Many foods and nutrients can help to reduce or modulate chronic inflammation. Adhering to an anti-inflammatory diet has been found to help bring down levels of certain inflammatory markers, including an important substance called C-reactive protein.Continue reading
The lymphatic system is often forgotten about as people focus more acutely on their digestive system, immune system, and nervous system. But your lymphatic system plays an equally important role in your overall health, particularly in terms of your skin and immune function.
Your lymphatic system is a network of organs, vessels, and special fluids. It’s responsible for removing toxins and other waste products from your organs and tissues, along with fighting pathogens, absorbing fats from the digestive tract, and maintaining the balance of fluid.
These activities are crucial for proper immune function as well as maintaining the health of your skin.
A sluggish lymphatic system can lead to an imbalance of fluid, edema (swelling), and congestion.
Here’s a quick overview of your lymphatic system:
Your lymphatic system is made up of tubular structures called lymph vessels. “Lymph” is a clear liquid that flows through these vessels, carrying proteins, fats, bacteria, excess fluid, and damaged cells around the body.
Role of the lymphatic system
The lymphatic system has three main functions.
Maintaining the balance of fluid in the body
- Your lymphatic system returns around 90 percent of the fluid that leaves your capillaries back to the blood. The remaining 10 percent becomes part of the interstitial fluid that surrounds your tissue cells.
Fluid retention can occur when your capillaries leak fluid, causing it to build up in surrounding tissues. This results in edema (swelling in the tissues). Your lymph capillaries then try to reduce this excess fluid and restore healthy balance. Mild cases of edema can occur when you’ve been sitting down for too long, or when you’re under stress.
Absorption of dietary fats
- The villi in your intestines also contain tiny capillaries. It’s through these capillaries that the lymphatic system absorbs dietary fats and fat-soluble vitamins from food and transports them to your bloodstream.
- As a key player in your immune system, your lymphatic system protects your body from invading microorganisms and diseases. Along with producing and releasing lymphocytes (white blood cells), lymph passes through your lymph nodes, where it is processed and cleaned. Lymphocytes and other immune cells monitor and destroy foreign invaders.
You might notice that the lymph nodes in your neck swell up when you have a cold: a sign that they are working hard. There are around 700 lymph nodes in your body, which shows just how important your lymphatic system is to your overall health.
Unlike the circulatory system, which is pumped by your heart, the lymphatic system has no pump – so it can only move upward and away from gravity. This means it can become congested quite easily.
Like any good transport network, your lymphatic system works best when it’s flowing smoothly. Much of this comes down to a very simple thing: hydration.
Around 96% of your lymph is water. The remaining four percent is made up of proteins, cell debris, toxins, and bacteria that are to be flushed out of the body.
In fact, your whole body is mostly water – around 55-75%. Your brain and heart are 73% water, your lungs are about 83%, and your skin 64% water. Water is constantly being eliminated from your skin throughout the day in the form of sweat, urine, and in your stools. As you’d expect, this water loss needs to be topped up regularly to prevent dehydration.
Even mild dehydration can have a significant effect on how well your lymphatic system works.
Less water in your body means lymph can’t flow as quickly. You might first experience the typical symptoms of dehydration – such as headaches, fatigue, and lightheadedness. But worse damage is occurring beneath your skin: toxins can’t be flushed out at the rate they should be, causing lymph to become congested and stagnant.
Besides dehydration, lymphatic congestion can be caused by overexposure to toxins in food and the environment. Poor sleeping patterns, stress, emotional issues, and low physical activity can also slow down the lymph flow.
A sluggish lymphatic system can lead to problems in all areas of the body. Your body’s main means of fighting and eliminating toxins and waste products will slow down, which means these harmful products stay in your body. This compromises your immune system, potentially leading to edema and inflammation. Your cells won’t be able to do their job properly, increasing your risk of infection and disease.
If untreated, chronic lymphatic congestion can even contribute to autoimmune conditions.
