HERBAL TREATMENT OF PMS.
Allopathic medicinal treatments for premenstrual syndrome (PMS) usually include the oral contraceptive pill (OCP), antidepressants, non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs and other pain killers, diuretics, progesterone and GnRH analogues; which can significantly reduce the amount of hormones produced in the ovaries.
Some main symptoms experienced in PMS include:
As there are different types of PMS such as PMS-D (depression), PMS-A (Anxiety), PMS-C (carbohydrate craving), PMS-H (hyper hydration) and the more severe Premenstrual dysphoric disorder (PMDD); there can be different herbal remedies that may be warranted.
INDICATED HERBS AND THEIR ACTIONS.
Which form of PMS is it suited for?
Vitex agnus castus
Vitex has the ability to bind to dopamine receptors, which therefore inhibits the release of prolactin and corrects a progesterone deficiency; therefore reducing breast pain experienced in PMS (Wuttke et al, 2003). Due to Vitex’s ability to reduce prolactin levels, it can also enhance corpus luteum development and modulates the hypothalamic-pituitary-ovarian (HPO) axis to also correct irregular menstruation (Hoffman, 2003, p.595).
All other forms of PMS
White Peony may be useful in PMS associated pain and abdominal distension due to its ability to inhibit twitch responses of skeletal muscle, and has anti-inflammatory effects by inhibiting TNF-a and IL-1B (Bone, 2003, p459; He & Dai, 2011); therefore reducing stimulation of nociceptive receptors (pain receptors) and reducing muscular pains and cramps experienced in PMS. White Peony is also a cognition enhancer, which may also be beneficial in PMS during times of poor concentration and memory (Bone, 2003, p.458).
All other forms of PMS
One of the active constituents of St John’s Wort (hyperforin) inhibits the reuptake of feel-good neurotransmitters Serotonin and Dopamine, as well as noradrenaline, GABA and L-glutamate; which allows them to illicit a greater response/increasing their action in the body (Klemow, Bartlow & Crawford, 2011). Therefore, as the mechanism behind mood changes experienced in PMS is due to a relative serotonin deficiency, for which St John’s Wort can be effective in improving (Yonkers, O’Brien & Eriksson, 2008). Symptoms of a serotonin deficiency can also be craving carbohydrates, as carbohydrates support the delivery of the serotonin precursor, tryptophan to the brain (Richard et al, 2009).
Cramp bark can be useful in PMS due to its uterine relaxant and antispasmodic activity (Dietz et al, 2016), studies on human uterine tissue have also shown a relaxant effect (Jarboe, Zirvi, Nicholson & Schmidt, 1967). It may also be effective in inflammation and pain associated with PMS due to its ability to inhibit inflammatory metabolites such as TNF-a, NFkB, IL-6 and IL-8 and decreasing the stimulation of nociceptive receptors (Finn & Walsh, 2013). Cramp bark may also be effective in PMS-A due to its mildy sedative and hypotensive effects (Bone, 2003, p.164).
All forms of PMS
Dandelion is a well-known herb used for its diuretic actions, however it also has an affinity for the liver, and actions as a bitter (Hoffman, 2003, p.587). As stress and sympathetic nervous system activation can alter hormones via HPA/HPO axis stimulation & enhancing PMS symptoms, Dandelion may be effective in reducing this effect due to it’s ability to enhance parasympathetic nervous system activity via stimulation of the vagus nerve (Howland, 2014). Furthermore, as Dandelion’s diuretic action increases urinary output, it can be useful in fluid retention experienced in PMS (Hechtman, 2012, p.779). As it’s also a hepatic, it may also help support the liver in clearing excess hormones (Hoffman, 2003, p.587).
Withania/Ashwaganda is a well-known adaptogenic herb that exerts its action via modulation of the HPA axis, down regulating cortisol production, and therefore improving the stress response, which can be heightened in PMS patients (Hechtman, 2012, p.779). Due to the down regulation of cortisol, this herb may also be effective in allowing proper synthesis of the inhibitory neurotransmitter GABA, which is down regulated in anxiety; as well as enhancing serotonin synthesis (Kumar et al, 2013).
Withania can also modulate the HPO axis, regulating the menstrual cycle and modulating oestrogen, progesterone luteinising hormone and follicle stimulating hormone (Toufexis et al, 2014).
If you're experiencing any of the above listed symptoms, and cannot seem to find any relief; why not try a more natural (and very effective) approach, using herbal and nutritional medicine?
Get in touch HERE today.
We always tend to take a lot of care about what's going IN our bodies, but what about what is going ON them?
