What is homeopathy and how can I use it to support my health?

Homeopathy is a system of medicine developed in the 18th century by Dr Samuel Hahnemann, which approaches good health in a holistic way – taking account of the whole person and not just the symptoms or ‘disease’. Homeopathy uses natural substances (plant, minerals or animal substances) to stimulate your body’s ability to heal and strengthen your overall constitution.

Homeopathy is now the second most widely used form of natural medicine globally and is used by over 200 million people annually. In England it is estimated that over 6 million people use Homeopathy regularly and in India many of the homeopaths are originally trained as doctors and there are over 11,000 homeopathic hospital beds.

Hahnemann was originally trained as a medical doctor but observed that very few of the treatments at that time actually worked, apart from a few herbal medicines. Hahnemann trialled these herbal medicines on himself and found that they caused similar symptoms to those that they treated. This lead to the first principle that “like cures like”. For example think about peeling an onion and how your eyes water and your nose may start dripping. These type of hay fever like symptoms would mean that you would use the remedy, Allium Cepa, which is red onion.

The process of experimenting with physical doses of a substance, even herbs ,was often quite overwhelming in terms of the symptom picture so he started trialling a diluted amount of a substance to see whether he still got an effect, which is now called a proving. He found that smaller and smaller amounts would still produce symptoms or a therapeutic effect. This is the second principle which is “minimum dose”. Homeopathic medicines are often diluted and shaken or “succussed” and still have a therapeutic effect.

Hahenmann and a group of his colleagues eventually “proved” about 50 remedies, primarily from herbal medicines initially and started using them to support patients. Over time the process of dilution and succussion allowed them to use substances such as minerals and animals.

Pandemic Prescribing

Homeopathic medicines have been used for a wide range of conditions and in particular were helpful during epidemics of infectious diseases. In 1854 reports were given in the UK showing that the hospitals were experiencing a death rate of 46% from an outbreak of cholera, in comparison the homeopathic hospitals had a rate of 18.4%. In original data the homeopathic hospitals were excluded as they distorted the data but after a public uproar they were published.

Homeopathy in the Home

Once you understand the basics a small first aid kit plus a few books is usually enough for most people to start using it for lots of common conditions including coughs and colds, stomach upsets, sore throats and sinusitis as well as sprains, strains and common injuries. There are useful prescribing tips in the following blogs Natural Medicine First Aid 2022 which looks at bruises, bumps, strains and sprains, Treating Colds and Flu at home which looks more at remedies for upper respiratory tract infections and Stomach Aches and Pains for stomach upsets including diarrhea and constipation.

My first experience of the value of homeopathy came when my son had an earache in the early hours of the morning. Having already discussed this with my homeopath we were fairly sure Belladonna was needed for his ear infection. He got one dose and settled down and after a second dose he rolled over and went back to sleep. Better still with treatment the run of ear infections stopped and we didn’t have the need for antibiotics and panadol.

For more information on using homeopathy there are some really useful courses on my site and if you are keen you can join my next Using Homeopathy Made Easy Course which starts on the 4th October and runs at lunchtime from 12-1pm. If you miss the live course I will record it to have it available as a resource. If you are unsure about doing an online course why not see my recent webinar on Natural Medicine for Common Illnesses and see if you are comfortable with the format.

Over 50 and struggling with frustrating roadblocks to weight loss?

Are you finding as you get a little older that you are doing all the things that have always worked for you in the past but you can’t lost weight? In fact it even seems to be creeping on around the middle?

There are a few obstacles that can affect you as you get older that make it harder to lose weight. One of the biggest roadblocks is nutrient deficiency and there are three areas that are critical;

  1. Key minerals for metabolism like chromium and iodine.
  2. Protein in adequate quantities.
  3. Kilojoules at an appropriate level.

Chromium is a key mineral for blood sugar balance and low levels are often associated with cravings for sugar and carbohydrates (to give you the quick sugar fix). While its found in a range of foods, such as meat, grains, green beans and fruits, levels can be impacted by a diet high in refined foods and simple sugars.

Iodine is an important nutrient for glands and in particular the thyroid gland, which controls growth and metabolism. There aren’t a wide range of food options with iodine, which may explain why deficiency is fairly common. Good food sources include seafood, seaweed, organic eggs and celtic sea salt. Some products such as salt can be fortified with iodine.

A deficiency of iodine is harder to detect as quite often symptoms are sub-clinical, however one of the most common symptoms is weight gain. In more significant deficiency you see signs of fatigue, hair loss and chilliness. Another symptom that often appears for women is fibrocystic or “lumpy” breasts.

A combination of chromium and iodine deficiency results in a significant block for metabolism and makes it very difficult to lose weight.

