Did I mention my mentees ask the meanest (!) & most meaningful questions?  Especially those early career practitioners engaged in our New Grads program! And it’s been almost a whole month minute since I’ve talked about iron, so I wanted to share this gem from Katherine Geary:

“Why are so many women seriously low in iron? Periods aren’t a modern invention and it seems a bit of a design fault to have half the population dragging themselves around with iron deficiency anaemia! So why is it so common, even in women who seem to have reasonable dietary intake and low/average menstrual blood loss?”

Well I am so glad you asked!  And not because I or anyone has the definitive answer.  But there are some excellent voices joining in this conversation about how iron nutriture has seemingly become the collective female Achilles and how, in fact, this might be, as opposed to a ‘design fault’…wait for it…an evolutionary advantage!  Particularly hard to believe I bet for those of us ‘dragging ourselves around with iron deficiency anaemia’…to contemplate that this makes you, in fact, some kind of Superhero! But let’s back up there a bit.  Firstly, in light of iron being the 4th most common element on earth and concurrently the number one micronutrient globally we struggle to stay replete in…the contradiction is striking.  Add to this the fact that while women and children of developing countries experience higher rates of deficiency & IDA, those of us living the ‘good life’ in the top pastures of the developed ones, are still affected at strikingly high rates.  Katherine’s right of course, periods are not new…so have the rates of iron deficiency always been so high, or if not, what’s changed?  Well, a few things.

As so often seems to be the case 🙄  most of the finger-pointing is at the problem child period: the Agricultural Revolution. This radical shift in diet, away from meat towards cereals, is a clear contributor.

And then came the infections. Both the GIT ones, with bacteria (not naming any names, H.pylori!) parasites & helminths etc getting cosy and cohabiting inside no-longer nomadic humans (stealing even more of our precious iron) and  then following on as well, the rise of infectious illnesses,  flu, smallpox, malaria, TB, etc. [Ok this is the bit where you can don your cape!] If you have one of the latter, then having one of the former can be really handy!  Let’s say this another way.  Iron deficiency is considered protective against  the infections that can kill.

That’s why we see that characteristic  sequestering of iron during any significant inflammation in our patients – ferritin rises because in fact as much iron as possible has been removed from the blood…because our infectious foes are fans of ferrous (not Ferris..😳)

Authors like Denic and colleagues contend therefore that “humans may have ‘failed to adapt’, genetically and culturally, to continuous deficiency of iron because relative iron deficiency was protective against many infectious diseases”.   So next time you find yourself cursing the ‘dragging feet deficiency’, perhaps rather than our Stone-Age genes we can blame the blinkin’ Agrarian ones! It’s food for thought.  Add to that, other major changes in the lives of women over time, like more time menstruating, both with a tendency to earlier menarche and significantly less cumulative time pregnant over our lifetime but I am sure there are many other theories out there.  Have you got one?

Love Getting Answers to the Iron Questions That Bug Us All?  Us Too!
Hence, The Iron Package

That’s why we’re often adding new tools and resources to our Iron Package for that very reason!  Already, this package provides you with an opportunity to take a significant step up with regard to identifying, lows, highs and everything in between of iron status, and how best to manage deficiencies..our number one bug bear (as per above)!  So if you’re not already a proud (iron) package practitioner, maybe there’s no time like….now?

About 15 years ago I was introduced to histamine, the neurotransmitter.  Before that, I only knew him (come on…it has to be, right? Histamine) as an immune molecule, an allergy mediator, a chemotactic agent of chaos! Given my interest & previous work in mental health, I knew the rest of the chemical cast pretty well. There was Sunny Serotonin, Dance-Party Dopamine, Nervous Noradrenaline & Go-Go Glutamate. So it came as a bit of shock to realise that an equally important member of this cast had never had a mention in all my previous education…

‘Hype-Guy Histamine’

With 64K neurons dedicated to its production & an extensive axon network all over our brains to ensure its excitatory effects are felt everywhere…I was a bit embarrassed we hadn’t met sooner!  I’m not Robinson Carusoe in that regard though, our awareness and recognition of this key neurotransmitter has been snail-like in its pace and progress. A recent review paper on the development and evolution of antihistamines kicks off the conversation with, ‘Oh, so histamine is just another neurotransmitter now’…which gave me a bit of a laugh.  Seems like we were all duped…even the dudes making the drugs to block it! But once I did meet Histamine, the neurotransmitter, it really did change my clinical practise, forever.  And as I have gotten to know him better and better over the last 15 years, how his excesses and deficiencies present in my patients and how best to manage these, I can confirm, it is far from the answer to every patient’s prescription for mental health but this an imbalance is evident, addressing it is exceptionally effective and I remain forever grateful to those that have contributed to my learning in this area, passing on the knowledge from its originators: Car Pfeiffer & Abraham Hoffer.  These pioneers of orthomolecular psychiatry gave Histamine a platform and presence that no one else had or would for decades still to come. 

And now every practitioner and their pet poodle seems to want to talk about Histamine!
But, my friends let me tell you, CNS Histamine imbalance has little to do with eating tuna, umami flavours and the state of your gut!

Hype-Guy Histamine is made on-site, in your brain.  We don’t import it in over the BBB mountain range.  So, in terms of a histamine imbalance in your neurochemistry, we need to narrow in on the noggin and get crystal clear about what could be behind such an imbalance and therefore how to tailor treatment to address each cause.  I owe a lot to those who first taught me this model and I think it’s time the model had a mini-makeover, thanks to our vastly improved understanding of Histamine, methylation, genes, mast cells, behaviour driven biology etc etc. etc.  that has been generated now mainstream medicine has finally met Histamine, the neurotransmitter! 🥳🥳 And now, be warned folks, contemporary psychiatric pharmacy has its sights set on histamine as a key target for new medication development and the improved management of mental health.  Better late than never, I guess.  Have you met your Hype-Guy Histamine?

 

Histamine Imbalances in Mental Health
About 15 years ago I was introduced to Histamine as a neurotransmitter. Not the allergy mediator or the ‘basophil baddy’ but rather this prolific and potent neurochemical we all produce in our brains which, in the right amounts, regulates almost every biological rhythm, helps with memory and mood & much more. Being able to recognise excesses or deficiencies of CNS histamine in mental health presentations and, ever since then, fine-tuning my ability to support patients with these, has changed my practice forever and has been the key to some of my patients’ greatest recovery stories.  Forever grateful to the pioneers of this model, 70 years on, the model is ready for a mini-makeover, to bring it in line with the current scientific understanding of histamine, methylation, genes and much more.  This recording, together with two hugely helpful clinical resources, will give you the confidence to recognise and remedy this important imbalance in mental health.

 

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I’ve a confession to make, I took the batteries out of our smoke detector in our kitchen. Why?  You know why.  Because it went off all the time, with what I like to call, friendly fires…you know, heating oil for poppadoms, a rush of steam upwards from a hot pot on the stove with its lid removed, gosh even toasting your bread a little too vigorously would do it! Taking the batteries out, stopped the alarming alarm (!) and quelled my need to always keep a tall stool and ‘whooshing’ implement nearby, in preparedness for the next smoke activated siren. But of course this is not a solution.  There are consequences.

I recently realised this was the best analogy I had for many patients who have experienced significant trauma.  Particularly when this trauma has occurred during childhood, there is potential that they too have effectively ‘taken the batteries out of the ‘smoke alarms’

This has been documented in a proportion of individuals affected with PTSD for example and is believed to be due to the ‘re-calibration’ or ‘rewiring’ of their HPA axis in response to excess ‘over-activation’.  So because their internal ‘alarm system’ had been so consistently activated, the chronic hypercortisolism evokes a down-regulation of their glucocorticoid receptors, as a means to ‘turning down the volume’ or…removing the batteries.  Let’s think about this.  If your patient has, let’s say, 5 receptors for cortisol compared with 50, their receptors will be ‘filled’ quickly with only minimal amounts of cortisol.  This receptor ‘fullness’ however is detected by the brain which in turn then shuts off the ACTH release.  But really there was only a small amount of cortisol. The threshold for the negative feedback inhibition (cortisol –> no more cortisol) is very low and patients can end up with too little.  Wouldn’t they have less stress, then, feel better then?

In spite of all the name-calling Cortisol is not the criminal he’s been made out to be.
Cortisol 
≠ Stress.
Cortisol in fact offers a way out of stress – the means to physically resolve the stressor.  So too little…feels awful.