Because your lymphatic system is directly under your skin, this is where signs of congestion will often show up. Dull, dehydrated skin, spots, acne, and skin rashes can all be signs of toxins building up in the blood and tissues. These toxins are released onto your skin through sweat, where they cause irritation.
The increase in local inflammatory mediators and swelling is also thought to be an underlying cause of eczema and psoriasis.
Signs of lymphatic congestion
- Digestive issues: bloating, gas, constipation
- Swollen fingers
- Brain fog
- Sinus infections
- Skin rashes and/or dry, itchy skin
- Enlarged lymph nodes
- Chronic fatigue
- Soreness or stiffness upon rising
- Unexplained weight gain
- Cold hands and feet
- Allergies and/or food sensitivities
- Increased bouts of colds and flu
Treating lymphatic congestion
One of the best ways to get your lymphatic system back up and running again is to see a naturopath.
I’m a Toowoomba naturopath and nutritionist who can help you on your personal journey to good health. When it comes to lymphatic congestion, I can design a holistic treatment programme to get your lymphatic system flowing again and your body eliminating toxins as it should. Depending on your personal needs, your programme may include exercise routines, herbal tonics, and dietary advice. I can also prescribe specific products that help to relieve skin inflammation while supporting normal detoxification. If you are not quite ready for an appointment, try my Wellbeing Blend herbal tea, designed to gently detoxify the lymph and skin.
If you’ve been suffering the effects of a sluggish lymphatic system, don’t wait for it to get worse! Call me or drop me a message, and I’ll be in touch.
Preconception care starts much earlier than you think!
As every mum-to-be knows, looking after yourself during pregnancy is vital for the health of both you and your baby. But did you know that preconception care should begin several months before you fall pregnant? This period has a lot to do with your chances of falling pregnant, staying pregnant, and having a healthy baby.
The cells that will become your baby are created long before conception. It takes around 100-120 days for your eggs to become ready for ovulation, and 70-90 days for your partner’s sperm to reach maturity. This means that the health of each partner will have a major impact on your baby’s health. Both partners should begin preparing for your pregnancy around 2-3 months out from when you actually expect to conceive.
The first trimester is the period of the greatest amount of growth: that little foetus will increase in size by an incredible 2.5 million times. From 12 weeks to full-term, the size will increase by another 230 times. It’s during this period that the embryo undergoes the most critical period for cell differentiation and organ development including their spinal cord and brain.
Not surprisingly, this growth requires an enormous store of nutrients! And while it may seem that you can just start taking vitamins when you find out you’re pregnant, this may not be soon enough for your nutritional status to get up to speed. If you’re deficient in any nutrient, it can take up to three months to replenish that nutrient and correct any defect that it could lead to.
A healthy diet and the right supplements are crucial when preparing your body for pregnancy.
The preconception diet
Following a Mediterranean-type diet is often recommended in the months leading up to (and during) pregnancy:
- Omega-3 fatty acids from high-quality fish oil or wild-caught fish (salmon, trout, herring). These fatty acids are vital for ensuring stable cell membrane fluidity and energy production within your eggs
- Plenty of lean protein from poultry, chicken, fish, nuts, and seeds. Every cell in the body requires protein for healthy development.
- A wide variety of dietary antioxidants to protect your cells from free radicals and support reproductive health. Choose brightly-colored vegetables and fruits and leafy greens in their natural, unprocessed state (or organic where possible). Raw juices, nuts, beans, eggs, and grains also have enormous benefits for your nutritional intake.
Here’s what to limit or avoid:
- Large amounts of refined sugar, especially in cakes, cookies, chocolate, and soft drinks.
- Trans fatty acids and fried foods
- Processed foods
Supplementation for healthy conception
Essential nutrients to add to your supplement regime include:
An important antioxidant required for cell growth and differentiation, which is vital for the development of the embryo. Doses below 10,000 IU/day are recommended,
Protects the body from damaging free radicals and also against the oxidation of folate and vitamin E, both of which are essential for healthy fertility.