Inadequate amounts of protein in the diet can also make it hard to lose weight. Many women often find they tend to crave carbohydrates as they provide quick and easy energy. Protein has the same kilijoules per gram but also provides balanced blood sugar for a longer period. Including an adequate amount of protein at each meal keeps your blood sugar balanced and reduces cravings. What is an adequate amount of protein? Generally for weight maintence you are looking at 0.8g per kilo and for weight loss between 1-1.2g per kilo.

Translated that means for a women who is 80kg she needs to be eating 64g of protein a day to maintain weight and between 80-96g to lose weight. You also need to be aware that typically the protein content of animal meats is usually about 20-25% whereas for vegetarian proteins its typically 10-15%. A typical day could include 2 eggs (12g of protein), a small can of tuna (24g) and a chicken breast fillet (50g).

Under eating is also a significant problem for many people. Years of yoyo dieting and keeping kilijoules low can reduce your metabolism and make it difficult to lose weight. An historical study in Minnesota with prisoners looked at the impacts of prolonged starvation with calories reduced so that participants lost 25% of body weight. The study showed a reduction in the bodies metabolism, as well as an increase in depression and emotional distress.

Eating inadequate kilijoules can cause your metabolism to slow down, meaning you won’t burn as much fat off when you engage in physical activity. Your body requires energy when you walk, work out, think, breathe, just about everything!When you deprive your body of the fuel it needs to burn calories, it will begin to store food and enter a sort of “survival mode.” So even when you exercise, your body will protect the fat that it has stored, and you may not be able to lose the weight you want to lose. 

To recover from long periods of yoyo dieting you may need to work on increasing your metabolism as a priority. Gently increasing exercise plus using hormetic stressors is a useful way to approach the problem. Heat and cold, stressors which boost energy and slow ageing has a good summary of some approaches which may be helpful.

Christine Pope is a naturopath and nutritionist based at Elemental Health, St Ives. You can make appointments online or by calling on (02) 8084 0081. Christine is also the author of the Ageing Outrageously program and there is more information on the website here.

How does chronic inflammation affect your skin?

A key factor in accelerating ageing is long term inflammation and it can be damaging both to our bodies and in particular to our skin. Inflammation is a complex defence mechanism in which white blood cells move from from the circulation into damaged tissues to destroy the agents that potentially may cause tissue injury. Acute inflammation is a helpful response, particularly during an infection, whereas chronic inflammation is persistent and can lead to tissue damage. 

What are the usual indicators of chronic inflammation? Markers such as C Reactive Protein or Erythrocyte Sedimentation Rate (EDR) are often used as indicators and will commonly be checked on blood tests. CRP is often raised in the acute stages of inflammation and may continue to be elevated in the chronic stages as well. It is often used to monitor how people respond to a particular treatment.

Common sources of inflammation include the following;

  • Chronic infections
  • Lack of exercise
  • Diet
  • Isolation and chronic stress
  • Disturbed sleep
  • Obesity
  • Environmental exposures and toxins
  • Injuries

The body reacts to these triggers by increasing the flow of nutrients to the area to enable it to resolve however in some cases the trigger persists and you develop chronic inflammation. In the skin the chronic inflammation results in a layer of the skin thickening and may cause the lymphatic vessels in the area to increase in size and number.

Skin inflammation longer term can also result in senescent cells. Senescent skin cells, which accumulate over time, play a crucial role in the response to chronic inflammation.

Chronic inflammation arises when the immune system responds to persistent or recurring stimuli, such as infections, environmental factors, or cellular damage. In the case of skin, chronic inflammation can also be triggered by factors like UV radiation, pollution, or even chronic skin conditions. When the skin is subjected to such insults, it activates an immune response that recruits immune cells, including macrophages and T cells, to the affected area.

The Effects of Chronic Inflammation on Aging Skin:

  1. Inflammatory Molecules: Aging skin cells, known as senescent cells, release various substances like pro-inflammatory cytokines, chemokines, growth factors, and enzymes that break down the skin’s structure. These molecules attract immune cells and contribute to more inflammation in the affected area. This ongoing inflammatory environment can worsen skin damage and disrupt the natural healing processes.
  2. Impaired Function: Senescent skin cells have reduced functionality and struggle to perform essential tasks like wound healing and tissue regeneration. This impairment occurs due to changes in the way genes are activated and signaling pathways operate. Consequently, the skin’s ability to repair itself becomes compromised, leading to slower healing and an increased risk of chronic wounds.
  3. DNA Damage: Chronic inflammation generates oxidative stress, which can cause DNA damage in aging skin cells. This damage can result in genetic mutations that further contribute to the cells’ dysfunctional behavior. Over time, the accumulation of these genetic abnormalities can potentially raise the risk of skin diseases, including cancer.

