Are we doing ourselves out of a job? I’ve been talking treatment plans with my New Grads recently. Given, only recently these were major assessment items in their clinic units, they have been trained to create ALL-ENCOMPASSING (biopsychosocial) prescriptions and recommendations of utterly EPIC PROPORTIONS – to simply prove they know it all. Problem is this doesn’t work in the real world.
Emailing your client multiple pages of advice that covers: a whole sizeable supplement schedule that only a military-training could nail (2 tablets 1 XTID 1 X BID, a liquid, a powder, some with food, some definitely not with food) plus dietary advice, plus hyperlinks to exercise advice, mindfulness exercises and a request for follow up investigations before the next appointment…is…a L*O*T!!
It is also ineffectual – because it completely disregards the human on the other end. Let me ask you this, how much change are you capable of between a first and second appointment, roughly a period of 2-3 weeks? Personally, I gotta say not that much. It took my dentist years to get me just embrace flossing & I don’t think I am an exception! With all the knowledge we possess its hard not to see people as (a long list of) problems (& problematic behaviours) that we translate into, and solve via, a prescription.
Effectively we are saying to patients with this practice model, ‘Go change & come back when you’re done & then I’ll probably ask you to change some more!’ That’s both a big ask and a huge missed opportunity.
I hear from reliable sources over the ditch, that GPs are increasingly referring their patients to, or teaming up with health coaches, rather than naturopaths. Given what I’m observing, I get it. Doctors on the whole only have time (and barely then) for a finger-pointing prescription – certainly not the time and touch-points required to actually support patients with the very difficult thing that is, behaviour change. Nor the skills to truly facilitate patients making the necessary and desired changes – so they outsource this role. But we shouldn’t.
After all – I want to be on my patients’ support bench & health care team always – not a flash in the pan, that blinded them with science or my ‘smarts’ and proved to them in one over-stretching prescription – that naturopathy is not for them, or at least, they’re not fit for the task.
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!
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.
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.
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.
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 🌟🌈😂
Maybe it’s tax-time, just my wintery whinge or a tirade triggered by missing my twins’ 21st birthday due to border restrictions 😶 butI’m sorry for all the shouting of late…about interpreting iron studies, about the copper misinformed etc etc. and my gorgeous new grad mentees copped a full monologue, with links to articles, recordings & the Coeliac Society, when they asked me to expand on why we must exclude coeliac disease before removing gluten from anyone’s diet. I was so glad they asked though! I’m now using my inside voice.
But I don’t want my message to be misdirected and I fear it might be. It’s not you and it’s not me
‘We’ are doing our best. We are working in a field that demands us to be across soooooo many domains of knowledge and information, from the basic & not-so-basic medical sciences, to pathology interpretation, nutrition, herbal medicine and beyond. It’s a lot. None of us are across it all. I’m certainly not. And I’m aware, that the frustration I feel at others’ misunderstandings sometimes is unfair, because I’ve benefited from excellent early teachers all the way through to having a job now, that keeps my head in the research daily. And even still, without a doubt, the gaps & shortfalls I observe and criticise in others, I could have made of myself, earlier in my career. We don’t know what we don’t know, until we know better, right.
Who is this ‘them’ of which I speak? Well, 25 years ago when I completed my under-graduate (and walked 10 miles to school in the rain, without shoes or breakfast 👵) I believe I received the training required to be the naturopath that I needed to be. Safe, effective, knowing my scope – which was basically coughs. colds, atopy and risk mitigation for future chronic disease. I never saw a lab test during my under-grad. I would have read a set of iron studies badly and something like ELFTs, like it was Latin. I wasn’t made aware by my lecturers of the critical part I could play in my patients’ lives, either by advocating and advancing correct diagnosis or by obscuring, confounding and delaying it (sorry, still thinking about the gluten debate!). But back then, I think this was appropriate for the time, the state of play of our collective medical knowledge and for the role naturopaths were playing in the health landscape. Not any more.
If you haven’t had a chance to read the extensive research about ‘us’ (Australian nats, nuts & herbalists) published of late, who we are, what we do, how we are viewed and what our patients expect, then you could be in for a surprise.
We’re perceived by many, if not most, of our patients to be a primary health care provider – either flying solo or co-piloting with the patient’s GP (& no auto-pilot function!!!) and as clinicians for chronic comorbid cases not the acute cold. My how times have changed and the question is – has the knowledge and level of competency of those in educational roles & the quality of what they deliver a good fit? Sorry, but if the majority of a large new graduate cohort have left their training with a mantra of ‘we must not diagnose’ and INTSEAD are likely to advocate a gluten free diet RATHER THAN Coeliac testing with the patients doctor first – then we’re falling at the first: Primum non nocere. Sorry,I forgot, inside voice 🙄🤐
This Update in Under 30 recording speaks to the seriousness and primacy of identifying Coeliac Disease in any patient reporting a suspected reaction to gluten and takes you through the latest evidence on the best screening protocol. With an increased understanding about the strengths and limitations of gene testing, serology and biopsy, we have a clear map to follow now. Along the way Rachel outlines 3 additional potential mechanisms for ‘gluten’ reactions amongst our patients, what to look for and how to tell the difference.
I stand on the shoulders of my elders. [I hope it’s not too painful for them, it’s been going on a long time now!!] And I regularly lean on my mentors – who are often my peers, practitioners specialising in areas different from mine. I recite their names often like a little mantra in our mentoring sessions: Kate Worsfold, Dawn Whitten, Tini Gruner, Michael Hayter, Jason Hawrelak and a few others that are on high rotation like ‘Rhiannon-repro’ Hardingham and I feel this is important to reaffirm that learning is lifelong for us all and to make clear the passing on and around of knowledge in our profession. There’s been a long history of honouring our history, so to speak, in naturopathy.
