Herb Garden

My articles


Is there more to melanoma than sunburn?

Palaeolithic diet

More about iridology

Eat fat to lose weight

What happens to your body within an hour of drinking a coke

How is your body flora?

Butter versus margarine

Swine flu

Health titbit


Poultices are an effective home remedy. A poultice is made of a soft, moist substance that is mixed to the consistency of a paste and then spread on a cloth. The cloth is then placed on a body surface with the paste in contact with the skin. Poultices act by increasing blood flow, relaxing tense muscles, soothing inflamed tissues and drawing toxins and impurities from an infected area. They can be used to relieve the pain and inflammation associated with acne, abscesses, boils, bruises, carbuncles, fibrocystic disease, fractures, enlarged glands in the neck, breast or prostate, leg ulcers, bee stings, sprains, sunburn, tumours and ulcerated eyelids. They are also used to break up congestion, draw out pus and remove embedded particles from the skin.

Poultices may be applied warm or cold, depending on the health need. Cold poultices are used to withdraw the heat from an inflamed or congested area. Warm poultices are used to relax spasms, draw out impurities and for pain relief.

Linseeds and clay are great to use for poultices. They mix up well into a paste and are both drawing. Linseeds are emollient which means they soothe and moisturize the skin. Clay is very absorbent, drawing out toxins and impurities, improving circulation of the blood and lymph and contracting and toning the skin. Clay is very rich in minerals with green clay being rich in silica, the mineral which helps strengthen the skin.

  • Hard seeds such as linseeds need to be ground in a coffee grinder.

  • Use about 1/4 - 1/2 a cup of linseeds or clay and add water to form a paste.

  • Apply directly to the skin and wrap the area with a cotton cloth or apply to a cloth and hold onto the skin.

  • Leave for 15-30 minutes and remove and re-apply if needed.

  • The skin may need moisturizing after using clay.

Remember to seek medical advice to monitor treatment.

Is there more to melanoma than sunburn?

The rate of diagnosis of the deadly form of skin cancer, Cutaneous Malignant Melanoma (CMM), has been steadily rising despite our efforts in avoiding the sun. It is well established that sunburn, especially in childhood, is associated with increased risk of CMM.

"Sunlight is the main environmental cause of most cutaneous melanomas. Exposure to intense bursts of ultraviolet radiation, especially in childhood, starts the transformation of benign (non-cancerous) melanocytes into a malignant (cancerous) phenotype."

The Lancet Vol 363 Issue 9410 Pg 728 28 Feb 2008.

However, there seems be more involved in developing skin cancer than simply sunburn.

"Paradoxically, outdoor workers have a decreased risk of melanoma compared with indoor workers, suggesting that chronic sunlight exposure can have a protective effect. Further, some melanomas form on sun-exposed regions; others do not."

Is there more than one road to Melanoma? The Lancet Vol 363 Issue 9410 Pg 728 28 Feb 2008.

Vitamin D is renowned for being a most potent anti-cancerous nutrient. It is now thought that the overall reduction in our Vitamin D levels due to lack of regular sunlight and avoidance of vitamin D rich foods to be another main contributor in the development of all cancers, particularly skin cancer.

"Vitamin D may halt the first stage of the cancer process by re-establishing intercellular junctions in malignancies having an intact vitamin D receptor....other scientists have found that the cells adhere to one another in tissue with adequate vitamin D, acting as mature epithelial cells. Without enough vitamin D, they may lose this stickiness along with their identity as differentiated cells, and revert to a stem cell-like state (allowing for cancer to develop)."

New Model Of Cancer Development: Low Vitamin D Levels May Have Role ScienceDaily (May 22, 2009).

It is also current knowledge that the UVA which indoor workers are exposed to may also be contributing to increases in skin cancer rates.

"Intense, intermittent outdoor UV overexposures and sunburns initiate CMM; we now propose that increased UVA exposures and inadequately maintained cutaneous levels of vitamin D3 promotes CMM."

Medical Hypotheses vol 72, 4 Pg 434-443 April 2009.

