Keeping Things Real & Representative

 

Any pathology test is only of value if the result produced is ‘real’, or, representative of that individual, right? So the timing of the test is a major pivot point then: do I tell my patient to present for the test, or collect the sample themselves, on their ‘best’, their ‘worst’ or their ‘average’ day? 🤷‍♀️  Well, that all depends on the question you are trying to answer.

Whenever we reach or refer for a test, we have a question in mind we’re seeking an answer to. But the question always comes in two parts, at least.

Part 1: How much progesterone is she making?
Part 2: …When she’s ovulated & her corpus luteum should be most productive?

A third might refine the question you’re answering further by adding another contextual clarification

Part 3,4,5: …When she’s eating her regular diet, not exercising excessively or under extreme stress

Without these other parts – the answer to the first one: How much progesterone is she making (full stop), is hard to correctly interpret, right? By refining and expanding on the full extent of our question, we can be clear about which elements of this patient’s life the result likely reflects. We might say that for her, this time-point, or set of collection conditions, is a ‘real reflection’ of her generally and therefore, representative.  But what if she does occasionally undertake a 5 day fast, or train for & compete in marathons? If we were to specifically test during these times, we answer a different question, right?  Likewise every time we instruct a patient to present for their blood tests (routine or fancy schmancy): Fasted, Rested, Hydrated and off their supplements – is this sound advice or a misdirection?  Well it depends on the individual in front of you and the real question you want answered about them 🤓

Ahhhhh I love rules: both the making of them and the subsequent breaking of them 🦜🏴‍☠️

Fasted, Rested, Hydrated & Unsupplemented? Exceptions to the rule

The collection conditions for any pathology test – can refine or ruin the question you were hoping to have answered about your patient but is it always appropriate to ask everyone to ensure their preparation for the test was ‘ideal’? What if their real life is far from ‘ideal’ and contrasts dramatically with these ‘conditions’ e.g. they forget to drink water but never alcohol! Or do they run 20km every weekday and 40 on weekends?  And why would we tell some patients to stop their supplements prior to a blood-test and not others? If our goal is to ensure any pathology test answers the question we need answered we need to know how to respond to these and other scenarios.  This new update is all about keeping results ‘real’ & representative.

 

You can purchase Fasted, Rested, Hydrated & Unsupplemented? Exceptions to the Rule here.
If you are an Update in Under 30 Subscriber, you will find it waiting for you in your online account.
You can become an Update in Under 30 Subscriber to access this episode and the entire library of Update in Under 30 audio’s and resources here.

Is Your Diagnosis on the $ or a Misdirection?

No, I can’t leave it alone. I’ve been gabbing on about Gilbert’s Syndrome for about 15 years now and it’s not going to stop anytime soon! This is not because I think it’s the most common condition we encounter but, rather because it is not uncommon. It is also not because this diagnosis explains everything for the individual who has, not just the genotype but the phenotype, with only 1/3 of the phase II glucuronidation capacity the rest of us have, but it does explain much of what they’ve sought an understanding for and some assistance with, often to no avail.  And all the evidence tells us that Gilbert’s Syndrome continues to suffer from ‘poor visibility’ in general practice – meaning that more often than not it goes unrecognised and undiagnosed. But we can do better…

New research has helped us hone our diagnostic detective skills, refining (actually, redefining) our reference ranges – dramatically lowering our threshold for suspicion of this condition.

While other studies have torn down old notions of: ‘just a tendency to jaundice’, detailing clearly the real health narrative Gilbert’s Guys ‘n’ Gals will present with, including an increased number of self-diagnosed ‘food reactions’, fatigue, greater mental distress, menstrual issues, poor tolerance of certain meds & alcohol etc

But just as SIBO, Mast-cell-activation, Ehlers Danlos Syndrome or [insert…other on-trend-‘explain-all’-in-spite-of-no-1-definitive-result-diagnosis], the Gilbert Syndrome ‘call’, can be completely on the money for some clients, and a complete misdirection for others.  These are big calls to make in our clients: ‘Here’s your why and here’s a 12 week, 12 month,  lifelong management plan to address this!’ So we need to be absolutely thorough in our consideration of all things that mimic or overlap with certain aspects & features, so we don’t misdiagnose and, simultaneously, miss the real underpinning cause!  When it comes to looking at labs and asking, Well, Is It Gilbert’s? – this means being across all the other explanations for high-normal or high bilirubin and following a methodical process excluding all others, to answer in the affirmative & with confidence.

I get Google ‘Gilbert’ alerts daily so I  have no life and am reading the latest research all the time, refining my own processes and certainly the way I teach others about this. 

Cue my latest Update in Under 30 episode, which is really 15 years in the making. That’s 15 years of reading research, seeing patients, educating and answering the questions of thousands of other practitioners, in order to be able to see where we are getting it right and wrong, to produce a clear 5 step process you can follow to ensure your Gilbert Syndrome call is on the money, not a misdirection and therefore going to be a game-changer in their life – not a time and money waster.

 

Well, Is It Gilbert’s Syndrome?
Many of us are now alert to this common but still under-recognised polymorphism that has pervasive effects on health. But if you were to base your diagnosis of Gilbert Syndrome on your patient having above reference range bilirubin levels, you will both miss some who have this condition, and misdiagnose others who don’t. Because of this, we need to be competent & confident in our process of identifying the real reason for greater than expected bilirubin levels, which include liver and biliary disease, abundant precursors, dyserythropoiesis esp B12 deficiency and several other genetic hyperbilirubinemias. This recording and the amazingly helpful desktop reference we’ve created to go with it, provide a clear process to follow, with concrete cut-offs for parameter values. Together these ensure you won’t miss a Gilbert’s Syndrome diagnosis but you won’t misdiagnose someone with it, either.

 

You can purchase Well, Is It Gilbert’s Syndrome? here.
If you are an Update in Under 30 Subscriber, you will find it waiting for you in your online account.
You can become an Update in Under 30 Subscriber to access this episode and the entire library of Update in Under 30 audio’s and resources here.

I read it on Facebook

We all (inaudibly🤞) sigh when patients utter this & adopt the brace position for whatever mis- or dis-information may follow.
So how would you feel, if instead, these were the words of the health professional you’re seeing?

We could debate forever the pros and cons of FB and its forums – & indeed it offers both – but one thing we must never lose sight of is what it has in common with the  ‘wild west’: unregulated, unvetted, and with plenty of cowboys – often sadly, masquerading as experts, or just ‘very “generous” very very active group members’, with hidden agendas. I don’t generally engage with the naturopathic forums but occasionally I catch sight of things that I can’t look away from, and I can’t not speak up. Recently, someone (with a not-so-hidden-at-least-to-me-agenda) was raving about the dangers of N-acetylcysteine as a supplement & the way it was spoken about made it seem like it would be *poison* at any dose. Wha?  As you may have learned from me it is definitely potent and in turn, demands our respect as a powerful therapeutic agent – directing our decisions about timing and reminding us, yet again, that least dose is best dose. But what this individual was purporting were adverse effects I’d never heard of in relation to this nutraceutical. So I simply asked, ‘Can you please share your reference(s)?’

