Someone’s Lost Might Be Your Found!

 

As Britney so famously put it, ‘Oops, I did it again!’ I remember the actions on my to do list but not the intended recipients! D.O.H. I was talking with a practitioner the other day who lamented that she had never really learnt about stats nor how to assess the quality of research in her undergraduate and could I point her in the right direction towards a resource that simply explains this increasingly important basic skill-set…well I would if I could remember who you were!! Anyhoo, I followed through in my usually dogged way to the bottom of my actions list and with the help of a lovely past-intern, got directed to these free BMJ resources on how to read research…G.O.L.D. 

Papers that go beyond numbers (qualitative research) Trisha Greenhalgh, Rod Taylor

Papers that summarise other papers (systematic reviews and meta-analyses) Trisha Greenhalgh

Papers that tell you what things cost (economic analyses) Trisha Greenhalgh

Papers that report diagnostic or screening tests Trisha Greenhalgh

Papers that report drug trials Trisha Greenhalgh

Statistics for the non-statistician. II: “Significant” relations and their pitfalls Trisha Greenhalgh

Statistics for the non-statistician Trisha Greenhalgh

Assessing the methodological quality of published papers Trisha Greenhalgh

Getting your bearings (deciding what the paper is about) Trisha Greenhalgh

Anyway…while I continue to ponder who this was actually intended for… it dawned on me how many people would just LOVE these & benefit from them immensely in the meantime. Couldn’t most of us do with a little more research literacy? So I thought I’d share. Don’t you love it when we work as a team.  Now…who can help me find my keys?! 😉

It’s starting to feel a lot like…that Update in Under 30 time of the month!

Update in Under 30 are dynamic power-packed podcasts that will help you keep abreast of the latest must-knows in integrative medicine. Focused on one key issue at a time, Rachel details all the salient points so that you don’t have to trawl through all the primary evidence yourself. All topics are aimed at clinicians and cover a range of areas from patient assessment to management, from condition based issues to the latest nutritional research. Most importantly, each podcast represents unbiased education that can contribute to your CPE points, so if you haven’t subscribed yet…what are you waiting for??!! 🙂

Spotting an ‘Off’ Claim in Record Time

While this ABC article is written for the public it’s a great checklist to have written up somewhere to prevent against placing your confidence in the wrong sources of info.

Just recently, I had a practitioner ask about the ‘risks’ of B12 dosing…& while B12 is considered to be free of a toxicity profile in just about any textbook or in-depth review paper you can find, a ‘methylation’ expert had made mention of there being demonstrated increased oxidative stress.

My response, ‘Have you checked their references?’
Their response,’No’

I get it, right, we’re all busy people and don’t have the time for a full literature review of every claim made by every educator, ‘expert’ or company… BUT sometimes a credibility check can be lightning fast!!!! As was the case in this instance.

I did check this expert’s reference (singular). I read the full article just out of interest but actually, I didn’t need to. I had my answer just by reading the title and abstract…the study was conducted in genetically altered rats made alcoholic and injected with B12 or something to that effect. Relevance?? Which is in stark contrast to the absolute consensus from 100s of human studies concluding that B12 toxicity is NOT a thing.

That also means this particular expert’s references probably need to be checked every time of course…until you can be more confident in the quality of their claims – tough but true. Below are the 7 top Qs to try and answer to determine the quality of any claim and remember you rarely have to complete the list to get your answer…just start with reading the title of their key reference!!! 

1. Who says? (….and what agenda/bias might they have)
2. Sample size ( a response rate of 20% might mean something in a sample of 10000 & nothing in a sample of 10!)
3. Lab-bench or real world
4. Correlation V causation
5. Statistically significant V clinically significant (…if something was shown to reduce people’s migraine pain by a rating of 0.5 – but most people rate their pain at 10/10…is it actually clinically meaningful?!)
6. Does the dose relate? (…watch out for animal studies where they are using doses at mg/kg body weight…that we could never match with oral dosing in humans because they would be eating buckets of the stuff!)
7. Got some time?…then dig a little deeper…if your article has passed all the above checkpoints and you’re still dubious (and this does happen!) check out who has cited this paper (easy via Google Scholar) and whether other researchers are in agreement or not with their findings. What’s been published in this area since then?