Our modern day increase in sugar consumption (including fruit) is likely to be contributing to rises in cancer including CMM. In the body, sugar is inflammatory and oxidizing. Within the skin sugar not only promotes aging but creates an environment which encourages cancer cell growth (cancer cells thrive on glucose for energy).

There are also concerns over chemical sunscreens contributing to CMM and while it is important not to burn the skin a natural based sunscreen may offer better protection against CMM.

My current recommendation for helping to protect against skin cancer is to:

  • get regular sun exposure which does not burn the skin but leads to a 'healthy glow'.

  • avoid chemical based sunscreen, use clothing, hats and natural based sunscreen for protection when out for prolonged periods.

  • ensure your vitamin D levels are well maintained with regular and abundant butter, eggs, liver (from pastured animals) and Cod Liver Oil.

  • avoid sugar and over consumption of sweet fruits and fruit juices.

Palaeolithic diet

I have recently read a book called Primal Body-Primal Mind by Nora Gedgaudas which has prompted my study of the palaeolithic diet (paleo).

The basis of the paleo diet is that human beings as a species are essentially genetically identical to humans living more than 40,000 years ago. These humans lived on what nature intended for our genetic make-up. Biologically speaking we are hunter-gatherers and for most of our human existence we have been hunters and lived from what we can catch and the berries, vegetables and herbs which are grown in the wild. According to Loren Cordain, PhD professor of exercise and sports science and noted evolutionary diet researcher 'All humans require similar ranges of both macronutrients (fat, protein and carbohydrate) and micronutrients (vitamins and minerals) and all human groups have similar anatomical, physiological and endocrine functions in regards to diet and nutrition. We were all hunter-gatherers dependent on wild plants and animals, and these selective pressures shaped our present day requirements'.

What did the diet of our ancient ancestors look like? It is thought to consist largely of animal protein and fats including the organs (both cooked and uncooked), seafood, some wild vegetables and tart fruits and berries, some nuts and seeds, insects(!) and eggs. The fat intake is estimated to be 10 times that of our modern diet. It consisted of an abundance of omega 3 fats (which are higher in wild animals than farmed and are higher in seafood), monosaturated fats and plenty of saturated fat and cholesterol. Fat is thought to have been a prime commodity for its concentrated nutrient value. Of all the macronutrients (protein, fats carbohydrates) the only one that is non-essential, meaning we can live without, is carbohydrates. It seems that our caveman ancestors survived very well and disease free (and according to research) with significantly less carbohydrates than our modern diet. Carbohydrates (grains and starchy vegetables) are a modern food and our bodies do not have a great capacity to metabolise them.

How can we in our modern lives incorporate some of the principles of a caveman diet and experience the health benefits of doing so? Eat less but eat nutrient dense foods. If you have seen me as a client then you are probably taking Nordic Naturals Cod liver oil. This is important for providing naturally occurring essential omega 3 fatty acids and vitamins A and D which are so important for many areas of our health and yet so scarce in a modern diet. Eating organic, pastured animal products (including some of the organ meats and the accompanying fats) will supply the balance of fats and nutrients needed for optimum health. Growing some vegetables and herbs in your garden or on your window-sill or buying organic seasonal produce will provide fresh unsprayed phytonutrients. Most importantly, avoiding the high starch, highly processed sugars, cereals, breads, and other baked and 'white' foods our ancestors would not have recognised as food and replacing butter substitutes for the real thing. Finally, in our modern diet it is important to eat plenty of fresh vegetables for their antioxidant content as we are exposed to many more chemicals than our palaeolithic ancestors. I believe these to be great steps toward a diet which your body was genetically designed for.

More about iridology

Iridology is the assessment of the body according to the irides (the coloured area of the eye). Specific areas of the irides correspond to specific organs, tissues and body areas; and colours and textures suggest biochemical changes. The topography of the iris as it relates to the rest of the body has been mapped by practitioners who were able to study patients before and after operations and by confirming signs by the use of autopsies.

How does iridology work?

Nerve pathways from all over the body are continually sending information to the brain via the part of the brain known as the thalamus and the hypothalamus These parts of the brain are the basic monitors of all vital activities going on in the body. The thalamus and hypothalamus are connected by nerve fibres to the blood vessels, muscles and surface of the irides. From nerve impulses that are relayed from the thalamus and hypothalamus physiological changes develop in the iris tissue revealing information from all parts of the body with a nerve supply.