Chronic inflammation poses a significant challenge to the health and appearance of aging skin. The release of inflammatory molecules by senescent cells, their impaired functionality, and the accumulation of DNA damage can lead to a decline in skin health and an increased risk of skin diseases. Understanding the impact of chronic inflammation on aging skin cells is crucial for developing strategies to mitigate its harmful effects and promote healthier skin aging. By adopting lifestyle practices that reduce inflammation, such as maintaining a balanced diet, engaging in regular exercise and managing stress levels you can assist in maintaining healthier skin.

For more assistance in managing lifestyle factors and making the changes that will support healthier skin (and a healthier you) have a look at my resources including my free webinar 6 Tips for Ageing Outrageously .

Six ways to easily add six serves of vegetables to your day

Broccolini mushrooms and halloumi

Some days in clinic vegetables are my main point of focus. For so many people they tend to eat a lot of grains, toast, cereal and pasta but they are consistently light on vegetables. Fundamentally diet is 70% of the battle in maintaining good health and one of the best strategies long term is to have three cups of vegetables in your diet daily (1/2 cup = one serve of vegetables). Many people find it difficult to design a menu that enables them to meet the three cups so in this blog I am sharing some of my best suggestions for increasing the vegetables in your diet.

  • Start with veggies at breakfast. Add a side to your scrambled eggs of mushrooms, sauteed spinach or tomato. Make up a frittata with a range of vegetables and increase your count for a few days quickly and easily. Vary up the breakfast options with mushrooms and humuus on toast or smashed avocado with a corn salsa.
  • Add a smoothie that is based on vegetables during the day. Many people will add spinach or greens but have you ever thought about adding frozen cauliflower or pureed pumpkin ? One of my favourite sites for recipe ideas is Simple Green Smoothies which share lots of recipe ideas with their mission to help people fall in love with Kale. A recent option was an Orange Immunity Smoothie which had a protein powder, pureed pumpkin, banana and oranges plus cinnamon, tumeric and ginger.
  • Snack on vegetables when the mid afternoon slump hits try having carrot and celery sticks with humuus or guacamole dip as a snack.
  • Bulk up with veggies in a stew. casserole or bolognaise. My bolognese recipe uses some slow roasted eggplant in addition to the usual carrot, celery and onion. Basically put the whole eggplant in the oven for 40-45 minutes at 180C , after piercing it with a fork a few times. Student Budget Friendly Meals has the bolognaise recipe as well as a few other ideas for adding more vegetables.
  • Swap out half the meat in a recipe for lentils or chickpeas. Two of my favourite options are adding lentils to a bolognaise sauce or adding chickpeas to a casserole. Have a look at this easy tagine recipe from Taste.com .
  • Make sides the star! Grill your protein and then add roasted brussel sprouts with pomegrante and tahini, honey mustard cabbage wedges, charred broccolini with lemon and garlic or maple roasted beetroot and pear.Looking for more ideas have a look at some more recipe ideas in Four easy ways to add brassica vegetables to your meals .

My Healthy Holiday Options ebook has eight delicious sides, a range of healthy salad options with legumes and some fun smoothie recipes, including a mango mint smoothie as well as banana cherry. It has some great inspiration whether its for a Christmas in July function or just a great way to add more colour and variety to your meals.

Easy eggplant salad

There are so many reasons to include more vegetables in your diet. The fibre in vegetables acts like a broom and helps keep you regular and the insoluble fibre feeds your beneficial gut bacteria which helps support your digestion and your immune system. In my recent blog What are the best vegetables for feeding your gut ? you can find all the information on the best type of vegetables to include to improve your gut health.

Christine Pope is a naturopath and nutritonist based at Elemental Health St Ives. She is passionate about including more vegetables in the diet and encouraging her local cafes to provide more tasty breakfast options. Appointments are available online at www.elementalhealth.net.au or on (02) 8084 0081.

Too busy to shop and cook healthy meals ? Have you considered a meal delivery service?

Cooking at home is often the best way to improve your underlying health, however for many people it can be a challenge particularly when they are time poor. Food companies have identified this gap in the market and there are now a number of companies providing ingredients and recipes for meals that can be prepared quickly and easily. Meal planning services such as HelloFresh, Marley Spoon and Dinnerly provide delicious recipes with all the ingredients you need to prepare them. All you have to do is follow the instructions – easy!

Dinnerly is considered very cost effective per serve, however Marley Spoon servings are more generous. Hello Fresh has a wide range of meal options and seems to work out around $10 per meal, which is better priced than most takeaway. The meal planning services send only enough for the individual meals which also reduces waste. Most of the meals in these services are designed to be prepared in under half an hour.

What do you do when you don’t have time for cooking but still don’t really want to be ordering takeaway every night ? Add food intolerances or allergies and it can be harder still .

