to hyperproliferation, altered differentiation and inflammation (McCance & Huether, 1998).
  • It can occur at any age, usually in your 20’s (McCance & Huether, 1998).
  • The cause is unknown although genetics, immunologic and biochemical alterations have been explored (McCance & Huether, 1998).
  • The skin shedding time is decreased from 30 days to 3-4 days not allowing for cell maturation and keratinisation to occur which results in thick silvery plaques that are well demarcated (McCance & Huether, 1998).
  • It is commonly found on the face, scalp, elbows and knees (McCance & Huether, 1998).
  • Guttate psoriasis suddenly appears on trunk and extremities and may appear after a streptococcal respiratory infection (McCance & Huether, 1998).
  • Between 10 to 16% of psoriasis patients react to gluten a protein predominantly found in wheat, barley, rye and oats and may respond to a gluten-free diet (Osiecki, 2001).

I hope this was of some help to those suffering from psoriasis, keep posted for next weeks up date on addressing this condition with more in depth naturopathic advice.

Monique Camilleri Naturopath and Herbalist 0432 540 996


Bone, K. 2003 A Clinical Guide to Blending Liquid Herbs, Elsevier, USA Braun, L, & Cohen, M. 2005 Herbs and Natural Supplements An Evidenced Based Guide, Elsevier, Australia McCance, K & Huether, S, 1998 Pathophysiology the Biologic Bases for Disease in Adults and Children, Mosby, USA Osiecki, H. 2001 The Physician’s Handbook of Clinical Nutrition, Bio Concepts Publishing, Australia Pizzorno, J & Murray, M. 1998 Encyclopaedia of Natural Medicine, Prima Publishing, USA

October 6th, 2012

Part Two Psoriasis – It’s More Than Skin Deep

Last week I spoke about some of the factors than can impact on psoriasis such as stress, diet and poor elimination of toxins. I also briefly spoke about the pathophysiology of psoriasis and a general naturopathic approach to address some of the issues. Today I’ll talk in more detail about important naturopathic steps needed to be taken to treat some of the underlying factors of psoriasis, and appropriate nutritional and herbal treatments. I think it’s also important to explain how these treatments address specific problems with the condition. It may help to read the pathophysiology section of last week’s blog just to re-cap on some of the main points.

Psoriasis of the palms.

Psoriasis of the palms. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)


Nutritional and Herbal Treatment

Rebalance Cyclic AMP: GMP

  • Cyclic AMP are cell messengers that increase cell maturation and decrease cell replication, so it’s important to try to increase these numbers to prevent a high turn over of skin that results in psoriasis and psoriatic plaques.
  • Cyclic GMP are also a cell messengers but increases cell proliferation adding to the problem of plaque formation, so it’s important to decrease levels of cyclic GMP to reduce cell proliferation (Murray & Pizzorno, 2003).
  • Decreased levels of cyclic AMP can be due to incomplete protein digestion, breakdown and poor absorption (Murray & Pizzorno, 2003).
  • Vitamin A, and Golden Seal (a herb) can help correct imbalance as can improving digestive function (Pizzorno & Murray, 2003).

Eliminate Gastro Intestinal Endotoxins

  • Toxins produced in the gut such as Candida albicans (which is a fungal infection) can increase cyclic GMP (Pizzorno and Murray, 2003).
  • Diet should be rich in fruits and vegetables to bind bowel toxins.
  • Check for gluten sensitivity (Osiecki, 2001).
  • Smilax ornata is a very good herb to bind and excrete bacterial endotoxins (Pizzorno & Murray, 2003). Smilax improved psoriasis in over 50% of patients treated in open, uncontrolled trials (Bone, 2003).