Eat fat to lose weight

Over the last century fats, particularly saturated and animal fats have gained an image of being the culprits for many of our modern ailments including weight gain. The aim of this small article is to offer some of the benefits of including good quality saturated fats in your diet and how they can help normalise your metabolism and weight.

Medium chain fatty acids found in butter and coconut oil boost metabolism by supporting thyroid function and by providing a good source of steady energy that is not easily stored as body fat.

Saturated fats, as part of a meal or snack, leaves you feeling satisfied. When eaten your body produces hormones in the stomach and intestine that signals your brain that you are full or satiated. Ongoing satiation also indicates to the brain that food is abundant. Without this mechanism your metabolism is geared toward storage. A low fat diet indicates to the brain that there is a food shortage.

Another mechanism for weight control is that saturated fats more so than any other food help reduce cravings by stabilising blood sugar levels. Fluctuating blood sugar levels mean fluctuating energy levels and increased chances of reaching for that chocolate bar to make it through the afternoon. Saturated fats also reduce cravings by increasing nutrient absorption from the food that you eat. When your body is nourished with the essential nutrients it needs you are less likely to experience cravings.

Saturated fats also provide a fabulous steady supply of energy making it more achievable to exercise regularly.

Saturated fats are found in many traditional foods. Enjoy good quality organic butter, eggs, cream, organic meat and coconut oil as part of a wholesome diet and avoid extracted vegetable oils and margarines except extra virgin olive oil.

What happens to your body within an hour of drinking a coke

In the first 10 minutes: 10 teaspoons of sugar hit your system. You don't immediately vomit from the overwhelming sweetness because phosphoric acid camouflages the flavour allowing you to keep it down.

After 20 minutes: Your blood sugar spikes, causing an insulin burst. Your liver responds to this by turning any sugar it can get its hands on into fat (there is plenty of sugar at this time).

After 40 minutes: Caffeine absorption is complete. Your pupils dilate, your blood pressure rises and as a response your livers dumps more sugar into your bloodstream. The adenosine receptors in your brain are now blocked preventing drowsiness.

After 45 minutes: Your body increases your dopamine production stimulating the pleasure centers of your brain, this is physically the same way heroin works (contributing to the addictive qualities of Coke).

After 60 minutes: The phosphoric acid binds calcium, magnesium and zinc in your lower intestine. This is compounded by high doses of sugar and artificial sweeteners also increasing the urinary excretion of calcium. The caffeine's diuretic properties come into play (it makes you have to urinate.) It is now assured that you'll evacuate the bonded calcium, magnesium and zinc that was headed to your bones as well as sodium, electrolytes and water. As the activity inside of you dies down you'll start to have a sugar crash. You may become irritable and/or sluggish. You've also now, literally, urinated away all the water that was in the Coke. But not before infusing it with valuable nutrients your body could have used for things like the ability to hydrate your system or build strong bones and teeth.

So there you have it, an avalanche of destruction in a single can. Imagine drinking this day after day, week after week.

How is your body flora?

A human body is inhabited by trillions of micro-creatures called your body's flora. Your flora consists mostly of different types of bacteria, which inhabit the digestive tract, the airways, parts of the reproductive system, the eyes, the ears and the skin. All these areas are lined with a bacterial layer which protects against pathogenic microbes, or 'germs'. When the organisms are predominantly beneficial then health follows, when they are predominantly pathogenic then disease follows. Of course there is more to health and disease than just this, but body flora, or more particularly digestive or gut flora, is showing to play a much bigger role in health than has been previously recognised. This adds weight to the statement made centuries ago by Hippocrates, the father of medicine, "All diseases begin in the gut". Following are some examples of the many areas influenced by gut flora.

Gut Flora and Digestion The health of the gut is directly related to the flora it holds. A predominance of pathogenic flora leaves the digestive system vulnerable to food poisoning, diarrhoea including traveller's diarrhoea, constipation, reflux, food intolerances and many other conditions. Good gut flora produce many antibacterial, anti-viral, anti-fungal substances which protect us against disease and maintains the integrity of the gut wall where the final stages of digestion takes place.

