Complementary Medicine

Q: Do you know what they call ‘alternative medicine’that's been proved to work? 
A: Medicine.  From “Storm” by Tim Minchin

 I usually love Australian comic and musician Tim Minchin’s work but it’s fair to say we don’t see eye to eye on healthcare. It would seem however, that his attitude resonates with those who are skeptical about natural therapies.

Recently, I read a discussion thread in an online forum where someone had sought a recommendation for an acupuncturist in Canberra. More than half of the replies were along the lines of “it’s just hocus pocus, a scam, they’re snake oil salesmen, don’t waste your money” variety but much less kindly worded. I searched other complementary medicine modalities including naturopathy and osteopathy and found they got the same treatment. I was shocked at both the vitriol and the cynicism that some have towards well-established complementary medicine modalities.

On reflection I realized that the vast majority of the remarks come from people who have never tried the treatments themselves but nevertheless feel entitled to offer scathing and derogatory assessments. It’s like saying I don’t like that restaurant without ever having eaten there which would be galling enough, however the attitude extends to ridiculing the clientele who love the restaurant for being gullible fools for dining there and accusing the owners of the restaurant of knowingly serving food that has no substance or value. I find comments like these ill informed and patronizing. 

Perhaps this attitude comes from people who feel threatened by the massive growth in natural therapies. To those of us comfortable with a model of healthcare that embraces the concept of the body being able to heal itself and the notion that we need to attend to the wellbeing of body, mind and spirit this expansion in holistic medicine is a very welcome one. For others who cling to a narrower medical model, that if the doctor doesn’t prescribe it must be worthless and ineffective, it creates an ‘us vs them’ mentality. Natural therapies are therefore the enemy and must be attacked. 

I personally have always liked the term ‘complementary medicine’ as it encapsulates the notion that natural therapies, by looking at wellbeing from a different perspective can enhance and improve the healthcare of a society. There are clearly some areas where conventional medicine excels, acute and emergency medicine is one obvious example. If you’re in a nasty car crash you want to be taken to a hospital or if your child has a fever you want your GP to check them over. In other areas of health, complementary medicine is, in my opinion, better placed to help. If I had chronic migraines I’d want to see a osteopath; chronic digestive or skin complaints I’d want to see a naturopath; an auto immune disease or chronic anxiety I’d want to see an acupuncturist.

Additionally there are many areas where you really want to access the best of both worlds. If I was diagnosed with cancer I’d want the best of conventional and natural medicine working together to give me the greatest chance of survival and recovery.

As healthcare evolves we are, by necessity, moving to a world where there is more integration and cross-fertilization of wellbeing models and ideas. It wasn’t long ago that GP’s routinely dismissed the notion that diet had anything to do with disease. Now as research proves inadequate nutrition to be a core driver of disease, there is a massive demand for GP’s and naturopaths who specialise in nutritional medicine. Integrative medicine is growing because it’s the kind of medicine best placed to meet and solve the complex health needs of current Australians. 

Perhaps another way you can read Tim Minchin’s quote is that most of the principles and practices of alternative medicine will eventually be adopted and integrated into mainstream medicine, but it might take another generation or two. Fortunately, as an independent and progressive thinker you don’t have to wait but for now you may need to navigate past the naysayers and the critics.  

Wes Smith - Live Well Director

A Cure for Rheumatoid Arthritis

Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) is one of the conditions that I have found pretty challenging to treat. People would always walk out feeling much better after an acupuncture session but the insidious nature of this painful and potentially crippling auto-immune condition often meant the relief was short lived.

That’s why when I heard about the work of Australian researcher turned educator Clint Paddison who was having great success in helping people with RA I was very excited to find out more. Clint was kind enough to answer a few questions about his work and the secrets to his success.

Clint, you suffered from RA yourself, what did your own journey teach you about recovering from RA?

My early doctor told me "of all of the diseases that I would not want to get, RA would be at the top of my list". I thought he was being dramatic, but then I learned that RA really does create so much suffering. So I've learned to respect the seriousness of the disease and to apply great discipline to the parts of my life that can influence the disease outcome. 

How important is the health of your gut for healing from RA?

It is the most important thing. What we eat directly affects the joint pain. One time after a serious bout of food poisoning I didn't eat for over 24 hours. By the end of that fast I was almost pain-free, which made me realise how much of the pain had been coming from food. This started my intense research on the gut and RA.

Why do you think most doctors still say diet has no influence on RA?

1) Their patients keep doing small dietary modifications and getting mixed results, thus giving the impression that diet is hit and miss (or doesn't work at all). 2) It's easier to guide a patient solely into the pharmaceutical approach because it is accepted practice, despite it's shortcomings. 3) Many doctors are waiting on more trials or more data before making any changes to their approach - yet many smaller studies show clearly the direct impact diet plays in RA severity.

Can you be free of RA without drugs? 

In some cases yes, but there are many challenges. Firstly, many of the drugs used to manage the pain actually worsen the underlying cause. Drugs like prednisone, antibiotics and common anti-inflammatories have a strong negative impact on our gut health, which, in turn increases inflammation in the joints. Secondly, inflammation itself creates more inflammation by exacerbating 'leaky gut' so there is a snowball effect. It is therefore, imperative to keep inflammation low for internal healing to occur. Thirdly, gut healing takes a very long time. So remaining on somewhat restrictive low-inflammatory diet for many months is a challenge, along with the need for a solid amount of daily exercise. Despite the challenges involved, the benefits can be enormous. If someone with RA were to see even a partial improvement of their digestive health then this could enable a patient to require less medications to keep their disease under control - which would still be a valued outcome for many RA folks.

Given the difference between your approach and the prevailing medical protocols I’m sure there are some who would try and criticise or discredit your work, what do you say to them? 

Nothing beats results. If something is safe, natural, healthy and works then I'm thrilled to put it out into the world for people to benefit from. Most doctors want to see their patients improve, and are only happy for patients to do this Program in parallel to their medical treatment. In fact, many doctors and some Rheumatologists are now recommending our Program to patients in parallel to the pharmaceutical approach.  Everyone has to eat - so why not eat things that support digestive health and pain reduction? 

Is there a common emotional pattern you see with RA sufferers?

In my pre-program questionnaire, I find that 66% of RA sufferers describe themselves as 'very stressed' right before the first signs of joint pain. It's been shown that stress directly affects gut bacteria so it's plausible that stress could be a contributing factor to the onset of RA and stress management tools have been shown to reduce RA severity. 

Do the protocols you teach in your program have benefits for other auto-immune conditions?

Yes, we've seen great results from this program for psoriatic arthritis, Hashimoto’s, Sjogren’s, psoriasis, lupus and others. I believe that all autoimmune diseases have a similar underlying cause, and genetic predisposition dictates the body's target. Healing the gut will help the body overall, regardless of diagnosis.

Finally, is there anything else you’d like to say to people suffering from RA who are reading this today?

Pain is a great motivator so use this motivation to continue to learn and take action now. My TEDx talk and dozens of training videos are on Youtube and my Podcast has over 30 episodes to inspire and educate people with inflammatory arthritis. My Program is at

Is Your Mind On Your Side?

Oh, the wonders of the mind. It’s a powerful but complex tool. Does your mind work FOR or AGAINST you? Are you able to direct your thinking, enable free and creative thinking, or does your mind seem to run the show?

In my previous article Using Your Intuition For Guidance , I discussed the differences between listening to your gut feeling (intuition) compared to that of your mind. It’s now time to break down the elements of the mind.