Patients of mine who have been shown to be affected by this hypocortisolism present as extremely anxious with poor stress tolerance, in fact if I didn’t know differently, I would have imagined they had ‘over-activation’ of their SNS not under.  When I speak with them I try to find different ways to describe why this down-regulation of their HPA can contribute to their mental health challenges. I talk about Cortisol being akin to clothes…no one wants to leave the house without it, or a raincoat that we really need because one day inevitably its going to rain and we’re going to be out in it…its protective.  But from now on I think I might confess about my battery-less smoke alarms.  Yes I can cook toast without getting startled by screeching sirens now…but I could also burn down my house…which clearly doesn’t rid me of stress and anxiety…

From the Update in Under 30 Archives – Investigating the HPA

Anxiety, high stress, poor sleep – it all sounds like high cortisol right?  But did you know that these are all features of abnormally low cortisol as well, which underscores why accurate adrenal assessment is so important.  This Premium Audio takes you through all the investigations you have at your hands, from clinical markers (Pupil response, Rogoff’s sign etc.) to the strengths and weaknesses of blood, urine and saliva assessment.  It identifies the variables you need to consider and how to accurately interpret your patients’ findings. 

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I love a good iron question.  It makes me emit a sound like Jack Sparrow might, when faced with something pleasingly piratey 🏴‍☠️  Lucky because I am asked SO MANY GOOD ONES, SO OFTEN!!  Being one of the earliest minerals discovered to be essential…we know so much more about it than the other latecomers but that ABSOLUTELY DOES NOT MEAN WE KNOW IT ALL!  Sorry…I also tend to shout with excitement when faced with a good iron question. Yes, run for cover, I do have an even higher volume setting 🙉🙉

Just this month, I received this little ripper:
I was wondering about the expected timeframe for iron supplementation to improve ferritin levels?  

Yes of all the nutritional answers we can quickly ‘google scholar‘ our way towards, actual realistic expectations for response to treatment, is rarely an easy find! And yet, this critical clinical detail seems to be the thing that can leave so many of us stranded at sea with our patient prescriptions. Did I give up too soon? Or should it have worked already by now?  Some of the best naturopathic approaches are easy to execute…but when those patients come back after maybe a few repeats & perhaps minimal change you realise, you have a major piece of information MIA: what to expect.  Rapid relief or a cure by Christmas?!  Aka, it won’t happen overnight but it will happen.  So, great, let’s talk ironing out our expectations around responses to iron repletion!!!

First – We need know where iron goes First!

So if your iron deficient individual is actually suffering from iron deficiency anaemia, no guesses who the VIP (very important priority) is during repletion! Consequently, you can throw lots of iron at somebody (oral or even IV) and find there’s limited increase in their ferritin initially, a rather ‘disappointing’  show actually but if you keep your other eye (Jack Sparrow style) on their FBE, you’ll see the iron is being funnelled into producing haemoglobin and red blood cells. Sneaky! And if sensible can ever be associated with sexy…this is it! Ferritin is for iron surpluses only and right now, we ain’t got none!  Medical texts advise that in these scenarios, confirmation of efficacy equals an increase in Hb levels of approx 10g/L a week. In reality, no one wants to turn patients into pin cushions (esp when we’re trying to build iron back up not keep springing leaks!) so we might retest in a month or more. But an increase in Haemoglobin of 40g/L per month sounds rather aspirational with oral iron, doesn’t it!!

If we bring in the personalised perspective here, we recognise that most of our anaemic patients may only be just on the wrong side of the line, with values at 110g/L and tbh we would be shocked and a little worried if this grew in a month to 150 in a woman! Erythropoiesis is not the result of iron alone!  But the point is, if the iron replacement is working well enough, you should be moving out of anaemia within a month not a millennium!

And only once this job is done will the ferritin start to build.

So what if your patient isn’t anaemic – just low in ferritin? Well then, if you’ve a) fixed the leaks (unintended or excessive blood loss anywhere Rectal, Renal, Repro) and b) buoyed bioavailability (HCl & prebiotics while minimising iron-blocking issues like excess Ca, tannins etc) and c) corrected for low intake via a sound supplemental approach (daily dosing for those not consuming much dietary iron and alternate days for the rest) you should be seeing ferritin increase within the month of at least 10mcg/L, but hopefully more.  And if it’s not? Go back to the beginning of this little to-do list…because it means we’ve missed something. Doh! 

The Iron Package

Yes it’s true the learning doesn’t ever end and as I’ve continued to learn about new iron research I’ve added to our one-stop-iron-resource-shop..the Iron Package.  Earlier this year we added a new clinical cheat sheet with some other important numbers on there you want to have at your fingertips whenever you read iron studies.   So if you’ve already purchased and have access to the Iron Package…SURPRISE! 🤩   Go back and look again and if the iron package is not already on your ‘bookshelf’ there’s no time to waste!  

 

You’ll never look at iron studies or your iron-challenged patients the same way.

You’ll be able to listen to these audios and download the resources straight away in your online account.

Now find a comfy spot everyone & I’ll tell you a story…’Once upon a time, a long long time ago, we lived our days out in the dark, regarding potential calcium dysregulation!’ But ever since serum Calcium has become a standard lab included in most routine screening tests (General Chemistry aka ELFTs) abnormal calcium handling is no longer an ambush for patients of ‘stones, moans and abdominal groans’, as the saying goes in hyperaparthyroidism.  A diagnosis historically only mad, when someone presented with this constellation of rather advanced symptoms. But actually being able to identify your patients’ typical blood calcium levels offer us so much more than just a heads-up re parathyroid disease

 It may tell us something about their Magnesium status, cardio cautions, be a bit of ‘bone barometer’ and probably most immediately important, flag their suitability for calcium supplementation!

Yep…rather than the current-criminally-crude-calcium-checklist:
1. Patient is female
2. Patient probably doesn’t consume enough calcium
3. Patient may be at risk of osteoporosis (yup…that accounts for practically every woman, right there!)

… and then the indiscriminate prescribing of calcium doses that could rarely be achieved in a single meal…(and hence run the risk of over-riding our critical regulation of this edgy electrolyte) we could…wait for it…individualise our approach!  I know, like a broken record 😂

But seriously, if you just do a full review of the vast literature on this topic, what?! Not enough time?! How about then, just skim read a couple of key papers? Still baulking at that?…maybe just a wafer-thing editorial (??!) will tell you that, consuming elemental amounts of calcium (> 250mg), that are beyond even the biggest Dairy Diva’s Diet Diary, may be deeply problematic for many.  And guess what…this doesn’t pertain to supplements alone…even calcium fortified foods are not free from concern!  But let’s not let yet throw all our calcium fortified foods in the same bin as the folate ones we did a while ago!!  Let’s step out of the dark and into the light that shines upon us, care of fasting serum Calcium measurements, to help us recognise whether Calcium is the cause, the consequence, a cure or a curse for person sitting in front of you 🧐

The Calcium Conspiracy Controversy Continued

The Calcium Conspiracy arises primarily from misperceptions about it being ‘the boss of bones’ but becomes more of a controversy when in spite of ongoing advice for broad-scale use we review the evidence and have to acknowledge that the recommendation to supplement post-menopausal women with large doses of Calcium, not only lacks strong evidence but may cause harm to some.  In this detailed discussion of the two schools of thought – Rachel finds a position somewhere in between. Reinforcing the need for an individualised approach and personalised risk benefit analysis while teaching you how to undertake this in every client.

 

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I don’t know about you but I don’t count myself among the conspiracy theorists. While I may have been partial to the occasional one over my lifetime, you have my word, I never inhaled. Or at least not since I learned the practise of scientific enquiry and the application of critical thinking to all evidence.  The two together tend to put a dampener on the whole: earth is flat & the moon-landing was a hoax…kind of notions. But there is one conspiracy I think all of us in nutritional medicine have been the victim of: The Calcium Conspiracy.

Not in the vein of speculations regarding excessive lobbying & undue influence of the Dairy Corporation on dietary guidelines. Nor even arguments that this has gone so far as to inflate the RDIs for this nutrient. Nope, I am actually good with the RDIs for this mineral. High level evidence confirms that our intake of Calcium was enormous even before the Agricultural Revolution, and therefore BD (Before Dairy) 😂

Man, those roots and tubers and other bushfoods sure were nutrient dense, not like the stuff we consume these days!

