Friday, August 24, 2012

Green Bean Salad


Get fresh with this easy, economical green bean salad.  You can add legumes if you like or walnuts for extra protein and crunch.

1.5 kilos fresh green beans, trimmed and cut into 1-1/2-inch pieces
1/3 cup walnut oil
3 tablespoons lemon juice
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
1/3 teaspoon rock salt
2 cloves crushed garlic
1/4 teaspoon ground mustard
1/8 teaspoon freshly cracked pepper
1 large red onion, chopped
4 cups cherry tomatoes, halved
1 cup crumbled low fat feta cheese

Directions

Place beans boiling water and cook for 8-10 minutes or until crisp-tender. Drain and immediately place beans in ice water. Drain and pat dry.   

In a small bowl, whisk the oil, lemon juice, vinegar, salt, garlic powder, mustard and pepper. Drizzle over beans. Add the onion; toss to coat. Cover and refrigerate for at least 1 hour. Just before serving, stir in tomatoes and cheese.  10 servings.
Narelle Stegehuis, is a practicing medical herbalist and naturopath specializing in restorative endocrinology for women, with over 14 years clinical experience.  She is both an accomplished writer, editor and technical training advisor. A recipient of the Australian Naturopathic Excellence Award, Narelle adopts an integrated approach of both medical science and traditional complementary health care principles.  www.massattack.com.au

Is Depression, Caused by Inflammation?

Depression is a leading cause of disability and is the fourth largest cause of burden of disease amongst all diseases (1) and affects one in three women.  Anybody who has ever suffered from depression or has a loved one who suffers from it knows how debilitating it can be. 

Treatment has traditionally focused on improving serotonin levels, but figures show around 35% remission after initial treatment and approximately 70% remission after four cumulative treatments (1) It is necessary to look beyond serotonin to find out what is causing depression, and adapt natural support to rebalance the underlying causes.


 

Raised inflammatory markers in depression

People with depression have increased levels of inflammatory substances such as interleukin-1 (IL-1), interleukin-6 (IL-6), tumour necrosis factor-α (TNF) or C-Reactive Protein (CPR) in the blood(1,2,6,8) Higher levels of these markers affect brain signalling and produce symptoms such as fatigue, changes in appetite, increased sleep, lack of motivation, negative mood, decreased cognition and weight changes (5,8) – the classical symptoms of depression.

Conversely, people who are treated with inflammatory substances (eg interferon in cancer treatment or chronic infections) start to show depression-like symptoms (2) So what is the link between inflammation and depression?

 

Inflammation depletes serotonin

Inflammatory substances such as IL1, IL-6, TNF and CRP stimulate the formation of IDO (indoleamine 2,3-dioxygenase), an enzyme involved in the tryptophan metabolism. Unfortunately, this enzyme does not push tryptophan towards the serotonin pathway, but towards the kynurenine pathway instead. (1,3) This can reduce serotonin levels by 25-50%. (1) It stands to reason that we need to reduce inflammation to help improve depression, but to effectively do this we need to find out where this inflammation is coming from in the first place.

 

Where does inflammation start?

Conditions such as endometriosis, PCOS and other reproductive disorders are linked with inflammation, and very often patients suffering from any of these conditions also suffer from low moods or depression. The debilitating symptoms are enough to make anyone feel low, but the underlying inflammation is the real trigger that needs to be looked at.

Research shows that inflammation also often starts in the digestive tract, with harmful bacteria causing leaky gut (7). As the intestinal wall becomes more permeable, the immune system is activated. As part of the immune response there is an increased production of pro-inflammatory hormones such as IL-1, IL-6, TNF and interferon-ϒ (IFN). As described above, these substances increase the metabolism of tryptophan to the neurotoxic quinolinic acid rather than the ‘feel good’ hormone serotonin (3).  These hormones can also trigger an auto immune response triggering conditions like Rheumatoid arthritis, hashimotto's, Lupus and possibly MS.

Not everybody who suffers from frequent low moods or is depressed will have PCOS, endometriosis, or bowel dysbiosis; but everybody would benefit from finding out what underlying causes trigger low moods or depression, especially if they have tried anti-depressants and find they don’t work.

 

What can you do about this yourself?

A holistic treatment plan that addresses the cause and not just the symptom is crucial.   Look beyond the boundries of a general 'symptom based' simplistic consultation.   Fourteen years of clinical experience highlights the need for segmentation based, multilayer, diagnosis techniques as part of the initial step in getting to the cause. 
 

Establishing the underlying cause, ensures effective natural support.  Targeting medicinal herbs and orthomolecular nutrients assist in reversing the cause. 