Gut Flora and Anaemia Some pathogenic organisms found in the gut such as Actinomyces spp and Mycobacterium spp require iron as food and will leave the host anaemic regardless of how much iron is being consumed.

Gut Flora and Immunity The immune system is directly influenced by the gut flora. Good gut flora ensures the production of different immune cells, immunoglobulins and balances the two arms of immunity, ie Th1 and Th2. A predominance of either will lead to diseases such as autoimmune diseases and atopic/allergic conditions.

Gut Flora and the Brain The treatment protocol for 'Gut and Psychology Syndrome' (GAPS) has been developed over many years by a UK doctor, with the unique qualifications of being a Neurologist and Nutritionist, Dr Natasha Cambell-McBride. The GAPS treatment protocol, which corrects gut flora and digestion, is proving very effective for brain and developmental disorders such as ADD, Autistic Spectrum Disorders, developmental delays, depression and anxiety. Through her research and clinical experience, she has determined a distinct correlation between unhealthy intestinal flora, poor digestion (low digestive enzymes) and toxicity from chemicals created by bad gut flora and undigested foods, which severely affect brain chemistry.

Many pathogens which reside in an unhealthy digestive system are known to produce alcohol, acetaldehyde and other neurotoxins that can result in autistic behavior and there are many more which have not been studied.

The focus of the GAPS treatment is on removing foods that feed the pathogenic gut flora, establishing healthy gut flora, normalising digestion, and minimising foods which are directly interfering with brain function and development while the gut heals. When the dietary protocol is adhered to I have seen both mental and physical health improvements.

For more information see What is GAPS on the GAPS Australia website and come to my talk on this topic.

Gut Flora and Meditation Being a long term meditator, I am also interested in the effects of gut flora on the clarity (or lack of clarity) of the mind. It is well known to complimentary health practitioners that pathogens such as candida spp can flourish in the gut and create what is termed 'brain fogginess'. Clear signs that indicate a likely candida overgrowth are poor concentration, feeling 'spacey', vague or unreal and brain fatigue. In meditation it is emphasised that we work with all states of mind that arise, including fogginess and spaciness! However if the digestive flora is out of balance and candida or other pathogens are flourishing and influencing the brain with their toxins, including alcohol, then addressing this is likely to have a positive effect on meditation.

Gut Flora and Weight Loss If you are one of my weight loss patients you will probably be surprised to learn that your gut flora or more specifically the flora in the stomach can influence your weight-loss efforts. Pathogenic or bad bacteria produce toxins (endotoxins) that create inflammation in the body. This influences weight as it halts energy production in the powerhouse of our cells, the mitochondria, and diverts calories to fat storage. These endotoxins from gram-negative bacteria also have an influence on insulin resistance. Beneficial gut flora is our main source of some B group vitamins as they produce them for us in our gut. B vitamins are essential for weight loss as they stabilise blood sugar levels, reducing cravings and are required by the mitochondria for energy production.

Butter versus margarine

Butter is one of my favourite foods. It tastes great and has numerous health benefits. Margarine generally contains less fat and cholesterol than butter, but it is not ideal.

Butter, which has been used for thousands of years, is made from animal products, making it high in cholesterol and saturated fat, which have been loosely linked to heart disease.

Margarine is made from polyunsaturated vegetable oils like corn oil, which do not contain saturated fats. Most people assume that margarines are heart-healthy, this is not exactly correct. The process of turning polyunsaturated oils into semisolid table spreads creates trans fatty acids, oxidises the oils creating free radicals and damages nutrients in the oil such as Vitamin E. These are now considered to be more detrimental to health than saturated fats.