My training definitely acknowledged, paid homage to & revered elders past and present & while I’ve never been one to participate in the making of herbal preps by a full moon, at solstice, in a field somewhere, in the company of said herbal elders (you know who you are!!)…
I do try to continue & foster this important collegiate quality of our professional community by reciting the names of the saints source of clinical pearls I have been given so generously by others.
Lately, I’ve been wondering if we’re losing this tradition. I’m hearing practitioners present concepts as ‘theirs’, ‘develop’ & distribute teaching tools ‘adapted’ from others work, parrot identical ‘catch-cries’ even, with no mention of the origin, the source – even the inspiration. Now perhaps I am showing my age, reflecting a very different time in naturopathic training when we were so fortunate to be taught by some of these amazing (solstice honouring, field dwelling, herbal making) elders, but even by today’s standards and the dominant EBM model, surely every emerging clinician understands the need to cite their sources?
The green tea & lactulose intravaginal wash recipe I use and frequently share with mentees always comes with the prelude – “I got this from Gould’s” The tips on testing tools in mental health, I propagate like mad, has the epilogue – “All that I know, is because Kate taught me so!”
Of course I say more than I cite (otherwise the sessions would be impenetrable!) but I like the way it helps us all to see we are a part of something bigger.
I have! And just recently a stark contrast between the results from 2 different methods of cortisol capture in the same patient illustrated just how likely this is. How do we ‘capture’ something so ‘dynamic’ and interpret anything of substance from a ‘static’ assessment technique? But rather than throw up our hands and throw out the whole attempt to measure cortisol, we can improve the rigor, reliability and real-world meaningfulness of our patients’ results by refining our timing of tests, choosing the medium wisely & manipulating test conditions to answer specific questions about their HPA function. Great ready reference resource included!
If you’re already an Update in Under 30 Subscriber – go directly to your Active Content…it’s already there!
If you’re not and want to improve the accuracy of your Cortisol Capture in patients gohere!
Well, obviously(!)…this has been a year heavy on pathology interpretation for me and the huge number of practitioners who’ve just spent the last 6 months taking that learning journey with me. I celebrate and congratulate them all for their commitment to their own professional development and also their investment, in what is arguably, the most potent yet overlooked set of skills of any health professional… the ability to read bloods. Basic bloods. Mainstream labs. No…but to really read them. Backed by all the scientific understanding about what these parameters actually are, how they perform and what they (dis)prove e.g. subclinical inflammation and ramped up oxidative stress – not an informed guess but mappable…right there but where no one else can apparently see it! But I digress!
Actually what I wanted to discuss was the whole erroneous notion of ‘normal’.
No, I am not speaking from the heart about my personal quirks, sense of humour or dress sense but rather the incorrect assumption that a reference range defines ‘normal’ and that our answer for each patient and each result is, a Yes or a No!
In this brilliant article by Whyte & Kelly published in the BMJ they spell out this falsehood succinctly. They note that the term ‘normal range’ has slipped into medical language from the misunderstanding that all lab results follow a Gaussian (aka bell shaped curve & later referred to as ‘normal distribution’) pattern but many simply don’t. So for some parameters a result near the ‘middle of the reference interval’ constitutes aspirational whereas for others it spells danger. Add to this, that these reference intervals are mathematically determined to reflect the expected values of 95% of your patient population (mean +/- 2 SD either side) so…that means the chance of a YES…”Your patient’s results are ABNORMAL!”… is just 5%. And hey…who said all the values within the reference range are all equally “normal” or better yet, healthy?! Not these authors, nor I, nor the praccies who’ve just done our course. So while, in many regards, these goalposts are too wide, they are also too narrow – typically only representing a subset of adults age-wise and Caucasians, yes they are both ageist and racist (yep, I said it!). And if our practitioners have learnt anything it’s about keeping an ol’ eagle eye on the sneaky intra-individual shift! Only spotted, of course, if you know your patient’s normal (not theirs compared to anyone else…just theirs) and then spot a shift. [I can hear they’re shushing 🤫me…they’ve got it already, alright!!]
So this is music 🎻to my ears, from Whyte & Kelly: “The intraindividual variation in laboratory values is usually much smaller than the interindividual variability (ie, the variation in the population). Variation in the concentration of an analyte, if significantly outside of a patient’s usual values (but still within the reference interval), could be a sign of early or latent disease”
ps I know your type and know that is EXACTLY the kind of weird nerdy thing you have planned for your break…you should see my summer fun list!!! 😅
MasterCourse 1: Comprehensive Diagnostics is a self-paced online program due for release in December. The course has pver 18 hours of video presentations plus 2 free bonus sessions 1) Accurate Pathology Interpretation Starts Here and 2) Patient Pathology Manager and access to resources and tools within, for your own use. This is a pre-requisite for MasterCourse II that will be delivered live in 2021.
This skillset has been found by many to be biggest ‘game-changer’ in Integrative Health You can view the full course outline here.
We are getting ready to launch our new look Group Mentoring for 2021! We are now counting down the weeks days (gULp!!) until we open up applications for Group Mentoring next year. We’re keeping everything our practitioners have told us they love, over the past 8 years, and simply improving the formula, with some great new bonuses for 2021!
So with 2 weeks to go, we’d thought we’d introduce what’s on offer.
Live sessions are starting in February for 2021. January is often a period when we’re recovering from ‘recovering’ e.g. Christmas holidays, so we thought it would be good to start a month later this time around, in February when everyone’s recharged and ready to get back in the swing. There will be 10 live sessions in 2021 starting Feb and ending November.