No, the Calcium Conspiracy we’ve all been lead to believe is that it is the boss.  The boss of bones. The boss of the parathyroid. The boss of the other minerals. And especially the boss of Magnesium.  While you might have heard me describe Calcium as a ‘bully’ in the GIT (let’s call this the slide 😅) and I stand by that, it is far from being the boss of the rest of the playground! In fact its regulation is largely at the hands of other nutrients..not naming any names…[Magnesium😳]  So while, all of us trained in nutrition have had the significance of the Calcium-Magnesium relationship & the mantra “2:1, 2:1, 2:1” drilled into us, which we repeat at night to get ourselves to sleep (or did they mean to take not just ‘talk’ these minerals, to help with sleep?!) Our teaching created this conspiracy – a misperception that Calcium is the boss and Magnesium its long-forgotten lackey.  Well guess who’s really calling the shots and on whom?!

Have you ever heard the saying, ‘It can take Magnesium to fix a Calcium problem”?  I’ve not just heard it but seen it many, many times in my patients. 

But how do you tell which patients need both and which ones, just one?   It comes down to understanding the exquisitely sophisticated way Magnesium lords it over Calcium – via the parathyroid and Vitamin D metabolism and how we can see this patently in the pathology (regular screening labs) of your clients. I think there is a bias in integrative nutrition – we favour Magnesium – it goes into our supplement recommendations for so many of our patients and while the rationale for this is valid – all dietary surveys show magnesium under-consumption to be rampant in the SAD – I don’t actually think all of us know 1) how much we should be giving (yes there is a limit) 2) how to discern who needs what, in spite of a lack of a good Magnesium assay and 3) the true potency in the prescription when we get these things right or wrong! This study by Sahota et al is so far my favourite for 2020..it’s 14 years old and the sample size is small but its methodology and examination of when Magnesium can fix a Calcium issue and when it can’t, is superb. Together with about 50 other papers I’ve just imbibed…they’ve refined my thinking, tremendously. There’s a Calcium Conspiracy, alright, but just throwing Magnesium at everyone in arbitrary doses is not the solution…. “2:1, 2:1, 2:1…..”😴

The Calcium Conspiracy -Your Latest Update in Under 30

There’s a conspiracy going on regarding Calcium but it’s probably not the one you imagine.  We have been lead to believe that Calcium is the boss: the boss of the bones, of the other minerals and certainly of its often over-looked lackey, Magnesium.  But the truth is, we have it all the wrong way round.  There is a sophisticated synergism between these two minerals but the brains and the brawn in this relationship are held by the latter and we need to understand how to recognise when Magnesium is ‘pulling the strings’, to produce low calcium,  in our patients and how to find the sweet spot of their synergy.  This recording comes with a great resource to use in your clinic, with explicit redefinition of ‘what healthy looks like’.

 

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A 26 year old woman suffering years of fatigue from ‘persistent iron and B12 deficiency’ repetitively treated with both oral and IV, walks into a compounding chemist and finally meets her match 🐱‍🏍  A naturopath with years of experience working the frontline, used to dispensing iron galore (& to a lesser extent B12) to young women with similar stories. But this naturopath requests to see all her labs, she meticulously collates them and then she comes back to the client and deals the fatal blow: Has the iron or B12 ever made you feel any better? “No,” she replies.  

I didn’t think so,” says the Naturopath…”everyone’s been barking up the wrong tree all these years!” And she was right.

First glance at her blood results has all of us reflexively reaching for the same diagnosis everyone has made before – crikey that serum B12 is terrible!  And then there’s the fuzzy family history of relations ‘needing’ B12 injections and some even with confirmed pernicious anaemia.  But wait up…let’s keep our critical thinking hats on once you look over the rest of the lab you see there’s no evidence of functional B12 deficiency (no rise in Hcy, MCV even RDW) and then, the statement that seals the deal, ‘B12 injections have never made me feel any better’.  This woman is not feeling the pinch of pernicious anaemia, not the crush of cobalamin clinical deficiency.  In spite of being told that for almost a decade.

A low serum B12 value can of course flag a deficiency and we must never ignore it.  But given the serum measures, in fact, predominantly Transcobalamin I (TCI), which is the carrier or taxi for B12 that almost ‘never drops its passengers off’, we are less concerned than when we see a low active B12 (TCII aka ‘the real deal’)

So what else could leave someone with less TCI, while not in fact creating a genuine functional deficit of B12?  SNPs?🤧 Bless you!…Sorry that sounded like a sneeze and this retort, as we know is almost as common as the common cold! Sure…of course it could be sexy SNPs…but wait, what about something a little less ‘zebra’…a little more horse. The COCP…oh blooming heck..she’s spent the last decade on the COCP and guess what, its impact on B12 is thought to be principally a reduction in TCI!  Oh and that iron story, that supposed ‘iron hunger’ we can see with her upregulation of transferrin?  Well that’s an artefact of the COCP too, right? And BINGO was her name-O 🕵️‍♀️

Separating the B12 from the B*S#!

B12 is a routinely under-rated and recognised micronutrient, which is in fact in high demand by many of our patients. As nutritional research pushes back against defining adequacy as simply the prevention of the deficiency-associated disease (macrocyctic anaemia, irreversible neurological damage) we enter a new landscape of more individualised approaches where we’re better able to recognise and treat those at risk of falling below ‘optimal’.  But how do we accurately identify this and then choose the ‘best’ B12 (methyl- cyano- adenosyl- hyroxo-) supplement? Does it need to be this complex?  Time to sort the B12 from the B*S#!!  This recording comes with a bunch of great resources including a clever clinical tool.

 

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I used to all the time. Especially when I noticed the Niagara-falls-sized gap between the doses I was using compared with my mainstream medico mates.  I thought, hang on, for a patient with a baseline blood level of 40nmol/L, they’re recommending <1000 IU per day, but I’m thinking 5000 IU…which one of us is wrong? Then again, we might both be right!

The sexily simple formula as cited by Aussie researchers is: for every 1,000 IU of vitamin D a patient takes a day, their blood level is likely to rise approx. 17 nmol/L over 2 months, at which point it plateaus.  So the medicos’ 1,000 IU supplement would bring our patient’s blood level up to 57 nmol/L which, as far as the medico might be concerned, is ‘job done’ 👍👏

My dose would be viewed as excessive but clearly I am aiming for a different set of goals (optimal rather than simple prevention of deficiency)…oh and I insist on follow up testing to know when we’ve made it!!

 I encourage my patients to get their Vitamin D retested 2 months into treatment to confirm 1) they have responded and 2) their response is loosely within this predicted performance.  And how many times is it not? Often.  Which got me to readjust the formula I use to something more akin to: for every 10 nmol I want their blood levels to rise, I will need to increase their intake by a 1,000 IU.  Now am I just making big sweeping inferences from empirical experiences of a few (hundred) patients without additional backing….well so what if I was...this is a branch of the EBM family tree!  But no! I have also actually read enough studies clearly documenting the individualistic response to vitamin D, as a consequence of different adiposity levels, genes, magnesium status etc. to know that, while I am very grateful to have any kind of formula to start my thinking from…I treat individuals and goshdangit#@! they keep insisting on individualised medicine!

The whole practise of identifying a deficiency, ‘treating it’ and yet never following up with repeat labs to confirm that you actually have…BLOWS MY MIND🤯

That’s not EBM, let’s face it.  Not even a distant demented cousin who has fallen from the dizzying heights of that family tree.

The one lesson I’ve learned, more than any other over 20 years in nutritional medicine, is that the more questions we ask and the more we challenge ‘established truths’, the more we uncover something much more personalised and potent about each and every nutrient …and now as the days continue to shorten into smaller and smaller slithers of sunlight between ‘bed-ends’, this is probably also a good time to ask ourselves…

Should We Rethink High Dose Vitamin D?

Vitamin D deficiency has been associated with a long list of major health conditions: from autoimmunity to mental health & almost everything in between. This has lead to many of us recommending high dose vitamin D supplementation for a large proportion of our patients but do we understand everything we need to to be certain of the merits and safety of this? In this provocative episode Rachel outlines the key unresolved vitamin D dilemmas that should encourage us to exercise caution and outlines how adequate sun exposure is associated with improved health outcomes independent of the production & action of vitamin D.

 

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🍌 ‘Are you thinking what I’m thinking, B1?’

🍌‘I think I am, B2! It’s time to separate the B12 from the B*S#!’

Ok, if you’re reading this and you’re not from around here you have reasonable grounds to conclude I’m the one who’s gone 🍌 but if you grew up with a show all about 2 adults dressed up as bananas and creatively known as B1 and B2, then we’re all good!  Ok now for the next bit, you might need to sit down.  Nothing not everything in the wildly popular, and dare I say it populist, doco The Game Changers was scientifically rigorous.  I know, I’m loving the strike through a little too much today.