The Mind from East and West

The emergence of neuroscience is one of the most exciting and fascinating scientific fields. Traditionally, neuroscience is the study of the nervous system. As more and more was discovered about the nervous system, neuroscience became an interdisciplinary field working with the mind and body connection. The brain and the nervous system was clearly not just affecting our physiology and structure, it also interacted with behaviour, emotions, psychology, our environment—the list goes on. 

From another perspective, Eastern Medicine was founded in a holistic approach to health and wellness; understanding the deep connection between the mind and body. What makes up who we are includes; body, mind, Spirit, consciousness, emotions, energy systems and the environment; all components of the great web that is life.

When it comes to working with the mind, complementary medicine (the synergy of Eastern and Western medicine) offers much in the way of tools and techniques that help you make the most of your mind! Given the plethora of avenues for discussing the mind, I’m going to start simply but powerfully.

Where to start?

Ironically, when I sat down to write this article my mind jumped from idea to idea. At first, I couldn't latch onto one particular aspect of the mind to write about. I was exhausted from the process! Until I realised, the very problem I was having was the topic for discussion—DIRECTION!

Your mind will spend as long as you let it running around in circles, or from corner to corner, or stuck in negativity or worry. A key starting point is creating healthy habits with your thinking. What we do know about the science of the mind and the energy behind it is that our thinking is based in patterns and therefore habits.

Bridging knowledge to empower your mind

Let’s take two famous phrases from both science and complementary medicine and see how they work together, supporting the same concept when it comes to the mind:

Firstly, ‘neurons that fire together, wire together’ (neuropsychologist Donald Hebb,1949). Meaning that everything you do be it thoughts, emotions or physical action create a neural network. Neurons are the building blocks for your nervous system that transmit electrical and chemical information. These networks are strengthened by how much you use them.

Secondly, ‘Energy flows where attention goes’ (‘Makia’ from the 7 Huna Principles of Life, a shared wisdom across many ancient healing traditions). Put simply, if you focus on negative outcomes for your life and the negative story, then your energy system will follow and you’ll feel depleted and often unable to create the life that is waiting for you.

Combining these great insights gives us a clear message about the mind. You have a choice and the best place to start is directing your mind toward what it is that you truly want to spend your days doing, feeling and thinking. I’m not saying “it’s easy - just stop how you’re thinking”, I’m saying let’s spend time training our mind to work in our favour. Understand you have the ability to use your mind to work FOR you!

Repeat after me...

You can start with simple mantras or affirmations to wake up and to fall asleep with. For example, if you think “I’m not good enough” then this is what your neural network will wire together and your energy system will flow toward. So, start by wiring and flowing with “I am good enough” or simply “I am enough”. Get creative and think about words and phrases that resonate with you and your current goals. Be sure to put the phrase into positive and active tones as if they’re already a reality.

Give thanks!

Another practice that’s gaining much momentum and research is the art of gratitude, or giving thanks. At the end of each day, list three things that you’re grateful for. Some days can be rough and you might be grateful that you got out the door, or for the sun shining! As much as possible, make gratitude personal and push yourself to reflect. Make this a family tradition at dinner time as it opens the door for teaching, sharing, learning and listening.

Remember, your thoughts affect your body and your emotions. Grateful thoughts and encouraging phrases feel good. Critical and worried thoughts are draining. The more you direct your thinking, the more you create a joyful reality. I’ll leave you with the magnificent images from the work of Dr. Masaru Emoto ho studied and photographed the molecular changes in water when different prayers, music or words were played, written or said Water, Consciousness & Intent

Is Non Stick Cookware Safe?

There’s no doubting the ease of cooking with non stick pans but given there are persistent concerns raised about their safety it’s worth understanding the risks.

First a bit of history

Teflon was invented by global chemical giant DuPont in the 1930’s but ran into trouble when it was discovered that perfluorooctanoic acid, or PFOA, which is used to make teflon was discovered to be a likely carcinogen (cancer causing substance).

In 2004 DuPont paid $300 million to settle a class action by 50,000 US residents that lived in the water catchment of its West Virginia plant. The residents claimed PFOA contamination of the water supply had caused birth defects and other health hazards. Then in 2005, the US EPA fined DuPont $16.5 million after finding the company knew about the dangers of PFOA’s for decades but kept quiet about it.

Good Riddance to PFOA’s

Further studies into the effect of PFOA’s on animals found it caused cancer, liver damage, growth defects, immune-system damage and death. Consequently under pressure form the EPA DuPont and other companies agreed to phase out the use of PFOA’s in the making of non stick cookware from 2015.

However DuPont maintained that whilst PFOA’s were released in the manufacture of Teflon, use of the finished product by consumers did not result in release of PFOA’s so was considered safe. Nevertheless PFOA’s have been phased out due to their environmental impact and most leading manufacturers now label their non stick cookware as PFOA free. But that’s not the end of the story!

Can’t Stand the Heat

All non-stick cookware if heated above 500 degrees celsius starts to break down and release toxic gases which cause what is know as polymer fume fever or ‘Teflon flu’. Symptoms include temporary intense fever, shivering, sore throat and coughing. Birds are especially susceptible to exposure to polymer fumes with several cases of birds being killed when owners have left non-stick pans on the stove to overheat. Whist the effects of Teflon flu are considered to be temporary in humans no studies have investigated the long term effects of repeated exposure.

So Should I Throw Out My Non-Stick Pans?

The take home message if you love non-stick cookware is that you need to be careful to not let the pan overheat. Heavier pans are better than lightweight ones as the lighter the pan the more quickly it overheats. Non-stick cookware is not suitable for foods that require cooking on high heat for an extended period time. So scrambled eggs and stir fries are considered safe but hamburgers and steak are considered risky. If the surface of your pan is scrached or chipped you should definitely get rid of it as when the surface is damaged its more likely to leach toxic compunds.

At the end of the day non-stick pans have never ben recalled for safety fears. Nevertheless I wouldn't blame anyone for deciding that, despite the convenience, non-stick pans are not worth the risk.

Why Gelatine is Good for You

You may not have noticed, but gelatine is currently undergoing a makeover. It’s gone from a leading an unheralded life as a gourmet food ingredient in desserts like panna cotta and chocolate mousse to being a pin up star of the paleo movement.

The key to it’s turnaround in fortunes? It’s all to do with the recent explosion in our understanding of the importance of gut health and the integrity of the gut lining to our overall wellbeing. We now know that gelatine can repair leaky gut and soothe and heal the digestion like almost nothing else.

Gelatine has a gritty back story. It’s produced in a process similar to making a traditional stock, by boiling the bones, skin and connective tissue of animals like pigs and cows to yield up to 18 amino acids including glycine and proline. If you have read about the benefits of bone broth then the same applies to gelatine except that in this case the final product is both colourless and odourless and dissolves in water so it can be added to smoothies, soups, or just about any food.

Gut Health

Gelatine restores integrity to the gut lining and heals leaky gut which is often the root cause of food intolerances, allergies and autoimmune diseases. Gelatine also improves gastric secretions and helps with low stomach acid. Additionally, it’s ability to hydrate the bowel aids in promoting good intestinal transit and healthy bowel motions.

Skin and Bones

The amino acids found in gelatine are the building blocks of collagen the protein that gives the skin its elasticity and structure. Gelatine is also known to strengthen joints and soothe inflammation which makes its beneficial for those suffering from arthritis or joint soreness after exercise.