Fly on the wall options on offer! Want to present a case? Great! Not ready or have enough time to present one? Great! Having successfully launched the ‘fly on the wall’ (non-presenting participants) experience this year we’ve been left in no doubt that practitioners loved this & continued to learn just as much as those in the ‘hot-seat’. Hence, it’s back again!
BONUS: Update in Under 30 Subscription is now included for those in General Group Mentoring (GM1 or GM2), either of our Mental Health Groups (Primer & MH Applied) or to those in our MasterCourse Alumni (not included for New Graduates)You gain access to the ENTIRE back catalogue of Rachel’s UU30 recordings (30 min podcasts), with atotal value of over $1800, and receive a new podcast each month for 12 months. For those mentees who are already current subscribers, when your subscription expires in 2021, you’ll get to renew for free! This provides you with even more of an opportunity to drill down and dig deeper into certain areas that we routinely come across in our session cases and content. This gives you a much greater opportunity to seriously expand your learning in those areas most relevant to you.
We’ve broadened your 30% discount to ALL Rachel Arthur Nutrition products on our website for 2021.
Certificate for CPE Hour
Here’s what one of our mentees had to say this year…
“I’ve listened to the recording of the live mentoring sessions multiple times and sooo sooo much goodness in each session. I love how your mind works Rachel. This is also my second year in mentoring and I am so grateful for this safe space to continue to enlarge our thinking. I learn something new every single time. I am also loving the update in under 30 – that is also changing my practice with every single listen. Eg the ones regarding interpreting iron studies and prescribing. TOTAL GAME CHANGER. I was a novice in iron prescription kind of going with whatever my patients Dr’s were prescribing but then understood why they were getting such crappy results – both in actual improvements in their iron test results but also negative symptoms. Honestly, the combination of mentoring with the little individual nuggets in the updates is totally transforming my practice so I’m so grateful. Rachel please keep mentoring forever. I love it.” – Bek DiMauro, Functional Nutritionist, Adelaide
We have a great range of groups to choose from. Whether your a nervous newbie or have 15+ years experience…
General Group Mentoring – our regular case presentation groups, with one practitioner presenting a case each month, or just listen in.
New Graduate Groups – great opportunity for New Grads to build confidence as they leap from student to practitioner, or for practitioners wanting to refresh their core clinical skills such as MindMaps, Pathology, Case Taking etc
New Grad Next Level group – for graduates of the New Graduate 2021 group to continue to build on your skills and apply all the great learning from this year to real client cases.
Mental Health Primer – topic based tutes & interactive sessions to build on your knowledge in the role of naturopathic medicine in Mental Health – from screening tools to key management issues, specialist diagnostics and beyond.
Mental Health Applied – practitioners presenting their client cases with a focus on primarily Mental Health presentations.
MasterCourse Alumni Monthly – NEW for 2021 – Participants from this year’s MasterCourse In Comprehensive Diagnostics can continue to build on their knowledge and application of Pathology interpretation with this Live monthly session and online community.
For all those Mentoring Virgins 😇out there wanting a clearer understanding of what it’s really like to be part of my group mentoring, this video is a little snippet from a session with one of my groups. This year has flown by and I have thoroughly enjoyed working with each fabulous group of dedicated ‘life-long learners’.
And don’t forget some of the offerings our Group Mentoring already reliably provides – the high level of applied knowledge, our incredible Basecamp platform for communication and support between sessions and our ongoing sharing of pearls of knowledge from my 22+ years of experience and research together with the collective wisdom and know-how of each group.
Can you see yourself in this collective?
REGISTRATIONS OPEN 9 November!
Information on how to apply will be released soon, to find out more click here. Join the waiting list now so you won’t miss out by sending us an email on firstname.lastname@example.org.
As a health practitioner, you are always actively building: your reputation, your practice and your knowledge.There’s theoretical …and then there’s applied. Some of the biggest leaps we take forward as practitioners come with being shown how (rather than told) & then being forced to ‘do the work’ ourselves, rather than being exposed to simply more information, be that about pathology, patient prescriptions or practice structure! The slogan ‘Just Do It!’, might have already been nabbed and TMed by a huge corporate beast, but this doesn’t undo the universal truth of it! Prefer your mantras to come from mystical philosophers rather than monster multinationals? How about this then?
I hear and I forget. I see and I remember. I do and I understand. Confucius
This mentoring community that I am a part of, we are about applied learning. We learn by doing. We learn, not just through each individual’s patient encounters but through the collective clinical experience. We make what can otherwise be an isolating experience of constantly, seemingly, reinventing the wheel, if not many wheels (!), into one of collegiality and ‘using the force’. If you haven’t experienced Group Mentoring with me previously and are thinking about next year being your year (see below to find out more about our 2021 offerings), we put together this fun little video here to get across that mentoring isn’t about a conversation between just two people.
With Group Mentoring you’ll be learning, through the application of core clinical skills, improved patient questioning, methodical information gathering, evidence based answer finding & getting access to resources that you can apply in real-time in your own practice.
“Having the group session each month, as well as having Basecamp to bounce ideas around in, is a reassuring connection to know is there if I need it. Having just started practice this year and working in an environment without other Nats around, I have noticed the occasional feeling of isolation. So having the monthly catch up keeps me feeling connected to other clinicians and gives me exposure to other cases and perspectives that I wouldn’t have otherwise had.” – Georgie
We have a range of groups on offer to suit all levels and most types of integrative health modalities. Go to our Group Mentoring page to discover the groups and bonus extras on offer for 2021.
