Adrenal Fatigue ….that wired and tired feeling

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You sleep all night but wake up tired. The first thing you want in the morning is coffee and sugar. The mid morning slump and coffee craving are regular parts of your day. By midday you are hoping for an afternoon nap. Dinner time is when you find some energy then fade again by 9pm.  Can’t concentrate. Forgetful. Craving carbs, Hair is falling out. No time to feel sick but when you do you go down hard.   Sound familiar ?????

It could be adrenal fatigue…

Our adrenals are small glands located on top of your kidneys. They regulate our stress response by releasing adrenalin and cortisol. Stress comes in lots of forms –
Physical – injury, excess weight, pain
Emotional – upset, stressed, overwhelmed, grief, anxiety
Mental – studying, long bouts of concentration, work

We experience different kinds of stress but it all has the same effect on our bodies – a release of cortisol and adrenaline.  These hormones are known as the fight or flight response and traditionally provided us with a quick response to get us up and running from threats and once the danger had passed, to rest and digest. Unfortunately our lives can often feel like a constant barrage of stressful events.

Cortisol is the hormone that protects our bodies from the free radical damage that adrenaline causes. To create cortisol our bodies need protein, stomach acid to break it down, zinc, b vitamins, vitamin c, and magnesium. These nutrients are also needed for lots of other body functions so making sure you have enough, especially when you’re stressed, is hugely important.

Ways to look after your adrenals…

Sleep – aim for at least seven hours per night.
When you feel exhausted try lying flat for 10 minutes. This gives your body cues that you are responding to your stress and slows the adrenal response.
Smile – There are lots of studies proving the positive effects on stress hormones and the adrenals when a person feels happy. Be careful about what you let into your head – avoid negativity, steer clear of the sad/scary movies.
Move you body– just 20 minutes of gentle exercise daily reduces stress and adrenaline. Remember you are not doing this to train or lose weight – just enjoy a walk in the sun or a leisurely bike ride.
Swap caffeine and sugar for real nutrients – make sure you are getting plenty of  zinc, vitamin C, B’s, magnesium, and protein. Caffeine and sugar actually cause direct stress to the adrenals so while it may feel like a short term solution its actually creating a long term problem.
Try to do something for yourself or ask for some help – all too often the person with adrenal fatigue is the one who is looking after everyone else.
Get some help with your health – herbs, supplements, diet and stress management can help you feel good again. Talking to someone about your stress and how to manage it can help you feel more in control and get you back on track faster.

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Something for Cate…

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Firstly, apologies for my absence. I have been feeling heartbroken. My very dear friend of many, many years died a week or so ago and I am feeling the loss of her keenly. I have been feeling quiet and blue thinking of her and missing her presence. I’ve been remembering how she lived her life and how incredibly brave she was. It was complicated, colourful, loving, passionate, opinionated and messy at times. It was motherhood, friendship, moving all over the country, big heartfelt hugs, bright lipstick. It was real, brave and a little bit crazy at times. In other words, a memorable, meaningful life which may have only lasted 50 years but she sure packed a lot in. Even in the last few weeks when the prognosis was dire she was still sitting at my kitchen bench cracking jokes and telling me she was liking how good she was getting at saying f**k whenever she felt it all overwhelming her. We drank tea and chatted with our kids like old times and my heart was feeling thankful and broken all at the same time.

Some of my most treasured memories of Cate are about kids and food. Our children were little ones together and there were LOTS of days of hanging out with our tribe of kids, making play dough and changing nappies. We made sandwiches and pancakes for the hungry hoard we had created. She transformed what could have been quite an isolating time (I was a young Mum and none of my other friends had babies yet) into something entirely different. With Cate I found my way. Tie dyeing onesies and cloth nappies, going apple picking with a bunch of preschoolers, sewing up a storm and generally feeling reassured that this simple, loving, maternal life I had so desperately yearned for was something she understood too.

One of my strongest memories is sitting on Cate’s front step with a big mug of tea, no doubt some strange brew that she had recently taken a shine to – I remember a liquorice tea stage that lasted way too long for me – and a bowl of her burghul salad. For Mums running around after six kids under six the idea that we could actually carve out a few minutes to sit in the sun with something other than toast for lunch felt like an afternoon at a day spa. For a woman who was never blessed with great wealth she sure lived a rich life and I feel incredibly lucky that she shared some of it with me.

In honour of my darling friend and all she gave to me I share with you Cate’s perfect lunch time salad. May you all have a friend like her and hold them dear…..

Cate’s Salad

1 cup bulgur ( cracked wheat )
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 red onion, finely diced
1 red capsicum diced
1 small cucumber, diced
1 cup finely chopped fresh parsley ( dill and basil is also good, or a mixture of all three )
1 can lentils or chickpeas, drained and well rinsed

Dressing
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
1 teaspoon sugar
Salt and Pepper to taste

Place the burghul in a bowl and pour over 1 1/4 C boiling water.  Add a teaspoon of salt and cover with cling wrap. Leave for 30 minutes or until all the water has been absorbed. Uncover and fluff with a fork.