There is a great deal of research to promote the benefits of incorporating natural support in depression.  Even something as simple as EFA's such as Omega3 Fatty acids have been found to make a difference.  Omega 3 poly unsaturated fatty acids found in fish oil not only have a strong anti-inflammatory effect, but also improve fluidity of the cell membranes (3,9). There are many studies that associate increased intake of omega 3 EFA’s with improved cognition and moods. (9) Apart from this, they can improve serotonin binding (10), further improving moods.

EFA’s could be part of a holistic treatment plan, but as each patient is different and some may already be on anti-depressants, each treatment approach is different, too. It is always best to contact your health care practitioner to provide a solid platform to redefine your health.


Narelle Stegehuis, is a practicing medical herbalist and naturopath specializing in restorative endocrinology for women, with over 14 years clinical experience.  She is both an accomplished writer, editor and technical training advisor.  A recipient of the Australian Naturopathic Excellence Award, Narelle adopts an integrated approach of both medical science and traditional complementary health care principles.  She can be contacted at www.massattack.com.au

References:
1. DM Christmas, JP Potokar, SJC Davies, “A biological pathway linking inflammation and depression: activation of indoleamine 2,3-dioxygenase – Neuropsychiatric disease and treatment 2011:7 431-439
2. B Messay, A Lim, AL Marshland, “Current understanding of the bi-directional relationship of major depression with inflammation” – Biology of Mood & Anxiety Disorders, 2012, 2:4
3. M Maes, “The cytokine hypothesis of depression: inflammation, oxidative & nitrosative stress (IO&NS) and leaky gut as new targets for adjunctive treatments in depression” – Neuroendocrinology letters 2008:29(3):1-000
4. Chrousos GP et all, “ Interactive functional specificity of stress and immune response: the yin, the yang, and defence against two major classes of bacteria” – Journal of Infectious Disease, 15th Aug 2005;192(4):551-555
5. R Dantzer et all, “From inflammation to sickness and depression: when the immune system subjugates the brain” – Nature Reviews Neuroscienice 9, January 2009, 46-56, doi:10.1038/nrn2297
6. R Dantzer, “Depression and inflammation, and intricate relationship” – Biological Psychiatry, vol 71, issue 1, p 4-5, 1st January 2012-07-01
7. Maes M et all, “Increased IgA and IgM response against gut commensals in chronic depression” – Journal of Affective Disorders, 11th March 2012, doi:10.101/j.ad.2012.02.023
8. Krishnadas R, Cavanagh J, “Depression: an inflammatory illness?” – Journal of Neurology, Neurosurgery and Psychiatry, 83 (5) 495-502, doi:10.1126/jnnp-2011-301779
9. Nurk E, Devron CA, Refsum H et all, “Cognitive performance among the elderly and dietary fish intake: the Horland Health Study” – Am Journal of Clinical Nutrition 2007; 86:1470-1478
10. Huang JTJ, Leweke FM, Oxley D et all, “Disease biomarkers in cerebrospinal fluid of patients with first-onset psychosis” – Plos med 2006,3(11):e428

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Green Papaya Salad

Serves 4

3 large cloves garlic, peeled
4 red bird’s eye chillies, seeded
½ teaspoon salt
½ tablespoon dried shrimps
3-4 tablespoons fish sauce
finely shredded flesh from 350g green papaya
handful of purple baby eggplant, halved
8 small tomatoes, halved
2 mild red chillies, seeded and shredded
handful of beansprouts, trimmed
handful each of basil and mint leaves

Using a mortar and pestle, pound the garlic, bird’s eye chillies and salt together to form a paste. Add the dried shrimps and continue pounding, then stir in he fish sauce. Place in bowl with the papaya and toss to coat. Lightly bruise the eggplant and tomatoes with the flat blade of a knife, then add to the bowl with the chillies, beansprouts, basil and mint. Toss lightly before serving.

 
Narelle Stegehuis, is a practicing medical herbalist and naturopath specializing in restorative endocrinology for women, with over 14 years clinical experience.  She is both an accomplished writer, editor and technical training advisor for the Complementary Health Care Council.  A recipient of the Australian Naturopathic Excellence Award, Narelle adopts an integrated approach of both medical science and traditional complementary health care principles. www.massattack.com.au

Medications & Weight Gain


Many women gain weight for no apparent reason.  This can be due to a multitude of factors ranging from hormones to bacterial infections or inflammation.  However, one cause often overlooked is prescription medications.

 

What's going on?

This may be hard to swallow, but some prescription drugs such as those used to treat mood disorders, seizures, migraines, diabetes, and even high blood pressure can cause weight gain. Some steroids, hormone replacement therapy, and oral contraceptives can also cause unwanted kilos to creep up on you.

Even if you suspect a prescription medication is causing weight gain, never stop taking the drug without consulting your doctor.