Going by the landslide registrations for 2020, our ongoing excellent retention rate of practitioners from year to year & our already overflowing waitlist for 2021, the reputation of RAN Group Mentoring is highly regarded and a popular choice.
So, if being part of our community excites you and if the thought of learning and applying collective knowledge from expertise outside of our own, now’s the time to put your hat 🎩 in the ring, put your hand up ✋🏼 & join the conversation 📣 through Group Mentoring.
Recently a mentee reported that when attending an in-person training event (remember those, everyone?!) she approached a sponsor’s stand, promoting practitioner training in the nutritional management of mental health, based on the pioneering work of American scientist, Carl Pfeiffer. But when she and her nat buddy started asking questions, those manning the stand asked whether they were doctors and then, upon finding out they were naturopaths, encouraged them ‘to move along – this information isn’t for you then’. Or something to that effect…Ouch!
While I know a little about the decision behind offering this training only to doctors and specialists at this time, and I do understand that organisation’s reasoning, I also want to reassure you, this doesn’t mean that Pfeiffer’s important work, and the efforts of those that have followed him, is out of bounds to others.
No one can copyright cortisol or TM TSH, right? Equally, Histamine is his own man. Carl Pfeiffer and others brought histamine, the neurotransmitter to centre stage and many of us working in mental health remain eternally grateful for this. But CNS histamine has come a long way since then…and is currently a very hot topic in modern molecular psychiatry where they are always looking for new drug targets, given shooting at the previous ones, risked taking ‘an eye out’! The recognition of histamine as a key player in mood, cognitive and behaviour has been long overdue but is absolutely here now! Just give this search term a whirl in PubMed: histamine AND psychiatry, and you’ll be hit with quite the crush of citations!
An abundance of important info at your fingertips…no secret handshake required.
It was, in part, this story that inspired me to record an Update in Under 30 on Histamine Imbalance in Mental Health. Just the proverbial straw on the proverbial camel really, after years of examining, experimenting and experiencing the incredible results some patients can achieve when this imbalance is identified and redressed. So I’ve done my darndest to pull together those years of hands-on helping histamine imbalanced patients with the latest literature in under 30 minutes!! Surprise! I failed!There is a lot to convey but you’ll also be surprised by what I don’t say…there’s no infinitely long list of personality peculiarities that fit with too much or too little. Nor is there a didactic discourse about absolute treatment dos and don’ts. I’m communicating the common ground between the original evidence, clinical empiricism and contemporary neuroscience. So this month, consider the ‘under 30’ bit, merely a ‘Serving suggestion’…which would necessitate you playing it 1.5 X speed…go on, I dare you!!😅
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 amount, 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 practise 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 a hugely helpful clinical resource, will give you the confidence to recognise and remedy this important imbalance in mental health. If you want to download this recording click here.
A conscientious early career practitioner digging deep into GS research and upskilling, recently sent me a message to ask if I knew that the correct pronunciation of the condition was ‘Zheelbairs’…as in..imagine you’re French and say the word through a pencil moustache and barely opened lips! My answer? ‘Yes (or should that be Oui Oui!), but I gave up pronouncing it correctly when I realised no one in my very Aussie audience could make the connection between my fickle French impersonation and the word G-I-L-B-E-R-T-S on the screen”… 😂😂😂
Ok I know many of you imagine I read nothing else but Gilbert’s Syndrome guff and that not a day would pass without those sweet words passing my lips! But you know what? That’s not completely true 😂 But my series of mentoring sessions yesterday did end on another happy note, with both the final case presented being a Gilbert’s one (overt oestrogen excess, likely bile stasis etc) and then stumbling across this paper that I hadn’t seen before a longitudinal study of 100 Egyptians with GS, tracking their bloods and health experiences. I know you also imagine that I have a direct line with God in terms of receiving Gilbert’s research the second it gets published…again not completely true 😂 and somehow I had missed this one!
It’s not the greatest research in terms of sample size and methodology but hey beggars can’t be choosers and when you’re a condition with whom the word BENIGN is so commonly associated…you’re always begging for something: attention, validation, research crumbs!
So the practitioner presenting this case, actually asked a great question…”do I put these patients on everything you’ve talked about as having potential efficacy in GS and set and forget?” The answer of course is no. But it is good to clarify. The bulk of the heavy therapeutic lifting is always the education of these patients – what choices they need to make and perhaps make differently to get the best out of their body. The non-negotiable for me, is the direct glucuronidation support which for me typically would be cruciferae based and then if needed glucomannan (I now use this as much as possible instead of Calcium D glucurate…missed the reason why?…check this out). The next treatment tier is dictated by how the GS principally presents for the patient in front of me: GIT – choose any additional treatments to work on this aspect of the disorder (motility agents, bile thinners, fat digestion support) or Psych: mitigating and managing the longer half life of both dopamine and oestrogen and the potential imbalances that ensue. Throwing the entire dispensary at these patients (like any other) is often unpopular…especially when we know this is not something ‘solvable’ so in fact we need to aim for sustainable instead.
But following this approach has brought so many of my patients long-lasting benefits and a far better experience of their health that they are super grateful for. Now that’s a happy note to end on 🙂
A Guide to Gilberts Package It all started way back when with ‘Gilberts Girls’…then came ‘Gilberts Guts’ because that is such a common source of unexplained hard to define gut dysfunction in patients…then latest instalment was news from the research frontier in Gilbert’s Syndrome, which is nothing short of thrilling, rewriting our thoughts on what medications and supplements (!!) are the most problematic, significantly improved dietary management of these clients, how to track their progress more accurately and why completely normalising their bilirubin is not the goal…hey did someone say…longer telomeres?! 😉 Included are kickass desktop clinical reference that comes with this months UU30 that aids a better understanding and clear treatment directives in your GS patients. All of these are combined for the newcomers in this Guide to Gilbert’s Package
A Guide to Gilbert’s package is 3 Update in Under 30 episodes combined into one
– Gilbert’s Girls; Gilbert’s Guts and Gilbert’s – New Goals & Good News.