Sleep and Mood

Gelatine can keep you calm and sleeping through the night. The glycine found in gelatine has been found to assist with sleep quality without causing grogginess or side effects. Glycine naturally reduces the uptake of norepinephrine: a stress hormone which triggers feelings of anxiety and panic.

It’s important to get a good quality gelatine made from pasture raised cattle so skip the supermarket gelatine and source some from your local health food shop or trusted online whole foods retailer.

Chinese Medicine and Spring

Spring has arrived and with it we can feel the change of seasonal energy. The days are getting longer and the sun is getting warmer, thank goodness!  According to traditional Chinese medicine (TCM), spring is a time of upward and expansive movement of energy, of creativity, of planning and change.  Nature expresses this in the new growth in the garden, the buds and blossoms on the trees and the first blooms of spring. 

In Chinese medicine we aim to keep healthy by aligning ourselves, including our behaviours, actions and attitudes with the seasons. While winter was a time to conserve energy and reduce activity, spring is a time of regeneration, new beginnings and a renewal of spirit.  As such, it is a great time to ditch some bad habits and/or implement some healthy changes.

Spring is the ideal time for cleansing the body and rejuvenating overall health and wellbeing.  The organs associated with spring are the liver and gallbladder, organs often targeted for a spring detox and cleansing.  The liver in Chinese medicine is responsible for the free flow of qi (or energy) throughout the body. When the liver functions smoothly, physical and emotional activity throughout the body also runs smoothly. So for optimal health in spring, we can focus on the liver.

Spring gives us the perfect opportunity to give up stimulants such as sugar, caffeine, tobacco and recreational drugs as the expansive, stimulating energy of spring gives a natural boost.  We can also take advantage of this natural boost of energy to exercise moderately on a daily basis (the warmer weather helps too!), making us feel alive and refreshed after a long and wet winter.

According to TCM, the liver controls the tendons and stores blood during times of rest and releases it to the tendons in times of activity, maintaining flexibility and tendon health. Yoga or Tai Chi are great ways to introduce stretching into your life, or simply implement a morning stretch into your routine.

Eat more greens. While this advice applies year round for those trying to clean up their diet, it is particularly important in spring.  Green is the colour associated with the liver and spring.  Eating young plants, leafy greens and sprouts can improve the state of the liver and aid in the movement of qi.

Do more outside activities. Fresh, outdoor air helps the liver qi flow. If you are feeling stressed, grumpy or irritable, try getting outside to get the qi flowing. Go for a walk, a bike ride, or throw yourself into some gardening to sooth that liver qi.

Get acupuncture. Acupuncture can be great if you are feeling a bit stuck or low from winter. Acupuncture can unblock any blockages that have accumulated over winter to help get the mind and body moving again. Spring is a great time to work on old aches, pains and issues. Spring is also a great time to see a naturopath to fine tune your health, work on your diet or start a detox.

Living in accordance with the seasons can benefit your health in many ways.  The wisdom of TCM dates back thousands of years but is just as relevant today as ever. I hope that these tips help you to navigate the change of season in good health.

The Soul Project Canberra

The team at Live Well love getting involved in projects that enhance the Canberra community. Our very own kinesiologist, Kate Pamphilon, has joined forces with two other super-star practitioners to co-found a fun, informative and inspirational night out that is The Soul Project Canberra.

It began with a dream to bring people together. To share, to inspire, to collaborate. And so began - The Soul Project Canberra!

The Soul Project Canberra present bi-monthly events created by the Canberra community and beyond. Bringing together passionate experts in the field of health and wellness, each event inspires, motivates and supports you to live a life that is full. It’s an opportunity to get together with your friends for a fun night out!

Each Soul event explores the most relevant topics each of us face throughout our lives. Along with bringing you the best of the best powerful presenters, $5 from every ticket sold will go toward a charity in need.

Not only do you get to have a fun night out with your friends, you get to contribute to community organisations that make a difference. And just to make sure you have a great night, The Soul Project will showcase local muso’s to sing to your soul and lift your spirits.

Co-founders Lisa Donaldson, Blair Kelly and Kate Pamphilon create a beautiful synergy with their knowledge and experience of the body, mind, and spirit.

The Soul Launch - September 15th

The Soul Team are delighted to invite you to the much anticipated LAUNCH of The Soul Project Canberra with “Love the skin YOU are in”.

Mark your diaries, invite your bestie, enjoy a glass of bubbles, listen to the musical talent of Cherie Kotek and then settle in for some inspirational words from your Soul Founders. We are kicking off with a powerful theme…


7:30pm Thursday 15 September 2016 (come early for a drink and music)

Palace Electric, New Acton

COST: $35/person


Leading dietitian Lisa will launch the night – helping you unpack your relationship with food. She will help you remove any guilt associated with food and develop strategies to nourish your body… not deprive it! With a focus on wellness, vitality and health, Lisa’s message will resonate with anyone who has experienced shame after indulging, who has spent their entire life on a ‘diet’ or who is simply confused about what to eat.

The inspiring Blair will take you through a journey of positive thinking, how to change your thought processes in an instant and turn up your self-love and worthy meter. Blair will guide you through how to change your internal and external language, in order to change your state in an instant. This is essential in being able to control thoughts and emotions for a positive life of fulfilment.

Rounding out the night, Kate will be discussing the fascinating topic of ‘self’ - how to discover, connect and nourish a deep sense of self. Kate will guide you through the profound art of stripping away the false self in order to live in harmony with your original nature. This is essential to anyone interested in living a joyful life grounded in a sense of self. Learning to own and protect your authenticity will become one of your greatest assets. And this, our Soul Village is ‘loving the skin you are in’.

So, throw on some lippy or a hat and diarise a night out for yourself. The Soul Team cannot wait to inspire, share, laugh and unravel so much with you… Get ready to tap into a little bit of SOUL!

$5 from every ticket sold will go toward The Butterfly Foundation, which endeavours to help people foster positive body image, strong self-esteem, resilience, media literacy and a healthy attitude towards food and exercise. Most of all, we want people to know that they are enough as they are!

See you there!


Learning Intuition For Guidance

When it comes to guidance in your life and making decisions, who do you turn to? 

Let’s get straight to the point — being guided by your intuition will not only help you live a life that is full, it will develop a strong trust in yourself. You become self-sufficient, confident and centered, no matter what comes your way. 

One of the most common places people to turn for help are family and friends. Having a network of people in your life who you can talk through options, feelings and fears with is immensely beneficial. Especially if, said family and friends are good at reflective listening over telling you what to do! This is the main point of contention for external advice, no one knows what is right for you except YOU. 

So how do you access inner guidance, especially if you’re stressed, worried or unsure? 

It’s about about your internal dialogue

Internal dialogue is the way you speak to yourself on a daily basis. When it comes to guidance in life, for the small things and the big, your internal dialogue is your biggest asset. That’s right, I’m saying that your inner voice is more important than the voice of others. 

However, there are two types of internal dialogue and the KEY to guiding yourself is knowing the difference between when you’re being spoken to by your mind and emotions, and when your intuition is speaking. 

‘Intuition’, ‘gut feeling’, ‘heart’ or ‘instincts’ - it’s all the same!

What ever word you use to describe ‘intuition’, they all mean the same thing. 

The use of the term ‘gut feeling’ leads me to key skills you can practice to gain a stronger connection with your intuition. Until you have a great relationship with your intuition and it becomes a natural part of your internal dialogue, there are a couple of things you can do to strengthen your intuitive abilities.

What do your inner voices sound like?