Folate is crucial for the healthy synthesis of DNA and RNA. It’s also involved in normal protein synthesis and regulation of gene expression. Folate deficiency is associated with impaired DNA synthesis and repair, which can lead to complications.
Vitamin B12 (Cyanocobalamin)
Required for cell replication and metabolism of folate and amino acids. Also supports the myelin sheath (the protective case around the spinal cord and brain of the foetus). Folate and vitamin B12 work together to maintain healthy DNA and RNA in every cell in the body, so both should be taken throughout preconception and pregnancy.
What about MTHFR?
MTHFR stands for methylenetetrahydrofolate reductase: an enzyme involved in the process of DNA methylation. Methylation is also required to convert both folate and folic acid into 5-MTHF, the active form your body can use.
The problem with the MTHFR gene is that it has the tendency to mutate. Around 30% of the world’s population has some form of polymorphism which can affect the body’s ability to process certain amino acids and B-vitamins, especially folate. This can lead to low folate levels, which can have severe consequences for fertility and pregnancy.
Folate is required for an enormous range of enzymatic reactions involved in making amino acids and metabolising vitamins. During pregnancy, your needs for folate increase because it plays a crucial role in proper DNA replication. Folate deficiency can mean a higher risk of congenital abnormalities, and a higher risk of anaemia or peripheral neuropathy for mums.
Unfortunately, the folic acid that is in many commercial prenatal supplements such as Elevit is NOT the same as the bioavailable folate that your body needs. If you’re one of the 30-40% of people who have MTHFR polymorphism, folic acid will not be beneficial to you because your body can’t convert it to a form it can use.
The good news is that there are plenty of prenatal supplements that DO contain the right form of folate. The bioactive form that your body uses in circulation is called 5- Methyltetrahydrofolate (5-MTHF folate).
Remember, the neural tube (the embryonic precursor to a baby’s central nervous system) occurs very early in pregnancy: around 21-27 days after conception. This means the most important time to take methylated folate is both while trying to conceive and during early pregnancy.
Yes, preparing for pregnancy can feel a little overwhelming – but I’m here to help you out. I can guide you through choosing the right foods and making any necessary lifestyle changes during the preconception period. I also have access to practitioner-grade prenatal supplements that contain all the right levels of nutrients you need for a healthy pregnancy. Your baby deserves the best!
Stressed? Anxious? Yes, it’s normal. But no, you don’t have to put up with it!
Stress and anxiety affect almost everyone at some stage in life, but for different reasons, and to different degrees. Work, family, finances – the list goes on.
Our stress response is tied up with our autonomic nervous system, which directs our sympathetic and parasympathetic nervous systems. When our brain senses a threat or immediate danger, the sympathetic nervous system takes control, telling our adrenal glands to release a host of stress hormones. These hormones include epinephrine (adrenaline), norepinephrine (noradrenaline), and cortisol, which are designed to help prepare your body to “run away” from the threat. Your heart rate and blood pressure increase to send nutrients and oxygen out to your muscles; digestion slows; your pupils dilate; you feel tense and perhaps even a little shaky.
This response is also known as ‘fight or flight’ mode, and is actually a built-in characteristic from our hunter-gatherer times when humans were surrounded by predators. When the threat has passed, it may take up to 20-30 minutes for your body to return to the control of the parasympathetic system. This is called “rest and digest”. The PNS lowers blood pressure, promotes digestion, and allows normal restorative processes to take place.
The problem is that although we no longer face the same kinds of threats as our ancestors, we still suffer from attacks of stress and anxiety. Our ‘triggers’ are more likely to be psychosocial because our bodies can’t always tell the difference between a real threat and an imagined threat.
Worse still, being under chronic stress can mean that your brain believes the threat is still present. It will tell the adrenal glands to keep releasing stress hormones, which means your body stays in fight or flight mode. Frequent or chronic activation of the fight or flight response means that ‘rest and digest’ can’t happen, which leads to digestive issues, increased risk of heart disease, chronic inflammation, insomnia, anxiety, and many other stress-related disorders.