Goodness, when otherwise intelligent friends of mine forced me to watch this, they found the need for both restraints and duct tape over my mouth, to hear or see anything other than me jumping up and down, arms flapping, mouth yapping. People only tend to make this mistake with me once.

Among the many many dubious XXX was a terrible mis-truth about our ‘new modern reliance on animal food or supplements for B12’. Woah…back up there Game Changers Gang, say what?!  Does anyone on their research team read any research?  So that got me all motivated to go back to the books on our beloved B12, which is simply like no other micronutrient in human physiology or in nature, for many reasons…starting with 1) it contains a metal in the middle 2) it has dietary dopplegangers (plant forms that look just like it but actually are decoys that need to be actively removed from the body so as not to block its actions) and 3) has the most complex and sophisticated pathway for digestion and absorption, which surprising equates to brilliant average bioavailability (much better than most micronutrients)…until it doesn’t!  And that’s when the trouble starts.  Once you don’t have an intact IF absorption pathway, you’re down to picking up < 1% via simple diffusion, and suddenly we see why patients can be vulnerable to not meeting even the piddly required amount. Not to mention the vegans, of course. I’m on my best behaviour.

But the B*S#! about B12 is far from limited to the documentary.  It’s in the words of the Methylation Mystics, making methylation sound like rocket science and in the supplements we’re being sold.

But don’t get me wrong…effective B12 treatment in the right patient is a total wow moment. I’ve literally seen all the lights go on⚡ in some .  So what do we need to do to find our way out of the dark?  Go back to the solid science.   Come on. There’s nothing else you need to do and nowhere else you need to be… we all know it…so start by reading this and this.  There’s plenty more of course but these are excellent appetisers. And if you want to cut to the chase and get the lowdown on what’s B*S#! versus what’s the real magic of B12, you can always settle in and listen to my latest Update in Under 30 – complete with a very cool clinical tool to help you choose the best B12 for each individual, but spoiler alert, it ain’t rocket science.🤫

B12 is a routinely under-rated and recognised micronutrient, which is in fact in high demand by many of our patients.  As nutritional research pushes back against defining adequacy as simply the prevention of the deficiency-associated disease (macrocyctic anaemia, irreversible neurological damage) we enter a new landscape of more individualised approaches where we’re better able to recognise and treat those at risk of falling below ‘optimal’.  But how do we accurately identify this and then choose the ‘best’ B12 (methyl- cyano- adenosyl- hyroxo-) supplement? Does it need to be this complex?  Time to sort the B12 from the B*S#!!  This recording comes with a bunch of great resources including a very handy clinical tool
The latest Update in Under 30 has landed!!!
You can purchase April’s episode, Separating the B12 from the B*S#! is here.
If you are an Update in Under 30 Subscriber, you will find it waiting for you in your online account.

 

Have you been told somewhere by someone that the ‘perfect’ TSH is 1.5 mIU/L?  This is a wonderful, terrible & wonderfully terrible example of ‘magical numbers medicine’.  As a push-back against the published reference ranges we’re given, that are so wide you could drive a truck through them, there has been an over-correction by some, leading to the myth of ‘magic numbers’.  We can narrow the reference range substantially for many parameters with good rationale, make no mistake about that but once we start setting ‘aspirational goals’ that are explicitly rigid…well we’ve done 2 things 1) forgotten about the patient to whom this result belongs and 2) disregarded viewing each result as part of a ‘pattern’, that we must piece together and make sense of.

Back to TSH then… if my obese patient had a value of 1.5 mIU/L this in fact would be woefully inadequate.

Also too low for any patient, no matter their size, if their T4 is low and we’d like a higher value as well for risk minimisation in our elderly clients too. 

But the same result would be excessively & worringly high in my patient who’s undergone thyroidectomy. 

Being given a list of ‘magic numbers’ will never replace learning labs correctly.   When we do this, we come to truly know that meaning can only be made of the markers when you can answer the following questions:

  1. What is this (metabolite, analyte, binding agent, plasma protein etc)?
  2. What do I know about its physiological and biochemical context – what is its role and regulation in the blood, what moves it and to what magnitude?
  3. How have the reference ranges been determined for this lab – who am I comparing my patient to?
  4. Therefore, what is the significance of a result that is: ‘normal’, ‘low normal’, ‘high normal’, below or above the range?
  5. Does this value ‘fit’ with my patient?
  6. What else could explain an unexpected result?
  7. How strong is my level of evidence?
  8. What do I need to do from here to confirm or refute this?
  9. And a few more 😉

 

Realising the full value of any test result in terms of what it reveals about the person sitting in front of you, requires these skills. Unfortunately, in contrast a list of magic numbers will often lead you astray.  And building your scientific knowledge about  labs will not only help you avoid the pitfalls of pathology but will strengthen your pathophysiology prowess in surprising ways, saving your patients a packet in terms of additional extraneous testing and help you truly personalise your prescriptions…because the ‘invisible (biochemical individuality, oxidative stress, genetic probabilities, subclinical states, imbalanced or burdened processes etc)  just became visible’.   I started requesting lab results early in my career and years later was lucky enough to be taken under the wing of Dr. Tini Gruner.  I found some of our shared notes, from 10 years ago, scribbled all over patient results recently and I was struck by just how lucky I was to have her encouragement to really pursue my interest and how she was a guiding force about learning to recognise pathology patterns over single parameters.  A decade on I can confess, much of clinical and educative success has come off the back of this foundational skill-set and I know, this is true for so many I’ve taught too.  

“The guidance I’ve received over the years from Rachel in relation to pathology interpretation has been one of the most valuable (and fascinating) investments I’ve made as a clinician. Her teachings have filled gaps in my knowledge base I never knew needed filling and have significantly enhanced my understanding of the inner workings of the body! Rachel has an incredible ability to make the numbers that patient’s so often present us with, both understandable and clinically meaningful. The knowledge I’ve gained by investing in this skillset has paid off in dividends and I’m certain will continue to do so into the future.”

Stacey Curcio – Cultivating Wellness

I hope you’ll join me for the most exciting up-skilling opportunity in learning labs yet. Oh…and all this talk about thyroid testing..that’s just a serving suggestion 😉 this year my MasterCourse is focused on the most routine labs of all: ELFTs, FBE, WCC, Lipid and Glucose Panels…an absolute treasure trove of free integrative health information about your patient!

This skillset has been found by many to be biggest ‘game-changer’ in Integrative Medicine!

There are limited places. To sign up for the MasterCourse: Comprehensive Diagnostics click here.
For more information about the program click here.

I wanted to pass on this image (from Twitter by Victor Tseng) that was shared with me by a medical colleague – it’s important.  Many of us are thinking ahead now in terms of the ‘coming waves’ of COVID.  I have certainly been very mindful of a future wave of mental health problems in patients of all descriptions, those predisposed and already vulnerable, as well as those for whom it may be unprecedented.  As my wonderful wise colleague, Kate Worsfold pointed out, it’s important to be anxious to some extent right now because anxiety is a protective mechanism to ensure our survival.  So during this time, the anxiety drives us to wash our hands more often and more thoroughly (at last, we’re mastering basic hygiene!) and socially distance ourselves and these are constructive, reactive behaviours, right? But of course for others, it may trigger or provoke destructive emotional and mental states and for some of these will be the result of new hardship (economic, relationship, occupational etc). We are perhaps seeing some of the early increase already, but according to the diagram above, it is the ‘4th wave’ and its true peak will be reached after all the others. 

This image also speaks to the ‘3rd wave’ which will result from people putting their (very real) health needs on hold, right now…indefinitely.

No one wants to visit the doctor right now, (that’s not an insult to all my lovely doctor friends…you know exactly what I mean), patients are avoiding getting their blood tests, and aren’t maintaining continuity of care with all sorts of health professionals and therefore, interrupted care of chronic health conditions is certainly at hand.

We all know someone making these choices right now, I’m certain.  Elderly family members, our own patients, even, perhaps, ourselves…all concerned about placing ‘unnecessary burden’ on the already burdened health care system.   But in each scenario we need to do a quick risk-benefit analysis:  what are the risks of letting chronic care lapse, or new possible acute presentations be triaged by Google instead of the ER?  Yes one of my patients with a suspected fracture even, has held back and home-diagnosed! Versus what are the risks of presenting for assessment or for ongoing management and monitoring if you apply due diligence in terms of hygiene etc. And from what I understand, the medical clinics in most areas with low COVID case numbers have ample appointments available and have everything in place to protect patients and their workers.  They know the risks more than anyone – both of COVID19 AND of everything beyond (COVID) being ignored and their doors are open! And of course so are those of the nats, the nuts, the herbalists etc – just now often virtual doors rather than those found among bricks and mortar.