Prior to me inserting myself into the comments – there had been enormous engagement specifically with this individual’s claims- which mostly went like this:
‘Oh wow! I didn’t know this!!’
‘Thank you – that’s so interesting!’
“Oh that explains why Tom doesn’t like it, and Dick won’t take it and Harry says it’s horrible!”
🤦‍♀️

FB forums – seeking out the support & opinions of our peers can be truly wonderful but it can totally derail our knowledge too if we don’t keep checking the quality of that information. A simple: Can you share your references, or, where did you learn this? Should be part of the respectful and expected scientific discourse in our profession.  I’ve asked that before when I’ve found myself yet again in a forum thread and had a truly fabulous response – with the practitioner generously sharing a number of high quality published articles that would have taken me ages to find myself! 💪Not the case in this recent episode. The 3 distinct claims, which all centred on NAC being bad for high histamine individuals, were ‘substantiated’ by just 1 primary reference & that was a Poster Presentation: “Human placental tissue was minced and subjected to a fractionated ammonium sulphate precipitation (35% / 65%). A fraction high in DAO activity was purified using hydrophobic interaction chromatography (HIC), and incubated with the drugs in prescribed concentration” . The full research has never actually been published in its entirety and the brevity of detail on a poster means you know barely any of the important details regarding the methodology. I also looked for any other research that emulated these methods or findings or even cited this paper – nada.  And if you lead with your best – this was appalling low level evidence that is really unlikely to be relevant. But hey – here’s the 1 provided reference – make your own mind up! (see how easy that is?!)

I asked for clarification and for papers to support the other 2 claims.
Silence.
But actually before silence a bit of
‘How dare you ask!’

That’s when I got a different insight into this forum & arguably a culture that doesn’t foster curiosity & questioning, if that risks challenging the ‘poster’s’ position. And when several incredibly intelligent, kick-arse clinicians quietly contacted me on the side to say, ‘THANK YOU!~ This person posts comments like this all the time & it’s so misleading & someone needed to say something, but it probably had to be you.’ Well that really made me  😥 because it didn’t, you know – any one of us can ask, “Can you share the reference(s) for that?” and clearly we need to more often 🤓

Why are we afraid to question information or ask for references and why are people afraid of the question? This should not be a competition or hierarchy of who can ask or not ask questions.  And if the forum that you’re a member of makes it seem that way – then ask yourself, if its doing you more harm than good.

Aren’t we on the same team here? We all have a professional duty of care to our patients to ensure that in looking for quick answers we don’t get incorrect ones that misinform us, our patients and our treatment decisions.

Increasing Patient Buy-in: Compliance Changers

Patient Centred Prescriptions

Have you ever noticed that our products don’t work if our patients don’t take them?!🙄 

The reasons for non-compliance, dis- or non-engagement, poor patient buy-in & follow through are many:

*My dog ate the instructions
* My inbox swallowed the instructions
*As soon as I left your clinic, your instructions left my brain

Reasons also include far more credible things such as non-patient centred prescribing.  This is what most of us do when we’re full of good intentions but short on time at the end of a consult, so we just throw a bunch of products and a script with them out the door.  Arguably many of us make this mistake also because our training perpetuated this relic of conventional medicine and paid insufficient attention to the therapeutic relationship. In contrast, patient centred prescribing recognises the patient as best-placed to find personalised solutions to their very individual challenges, including, decision making around dosing regimes.  So while we continue to ensure & oversee that therapeutic doses are used and that best conditions for taking certain things are adhered to – your patient remains the expert in the room about how to actually achieve this – both in terms of when & where in their very real lives – with a little help from us – and what ‘works for them’, in terms of taste, texture & temperature. 

That’s right, I said temperature…are you telling patients to take everything at room temperature??
You need to think again – this is something we can safely manipulate with many powdered & liquid remedies (some exceptions of course!) to match patient preferences & radically increase palatability, pleasure and ultimately patient compliance.

Are you like me? I have supplements scattered all over my house – in places that correlate with an action or moment in the day when I am most likely to take them. This is another important element of Patient Centred prescribing, so I work with my patients to identify these easy solutions too.  After the gym? In the gym bag. After breakfast as you leave for work? In the key bowl. At work? On the desk beside the computer screen.  Keeping taurine in the drinks cupboard in front of the alcohol is another nifty reminder and trick for those looking to ‘pre-load’ and cut down! Tips and tricks like these save our over-loaded memory. They remove or minimise barriers. They make compliance less effortful. And as a result, you know what? They might just get the results we would have expected!

Compliance Changers – Strategies for Success
At the end of an information & insight heavy appointment, formulating a list of products and doses for our patients to take can feel like a bit of a ‘tada moment’, like a magician pulling a rabbit out of the hat.  “Here is the solution – now off you go!”  Research tells us, however, that treatment-plans that are a co-creation between you and your patient – evolving from a discussion that not only allows them a voice, but a major role in the decision making – are far more likely to succeed. While we are the authority on our medicines, our patients are the authority on what makes them tick & what’s likely to succeed, in terms of taste, texture, temperature & timing!  This is called Patient Centred Prescribing and together with some other tips tricks and hacks I share with you in this episode, can really increase patient buy-in, compliance and therefore bring your treatment plan to fruition and fulfilment!

 

You can purchase Compliance Changers – Strategies for Success here.
If you are an Update in Under 30 Subscriber, you will find it waiting for you in your online account.
You can become an Update in Under 30 Subscriber to access this episode and the entire library of Update in Under 30 audio’s and resources here.

Have You Received a Nudge?

A recent foreboding article featured in NewsGP Pathology requests under the microscope warned, ‘More than 5000 GPs are about to receive a letter from the Department of Health about their pathology requests.’ This is a ritual cleanse performed by Department of Health (DoH) all in the name of fiscal prudence. They’re trying to weed out the ‘over-ordering outlier GPs’, who requested too many – wait for it – Iron Studies, B12, TFTs & Vitamin D tests between June 2019 and July 2021. That’s right, during a pandemic – when people were inside, locked down, had reduced food security and telehealth, as good as it is, removed clinical examination as an option!! Oh my…where do you start with this?😤

No. 1: 5.,000 GPs out of a workforce of 31,000, constitutes 15% so clearly NOT in any way correct to call them outliers!

No. 2: These so-called ‘nudge’ letters have arrived & sadly the recipients are not the ‘rogue doctors’, they’d perhaps hoped to catch but actually GPs who see more pregnant women, more refugees, more aged care residents.

And mostly female GPs – I might add 

Or said most eloquently, in this online piece, by Dr. Carrington: “Who are the pathology nudge letters really targeting? Judging from the response on social media, these letters seem to have been received largely by GPs who treat our most vulnerable and marginalised patients.” And don’t get me started on how much $$$ identifying and correcting said-deficiencies SAVES the health system in terms prevention.😤😤😤  Has anyone actually done the maths (aka cost benefit analysis)?! In short, no.  I am angry for my GP colleagues. This is sadly yet another example of the punitive system that they have to operate under and under which, as GOOD GPs pushing back against 5 minute medicine, they effectively have a target on their back.  And I am dismayed for our shared patients and the general public, for whom basic nutritional assessments (2 of which are well-established as the most common micronutrient deficiencies we encounter in general practice), it seems, are being deemed a poor use of tax-payer funds,  this DoH fear-mongering campaign is value for our money?!

Back to Dr. Carrington:
“Nudge letters are not harmless.

They inflict enormous anxiety and dread amongst GPs and inject a real sense of fear into clinical decision making. Many GPs are already feeling burnt out and are contemplating how to transition out of the profession. Trainee numbers are at a frighteningly low rate.
Targeting GPs in this way is inappropriate and discriminatory against those who practice high rates of women’s health, mental health and aged care.”

The biggest way we can help is accessing old results!! True. Many patients have a lot of lab results across multiple medical practices. Step one – see what they can retrieve and provide you with, such that you can pull it all together. This way: a) you know what has been assessed and when and avoid any doubling up & b) you extract maximal value from these by creating a cumulative & comparative dataset for your patient – being best placed then to ‘see their normal’ and be alert at the earliest possible time to any intra-individual shift – likely reflective of an emerging process that then c) WE CAN TAKE ACTION TO PREVENT FURTHER PATHOLOGY💪 And if you are going to write letter to a GP,  now more than ever this requires a clear understanding of the kinds of issues they face & a respectful & rational approach to communicating the merits of any follow-up investigations you might wish them to consider.