Oh and this article is also handy for the occasional misguided patient – who’s found some incredulous online info about something that contradicts your contrastingly well-sourced & quality-checked knowledge! 😉

Our new – New Graduate Mentoring Program kicks off in late January and offers an incredible opportunity for successful applicants to develop their core clinical competencies in record time during their transition into practice.  Real world research cheat tips, is just one of the many practical competencies covered across the year’s curriculum.  But if you’re interested in applying,  jump onto it!  Applications close on the 15th November

FAKE NEWS!…or just uncomfortable?..Read On

As an avid reader of medical news I face a barrage of headlines both domestic & international everyday.  I feel this is important for many reasons – not just so that I know what’s being said about their medicine but what they’re saying about ours as well! Anyone see the jaw-dropping headline last week: Could Probiotics be bad for your gut?  Yep. 

Now how many of you didn’t make it past the headline? It’s hard isn’t it. 

There’s almost a reflexive shutdown for many of us to dismiss such a proposition as simply ‘ridiculous’, surely on par with our response to an article from a climate skeptic…as we shake our heads with ‘you gotta be joking right?’… but unless we read on, we’ll never know.  (more…)

Are You a Premature Evaluator?

 

I was lucky enough to hear Jason Hawrelak’s excellent presentation at the Australian Naturopathic Summit last weekend, titled: A Case of Blastocystis Infection – Or Is It?  Timely, highly valuable, immediately usable, provocative education (just how I like it 😉 ) on how perhaps often Blasto is playing the scapegoat for another condition/cause of patients’ GIT symptoms. During this case study,  Jason detailed the shonky diagnostic work-up of his current patient by a naturopath 12 years prior…that naturopath was him.

There was so much to love about his telling of this case study and the discourse around it but here are my Top 3 Takes:

  1. None of us know everything or practice perfectly but rather we do what we do, until we know to do differently…even Jason 😉
  2. As there are 9 strains of B.hominis found in humans and many of these are in fact benign commensals, even perhaps important ‘apex predators’ for the microbiome, attributing someone’s health problems (digestive or otherwise) to the presence of this parasite should in fact be a diagnosis of exclusion…always asking yourself first, what else could it be?? e.g. coeliac, SIBO, food reactions etc etc
  3. The cost of being a ‘premature evaluator’, to your patients and to yourself, can be very high…

(more…)

How Do YOU Take Your Coffee??

If you’ve not seen Kitty Flanagan’s skit on current coffee culture...it’s essential viewing.  In true Kitty-fashion, she wants to simplify coffee ordering down to 2 basic lines – White or Black – says all our pretentious coffee orders; macchiato, skinny, decaf, half strength, latte etc can essentially be reduced down to  a much faster 2 queue system. But she’s forgotten the line for taking your coffee rectally.  Sorry – did I make you just spill your coffee? Knowing How across health trends Kitty is, she’ll add this 3rd queue soon, if the number of patients asking me about this or telling me they’re already doing it. Now, while enemas had a place in naturopathic history, my training never covered them and, consequently, I’ve never included them in my practice. But the more hype I heard around coffee enemas specifically, the more I thought we better find out as much as we can, so at least we can better inform ourselves and our patients. And of course the monkey on your back, called FOMO, jumps up and down, incessantly asking, “Are you (and your patients) missing out on an amazing therapy?”

The first patient who told me they were using coffee enemas daily was a celeb.  A very anxious one. Who also told me she couldn’t possibly drink chai let alone coffee because of the caffeine.  This had me a bit stumped…I knew she wasn’t inserting decaff up there and I thought…well given the colon is SUCH an absorptive surface surely this is why she reported feeling, ‘so energised, more clear headed’ etc. with every enema?

But I wanted to find out for sure (more…)

Special offer for RAN subscribers…

Not long ago, Kathryn Simpson and I were sharing a hotel room on yet another work trip to somewhere. The lights were out, it was way past our bedtime and we were just gasbagging incessantly like a couple of teens, when a thought pops into my head:

“Hey Kathryn, back when you were my student, did you ever imagine this scenario in the future – you know us being colleagues and friends and having slumber parties full of laughing?”, she replied, “Well no, but you know what I REALLY never could have imagined in my wildest dreams…the Australian Naturopathic Summit and you inviting me to be a co-founder of something that’s had such a big impact! That one I just didn’t see coming!”

Well to be honest, neither did I but sometimes I just have an idea that won’t leave me alone and is too important and too promising to ignore. Three years ago when I shared one of these, the vision of a national naturopathic conference by naturopaths for naturopaths, that would lift us all professionally, offer collaboration over competition and provide us the highest level of non-biased education, with Nirala Jacobi, turned out she’d been visited by the same thought bubble.  Then I approached Kathryn, who was working for me at the time and pretty fresh out of uni but full of passion and drive about building a better ‘new’ naturopathic career path, one that supported rather than splintered those emerging out of great courses into a harsh, challenging professional space.