While the burghul is soaking cut up all the other veggies and herbs and mix together your dressing ingredients. We liked to soak the red onion in cold water for about 10-15 minutes to lessen the rawness of the onion.

Mix together all ingredients and stir through dressing adding salt and pepper as needed.

Serve with a nice chunk of good bread if you have it and of course, a cup of hippy tea.

Feel free to change the vege and herb ingredients according to what you have in the fridge. Cate’s version was always a surprise and usually involved whatever herbs she had growing in a pot on her back steps. It was always yummy but that may have been the love in it.

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Mother’s Day

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Some of you may be aware that I have taken up the challenge and opportunity of being publicly grateful for 365 days. I’m up to day 177 and it was especially easy for me to be thankful today.

Here’s my post for today   ”  Day 177 – Today I am feeling incredibly grateful and blessed to have my trio of delights with me on Mothers Day. I have been loved up and am feeling overwhelmed by their kindness.
I am also sending a big hug out into the universe for my own mother who has been gone for many years now and to all of you who are missing your mums today xxx  ”

I have three truly amazing children. They are the best friends you could ever hope for… loyal, kind, thoughtful, honest, insightful, ethical, loving and quick to cuddle. What more could a mother want ?

Today I have felt so loved – cups of tea in bed, hand picked flowers, pancakes for breakfast, beautiful heartfelt cards. I am so blessed and have been mindful of the fact that not all of us have our mothers or children with us and the heartache of that can be oh so profound.

For the past 13 years Mother’s Day has been a hard one for me. My mother died a painful and cruel death at the hands of the cancer which had managed to work itself into just about every inch of her body. I have missed her and longed for her to know my children and to meet my huge hearted husband. She has been robbed of so much in not knowing them.

Over the last few years many of my dear friends have lost their mothers. Frighteningly it has been mostly to cancer of one horrible sort or another. I don’t think you ever truly get used to the idea of being motherless no matter how old you are and the loss of that incredibly intimate relationship can never truly be replaced.

I am also aware of people who, for one reason or another, have not been able to have the children they so desired. It something I am thankful that I never had to face.

It can be a tough gig this motherhood but the great things are never without effort.

So here’s to all the mothers in all their forms. Birth mothers, foster mothers, kind hearted women who love us like a mother, grandmothers, childless mothers who have yet to fulfil their hopes and to the children we love so much.

Happy Mothers Day xx

PVAG, Indian spiced rice and the ultimate vegan cupcakes…..

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I have always admired PFLAG – parents and friends of lesbians and gays. I completely love the fact that they are happy to stand up and say ‘this is my child, I am loving who they are and supporting them in any way I can’. In the spirit of all this parental lovingness I have decided to instigate the Kurrajong Heights chapter of PVAG – parents of vegan/vegetarian amazing girls !!!!!

It hasn’t been a huge leap for us to change our ways from vegetarian to a more vegan friendly diet but it has taken a bit of effort and the desire to be supportive and interested. Our beautiful conscious girl has made a choice to be kinder to the planet, all it’s inhabitants and to her own body. What an amazingly astute choice for someone of such tender years. It has taken commitment, determination, some strength in standing up to those who think she is just ‘going through a phase’ and quite a bit of forward thinking. She is making considered choices for herself and for the greater good. It is sometimes expensive and can often mean that she misses out when other people are unable or unwilling to cater to her dietary choices. This is where I come in – not on my watch.

We are having a family picnic tomorrow to celebrate a birthday. I am determined that my gorgeous girl will not miss out and in the spirit of respecting her decisions, keeping her belly full and making her taste buds sing I having been cooking up a vegan storm.

Pasta salad ( Barilla brand pasta is generally egg free) with avocado dressing instead of sour cream, Indian spiced rice with pistachios, herbs and peas, big yummy green salads form the garden and some truly delish gingerbread cupcakes with cinnamon and maple syrup fluffy icing.

There is nothing here that screams VEGAN. No nasty meat substitutes, no strange tofu/fake cream cheese dressings, not a lentil in sight. Just good for you, good for the planet, satisfying food to nourish body and soul.

Why not give these recipes a go – I bet you wont even notice they are vegan. Who knows, you may even become a member of PVAG Kurrajong Heights.

Nothing says I love you, I care about you and I respect your choices more than getting on board with your kids decisions. Be proud of them, honour who they are and raise up a mighty HUZZAH for the great good fortune that they came to you.

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Indian Spiced Rice. 

1 cup jasmine or basmati rice
1/4 cup olive  – this may seem like a lot but it forms the dressing for the rice
2 spanish onions
2 cloves garlic
1 tablespoon on cumin
1 tablespoon mustard seeds or roasted black sesame seeds
I teaspoon of turmeric or some saffron threads soaked in a little warmed soy milk
6 cardomom pods
1 cup fresh or frozen peas
1 cup sheeled pistachios or cashews
Good handful of herbs – parsley, chives, mint.
2 tablespoons red wine vinegar

Cook rice.
Fry onions and garlic till soft and caramelised, add spices and fry for a minute or so until fragrant. Add rice to frypan and stir till coated. Allow to cool then add all other ingredients.