“Thank you so much for a wonderful presentation yesterday, Rachel. It gave me a new perspective on how it must feel as a GP to receive incessant demands from Naturopaths/Nutritionists to order pathology for their clients. I am in awe of your integrity, desire for patient empowerment, humility and respect for other professionals in the mainstream health arena. I felt that every single naturopath and nutritionist out in the big wide world ought to have listened to your insightful words of wisdom when it comes to shared care of our clients. We are blessed to have you as our teacher.”  – Michelle Blum (Mentee 2019) 

Want to learn more? Dear Doctor – Upskilling in Referral Writing & Interprofessional Communications

 

Independent Education For All

Over years of delivering independent education in integrative health I have spoken to some diverse audiences. This has included health professionals from very different backgrounds: from hospital-based psychiatrists & mental health nurses, to whom I presented on site in hospitals both in Australia & NZ, to a national sparkle-arkle speaking tour, in front of large groups of aesthetic practitioners. They’re the doctors & nurses for whom botox and fillers are their tools of trade, and yes I got to see actual demonstrations of their work performed live!!!😶 More recently, I’ve had several opportunities to deliver evidence-based independent education on nutrition to pharmacists en masse – which I always enjoy because they ask some of the best questions!

Underpinning each decision to accept an invitation from a 3rd party, be that a company an organisation or an institution, to speak, is:
1.The realisation of an opportunity for nutritional medicine to reach more people, a wider audience, & ultimately expand the circle of influence amongst health professionals, who interact with & advise the public at all different levels
2. An agreement and/or contract that ensures my independence, the correct use of my materials, image, brand and IP & removes any expectation to promote their products/services etc

And my ‘door’ is open to any invitation which meets these 2 criteria. So you might have seen my name, previously associated with some brands or organisations, in the last few years disappear off their speaker announcements, or no longer connected, and in turn you might see my name pop up in new places! Like….Metagenics Congress on Autoimmune Disease!!  After many invitations from this company, that I wasn’t able to previously accept, I am pleased to be speaking at this face to face event on the Gold Coast in August. What a novelty, hey? Face to face?! My talk is about the 4 Mistakes not to Make in Hashimoto’s and as always, I’ve completed a full mini-literature review in order to speak to the very latest on diagnostics and nutritional management, in this condition.  Yes, to quote a Costanza,  “We’re back baby, we’re back!”  And to see my full current smorgasbord of speaking commitments & all the people I am ‘spreading the (nutritional) word’ to – just click here.

Thyroid Pathology Nutritional, Environmental and Dietary Strategies

This previous training will take your understanding of the interplay between food, nutrition, environment and the thyroid several steps further.  With more supportive research and a greater focus on the mechanisms behind the relationships between these macro- & micro nutrient & environmental factors, this presentation is for the true thyroid die-hard.

What’s Changed For You?

How much has THE world🌏 changed in the last 2 years?! Have the changes within the field of Integrative Health been equally seismic? I’m sure there are many different aspects to speak to & we all have our own thoughts to share on this. I shared my thoughts on this topic in 2021 with AIMA conference attendees and now I’m pleased to share them with you as well. Of course, your position in the integrative health landscape influences your perspective. I’ve relished the ongoing opportunity to mentor and supervise clinicians of various persuasions (nats, nuts, GPs, pharmacists, psychologists etc) and at various levels of experience – from new grads to some seriously seasoned & stand-out successful practitioners, as well as being a member of several medical & health communities such as ACNEM, AIMA, NHAA , not to mention my inner circle being dominated by health professionals, to boot!

To equip me for these roles, I spend a lot of time reading research & I noticed in the first 18months of the pandemic a substantial jump in published papers on topics dear to my heart, such as…
Who visits a naturopath?
Why do they choose naturopathy/nutrition or integrative medicine?
What’s the early career experience like for our new grads?
&
Where do we sit now and where are we heading in the broader health landscape?

As you might have noted too – oodles of this research has come from Down Under ⚡💪 And btw – we have some serious gratitude owing to our publishing peers here in Australia, who are making huge contributions to making ‘us’ and our work visible in academia: (Amie Steel, Hope Foley, Erica McIntyre, Mathew Leach to name just a few!) So while our visibility is improving in academia – are we also being more ‘seen’ by the population as a whole – you know- the ones that make up our client base, stimulate our brains, engage our empathy and sustain our clinics staying open? The data, both published and from practitioner ‘word on the street’, tell us in unison

When the challenges we as humans face, grow in number and variety, the skills and our contributions Integrative Health professionals offer, in terms of advocacy, time-taking, a person- centred approach & individualisation of treatment is in demand more than ever.  And on that note I want to leave you with one of my favourite quotes about person-centred care from Psychiatric Interviewing by Shea – but it is true no matter was the presenting complaint, nor where you are in the process of helping that patient:

“In person centred interviewing, the patient is not viewed as the problem but as a unique individual filled with solutions to the many problems that life invariably brings to all of us”
Shea 2017 page 9

Oh and P.S. The AIMA FACE-TO-FACE Conference is BACK in November this year!! And given the last time I did this, we were just on the eve of the pandemic and I raced home to just miss curfew…it feels like a  perfect place to gently, gingerly come out the other side(??)!!🌈

The Power & Place of Integrative Medicine (Free Video)

As integrative health practitioners, regardless of the tools of our trade, we empower people and advocate for those that don’t feel powerful with respect to their health and well-being. We are compassionate and empathic, ‘alternative thinkers’ and notoriously dogged diagnostic detectives.  This talk aims to remind us about our true super-powers. These distinguish us from other health professionals and service providers and are in greater demand than ever before, during this time of significant planetary and population change and challenge.

More FODMAP Fails

Last week, yet another patient with refractory diarrhoea, up to 10 stools a day, Bristol type 5-7, for 3 decades following a diagnosis of Crohn’s at 16 years old. A range of specialists have thrown everything at ‘it’ – single & combination immunosuppressants, TNF alpha blockers, buckets of sulfasalazine and bathtubs of antibiotics – she’s been gluten and dairy free for years, trialled strict diets that are FODMAPs free, low histamine etc etc etc. She’s even had 50cm of her terminal ileum removed & the diarrhoea continues unabated – perhaps even worse than before…& therein lies a major clue.

 1/2 patients with Crohn’s exhibit bile acid malabsorption –> diarrhoea but with terminal ileum resection this jumps to > 90%

This is Type I BAD (Bile Acid Diarrhoea) & is the easiest to spot, being the result of anatomical change.  You remove the section of the small intestines responsible for 95% of the reabsorption of bile acids…a LOT of bile acids are going to be present in the colon where they act as potent osmotic laxatives, right? But there are 3 other types which are a little trickier to identify – including one that affects up to 50% of IBS-D patients. 

Being a child of the 80s⚡🎹 (ok a teen of the 80s but who’s counting?!) and a personal fan of fat, I NEVER thought I would EVER be recommending a ‘low fat’ diet to ANYONE🤐

But hey, that’s another ‘absolute’ that needs challenging, right? I mean this is the primary, almost only, dietary change these patients need to make and as a stand-alone intervention, is highly effective for many. We’ve had several patient successes in the last year – a total game-changer for patients in similar situations where all kinds of  ‘restriction’ had brought zero joy and reward for all their ‘good (dietary) behaviour’. While sequestrants (like cholestyramine) are recommended in BAD, and are certainly worth a trial at least, patients have very mixed results – for some, in combination with the low fat diet it’s a winner – for others these meds cause GIT upset all on their own and actually undo the good of the fat restriction. Being able to identify the true reason for their loose stools and stop them going down endless rabbit holes of ..is it? is it? is a great way to re-empower people who’ve been bossed and bullied by their bowel for far too long 🤓💪🧻

 

When is IBS BAD?