If you are already an UU30 Subscriber you will already have access to these episodes in your ‘active content of your online’ account. Or you can purchase this complete package here
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:
What is this (metabolite, analyte, binding agent, plasma protein etc)?
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?
How have the reference ranges been determined for this lab – who am I comparing my patient to?
Therefore, what is the significance of a result that is: ‘normal’, ‘low normal’, ‘high normal’, below or above the range?
Does this value ‘fit’ with my patient?
What else could explain an unexpected result?
How strong is my level of evidence?
What do I need to do from here to confirm or refute this?
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.
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.
Earlier this year at a Mental Health Training for IM doctors, 3 practitioners (myself, a doctor & a psychiatrist) walked into a bar…not really, but we did each present a case study of challenging patient & in whom we had some great outcomes. All 3 patients presented happened to have Gilbert’s Syndrome. Just in case you’re wondering if there was a secret Gilbert Syndrome Conference you didn’t get an invite to, no. Or that perhaps there was premeditation and intention on the organisers behalf for a bit of sub-theme and focus, no. While this was purely coincidental it does speak rather loudly to a couple of things though.
Patients with Gilbert’s syndrome are likely to be over-represented in our client base especially among those presenting with psychiatric and/or gut issues (and both presentations frustratingly for them, very hard to diagnose, define, pigeon hole etc) and secondly, even though their genes underpin their biological susceptibility to such health problems, great outcomes are really possible.
One of the challenges comes from the medical dismissiveness of this genetic issue as simply ‘benign hyperbilirubinemia’. This has lead to a lack of diagnosis in patients affected and when it is incidentally picked up on routine bloods, a lack of follow up education about what having approx. 30% less phase 2 glucuronidation activity, in their gut and their liver, is really likely to mean, not to mention radically altered bile composition and digestion (!) and how they can make better choices in light of this. Similarly this year in our Mental Health Specialist Mentoring Group, the issue of reduced efficacy and tolerance of psychiatric medications, in those with Gilbert’s, raised its head over and over again. Given that so many drugs within the psychiatric class add at the very least to the ‘substrate load’ of the UGT system, if not frankly inhibit some members of this enzyme family, as this paper (check out Table 2…superb!) shared by my colleague, Kate Worsfold, points out, it actually shouldn’t come as a surprise.
But there is a change a’coming with an influx of research leading to improved understanding of this seemingly mercurial malady, resolving many riddles, identifying new key ways to help these patients and at last….some exceptionally good news for those with Gilbert’s.
For example, when I started this conversation back in 2013 with the Update in Under 30 Gilbert’s Girls, that was in response to seeing so many women at the time presenting with significant imbalances in both their sex hormones and their neurobiology as a result of their UGT impairment. But of course it was never meant to imply GS is just a girl thing! In fact there is a 3:1 dominance of men with this condition and some very good reasons as to why: more red blood cells and more testosterone…the former being the primary source of bilirubin and the later a terrifically powerful UGT inhibitor. The news from the research frontier is nothing short of thrilling, rewriting our thoughts on what medications and supplements (!!) are the most problematic, improved dietary management, how to track their progress more accurately and why completely normalising their bilirubin is not the goal…hey did someone say…longer telomeres?! 😉
The latest Update in Under 30 has landed: Gilbert’s – New Goals and Good News and my team has gone all out in producing a brilliant desktop reference to go with this recording that aids better understanding and clear treatment aims for your GS patients.
You can purchase Gilbert’s: New Goals & Good News here.
If you are an Update in Under 30 Subscriber, you will find it waiting for you in your online account.
**But if you’re just joining us & this important conversation now,
ideally get the basics and backstory first and purchase all 3 key episodes in ‘A Guide to Gilbert’s Package’
-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.
I take my job to heart. When someone asked me recently to choose the single value that spoke most to me personally I couldn’t seem to go past, ‘Purpose’. I feel very honoured to have contributed to the learning of so many health professionals in their undergraduate and so many more in their professional careers following graduation and I know that with this comes huge responsibility. Second on my values list (again, possibly unsurprising) is Empowerment & coming in with a photo finish at 3rd:Integrity. Discernment and critical thinking (about information, about research, about reflective practice) are perhaps the eggs in this souffle, helping us all to rise up.
As part of our critical thinking we need to accept a few truisms:
Research changes Experience changes Knowledge changes
Information is not static. So we need to ask ourselves, how long ago did I learn this? How long since I’ve checked it is still correct? And just because perhaps this information came out of the mouth of our mentors or teachers, makes it no less up for regular review. I’m trying to undertake these internal audits on a regular basis. Typically they’re prompted by bloody good questions my mentees have asked me. A question I can’t answer or, more to the point, I can’t answer with full confidence I’ve double-checked my old beliefs and understandings against new evidence recently…these almost always provoke a lost night of sleep for me. Not from sleeplessness per se but due to immersing myself in the latest research and performing a mini informal lit review, bringing out all my old beliefs/evidence etc. Marie Kondo style and asking do they still spark joy✨ (in light of the latest evidence)?! And yes sometimes there’s a little bit of heartache when you have to let your old tightly held beliefs and understandings go 😢
The 1st update is about N-acetyl cysteine. Some of you may have heard me previously question the efficacy of the vegan form. Now that all but 1 Australian product is vegan, produced from bacterial fermentation or purely synthetic, I was wayyyyyyyy overdue to check the validity of my old ideas. Let the record show, I was wrong. Unlike some other nutraceuticals like chondroitin sulphate, wherein the source radically changes the overall structure of the molecule and therefore its uptake and actions – the same is simply not true for NAC.