Gingerbread cupcakes

1 1/4 cups flour
1/2 cup  brown sugar
2  teaspoons ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon freshly ground nutmeg
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 mashed banana
1/2 cup soy milk
1/2 cup treacle
1/4 cup real maple syrup
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
2 teaspoons lemon juice
1 teaspoon of egg replacer mixed with 1/4 cup water – this is optional – it makes the cakes a bit fluffier but they will still be yummy without it. If you are ok with eggs you can just add 1 egg to the mix.

Preheat oven to 180 degrees.  Mix all dry ingredients in a medium sized bowl.   In small mixing bowl, mix wet ingredients. Pour wet ingredients into the dry ingredients bowl and mix until combined and there are no lumps. Do not over-mix. Place cupcake pans into tray and fill to about 2/3.  Bake 15-20 minutes or until toothpick comes out clean.  Makes 12.

When cool ice with maple syrup icing and top with toasted flaked almonds for extra yumminess.

1/3 cup Nuttelex or butter
3 tablespoons maple syrup
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
1 tablespoon soy milk
1 heaped teaspoon of cinnamon
2 cups icing sugar

Beat butter/Nuttelex till fluffy then add all other ingredients adjusting the amount of soy milk and icing sugar to get the consistency you like. Pipe onto cooled cupcakes or spread over the top and sprinkle on the almonds.

Mothers

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It has been 13 years today since I saw my mother. She died of cancer and the void that is left from her passing never goes away. She was at a time in her life when she was enjoying her grandchildren and living a more settled and happy existence. I still think of her most days and feel so sad that she has missed the chance to watch my children become the fantastic people they are and to see how happy I am. Isn’t that what most mothers want ? Just to see their kids and grandkids healthy and living good lives.

I once heard cancer described as the Big C with no answer. Thankfully things are changing and improving all the time and the diagnosis of cancer is not always the death sentence that it once was. Survival and cure rates are always increasing and new therapies are becoming available. Research into ways of avoiding developing cancer in the first place and new information about carcinogenic diets, lifestyles and exposure is more mainstream. I wish she had known about these things.

On this particular day I am sending out my hope for a cure and my blessings to anyone dealing with this horrible condition. I hope that you have found people to surround you with the support, information and the care that you need.

We owe it to all those people whose lives have been cut short to live ours in the best way we can. Eat well, take care of yourself, stay away from the nasties, smile a lot and be grateful for all that you have.

If you are lucky enough to still have your mother around take the time to let her know that you appreciate her.

Vale Mum.

The Top 10 Herbs for Women.

Some of you who have subscribed to my email newsletter may have already read this article. For those of you who are new to NaturoCath I hope you find this information helpful and please contact me if I can help you.

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These herbs are essential to any naturopaths toolkit when dealing with health issues specific to women.

They are safe, effective and best of all, don’t come with the nasty side effects often associated with synthetic hormone treatments

1. BUPLEURUM – This herb is commonly used to treat PMT. It has a calming and pain relieving effect and is also a fantastic herb for liver support. Its hormone normalising function helps to deal with headache, stress, anxiety, fluid retention, mood swings and breast pain.

2. ANGELICA – Angelica is sometimes known as dong quia and is commonly used to help support red blood cell function and to regulate prostaglandin activity which is the cause of most period pains. It is also used effectively in the treatment of endometriosis and infertility.

3. BLACK COHOSH – used to treat menopausal symptoms such as hot flushes by reducing pituitary actions which causes these symptoms. Black cohosh is also known to work effectively by binding to serotonin receptors to calm hormone activity and stabilise brain chemistry.

4. CURCUMA – also known as turmeric, this herb is a powerful anti-inflammatory and cancer preventative.

5. LIQUORICE – this herb is a powerful tool in the treatment of conditions such as PCOS where there is excess testosterone. Symptoms of PCOS include weight gain, erratic or missed periods, facial hair, acne and infertility. This herb is normally combined with PEONY to stimulate ovulation.

6.WITHANIA – withatleast10%ofwomenover35showing signs of thyroid dysfunction this herb acts to support the thyroid gland. Low thyroid function can lead to a myriad of symptoms such as weight gain, loss of periods, depression, dry skin and hair, fatigue, memory problems. Withania is a strong antioxidant and protects the thyroid gland against autoimmune disorders

7.VITEX – alsoknownasCHASTETREEthisherbisfantastic for normalising menstrual cycles, infertility and painful periods.

8.COLEUS – used primarily for weight loss due to its positive effect on stimulating fat burning enzymes such as lipase. It also assists weight loss by stimulating thyroid function, ramping up a sluggish digestive/metabolic system and improves insulin sensitivity.

9.SHATAVARI – does you libido need a boost? This ayurvedic herb has long been used as a female tonic and contains chemical compounds known as saponins which stimulate hormone function in women leading to healthier sexual function.

10. SCHISANDRA – antiaging properties due to high antioxidant levels. Look great for longer !