This is not a trick question. Up to 50% of all patients diagnosed with IBS-D actually have bile acid diarrhoea (BAD) underpinning their digestive complaints as well as some patients with non-resolving diarrhoea post-cholecystectomy and gastro.  Knowing which ones do and how to manage this, which requires distinctly different approaches from our general management of IBS, is the key.  As always, good lessons come from those we learn in the clinic and this story starts with a patient and how we came to recognise the BAD in her belly.

Where Is That??!!!

Ever been guilty of having a ‘man’s look’ for something?  I have. Particularly when it comes to the online omniverse! I can be a bit flaky at finding things right there on the page…allegedly! So for those of you who have a similar experience with my website & endless educational offerings, I FEEL YOU! We do have a tonne of training options and a whole lot of (love 😉 couldn’t resist the Led Zepplin reference)… lab & diagnostics resources!  This has come up in conversation a lot recently, following the release of our RAN Student Pathology Hub, for example: “I’ve done your MasterCourse in Diagnostics, does this cover something different?” or “LOVED😍 this new hub its *$@# incredible resources & extra training vids but I also wished it included your take on… [insert your pick from infinite list: thyroid, cortisol, zinc etc etc etc]

So here’s a Dummies Guide:
How to Find the Help you Need in Diagnostics

  1. If you are just starting out on your path to pathology & true lab literacy & want an accelerated way to ensure you are starting this journey on solid ground and you have the most called-upon skills you’ll need in clinic today, then the RAN Student Pathology Hub is your perfect match. NOTE: this is not limited to actual students but anyone who considers themselves, like us, a life-long learner! This 12 part module includes some small core components of our MasterCourse, a few expanded episodes from our Update in Under 30, plus unique short training videos, covering tests and topics including: Iron studies, B12 assessment methods, Coeliac screening & much more
  2. If you’re seeking the immersive experience – you want to maximise your competence and confidence & forge your path as a true Diagnostic Diva or Divo then look no further than our ‘mothership’, the MasterCourse in Comprehensive Diagnostics  which now has a part payment option.  This really is the most seminal training we offer, taking the time to dig deep into the science behind all the ‘signposts’ our patients’ results are pointing to. A big commitment for a big reward. It comprehensively covers all the routine labs you will see everyday:  LFTs, Renal markers, Glucose and Lipids, FBE & WCCs & is loaded up with case illustrations for each key pathology pattern – that many practitioners say was an absolute highlight
  3. Just have a specific question or need for upskilling in Cortisol assessment?  Zinc or Zonulin? It’s probably in our vast Update in Under 30 library!  Yes, with more than 100 episodes in there and my penchant for pathology…you’ll find something, if not in the UU30 episodes, then somewhere else on my website.  You know how in pdfs ‘Control + F’ is a god! Ok on my site it is this fella 🔎  You can use this to search my whole site to find free information on the topic (blogs) or manifest the same magnifier🔎 magic once you have clicked ‘Catalogue’ on the top right of the tool bar on any page, to locate any specific educational offerings. Remember with the UU30, you can purchase single episodes or subscribe and get access to the whole shebang.

And for those of you primed praccies, patiently waiting for our MasterCourse II to land?  Well about that…did we mention we got hit with a flood? Twice? And then got covid?  Two of us? And have our beloved Nina about to depart to become a mumma!!! Yeah, so our plans to have this up and ready for May changed to Mayhem, real fast 🙄🤪 We will definitely keep you posted on any developments and new timeframes but for now we can only apologise for the delay and will do our best to get back on track with this, at the earliest opportunity. In the meantime maybe a little review of some of MasterCourse I is in order?  I refer back and re-listen all the time, myself!!😂

RAN Student Pathology Hub

Being a practitioner who is able to read labs will set you apart in practice. For your patients this flows from your ability to form a more sophisticated understanding of what’s happening for them, enabling you to better individualise treatment and deliver superior outcomes.  Amongst other health professionals, it will attract positive regard and an increased willingness and enthusiasm for sharing the care of patients with you. Learning to be lab literate could take a lifetime…or you can enter the expressway from the very outset! We have curated the content to reflect the most essential elements, to help you hit the ground running in the shortest period of time. Spread across 12 modules which can be consumed as monthly instalments or, as an all-in-one experience for those wishing to waste no time. The teaching points, tips and tools make the complex simple, engaging, even fun!

Developed, designed and delivered with students of any health discipline in mind.

Meet My Alter Ego

Impact of drugs on mental health

Did I say, ‘Our Brain’? 🙄 Maybe it really should be, ‘Their Brain…on Drugs: what recreational substances reveal’. While infinite self-analysis is an occupational hazard for health professionals, when we use our detective powers for good not evil, our patient work-up benefits.  But of course, it is impossible (and not desirable) to avoid all self-reflection.  Let me introduce myself: I am a high dopamine gal.  How do I know?  Because a valid accurate test of my neurotransmitters told so? Heck no – outside of lumbar puncture there isn’t one! Because my reactions to recreational drugs did.

A self-proclaimed ‘cheap date’, with amplified & protracted intoxication experiences from small amounts of any psychoactive & no, sadly, not always pleasant.  I specialise in visual trails, a known trademark of dopamine surges, when under the influence of even just a few drinks – much to the bewilderment of my loved ones.

Some even famously once questioned whether I was, in fact, safe to ride a push-bike 500m on Lord Howe Island after 2 glasses of prosecco. Stop! I heard that murmur, this has nothing to do with my liver & its handling of such substances. [How rude!😆] I can cite ample other evidence in support of this. This is also not simply due to being a teetotaller and therefore having not (yet) developed tolerance.  This high dopamine diva-stuff is echoed by my non-intoxicated ‘normal’: vivid dreaming, impulsivity, and bankable bad reactions to Vitex: ANGER (capitals intended). TMI? 🙄🤐

When you know the questions to ask, the answers to lean in further to, and then the way it can all come together, to create a neat little trail of breadcrumbs we can follow all the way to our their neurochemistry…you can find the gold.

The thing is – and I remain annoyed and frustrated by this to this day – our ‘schooling’ was not very ‘sex, drugs and rock’n’roll’. New grads tell me nothing has changed. In fact, these kind of topics were absolutely omitted, in spite of the claim we consider the ‘whole patient’, the whole health story! Interesting, hey? Nod to those working on the ‘sex’ bit in holistic health: Moira Bradfield-Strydom, Sage King, Monica Francia, Daniel Robson…love ya work!  Now for the drugs! Do you know what recreational substances can reveal about your patients’ neurochemistry?

Finding out about your patient’s historical or current psychoactive appetites and adventures (and yes that could be as commonplace as alcohol), is not purely for the purpose of collecting yet more data on their ‘health behaviours’. Nor yet another cue for casting judgement! It is an opportunity to take a can-opener to their cranium, open that baby up & take a look inside.  Without making a single incision!

But there’s a bunch of background knowledge you need to polish up on re psychoactive MoA and what each part of your patients’ experience (1st vs subsequent exposures, threshold for intoxication, the nature of the intoxication itself, & the possible aftermath) can reveal – as an inventory of their CNS materials and machinery.  All the while having a process to follow to ensure your evidence is leading you to the right and reasonable conclusion. Come with me and let’s follow the trail of breadcrumbs your patients recreational substance experiences have laid out for you…🐓

 Our Brain On Drugs – What Recreational Substances Reveal Part 1

Ever wondered why not everyone loves MDMA given it’s the ultimate love drug? Or why some of your clients are exquisitely sensitive to the aftermath of psychoactives and routinely, reliably experience ‘rebound’, in the following days while others ‘bounce’ seamlessly from a big night into the boardroom the very next morning?  What do these things tell you about the state of play of their neurotransmitters & their neurochemistry? So much more than you expect and given the only validated accurate assessment of an individual’s neurotransmitters is via lumbar puncture…with far less pain and inconvenience.  This is the first of a 2 part discussion.

