Christmas, honesty and setting limits …

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Ok, so the crazy season is fast approaching. As much as it can be a time of great happiness… good food, time with friends and family, watching little kids throw away the presents and play with the box instead…. it can also be quite challenging.

As part of my focus on gratitude I am aware of the incredible blessings of my life. Beautiful children and family, lovely friends, food, water, shelter and love. Who could ask for more?

I am also aware that even with all the big stuff in place, and particularly if you are not as blessed, Christmas can be a trying time. Isolation, family conflict, financial stress or the grief of the people who are no longer here can all make for a lot less ho ho ho and can leave you feeling like you just wish it would all quietly roll on to January and be done with it.

So what to do ? Firstly I would urge you to check out some of the wise and helpful musings of Ingrid Poulson  www.ingridpoulson.com and her blogpost on “Christmas driving you crackers”  for a dose of helpful ideas. Secondly, I would suggest that you try what we are doing this year.

My policy this year, as far as dealing with Christmas stuff, is to be honest and set limits to what is ok for me and my family. Some health issues and wide family commitments have meant that we are not up for the big Christmas shebang this year. Normally I love cooking up the vego feast and all the oohing and aahing of presents and crackers but this year we are just not there and that’s ok.

By speaking the truth and simply saying “we have stuff going on and although we love you all we just need a little down time and some Christmas calm this year” things are turning out to be completely ok. We are actually looking forward to a simple day, no stress, no fuss, yummy food, a few little gifts.

So if you are feeling the pressure or are overwhelmed by it all and feel the need to rethink things why not try honesty. You may just be surprised by how well it is received. By being honest and setting limits you not only honour yourself and the needs of your family but you also open yourself up to the empathy and compassion of the people who love you most.

Keep an eye out for my upcoming Christmas time recipes….

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The benefits of doing nothing ….

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A couple of nights ago I was watching TV with my daughter Georgie. An ad came on for some new multivitamin product claiming it would give you energy to keep going all day, non stop, rushing around like crazy – but that’s ok because you have taken your pills and now you need never stop !

Amazingly, in a quiet and knowing way, Georgie said “why is never stopping, or resting or being quiet seen as such a good thing?” – and she was absolutely right. We are caught up in a vortex of doing. Of rushing from one thing to another and wondering where the days went. I am as guilty as anyone of saying’ where did the day, week, year go?”

I feel fortunate to have a good life balance of running my clinic from a studio at my home, working a day or two a week away from home, looking after my family and still having enough time to garden, read and cook. And I still often feel rushed. So I am wondering how so many people cope with such a distinct lack of unplanned, unaccounted for, nothing much going on time. No wonder so many people are dealing with health issues related to stress, lack of exercise and the perils of convenience food.

So this is my challenge for you this weekend – find an hour or two for nothing. Leave space for some quiet. Open up to the possibility that there are benefits to slowing down for a while. See what happens- maybe something great will come from it, or maybe not, maybe you will just remember how good it is to feel calm.

Watching out for our most vulnerable – mental health for teenagers and children

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Did you know that 1 in 5 children or teenagers are affected by a mental health issue ? Depression, anxiety, compulsive disorders, self harm – these are all very confronting topics and difficult enough to deal with as an adult. Take a moment to think how it must feel to be a child or young person trying to navigate their way through a mental minefield.

For people aged between 18 and 24, the prevalence of mental health issues is the highest of any age group. If you feel like a child or young person you care about is struggling you should know that there is help at hand. The worse thing to do is to put your head in the sand. It can be difficult to discuss but, handled carefully and with kindness and respect, you can see this as the first step to helping someone get their life back on track. Talking helps take away the shame, embarrassment and stigma often associated with these types of problems. The person who says they have never had a time of mental turmoil or difficulty is lying. Let your kids know that you understand and that they have nothing to be ashamed of.

It can be difficult to work out whether your child is feeling depressed or anxious or just going through some normal teenage turmoil. My thoughts are that it is better to be safe than sorry. Talk to your child. Let them know they are not alone in feeling this way. If it is a passing thing – great – at least your child knows you cared enough to talk with them. If it is something more serious you have made the first step towards getting some support and getting better.

Look for the signs – social withdrawal, a change in school or work abilities, use of drugs or alcohol as self medication, teariness, changed sleep patterns, changed appetite or weight fluctuations, risky behaviours, anxiety, racing heart, hyperventilation, feelings of overwhelm.