The naturopathic response to stress and anxiety
We each perceive ‘threats’ differently, which means treatment for chronic stress and anxiety must be personalised. When assessing your stress level, a naturopath will closely examine your diet, sleep, lifestyle, and other health issues in order to create an effective, evidence-based treatment plan.
If you’re constantly stuck in ‘fight or flight’ mode, my aim is to help you switch back into ‘rest and digest’ mode more easily. I can help you manage stress hormones by minimizing your daily stress levels, eating a healthy diet, exercising regularly, and incorporating specific herbs into your daily health regime. This may include mindfulness exercises, meditation, yoga, biofeedback, breathwork, and various natural supplements.
Deep breathing is one of the most effective ways to help your brain realise that there is no threat present and that the PNS can take over. Research has shown that deep breathing directly affects the levels of noradrenaline, the neurotransmitter involved in arousal, attention, and emotional control. And it’s very easy to do!
Simply find a quiet place in which you can sit or lie comfortably without distraction. Breathe from your belly, not from your lungs. Allow the air to move up through your diaphragm into your chest, then exhale deeply. Try to spend at least five minutes a day practising this.
Meditation, yoga, and tai chi are important relaxation practises that can have a profound impact on neurotransmitters, particularly gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA) and norepinephrine.
GABA is an important neurotransmitter that helps to reduce neuron activity in the brain and central nervous system. Adequate levels of GABA can mean you feel more relaxed, less stressed, calmer, and sleep better.
Regular practice of meditation, yoga, and tai chi helps to boost both GABA and serotonin. Serotonin is our ‘happy chemical’, which helps to regulate anxiety and mood.
Meditation also results in greater activity of the parasympathetic than the sympathetic nervous system, which in turns reduces the production of stress hormones including epinephrine and norepinephrine.
Herbal and nutritional support
American skullcap also helps to boost levels of GABA, reducing anxiety and boosting positive mood. It has also been used successfully to treat and insomnia and promote calm.
A powerful anxiolytic, kava kava has been used for centuries to induce relaxation. Research shows that it increases levels of dopamine in the body, and may be useful in treating acute anxiety.
Magnesium status is closely linked to stress levels and low levels have been implicated in chronic fatigue syndrome and physical stress, amongst other disorders. It’s believed that magnesium has important effects on serotonin and adrenergic neurotransmitter systems, as well as via several neuro- hormones.
Magnolia officinalis has long been used in TCM to treat anxiety and nervous tension and to promote relaxation. Studies have shown that the anxiolytic properties are due to a natural compound called honokiol. It has also been found to reduce levels of cortisol and the perception of stress/anxiety, which may help to reduce stress-related eating.
Lemon balm is a renowned anxiolytic and mild sedative thanks to its ability to boost levels of GABA. It also improves cognitive performance, mood and sleep.
Green oat extract has been shown to produce acute cognitive effects, while long-term supplementation can improve cognitive function and reduce the physiological responses to a stressor.
If you would like to try some of these herbs for yourself, you can buy them in my Calming Night Blend. This is designed to help slow down your thoughts to get to sleep and uses herbs to help you stay asleep throughout the night. You can also drink this at half strength during the day so that you dont become drowsy!
Life is too short to be constantly stressed, anxious, and overwhelmed. You can get in touch with me here and discover a healthier, more relaxed you.
The Naturopathic Approach to Endometriosis
Most women would agree that periods are no fun. But when “that time of month” means writhing in agony, there could be something far more serious going on. And no, it’s not just part of being a woman!
Endometriosis is one of the most common chronic disorders affecting women during their reproductive years. Around 1 in 10 women between the ages of 12 to 49 are thought to suffer from this painful condition, and it can take many years to receive an official diagnosis.
Endometriosis is characterised by chronic inflammation, which can cause debilitating pain and discomfort, usually while menstruating.