&

Our Brain On Drugs – What Recreational Substances Reveal Part 1 Part 2

The 2nd part of this discussion goes into the detail of the MoA of each recreational drug class and what our patients’ encounters with these reveal about their neurochemistry. It also includes a resource we’ve developed to help you follow a process, in your review and rate the quality of evidence you have, to ensure your extrapolation and interpretation are well-founded.  **WARNING OVERSIZE LOAD AHEAD** There is a bonus case discussion that puts into action everything outlined in both parts and the process of qualifying the evidence. 

 

You can purchase individually Our Brain on Drugs – What Recreational Substances Reveal Part 1 here and Part 2 here
or become an Update in Under 30 Subscriber to access both episodes plus the entire library (100+ episodes) of Update in Under 30 audio’s and resources here.
If you are an Update in Under 30 Subscriber, you will find it waiting for you in your online account.

I’m Against Absolutes

And health, no matter which side you sit on, seems to be particularly plagued by them.  I (incorrectly) recall my 4 year degree as being a series of deep personal losses, some favourite food, then caffeine, then alcohol etc etc.😂 Likewise, I’m aware that naturopathy & integrative health’s ‘voice’ in the ‘conversation’, could arguably be perceived as mostly a negative one – as in, ‘No. Never. Not good. No, not even a little bit?!’  But I love both playing devil’s advocate & reading the research (ALL the research – even the stuff that doesn’t support my views and position GASP!~) so I am less in favour of absolutisms.  This came up recently when I suggested alcohol may improve iron uptake 😬

Practitioners’ responses were 1 of 2 types: humorous dismissal (“steak & beer for breakfast – at last a naturopathic prescription I can support!”) or horror. 
But why are we so attached to the absolutes in spite of contradictory evidence?

Let me ask you this: is coffee bad? Full stop? Period? The end? Or is it the most concentrated source of antioxidants consumed in the average Western diet? Does it improve bile flow, peristalsis and at higher levels actually protect the liver against damage? Clearly, we need to read all the evidence, including, the favourable and make individual decisions about ‘what serves and what sabotages’, for each patient. But do we? Or do we imagine we only get membership to the ‘Ultimate Integrative Health-club’ when we adhere to blanket bans? 

Similarly I, like many of you, see a LOT of iron deficient women –  & a fair chunk of these have been incorrectly labelled, ‘refractory’ because the conventional correction strategies (high doses everyday) don’t actually make sense. But like you guys too, I’m always on the hunt for new ways to improve iron absorption in these women, so I can hit them & their gut with less. That’s why I shared the research regarding alternate day dosing, and taking a supplement within an hour of exercise and now, I dare to ask if a tipple could be helpful?

While we know that both ‘GOOD’ (exercise) & ‘BAD’ (alcohol) health behaviours increase gut permeability, which sounds ‘BAD’, right?
But could this be ‘GOOD’ for some?

This has certainly been demonstrated in relation to exercise & iron but most of the research investigating how alcohol intake effects iron uptake and status is based on alcohol abuse. The study below, however, based on a large sample of non, mild, moderate & heavy drinkers captured in NHANES data – is a very well written and reasoned article, such that it can exclude liver damage, inflammation and HFE mutations as other explanations for the better iron status, in drinkers. And it found:

“Consumption of up to 2 alcoholic drinks/day seems to be associated with reduced risk of iron deficiency and iron deficiency anemia without a concomitant increase in the risk of iron overload” and “Any amount of alcohol consumption was associated with a statistically significant 42% reduction in the risk of iron deficiency anemia (OR, 0.58; 95% CI, 0.4–0.8).”
Ioannu et al 2004

   I challenge you to read it for yourself and challenge your absolutes!🤓

Oh and just in case you’re thinking, “Have we all misdiagnosed iron deficiency and it’s actually a Copper deficiency underneath?”  because last year the fashion was everyone was copper toxic and now this year someone’s making noise saying everyone is copper deficient !!! (Absolute? Anyone?!) Ah, no.  Copper deficiency, as a cause of iron deficiency and anaemia, has been around for about as long as nutritional medicine itself.  It is absolutely a thing.  But in the absolute minority of people.  And if you go back to some basic maths & compare and contrast Fe & Cu at each level: 1) requirements almost 20mg Vs < 2mg 2) average intake (inadequate Vs adequate) 3) bioavailability (Fe < 20% more typically < 10% in a modern low meat diet Vs Cu  is typically >50% ) and do some basic sums I call, ‘Menstrual Maths’ – You’ll likely deduce that inadequate iron intake and uptake, given our losses, is in fact the common culprit and a ‘coldie’ may be more beneficial than copper in most!  Can y’all stop asking me about that now – pretty please?

 

So You Think You Know How To Treat Iron Deficiency?

And then you don’t.  The reality is we all struggle at times with correcting low ferritin or iron deficiency anaemia  – so what have we got wrong?  In spite of being the most common nutritional deficiency worldwide, the traditional treatment approaches to supplementation have been rudimentary, falling under the hit hard and heavy model e.g. 70mg TIDS, and are relatively unconvincing in terms of success. New research into iron homeostasis has revealed why these prescriptions are all wrong and what even us low-dosers need to do, to get it more right, more often!

Did you know you can subscribe to these?  We deliver at the end of each month, just add a 12-month subscription to your cart and Rachel’s latest research is on it’s way to you!

 

That ‘Throat Feeling’

Is my sore throat COVID-19 or not? | OSF HealthCare

“My 7yo daughter was frequently distressed, telling me she had that ‘throat feeling’.”

As you can imagine, mum offered up a smorgasbord of suggestions to help her try and describe it: Can you swallow ok? Does it burn or taste funny? Where is it? Is it hard, soft, moving, give me a rating out of ten….so many, but she just couldn’t. When it was really bad, her daughter said she also felt it in her sternum. The first doctor attributed it to ‘stress’ & mum understood why. Her 7yo is a bit of a worrier and while the ‘throat feeling’ was distressing, stress, itself, seemed to also perhaps bring this on. But by the time they made an appointment with their regular family GP, mum had noticed her daughter’s sx were worse with heavy, fatty, high meat meals & that she was burping excessively especially with the night time meal also. So, when their switched-on doctor heard these very careful observations, he referred her for a urea breath test (UBT) for H.pylori.

‘Miss 7’ blew 1200 on the UBT
the decision limit is 200, to confirm the presence of the bacteria in significant amounts

As I’ve said previously, there are (sadly for ‘Miss 7’ & myself) no prizes for the highest score on this particular test.  In fact, I spoke with a gastroenterologist last week who said, really it remains so debateable about the significance of the overall result (?size or virulence of colony) that results should probably be more considered like a pregnancy test: a simple yes or no!  But this together with her sx was a clear yes. GP recommended triple antibiotic therapy which sadly produced vomiting in Ms 7 within a few days. GP contacted paediatric gastroenterologists to get some advice, which was: don’t treat unless symptomatic. Back to square 1.

“In the meantime, I had done Rachel’s two UU30 episodes on H.pylori, so I told him what ‘we’ would do (polyphenols plus cranberry juice plus Zn carnosine plus deal with the hypochlorhydria). GP  says. “Ok, then let’s do it and then let’s breath test again in 3-6 months.

She has now breath tested at 200 and symptoms are non existent!”

Mum contacts me to relay the success story & give me the credit but mum is completely minimising her extraordinary actions that produced this outcome. Firstly, not resting with the ‘stress’ diagnosis. I have seen several children who present in very similar ways to Miss 7, YES! they are anxious, YES! parents might tell you they are the ‘worrying-type’ but when combined with these upper GIT sx I have found they test positive for H pylori more often than they don’t.  And how clever is this mother’s medicine?