With our skin being our biggest organ, we need to look a little closer to the expensive (read: often overpriced) beauty products and gimmicks we fall victim to. So many of them are absolutely ladened with chemicals and heavy metals, most of which are endocrine disruptors - they disrupt (and often mimic) all of our natural hormones (and not just female or male hormones - thyroid and brain chemicals too!).
See below a list of items to watch out for.
SOME CHEMICALS TO AVOID INCLUDE (but not limited to):
Additionally, when pregnant also avoid the following:
Some of my favourite NON-TOX brands are:
Serotonin is our ‘happy brain chemical’. It helps to control our appetite, behavior, and moods, sleep patterns, regulation of pain, and even memory recall.
I always like to explain to my patients, that serotonin is like an extension of nutrients; it’s made from tryptophan (an amino acid) from the protein we eat, and with the addition of vitamin B1, B3 and B6, iron, magnesium, zinc, and folate, we can convert this amino acid into 5-Hydroxytryptamine (aka Serotonin).
Think of serotonin as a cake you’re trying to make, if we don’t have enough ingredients (the nutrients listed above), then we obviously aren’t going to make a nice serotonin cake. On the other hand, because Serotonin is made in the gut (aka our “oven”), if our oven isn’t up to scratch, then we don’t expect to make a nice happy serotonin cake do we?
We need to ensure that our diet provides the right nutrients for this to occur, as well as create the right environment for the biochemical pathways to occur.
For example, if we’re too stressed, this causes a rise in cortisol (our stress hormone), this cortisol completely shunts serotonin production, and pushes it down a completely different pathway called the Kynurenine pathway; the by-products of which are vitamin B3 and quinolinic acid (which causes oxidative stress, anxiety, has neurotoxic effects and causes inflammation). Furthermore, because the majority of Serotonin is made in the enterochromaffin cells within our small intestine, if we have leaky gut, bacterial imbalances, parasites, yeast overgrowths and inflammation of our gut lining, there’s no way that our gut (oven) is going to be able to effectively make the Serotonin.
I see a lot of clients with a history of depression, anxiety, stress, mood fluctuations in PMS and menopause, as well as parasites, dysbiosis and leaky gut - all of which can be alleviated with herbal and nutritional medicine. It really is amazing what you can do if you know the exact biochemical pathways, and how each herb or nutrient can effect what’s going on in the body on a pathophysiological level; because it allows us to pin point where we need to go with treatment.
I do microbiome mapping with the majority of these clients, which allows us to test things such as leaky gut, inflammation and bacterial imbalances; as well as doing regular stress support to ensure we’re doing everything we possibly can to create the perfect environment for Serotonin to be made.
If you have any questions, please always feel free to email me, I would love to be able to help you!
1 cup of almond meal
1/4 cup of coconut oil
3 medjool dates
1 cup of raw cashews (soaked overnight)
60g of Raw Amazonia Fermented Paleo Protein
1 cup of almond or coconut milk
1/2 cup maple syrup
Sprinkle of cacao nibs
Place the almond meal, melted coconut oil & dates in a food processor, mix until combined.
Press into a lined baking tin.
Place in the fridge to set for 10 minutes.
For the filling, place cashews, protein powder, nut milk of choice & maple syrup, and blend until it's a smooth consistency.
Take the base out of the fridge, and pour the filling on top. Smooth out the top, and cover with cacao nibs.
Place in the freezer to set for one hour.
Take out and slice into desired square sizes, and place back in freezer until you want to eat it!
1 cup of almond meal
1/2 cup of coconut flour
1/2 cup of maple syrup
2 teaspoons of cinnamon
1 teaspoon of nutmeg
1 tsp of tapioca starch
Place all ingredients in a food processor until smooth.
Smooth mixture into donut baking tin, and bake in a moderate oven for 35 minutes.'
It really is that simple!
Many of you may have seen this acronym, thinking it was standing for something a little more...rude should I say?
But what does it actually mean?
It stands for: Methylene-Tetrahydro-Folate-Reductase.
MTHFR is an enzyme that converts folate, into its most active form 5-MTHF.
This active form of folate acts like a key to unlock a particular cycle in the body called the Methylation cycle.
Without getting too sciencey, this methylation cycle does the following:
So what is an MTHFR gene mutation?