Start by recognising the sound of the mind compared to that of your intuition

The sound of your mind

The mind will often say a lot. It can be: loud, go round in circles and is often based in emotion such as worry, fear, doubt or even anger and stubbornness. The mind is often trying to keep you safe and protected in the ‘familiar zone’ of life. Regardless of whether this zone is a happy place, the mind works from what it’s learnt and remembered, both consciously and subconsciously from the story of your life. 

Being conscious of this and asking yourself “What’s happened in the past that’s triggering my mind and emotions to think and feel this way?” helps you to remove yourself from the story and be an observer. From this, you have the opportunity to see if the thoughts and emotions of the mind are relevant today or simply the past being brought into the present. 

The sound of your intuition

Your intuition is a gentle, soothing voice. For me, and many others will a powerful connection to intuition, the words come one by one or just a few at a time. As you connect deeper, the more it flows. Intuition can come to you not just by words but by colour, pictures, symbols and deep feelings. You’ll know the interpretation, because it will be clear as day. It’s funny how we often see things as complex or unclear, yet the heart will show you otherwise. 

How does your body feel?

To practice the second part of connecting to your intuition, you need to use your body. Firstly, sit still and bring yourself back into the present moment and back into your body. This will make it much easier to hear your intuitive voice by being grounded. Take your time by breathing slowly in and out of your nose, and gently into your belly. (Once you get really good at this, you can drop down into your heart at any give moment.) This calms the five senses so you can sense with your heart. 

The voice of your mind is often accompanied by phrases such as “I think this is what I want to do?” and a feeling in your body of unsurity. You might feel unsettled, restless or agitated. It feels uncomfortable. 

On the flip side, your intuitive voice is accompanied by a sense of “I know this is what I want to do”. While the choice may bring about questions or feelings, underneath it all lies a sense of deep knowing down in your gut — your ‘gut feeling’. Your body is at peace with the choice. If you have a decision to make, sit with each option and feel deep within yourself. How does your gut react?

Your intuition may not always guide you to the easy option, or the one that has all the components sorted. It may be confronting to know what you heart says. But know this — your intuition will always guide you to your truth, your love and your wisdom. And it’s then that you can use your wisdom mind and your inner resources to work out the details!  

Watch this space as this is the topic for my next blog! 

Are You Magnesium Deficient?

Did you know that magnesium levels in the body are depleted by stress as well as regular intake of refined sugar and caffeine. It’s no wonder that some health experts estimate that magnesium deficiency is a silent epidemic potentially affecting up to 90% of the population. 

Magnesium is crucial for wellbeing. It’s involved in over 300 biochemical reactions in the body and is vital for healthy muscle and nerve function, maintaining normal blood pressure and heart rhythm as well as optimal metabolism and immune function. 

What are the sign of deficiency? 

Magnesium deficiency can impact on the following areas: 

Cramps and spasms, tics and twitches are clear signs that your body needs more magnesium. 

Mental Health
Anxiety and depression are both linked to inadequate magnesium. Whilst more research is needed magnesium seems to have a protective effect on mood. 

Magnesium helps both the body and mind to relax which contributes to restful sleep. Additionally magnesium is required for the ‘off switch’ or GABA receptors in the brain to be triggered. 

Magnesium is crucial in the production of cellular energy, meaning inadequate levels can show up as fatigue and low energy levels. 

High Blood Pressure
If you have high blood pressure you definitely should be looking at your magnesium intake. 

How to replenish your magnesium level

You can boost your magnesium levels through dietary rich sources including: spinach, pumpkin seeds, yoghurt, almonds, black beans, avocados, bananas, figs and dark chocolate. 

Topical applications, like epsom salt baths and magnesium oils and sprays (which you can find at your health food store) are an easy way for your body to absorb and replenish magnesium. 

You can also take magnesium tablets and solutions however I would always recommend consulting with our naturopath Shanna Choudhary so you get the right kind of magnesium and the right dose for your needs. 

Is Leaky Gut Legit?

Leaky gut is a controversial topic, many conventional medical experts have dismissed it as a holistic mumbo jumbo but recent research evidence is suggesting there is reason to take it seriously.

What is Leaky Gut

Your gut wall is the site of a tremendous exchange of nutrients. People suffering from leaky gut however, are thought to have a gut lining that is overly permeable. This hyper-permeability allows substances like toxins, microbes and undigested food particles to enter the blood stream and cause havoc.

How Strong is the evidence?

Whilst the theory seemed plausible, the evidence was unconvincing until a pioneer in gut health Dr. Alessio Fasano, director of the Mucosal Immunology and Biology Research Center at Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston and his team discovered a gut protein called ‘zonulin’ which can tighten or widen the openings in the cell membrane of the gut wall. This discovery created a paradigm shift in understanding of the gut lining and whilst, there is still debate about the impact of leaky gut, we have an accepted model that explains how large molecules that cause diseases like allergies and autoimmune conditions are ending up in the blood stream.

What Causes Leaky Gut?

There is definitely a genetic component, to whether you are prone to gut permeability and whether you suffer adverse reactions from the particles that slip through. There is also strong evidence that when the balance of your gut flora, the beneficial bacteria that make up your microbiome becomes unbalanced you’re susceptible to developing an overly permeable gut lining.

What’s the Impact?

Opinions differ, but most agree that allergies, autoimmune diseases like type I diabetes, a thyroid condition called Hashimoto’s disease and Chron’s disease and irritable bowel syndrome are linked to leaky gut. Other conditions including inflammatory skin conditions such as acne and psoriasis, mood disorders and even autism are also thought by many to be connected to leaky gut although not everyone agrees. Given how rapid and steep the learning curve is with regards to the gut and the immune system it is fair to say we will no doubt hear more about the effects of leaky gut in the years to come.

How to Heal Leaky Gut?

It depends on your symptoms and your overall wellbeing, but in general terms healing the gut requires re-establishing a healthy gut flora. There are also specific nutrients that can heal an inflamed and overly permeable gut wall but it is a complex area that is best treated professionally. For further information I recommend speaking to Live Well's naturopath Shanna Choudhary or a holistic GP who specialises in nutritional wellbeing.

Understanding Mindfulness

No doubt you’ve heard about mindfulness, it’s a style of mediation that has placed this ancient practice on the modern medical and cultural map. But what does mindfulness really mean and why all the fuss?

To be mindful of something is to give it your wholehearted focus. Ask yourself this, when was the last time you gave something no less than your complete and undivided attention? The truth is probably that like most of us, you spend your day juggling many things at once, which is in itself a phenomenal skill.

Multi tasking your way through life can be, at its absolute best, an exhilarating rush. There’s nothing wrong with being good at doing many things at once, however, when you perpetually spread yourself thin you become robbed of the spaciousness and the stillness that comes with a simple, singular focus. The beauty is you don't have choose one path or another, you just need to balance the mind’s need for stimulation with its need for silence.

Luckily practicing mindfulness is easy, its simply requires you to bring your awareness to your senses and notice what is already happening beneath the thrum of daily life. The focus of your attention can be anything. The magic is that by choosing a singular focus of attention the simplest things become absorbingly fascinating. A classic mindfulness technique is to allow your attention to become fully absorbed in your breath: start by feeling the sensations of the expansion and release of the air inside your lungs with each inhale and exhale. As you do notice how your mind starts to change gears and slow down.

Even a minute of mindfully observing your breathing can profoundly effect how you feel in body and mind.