We all need to encourage and be encouraged to not drop the baton of better health.

Because we can not be certain of when this will change and our health should not be left on hold.

One good thing to spread widely right now…pardon the pun 😉

Our NEW! MasterCourse in Comprehensive Diagnostics starts 28th May!

The primary objective of this first 6 month MasterCourse is to realise the true value we can extract from the most commonly performed labs (ELFTs, FBE, WCC, Lipids & Glucose) which constitute the largest biochemical data-set we have on almost every patient. By learning how to comprehensively interpret these labs in an integrated medical framework, using the very latest science, we can extract the gold often buried in this goldmine.  Accordingly, we prove ourselves to be the greatest asset to our patients, to other health professionals we are sharing care of patients with and we cut the cost of additional expensive testing, that is less well understood and validated.  Limited spots available – email us at admin@rachelarthur.com.au

 

I am feeling concerned about many of you because chances are, given you’re reading this, you’re running a small business in healthcare right now. Relax, I am not a ‘Doomsdayer’…I don’t think the current situation has to be the death knell for our clinics and businesses, nor even a near-death experience but I do think it requires:

  • Dedicated and directed thought
  • Dedicated responsive planning
  • Follow through actions NOW to pave your way to a sustainable TOMORROW

I do not think it requires a paid business coach. I am a little horrified to see we are already being preyed upon by coaching businesses wanting us to invest more at this financially fickle time to be ‘shown the way to emerge triumphant from this’. That gives me the creeps. Enough said.

But I do know burying our heads isn’t the answer. In fact, that is probably the best way to bury your business for good. From connecting with hundreds of practitioners regularly I can confirm there is a trend emerging that many of us had absolutely predicted: some reduction in return appointments (patients not yet shifting to online or deprioritising long-standing health concerns and prioritising panic instead) and a much more worrying, more financially impacting, bigger drop in new patient bookings. We will only have this unprecedented run on ‘immune herbs and supplements’ for so long. We all need to do the maths…and fast.

Most of us know well enough the bare bones of our business to know this spells income trouble in terms of right now: via a lower hourly fee and moving forward, in terms of loss of expected growth of client base, in a nutshell a process of ever diminishing returns.

Wringing our hands and worrying is not dedicated directed thought. Which is instead about taking business advice from established experts (who have global experience in previous major financial crises) that is already out there for free and just committing the time to reading it and applying it to your own circumstances.  The best I’ve found so far featured in Forbes Magazine…and no I have never read this mag before in my life either, only ever bought it for the pictures  🤣😂  BUT this article contains the essentials of what you need to consider right now and you can use it to form the basis of your planning, decision making and actioning.  It applies to business generally and some of it is bit hard to translate out of CEO-speak but I’ve put my hand to it here for you.  Please look at this, take the time to ask yourself these important questions about what may happen and how you could improve the outcomes of each new challenge.  And if you find that still too difficult on your own, grab a couple of practitioner pals online and see if by putting your heads together you are better able to answer the questions this poses. If we learned anything from our horrendous fire season, it was, hopefully, that plans are meant to be made in advance…not when the flames are beating at your door. I recommend you make one, now.

To make it easier for you (and you know how I love creating resources!!), I have extracted and reproduced a table from this article – Forbes’ Business Strategies for 4 Phases of COVID. I’ve just modified it for you to download and use to create positive business strategies and vision for your future.
You can download it here.

What does lockdown look like for you?  More time spent…

A) Learning or
B) Losing sleep over things outside of our control or
C) Losing days just watching Tik Tok

I’m choosing ‘A’ and I know I’m keeping good company because last week many of my ‘nearest and dearest’ gathered on 2 occasions for some serious extra brain gym. The first was the ACNEM Fellowship Community of Practice that I had the privilege to co-chair with Dr. William Ferguson.  A fantastic new initiative by @ACNEM to offer more hands-on mentoring and support to their doctors.

The second, our own Give-back-Gratitude Live Q & A for our Update in Under 30 Subscribers where I used the time to check-in and see if we could further the learning offered by our monthly audios and clinical tools.

Having all of those who attended, in my ‘home’ was a fabulous contrast to our social distancing ‘new norm’, and seeing all those lovely faces and buzzing brains behind them, warmed the cockles of my cortex!

For those of you that couldn’t make our UU30 date, I wanted to share a few things we learned in lockdown this week:

  1. Copper can be absorbed through the skin and penetrate to deeper layers potentially increasing serum levels but the degree of uptake is highly variable and more likely with prolonged contact e.g. jewellery and pastes not showers etc
  2. Just like the Zn:Cu, when reviewing patients’ albumin:globulin, we must first look at each value individually and consider causes and consequences of low or high values, otherwise we can ‘miss the message’
  3. When understanding labs of anybody who is not a couch potato we need to ditch reference ranges based on the general population because they essentially are…couch potatoes and ask ourselves 3 questions: 1) Who is this person outside of being ‘sporty’ 2) What is the nature of their sportiness because exercise ain’t exercise in terms of physiological effects and 3) When are the tests being done in relation to any exercise

On that last note, I am so thrilled to be able to share my brand spanking new presentation The Impact of Exercise on Pathology Tests – Beyond Artefact to Understanding which I put together B.C. (Before COVID19) for a NZ speaking engagement.  This actually has been one of the most satisfying areas of research to expand my own knowledge in…explained a LOT about what labs go whacky (and why and how to navigate around and through this) not just in what you might call ‘real athletes’ but in weekend warriors, crossfit crazies, MIL (men in Lycra) and the increasing number of middle-aged or older women who just love pounding the pavement.  Know the types?  Our clinics are full of them…it is time to learn their labs properly.

 

The Impact of Exercise on Pathology Tests – Beyond Artefacts to an Understanding

Overwhelmingly when we look at our patients’ labs we compare their results with a reference range derived from ‘the general population’ aka couch potatoes!  Therein lies our first problem. Exercise is recommended for health but we don’t know what this ‘looks like’ in terms of labs. The reference ranges reflect and assume ‘average’ muscle mass & haemodynamics & ‘average’ nutritional requirements in people consuming the SAD (standard Australian diet) none of which apply to the exercise enthusiast, weekend warrior, least of all the professional athlete! Given an increasing number of our patients are embracing exercise, this is an important instruction in what healthy looks like, how to make meaning of otherwise meaningless comparisons and ultimately enable you to distinguish between what is healthy exercise-induced adaptation, an artefact and an actual aberration that flags possible negative impact of emerging pathology for other reasons.

 

Click here to add The Impact of Exercise on Pathology Tests to your online RAN Library.

For all UU30 Subscribers
the full Live Q&A Recording is now available in your ‘active content’ of your online account.

We’re keen to keep a bit of normal in all the noise. Are you? Here’s another way to keep your collegiate connections connecting and your brain blossoming!  Our monthly podcasts are 30 minutes of jam-packed information and here is your opportunity to get more bang for your buck and expand on those 30 minute downloads with some serious drilling down!  Keep the conversation going and get your questions, answered…

Rachel will be running a FREE 1-hour live Q &A to answer UU30 Subscribers questions about the first three episodes that have been released in 2020 (see the list below).

The live Zoom session will start at 6 pm (Syd time) on the 2 April.

Let us know you will join us so we can email the Zoom link on 1 April to you directly.

You are invited to pre-submit questions to admin@rachelarthur.com.au by noon 31 March.
We have extended this pre-submission due to the current circumstances.
 

Rachel will do her very best to answer the ones that are the most common and/or offer the best-extended learning for everyone and, as many as possible.

What kinds of questions CAN you ask?

Specific topic-related short questions😊

What’s is the copper (Cu) absorption rate like through the skin? I’m thinking of a couple of patients where Cu is high in bathing/showering water but it’s filtered from drinking water. Just curious about absorption rates through the skin with water as the medium, versus through ingestion/food/drinking water etc.”

***

Here are the three episodes you can submit questions on. As a subscriber – you will find all these episodes in your ‘active content’.  If you can’t make it, please still submit your questions as we will be adding this free bonus to your subscription account.

JANUARY: COPPER IN KIDS Copper, as a kingpin in angiogenesis, brain & bone building & iron regulation is a critical mineral during paediatric development. So much so, the kind of blood levels we see in a primary schooler might cause alarm if we saw them in an adult. So too their Zn:Cu. But higher blood Copper and more Copper than Zinc are not just healthy but perhaps necessary during certain paediatric periods.  This recording redefines normal, low and high with a great clinical desktop tool to help you better interpret these labs, as well as reviewing the top causes and consequences of both types of Copper imbalance in kids. 