So those ducks, & their NAC rich feathers, can all sleep a little easier at last…phew! Now the 2nd internal audit well that did cause some tears for me…
We often identify patients who could do with a little glucuronidation first aid: marked dysbiosis, Gilbert’s syndrome, oestrogen excess, cancer risk (especially bowel, breast & prostate) and one of our nutritional go-to’s has typically been Calcium D Glucurate. While there is ample evidence that one of CDG’s metabolites: 1,4 GL – inhibits beta-glucuronidase, is an antioxidant, platelet activation inhibitor and generally all-round good guy to have onboard, new research strongly challenges that oral CDG will convert to this at levels sufficient to support this detoxification pathway. Sounds like we’re overdue for an update on this supplement and when and where it might be useful in addition to how to find the real deal in real food!
For all those Mentoring Virgins 😇out there wanting a clearer understanding of what it’s really like to be part of my group mentoring, this video is a little snippet from a session with one of my groups. This year has flown by and I have thoroughly enjoyed working with each fabulous group of dedicated ‘life-long learners’.
OH YES!!…and the real announcement is…..(drum roll)… It’s that time of the year….Applications open next week for GROUP MENTORING in 2020!
As a result of the generous feedback and insights from our current Mentees, we are always fine tuning our program & level of service. Yep…it just keeps getting better and better every year!! We are keeping everything that so many practitioners have told us they love from the past 7 years (wow….have I been doing it for that long?!) and simplyimproving the already incredibly popular formula, with some great new features for 2020.
New 15min Follow up with one on one with me! via Zoom for those cases that have been presented in our group mentoring sessions. This is a brand new format to follow up on how your client is going after the session – what’s working, and what’s happening now, what should you do next? Rachel will spend 15 mins with you on Zoom 1-2 months after you presented your client case. The recording will then be uploaded to Basecamp so the whole group can catch up on the progress and extend our learning opportunities again.
We’ve expanded our mentees 30% discount to ALL Rachel Arthur Nutrition products on our website for 2020.When you join the Group Mentoring Program, you will receive a discount code that you can use for any and all purchases on Rachel’s website throughout 2020– the Update in Under 30 subscriptions, Audio and Video recordings, Packages on Pathology, Thyroid, Iron.
Certificate for CPE Hours– we’ve done this for the last 2 years and will continue to do so to make your CPE easier at your end
General and Specialist Groups – we’ve had a great response to our specialist groups this year, and we are offering these again in 2020, so you can choose from:
General Group Mentoring–our regular case presentation groups, with practitioners taking turns to present a case, or just listen in. Yes, this ‘fly on the wall option’ which we’ve come to learn is preferred by some praccies (due to a lack of time, good cases or confidence) is finally getting formalised for 2020!
GP dedicated Group – this depends on our final numbers of applicants for 2020. This year we had a combined group of GPs and naturopaths with advanced standing, which has worked well. Either way, we have a good track record in catering to the needs of doctors, medical specialists and dual qualified naturopaths (osteo, psychology etc).
New Graduate Groups – great opportunity for New Grads to build confidence as they leap from student to practitioner, or for practitioners wanting to refresh their core clinical skills such as MindMaps, Pathology, Improved Case Taking etc.
Mental Health Primer Group – topic based to build on your knowledge in the role of naturopathic medicine in Mental Health – from screening tools to key management issues, specialist diagnostics and beyond.
Mental Health General Group Mentoring – practitioners presenting their client cases with a focus on primarily Mental Health presentations.
“I believe the mentoring you are offering is allowing me to develop myself into the type of practitioner that I want to be.
I really aim to provide evidence based treatments, and wish to utilise pathology testing results as one of the major diagnostics in my practice. I can see that every mentoring session with you brings me closer to that, filling my knowledge gaps every time. You and your knowledge base is so inspiring, and I only hope that one day I will know close to some of what you know!” – Andrea Robertson
And don’t forget some of the offerings our Group Mentoring consistently delivers as part of your program – the opportunity to learn every month via high level applied knowledge not theoretical and to see it in action with tracking and updates on patient progress, our incredible online resource sharing platform for communication and support between sessions and the opportunity for sharing of pearls of knowledge from my 20+ years of experience and research together with the collective wisdom and know-how of each unique group.
“I am one of Rachel’s New Grad mentees. My first year out has been pretty overwhelming and I wanted to let Rachel know that I have been watching the zoom sessions and have learned so much to take my clinical confidence and practice to the next level. She has an amazing gift of nailing the important aspects of practice and giving useful usable information that brings together the fuzz of everything you have learned and ties it all up with a neat bow with her pearls of wisdom every month. I plan to be a mentee again next year (and for many years I suspect)” – Bek Di Mauro
REGISTRATIONS OPEN 14 October!
To read more about the program click here. Information on how to apply will be released on 14 October. Join the waiting list now so you won’t miss out by sending us an email on email@example.com.
There I said it. It was always going to happen. I’m ok, thanks for asking. This week we had a case of a woman diagnosed with MS in her late 20s. That was 5 years ago and she’s been medicated ever since with an immunosuppressant and she is understandably very nervous about taking any complementary medicine that would pull against this medication, interfering with its actions. Her concerns extended to zinc supplementation in spite of her plasma zinc being 7 umol/L. That’s right, 7. Zinc STAT, right? But slow up there everyone, her apprehension is not necessarily unfounded.