You can also practice mindfulness in everyday activities like washing the dishes: just by taking your attention to the sensation of the warmth of the water on your hands or by noticing how the light dances in the soap suds. Any activity can be done mindfully just by being present to the sensations that are arising from moment to moment. The beauty of a singular focus is that it profoundly reduces overwhelm and allows your mind and nervous system to access states of rest.

Our lives are richer and more enjoyable when we experience fullness and emptiness, light and shade. If you regularly take time to be mindful, you’ll find yourself starting to notice and appreciate the little things in life again and rather than feeling saturated and overwhelmed with life you can better appreciate and savour the wonders we have literally all around us.

If you’d like to find out more about mindfulness please visit

Keep it Simple! 3 Easy Peasy Mindfulness Exercises You CAN Start…Today!

  • Do you get easily side-tracked from what you’re doing and not getting things done?
  • Can you get stuck in thoughts and find them hard to shake?
  • Does your mind often wander rather than “staying present” in the “here and now”?

I’m sure we could all say yes to these at different times, however if you’re noticing they are occurring for you more often lately, here’s three simple mindfulness exercises to help you “zone in” to being present and help “unhook” you from negative thought patterns.

In the current mindfulness training program at Live Well (“Managing the Madness”) participants are now easily integrating these exercises into their daily lives. You might like to try them too.

1.     Mindful Breathing – if you’ve only got 6 seconds to spare, that’s OK!

2.     Noticing 5 Things You Can See, Hear and Feel … right now

3.     Adopting the Three C’s – Curiosity, Concentration and Compassion

For those who may be unfamiliar with mindfulness, a good definition from mindfulness guru Jon Kabat-Zinn is

paying attention, in a particular way, on purpose, in the present moment and non-judgementally”.

In our mindfulness training course, we are cultivating the skill of noticing and observing our experiences and responses from moment to moment, mostly using our breath as an anchor, which  helps us to manage stress, stay calm, centred and present…rather than reacting automatically, doing the same old thing or things we later regret, potentially getting stuck.

Remaining non-judgemental is a challenge for most of us. Not only are our brains wired to constantly observe, analyse, prioritise and make judgements in order to survive, work and function but many of us also have a pretty active “inner critic” to content with, constantly commentating in the background. Mindfulness training helps us to notice these judgements as an “observing witness” – rather than switching the mind off (which is impossible) these exercises help us to consciously notice the noise and choose to turn down the volume.

1.     Mindful Breathing

Don’t worry, I’m not talking about breathing for long hours sitting at the top of a mountain or on retreat (although if you have time to do this, that’s great). This is about being aware of your breath as much as possible wherever you are, throughout your day.

So…when you notice that your mind has wandered off, or that you’re getting fused to thoughts that aren’t helpful, or anytime at all, try taking 5 x 6 Second Mindful Breaths as a circuit breaker.

So that’s six lovely big breaths, simply breathing IN-2-3 and then OUT-2-3.

With each breath, noticing the rise and fall of your belly….the expansion and falling away of your chest…the coolness of the air as you’re breathing into your nostrils and the warmth of the air as you breathing out. Try it now! It’s free!!

And if you take 5 Mindful breaths in this way now and again – you’ve successfully completed a 30 second meditation practice. Hey Presto. Who says you’re too busy to meditate?

2.     Five Things You Can See, Hear and Feel right now

This mindfulness exercise helps to ground us by observing what is present in the current moment. If we’re getting too tied up in knots this can introduce a sense of “what else” is in the picture which is a helpful to “unhook” or defuse from the challenging thoughts.

We can do this one any time, whether you are sitting calmly and quietly on your own, in a meeting with other people, in a busy environment – even driving your car. Obviously keeping our eyes open!

So to start – look around your environment and take extra special notice of 5 different things you can see right now. You can name the objects by speaking out loud or just internally but it’s important to notice each object individually.

Then, taking extra special notice of 5 different things you can hear right now. This may be challenging if you’re inside but see if you can notice even very subtle sounds…so it might be something like…1. the humming of the air conditioning 2. The sound of muffled voices 3. The buzzing of the computer 4. The tapping sounds of the keyboard and 5. The sound of your own breath, breathing in and out.

Finally, now noticing 5 different things you can feel right now. Whether they are internal feelings (fluttering tummy, tightness in chest) or external sensations (clothes on your skin, bottom in the chair, feet on the ground, pen in my hand), whatever you are feeling is OK….we are simply noticing and observing what’s present, then moving on to the next thing. Don’t stay too long with each one to the point of analysing it. Notice, observe, move on.

If you want to, you could then return to the beginning of the exercise and then notice 4 Things You can See, Hear and Feel right now….then 3 Things…then 2 Things and finally then just 1 Thing you can See, Hear and Feel.

Chances are you will feel a lot calmer and more centred after doing this exercise. I’ve done it myself in meetings or during stressful events (like when I accidentally backed into someone’s car last year and the driver was screaming at me…my instinct was fight or flight…I felt quite anxious and scared, but still managed to stay calm by noticing 5 things like…she was wearing a green cardigan, she had red shoes, she has a tight lipped expression, she had curly hair and was shaking her fist).

3.     Three C’s of Mindfulness – Curiosity, Concentration, Compassion

Let’s take something we all have to do from time to time – like washing up - and consider how it might be a different and potentially even more pleasant experience, if we adopt the 3 C’s….of Curiosity, Concentration and Compassion (or bring to mind another example)

So, as you are next washing up, see if you can bring some Curiosity to the task, which means washing up as though you have never done it before. Notice the warmth of the water, the smell of the detergent, the bubbles and suds, the tinkling sounds of the crockery and swishing of the water etc etc. 

Try to stay with this exercise for a few minutes by Concentrating on just the washing up. One thing at a time. So often we are multi-tasking and not totally taking in our experience of just one thing. So concentrate, and keep focused. While you are doing the washing up…you are ONLY doing the washing up. It can be more challenging than we think!

Finally, whatever we are doing, try bringing a sense of Compassion into your experience also. Sending some loving kindness to your hands, softening your heart and being open to the experience rather than just “getting it done”.

Consider how adopting the 3 C’s could bring a more mindful and calming perspective to a whole range of daily activities and experience in your day. Here’s some that the current participants in Managing the Madness have found the Three C’s to be helpful in staying present and mindful in their lives:

-        Eating breakfast without reading the paper and checking emails all at once

-        Driving to work without the radio on and giving myself some quiet time

-        Conversing with café staff while waiting for my coffee instead of checking Facebook

-        Playing with the kids at the park and not taking the phone

-        Turning off the TV during dinner time, focusing on my family and their conversations

You might find similar opportunities present themselves to you and I hope these simple exercises may be helpful for you in the weeks ahead. Practice is the key. I’d love to hear your feedback, so feel free to let us know what worked well for you and how.

If you’re keen to learn more easy mindfulness exercises, or learn some longer daily meditation practices, our Term 3 intake of Managing the Madness is now open and details are available here.

The Bugs That Keep You Healthy

Did you know that the vast majority of the cells in your body are not human. If you’re squeamish I apologise, you might want to stop reading now! Remarkably, you’re currently hosting bacteria cells that outnumber your own human cells by a factor of 10 to 1.

Before you rush off to lather yourself with antiseptic cream its worth noting that the human microbiome (the collective population of all the non-human cells that inhabit us) is a crucial part of the ecosystem that keeps you healthy and happy.

What researchers are discovering is that these microbes are not invaders or freeloaders but in fact crucial facilitators of our basic body functions including digesting food, producing vitamins and keeping the immune system buoyant.

