I have a good friend…who happens to be a naturopath…who happens to also be a patient of mine. Have you got a few of these as well? A month ago, looking over her recent bloods which included fasting lipids that had been steadily climbing for the last couple of years, post-menopause, she said, ‘do you think I should take something for that?’ Ahhhhhh no. My reasoning went like this:
“You love saturated fat right? You eat butter and cheese and and and…and the type of elevated lipid pattern you have LOOKS like it is at least partially the result of this, your triglycerides are low, your HDLs are good it’s just this LDL component that is too high. You could add in another supplement…and take it…forever…or you could do a little n=1 experiment and just lower your butter, cheese & coconut oil intake for a month and repeat the test.”
The horror on her face! You see I didn’t know exactly how much she loved butter but it all became clear with the first text a few hours after I had thrown down the gauntlet…which included a sobbing emoji and the comment that her afternoon snack will never be the same…turns out it was a shortbread biscuit with butter on it!!! But as a practitioner who does pride herself on walking the talk…off she went determined to give it a good go for a month. But boy did it hurt! (more…)
The words together with the horror on her face made me feel instantly nauseous. I’d been internally debating for months now if I was simply imagining things and intellectualising about how this just might be the case… observing myself looking in the mirror more often, getting closer to the mirror, brushing my hair more often, cleaning the brush more frequently…in psychology it’s called something like confirmatory bias…ah yes just enough psych knowledge to be a danger to myself!
But louder than the chronic self-analysis and attempts at reassurance was the voice that said, ‘You’re losing your hair like an old woman. You’re not even menopausal. You eat fabulous food and have too much energy for your own good but you’re starting to look like you’re ill’. The horror. I felt instantly like a fraud. (more…)
“I always give some Glutamine to heal their leaky gut”
Cue pained expression on my face. No, I’m not a fan. I take that back, I have no problem with the amino acid itself and I’m still in awe of its incredible multifaceted role in the gut. What I do have a giant issue with is the mismatch between everything we are being told Glutamine is going to help our patients with, and the dosages that apparently will do that, and the reality. I know, I’m attacking the Holy Grail of Gut Health 101….right? But it’s time to set the record straight. Firstly, where’s the evidence at in terms of Glutamine interventions in GIT pathology, particularly in relation to reducing excessive intestinal permeability and improving lining integrity Well if you’re a rat – Good news! Rats’ GITs have a greater dependence on Glutamine than ours, a deficiency of this amino produces clear reproducible negative effects and supplementation fixes these brilliantly!
But if you’re treating humans not rats – well – the evidence & the case for Glutamine for the Gut is not so straight forward or impressive. (more…)
Just finished talking with the fearless fertility naturopathic specialist, Rhiannon Hardingham, who wanted to let me know that after listening to my Update in Under 30: Silent Reflux she’s had a lot of success treating both GORD and insomnia in her pregnant patients. That calls for double the celebration …YAY! YAY!
‘What’s the magic answer?’, I hear you ask… (more…)
That’s me…always questioning the ‘status quo’ and Iodine is the perfect example! The interview I did on this important subject with Andrew Whitfield-Cook from FxMedicine, covers a lot of key areas of confusion & underscores why it’s so critical all health practitioners get clarity on this topic. ‘It’s just a matter of geography’.
You know, I say to people, we can make vitamins ourselves, we can get all sorts of other organisms including animals, bacteria and plants to make vitamins for us, and then eat those…but minerals…our source of minerals…well it all comes down to the rocks and the soil our food itself is grown or fed on. And iodine is profoundly influenced by these factors. (more…)
If you receive the free Medical Observer newsfeeds you’ll know what I’m talking about. Here are some recent headlines:
I stand accused of rorting Medicare. This is what it’s like
A GP is sued after doing everything right — except her notes
After-hours funding shakeup
‘We’re becoming unviable,’ says GP hit with $22K e-PIP repayment
This Christmas I wish for doctors to feel valued again
So the answer is, probably. Tales direct from the trenches that I hear from GPs, suggest it is increasingly difficult to make a living without adhering to a crazy volume of <10min appts, without being sued (too often) or dragged in front of AMA or APRHA. I hear them and know that the increased pressure is coming from multiple angles and I think it is very sad that previously such a respected and valued role in society appears to be ‘losing its value’. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t agree with the old ‘Doctor as God’ model and think it ‘s very unhealthy actually for patients, but I feel like GPs with all their extensive training, knowledge and expertise are in urgent need of an Oprahesque ‘new dawn’! (more…)
Recognise your own name or someone else’s on this list?