Improve Liver Function

  • The liver increases elimination of toxins made in the body and generally aids detoxification (Pizzorno & Murray, 2003).
  • Eliminate alcohol from diet – alcohol increases absorption of toxins from gut, and impairs liver function and depletes nutrients (Pizzorno & Murray, 2003; Osiecki, 2001).
  • Silybum marianum a wonderful liver herb – improves liver function, inhibits inflammation, and decreases excessive cellular proliferation (Pizzorno & Murray, 2003).

Regulate the Cellular Immune System

  • A disordered immune response resulting in T helper 1 cell dominance in the gut is a major sustaining cause in the hyperproliferation and inflammation of psoriasis.
  • Certain strains of Probiotics and Vitamin D are important to try to balance and regulate T helper cells in the gastro intestinal system.

Increase Omega 3 Fatty Acids

  • Serum free fatty acid levels are typically abnormal in psoriasis patients (Pizzorno & and Murray, 2003) Their skin lesions also have higher arachidonic acid than in normal skin (Osiecki 2001).
  • Fish oils rich in EPA and DHA (equivalent to 150g of salmon, mackerel or herring) greatly improves the condition because it competes for arachidonic- acid binding sites (which are inflammatory), inhibiting inflammation (Pizzorno and Murray, 2003).

Decrease Stress

  • According to Osiecki (2001) stress, anxiety and depression or personal problems can exacerbate or precipitate psoriasis in 23-42% of patients.
  • Herbs such as St John’s Wort, Vervaine, Withania and Rehmannia are some important herbs to support the nervous system and adrenal glands.

Ultraviolet B Therapy

  • Leads to inhibition of cell proliferation and is extremely beneficial for psoriasis (Pizzorno & Murray, 2003).

Additional Individual Nutritional Supplements

  • Vitamin E – to help normalise glutathione levels, can also be added to topical creams (Pizzorno and Murray, 2003). It also prevents free radical damage to the Poly Unsaturated Fatty Acids within cell membranes (Braun & Cohen, 2005) and modulates the conversion of Arachidonic Acid to inflammatory eicosonoids (Osiecki, 2001).
  • Zinc – plays a critical role in skin health (Pizzorno and Murray, 2003).
  • Selenium – to improve glutathione levels (Pizzorno and Murray, 2003).
  • Vitamin D – helps to regulate cellular growth and differentiation in various tissues (Braun & Cohen, 2005).

Topical Use

  • Aloe Vera – in a double blind placebo controlled study found topical aloe vera extract .5% in a hydrophilic cream had cured 83.3% of patients compared with the placebo cure rate of 6.6% (Braun & Cohen, 2005; Bone, 2003).
  • Glycyrrhetinic acid – component of licorice similar effects to hydrocortisone in the treatment of psoriasis (Pizzorno & Murray, 2003), also Braun and Cohen (2005) believe it to have beneficial anti-inflammatory actions.
  • Coconut oil – is very rehydrating and may help if psoriasis isn’t too severe. It has antiinfammatory, antibacterial and antifungal properties.(Fife, 2004)
  • Exposure to sun – early morning and late afternoon exposure of affected area to the sun for 15 -20 minutes may also help with Vitamin D in take and healing.
  • Swimming in the sea – may also be beneficial.

Once again I hope this was useful information for people suffering from psoriasis and if you have any questions or would like a consultation to help with your condition don’t hesitate to contact me.

Monique Camilleri Naturopath and Herbalist 0432 540 996


Bone, K. 2003 A Clinical Guide to Blending Liquid Herbs, Elsevier, USA Braun, L, & Cohen, M. 2005 Herbs and Natural Supplements An Evidenced Based Guide, Elsevier, Australia Fife, B 2004 The Coconut Oil Miracle, Penguin, USA McCance, K & Huether, S, 1998 Pathophysiology the Biologic Bases for Disease in Adults and Children, Mosby, USA Osiecki, H. 2001 The Physician’s Handbook of Clinical Nutrition, Bio Concepts Publishing, Australia Pizzorno, J & Murray, M. 1998 Encyclopaedia of Natural Medicine, Prima Publishing, USA