"Stopping some of these medications on your own can have very serious consequences," says Louis Aronne, MD, president of the North American Association for the Study of Obesity. "It has to be done very carefully."

It is also important to remember that even if a medication causes weight gain of a few kilos, it may be worth the trade-off of what that medication is doing for your overall health.  


Common Offenders That Can Cause Weight Gain 
While no one knows exactly how many prescription drugs can cause weight gain, experts estimate the list includes more than 50 common medications.

To make things more complicated, some drugs can cause weight gain in some people and weight loss in others.  This is because not all drugs have the same side effects for all people.  You have to work with your doctor to find the drug that's right for you and in almost every case, your doctor will be able to switch you to another medication that has the same desirable effects but which will not cause weight gain.

The reasons why some medications cause weight gain are not always clear.  Drug-induced weight gain may be unrelated to the action of the drug itself, for example, if an antidepressant makes people feel better, their appetite may be restored and they eat more.  However, other drugs have the potential to alter metabolism, causing the body to burn calories more slowly or to store fat.

Some corticosteroids, for example, make the body less able to absorb blood glucose, and this can lead to fat deposits in the trunk and weight gain. Other medications produce fatigue or shortness of breath, making the person less active (the antihypertensive drugs known as beta-blockers are thought to have this effect), or can cause water retention (a side effect of antihypertensive calcium channel blockers).

The causes of weight gain are complex and multidimensional, and it’s not always possible to pinpoint a medication as the cause, especially because medication-related weight gain may take weeks, months or even years to occur. This was the case in Chester's journey, and you can read his story here.

 

Overcoming the obstacles

Although isolating the cause of the drug-induced weight gain takes time, implementing additional nutritional, dietary and herbal support can improve weight maintenance.
If you suspect that you’re putting on weight because of a medication you’re taking, let me know and talk to your doctor, but don’t discontinue taking it without medical advice.

Narelle Stegehuis (BHSc HM), is a practicing medical herbalist and naturopath specializing in restorative health for women, with over 14 years clinical experience.  She is both an accomplished writer, editor and technical training advisor.  A recipient of the Australian Naturopathic Excellence Award, Narelle adopts an integrated approach of both medical science and traditional complementary health care principles. www.massattack.com.au

My Journey To Wellness


Metabolic Mapping and Hormonal profiling are the first easy steps towards wellness and maintaining a healthy body weight, as I discovered.

My Story – Chester, Melbourne Vic.

After  struggling with my weight for a number of years I knew something was not right.  Turning 40 proved challenging in more ways than one.  Not only was I feeling “old”, but my health took a turn for the worse.  I know now that stress played a large role, however other factors were not helping.

For starters, my blood pressure was high and I always felt bloated, tired and depleted.   I was gaining weight around the middle at a rapid rate and although I was watching what I ate, no amount of exercise would budge the weight.

Moody and unhealthy, I was so fed up of feeling unwell.  In spite of taking over the counter vitamins and doing everything right, I just couldn’t get well again.

Over the next 12 months my symptoms worsened; (weight gain, fatigue) and I was also like an emotional time bomb.  I had blood tests and they came back normal.

There had to be a reason why my health was on a down hill slide – and I knew I had to find it. 

My story is a perfect example of how important hormonal profiling and wellness mapping is.  Stress had triggered high blood pressure, so I was correctly prescribed medication.  However, although it was doing its job, my body was not responding well in other ways.  Chatting to my GP about a different medication choice made such a difference. 

This is what my ‘metabolic’ map looked like:














Narelle's comments

After much research, a metabolic map was established that was not only going to improve healthy blood pressure levels and restore energy, but also promote natural hormone balance.  It was time to help Chester lose weight and feel good again.  

Chesters treatment strategy included a change in medications with the guidance of his General Medical Practitioner. 

I also took a personalized tonic using traditional medicinal herbs to restore adrenal health, improve digestive health and support hormonal balance.  

Targeted dietary changes to support healthy hormonal balance and cardiovascular health were also followed.

Personalized orthomolecular therapy and nutritional therapy, formed part of my long term plan for Chester.  His new wellness plan was a must to assist in overcoming his symptoms of fatigue, hypertension, digestive problems, emotional fluctuations and weight gain.

Outcome:

Today, Chester has restored energy levels, healthy blood pressure levels and is back to a normal healthy body weight.  

 
Narelle Stegehuis (BHsc), is a practicing medical herbalist and naturopath specializing in restorative health, with over 14 years clinical experience.  She is both an accomplished writer, editor and technical training advisor.  A recipient of the Australian Naturopathic Excellence Award, Narelle adopts an integrated approach of both medical science and traditional complementary health care principles www.massattack.com.au