“I recognised it was worst after birthday parties where she has eaten too much and done cartwheels or run around (we now talk about recognising when she has a ‘full bucket’. We talk about the fact that her tummy takes a little bit more time to process food it means her bucket fills and she needs a bit of extra time to let it do it’s job before she adds more food to the bucket otherwise it spills over and she feels rubbish. She finds that analogy useful as she can feel her bucket getting full at birthday parties and when she gets the feeling, she knows why and doesn’t freak out.”

 

H.pylori – Eradicate or Rehabilitate?
For a bacteria identified just a few decades ago as being a cause of chronic gastritis, atrophic gastritis and gastric carcinoma, the escalation in the number of antibiotics used to eradicate it (4 at last count + PPI) has been nothing short of breath-taking.  A management approach more consistent with both integrative medicine and with an improved understanding of the delicate microbiome focuses on changing the gastric environment to ‘remove the welcome mat’. What do we know about how to do this successfully? It turns out…quite a lot.

Flooded with Thoughts about Mental Health

 

I’m sure you’ve heard by now that we’ve been in deep water.  My team and I are safe but shaken, both from our own experience of the flood and from bearing witness to the experiences of our community. We are definitely the lucky ones with our dry homes and comparatively small collateral damage. But I won’t forget the experience of waking to find my home surrounded by thigh-high water. My inbox pinged telling me my latest Update in Under 30 instalment had been released: Positive Psychology (PP) – it’s likability & its limits Oh the timing.  As I followed the SES guidelines, packing a small backpack with my passport, licence, warm clothes & my external hard-drives, madly filled every container I could find with fresh water (in a flood, clean drinkable water ironically, becomes the scarcest commodity) and popped my dog and my elderly neighbour’s backpacks on a surfboard to cross the road-come-river to evacuate…I thought long and hard about my and everyone else’s mental health.

I found myself thinking: See here, this is a moment NOT suited to positive psychology!
Feel free to laugh, it’s hilarious where my mind goes in a crisis 🤣

But seriously, to focus solely on and emphasise the positives might mean I don’t pay enough attention to the threat and I don’t make choices and take action to ensure the best outcome.   Sometimes focussing on the negatives is not just important, it’s downright essential. So too, with our mental health. As soon as I was huddled with my neighbours in the primary school, in spite of the ongoing rising flood waters, risk and growing uncertainty about our homes and our safety, my stress and anxiety, fear and panic, lessened. Wow – the power of social connection –  we are back of course to a core tenet of PP! Following a bad night on the classroom floor, waking repetitively to look out and assess if the water was rising or falling, we miraculously woke to dry houses we were able to return to, yet devastation all around. Survivor’s guilt, some called it but I called the profound distress that ensued, empathy – simply feeling the ‘human heave’ and heaviness around us.

Our community was without all communication for a week.

Stop for a moment. Take this in.


No phones, no internet, no tv.

The only information you received, was from someone’s mouth, when physically in their company. Someone you go to check on, or bump into on the street or you hear shout out a list of updates (donations needed, volunteer directives), when you walk (no working cars & for many no remaining roads) to our little town’s own DIY Help HQ. Quite the enforced digital detox. What to do when all that is gone? Get physical (mostly mops and heavy lifting), think a lot, including ask yourself a lot of unanswerable questions, & make solemn promises to make good of your life and join the SES asap…and return to reading books. Fortuitously, just pre-flood, I had taken receipt of the seminal textbook in this little video above: Psychiatric Interviewing (3rd edition) by Shawn Shea, thanks to the recommendation of a lovely integrative psychiatrist, who mentioned it in our recent group session. Suddenly, I found myself with some firm footing.  Because I may not be able to hike and canyon out to our stranded community members trapped by landslides, in our surrounding hills, to stabilise their broken bones – but I felt somewhat soothed knowing I could spend some of this time, refining my skills in an area of health that inspires me every day and that calls out for our attention more loudly every minute: Mental Health.

Just before the flood, I’d also finally realised a long-term passion project of mine & released a video for the public in an effort to spread the message further about Mental Health & the role of nutrition.
Oh the timing!
Please share – let’s get the message out there.

For integrative health practitioners and people working in mental health related industries. We encourage you to use this engaging visual presentation to educate your clients by giving them this link. Contact admin@rachelarthur.com.au if you would like to receive a digital copy to add it to your website or other online platforms.

Nutritional Psychiatry

How would nutrition improve your mental health?

This

There’s probably some poignant lines from a rap song everyone knows that I could insert here but, alas, Gold FM doesn’t play anything produced after 1999, so I’m none the wiser. What I’m trying to bring to mind, is the potential clash between our reality & our response: we’re not all gonna get instafamous, so the majority of us should probably curb the buy-now-pay-later spending and establish some contingency plans.  And while it might seem like I’m just picking on the young folk, this can happen at any age and stage of life. These, in psycho-speak are called Positive Illusions, and are one of the concerns psychologists have about the potential impact of exclusively focussing on ‘the positives’, aka Positive Psychology (PP). 

Cue: ‘Strengths wheels’, Goal Visualisations, Gratitude journals etc etc

There’s a lot to like about this Gen Z offspring of psychology.  And perhaps, as integrative health professionals, a ready-made romance, given both tribes (them & us) believe in health being something beyond the mere absence of disease. That and the fact they give due recognition to the role diet & exercise play in our mental wellbeing…how truly thrilling! Over the last 20 years PPIs (Positive Psychology Interventions not the other ones!) have become so pervasive: schools, workplaces, we’re in an age of the National Happiness Index, we’re overflowing with positivity, spilling over the lip of your coffee mug, emblazoned with ‘You’re Awesome!’ or ‘You’ve Got This!'(Just in case we forget momentarily) But we need to explore the science for and against, to better discern when these messages and tools are a help in clinic and in our patients, and when potentially a hindrance, worse still, a harm.

😁POSITIVITY😁
is extremely popular right now, but an obsession with it & rejection of all things negative (thoughts, feelings, experiences pasted over by something nicer and brighter!) is not necessarily a balanced recipe for mental wellbeing, according to the science.

PP has made a wonderful contribution to how we think and talk about our mental wellness as opposed to just our mental illness. However, there is a critical context in here that’s important for clinicians to understand, in order to use it well, and some thought-provoking criticisms and counter-balances that will help us all avoid becoming as (in)effective as a slogan on a coffee mug.  Oh and guess what guys?  Assessment first 🤓💪 this takes the guess work out of whether your patient is a good candidate for PPIs and we’ve included two in this latest Update in Under 30 – even a validated mental health screen that only uses positive language for those averse to those nasty negative thoughts and feelings!

 

UU30 Positive Psychology Its likability & limits
The ideas behind Positive Psychology may resonate deeply with integrative health professionals, for good reason.  We have in common a belief that ‘the absence of disease’ does not constitute health & that prevention is better than cure.  And PPIs have become so popularised they have permeated into schools, workplaces and most people’s therapeutic interactions, e.g. gratitude exercises, identifying our strengths via a strengths wheel, self-compassion. But do we know the limits of positive psychology? Do we know who it works for and what it means when it ‘doesn’t deliver’  mental wellness?
You can purchase Positive Psychology Its likability & limits here.
If you are an Update in Under 30 Subscriber, you will find it waiting for you in your online account.
You can become an Update in Under 30 Subscriber to access this episode and the entire library of Update in Under 30 audio’s and resources here.