Treating endometriosis is by no means simple, and it requires a multifactorial approach. First of all, it’s important to understand exactly what endometriosis is and how it differs from adenomyosis, another kind of inflammatory condition.
What is endometriosis?
Endometriosis – often referred to as ‘endo’ – occurs when the tissue that normally lines your uterus begins growing outside your uterus instead. In most cases, this extra endometrial tissue (called the endometrium) will appear on the ovaries, the fallopian tubes, in the recto-vaginal septum, on the membrane lining the abdominal and pelvic cavities. It can also grow on the bladder and bowel.
As the tissue grows, it becomes thicker. It eventually breaks down but cannot leave your pelvic area. This sets off a chronic inflammatory reaction in your body, which in turn causes pain and a range of other uncomfortable symptoms.
Adenomyosis, on the other hand, occurs when the endometrium grows into the muscular walls of the uterus itself. As the tissue grows thicker, it breaks through the uterine wall and causes pain and heavy bleeding.
Endometriosis usually affects younger women (those of reproductive age) while adenomyosis tends to affect older women.
Common symptoms of endometriosis
Hormonal levels tend to fluctuate during menstruation, which can cause further pain and inflammation in the misplaced tissue. Pelvic pain is the most common symptom of endo, and it can persist during and outside of menstruation.
Other symptoms include:
- Severe pain and cramping during menstruation
- Lower back pain
- Painful bowel movements
- Pain during urination
- Recurrent urinary tract infections.
- Digestive issues (bloating, diarrhea, nausea, or constipation) during menstruation
- Pain during or after sexual intercourse
- Abnormal menstrual bleeding (heavy periods or bleeding between periods)
- Pain with ovulation
- Low mood
- Premenstrual syndrome (PMS)
Long term, endometriosis can lead to bands of fibrous scar tissue called adhesions. Adhesions can bind pelvic organs together, causing even more pain.
Endometriosis is also associated with an increased risk of difficulties falling pregnant, or infertility.
Standard medical interventions for endometriosis
After diagnosis with a laparoscopy, medical treatment generally involves prescribing pain relief with anti-inflammatory drugs. Hormone treatments such as the contraceptive pill may also be prescribed, as these can help to suppress your hormones. However, symptoms are likely to reappear once the hormonal contraceptives have discontinued.
In more severe cases, laparoscopic surgery may be necessary to remove any lesions and adhesions. This is considered ‘gold standard treatment’ and must be performed by a gynaecologist with appropriate surgical expertise.
The naturopathic approach to endometriosis
There is no ‘quick fix’ for treating endometriosis, but it can be treated.
The naturopathic approach is to create a holistic healing plan designed to nourish both the body and mind. This is important because endometriosis symptoms are not just physical: the pain can cause serious emotional stress which can affect your quality of life in many ways.
The key aim is to treat the cause of the endometriosis: the inflammation. We can then work towards long-term relief from your painful symptoms by balancing your hormones naturally.
Reducing inflammation is the first step. Studies have shown that an anti-inflammatory diet can help to alleviate the pain caused by endometriosis, as well as help to reduce the risk of developing the condition in the first place.
The best anti-inflammatory foods include those high in Omega-3 fatty acids, such as oily fish (salmon, mackerel, sardines), nuts, and seeds. These valuable fatty acids can reduce the body’s production of inflammatory substances (such as eicosanoids and cytokines).
Antioxidants also help to reduce inflammation, so plenty of brightly-coloured fruits and leafy green vegetables are a must.
Recent research has shown that NAC (a semi-essential form of the amino acid cysteine) may be effective in reducing cysts and pain associated with endometriosis. NAC is also required to make glutathione, an important antioxidant that can help reduce oxidative stress in women with endometriosis.
Zinc levels are often low in women with endometriosis, and this may increase the risk and development of the disease. Zinc is an important mineral involved in inflammation and immune function, which are associated with the development of endometriosis.
Specific herbs have been found to provide relief for endometriosis symptoms, many of which have been used in traditional medicine systems for centuries.