It’s actually when we throw the dynamic balance of the microbiome out through excessive use of drugs such as steroids, hormones, anti-inflammatories and acid-blockers and of course antibiotics, as well as poor diet and prolonged stress that we start to see systematic decline in the health of our microbiome and consequently our wellbeing.

Its fair to say our current understanding of the impact of the microbiome on our health is still emerging. Yet already we know there are direct links between many types of cancer, especially colon, breast and cervical; autoimmune diseases like thyroid disorders, multiple sclerosis and type 1 diabetes; as well as digestive disorders like Crohn's disease and irritable bowel syndrome. Additionally there are strong links to many mental health conditions including anxiety and depression.

As more evidence emerges its likely that many many more illness will be traced back to an imbalance in the microbiome which is exciting in that it opens the very real possibility of a more holistic approach to treating disease. In other words tackling the cause of illness rather than just masking or managing symptoms. Perhaps, even more importantly, our emerging understanding of the microbiome offers more scope to discover ways we can prevent illness taking hold in the first place. 

Do You Get the Winter Blues?

We don't need white ravens from the Citadel to know it’s winter in Canberra (apologies to non Game of Thrones watchers). The thick fog and blanket of frost in the mornings are more than sufficient confirmation. If the onset of winter finds you feeling lethargic, melancholy and craving carbs, you could be suffering from seasonally affected disorder which is delightfully abbreviated as SAD.

Don’t we all feel a bit like hibernating and eating comfort food when its minus five degrees outside you might ask? Well no actually! Depending on your constitution some people are enlivened by the cold. Hint, they’re the ones probably wearing shorts.

To be diagnosed with SAD, your symptoms should be noticeably relieved by the onset of spring and must have occurred for at least a two year period. SAD affects women more than men and is thought to be linked to a lack of sunlight rather than the cold. Whilst 30% of Australians report feeling a drop in their moods over winter it is thought SAD is rarer at around 1 in 300 Australians.

Curiously SAD is rare in Norway and Iceland even though the winter sunlight exposure is minimal, however Nordic diets are high in oily fish which is rich in vitamin D, the so called ‘sunshine vitamin’ which is considered to offer a protective effect. It’s also advisable to get some safe sun exposure in winter to boost your natural Vitamin D production and fortunately in Canberra even though it’s cold we usually have plenty of winter sun.

Even though I’m one to recommend adjusting the rhythm of your life in accordance with the seasons, if you suffer form the winter blues it’s advisable to resist the temptation hibernate too much. In fact its important to stay physically active and socially connected though the colder months. So resist the temptation to cancel your gym membership and stay at home watching Netflix.

Its also important to note that if staying engaged and active doesn't shift your melancholy then don't just put up with it, seek the assistance of a health professional that you trust.

Arthritis friendly yoga – uniting movement and mindset with breath for better overall health.

Hi Lovely Live Well-ers!

After last week’s solstice we are well into the chilly winter season that means feeling regularly stiff and sore for some of us. If you suffer from arthritis - whether mild or severe, seasonal or chronic - I’ve got a few tips here on ways that yoga can help you improve or manage your condition in healthy, supportive ways.

What is arthritis?

There are almost as many types of arthritis and related diseases, as there are yoga poses and ways to practice.  This is lucky because that means that within all the many options there will be something that’s suitable for you!

Characterised broadly as an inflammatory response, predominantly of joints that causes pain, Arthritis sufferers can present with a wide range of symptoms from isolated pain, swelling and reduction of movement in one joint, to much broader loss of mobility, wider organ and nervous system involvement, and debilitating loss of physical function.

What is yoga?

Yoga is an ancient science that blends movement, breathing and mental concentration and contemplation exercises into a powerful self-care practice.

How can yoga help arthritis sufferers?

Physically, the practice of yoga postures (asana) can help build strength, develop balance and improve flexibility when applied safely. Gentle exercise that doesn’t inflame joints or aggravate pain has been shown to help improve joint health and prevent worsening symptoms that result from a sedentary lifestyle in people with arthritis.

Psychologically, the breathing (pranayama) and mindfulness (meditation) aspects of yoga can have hugely beneficial impacts in helping cultivate a positive mindset, managing pain, improving immunity and reducing feelings of stress and frustration that can be helpful for people managing a chronic condition like arthritis.

Move your body, change your life!  

Even when restricted, movement is so important to our overall physical and psychological health. Arthritis sufferers, regardless of the extent or severity of their condition, can benefit greatly from incorporating some of yoga’s movement techniques into their regular wellness routine.

Despite what you may think, not all yoga requires you to turn your body into a bendy pretzel, or being able to touch your toes! There are plenty of ways a physical yoga practice can be adapted to your individual needs so that you can stretch, strengthen and relax in ways that are comfortable and accessible to your specific condition.

If you’re suffering from arthritis and looking to begin yoga, you can practice gentle variations in each of the families of poses - forward bends, backbends, twists, balances, standing, sitting and lying – within the bounds of your pain tolerance and range of movement. Incorporating supportive tools such as blocks, straps, blankets, cushions and chairs are an excellent way to help modify and assist your practice.

Where do I start?

-       Talk to your doctor first. If there are any specific movements they recommend you avoid, have them write them down so you can pass them on to your yoga teacher.

-       Find a qualified teacher who you can talk to about your specific needs (pick me!). Individual sessions are an ideal place to start if you’re new to yoga. I’m available on Wednesday afternoons for private yoga consultations where I’ll create a program tailored specifically to you.

-       If you prefer a group session, choose a beginner’s yoga class, a chair-based yoga class or a slower, prop-supported practice where you can begin learning what feels right for you.

-       Always listen to your body’s signals and never push yourself into pain.

Breathe yourself to freedom

The way we breathe can change our body chemistry and how our brains and nervous system function. The beauty of a moving practice of yoga is that it is usually paired with the deep, controlled breathing. For arthritis sufferers, even if you’re very movement limited, breathing is a powerful self care practice you can do anytime, anywhere to help create a state of calm and relaxation…or even increased energy if you feel like it too!

Through breath we can create states of calm or states of anxiety. Learning to know what your breathing patterns are and creating for you and finding new ways to produce peace and balance through focussed breathing can help you transform your state of mind, manage feelings of anxiety or overwhelm and cultivate states of calm and relaxation - by choice when ever you want to.

Where do I start?  

-       Deep belly breaths are the fastest way to calm your nervous system. They help switch off our stress ‘fight, flight, freeze’ response that’s triggered in times of stress and help bring your back to a calm, healing, restful state of body and mind.

-       You can bring your attention to your breath anytime, driving your car, sitting or standing at work, or lying down in bed! Ideally you have good posture and an even, neutral spine.

-       First start to notice the quality of your breath; is it deep or shallow, fast or slow, laboured or easy?

-       Then on an exhale squeeze out as much air out as possible, including squeezing your belly and ribs down tight. Try to hold your breath out for one or two counts is you can.

-       As you inhale let your low belly relax and fully stretch out, followed by letting your ribs fully expand up and out.

-       Take another slow, deep exhale for the count of at least four. Continue making your inhale and exhale equal length, repeat for as long as you feel comfortable.

-       Return to normal breath and notice how you feel.

-       Be mindful to stop if breathing exercises make you feel anxious, dizzy or nauseas.

Cultivate a positive mindset

Some people call mediation the ‘art of attention’. Mindfulness meditation helps provide a pathway for creating a new relationship with your self by paying attention to where your feelings and thoughts begin, how you get caught up in them and whether, in fact, your thoughts are really true, or just bad habits you’ve become used to repeating and eventually believing.

