Articles in Category: Health & Wellbeing

Hayfever Hassles

Better Health, Naturally

Spring is back again and we welcome the warmer temperatures. Unfortunately, this is also the prime season for hayfever (allergic rhinitis). Dry winds and pollens affect many people living in this area which has one of the highest incidences of hayfever in Australia. Hayfever is a type of atopy grouped together with asthma and eczema, and there is an inherited predisposition. Some people only get hayfever seasonally (mainly spring and autumn on the North Coast), this is usually in response to pollens from flowering plants. Hayfever can also occur all year round, mainly due to sensitivity to dust, dust mites, animal fur and moulds. Most people with hayfever are sensitive to more than one allergen. Typical symptoms include sneezing, runny and itchy nose, itchy eyes, and congested sinuses, which often leads to headaches and/or sinusitis (infection of sinuses). Many people find that hayfever affects their concentration, energy levels and overall wellbeing considerably. The symptoms are caused by allergens binding to immunoglobulin E (IgE) on mast cells. This triggers a number of reactions, including the release of histamines and other vasoactive and inflammatory substances.

While hayfever is predominantly caused by an oversensitive immune system, other contributing factors include stress, lowered gut function, unidentified food sensitivities and others. A wholistic approach usually works well. Homoeopathic remedies can be very successful, and likely ones include Allium cepa, Nat mur, Euphrasia, Nux vomica and Sabadilla. The specific remedy will depend on your individual symptoms. The herbal approach also works very well. Of prime importance are immune-modulating herbs such as Albizia and Baikal Skullcap, which stabilize mast cells, thereby reducing the release of histamine; and immune-enhancing herbs such as Echinacea. Other herbs include Golden Seal, a mucous membrane tonic and antibacterial, and astringents such as Eyebright, Elder or Golden Rod. Herbs that support the liver, the nervous system and adrenal glands may also be combined. Anti-inflammatory herbs include Ginger and Licorice.

While food sensitivities are not necessarily part of a typical hayfever picture, it is worth considering the amount of dairy and high-salicylate foods (such as strawberries, tomatoes, peaches and others) consumed. They can contribute to mucous build-up and sinus congestion in sensitive individuals. A diet high in alkalising foods (vegetables and fruit) may be of benefit in hayfever. Include plenty of herbs and spices such as horseradish, fenugreek, garlic, mustard, cayenne, cardamom etc. High doses of Vitamin C may temper the histamine response. Essential fatty acids from fish, nuts and seeds have an anti-inflammatory action, and….. Flavonoids (found in berries, fantastic for people not sensitive to salicylates) also stabilise mast cells. Also, try to reduce the amount of allergens, such as moulds, in your environment.

There are many different complementary approaches (including ones I haven’t even mentioned here, such as acupuncture), and you need to find what works for you. And for those lucky enough not to suffer from hayfever: please have some empathy because it really affects wellbeing profoundly!

Martina Pattinson, Naturopath ph 0427025051


Subluxations #246

In my last article I wrote about common myths regarding chiropractic. Today I’d like to summarise the actual causes of spinal misalignment or what chiropractors call Subluxations.

Subluxations are most often caused by forces upon the body that are not found in nature. The body is really good at adapting to forces found in nature. Our bodies have difficulty adapting to forces not found in nature.

The Biggest Causes of Subluxation In Order Are:

  1. Unnecessary intervention during childbirth
  2. Environmental Factors
    Main environmental factors are:
    • Air pollution.
    • Food pollution – artificial flavours, colours, preservatives, emulsifiers, antibacterial agents etc. Genetically modified foods. Overly processed foods.
    • Water pollution – anything added to water by man.
  3. Stress
    • Especially when it is prolonged. The body is beautifully designed to handle stress for a short period of time. However many people expose themselves to stress for prolonged period of time every day. Most of that stress is artificial, such as mortgage interest rates, work stress, etc.
  4. Physical Factors
    • The most common cause of physical subluxations is due to our lack of physical activity. Our bodies are designed for hunting and gathering, not sitting behind a desk for 6 hours of the day. Muscles, ligaments and joints were made for us burning 2000 calories of energy per day in physical activity. The average Australian burns 600 calories of day, of which 300 is from the activity of sleep!
    • Excessive and repetitive physical activity or one-sided sports such as bowling, cricket, golf, tennis etc.

You can see that the further a person moves away from nature the more subluxations they will develop. It’s interesting to note that when Chiropractors have examined the spines of people living in perfect harmony with nature, as occurs in certain native cultures, they find little or no Subluxations.


Shaun Cashman

What's all the fuss about folate?

Traditional Medicinals - Lismore

What's all the fuss about folate?

Folate (B9) is the generic term for a group of structurally related b-vitamins. Folic acid is the synthetic form of folate and is used in supplements and food fortification. 

Human exposure to folic acid did not occur until its chemical synthesis in 1943. Folate refers to the various natural tetrahydrafolate (THF) derivatives occurring in food. When absorbed, folate enters the circulation and is distributed to various tissues throughout the body whilst 50% of our folate is stored in the liver. Folate plays a vital role in gene (DNA/RNA) synthesis, the metabolism of B12, and prevention of neural tube defects in babies. Folate is also essential for functioning of the central nervous system and immune system.  