Ladies mantle harbours progestogenic and anti-inflammatory properties. One study in rats showed that it helped to reduce the formation of cysts caused by endometriosis, and also reduce levels of cytokines (inflammatory chemicals).
Dong quai (Angelica sinensis) is an anti-inflammatory, antispasmodic, and analgesic herb that has long been used to treat the symptoms of endometriosis. It’s been found to improve blood flow in the pelvis, which can relieve pelvic pain and the development of uterine fibroids.
Every case of endometriosis is different, and there is no one-size-fits-all solution. To learn more about how you can heal from this painful condition, contact me here. The earlier we start, the better!
Spots and pimples are usually associated with those awkward teenage years when hormones are running rife.
But when persists throughout adulthood, there could be another factor at play: stress.
Stress and modern life go hand-in-hand. The worst part about being stressed is that it’s a perfect recipe for a breakout!
The stress response
When you’re under stress, your body responds by releasing certain hormones into your bloodstream. This is an evolutionary trait called the ‘fight or flight’ response, which is designed to activate certain bodily systems that would help you to ‘run away’ from a potential threat. Some of these hormones include glucocorticoids, catecholamines, growth hormone, and prolactin.
Although stress is not a direct cause of breakouts, the release of all these hormones can trigger all sorts of imbalances in your body. If you’ve been prone to acne in the past, you may be even more susceptible to these imbalances.
Cortisol is a glucocorticoid and the primary stress hormone. It’s made in your adrenal glands and released into your bloodstream when your body senses a stressful situation. Cortisol causes your body to go into alert mode by increasing your heart rate and temporarily shutting down a number of other bodily systems, including your digestion, reproduction, and immune system.
Normally, your cortisol levels are regulated by your internal body clock, so they peak when you wake up in the morning and when you exercise, and then they drop off at night. But if you’re constantly under stress, your cortisol levels remain elevated for far longer than they should. This can lead to serious health issues such as high blood pressure, overworked adrenals, a weakened immune system – and also acne. In fact, scientists now believe that teenage acne is linked to the huge changes in hormones that occur during puberty, which often lead to increased levels of cortisol.
Let’s explain how cortisol and other stress hormones can lead to a breakout.
Stress and your skin
Acne is one of the most common skin conditions. It can be blamed on many different things, from genes and skin composition to medication and hormones. It’s only recently that scientists have learned just how much of an influence your endocrine system has on the severity of acne. They now know that your skin can both perceive stress and be a target of the stress response.
For a start, increased cortisol triggers the production of sebum, the oily substance naturally produced by glands near skin hair follicles. This increase in oil production leads to oily skin and clogged pores, which in turn encourages inflammation and bacteria to fester. The result? A breakout. Even people who are not normally affected by acne may experience breakouts due to stress-related oil production.
Spikes in adrenaline caused by stress also negatively impact your skin’s normal barrier function, causing it to lose moisture. This is known as transdermal water loss, and can lead to your skin becoming more dry and sensitive. Studies have shown that this water loss also inhibits the skin’s ability to repair itself.
Prolactin can also have an influence on acne. Prolactin is the hormone involved in lactation and reproduction, but research suggests that psychological stress may cause prolactin to stimulate sebum production in sebaceous glands. That means even more oil!
Increased oil production can also upset your body’s natural wound healing process, which means your skin can’t repair itself as easily. This not only results in more acne, but can eventually lead to scarring and even premature aging.
But that’s not all stress can do to your skin. Cortisol is also immunosuppressive, which means it can have a major impact on your immune system. Constant exposure to stress results in an increase of cytokines and antibodies, which sets off chronic inflammation. Inflammation is your skin’s worst enemy. It gets in the way of normal healing and can also worsen skin conditions such as eczema, psoriasis, or rosacea.
A heightened stress response puts a lot of strain on your stress organs and immune system. To cope, your body will turn its attention to sending important nutrients and resources to these areas instead of to your skin, hair, and nails. This can mean that your skin cells aren’t able to renew themselves properly, which in turn can mean that any infections or inflammation won’t be taken care of. The more stressed you are, the longer it can take for acne breakouts to heal.