FREE Introduction to Nutritional Psychiatry

I’ve been hatching this passion project for quite some time. In truth, I can probably trace its beginning back 2 decades, when I returned to practice, after working in psych meds for big pharma. I knew then I had something to say.  Because even then I knew that we, as integrative health professionals, could see that food must matter, nutrition must play a part, in the difference between mental illness and wellness and that the solutions were unlikely to be all pharmaceutical, or even that the likelihood of a ‘pharmaceutical fix’  would be improved by adequate attention our nutrition. For those of you too young to know, this was about a decade before the ‘Inflamed brain’, as a model for mental illness, got wings. About 5 years before the psychiatrist, Michael Berk, first took NAC to the world & about 5 years after the first links between methylation & mental health were just being muttered. It was before this extraordinarily expanding field of research even had a name: Nutritional Psychiatry, circa 2015 (thanks in part to Jerome & Felice)

And now it has a name
And the evidence is irrefutable
But we still need to get the message out, further, louder.

Since then, I’ve mostly shared my ‘something to say’ with you.  Entrusting you with passing on the message and the medicine further & it has been an honour and something I work to improve all the time. But every year or so along the way, I had the opportunity to speak to the uninitiated, the non-believers. At medical conferences, to doctors and pharmacists, via in-hospital training of psychiatrists, on large public platforms and each time I did, the same thing happened. The room went quiet, people listened, crossed arms before I began, unfolded by the time I finished, with even the staunch non-believers at the outset, approaching me afterwards, to speak to the impact, the revelations.  I had hit a nerve & built a bridge, simultaneously. 

So I decided it was time, to indeed ‘say something’ , to more people and more loudly than ever before & I created this video: How Could Nutrition Improve Your Mental Health?

This is something so many need to hear right now. I hope you might share it with your patients and save yourself some precious time in your already over-crowded appointments. Use it as an educational offering, a soil tiller, a ready rationale, maybe even, a ‘step 1: watch this’, for those you’re about to help. With the other health professionals you share these patients care with, so they can better understand the place and potency of your contribution. Family and friends – so they too can benefit and better understand. It doesn’t feature me, outside of my voice to carry the message & it refers them back to you – to ‘us’, those of us passionate about wellbeing, skilled-up in nutrition, who take the time and know that not all mental health solutions are outside of ourselves & an individualised approach that takes the best of each modality is ultimately best for the individual.

Introduction to Nutritional Psychiatry can be viewed here.
This 30 min video is an introduction to Nutritional Psychiatry. It is especially beneficial for integrative health practitioners and people working in mental health related industries. We encourage you to use this engaging ‘visual’ presentation to educate your clients by giving them this link. Contact admin@rachelarthur.com.au if you would like to receive a digital copy to add it to your website or other online platforms.

 

It’s Time To Go Home When…

 

THIS IS A NON-SERVING SUGGESTION!!!
Supplements should not be chucked in together like this – clearly their stability testing Is based on being on their own in a closed bottle under controlled conditions – this is definitely a case of do as I say not as I do!!! 🙄

So, I’ve spent the break on a very long road trip.  Some of you may have seen my happy snaps on socials, in particular, all the #natschats I was lucky enough to have along the way – either accidentally or ‘accidentally-on-purpose’ catching up with naturopaths across the eastern states!  What can I say – we’re everywhere and tend to flock 😂 

Meet Michael Henderson | Meet Josephine Cabrall | Meet Vicki van der Meer | Meet Kristin Hill | Meet Tabitha McIntosh

During this challenging time in our lives, with so much distance, disconnect and disorientation – I have felt so nourished through re-connecting with my professional community and reassured by the familiarity of these friends and colleagues:
still fighting the good fight, providing extraordinary care for their patients, furthering our profession through delivering education to the public, mentoring practitioners, working from ‘within’ asking the ‘big’ questions about our training, our offering, representation, our voice, our responsibility.

I know not everyone reading this was lucky enough to have a restorative break, or in fact any kind of break this year but I hope that my travel tales, reconnect you in some small way & give you a little bit of hope. Here’s my take-home:

We are a profession filled with extraordinary individuals – diverse, granted – but overwhelmingly what links us all is that we care so deeply for our patients, we feel pride in our profession and we keep on keeping on, for as long as we can, in spite of adversity and look around – our message and model is definitely spreading.

Any way,  ol’ lazy bones here knows when it’s time to head home…when the supplement stash runs dry 🙄

Lastly – it’s a new year full of resolutions  – so when I saw this wonderful card by Rosie Made a Thing on my travels, I couldn’t resist sharing 

Last Words for 2021

I’m ready to zip my lips 🤐 and ride off into the sunset of silly season. But first I wanted to tell you about the BIG PLANS we have ON THE BOIL!  Noticed a bit of a thyroid theme of late?  Last month I presented training in thyroid assessment for the 4th time for ACNEM but not a slide, possibly barely a dot-point remained from the original one I wrote back in 2009.  That’s how much my ideas & understanding have changed.

Some of the assay techniques & technologies are new, there’s a river of research  & a mountain of meta-analyses published in the time between & I have had the privilege of yet more clinical encounters in this space, to really nut out how all this translates into the real world.

There’s a lot I need to catch you up on.  And as I start creating our new MasterCourse II in Comprehensive Diagnostics…which will include 🥁…you guessed it…the humongously hardworking HPT, I’m just about bursting at the seams! And will those four little friends of every good practitioner, that sit superficially atop the ‘butterfly’, make it into our MCII?? I hope so because a) they should be our besties – being the director of Ca Mg D & P regulation and b) research tells us that where we find, ‘thyroid’ dx we should have another good hard look for ‘parathyroid’ dx and vide versa and c) over the last few years it has become increasingly apparent to me that this is one incredibly common source of ‘medical mysteries’  in our patients – remember the ‘Bones, Stones, Abdominal Groans & Psychic Moans’ catch-cry?  Yep, that’s the patient who typically finds their way to us, with pervasive but hard to pinpoint gut issues (often misdiagnosed as SIBO, FGD, IBS -D or C), some significant stress perhaps even depression and insomnia and, if someone bothered to look, premature bone demineralisation.  What other pathology panels and parameters will we be able to squeeze into our MasterCourse II?

Our current plans are to deliver the MCII live from May but just a reminder, because this next instalment assumes you have the exquisite foundational knowledge we laid down in the MCI – this is a pre-requisite for attending the MCII.
So if you’ve been putting off your pathology apprenticeship now you have a hard deadline to work to!

And finally the last, last words. On topic because they came from someone who specialises in thyroid, did the original thyroid training with me, way back when, and last month was my fellow presenter & panellist on all things thyroid for ACNEM:

I’m sure I’m the 1 billionth person to reflect this back to you but I’ll do it anyway because I think we all need reminders sometimes – you have a truly special gift in critical thinking, discernment, and most importantly passing on complex knowledge in a very digestible way without making anyone feel silly for asking questions or not getting something the first (or fifth time…no, just me?). The endless analogies are a teaching tool you’ve well and truly nailed and boy am I grateful because it speaks to my way of learning very well.
So, a big thank you! Endless gratitude for your brain, passion and generosity with your time/knowledge/resources.
Natalie Douglas
Here’s to another great year of learning, teaching, sharing & mentoring in 2022 – 1 billion and counting I hope 🌟🌈😂

Urinary Iodine Curveball Corrected!

Example 1:

Example  2:

We love hearing from our fellow fearless friends on the frontline – working with lab results & pathology providers – everyday.  We recently received an SOS! from the Francesca Naish over yet another iodine assessment issue that you may need to also be alert to:

“Ever since you first drew our attention to the need to correct urinary iodine results, I have used your formula for all my patients’ results. Thank you for this.  As most GPs don’t seem to be aware of the need to do this, I find it essential to warn my patients to wait for my interpretation before acting on their doctor’s advice! For a while now, Laverty have started giving the corrected result, which complies with the calculation you recommended. However, very recently Douglass Hanly Moir have started to give a corrected result on their  result sheets, but it does not tally with the calculation I have been using (the one you recommended) and generally gives a lower figure.”