At NaturoCath Naturopathy we provide a caring, supportive and effective environment. We employ a number of strategies to help you and your child through this difficult time. We look for underlying causes such as thyroid disorders, nutritional deficiencies, adrenal issues and hormonal imbalances. We treat with herbal medicine support which offers effective treatment of symptoms without any risk of suicidal tendency associated with some antidepressants or any issues of addiction or withdrawal.

Along with herbal and nutritional support we offer counselling from a qualified and compassionate counsellor with many years experience dealing with young peoples special needs.

There is no pigeon holing, no addictive medications, no sedatives or mind altering medications and no hard and fast rules. Call today for the help you need.

Frantic Friday

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It’s been a bit of a week – lots and lots of things to do and I have found myself getting just a bit frantic. So much for all my talk about staying stress free and keeping the balance in your life. Fortunately this is pretty unusual for me so I guess I’m not much good at it.

I got home last night to find my beloved greeting me with a smile big enough to light up the world and a bunch of flowers on the bench to cheer me. I proceeded to talk loudly and fast without really listening and hardly drawing breath between my various rants. We had a conversation that I can’t even remember and I was so busy writing mental lists that I really wasn’t paying any attention at all. I was stuck somewhere in my blender head and so it went… on and on and on…I decided to write a blog about it all and just as I realised how crazy I was being the internet dropped out and I lost everything I had written. Tears were close and all my good intentions went out the window. I think we have all had days like this. Hopefully they are few and far between.

I lay on the couch and sulked for a bit. Again my beloved stepped up – rubbing my feet quietly while I calmed down.

I went to bed last night then spent way too long tossing and turning and woke a few times in the night still making those mental lists and thinking about all the things I was yet to do. Ok, enough now. There is only one thing to do … STOP !  Get a grip ! Calm down…

I woke up this morning feeling a little frazzled and again, you guessed it, Super Husband strikes again with a cup of tea in bed and a big squeeze before he headed off on his own incredibly busy day. It’s a very fortunate thing to be so well loved when you probably least deserve it.

It is so easy to get on the crazy train. When I am frantic I am ineffective, stressy and not all that nice to be around and I don’t want to be that person at all. So what to do now ? Well I am going to read my book, be still and quiet for a while and then I am going to go and find that husband of mine and tell him what a blessing he is to me. I guess if that doesn’t work there is always valerian !

Herb of the Week – Passionflower

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Passionflower is one of my favourite herbs. This safe, gentle and effective herb gives great relief from insomnia, anxiety and depression. It has also been used effectively in the control of high blood pressure, neuralgia pain, sciatica, shingles and migraine. Due to it’s calming affect on the central nervous system it is also beneficial for people suffering with muscle spasm, nervous tics, Parkinson’s Disease and asthma.

Some studies have shown passionflower to be as effective as benzodiazapines. Fortunately it has none of the addictive qualities of these pharmaceutical drugs. The dosage is able to be tailored to your specific needs and situation to avoid any feeling of drowsiness or incapacitation usually associated with those types of drugs.

If you are feeling anxious, agitated or are having trouble sleeping passionflower is one of the safest first line treatments to help you get back on track.

Get in touch to see how I can help you

T 02 45677104

E info@naturocath.com.au

W http://www.naturocath.com.au

Dry July

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Do you drink beer, wine or spirits on a regular basis ?  In the interest of disclosure I have a glass or two of wine about four times a year. I’m not much of a drinker – more of a one pot screamer really. One glass I get loud and silly, two glasses and I’m asleep on the couch.

Drinking is such a big part of our social and cultural life. It can be a really nice way to spend an evening – some great food and a nice glass of wine – but it’s good to remember that alcohol is a depressant drug, slowing the central nervous system and putting a strain on detoxifying organs.

I was talking to a client recently who was telling me about how he is trying “Dry July” – a month alcohol free. It was a big decision for him to make given that he drinks around 2-4 alcoholic drinks every day. He wan’t sure about his ability to stay with it for the whole month but I think it’s great that he is giving it a try. One of the most valuable things he has gained from the experience so far is recognising that he isn’t waking up with his usual nasty headache which has become part of his daily life. It took a couple of weeks grog free for him to make the connection that this was the cause of his regular headache and morning fogginess.