Just when you thought things couldn’t get worse, stress also affects the ‘friendly’ bacteria in your gut microbiome. These play an important role in your overall immune function, which can worsen acne.
What makes stress and acne worse?
One of the worst things you can do when feeling stressed is to drink coffee. Coffee is a stimulant, so while it ‘wakes you up’, it also triggers the stress response. Studies have shown that caffeine can cause your body to ramp up the production of epinephrine and cortisol to more than double its normal levels. These effects have been noted in both habitual and light coffee drinkers.
Caffeine is also a diuretic, which means it increases moisture loss.
Other foods that can worsen stress include those made with refined carbohydrates and high amounts of sugar. These foods are digested quickly, causing blood sugar levels to spike. High blood sugar triggers the release of cortisol, and subsequent stress response.
Is your skin affected by stress?
If you’ve noticed that your skin tends to break out during times of stress, then it may be time to start thinking about how to minimise stress in your life. Although it’s impossible to avoid stress completely, there are plenty of ways to reduce its impact on your body – and your skin.
To start with, consider any habits that may be increasing your body’s cortisol levels. Coffee, refined carbs, sugar, and poor hydration are all major triggers.
There are many factors involved in acne, and stress may be just one part of the puzzle. That’s where the best course of action may be seeing a qualified naturopath. A naturopath can help figure out what may be triggering your breakouts, and create a comprehensive treatment plan to restore your skin health. This can involve dietary analysis, functional testing, herbal tonics, and a thorough examination of your specific nutritional needs.
Want to know more? Contact me here for a chat about how stress might be affecting your skin.
Is your baby in pain every time they are lying on their backs? Vomiting after meals and an unhappy camper when it comes to digesting food? Your baby may also be showing signs of atopic conditions, such as dermatitis and asthma. Due to immature digestive systems, food can be more difficult to digest for your bub in the first year. Colic, reflux, and food allergies are all separate conditions linked to digestive disturbances in babies. However, there are a few things you can try which may help reduce the symptoms you are seeing.
Keep your baby sitting upright for at least 10 minutes after feeding
This is a pretty simple and effective way to help prevent your baby from experiencing reflux at its worst. By keeping your bubba upright for 10 to 15 minutes, you help gravity keep stomach acid in place down where it belongs. While true gastroesophageal reflux is rare in babies, slow digestive transit time may create some reflux in babies. Feeding your bub in small amounts will also help to improve this issue. This was a tried and true method that my parents used for me! By propping my baby self upright all night long, it prevented reflux and allowed me to sleep at least for a little while!
Eliminate dairy and soy in mothers’ diet if breast feeding
If you are breastfeeding, you are passing the proteins of the foods you eat to your baby. Cows milk proteins (casein) and soy are some of the most common reactive foods to adults and babies alike. Food allergies, in general, are thought to affect up to 10% of children. Therefore, eliminating all cow’s milk dairy and soy foods from the mother’s diet should be a consideration to help reduce your baby’s symptoms. I suggest maintaining the elimination diet for 6 weeks of these foods to see if it’s right for your baby.
Drink herbal tea
Studies show that a mixture of chamomile, fennel, and lemon balm extracts help soothe babies’ tummies. While I don’t recommend self-prescribing these extracts, if breastfeeding, drink these teas yourself to pass the diluted phytochemical constituents of these herbs directly through your breast milk. Chamomile on its own can be very soothing for digestion and nervous tension. Unless there are allergies present, these herbs are all considered to be safe herb for children. Additionally, fennel can be used by mothers experiencing poor breast milk production. So maybe useful to help improve milk flow, making it a win-win for you and your baby. While safe to enjoy for both you and bub, excessive tea drinking is not recommended. If diarrhoea occurs in your baby after drinking herbal teas please discontinue and investigate the possibility of an allergy.