FEBRUARY: YOUR MASTER INFLAMMATORY MARKER Patients’ labs lie, not often, but sometimes and the inflammatory markers performed routinely like CRP and ESR have been known to tell a few. Like when everything about a case screams inflammation but both of those say there’s none there. Why do they miss it?…well basically it’s not their lot. CRP and ESR have specific signals they only respond to and therefore reflect only certain immune reactions and at specific stages of that response. But there’s a nifty little calculation you can perform with all of your patient’s labs and suddenly see the immune activation, inflammation and oxidative stress that was lurking beneath.  

OUTRUNNING ‘ATHLETE’S’ ANAEMIA Persistent ‘hard-to-resolve’ anaemia is a common presentation for anyone participating routinely in sport and that can be at any level, not just among the professionals. From our lovely ladies who take up running or Crossfit in their middle-age to our MIL (men in Lycra) and ‘weekend warriors’, they may love it but their haemoglobin and their iron doesn’t! Anaemia equals reduced oxygen-carrying capacity, a concern for anyone interested in optimising their performance but equally relevant to patients just trying to manage their energy throughout the day. In this important episode, we identify 4 different types of anaemia seen in patients as a result of exercise, incorrectly lumped together as ‘Athlete’s’ Anaemia. 

JOIN RACHEL LIVE ON 2ND APRIL AT 6PM (NSW TIME)
Make time to connect with like-minded practitioners to hear what they are asking about these topics and/or have your questions answered too.

This is a special bonus for our current premium subscribers only, so if you are not a UU30 Subscriber yet, you can sign up here.

TAKE UP THIS OPPORTUNITY!!  RESERVE YOUR SPOT AND SUBMIT YOUR QUESTIONS BY 31 MARCH AT 12PM
Email admin@rachelarthur.com.au so we can send you the link to join the meeting.

Yes, the news is – the current regulations may last for a while and as the social-distancing and best-to-stay-at-home message is slowly but surely sinking in. If you’re like me, more time ‘not out in the world’, means more time to get my creative thinking going and put my mind to how to sustain our humanity, sanity, professional and financial viability.

We have put together a few tips on how you can best support your clients, your community, yourself and your business.

PERSONAL

Look after yourself, both physically and emotionally. For most of us this is in fact an opportunity for more of this.

1. Build your benevolence muscle! Foster a rescue animal. Check-in on your elderly neighbours, family members, new mums – maybe trade a roll of toilet paper for a cup of rice or the other way around LOL 

2. Keep some structure in place and your brain active. Can you use this opportunity to catch up on all the things you’ve always wanted to do but never really had time to? E.g get stuck into some of the online training, webinars, podcasts, papers, books etc. that you’ve never managed to watch, listen to, read about…the enormous library of ‘Medscape Fast Fives’ alone should see you through til August!

3. Do the 30-minute COVID-19 infection control training for healthcare providers – stay informed and up to date.

4. ‘Follow a routine’- this may include exercise (if you used to go to a gym maybe go for a walk outside), get ‘dressed for work’ as if it was a casual day in the office… etc. My team and I have independently established that our work gets done a little slower and our minds get a little sloppier (!) when we are wearing UGGs or slippers …so beware!!!

5. Keep connected with your support networks. Social distancing does NOT equal social isolation. Just take it online if you can (thank you technology!)… Your weekly book club, fortnightly visits at your aunty’s aged care facility, religious meetings, etc. It can all still happen.

BUSINESS

Stay dynamic, creative, and open-minded. Our profession requires us to come up with individual treatment plans for each patient so thinking outside of the box and on the spot is nothing new to us…Yet, it can be challenging when the structure as we’ve known it for so long is becoming more dynamic. So, what can we do in amongst all this…?

1. Shift to 100% online or phone consultations and offer smaller acute care-type appointments to reduce the costs for clients who are currently not able to afford comprehensive consultations

2. Consider further reduced-prices for so many people who are currently facing financial uncertainty – offer this online letting people in your community know about the kind of support you CAN (and can’t offer)

3. Put a few extra safety measures in place if your business includes a dispensary: Get clients to pre-order and pay via phone so that they can pick up their order when it’s ready (they could even wait in the car if preferred). Let any “walk-ins” wait outside, better still encourage them to call and pay over the phone instead and pick up the order when it’s ready. 

4. Or use patient ordering systems more often and stay right out of the handling for the time being.  Lessen your capital risk etc

5. Buyer beware of ‘CORONA CAPITALISM’ which is already afoot.  Remember post-bushfires when every possible business’ marketing message became suddenly fire-friendly?!  Well, there are plenty of businesses already rubbing their hands together over this pandemic 🙁 so stay smart and discerning. Only buy what you truly need personally and what you really can be certain of selling, professionally, and don’t over-commit because the true financial fall-out will not be felt for some time to come 🙁 

6. If you are still treating people in clinic, introduce extra safety measures such as phone screening them (OS travel, current URTI sx) before even allowing them to present in person, getting your clients to wash their hands before entering, keeping a safe distance, and clean all clinic surfaces thoroughly every night.

Feel free to post any further tips and tricks on our RAN Facebook page, stay safe, learn lots and above all – stay connected!!!

Rachel will be running a FREE 1-hour live Q &A to answer questions about the first 3 episodes that have been released in 2020 (see the list below). Here is your opportunity to debrief and ask any questions you may have after you’ve listened to Rachel’s pearls of wisdom on these episodes. This is a special bonus for our CURRENT PREMIUM SUBSCRIBERS only. SAVE THE DATE AND GET YOUR UU30 SUBSCRIPTION NOW. The live Zoom session will start at 6pm (Syd time) on the 2nd April. You will be invited to pre-submit questions and Rachel will do her very best to answer the ones that are the most common and/or offer the best-extended learning for everyone and, as many as possible. Here are the three episodes you can submit questions on. Please note the March episode – Outrunning ‘Athlete’s’ Anaemia – will be released early on 24 March so you can listen before the live session. 

Listen to me, I’m sounding all sporty 😂. I’m not though, just in case you suffer misguided visions of my virtues!  But it’s not just the self-declared serious athletes that we need to have on our radar in relation to optimising their oxygen carrying capacity (aka window to winning). Our clinics are full of people, regularly running, doing triathlons for fun (!), riding vast distances clad in Lycra to drink coffee in other town’s cafes etc. etc. whose FBE might be feeling the pinch! That’s right!  All these individuals, depending on the frequency and intensity of their exercise, could have the so-called, anaemia of an athlete.

Long gone is the idea that exercise-induced changes to your haemoglobin and red blood cells and perhaps even your iron, would only affect the ultra-marathon runners among us.  It’s the swimmers, the cyclists, the Roller Derbyists, the CrossFitters, the basketballers, the Gym Junkies, the lawn bowlers..ok I may have gone too far now…they all are at increased risk.

Why? Isn’t exercise good for you?  You know I so want to say, ‘Surprise! It’s not!’ but alas.  Of course it is good for us BUT there are some fascinating challenges regular exercise can throw at your dear old blood and its bestie, iron. These challenges are incredibly dynamic – having one effect during exercise, a different one immediately following, and yet another in the days of rest in between. And sometimes, in fact, often, our patients can end up on the wrong side of these seismic shifts.  Here’s how the story usually goes

“Oh yeah..I’ve had anaemia for ages!  You know and it doesn’t matter how much Iron I take or how I take it – it never budges. But I’ve been told to stay on the Ferrograd anyway”

Typically, being told it’s ‘Athlete’s Anaemia’ is the first, in a series, of many many errors to follow. Because in fact, there is no such thing.  That’s right. Anaemia is a symptom not a disease and exercise induced anaemia comes in 4 common flavours: Dilutional, Heamolytic, Iron Deficient & Acute Anaemia of Exercise, and knowing the difference is critical to correct management.  Only 1 of them will reliably improve with iron and it needs to be prescribed in a totally novel way. Others will get worse with more iron. Yep. And one is a complete illusion. So when we don’t make the right diagnosis, which of the 4 types your patient actually has, we fail to find the fix. And while all of our patients may not be overly obsessed with improving their performance or even winning, let’s face it, they all want to achieve their PB, that’s why they came to see you.  So can you tell the difference? 

WARNING: I got so enthused about this topic that I went over.  The current ‘Update in Under 30’ is a ‘serving suggestion’ only!  And you may need to speed up your playback to squeeze in another bonus 10 min, if you can only afford your usual 30 min car trip to listen!