We talked about his reasons for drinking – work stress, habit, to help him sleep – and looked at other ways we could address these issues without so much alcohol.

There are some scary facts out there about Australia’s alcohol consumption. According to the NHMRC 1:5 of us drinks at levels which place us at risk of alcohol related disease or injury.

81% of men and 84% of women drink alcohol on a regular basis. ABS statistics tell us that (for every person over the age of 15) 10.3 litres , or 2.3 drinks every day, are consumed annually. When you consider that some of us drink very little or not at all, some people out there must be hitting it hard.

Some people or groups just shouldn’t go anywhere near this stuff – pregnant women, anyone under the age of 18, those with known kidney or liver dysfunction, people dealing with mental illness and most medications are not great when mixed with alcohol.

The long term effects of regular alcohol use include :

  • heart damage
  • high blood pressure and stroke
  • liver disease
  • cancers of the digestive system
  • other digestive system disorders (eg stomach ulcers)
  • sexual impotence and reduced fertility
  • increasing risk of breast cancer
  • sleeping difficulties
  • brain damage with mood and personality changes
  • concentration and memory problems
  • nutrition-related conditions
  • risks to unborn babies.
  • increased risk of inflammation, insulin resistance
  • increased risk of depression and anxiety
  • obesity
  • stress on kidney, liver and pancreas

Even though this list is alarming alcohol is fairly low risk if the recommended guidelines are stuck to. A good guide is no more than two alcoholic drinks daily and at least three alcohol free days a week.

I am sometimes asked about red wine and it’s cardioprotective properties. Red wine, drunk in moderation, may have heart protective effects. Studies have shown that red wines contain powerful antioxidants that come from the skins of the grapes used to make the wine. Different grape antioxidants have different effects. One, which is only found in red wine, increases the level of good (HDL) cholesterol in the blood while simultaneously lowering the level of bad (LDL) cholesterol. Resveratrol, the antioxidant in red wine is available in a tablet form and this is my preferred method of getting the benefits.

If you feel like you may have a problem with alcohol, wonder if you are drinking too much or of you would like some help getting back on track call me today. Tel 02 45677104 – your liver will thank you for it.

Read more: http://www.naturaltherapypages.com.au/article/the_effects_of_alcohol#ixzz21DJkBuDq

Real help and compassionate treatment for panic and anxiety disorders….

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I have just read an article entitled “High Anxiety” in the Good Weekend Magazine of the Sydney Morning Herald. My mind is a whirling blur of reactions  – I feel furious, saddened and disappointed on behalf of the millions of people who have sought help for anxiety and panic disorders only to be given this drug which gives them very short term ‘relief’ and as an added extra, a drug addiction ( after only one weeks use ) which is said to be more difficult to kick than heroin to add to their woes.

Anxiety and panic disorder is one of our most common mental health issues currently affecting about 2 million Australians. It’s been around for as long as anyone can remember in different guises and under an umbrella of different names – PTSD, , frayed nerves, highly strung, panic attacks, neurosis – and you would think that the medical and pharmaceutical professions would have a better handle on things than to prescribe drugs of addiction which actually inhibit the patients ability to deal with their anxiety.

How does a drug like this get through the TGA and how can these big pharma companies ever feel ok about making a profit from people’s misery ? We all hear their speils about how they are caring for our health. One quick look at the Pfizer website and their banner reads “Wellness. Prevention. Treatment. Cure” – Wowser – what a bunch of rubbish that is. I have no doubt that some pharmaceutical drugs can be a literal life saver for people suffering from serious mental illness but surely the aim of treatment is wellness not dependence.

One reason these types of drugs, benzodiazapines, cause so many probelms is that they act by calming the brain and actually slowing it’s functioning. We have a natural brain chemical called GABA which plays this role and when we add these type of drugs to the mix our brains stop making GABA as there is less need. As soon as we stop taking the drug we find ourselves with a brain which has no calming GABA and the panic and anxiety rises rapidly giving the nasty, and often terrifying, withdrawal symptom of unchecked anxiety run rampant. It only takes about a week for your brain to adjust to making less GABA hence the idea that you become ‘addicted’ after a week or so of taking these drugs. The withdrawal effects, even after just one week can include hallucinations, racing heart, high blood pressure, tremors, confusion and rebound spiky anxiety – sounds like a panic attack on roids to me.  It takes another week for your brain to start adjusting back to the lack of GABA and the week or two lag time can be truly horrendous. The absolutely heartbreaking thing about this is that it is a very risky time in terms of suicide, self harm and major depressive episodes.

