Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Natural Support for Bladder Infections

Interstitial Cystitis (IC) and Urinary Tract Infections (UTI’s) are two very different conditions experienced by women.  Two questions that women often ask are ‘what is the difference?’ and ‘are there effective natural solutions to help?’

So let’s firstly explore the difference between Interstitial cystitis (IC) and non complex Urinary Tract Infections (UTI’s).

Interstitial Cystitis is a complex condition of the bladder, caused by the protective bladder lining breaking down.  This may be due to infection, inflammation, hormones or autoimmune conditions.  With IC symptoms often worse during ovulation and under stress, a ‘neurohormonal' and immune connection is likely for many women [1-6].  

Urinary tract Infections however, are infections of the urinary tract.  Bacteria that live in the digestive tract, in the vagina, or around the urethra are the most common cause of UTIs.  Research also supports the influence of hormones such as estrogen associated with reproductive disorders (Poly Cystic Ovarian Disorder, or Endometriosis for example)  enhancing the growth of many bacteria associated with recurrent UTI’s [5].

Although symptoms like bladder pain and urinary symptoms, such as frequent voiding (feeling like you want to go to the toilet a lot) and urgency are common to both conditions, IC is vastly different with patients describing pain as intolerable. 

So what natural options are available?

Both IC and UTI’s may improve with medical treatment but unfortunately infection associated with both of these may be resistant to traditional antibiotic treatment which means symptoms may recur with time. 

Improving bladder and the health of the urinary tract is achievable in two easy steps.

Step 1 Identify the underlying cause 
Step 2 Implement a targeted treatment strategy to address the cause 

You can also start today by making small changes such as giving up coffee and alcohol and consuming a more alkaline diet.  Infact, adapting your diet and lifestyle according to your hormonal profile, can make the world of difference. 

Finally, the choice of traditional herbal medicine for IC and UTI’s depends upon the underlying contributing factors to the condition, such as hormones, auto-immunity,  central nervous system excitability, bacterial infection, inflammation or digestive weakness . So if you have tried over the counter remedies such as cranberry and still experience symptoms, a personalized herbal tonic by a qualified medical herbalist is best. 

These conditions are complex and require an individualized treatment approach.  It is recommended that you seek the expertise of a qualified health practitioner and if symptoms persist seek medical advice.

Narelle Stegehuis, is a practicing naturopath with over 30,000 hrs of in-clinic experience specializing in the natural treatment of women's health and hormonal imbalances. She is both an accomplished writer, editor and recipient of the Australian Naturopathic Excellence Award. 
To find out more, visit www.massattack.com.au


1.            Grover, S., et al., Role of inflammation in bladder function and interstitial cystitis. Therapeutic Advances in Urology, 2011. 3(1): p. 19-33.
2.            Montag, S. and R. Moldwin, Minimally Invasive Therapy for Interstitial Cystitis/Painful Bladder Syndrome, in Smith's Textbook of Endourology2012, Wiley-Blackwell. p. 1640-1649.
3.            Hsieh, C.-H., et al., Treatment of interstitial cystitis with hydrodistention and bladder training. International Urogynecology Journal, 2008. 19(10): p. 1379-1384.
4.            Fall, M., P. Hanno, and J. Nordling, Bladder Pain Syndrome, Interstitial Cystitis, Painful Bladder Syndrome, and Hypersensitive Bladder Syndrome: New Nomenclature/New Guidelines. Current Bladder Dysfunction Reports, 2011. 6(3): p. 116-127.
5.            Sonnex, C., Influence of ovarian hormones on urogenital infection. Sexually Transmitted Infections, 1998. 74(1): p. 11-19.
6.            Theoharides, T.C., et al., Interstitial Cystitis: A Neuroimmunoendocrine Disordera. Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences, 1998. 840(1): p. 619-634.
7.            Mills, S.B., K., Principles and practice of Phytotherapy2000: Churchill Livingstone.
8.            Naish, F.R., J., The Natural Way To Better Babies: preconception health care for prospective parents. Vol. 5. 1996: Random House.
9.            Mills, S.B., K., The Essential Guide To Herbal Safety2005: Elsevier, Churchill Livingstone.
10.          Sarris, J.W., J., Clinical Naturopathy2010: Elsevier.
11.          Pizzorno, J.S., P., Naturopathic Medicine: Fundamentals of Complementary and Integrative medicine.2006, St. Louis: saunders Elsevier.