Well, as always, cluey people ask cluey questions…and this did take some back & forth with DHM to solve.  Increasingly, all the major pathology companies are coming around to the essentiality of urinary iodine correction, something I’ve been banging the drum 🥁 about now for….yikes…7 years..no wonder I’m going grey! This is a mathematical formula applied to any raw score for urinary iodine to account for the dilution/concentration of the given sample, because, as we all know, hydration status varies widely between individuals and even within an individual at different times – and this is something that can wildly lead you astray in your thoughts about their iodine status, if not accounted for. Some companies are now employing the formula we use: Iodine (mcg) ÷ Creatinine (mmol) X 8.85 = Corrected Iodine in mcg/gCr which is wonderful to see.  But DHM have taken a different path, strangely enough, using this formula BUT rather than using the patient’s own reported urinary creatinine they instead use a ‘median creatinine’ 

Which…I am going to say it… MAKES NO SENSE!^%@* aka we WILL correct this iodine for hydration status – but we’ll correct it for someone else’s no yours! – Ms/Mr average…ok?
Ahhhh no.
Just look at the difference this makes in a patient with very dilute urine, in example number 2 above!!

So Francesca & all of you on the frontline, can be assured, if you’re using the formula above – it is correct – keep up the great work and know that it is often better to do something yourself than blindly trust a 3rd party when it comes to pathology…unless that 3rd party is our RAN Patient Pathology Manager template which calculates this perfectly of course!

RAN Patient Pathology Manager

Increasingly our patients are coming armed with lab results and this cumulative data helps us to clearly see their ‘norms’ (as opposed to textbook ones) and therefore be alert to any changes. However, results from different labs at different times, and even the same lab, are unlikely to be presented side by side for easy comparison.  They certainly don’t come with all the important information about what was happening for that patient at each time point – important details pertaining to the blood collection itself (fasting, inflamed etc) which can profoundly alter results or the broader context: menstruating, breastfeeding, losing weight, on meds and supplements.

The Patient Pathology Manager retains all the results for you, including the critical contextual elements, helping you to keep more accurate records to make the most correct interpretation. It also assists you to monitor changes related to various interventions.

Previously, the RAN Patient Pathology Manager has only ever been available to clinicians who participate in Group Mentoring but due to frequent requests for access, we thought it was time to share this great tool for those wanting a foot up with some better systems in their practice. 
This provides you with a template that can be used an infinite number of times plus a short training tutorial.

Are You And Your Patients Stuck?

There are some things we say so often to patients we could record them and just press <PLAY>  Like this daily dogma: ‘When you’re under stress, your demand for Magnesium rises and then in turn that can make you more susceptible to further stress, so we’re going to give you some to support you’. But is this actually the whole story? You guessed it, no. (I know I am fairly predictable like that 😅) 

Recently, a personal new record – a patient reported ongoing daily use of a very high dose Magnesium ‘practitioner only’ product 8 years after it was prescribed by her then naturopath – and guess what, the patient still hadn’t reached nirvana*  
not the band! – a transcendent state in which there is neither suffering, desire, nor sense of self

Jest as I may – I think this raises some serious questions.  The pervasiveness of our prescriptions when patients are not given an end-date coupled with ongoing access. How (not) effective this intervention was if someone perceives ongoing undiminished dependency on it. And specifically with Magnesium – whether our prescriptions (form, dose, adjuvants, advice) are the problem? If stress is synonymous with a shortfall of this mineral then Magnesium is not a solution to stress itself but the amplified stress response and the stress still requires its own redress, right?  But do our patients hear this as well when we press <PLAY>?

Likewise – the BIG doses per serve being recommended might make sense for the minority (seeking potential NMDA antagonism) but are a real mismatch with the majority, who are just stuck in the stress loop and weathering a perfect storm of Magnesium under-supply and increased demand.

I love my minerals as much as, ok more than, the next practitioner but I’m always keen to refine my repletion approaches and oh yes, by the way, there is good data, a meta-analysis in fact, examining how long it takes to achieve repletion using oral Magnesium – and guess what, it’s not 8 years! The latest Update in Under 30 goes into all this and much MuCh MUCH more…you’re welcome 😂

Magnesium – Stuck In The Stress Loop

Practitioners working with nutrition appreciate that Magnesium is vulnerable to depletion by the stress response and that in turn, can make people more prone to stress & keep patients stuck in a so-called ‘stress loop’. But do we understand the intricacies of this and how we, as practitioners, can get stuck in another kind of loop – one of endless Magnesium prescribing without reaching repletion? We discuss ways to improve your Magnesium prescriptions – in particular, ‘doping Vs drip-feeding’ and other things to assess & address if the long road to repletion risks becoming an endless one!

 

You can purchase Magnesium – Stuck in the Stress Loop here.
If you are an Update in Under 30 Subscriber, you will find it waiting for you in your online account.
You can become an Update in Under 30 Subscriber to access this episode and the entire library of Update in Under 30 audio’s and resources here.

Functional Medicine Falsehoods ⛔️

Functional Medicine Falsehood

An ideal T4 is 15
An ‘anti-aging’ DHEAs must be >7
A ferritin of 100 is optimal for women…

I’ve heard it all, probably you have too, and far too often & too recently from practitioners who should have rationalised & researched their way beyond these functional falsehoods, by now.  I bought into these ‘optimal wellness truths’ hook line & sinker early in my career and proceeded to even propagate a few but with (not much) more experience in clinic, I had to seriously question this pursuit of ‘perfection’ & ‘perfect pathology’…in favour of reality & scientific evidence!  They didn’t add up.  Not with my patients – even the healthiest ones, in fact some of the really unwell ones occasionally had these kind of high-normal results and they were part of the problem!. ‘But that’s because no one is truly healthy outside of those seeing a functional medicine practitioner & supercharged on supplements & hormone replacements!!’ came the counter-argument.  Ahhh, really?

How then do we reconcile this with the following:
Individual genetics & biochemistry
Our biological resilience
Healthy & appropriate senescence
Large datasets of mixed race populations from other comparable first world countries…where these figures denote the statistical outliers?

I mean, if the 50th centile value for ferritin for actual living, breathing, bleeding, women in the US, Canada, Australia etc etc is 30-40 ng/mL and the 95th centile is 126 ng/mL and the WHO says that in fact, anyone menstruating with a ferritin > 150 ng/mL should attract suspicion for iron overload….but functional medicine men (mostly…sorry but it has to be said!) say 100 IS OPTIMAL FOR EVERY WOMAN #@^*…please tell me in which women, consuming what kind of diet, where in the world, & based on what improved or better health outcomes?
And while you’re there can someone please support this bold claim with a scrap of high quality evidence??

[Rant over🎤💧]

The falsehoods of functional medicine include the blanket belief, ‘more is better’ (ahhhhh not when it comes to many things, including iron where women’s lower levels have been found to be an evolutionary advantage…guys). But you know what, we’re better than that! We see each individual, recognising all the factors at play that make for their uniqueness, help to define what ‘healthy’ looks like for each person and don’t fall for one-size-fits-all claims without any evidence nor common sense even, to support them. What do you think?

Mastering Micronutrients

Let’s make sense of the over-arching nutrition principles, that will profoundly change your understanding and application of this modality  Truly understanding the ‘big’ concepts, so often overlooked, or incorrectly taught, ensures you get the critical ‘small’ detail in your nutritional prescriptions right. In this 4 hour recording, together with key clinical tools, we talk about the tough stuff: dose-response curves, active versus passive stores and excretory pathways and ooh lah lah…the myth of taking ‘activated vitamins’.  Even those who feel satisfied with their original training – will find a lot in this critical review that is new, insightful and truly practise-changing!