The top nutritional research topics in MS are: Vitamin D (for der…we all knew that, right?), Vitamin A and Zinc. The fan-mail for the first two, as key immuno-modulators in both prevention and in established conditions, is almost at stalker level.
In contrast Zinc attracts both fan and hate mail.
Although the jury is far from in, there’s growing concern that while extracellular levels of Zinc may appear low in MS (that includes of course plasma/serum values) the same individual may actually have elevated levels inside their cells and more specifically inside their CNS.Gulp. But wait there’s more. There is a hypothesis that Zinc dysregulation may be a pathophysiological driver in MS. Double Gulp. My (nutritional) soul mate has shown a potential dark side finally and is sitting under a cloud of suspicion. So what do we need to do differently?
And specifically in regard to Zinc status in your MS patients? Well my advice is don’t rely on a plasma/serum Zinc alone – but couple this with an rbc Zn to ensure there is no sign of intracellular accumulation at play before you make a decision about treatment. Not a perfect solution, but while we’re unlikely outside of research to ever be able to measure CNS zinc concentrations, a reasonable approach. An unchecked zinc deficiency is in no-one’s interests either, including your MS patients – so it’s about gathering the best quality information you can to walk that fine line of adequacy not excess. And if you’re still reeling at the very thought that Zinc has a dark side – remember I did warn you…in Mastering Micronutrients – which is essentially a series of truth-bombs one of which, is every nutrient has a sting in its tail, a U-shaped dose response and a dark side. We need to get to know them all.
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!
Tonic. Homeostatic modulator. These terms and concepts, which have a long tradition in herbal medicine (and let’s be clear, were considered yet another example of the wishy-washiness of the modality) are being appropriated by some areas of mainstream medicine right now. Cheer up ‘leaky gut’, you’re no longer alone! And arguably misappropriated by the public’s very ‘lay’ interpretation of the science on medicinal cannabis and its subsequent elevation to panacea, of late.
“So many of my patients are telling me they’re taking Cannabis now, just as a tonic”, says yet another practitioner to me recently, “No, not for pain, they’re young and fit but they take it because it’s a homeostatic regulator!!”
The capacity to maintain homeostasis, and particularly in the face of adversity or imbalance, is a sign of the vitality of the individual, according to what I remember from naturopathic philosophy (and have truly taken on and observed firsthand)…so just back up there a tad and explain to me how this one herb proposes to do this for everyone on a one-size-fits-all-fashion? As confessed in an earlier communication, I am a cannabis convert. But only in the sense of appreciating the niche areas where it is likely to offer true therapeutic benefits. I still have the words of warning from the brilliant Professor Michael Lintzeris, the Director of the Drug & Alcohol Services, South East Sydney Local Health District; Conjoint Professor, Division of Addiction Medicine etc., ringing in my ears, pleading with health practitioners to not ‘fall’ for cannabis in the way we have previously ‘fallen’ (so far and landed so badly) for the panaceas of the past: opiates and benzodiazepines. Most notable major omission for me, in an otherwise rigorous scientific debate of late, is any discussion about its potential for impacting fertility.
There is in fact evidence to suggest ‘sperm under the influence’…’lose their way’ and are less effective at finding and fertilising the egg. Sorry but the image always makes me chuckle…stoned sperm. ‘Hey, dude where’s my egg?!’ style. But it’s not funny when impaired fertility is a problem affecting so many these days, and we still are guilty of over-focusing on ‘her’ and under-assessing ‘him’…and lo and behold it could be his chronic cannabis use to blame. We had a case recently, years of unprotected sex, daily cannabis, no baby, no dots connected. We may think this is a handy incidental contraceptive for young men sitting on couches with cones (one mum recently said as much to me) but for the rest…?
As practitioners we should know as much about investigating and treating male hormone imbalances as we do female ones, yet this is often not the case. While we are increasingly aware of everyone’s exposure to lifestyle & environmental endocrine disruptors and the fragility of the HPO axis, we sometimes fail to recognise that the reproductive health of our male patients is equally under threat. This is clearly demonstrated by generally diminishing levels of testosterone amongst men and increasingly early onset of andropause. These issues then become barriers to achieving success in other health areas with your clients, mood, metabolism, fertility and beyond. Learn more here
I’d love to continue this conversation with you… so join me and be part of my ongoing dialog on this and my other blogs by following my Facebook page.
Following an important weekend of discussing mental health from a more balanced perspective (that’s my new less provocative term for ‘integrative’ or dare I even mumble…holistic) in Perth for ACNEM, I remain alert but not alarmed of how much is still to be revealed in this area. Recently, for example, in our mental health dedicated mentoring group, we discussed a case of a somewhat atypical schizophrenia presentation in a middle-age female migrant. Fortunately, I co-chair these sessions with an incredible clinical psychologist who was quick to pick up that no CNS auto-antibodies had been tested, and given the peculiarities of the case they should have. This is a relatively new area, in terms of more mainstream acceptance of this as a differential in some psychiatric presentations and provision of these tests now through mainstream labs, but it would appear it is far from common knowledge. Then I read this brilliant article and…well I think we all need to read it. Here are some snippets…
“Scientists had previously noted that certain autoimmune diseases, such as lupus, were associated with psychosis. And they’d begun to suspect that some infections might, by activating the immune system, contribute to psychiatric conditions. But Dalmau provided meticulous proof that the immune system could attack the brain. The development of a test for the disorder, and the fact that very sick patients could recover with treatment, prompted a wave of interest in autoimmune conditions of the central nervous system. In total, scientists have identified about two dozen others—including dementia-like conditions, epilepsies, and a Parkinson’s-like “stiff person” syndrome—and many experts suspect that more exist…
Robert Yolken, a scientist at Johns Hopkins University, estimates that about one-third of schizophrenics show signs of immune activation (though he adds that this could be related to other factors, such as smoking and obesity). And autoimmune diseases are more common among schizophrenics and their immediate families than among the general population, which could hint at a shared genetic vulnerability.”