Monday, May 28, 2012

Moroccan Pumpkin Soup

This is one of my favorite soups for many reasons.  Aside from being budget friendly, it is sustaining, immune boosting and hormone balancing.  Enjoy!

 Serves 6
Eat Your Way ToBetter Health

1/3 cup olive oil
1.5 liters vegetable stock
1 leek, (white part) thinly sliced
3 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1 cinnamon stick
3cm piece ginger, peeled, thinly sliced
1 tsp cumin seeds
1 sweet potato peeled, coarsely chopped
1.5kg butternut pumpkin, peeled, seeded, cut
into pieces
1/3 cup red lentils
Juice of 1/2 lemon
Coriander sprigs to serve
2 tsp salt

1. Heat oil in a large saucepan over lowmedium heat and cook leek, garlic and 2 tsp salt, stirring occasionally, for 3 minutes or until soft. Add cinnamon, ginger and cumin and stir for 1 minute or until fragrant. Add sweet
potato, pumpkin and red lentils. Stir to coat in onion mixture.

2. Add stock and bring to the boil, then simmer for 50 minutes or until lentils are soft.
3. Remove and discard cinnamon stick from soup. Add lemon juice then process in a food processor or blender until smooth. Return soup to pan and reheat over medium heat.

Serve topped with coriander sprigs.

New Cause Of Endometriosis Found

IMPORTANT: New Information For Endometriosis Sufferers

Have you been diagnosed with endometriosis?  If so, recent research reveals new and exciting ways to not only improve debilitating symptoms, but most importantly reverse the cause.

Discovering a New Cause & Finding Solutions

Until now, endometriosis was thought to be caused by a combination of hormones, auto-immune conditions, environmental pollutants and genes [1-3].  However, exciting new research has found that these are triggers for tissue growth rather than initial endometrial tissue development.

Researchers have found bacterial, viral and possibly parasitic infections may be the initial cause of endometrial tissue development [4-8] with some resistant bacteria remaining active in the female reproductive system indefinitely. 

The Good News Is, This New Theory Opens The Door To Solutions

Rethinking conventional treatment models of endometriosis (both natural and orthodox) is the first step.  With the focus of these models being on supporting healthy hormonal balance and other supporting triggers such as inflammation and auto-immune influences [2, 3] the underlying cause such as infection, is often over looked.

An individualized approach to endometriosis treatment, integrating both traditional methods such as hormonal balance and diet and lifestyle changes, with targeted natural immune support to get to the cause, means effective, long term management of endometriosis, is closer than ever before.

Stop Endometriosis in its Tracks.  Treat the Underlying Infection  

With many infections proving resistance to traditional treatments, perhaps the answer can be found in nature.  Research indicates targeted medicinal herbal support such as Andrographis paniculata, Astragalus membranaceus, Hypericum perforatum and Echinacea angustifolia, provide but just a few traditionally tried and tested options [9-12].

Narelle Stegehuis, is a practicing naturopath with over 30,000 hrs of in-clinic experience specializing in the natural treatment of women's hormonal imbalances. She is both an accomplished writer, editor and recipient of the Australian Naturopathic Excellence Award. 
To find out more, visit www.massattack.com.au