Dear 2017 Group Minties aka Mentees. I have always struggled with the term, ‘mentees’…seems too American or something and this morning when I was out walking, I had a light-bulb moment – I am proposing a re-branding to something much closer to home (!)… I propose we rename you Minties!! Because you are always fresh and you give me & your fellow Minties always something; cases, questions, clinical conundrums, ethical dilemmas, every month to seriously get our teeth stuck into! Cheesy but true 😉
Congratulations on completing your full year of group mentoring – and if this is your 2nd, your 3rd even your 4th year then I bow to you even more deeply.
Thank you for including me on your support team and entrusting me with helping you grow & develop as exceptional practitioners.
You should be celebrated for your commitment to your own learning & your endeavour to always improve your knowledge and skills. (more…)
I had the privilege of presenting at the Integria GIT Symposium last weekend. For those of you who attended, you’ve gone back to your clinic with a bunch of new ideas and inspiration I hope…oh and a new respect, terror and watchfulness for threadworm thanks to me! In my presentation I outlined the many presentations of this infestation, what to watch for and the risk of chronic recurrence due,in particular, to a reduced ability for some individuals to produce chondroitin sulfate which renders the GIT environment hostile to worms.
Chronic threadworm is a huge & grossly under-recognised issue in paediatrics, often presenting as behavioural & cognitive disorders (and these can be severe), bruxism, enuresis etc. of course, but another presentation typically missed is vulvovaginitis, vulval pain or UTI like sx in young girls. (more…)
…Chronic Kidney Disease (CKD) that is! That’s the ad we really need broadcast on prime time tv. On par with osteoporosis and other conditions that ‘seemingly appear out of nowhere’ in people’s 60s and beyond, there’s a potent combination of ignorance (patients) and denial (health professionals) at play it seems, when it comes to discussing the earliest signs of CKD that typically start decades before you’ll ever get a ‘diagnosis’. Being specialists in preventative health care – this is something we need to have firmly on our radar in terms of early identification and also in our repertoire when it comes to risk reduction. Most of us know about water intake and all the medical risks for renal impairment but are we equally onto the critical role that mild acidosis plays in driving this condition?
It’s not just me. Promise.
Check this out. (more…)
Last week I threw down a challenge. Following on from the ruffling of many feathers regarding Jason Hawrelak’s report that dietary saturated fat increases uptake of endotoxins from the gut, I provided his reference list in support of this claim, effectively saying, “if you don’t like his findings, then make your own informed conclusions but make sure you read all the evidence first”. I offered a prize to everyone who made an attempt and a year’s free subscription to Update in Under 30, to the person who produced arguably the best summary.
I’ve said it before and I will say it again, and again, and again: Our professional community abounds with extraordinary individuals.
People’s response to this challenge proved that once again. (more…)
Ever wondered where on earth (or Mars?!) I came from? As much as I can’t keep quiet on some topics, my personal journey to here has been a bit of closed book to many. Recently during an interview with Andrew Whitfield-Cook from FxMedicine, which was supposed to be strictly about postgraduate education paths and the desperate need for mentoring, internships etc for naturopaths, the sneaky devil got me to spill the beans on a whole lot more!
Having been involved in so many aspects of naturopathic and integrative health care education over the past 15 years, of course I do have a lot of ideas about how practitioners can best accelerate their learning and development, the need for more independent education and the importance of fostering critical thinking.
I think you already know that I feel passionately about this but do you know the whole story? Who I have been mentored by and how I continue to tread the path of the ‘student’? (more…)
In an ASLM Tweet I shared this weekend, I mentioned our own ‘Gut Guru’, Jason Hawrelak reported dietary saturated fat (including coconut oil) increases GIT endotoxin uptake and boy did that stir the pot! The social media switchboard lit up! It’s ok I know there isn’t a switchboard anymore…but I am old school 😉 This got just about everybody talking on Twitter & Facebook…and thinking out there in the real world…which is good, right? And if you read to the end you will find prizes galore for those of you that want to add to this discussion 🙂 (more…)
Ever wondered what Dr George Lundberg, professor of medicine, past editor of JAMA and current editor in chief of Medscape thinks about the relationship between food additives, your digestive health and your overall mortality? Me neither!! But this is worth the 7 mins! (more…)
On Sunday there were deafening bells going off in my brain. By Monday they were going off in 11 others.
Alessandra: “Holy s#*t this has just ticked so many boxes for a couple of Rx resistant patients. Thank you!”