Natural folates are metabolized to THF in gut mucosa, folic acid on the other hand, is metabolized in the liver. This process requires an enzyme, dihydrofolate reductase (DR) to convert it to THF. THF is the only folate form utilized by the body. Low DR enzyme in the liver and high folic acid intake may cause high levels of un-metabolized folic acid to enter the circulation. There is some concern regarding the risks of excessive folic acid intake. High serum folic acid can mask B12 deficiency, also a decline in the central nervous system in the elderly. High folic acid is associated with an increased risk of some cancers. Deficiency of folate is associated with high homocysteine and an increased risk of heart disease. Excellent sources of folate are parsley, turnip, spinach, asparagus, cauliflower, beets and lentils.

References supplied on request. 


By Alison Millican who is available for clinical naturopathic consultations in Ballina and Traditional Medicinals Lismore. 


‘Better Health, Naturally’ #248

Plant Profile: Hawthorn, Herb for the Heart

Hawthorn (Crataegus oxyacantha, monogyna), belonging to the Rosaceae family, is a plant with amazing benefits for the heart. Prescribed by the Greeks and Romans for heart problems, it was also considered a sacred plant and was used for Christ’s Crown of Thorns.

Native from Europe to Western Asia, Hawthorn is a tree or shrub growing up to ten metres tall with dark green lobed leaves and clusters of white flowers in springtime, followed by bright red berries. Its name is derived from ‘hedgethorn’ as it was a popular plant for hedges throughout Europe over the centuries.

Hawthorn is primarily a herb for the cardiovascular system. It contains a high percentage of bioflavonoids and oligomeric procyanidins (OPCs). OPCs, also found in red wine and green tea, are powerful antioxidants which trap free radicals and protect against vascular damage and atherosclerosis (fatty deposits in arteries). Flavonoids also have anti-oxidant activity, strengthen the heart, capillaries and connective tissue, lower blood pressure and are anti-inflammatory. The leaves, flowers and berries are all used medicinally, but the berries contain less OPCs.

Hawthorn is indicated in high blood pressure, arterio- and atherosclerosis, arrhythmias, minor angina pectoris, congestive heart failure and circulatory disorders. It increases coronary blood flow and the force of heart contractions. Hawthorn’s effectiveness is supported by good quality research, and medical practitioners in Germany frequently prescribe a specific extract for cardiovascular disorders including heart failure. Naturopaths and herbal medicine practitioners in Australia often combine Hawthorn with other herbs to treat diseases such as high blood pressure. Its toxicity is low and side-effects are uncommon and mild. Hawthorn is a herb that should be taken under the supervision of a qualified practitioner. It potentially interacts with cardiovascular medication, and caution is advised in pregnancy. If you suffer from cardiovascular disease, see a medical practitioner first.

By Martina Pattinson, Naturopath 0427 025051


‘Better Health, Naturally’ #248

Time for a spring clean?

In many cultures and societies, people observe times of cleansing or fasting for spiritual and other health reasons. This is also part of the Ayurvedic (Indian), Traditional Chinese Medicine and naturopathic traditions. So why not do a cleanse this spring?

The body eliminates toxins via the skin, bowels, liver, kidneys and lungs; and also cleanses through the lymphatic system. Never before has there been such a burden on our bodies due to environmental toxins and food additives. At the same time, our nutrient intake is often insufficient due to the consumption of processed and refined foods. Over winter, we also eat considerably more starchy, meaty, acidic foods, and we eat more altogether.

A cleansing regime will help the body get rid of accumulated waste and alkalise it. Specific herbs and foods can encourage the channels of elimination and detoxification to work better. One easy way of cleansing is to eat large amounts of vegetables and fruits, thereby alkalising the body; while reducing the very acidic foods such as meat, dairy, and processed and refined foods. Try eating a little less than you normally would. Bitter foods such as rocket, endive and globe artichoke improve liver function. Traditional detoxifying herbs can be added to the diet. These include lymph and blood cleansing herbs such as clivers, calendula and red clover, and liver tonics such as dandelion or St Mary’s thistle. They can be taken either in tea or tincture form. Include liquid chlorophyll for additional benefits. If you have a juicer, you can start the day with a fruit and vege juice diluted with water. Try juicing carrots, celery, beetroot and a little piece of ginger. Drink at least 1.5l – 2l of water daily, depending on the weather and your level of activity, and consider an alcohol-free month!

Exercise is a great way to stimulate elimination via the lungs and lymph system. Other traditional forms of cleansing include fasting, saunas and enemas. While generally safe, they are not suitable for everyone – talk to a qualified and experienced health professional first. Fasting may not be appropriate if you have considerable amounts of accumulated toxins, such as mercury, in your body, have serious health complaints or take medications.

While everyone can benefit from a spring-clean, it is particularly effective for people with chronic and inflammatory conditions such as arthritis or eczema. Keep in mind that when you start cleansing, you may actually feel worse for a few days. After that, be amazed to discover extra vitality and energy within yourself!

By Martina Pattinson, 
Naturopath 0427 025051


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