1.            Harris, H.A., et al., A selective estrogen receptor-β agonist causes lesion regression in an experimentally induced model of endometriosis. Human Reproduction, 2005. 20(4): p. 936-941.
2.            Trickey, R., Women, Hormones and The Menstrual Cycle.  Herbal & Medical Solutions From Adolescence to Menopause.1998: Allen & Unwin.
3.            Naish, F.R., J., The Natural Way To Better Babies: preconception health care for prospective parents. Vol. 5. 1996: Random House.
4.            Aggarwal, B.B. and K.B. Harikumar, Potential therapeutic effects of curcumin, the anti-inflammatory agent, against neurodegenerative, cardiovascular, pulmonary, metabolic, autoimmune and neoplastic diseases. The International Journal of Biochemistry & Cell Biology, 2009. 41(1): p. 40-59.
5.            Khan, K.N., et al., Toll-Like Receptors in Innate Immunity: Role of Bacterial Endotoxin and Toll-Like Receptor 4 in Endometrium and Endometriosis. Gynecologic and Obstetric Investigation, 2009. 68(1): p. 40-52.
6.            Khan, K.N., et al., Differential macrophage infiltration in early and advanced endometriosis and adjacent peritoneum. Fertility and sterility, 2004. 81(3): p. 652-661.
7.            Khan, K.N., et al., REVIEW ARTICLE: Immunopathogenesis of Pelvic Endometriosis: Role of Hepatocyte Growth Factor, Macrophages and Ovarian Steroids. American Journal of Reproductive Immunology, 2008. 60(5): p. 383-404.
8.            Khan, K.N., et al., Association of interleukin-6 and estradiol with hepatocyte growth factor in peritoneal fluid of women with endometriosis. Acta Obstetricia et Gynecologica Scandinavica, 2002. 81(8): p. 764-771.
9.            Mills, S.B., K., The Essential Guide To Herbal Safety2005: Elsevier, Churchill Livingstone.
10.          Wagner, H., Herbal Immunostimulants. Z Phytother, 1996. 17(2): p. 79-95.
11.          Butterweck, V.S., St John's wort: role of active compounds for it's mechanism of action and efficacy. Wien Med Wochenschr, 2007. 157: p. 356-361.
12.          Zheng, Y., X. Liu, and S.-W. Guo, Therapeutic potential of andrographolide for treating endometriosis. Human Reproduction, 2012. 27(5): p. 1300-1313.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Ultimate Immune Boost Soup

A healthy recipe for miso soup to support you through the cooler months ...

Need a boost this winter?  health thy self with food.  This is one of my all time fovorite recipes for booting the system during the cold and flu season.  jam packed with super nutrients, it's sure to get you through this winter.


Half a cup wakame or kombu seaweed
Three tablespoons miso paste (gen mai)
Four shiitake or reishi mushrooms (dried or fresh)
One and a half cups of chopped vegetables (leek, onion, carrot, cabbage, turnips, potatoes, sweet potatoes)
Four to five cups of water (or vegetable stock or seaweed soaking water)
One teaspoom sesame oil.
One teaspoon ginger, grated
One clove of garlic, minced


  • If you are using dried mushrooms, soak mushrooms in boiling water for one hour, discard the stems and soaking water.
  • Soak seaweed in water (wakame: 20 min, kombu: 4 min), keep soaking water. Cut seaweed into strips.
  • Sauté seaweed and vegetables in a pan with a little oil.
  • Add water and bring to boil. Reduce heat to low and simmer covered for 10 minutes. Then add tofu pieces.
  • Cream miso in a little broth and return to soup. Cook on low heat for a couple of minutes. Do not overheat miso as it will destroy the active lactobacillus (beneficial bacteria).
  • Garnish (seeds, toasted nori flakes, chives, parsley). Serves four.

Tips To Stress Less

Think you'd win a most-stressed competition? Than read on ...

Ninety percent - that's how many of us say we experience regular hits of stress.  Worse still, 43 percent of Australians aren't just slightly stressed, they are very stressed. If you believe the statistics, it means that nine out of 10 Australians could benefit from a good de-stressing.

Reducing your stress levels means you feel healthier, have more energy and will lead a happier life.  So, how do you make the change to move towards a brighter stress free future?

The first step is to make your health a priority.  Start by making a list and identifying the stresses that you can control and those that you can't.  Than, next to these, try to think about both a long and a short term solution.  Remember, there are going to be elements in your life that you may not be able to change, but you can manage them better.  The bottom line is, if you can't control it, manage it, but stop worrying about it!

If you have been through a major stressful time in your life, your body has taken a beating and is potentially at risk of more challenging health conditions.  This is why bringing in a little extra support from mother nature with herbs and nutritional support to nourish and nurture your adrenals and central nervous system can be helpful.

there are many herbs that restore wellness to a tired, depleted system.  However among some of my favorites are beautiful nurturing herbs like Passiflora incarnata  and Withania somnifera.  These can really provide much needed healing and support to a overtired, warn out, fragile system.  This is why a personalised herbal tonic can be one of the best places to start since it will give you that all important instantaneous lift to get you started.

Remember, things go wrong for all of us, whether or not and even how upset we get as a result depends largely on the way we think. Often you can't change other people or our life circumstances, but we can change the way we perceive them, and avoid upsetting ourselves unnecessarily.