Tess: “Me too – finally the gut and pain connection explained”
My partner and I have a well rehearsed script whenever he is suffering from man flu, he says, “Am I going to die?” and I say “Yes, just not today.” First world peoples tend to specialise in the denial of several absolutes: like time & death. As Professor David Cameron-Smith, from the University of Auckland says, ‘old’ is something we always define as ‘other’. We are not old but we know people who are! I personally used to define ‘old’ as over 50 until that became rather close and uncomfortable at which point I noticed a completely unconscious increase in the lower limit! Now old is over 75 yrs…and stay tuned for more updates 😉
Similarly none of us are ageing, right? (more…)
While I did diagnose this one correctly, I didn’t get 100% in this quiz – Can you? Speaking of the devil, Medscape, has this great little visual quiz to test your knowledge about physical signs & other hidden clues of nutritional deficiencies.
While we all know there can be a lack of specificity when it comes to some deficiency signs…like glossitis…eyeyiyi..naming a nutritional deficiency that doesn’t include this sign would be a tougher question 😉 but what a great reminder of some quirky things you may have forgotten or in fact deficiency features you may not have even known about.
A gem I love and apply frequently, is about zinc the ALP levels…watch out for the that later in the slideshow quiz.
Also note the distinct difference in opinion when it comes to vitamin D adequacy – with Medscape citing blood vitamin D result < 75 nmol/L unequivocally associated with osteoporotic change…in contrast to the …’anything over 50 nmol/L is a bonus’ line we’re being fed here in Aus and NZ! While we may not ever see some of these severe deficiency presentations walking through our doors – you can’t be so sure…given the reported resurfacing of scurvy in good ol’ Sydney just last year!
Is it just me? I love going back to nutrition 101. So tomorrow with your cuppa…test yourself and then let us know how you go 😉
Are you keen to keep developing your naturopathic knowledge in areas of diagnostics and nutrition? Rachel has a range of services that can help accelerate your learning. From the long list of great downloadable recordings in the store, that help fill your ‘knowledge potholes’ in a fun and engaging way that really brings these topics to life, to our Update in Under 30 Subscription: 30 mins of power-packed up-skilling delivered to your inbox every month, as well as our individual and group mentoring programs! There’s content galore and a delivery format to suit every clinician – come check out what’s on offer.
I am frequently asked what scientific journals I subscribe to and often by the same practitioners over and over, because they can’t reconcile my answer: “None”. Yet I constantly have my head in the scientific literature, right? The two are not mutually exclusive, it’s just about knowing which free scientific and medical news-feeds are worth their weight in gold! If you really are digging into the itty-bitty detail of things these won’t answer all your questions on all your topics but they do a great job of 1) keeping you up to date with the big headlines in general medicine, or, with the use of alert systems and filters, just the areas of health you’re particularly interested in and 2) offering you a huge highly credible resource database that is easily searchable.
Point 1, Exhibit A 😉 :
Here’s just a few examples from the last month that popped into my inbox from Medscape that got my pulse racing:
Watch the gap! You know I love a good diagnostic test probably (way!) more than the next person but I am slow to come around when there’s suddenly a ‘new-kid-on-the-block’ that every functional testing company wants to offer you. This is how I felt about serum zonulin testing as marker of intestinal permeability too. In spite of Fasano’s important work, identifying this molecule and its role in the reversible opening of tight junctions in the small intestine – I didn’t embrace the test. Why not? Didn’t I love Fasano’s ability to add this piece to the jigsaw that had been missing til now? Well I did. Does that make it an accurate and reliable marker of intestinal permeability in every client with any kind of digestive issue…? Well heck no! That’s not how science works friends and I suspect we may have really jumped the gun a little on this one. (more…)
So you’ve heard part of that BIMA story…now here’s the rest. To be honest, I was pretty surprised to win anything given I’ve spent the last 20 years ‘agitating’, challenging the misinformation and strongholds of the big companies etc. Funnily enough, in my post award ceremony interview, my interviewer dished up the biggest compliment of the evening when he said, “Rachel, we all know you can’t be bought!”
Nutritional & naturopathic medicine is an exciting dynamic field that is growing its evidence base every day but we need to be vigilant about our sources of information, their credibility etc. I know that what motivates me the most to share what I know is the desperate need for independent voices, free from commercial bias that can help us move our medicine forward on solid ground. (more…)
Psssssssssssst….just thought I would share a special moment from a couple of weeks ago when I received the BIMA for Lecturer of the Year.
Thanks to all those practitioners who nominated me for Lecturer, Nutritionist & Researcher of the year! It was really special to be acknowledged in this way for my role in education. I am so grateful to have had the support of so many throughout my career – from my own exceptional teachers, Sue Evans, Assunta Hunter, Gill Stannard, Helen Margulies, Fay Paxton, and most influential of all, Dr. Tini Gruner, right through to all the fabulous practitioners that I have the privilege to mentor (and secretly learn from at the same time 😉 ) (more…)