It's estimated that approximately 40% of the population have a genetic variation of the MTHFR gene; currently only 2 of the 34 variants are studied:
The mutations can be as follows:
MTHFR C677T Heterozygous = decrease in ability to convert folate by 40%
MTHFR C677T Homozygous = decrease in ability to convert folate by 70%
MTHFR A1298C Heterozygous = decrease in ability to convert folate by 20%
MTHFR A1298C Homozygous = decrease in ability to convert folate by 40%
MTHFR C677T & MTHFR A1298C heterozygous = compound heterozygous = decrease in ability to convert folate by 50%
So what are the symptoms?
Why it's especially important to test for women of reproductive age or thinking about conceiving.
Folate (also known as Vitamin B9) is an essential nutrient required for DNA replication, growth and the development of the fetus and the formation of the neural tube.
Deficiencies are associated with congenital abnormalities such as orofacial clefts, Anencephaly & Spina Bifida.
If we can't convert folate into a form utilized effectively by the body, then we're not providing enough of this essential nutrient for the growth and formation of our unborn baby. This is why it's important to seek help from a registered practitioner to get a good quality, practitioner only pre-natal supplement regimne.
I have written more on pre-conception care here.
Testing for these genetic variations involve a simple genetic swab test - one which I order almost every client, especially every pre-conception care client.
My own story.
I too have an MTHFR A1298C variation.
I picked up on this after years of recurrent acne, inability to tolerate alcohol, elevated liver enzymes on blood tests and low energy.
I had previously tried many different natural and allopathic route's to rid myself of these symptoms, until I thought "I wonder?!".
Sure enough the test came back positive, and it explained SO much in regards to my symptoms.
Although it's only a 20% decrease in conversion to active folate, it was obvious that it was still effecting me.
Since being on a protocol to allow my methylation cycle to work effectively, , I have an enormous amount of energy, and my adult acne is slowly fading away, and low and behold - my liver function is now perfect; although I still don't drink alcohol because I don't like the feeling so much.
Health certainly is not once size fits all, and you shouldn't be left questioning what your GP says, be pressured to be put on contraceptive medication to control your hormones or acne, or be ignored.
If any of this information sparks an interest in your own wellness journey, then please get in touch today.
Gluten, just about the most well known word in the health and wellness industry right now. It’s feared, but often people have no idea why, or the repercussions it can have not only on your digestive health, but also the overall functioning of your body.
Well, I am here to break it down for you!
Gluten, is the main storage protein in the grain wheat. Some proteins found in gluten are called gliadin and glutenin. Gluten is also found in barley and rye; however the protein in oats, called ‘Avenin’ does not contain gluten or gliadin – due to cross contamination in manufacturing, oats can become ‘contaminated’ with gluten and its proteins; therefore correct manufacturing processes must be performed to eliminate any cross contamination. You are able to purchase gluten free oats, just be sure that it is clearly displayed on the label.
Gluten is a highly digestion-resistant grain, therefore it can travel to the small intestine in whole particles, causing inflammation, pain, bloating, poor memory and concentration, and in some cases diarrhoea or constipation. In Coeliac disease, gluten consumption triggers the immune system to attack it’s own tissues – the microvilli of the small intestine. This causes severe nutrient depletion, due to the destruction and loss of surface area, resulting in impaired nutrient assimilation and absorption.
Unfortunately, whether you’re Coeliac, gluten intolerant or not, due to gluten’s ability to resist the power of our digestive enzymes to break it down, resulting in inflammation in our gut, it can also result in a term known as ‘Leaky Gut’.
In our gut, we have something known as tight gap junctions; these junctions serve as a barrier that enables the integrity of our gut to be strong, preventing food particles, bacteria and toxins from travelling into our bloodstream wreaking havoc. However, when gluten is consumed, it causes these tight gap junctions to become permeable, reducing the integrity of our gut, allowing said bacteria, pathogens, toxins and food particles to flow into our circulation, evening reaching up into the blood supply to our brain.
Ever experienced brain fog after eating? There’s a good chance you may have some underlying permeability in your small intestine.
Now why is this important in regards to the functioning of our immune system?
Well, if you think about it, our gut is the one part of our internal body that comes into contact with the outside world; so it makes sense that our immune system needs to be present there to help fight off invading pathogens. However, when there’s intestinal permeability (aka Leaky Gut), this can result in our immune system to be less concentrated in our guts, and causes our white blood cells to travel elsewhere in the body where these floating bacteria, toxins and food particles may be. As a result, this can not only cause our immune system to be depleted and unable to fight off pathogens that do find their way into our body via our gut, but also can cause create Dysbiosis in the body.