Do some exercise - especially walking.  Physical exercise is one of the best and easiest ways to reduce tension and biochemical changes that are brought about by stress.  Most importantly, make a conscious effort to balance work and play. Engage in fun activities, including leisure, social activities, sports and interests. It's a simple, yet effective, way to lift your mood and diffuse the effects of stress.

Narelle Stegehuis, CEO of Mass Attack and Bumpfertility is a practicing naturopath with over 30,000 hrs of in-clinic experience. Specializing in the natural treatment of women's hormonal imbalances, she has a trained eye for hormonal weight gain. Uniquely, for patient convenience, her programs are offered via the internet. She is both an accomplished writer and recipient of the Australian Naturopathic Excellence Award. To find out if your hormones are causing your symptoms, visit http://www.massattack.com.au

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Lima Bean Mash

It doesn’t take much to make lima beans into something special. Puréed and used with
a casserole it makes a healthy alternative to regular mashed spud. If you like simply
substitute cooked fresh red lentils or fava, navy, or cannellini beans for the limas.

2 cups fresh shelled or frozen baby lima beans
2 cloves garlic, peeled and sliced
3 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
1 lemon
Freshly ground black pepper
1/2 cup water

1. Combine lima beans, garlic, 1⁄2 cup water and a generous pinch of salt in a small pot. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat, cover,reduce heat to low, and simmer until beans are very soft, about 15 minutes.

2. Coarsely purée beans and garlic in a food processor. Transfer to a small bowl and
gradually beat in olive oil. Remove zest from lemon with a zester or vegetable peeler, then finely julienne zest and set aside. Halve lemon and add lemon juice to purée to taste, then season with salt and pepper. Serve with your normal vegetables or in a small bowl with toasted bread on the side.

Inflammation, Immunity and The Body Fat Connection

We often think of pain and inflammation as a result of localised injury due to sprains, cuts and insect bites.  However, when pain and inflammation is happening internally (as in the case of immune system problems), it is not so easy to detect.  What we do know though, is that inflammation is a key driver of many chronic, degenerative conditions such as fatigue, arthritis and unexplained weight gain.

You may not even be aware that your body is inflamed.  You may think that the ongoing tiredness, digestive problems or those aches and pains that you feel when you wake up in the morning are a sign of old age. If only it were that simple!

Top 5 Causes of Inflammation

Many elements of our modern lifestyles can perpetuate and exacerbate inflammation, including:

  1. toxicity
  2. stress
  3. poor dietary habits
  4. drug and alcohol abuse
  5. low levels of physical activity

Top 5 Reasons To Lower Your Body's Inflammatory Response

1. Inflammation Triggers Increased Fat Cell Production - As a safety mechanism, toxins that cannot be eliminated are stored in fat cells. As more toxins are ingested, more fat cells are added to store them, causing weight gain. Eventually the fat cells can become unstable and toxins start leaking into the blood. This can set up an inflammatory response to clean up the ‘foreign bodies'.

2. Inflammation Causes Leptin Imbalance - Leptin is the hormone responsible for helping regulate appetite and energy production.  However, if your body is inflamed, chemicals are released by the fatty tissues to control the inflammation. Studies conducted at Harvard Medical School suggest the chemicals which help to control the inflammation can have a disrupting effect on leptin. This leads to leptin resistance which means the leptin receptors in the brain are not accepting the messages properly. Therefore the balance between energy consumed and energy used is disrupted, appetite is no longer regulated and metabolism slows.

3. Inflammation Triggers Insulin resistance - The same study showed the same effect on insulin, a hormone that regulates blood sugar. The body's chemicals which control inflammation have a disrupting effect on insulin causing insulin resistance. This is why there is a strong correlation between being overweight and insulin resistance.

4. Inflammation Triggers Complex Hormone Imbalances -  A number of studies have shown that overweight individuals have high levels of leptin but it is no longer effective. High levels of this hormone are a problem because they further increase inflammation, interfering with the entry of glucose into the cells and with the body's insulin response. This may, in turn, lead to insulin resistance and influence the production of other hormones such as estrogen, progesterone and thyroid hormones.  All of these hormones are linked to metabolic performance.  