Learning to flex our attention muscle can lead to positive psychological benefits such as reducing symptoms of stress including - importantly for arthritis suffers; inflammation, reducing the incidence or severity of anxiety and depression, assisting with conditions including insomnia, and of specific interest to arthritis sufferers, helping change your relationship with pain.

Living with pain can be both physically and psychologically debilitating and practicing meditation has been shown to create measurable improvements in quality of life for arthritis sufferers.

Because pain science has found that the experience of pain is both physical and emotional, sometimes meditation can help where medication can’t by teaching you to become aware of your feelings, manage your emotions moment to moment, be compassionate towards yourself, practice acceptance and choose positive thought patterns that can help you create a more contented life with your condition.

Learning meditation is a wonderful way to start actively changing your mind, and therefore your relationship with yourself, and your condition.

Where do I start?

-       Download a free app such as Head Space or One Giant Mind and listen to guided meditations.

-       Enrol in a 6-week Managing the Madness course with Live Well.

-       Book in for a private consultation with me and I’ll set you up with a simple and specific meditation to practice on your own at home.

-       Start paying attention to when your thoughts start to spiral into negativity. Invite them back to the positive by thinking about something that you’re grateful for. A daily practice of gratitude has been proven to improve your outlook on life.

Convinced that yoga might have something to offer you?!

Whether you’re an arthritis sufferer, a regular yoga practitioner looking to deepen your practice or just yo-curious, I’m available for private yoga consultations here at Live Well every Wednesday afternoon and would love to work with you to create a tailored Yoga program that can help you achieve your wellbeing goals.

You can also join me on my upcoming Yoga and Wellbeing Retreats:

Spring Yoga Boot Camp - September 9-11

The Paradise Retreat Sri Lanka - September 18-24

Yoga Big Day Out Canberra - October 23

Namaste and be wild, be wise, be well!


Winter Aches and Pains? How Osteopathy can help with Arthritis

If your joints are hurting or you are expecting that they might… then I am here to help.

There are two types of arthritis:

1.     Wear & tear - Osteoarthritis

•   hurts with repeated or excessive use

•   joint calcification

2.     Inflammation & digestive health - Rheumatic

•   hurts upon waking

•   the body’s immune system is attacking its own joints, causing degeneration

Painful joints occur as the cartilage or bony ends grind over one another, and the inflammation causes swelling stimulating pain receptors to fire.

Osteopathic medicine has many approaches and methods to treat joint pain. Depending on your pain level and your condition status, we can tailor a treatment plan for you.

How an Osteopath can help.

Osteopaths have many techniques at their disposal.

All forms of arthritis benefit from postural alignment. This reduces excess strain and pressure on the joints, thus reducing irritation, wear and tear.

Accurate mobilisation of an affected joint can reduce patterns of irritation in the joint, pumping the synovial fluid that keeps the joint healthy and reducing muscular strain patterns which also affect joint structure and alignment.

In addition, osteopath can normalise the nervous system to reduce inflammatory up-regulation and pain-receptor stimulation, which all adversely affect the joints. This occurs at the joint, in the spinal cord and in the digestive system. Osteopathic manipulative technique, including osteopathy in the cranial field is an effective treatment.

How Nutrition can help.

With changes to your diet you can reduce the causes of inflammation and increase the resilience of your gut lining. This can reduce the activity of Killer T cells (CD4+) and increase the activity of Helper T cells (CD8+)

Nutrients can also be utilised to support cartilage development. Research by Blitterswijk, Nes & Whisman, 2003, show that long term use of an effective joint supplement can regenerate a severely damaged spinal disc, but not a completely damaged spinal disc. 

Specific nutrients can aid to increase the quality and quantity of synovial fluid which protects the cartilage and bony ends, thus reducing pain, and wear and tear, to increase joint range of motion and support activity.

What you can do.

  • You can book an initial or consecutive osteopathic consult and treatment, to reduce pain, increase mobility and aid prevention of injury with myself.
  • You can purchase recommend joint nutritional support, which I have researched through personal use, treatment experience and literature reviews.
  • I can discuss with you the benefits of the anti-inflammatory diet for arthritis, both rheumatic and wear and tear types. Your particular needs are taken into account with this advice. This long term plan is often considered a quality of life saver in our modern environment.
  • You can also make an appointment to see the resident naturopath for further advice regarding herbal and nutritional support, especially in the case of rheumatic arthritis.

Enjoy your winter, and be careful on the ski slopes.


Reference: Blitterswijk, W.,  Nes, J., Wuisman, P.  Glucosamine and chondroitin sulfate supplementation to treat symptomatic disc regerneation: Biochemical rationale and case report.  BMC Complimentary and Alternative Medicine, 2003.

Understanding Why You Are Depressed

Let me first say that everyone’s experience of depression is different. Nevertheless there are themes that I see emerging again and again that I hope will be helpful to explore and describe.

Theme One: You’re Exhausted

From a holistic (Chinese Medicine) perspective, depression is the symptom that arises when the body’s nervous system has become overwhelmed with exhaustion. Normally when you’re exhausted you rest (and recuperate) but the cruel part about depression is that you get stuck in a limbo land where you’re unable to access true rest. Instead you find yourself in a state of agitation where you’re unable to switch off mentally and emotionally and, as a consequence, even if physically you’re quite sedentary and it looks like you’re not doing much you are still burning up tremendous amounts of nervous energy. You’ll find yourself going over things again and again in your head, thereby perpetuating a state of agitation and exhaustion.

Theme Two: How It Started

Well for some people it’s pretty obvious, symptoms first appeared after a traumatic event: the death of a loved one, a motor vehicle accident, being bullied at work or the ending of a relationship. The event didn't cause the depression but it created the conditions where the nervous system was stretch beyond its capacity for too long.

For others, they have always had the tendency to be depressed and traditional medicine calls this a ‘constitutional’ condition, modern medicine calls it genetic. Either way it means that ‘the way you are wired’ predisposes you towards depression. That doesn’t mean you just have to put up with it. However, you will need to become an expert in managing your mind and emotions to stay on top of it.

Theme Three: Toxic Emotions

Whether initiated by a trauma or whether you’re just predisposed to depression you’re likely to be suffering from an overload of toxic emotions. Whilst some people don't seem to notice much that goes on around them, people with depression are highly attuned to their surroundings and to other people (or started out that way until they got exhausted). This state of hyper-vigilance leaves them vulnerable to having their emotional circuits constantly jammed up. Once you’re in a perpetual state of overload the effect becomes toxic. Like a compost bin that is overflowing with food scraps, it needs to be emptied otherwise it turns putrid.

Theme Four: You’ve lost Your Way

The other theme with depression is feeling lost and loosing connection with your passion and purpose in life. Of course if you’re exhausted, in mental limbo and suffering from emotional overwhelm it’s impossible to connect with what brings you peace and a sense of purpose. Rather than thinking “once I figure out what I want to do in life I’ll feel better” the opposite is true. Once you feel better, it will be much more clear in what direction you should move.

How to get out of the Maze

From a Chinese Medicine Perspective it’s a pretty simple process.

Step One: Emotional Detox

The first step is to clear the backlog of emotional clutter and toxicity. Without removing the clutter, it’s almost impossible to move forward. From my experience, I’ve found acupuncture to be the key treatment to clear away the clutter and create some momentum. Other therapies that can be supportive include herbal medicine, exercise and dietary changes.