I recommend buying organic loose leaf tea if possible. If you are having trouble finding them locally, you can buy them online through the shop.
Probiotics for colic in babies
Gut bacteria play a crucial role in digestion in all people. Now research shows that they can help reduce symptoms of colic in babies too! If your baby has been sick and has had to take antibiotics, or experiences dermatitis, reflux, and/or has allergies, there is a good chance probiotics are in order. Interestingly, another study shows the use of probiotics even helps family’s save money by reducing health expenses. Use a dairy-free infant probiotic if you are considering giving this a go for your unsettled bub.
To help improve digestion, relieve wind, and reduce colic in babies, massaging your baby is a wonderful soothing tool to implement. Important to note, you should always wait at least 45 minutes after your baby has finished feeding, to prevent reflux and vomiting. Additionally, when massaging your baby’s belly, move your hands in a clockwise motion. This encourages digestive movement in the correct direction to promote healthy bowel movement and intestinal function.
Essential oils can be soothing, especially for us older folk. But please do not use essential oils directly onto your baby’s skin. Especially if they are also experiencing dermatitis or eczema. It can take up until your baby is 24 months old to have a fully developed liver that could even begin to start to process essential oils. Even then, I still would never recommend using them directly onto your skin due to the highly concentrated plant photochemical content that are essential oils. At maximum for babies, we want to have only 0.5-1% of essential oil in a carrier oil before applying to the skin. This means 10 to 20 drops of essential oil to 100ml of carrier oil.
Book a naturopath consultation!
If you have never seen a naturopath before, it is common to think that a whole range of complementary medicines are ‘naturopathic’ this such as massage, homeopathy, and aromatherapy. These areas are not naturopathy. While some naturopaths may provide these services, it’s due to their additional training in these modalities. Modern naturopaths are trained in four-year Bachelor of Health Science, focusing on human biology, pharmacology, disease pathology, nutrition, and herbal medicines. As such, we are able to create treatment plans for your health, in combination with any medicines your doctor prescribes. This bachelor qualification ensures that your naturopath is well versed in the best traditional and scientific natural medicine treatment techniques and has the skills and training to keep up with all of the scientific advances in research.
What does a naturopath do?
The naturopathic philosophy is vis medicatrix naturae, the ‘healing power of nature’. So it is in our core training to help individuals achieve health through personalised natural and holistic interventions. A naturopath aims to treat the root cause of your concerns so that you have sustained health long after having ceased consulting with the naturopath. A naturopathy treatment may include lifestyle changes, dietary modifications, herbal medicines, nutritional supplementation, and naturopathic hydrotherapy. In my clinic, I prescribe supplements, in addition to also creating customised liquid herbal medicines, herbal teas, and personalised nutritional compound formulas. This way I know exactly what you are taking, which allows us to be sure that these treatments are safe for your condition and any medications that you are prescribed.
One important point to note is that Naturopathic Treatments DO NOT use any products from multilevel marketing (MLM) companies. This is specifically not allowed in Australia. So you can rest assured that you’re never going to be advised to pay for something that is essentially a whole lot of marketing of on-trend ingredients. Only products that are approved by the Therapeutic Goods Administration are ever going to be prescribed.
What will the first appointment look like?
When starting out on your health journey together, it is important to gain a thorough understanding of your health through an initial consultation together. This is a moment where we meet to thoroughly discuss your health, including diet and taking your blood pressure etc. In addition, this is more often than not combined with gaining further supporting data through blood, urine, or saliva testing. By further pathology testing through services such as QML, Food Detective Testing, the 500+ hair test, and using functional pathology testing such as DUTCH Hormone testing, Organic Acid Test, Complete Thyroid Profile, and Complete Microbiome Mapping. I personally like to use these tests with thorough case taking before going down the supplemental route.
Once we have gathered enough data, we then proceed with a treatment plan personalised to your treatment goals.
Naturopathic Treatment is a personalised holistic treatment for you. Focused on helping to reduce your symptoms and eliminating the cause of the problem from the root of the disease.
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