Outrunning ‘Athlete’s’ Anaemia

Persistent ‘hard-to-resolve’ anaemia is a common presentation for anyone participating routinely in sport and that can be at any level, not just among the professionals. From our lovely ladies who take up running or CrossFit in their middle-age, to our MIL (men in Lycra) and ‘weekend warriors’, they may love it but their haemoglobin and their iron doesn’t! Anaemia equals reduced oxygen carrying capacity, a concern for anyone interested in optimising their performance but equally relevant to patients just trying to manage their energy throughout the day. In this important episode we identify 4 different types of anaemia seen in patients as a result of exercise, incorrectly lumped together as ‘Athlete’s Anaemia’.  Each type is easy to recognise once you know how and effective treatment of each is remarkably different. This summary and the super handy clinical resource that accompanies it will help you and your patients absolutely outrun it, at last. 

The latest Update in Under 30 has landed.
You can purchase March’s episode, Outrunning ‘Athlete’s’ Anaemia here.
For all Update in Under 30 Subscribers, you will find it waiting for you in your online account and don’t forget the **EXTRA BONUS LIVE CALL WITH RACHEL.
**This live Zoom call with Rachel is for current Update in Under 30 Subscribers ONLY. A Q&A session for subscribers on the UU30 episodes released in 2020. Contact the RAN Team to reserve your spot!

 

 

It is a challenging and confusing time for everyone.

Yet, as healthcare practitioners, we are needed more than ever, by our clients and our community, to do what we do best *educating *advocating * providing access to medicines * supporting

Our friends and esteemed peers down at Gould’s Apothecary’s (TAS) have shared some great tips on Facebook and honestly, they couldn’t have done a better job! Let’s look after ourselves and each other and collectively calm and curtail this. 

The Naturopaths and Herbalists Association of Australia (NHAA) also suggests as follows: “For those of you who want or need to move consultations to an online or phone format, this is a valid option to protect yourself, your staff and your patients during the current pandemic.” Check with other associations if you are a member of these to see how they recommend you approach consultations while minimising risk.

Below is the Gould’s post and well, we couldn’t have said it better and thought this may also be something you want to share with your patients to let them know you’re well informed and you’re there for them.

***

We’ve put together a list of simple steps you can take at this time to take care of yourselves and your loved ones.

Our list of suggestions below has been compiled with the intention of providing you with simple steps for actions you can take at home, or recommendations for things that you can access fairly easily. These treatments have the potential to support your general health and immune resilience, but to be clear, none of them have any proven action in preventing or treating coronavirus infection.

Gargle and drink GREEN TEA. Consuming green tea, in particular gargling it, has been shown to reduce the risk of contracting influenza and the common cold. The tannins in green tea have been shown to have broad antiviral effects topically. In one study, residents in an aged care facility gargling the equivalent of ½ cup of green tea three times daily were more than 15 times less likely (OR 15.7) to catch the flu https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/?term=16970537
Take a Vitamin D supplement. Living in Tasmania is known to increase our risk of having low vitamin D. A number of studies have shown that taking vitamin D, particularly in people who are vitamin D deficient, reduces the chances of developing acute respiratory infections including influenza. Most studies reviewed used adult doses ranging from 2000IU to 4000IU a day, which is known to be safe to take long term even in the absence of deficiency https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/?term=30675873

Eat probiotic foods daily. Consuming probiotic foods regularly or taking a probiotic supplement has been shown to reduce the risk of developing an upper respiratory tract infection https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/?term=25927096 You can consume probiotics through foods such as probiotic yogurt (Vaalia has 3 well researched viable strains in therapeutic amounts), sauerkraut or kimchi, in addition to many others. All of these can be consumed on a daily basis. If you would prefer to take a supplement, talk to us at Gould’s about the most ideal one for your situation.

Eat plenty of raw crushed GARLIC. We don’t care if you stink, we can all stink together! Garlic is one of nature’s best antimicrobials, and it is quite amazing in that it appears to be selective in its action – it doesn’t wipe out your good bacteria. Local organic garlic is best if you can access it, but don’t worry if you can’t – eat what you can find. Ensure you are eating raw garlic according to your own tolerance as not everyone can stomach it. We find that adding crushed garlic to a meal just before consuming it, or having it with avocado on wholesome bread, improves tolerability.https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/?term=PMC4103721
Keep any medicines you regularly use in stock and within date. This includes pharmaceuticals (check your scripts are also in date), herbal remedies and nutritional supplements. At Gould’s, we have taken measures to ensure we have enough immune and respiratory herbs in stock to get through the winter season, and while we encourage you to be prepared, we emphatically ask that you don’t stockpile herbs, so that we can continue to serve the community through the winter period. Tinctures are also not something we can accept returns for, so please think about how much you realistically need. We are setting a limit of 500ml per person for respiratory and immune mixes, and while we won’t be policing repeat visits, we ask that everyone be mindful of others within the community also having access to herbal medicines.
Keep your home above 16°C. Having a cold home reduces respiratory resilience and increases susceptibility to and mortality from respiratory tract infections. This is especially important for people who are elderly, asthmatic or have other chronic/recurrent respiratory conditions. http://www.instituteofhealthequity.org/…/the-health-impacts…
Eat a healthy well-balanced diet. Eat an abundance of plant foods, high antioxidant foods (especially berries, kiwifruit and purple grapes), fresh local fruits and vegetables, nuts and seeds, and plenty of legumes. These help to feed your beneficial gut bacteria, which will assist you with immune resilience. They also ensure you have a healthy intake of vitamin C along with other nutrients important for immune health.
Don’t overindulge with alcohol. Binge drinking is bad for your gut flora, and also impairs immune function and increases the severity of respiratory tract infections https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4590612/
If you smoke, action a quit plan. Contact QuitTas for support https://www.quittas.org.au/…

Get enough sleep, maintain a healthy exercise regime, and try to keep stress levels in check. We understand that these things can be easier said than done, but all three of these are integral to your immune system working well. So take the opportunities that present to take care of yourself.

If you do get sick, don’t panic, but please minimise your contact with other people, and follow the guidelines about self-isolation.

SELF ISOLATION IS RECOMMENDED IF:

● You have returned from or transited through any high-risk countries within the last 14 days. (It appears prudent to extend this to moderate risk countries also.) At the time of writing this post (12th March 2020) the following countries are considered high and moderate risk: Mainland China; Iran; Italy; South Korea; Cambodia; Hong Kong; Indonesia; Japan; Singapore and Thailand. It appears that USA may soon be classed as moderate risk also.

● You have been in close contact with anyone who has recently transited through these countries.
● You have been in contact with anyone who has confirmed coronavirus or is suspected to be at risk of being exposed to the virus.

● You have recently returned from anywhere overseas and have even mild cold or flu symptoms.

***In all of these cases you should call the Coronavirus hotline on 1800 671 738 in Hobart or 1800 020 080 nationally (in Australia) to clarify your next step. https://www.health.gov.au/…/coronavirus-covid-19-informatio…

As a thank you to our current subscribers of Update in Under 30s, Rachel will be running a FREE 1 hour live Q &A to answer questions about the first 3 episodes that have been released in 2020 (see the list below).  Here is your opportunity to debrief and ask any questions you may have after you’ve listened to Rachel’s pearls of wisdom on these episodes. This is a special bonus for our CURRENT PREMIUM SUBSCRIBERS only. SAVE THE DATE. The live Zoom session will start at 6pm (Syd time) on the 2nd April. You will be invited to pre-submit questions and Rachel will do her very best to answer the ones that are the most common and/or offer the best-extended learning for everyone and, as many as possible. Here are the three episodes you can submit questions on. Please note the March episode – Outrunning ‘Athlete’s’ Anaemia – will be released early on 24 March so you can listen before the live session. If you are not a premium subscriber yet, you can subscribe here https://rachelarthur.com.au/product/12-month-subscription-to-rachels-premium-audio/

Can you hear that? No it’s not some weird raucous bird-call. That’s me. A fabulous colleague of mine who also happens to be a Master MindMapper (yes it’s an official club now😂) , told me a couple of weeks back that practising naturopaths who don’t use this incredible tool for their case work-up typically say, “Oh, I’ve internalised that!” Well we laughed and laughed and yep even as I write this the giggles are back.  You see between the two of us we have almost half a century of combined clinical experience between us (no telling on who has the bigger share!!) and WE haven’t managed that feat…so we’re wondering what we’re missing (bigger internalised RAM?) or indeed, what they are?!  And naturally, I’m leaning towards the latter.

‘I practise holistically. I am truly integrative’, you say, ‘I consider all levels of evidence in patients, from their narrative to their neurologist’s report – from their bloods to their B vitamin  SNPS – from their detailed diets to their social (dis)connections”  

And I know you do. 