There are some potent practical take-homes in this article embedded especially within the story of an 11-year-old boy who was admitted to hospital with profound psychiatric features – initially misdiagnosed and managed as BPAD and later found to have autoimmune encephalitis. First and foremost: psychiatric conditions develop gradually. When there is an acute onset in the absence of an acute trauma – the possibility of a biological (esp autoimmune) driver should be elevated in your differentials. And the mother of this boy, now aged 21 and having undergone 5 relapses and recoveries in between, virtually echoes the thoughts and findings of Carl Pfeiffer half a century ago, when she says, “Too often, psychosis is seen as the disease itself but psychosis is like a fever, it’s a symptom of a lot of different illnesses.” Important for thought.
Could dairy intake in susceptible individuals be a risk promoter for mental health problems? In addition to evidence of the exorphin derivatives from certain caseins interacting with our endogenous opiate system discussed in part 1, we now look at the evidence in support of other milk madness mechanisms. Specifically, the IgG and IgA antibodies about what this tells us about the patient sitting in front of us about their gut generally and about their mental health risks, specifically. The literature in this area dates back to the 1970s but the findings of more recent and more rigorous research are compelling. Find out more here.
I was at the Medicinal Cannabis (MC) in Mental Health Conference run by GHI on the weekend and I have to confess, I inhaled. Seriously, deeply, inhaled. Just as I had hoped, this was a very high level of information on this important topic, delivered by outstanding presenters: from authorised Australian MC prescribers, to the head American researcher of the largest MC trial to be run in psychiatry – from brilliant pharmacognosists whose every day is spent immersed in complex cannabis chemistry to our very own national (naturopathic) treasure, Justin Sinclair. I left there with thousands of words typed into my laptop, and about a thousand more in my brain, spilling out onto anyone who stood still long enough. Ahem…thank you my dear tolerant family & friends 😉
Let’s be clear. I am not in a position to prescribe medicinal cannabis. Nor do I want to, right now. But like me, patient purchases off the green market in response to DIY diagnosis and prescribing are on the up and up. I have felt concern and apprehension about this but not known enough to engage in any conversation. Now, watch out… I’m finding my words!
I left the conference with a much clearer sense of the patients and presentations for whom it may prove medicinal – most obviously for those conditions outlined in the WHO review including nausea and vomiting in cancer and pain refractory to other analgesics. In addition to this, we were privileged to hear from a mum and son who have had to employ cannabis for the last half a dozen years following his diagnosis of an inoperable brain tumour, that originally robbed him of his literacy, his joy of reading and his overall quality of life, with high frequency seizures and intractable vomiting etc. MC has remarkably given much of this back to him. And I remain optimistic about future potential uses in psychiatry – especially within certain PTSD cohorts thanks to this small but promising study by Greer et al in 2014. Inspired by this paper and her extensive experience treating war veterans with PTSD, Dr. Sue Sisley, who spoke at the conference, executed a similar study of 6000 veterans for a MC inhalation trial. I’ve got a spoiler for you…the study failed – publication pending.
But before you add 1 + 1 and get 3.879…let me tell you, there is nothing as powerful and revealing as hearing researchers talk firsthand about their trials. When Sue put up actual photos of the medicinal cannabis they were supplied with for this study…the room collectively let out a giant Gasp!
It was brown, full of stem and…wait for it…mould. Yup. But that is what they, and as Sue poignantly pointed out, & what every other group of American researchers who run studies on MC as opposed to synthetics or extracts, have to use. So…are any negative outcome a surprise? No. But it will no doubt be interpreted as a sign that we shouldn’t pursue research in the area of MC and PTSD. We should. Have I completely ditched my concerns about negative mental health impact from cannabis? Absolutely not. And Professor Michael Lintzeris, the Director of the Drug & Alcohol Services South East Sydney Local Health District; Conjoint Professor, Division of Addiction Medicine etc., spoke eloquently & comprehensively to this inherent duality of this herb in this regard. Even the most isolated and lauded (non-intoxicating) constituent of cannabis can be both help and hindrance to anxiety and depression sufferers and most clearly, Michael warned us not to make MC the opiates and benzodiazepine panacea promises of the past, buying the rhetoric of ‘no tolerance, no dependence, no risk’. How each individual’s mood and mental state responds to MC, whole plant, extracts or isolated constituents, from anxiogenic to anxiolytic and from depressant to antidepressant, has been clearly demonstrated to differ according to genes, ‘endocannabinoid tone’, route of administration and dose. Seems like all roads lead to an individualised health care approach & prescription…yet again 😉
Need a road map to think your way through the integrative work-up of your Mental Health patients?
In Mastering Mental health: New Assessments & Management Resources in your Clinic, Rachel introduces you to new clinical tools that she has been developing to help us all better master the maze of mental health. With so many possible biological drivers: from methylation to inflammation and from gonads to gut, these tools can help you quickly identify those most relevant to each patient and also outline the strategies necessary for redressing these. This presentation comes with an extensive library of resources including pdf of Assessments Tools and Case Study Notes.