Step Two: Retrain Your Nervous System

It’s crucial to regain the ability to switch off mentally and emotionally, in order to access deep states of rest and peace. When you do, you truly begin to heal the exhaustion that underpins depression. Additionally, when you access deep states of peace you also declutter your mind and emotions which buffers you from going into emotional overload and rebuilds your residence for the inevitable stressful events that will come your way.

Again, I’ve found acupuncture excels at retraining your mind and nervous system to access states of deep peace. Who would have thought sticking pins in the body would be super relaxing but it is! I often describe acupuncture being like training wheels for your nervous system, giving the feeling of what it’s like to deeply relax. After a while you can find your balance on your own and don't need to rely on the treatment/training wheels.

Step Three: Practice Makes Perfect

Once you've got your equilibrium back, simple relaxation and meditation tools will enable you to stay feeling buoyant. The key is you need to do something that enables you to switch off EVERY DAY. Your body and mind’s need for relaxation is a bit like the need to brush our teeth. If you miss a day your mouth starts to feel a bit fuzzy and uncomfortable. It’s the same with the mind, if you don't do something that allows your mind to access rest and peace you are allowing clutter to build up and are sowing the seeds for future discomfort and distress. Meditation (and other deep relaxation practices) clear away the clutter and leave you feeling buoyant and resilient.

Please feel free to contact Live Well if you’d like further insights into how holistic approaches can help with depression.

Hot Stone Massage

As we step into the new season of Winter, hot stone massage can really bring some warmth back into our chilly bones. For those people who can never seem to get warm until spring comes again, hot stone massage can be a lovely way to come out of hibernation. Like stepping out on a cold day but into the sunlight… with the suns rays warming your body against the cold. Hot stone is the next best thing on those cold grey days we often have throughout the winter here in Canberra.

Anyone who has ever had the pleasure of receiving a hot stone massage knows the intense feeling of relaxation it provides. But do you know that there are long term, lasting benefits of hot stone massage?

The Secret is in the Stone

A hot stone massage combines thermotherapy with massage techniques to provide an effective healing therapy.  The use of natural stones in conjunction with massage uses powerful earth energies to help the patient heal. Heat from stones also has the benefit of geomagnetism from a Earth source; which has a balancing and healing effect on our systems.

Discover the Deeper Effects of the Stone

For those who haven’t had the pleasure of having a hot stone massage; it consists of both warm and hot stones placed directly on the body as well as being used as a massage tool.  The localised placement of heat on a particular area increases circulation of fluids, and can assist in alleviating organ congestion. When placed along meridian points, they can assist in removing energy blockages that lead to the development of disease, illness. Massage with the hot stones reduce swelling, pain and stimulate lymphatic drainage.

Some benefits of hot stone massage include:

  • Improves circulation
  • Decongestion of the liver by relaxing ducts
  • Detoxifies blood with sweating much the same as a sauna
  • Helps with hydrating and flushing cells
  • Relaxes muscles, soothes aches
  • Increases range of motion in joint movement
  • Lymphatic drainage and cleansing
  • Relieves stress

People who love the Hot Stones, do so because it's like a hot water bottle for the body, a gentle all over relaxing feeling, which calms the body and the soul. So book in for yourself to experience this bliss and reap the benefits. It can be a great part of your wellness program for the winter.

Click here to book a hot stone massage at Live Well Naturally now!

How to live seasonally for winter health with Traditional Chinese medicine

As we move into winter it's time to rug up, keep warm and pay particular attention to our health.  According to traditional Chinese medicine (TCM), winter is the season associated with the Kidneys, the energy system which holds our body’s most basic and fundamental energy. It is also believed that by harmonising oneself with the seasons you can stay healthier and prevent disease, so winter is a good time to strengthen the kidneys. It is also a good time to look inward, reflecting on ourselves with meditation, writing, or other inward practices such as Tai Chi and Qi Gong. These practices help us to connect to our inner selves and help to support kidney energy. They are very helpful to relax the mind, calm our emotions and raise the spirit. 

The body part associated with the kidneys are the bones, so it is important to pay close attention to the bones in the winter months making sure to tonify and heal any problems in this area. This is also why winter is a time when Chinese medicine prescribes bone broths as nutritional therapy, as they are warming, nourishing and especially good for the bones and kidney energy. Bone broths are also powerful Jing tonics, as Jing is produced by the bones. Jing is depleted by activities such as extreme and prolonged stress, lack of quality sleep, working long hours and excess consumption of alcohol and recreational drugs. Winter is the best time to supplement the body’s Jing supply, and bone broth is ideal to do just that.

There are many foods that are beneficial for us to eat during winter. These foods are the ones that naturally grow in this season - pumpkin, potatoes, root vegetables, winter greens, carrots, cabbage, mushrooms, apples and pears. In winter, our bodies need warming foods like soups made with hearty vegetables, and rich stocks cooked with animal bones are best. Foods that specifically nourish and warm the kidneys are: black beans, kidney beans, broths cooked with bones, lamb, chicken, walnuts, chestnuts, black sesame seeds and dark leafy greens.

A small amount of unrefined sea salt is also helpful as the taste associated with the kidneys organ is salty, but remember, moderation in all things is important and too much salt can damage the kidneys. Cooking should be for longer periods with low heat and less water. This infuses foods with heat that helps to keep the body warm in the cold winter months. Hearty soups, whole grains and roasted nuts are good on cold days and offer nourishment to feed the body and tonify the kidneys in cold winter months.

The principle of harmony between what we eat and the season we eat it in is based on hundreds of years of practical experience. Chinese nutritional therapy is an important component of Chinese medicine and there is a long held understanding that food that we consume has a profound effect on the body, affecting our health and wellbeing. 

Why Have We Become So Intolerant?

Food intolerance seems to be on the rise, a 2012 study revealed 17% of Australians are afflicted, but I’m guessing that figure has risen sharply since then. Better awareness of the the link between the foods we eat and a range of uncomfortable symptoms including headaches, diarrhoea, palpitations and mood changes is no doubt part of the rise in reporting. The other I believe is chronically high levels of stress.

What if I told you that you don't just digest food, you also digest experiences: emotions, conversations, images, thoughts and events? It makes sense doesn't it.

From the holistic perspective of Chinese Medicine the same organs that process the food you eat, are all highly involved in ‘digesting’ your life’s events. Which explains why, when you’re stressed, your digestion will often go haywire. Not only are your stomach, intestines, liver and gall bladder trying to process the muesli you had for breakfast, they’re also trying to break down and integrate everything else that’s happened this morning.

I find the link between digestion and stress most obvious when it comes to the assessing the health of the liver. From a Western perspective we’re used to thinking that what disrupts healthy liver function is indulging in alcohol and processed foods which is true, yet I see hundreds of clients who eat really well yet show signs of liver toxicity and overload. When you understand that, according to Chinese Medicine, the liver is the organ primarily associated with processing emotion, people start to get why they’re feeling irritable, fatigued and their digestion is out of sorts.

What’s this got to do with intolerances?

At the end of a busy day, your nervous system loves to switch off and relax, which is almost impossible to do when you have unresolved emotional clutter kicking around inside of you. When you can’t switch off, your immune system is constantly on edge and your digestive organs vulnerable to inflammation, both of which leaves you predisposed to developing allergies and intolerances.

So one of the most powerful ways to tackle food intolerance is to learn how to have a kinder relationship with your emotional wellbeing. The other is to make relaxation a daily habit, as commonplace as brushing your teeth. That way you’ll clear away the clutter of each day to leave your mind and body in a sate of relative peace and equilibrium.