But how on earth amongst all the information overload, that deafening white noise & distractions, can you always see the root cause and every connection?

Because for me, spending the time practising due diligence with the creating a MindMap, after I see every patient, is my reliable path to achieving this.  Not just settling for the reflexive related systems that become well trodden paths in our minds…Gut to Brain (walked that track a million times, right!)…but step by step deepening my understanding of the case, adding layers I couldn’t see or hear at first, to reveal other critical connections that were unexpected.  Gut to Kidney –> Kidney to Brain It’s that time of the year when I’ve (clearly) been talking about MindMapping with my mentees and accordingly, I’m all juiced up!  And my love of this process and skill-set is also getting more layers!  I’ve realised that of course, beyond summarising the case in a truly integrated way, it helps me sift through my differentials, creating effectively a to-do-list about what things need follow-up assessment via questions, validated surveys, or testing.  It also keeps me (and patients) accountable moving forward, as I come back to this over months and years while they remain in my care and I have to answer the question: did we address that?

This Master MindMapper Mate – she’s gone 1 GIANT step further, dedicating (virtually) the next few years of her life to writing a thesis on Complexity Science and, in part, how holistic medicine has now finally found its friend in science via this progressive model.  

And MindMapping, and timelines and other key tools for genuinely integrated patient work-up, are the things that enable us to consistently uphold our holistic principles and practices and keep pace with the scientific progression. So if you wanna join our club 😂 because you’re already a MindMapping enthusiast don’t forget to contact kim.d.graham@student.uts.edu.au to find out about and ideally participate in her study. And if you’re feeling like the words MindMapping are Martian-speak for something you know nothing about 😥 …then maybe you should check this out.

MindMaps & Timelines – Effective Integrated Patient Work-up

As integrative health practitioners, we pride ourselves on taking in the ‘whole health story’ as a means to accurately identifying all the contributors & connections to each patient’s presenting unwellness.  In the process, we gather a wealth of information from each client  – pathology, medical history, screening tests, diet diaries etc. that borders on information overload and often creates so much ‘noise’, we struggle to ‘hear’ what’s most important. The management of complex patient information and the application of a truly integrative approach, requires due diligence and the right tools. Mindmapping and Timelines are two key tools to help you go from vast quantities of information to a true integrated understanding of what is going on in the case and the more time we spend learning and applying these tools, the more they will write the prescription for you. Not just for today but for the next 6-12mo for that patient.

 

Ever suspect you’re being gaslighted by your patients’ results?  Especially when their CRP result says, ‘nothing to see here’!  But every other piece of information and every one of your senses tell you they’re inflamed and their immune system is up to something!! Me too.  You probably then look at their other results, their ESR or their white cell count searching out something that supports your hunch, but they too can look disappointingly unremarkable. That’s the moment when you wish life was like a televised sports match and you could check the video evidence rather than believe the mere mortal (and clearly blind!!) man in white on the pitch. Well guess, what…you can. 

Albumin

÷

Globulin

As long as you know how to divide one figure by another using a calculator. I’ve found it requires the same digital dexterity as pushing the ‘on’ button’ on my blender…so if you can make a smoothie, you’re sorted! So while almost every lab routinely reports these two as separate parameters that are also routinely in range…I haven’t seen many that actually do the calculation for you and give you the Albumin:Globulin (AGR) on a platter.  Yet this one step maths transforms the mundane into magic and can reveal almost all to you regarding your patient’s level of immune activation, inflammation and oxidative stress, from the largest number and variety of drivers.  That’s why I call it, 📣The Master Inflammatory Marker 👑

When factoring in your patients pathology results is at its best – it makes the invisible suddenly visible to us.  We could have sat and eyeballed that patient all month and never suspected that their Hcy was too high, or they had antiphospholipid antibodies or, or etc.

But the albumin to globulin ratio goes one step further & trumps the other inflammatory markers we’re so familiar with, because it even sees what they can’t! 

And a low AGR (≤1.2) signals just that to you. So when the patient with joint pains, or just a little bit of belly fat or an emerging yet unnamed autoimmune condition presents exasperated saying, ‘but apparently I’m not even inflamed!’…you can let them know you do see it, and it’s just that others weren’t looking in the right place, then  get busy rolling your sleeves up to move those markers!  That’s right, a low AGR is a clear call to action for practitioners engaged in risk minimisation, prevention and for working towards best outcomes in established disease and  monitoring a patient’s AGR is a series of clear sign-posts about whether you’re leading them in the right direction or not.  There’s a lot more to say on this this third umpire & ripper of a ratio – about kids, the contraceptive pill, confounders, a role in cognitive impairment prevention and what optimal might look like but hey…the cricket’s back on…gotta go 😂

Patients’ labs lie, not often, but sometimes and the inflammatory markers performed routinely like CRP and ESR have been known to tell a few.  Like when everything about a case screams inflammation but both of those say there’s none there.  Why do they miss it?…well basically it’s not their lot.  CRP and ESR have specific signals they only respond to and therefore reflect only certain immune reactions and at specific stages of that response.  But there’s a nifty little calculation you can perform with all of your patients labs and suddenly see the immune activation, inflammation and oxidative stress that was lurking beneath.  It’s called the albumin to globulin ratio and it’s going to change your understanding of what’s going on in your clients and your ability to monitor the efficacy of your management.
The latest Update in Under 30 has landed.
You can purchase February’s episode, Your Master Inflammatory Marker here.
For Update in Under 30 Subscribers you will find it waiting in your online account.
-Your RAN Online Account has a NEW LOOK!!-
Next time your log in, you will experience a more user friendly way to search,
view, listen and download your resources.

 

 

Sometimes I think I must be psychic..or is that psychotic? Don’t answer that, it’s a bad Byron Bay in-joke.  I had literally just recorded my Update in Under 30 Copper in Kids and this excellent new study was published that same week, assessing and comparing trace minerals in age-matched ADHD and neurotypical kids. Snap! First, a moment of panic…because believe it or not, there are very few rigorous studies that have looked into this and so I had already read them all cover to cover and could confidently say, I had a grip on the literature. Gasp…’ will it have a different finding and challenge the much broader story about the excessive demonising of this mineral in kids health?’ Everyone take a big breath out…no. 

But if you’re someone who thinks you’re seeing Copper toxicity in kids, you can keep taking a big breath in and while you’re at it a huge bit of new information:

Copper Excess is Normal in Children.

Every investigation of blood Copper levels in kids has reached the same conclusion and this latest one by a Russian group of researchers renowned for their work in Copper agrees. So the ideas that we have about optimal in terms of mineral balance for adults may stand, but can not and should not be applied to children.  The elusive 1:1 relationship between Cu and Zn, for example, considered aspirational in optimising the mental health of big people, is absolutely not desirable or even healthy, in little ones. Why is it so? I hear you ask (…because you loved those old Cadbury chocolate ads with the crazy Professor as much as I did)  Well, essentially because kids need more Copper than us, as a simple result of their increased growth requirements: blood vessels, bones, brains…Cu is a critical player in them all and more.  And while we (and when I say ‘we’ I mean ‘I’) may be passionately passionate about Zinc’s importance, turns out, in paediatrics, it really does play second fiddle to Cu and should.

This new contribution to the Cu & Zn in ADHD kids debate did find that compared with neurotypical kids, their Cu:Zn was higher BUT – **and this is the really important bit **- as has been shown in a similar cohort before, the shift in relationship between the two was due in fact to lower Zinc levels NOT higher Copper. 

So, I guess when you think about it…Zinc perhaps really does still deserve all our loving attention we give it 😂…we just need to rethink the whole negative attention we tend to mistakenly give Copper! 

Copper, as a kingpin in angiogenesis, brain & bone building & iron regulation is a critical mineral during paediatric development. So much so, the kind of blood levels we see in a primary schooler might cause alarm if we saw them in an adult. So too their Zn:Cu.  But higher blood Copper and more Copper than Zinc are not just healthy but perhaps necessary during certain paediatric periods.  This recording redefines normal, low and high with a great clinical desktop tool to help you better interpret these labs, as well as reviewing the top causes and consequences of both types of Copper imbalance in kids. 
The latest Update in Under 30 has landed. You can purchase January’s episode, Copper in Kids here.
If you are an Update in Under 30 Subscriber, you will find it waiting for you in your online account.
-Your RAN Online Account has a NEW LOOK!!-
Next time your log in, you will experience a more user friendly way to search, view, listen and download your resources. Find out what’s new here.