 5. Increased Fat Storage Triggers More Inflammation - When you have an increase in fat storage, the inflammatory response becomes heightened and so the vicious cycle continues.

Symptoms to look out for:
  • Lowered Immune System
  • Fluid retention
  • Headaches
  • Stubborn weight gain
  • Tummy fat that won't budge
  • Uncontrollable cravings
  • Aches and pains

Food Power to Produce or Reduce Inflammation

Fruits, vegetables and good fats from fish and nuts all help to reduce inflammation, whilst other foods can increase inflammation. Inflammatory foods include high sugar foods, heavily processed foods that are high in colours, flavours and other artificial ingredients and foods that are high in certain fats, such as many processed and fast foods.

Steps to overcoming chronic inflammation and eliminate toxins

  • Remove processed foods from your diet
  • Eat organic foods whenever possible
  • Eat a wide variety of fresh fruits and vegetables
  • Limit intake of saturated fats
  • Increase intake of omega-3 fatty acids
  • Buy a water filter and drink 2 liters of filtered water a day
  • Undertake moderate physical activity

Effective natural anti-inflammatory and pain relief options

Fortunately nature has provided us with many remarkable herbs which have been used traditionally for centuries to treat acute pain and inflammation. Some of these are:

  • Turmeric has anti-inflammatory actions and has traditionally been used in herbal medicines to support digestive health,reducing toxicity and inflammation.
  • Boswellia has analgesic, anti-rheumatic and anti-inflammatory actions, for all types of pain, but specifically for arthritic or traumatic pain associated with inflammation.
  • Ginger has traditionally been used as an anti-inflammatory for arthritis.
  • Hemidesmus, Echinacea and Rehmannia to regulate the immune system

The combination of hops, rosemary, and olive leaf can also provide excellent long-term anti-inflammatory relief for chronic pain and inflammation. This combination may assist in relieving the pain and inflammation associated with osteoarthritis and rheumatism, and is safe to take long term. Modern formulations containing these ingredients can be rapid in their action, often reducing symptoms within a few days.

There are many natural herbal and homeopathic treatments to help you detoxify and overcome inflammation. These should only be undertaken with the help of a qualified practitioner who can take your individual circumstances into consideration. Some herbs may be contraindicated if taking certain pharmaceutical medications or if sensitive to salicylates. A naturopath can develop a supplement program designed to help you detoxify, overcome inflammation and lose weight naturally and safely.

Narelle Stegehuis, CEO of Mass Attack is a practicing naturopath with over 30,000 hrs of in-clinic experience. Specializing in the natural treatment of women's hormonal imbalances, she has a trained eye for hormonal weight gain. Uniquely, for patient convenience, her programs are offered via the internet. She is both an accomplished writer and recipient of the Australian Naturopathic Excellence Award. To find out if hormones are making you fat, visit http://www.massattack.com.au

Current Drug Targets Inflammation and Allergy. 2005 Jun;4(3):281-6. Macrophages in inflammation. Fujiwara N, Kobayashi K.
Jane K. Howard and Jeffrey S. Flier, Attenuation of leptin and insulin signaling by SOCS proteins. Trends in Endocrinology & Metabolism, Volume 17, Issue 9, 365-371, 1 November 2006
Obesity. Gabriel I Uwaifo, MBBS, Clinical and Research Attending, Assistant Professor of Medicine and Endocrinology, MedStar Clinical Research Center, MedStar Research Institute and Washington Hospital Center

Are Your Hormones Making You fat?

Is your diet being sabotaged by an undetected hormone imbalance?

Broccoli – it’s one of those vegies we dish up on the dinner plate not because of its tantalising taste but because we know it is good for us. It’s the poster food for healthy eating as it’s jam-packed with antioxidants and nutrients – you know the drill. But eating broccoli and other healthy foods may be sabotaging your weight loss efforts – if you have an undetected hormone imbalance. Feature Article - Womens health & Fitness ... Read more ...

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Toxins, Chemicals and Hormonal Imbalance

Did you know that women use on average 12 personal care products each day - this can expose them to up to 160 different chemicals that have a direct influence on hormonal balance and metabolic performance.

For example: Sanitary products, shampoo, conditioner, soap, moisturiser, mascara, lipstick, foundation, blusher, bronzer,hairspray, nail polish.