Dysbiosis is simply an overgrowth of pathogenic bacteria in our gut. This basically allows the bad bacteria to flourish, increases inflammation and systemic stress in the body, and allows the kill off of our healthy, disease fighting bacteria. If this is the case, it allows pathogenic bacteria to adhere to the lining of our gastrointestinal cells, resulting in infection and illness. Furthermore, this inflammation and immune dysfunction can also give rise to conditions such as auto-immune disease; where (like in Coeliac Disease) the body attacks it’s own tissues, unable to decipher self from non-self.
To prevent this from happening, we need to ensure we’re supporting the integrity of our gastrointestinal cells, reducing inflammation, providing antioxidant support, have a wide array of healthy bacteria in our gut, and ensure we’re providing prebiotic rich foods as a food source for our beneficial bacteria to feed on and flourish. Some essential nutrients to help our gut to heal include collagen, glutamine, gelatin, vitamin C and vitamin A.
If you’re concerned about your gastrointestinal health, are wondering about food intolerances or allergies, or are interested in using herbal and nutritional medicine to help your immune system, gut health or anything else in your body, please don’t hesitate to get in contact with me. I offer complimentary 15 minute consultations face to face or over the phone if you’re interested in an initial chat. If you’re ready to jump straight into consultation, bookings can be made with me online here or by calling me on 0427 375 986.
Vis Medicatrix Naturae – The Healing Power of Mother Nature.
WHAT IS STRESS?
A brief over view of the HPA axis/stress system.
Increased levels of glucocorticoids (cortisol and aldosterone) in response to stress, over activation of the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis (HPA axis) and sympathetic nervous system dominance can inhibit reproduction as a mechanism to ‘protect self’. Your body simply won’t put preference to grow and nourish another human being, if its priority is to protect itself, which is the mechanism it’s in when stressed – fight or flight mode (sympathetic nervous system dominance).
How stress affects your reproductive hormones:
Further to this, continuous maternal exposure to stress whilst pregnant, or exogenous glucocorticoids (steroidal drugs) can result in permanent damage to the HPA axis and stress-related behaviours of the offspring, as glucocorticoids are vital for normal brain development.
EXPLAINING THE FEMALE HORMONES DURING MENSTRUATION.
During menstruation, oestrogen drops, & in response the hypothalamus release GnRH, which signals the pituitary to release FSH, which initiates follicular growth in the ovary.
Hypothalamus releases gonadotropin-releasing hormone (GnRH) & in response, the pituitary releases luteinising hormone (LH) and follicle stimulating hormone (FSH) to signal the ovaries.
In response, the ovaries release oestrogen and progesterone, which signal back to the hypothalamus, like a feedback loop.
While the follicles are developing, it stimulates the endometrium to develop/proliferate.
The rise in oestrogen in the follicular phase causes changes in the cervical mucous to make it a sticky ‘egg-white’ consistency, Oestrogen continues to rise whilst the ovum (egg) develops in the (most mature) follicle.
The rise in oestrogen triggers the hypothalamus to secrete GnRH, which stimulates the release of LH and FSH, which in turn stimulates the release of the ovum. This is when ovulation occurs.
Once ovulation occurs, FSH levels sharply drop and LH slowly declines.
The Luteal phase follows after ovulation, by which the corpus luteum (which is stimulated by LH) secretes larger quantities of progesterone, followed by constant levels of oestrogen.
Progesterone influences the endometrium (which started to develop under the influence of oestrogen) to develop blood vessels and glandular structures that are able to nourish a developing embryo (if fertilised).
If fertilisation doesn’t occur, the corpus luteum regresses after approx. 14 days, which leads to a decline in the hormones and the endometrium sheds (menstruation).
Once oestrogen levels reach a low enough point, the hypothalamus secretes GnRH, and the cycle starts again.
If your cycle is irregular, and you think stress may be effecting your hormones, then get in contact with me for a Naturopathy appointment in Melbourne or Bright.
Click here for all bookings.
In the age of plant based eating, smoothie loving, wellness warriors - are we doing ourselves more harm than good?
A diet high in fruit, equals a diet higher in fructose, which is a form of sugar found in fruit.
This fructose can cause some digestive discomfort when eaten in exceeding amounts (>50g/day), as it pulls water into the small intestine, which can cause bloating, discomfort, flatulence and diarrhea. This can actually cause dehydration and nutrient depletion - the opposite of what we want.
Yes fruit does provide a fantastic source of nutrients such as vitamin C, antioxidants, Vitamin A and fibre, and we shouldn't exclude them from our diet entirely! Try combining fruit with protein and fats, not only to increase satiety, but slows down the rate of absorption in the small intestine; this also aids in balancing blood glucose levels.