Time-travel forward to now, we are just 10 weeks(ish) out from erecting the chai tent, marquees and lanterns, for the second inception of this extraordinary thing called the Australian Naturopathic Summit 24-26th August at Lennox Head.

This is the culmination of 3 years of work from us, one paid project manager and the exceptional generosity of over 25 of our naturopathic idols, thought leaders and torch bearers who are donating their time to present plenaries, workshops, case studies, panel discussions… because they believe so strongly in the cause and the need for such an event. 

If you think I am running out of breath between all these words..I am. This thing…has taken on a shape and life much greater than even we had envisioned.

If you follow the work I do – you’ll know that I am passionate about collaboration over competition.  I could never have come to this place in my career without the input of many (some who remain on speed dial even now!) and through my mentoring programs, the infamous RAN internship and hopefully times we’ve come across each other…I’ve encouraged you to do the same and by doing so, grow bigger together.  So just imagine the value of collaborating face-to-face…over 3 days…at a festival in Lennox Heads… ? And not just for 1 hour, but for 3 full days with 100’s of other practitioners from all areas, specialities and locations. Oh and if you’re thinking you’ll just have to wait ’til the next one’…SPOILER…there is no guarantee of a next one! Being a passion project that we 3 donate our time to, for you, it requires your support to keep it going.

So with saying all that…..(cajon roll…that’s a drum for you non-hippies)….It is with great excitement and enthusiasm that today I can announce a special deal for RAN subscribers. Yes….that’s you! Just like myself you all see a need to grow and build skills, knowledge, competence and confidence in the practice of naturopathic medicine. Come join the very best of your profession and take up this special offer to attend the second independent Australian Naturopathic Summit held in Lennox Head on 24-26 August.

To get 15% off a full 3 day pass enter Festival at the checkout

Book your tickets before they run out at  www.australiannaturopathicsummit.com.au.
For information or questions about this special email hello@australiannaturopathicsummit.com.au.

This summit is unprecedented in Australia for the following reasons:

  • It is free from commercial bias
  • It is about professional development, improving our practices and career paths, not products
  • The primary objective is to support the Australian Naturopathic community, celebrating our diversity and creating a platform for our own Naturopathic torch-bearers in various areas (Practice, Research, Herbal Manufacture, Corporate Health, Entrepreneurship etc.) to help light the way for the broader professional community

This year our theme for ANS 2018 is ‘Coming Together On Common Ground’
Naturopathy has many different practices and paths,
but we all work for the same purpose, guided by the same principles.

The ANS 2018 program has three distinct themes across the 3 days…

  • Friday 24 August: Custodians of the Vital Force
  • Saturday 25 August: Upskilling Your Clinical Practice
  • Sunday 26 August: The Business of Business Development

The morning of each day consists of plenary sessions followed by a lengthy lunch break that allows for networking, beach walking, guided outdoor meditation, perusing the vendor village, or simply enjoying the festival atmosphere in the beautiful outdoor location that our summit is surrounded by OR for those die-hards some amazing case studies presented by the likes of Jason Hawrelak, Dawn Whitten and Sandra Villella.  Afternoon sessions are workshop-style, designed to be more interactive. There are plenty of workshops to choose from to keep you riveted and inspired.

We have created a jam-packed program to do just that.
Download your copy of the full program here!

ANS 2018 – come join the very best of your profession.

Book your tickets before they run out at  www.australiannaturopathicsummit.com.au.
To get 15% off a full 3 day pass enter Festival at the checkout.
For information or questions about this special email hello@australiannaturopathicsummit.com.au


Enough said.

The Blame Game

Quite the month for it, I hear. My inbox has run hot with practitioners deeply concerned about some serious finger pointing that’s been going on.

The fingers in these instances have belonged to medical practitioners and the direction they’re all pointing, is seemingly at any complementary medicine their shared patient is taking.

Here’s a couple of good examples: “Your high blood pressure is the result of the combined mineral formula you’re taking!”   These were the words of a GP to a 50 something female patient when he discovered she was taking a calcium, magnesium, potassium containing formula.  The patient was hypertensive at the initial appointment, at which time the naturopath encouraged her to actually seek review, assessment and prescription of an anti-hypertensive, however the patient declined.  The nutritional prescription was recommended in response to high acidity (raised anion gap) and prematurely low GFR (impaired renal function). Patient’s HBP continued to be problematic so the next doctor she sees, points the finger and says, it must be this product!