Butter made from pasteurized cream is healthier than the highest quality margarine. Following is a list of health benefits from consuming butter:

  1. Butter is rich in the most easily absorbable form of Vitamin A necessary for many functions including thyroid and adrenal health. It seems to increase the bodies resistance to stress.
  2. Contains lauric acid, important in treating fungal infections and Candida.
  3. Contains lecithin, essential for liver function.
  4. Contains antioxidants that help protect against free radical damage and weakening of the arteries.
  5. Is a great source of Vitamins E and K.
  6. Is a very rich source of the vital mineral selenium which protects against cancer and is an anti-oxidant.
  7. Saturated fats in butter have strong anti-tumor and anti-cancer properties.
  8. Butter contains conjugated linoleic acid (CLA), which is a potent anti-cancer agent, muscle builder and immunity booster. CLA is only found in butter from pastured cattle not confined cattle.
  9. Vitamin D found in butter is essential to absorption of calcium.
  10. Protects against tooth decay.
  11. Is a source of iodine in a highly absorbable form.
  12. Is a source of medium-chain triglycerides, fats which are not stored in our bodies as fat tissue but readily used as energy. Do not easily contribute to weight gain.
  13. Cholesterol found in butterfat is essential to children's brain and nervous system development and hormone production.
  14. Protects against gastrointestinal infections due to antimicrobial effects.
  15. Anti-stiffness factor found in unpasturised (unheated) butter is preventative against arthritis, hardening of the arteries and cataracts.

For those with dairy intolerance ghee is a good alternative as it contains only the fat component in butter and negligible amounts of the allergenic proteins.

Swine flu

This article has been adapted from a Weston A Price notice.

You are all aware of the dire warnings about swine flu, the outbreak that started in the Mexican village of La Gloria. The internet is abuzz with warnings bordering on hysteria to a variety of conspiracy theories, and even to allegations that the pandemic is a government fabrication designed to sell stockpiles of anti-viral medications.

Conventional medical advice ranges from wearing face masks to taking the anti-viral drug called tamiflu, which can have many serious side effects. It is interesting to note that not once in all the media broadcasts have we heard any mention of building natural immunity. Fortunately, we do not have to sit back and listen to the news about swine flu feeling helpless and anxious. We can be proactive by simply nourishing ourselves and our families, getting adequate sleep and exercise and by fever management rather than suppression.

Vitamins A and D in cod liver oil offer strong protection against infection of all types, as well as against environmental toxins. This is what most of you will be on if you have been to see me as it is one of my standards for maintaining general health along with a good probiotic.

Healthy gut flora provide up to 85 percent of our protection against infectious disease. Be sure to consume healthy lacto-fermented foods and beverages every day and avoid the foods that disrupt gut flora, especially refined carbohydrates.

Vitamin C is important for optimum immunity. It is found in vitamin C-rich foods like sauerkraut, freshly squeezed citrus juice and most raw fresh fruit and vegetables.

Bone broth plays a double role of supporting the immune system and helping the body detoxify.

Swine flu is a lipid coated virus and thus is inactivated by sufficient amounts of monolaurin. Our bodies convert lauric acid, found in coconut oil, to monolaurin. Two to three tablespoons of coconut oil per day appears to be an adequate dosage to fight infection, even from virulent antibiotic-resistant organisms such as MSRA.

Health titbit

I was recently prescribed something really quite profound for my health that I would like to share with you. It invigorates and elevates your mood, helps you look great, is anti-aging and improves resistance to most diseases. It is very cheap and really quite easily come by...EXERCISE... regular consistent activity that raises heart rate and produces a light all over sweat. Actually I know that many of you already engage in regular exercise but I would like to expand on what you already know.

Some of the benefits of regular exercise are as follows:

  • Improves your resistance to most diseases.

  • Stress - reduces the negative effects of stress by allowing the body to physically 'burn up' the hormones that make us feel stressed and anxious.

  • Anti-depressant - studies have shown that exercise may be the most powerful natural anti-depressant available. It seems to be as effective as a mild anti-depressant for elevating mood - part of how it makes us feel great is by increasing our levels of beta-endorphins.

  • Weight Loss - stimulates metabolism and regulates appetite.

  • Detoxifying by promoting circulation, sweating and bowel movement.

  • Sleep - promotes improvement in sleep quality.

  • Improves immunity - regular exercise has been shown to increase natural killer cell activity by up to 100%. However strenuous activity (training for the Olympics!) can reduce immunity.

How much? It seems that it is regularity that is important - mild to moderate exercise that increases heart rate comfortably and produces a light all over sweat.