Instead of starting your day with a smoothie or juice ladened with sugar with 5 or more serves of fruit, try and cut it down to 1/2 to 1 serve of fruit. With the recommended serving of 2 serves of fruit per day, this leaves your other 1-1.5 serves of fruit as a great, nutritious snack later in the day!
If you're experiencing any digestive discomfort after eating certain foods or are unsure of how to eat a balanced diet, please contact me for a Naturopathy and Nutrition appointment today. I'm available for consultations in Melbourne and Bright. Click here for bookings.
Try this delicious green smoothie recipe below to create your own low-sugar, nutrient rich breakfast!
CHOOSE YOUR BASE:
choose 1-2 of the below, ensuring you always have at least 1 vegetable option, and no more than one fruit option
CHOOSE YOUR PROTEIN:
CHOOSE YOUR FATS:
CHOOSE YOUR EXTRA NUTRIENTS:
Mix chosen ingredients into a high powered blender and enjoy!
SO...you're thinking of trying to conceive?
You've probably been told by someone that you need to take at least a Folate supplement at the very minimum for pre-conception care. Well they'd be right, but there's also many other vitamins, minerals and nutrients that are of utter importance in the health of both mother and baby when it comes to pre-conception and pregnancy care.
Before we get into it, if you're thinking of trying for a baby, or perhaps you've just come off the oral contraceptive pill or other forms of contraception, and are looking at what you need to do next for preconception care - please book a Nutritional or Naturopathic appointment with me prior to just going to Chemist Warehouse and choosing any off-the-shelf pre-conception supplement - NEWS FLASH - they're oftne not high enough in the nutrient you're requiring, or they're in a poorly absorbable form - NOT WHAT YOU WANT!
Now, lets get into it.
Folate (also known as Vitamin B9) is an essential nutrient required for DNA replication, growth and the development of the fetus and the formation of the neural tube.
Deficiencies are associated with congenital abnormailities such as orofacial clefts, Anencephaly & Spina Bifida.
FORMS OF FOLATE:
Folate is the form of folate naturally found in foods such as leafy green vegetables, eggs, legumes, liver and citrus fruits.
Folic Acid is the synthetic form of folate, that's often in fortified foods or supplements.
*NEITHER of these forms of folate are metabolically active, meaning that they must go through processing in the body, to be able to actually have an action.
Both of these forms of folate need to be metabolized in the body by a process called Methylation; the end result of which is the most active form of folate: 5-Methyltetrahydrofolate (5-MTHF).
In this process of methylation, we require enzymes to change folate or folic acid into THF; the enyzyme Methylenetetrahydrofolate-Reductase is the enzyme that allows this process to happen.
It's quite common for this process not to be able to occur in many individuals, due to genetic polymorphisms in the MTHFR genotype. This ultimately results in the inability to convert INACTIVE Folate to ACTIVE Folate (5-MTHF).
However, this entire process occurs in the digestive system, before moving onto the liver, and out into the bloodstream. Not only is this conversion of inactive to active folate a very slow process, if the health and function of the digestive system and the liver aren't working (let alone Genetic polymorphysms in MTHFR genes) at their best capacity, this process is slowed down even further.
Ultimately, the result is reduced levels of active folate; which can actually worsens when high doses of inactive folate is prescribed.
If a MTHFR dysfunction is prevalent, the treatment is usually folic acid; however this completely defeats the purpose as it's not able to be metabolized into its active form - only to result in an excess of inactive folate sitting in the blood stream rendered completely useless, and even potentially able to cause immune dysfunction amongst other health concerns!
So how do we combat this?
Well, considering the above discussion, as well as recent research, it just makes sense to only take the active form of folate, 5-MTHF. It's the most bio-available (meaning it will be the best absorbed and utilized by the body), avoids any genetic defects in the MTHFR gene, and prevents any detrimental health defects resulting from a build up of in-active folate in the body.
If you're thinking of trying to conceive, a minimum of 3 months pre-conception care for the female, and minimum of 4 months for the male should be implemented.
Please contact me for any questions in regards to folate supplementation, pregnancy or pre-conception care for both males and females.
The Natural Nutritionist - Sandringham, Melbourne.
Ph: 0407 736 463
BRIGHT, NORTH EAST VIC BOOKINGS:
Bright Allied Health, Bright, Victoria.
Ph: (03) 5750 1965
Naturopath, Nutritionist & Yoga Teacher
BHSc Naturopathy, Advn Dip Nutritional Medicine, RYT200