Would anyone like to explain that to me? In fact, that was my advice back to this very concerned and understandably rattled practitioner…just to cordially request the GP to outline the mechanism by which this might occur.   (more…)

A Mum, Dad & Their Son Walk Into Your Clinic

They’ve just come from the immunologist, having presented with extensive vitiligo in dad and early stage vitiligo now in their primary school aged son.  The immunologist, without running a single blood test, told them, ‘Bad news, you both have autoimmune issues and watch this space because the vitiligo is just the first presentation, there will be more to come’.  Slightly unsatisfied with this dead-end conclusion and non-existent management plan, the family then presents at a long established naturopathic clinic to see Anna Sangster, a fabulously sleuth-like detective, who takes her patients’ health very seriously and has the knowledge and skills that make her one of the best at what she does. I can say that because I’ve been mentoring Anna for a long time & she is one of the clueiest practitioners I know.

For example, she knows about the substantial research demonstrating the overlap between thyroid autoimmunity and vitiligo and, in addition to comprehensive case taking, decides some blood tests may provide valuable insight that would help to understand the degree of self-attack from their immune systems, identify if there are in fact already concurrent autoimmune targets and perhaps even provide a clue as to underpinning drivers. Well, look what she found! (more…)

Is Your GP Doing it Tough Right Now?

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…)

The Rachel Arthur Mentorship Program Honour Roll for 2017

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…)

Two Women Over 70 Walk Into A Room…

No this is not a joke. The room they enter happens to be the clinic space of a practitioner I mentor.  The older women are friends, both originally from the UK and they sit in on one another’s consultations sharing many of the same experiences: grief over loved ones lost, memories, laughter and both describe waking in the morning with a sense of dread, because they’re tired, feel they’ve lost their oomph, their motivation, their chutzpah…that’s mostly why they’ve come today.

But know what else these two have in common?  (more…)

We Have A Winner… Among Many!

dang sarah

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…)

Don’t get me started …

 

Screen Shot 2017-09-21 at 10.03.10 am

 

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…)

Does Saturated Fat Increase the Uptake of Endotoxins?

Jason ASLM

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…)

Is This You?

RAN Internship
When I was studying my undergraduate I sat at the front of the class, especially for the medical sciences.  My chemistry lecturer tried to talk me into transferring to chemistry.  My biochemistry lecturer tried to convince me to become a biochemist.  But what I loved was the union of the two: medical sciences and naturopathy.  As a student I hogged all Q and A opportunities and I am confident I annoyed many many people.  If this sounds familiar, not because you were a classmate and I still annoy you (!), but because you could also be labelled a ‘lab lover’, a ‘pathology perv’ and an EBM evangelist…then this might just be for you.  You can find out by answering these Qs…
(more…)

‘Take Me To Your Master!’

ufo-1951536_960_720

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:

(more…)

Joining the Campfire Conversation

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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…)

Beaming About My BIMA

BioCeuticals Integrative Medicine Awards_22.4.17_149

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…)

Elusive Integration?

integration

Just back from a truly wonderful Australasian Integrative Medical Association (AIMA) conference in NZ.  I don’t know what it is about the land of the long white cloud but they seem to produce some of the loveliest, most earnest health practitioners and this conference reflects this, setting itself apart each year as a result of its very organic mix of speakers (general practitioners, naturopaths, nurses, specialists) who are all equally embraced and lauded. To boot we had medical students invited to attend this year and guess what, these 20 or so med students…they stayed for the full weekend much to everyone’s surprise(!), loved it and want more. Really.  At the AIMA NZ conference, on the two occasions I have spoken, I feel a sense of coming home…no I don’t mean I am about to move there (too cold!!) but I mean coming home to integrative medicine. (more…)

Are You Over-Delivering?

overloaded

This year has kicked off with lots of time spent re-calibrating my own and other practitioners’ businesses models via business mentoring and it’s such a privilege.  One symptom that seems to creep into almost every practitioner’s business model though, is one of over-delivery. (Curse that empathy and all those good hearts hey!)  Over-delivering comes in many forms, it might sound or look like this…

“I always run over”

Rather than responding to this with further self-criticism and , pledging better allegiance to the clock – we could hear this as a reflection that our appointment structure is out-dated or unsuitable.  We need to restructure to allow for the time we really do spend and need to spend with our clients and then adjust the appointment fees appropriately. Having said that be aware of the other golden oldie: (more…)

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