The idea of treating these disorders in this way makes no sense to me. Surely someone dealing with these issues needs and deserves compassion, care, support and treatment which helps them to be able to deal with and overcome the disorder in order to live a full and happy life. Drug addiction and rebound anxiety doesn’t really gel with that.

Anxiety and panic disorders are plain awful and can be very isolating. Just about everyone I have seen in my clinic who is dealing with these issues feels a degree of embarrassment, shame and loss of quality of life and that they are the only ones feeling this way. Let me tell you it’s way more common than you think and affects people across every spectrum of society. You need not feel alone and help is here when you are ready.

As a naturopath my first thought is to try to identify any factors which may be causing or exacerbating your anxiety. There are many factors such as thyroid disorders, poor blood glucose control, hormonal imbalances, magnesium and B vitamin deficiencies which can impact on these conditions and exacerbate symptoms.

I use a combbination of nutritonal supplements, herbal medicines, counselling and dietary changes to help you get control of your symptoms while addressing the causal factors.

Some symtpoms of panic and anxiety include :

• Muscle tension • High blood pressure • Hypervigilance •

• Dizziness • Palpitations • Trembling • Sweating

• Feelings of unreality • Fatigue • Impaired concentration • Irritability

• Excessive worry/sense of impending doom  • Sleep disturbances

If you are suffering from panic, anxiety or depression please call to see how I can help you.

NaturoCath – Caring. Encouraging. Supportive

Tel : 02 45677104

email : info@naturocath.com.au

busy, BUSY, CRAZY BUSY

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Know the feeling ?  It’s been one of those weeks. It seems like I haven’t stopped and there hasn’t been any time made for the things that keep me healthy and sane ! My fuse is feeling kind of short and my head is a blender of thoughts and to do lists.

I guess we all need these times to remind us of how important it is to stop and breathe. It’s hard to always be on top of things and life just gets a little crazy sometimes so my aim for today is to slow my heart rate a bit, read my book, cook some food, tend my vege patch,  spend some time with my trio of lovely children and warm up by the fire.

I can already hear my little inner cranky person chiding me ” you haven’t been to the gym since Monday !!!!” but I am just going to turn down the volume on that one today and start again next week.

I hope you all have a lovely, restful, healthy weekend.

Herb of the Week – KAVA

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Kava, piper methysticum, is used safely and effectively in naturopathy for the treatment of anxiety and it bears no relation to the hallucinogenic and drugging drink of the islands that many people may have heard of.

One in five people will have an experience of anxiety in their lifetime and for many this can be a very stressful, frightening and debilitating time.

Many studies have shown that kava can be as effective a treatment for anxiety as benzodiazepines and has the added benefit of not having any issues of addiction, brain fog or dulling of emotions. Another benefit is that this herb can be used on an ‘as needed’ basis rather than being on sedating medications which can leave you feeling flat, fatigued and emotionally dulled. It also has the benefit of not having the same weight gain and libido crushing issues often associated with antidepressant and anti-anxiety drugs.

Kava, quite simply, is a relaxant, antianxiety, muscle relaxant herb and can be used for anxiety, panic attack, insomnia, emotional stress, muscle tension and cramp.

If anxiety is a problem for you call me today to find out how I can safely and effectively help you through the use of herb, nutritional supplements and counselling we can get you back on track.

The winter blues

Many of us suffer from low mood during the winter months. Sometimes it is just a case of the dark, cold days getting us down, vitamin deficiency or life stresses. Some people have a very distinct annual ‘down time’ which coincides with winter and for these people it is important to get the help you need before the blues set in.

If you feel that you could do with a mood boost or if you are suffering with any of the following symptoms don’t feel you have to deal with it alone. I can help and you would be surprised by just how common this seasonal low mood is.

Herbal medicines, nutritional supplements, counselling and diet and lifestyle help can get you back on track and breezing through winter feeling better than ever.

Common symptoms of low mood include difficulty concentrating, persistent sadness, fatigue, irritability, weight fluctuations, sleeplessness, low libido and anger.

Call me today to see how I can help. 02 45677104   0414 298645

Gratitude Day 4 :  I am grateful and humbled by the trust of my clients in sharing their stories with me.