My top list of options which is a little Sydney centric is as follows;

  1. Nourish’d offers vegetarian and gluten free options and has the added advantage of having meals designed by a nutritionist. The range offers keto friendly, nut free and dairy free. There is a reasonable range of options which include beef cheek ragu with cauliflower mash, beef brisket and a sweet potato spaghetti.Sides to increase the vegetables include roasted broccoli, cauliflower mash and potato mash. Meals have a nutritional breakdown and are generally a good level of protein. The menu’s change weekly and upcoming options include a beef stroganoff with beetroot salad and sweet potato mash and a chicken masala, which shows some good variety. Nourish’d also appears have NDIS approval.
  2. Chefgood offers a range of no added gluten or dairy meals. Whilst not offering a gluten free kitchen this option may be suitable for those with intolerances but is not recommended for those who are celiac. The meal plans offer a number of meals between 5 to 14 meals a week with options which include low carb, high protein, vegan and vegetarian as well as a range of weight loss optins. Chefgood also has a range of add-ons which include additional sides and juices. The sides are not particularly inspired and include soup, mashed potato, greek salad and an avocado salad. Reviews on google are generally positive although there appear to be recent complaints about delivery issues. The company delivers to the eastern states and South Australia.
  3. Dinner ladies deliver frozen meals which have been cooked from scratch. There is a wide range of options although they do not seem to cover food intolerances particularly well they do provide a statement of allergens. The major issue seems to be the possiblity of cross contamination risk. The menu includes some good main course options including burgers, fritters, snitzels, stir frys, casseroles and pastas. This is a popular option with families.

For those who are looking for meal inspiration there are a number of blogs that may be helpful with recipes and meal plans. Have a look at Meal Plan Week One , Meal Plan Week Two , Four easy ways to add brassica vegetables to your meals and Spring Reset Meal Plan .

Holidaying on Hamilton Island what are the best gluten free options?

Travelling with food intolerances can be challenging and its often a good plan to have some self catering options. Recently we were at Hamilton Island and had decided to stay at the lovely hotel, Beach Club, which is an adults only venue. The hotel is set on Catseye Beach and the rooms look out onto the beach and either have external balconies on the first floor or verandahs on the ground floor. We were in the fortunate position of being able to walk from our verandah to the pool or the beach and having the verandah to read, sunbathe or just relax.

Staying at Beach Club does mean eating out three meals from the range of options available on the Island. The in house dining is very accomodating of gluten free and there were great options on the breakfast menu, as well as light lunch options with sandwhiches on gluten free toast or a ceasar salad without croutons. The dinner menu was also sufficiently broad and we ate in the restaurant for dinner on three nights. They were kind enough to swap out oysters three ways from the degustation menu as we just won’t eat them and subbed another entree. The degustation menu included an yuzu carrot sorbet as a palate cleanser which was delicious. Yuzu is a type of citrus and it blended well with the carrots. The menu is changed every few weeks however the barramundi with sauce vierge was delicious and the universal poll from the infinity pool was that it was the best option on the menu.

Other lunch options on the island are very limited if you are gluten free. The bakery and fish and chip shop do not really offer any suitable options and only the tavern opens consistently for lunch. The main resort has a lunch venue called Sails however many of the options are fried and therefore the risk of cross contamination is quite high for those who are gluten sensitive. The only suitable option was a pumpkin and quinoa salad but that makes for a fairly boring lunch option.

The IGA on the island does have a reasonable deli section with prawns, cheese, cold cuts , olives and a few easy vegetable options (mini cucumbers and capsicums) as well as a general supermarket option. It was quite easy to put a grazing platter together and this was a reliable gluten free option.

The restaurants on the Island have increased in options since our first trip in 2021. For a start more of them had re-opened including Mariners, a seafood restaurant, Bommie restaurant , the yacht club’s premium restaurant in addition to the existing venues such as Coca Chu, Manta Ray, the Clubhouse (on Dent island golf course) and Romano’s.

Bommie restaurant is based in the yacht club which is at one end of the marina and literally shaped like a boat. The internal decor was also quite nautical. The menu was a minimum of three courses for $130 with a few extras available and there was the option of a degustation menu as well. Since we had already opted for the degustation the first night at Beach Club we really weren’t up to it and found three courses quite adequate. The restaurant was the only one on the island that baked a gluten free bread in a mini loaf shape, which was served with dukkah and olive oil before the entree. The entrees involved a choice of four dishes and so between the two nights we tried the kingfish sashimi wrapped in nori, the cauliflower roulade with Spanish ham and a carpaccio. They were all delicious although I did think the roulade could have had some stronger accompaniments as a contrast. With the main they had an option of scampi as an addition which went surprisingly well with the lamb and the market fish. Actually I would have happily eaten a platter of the scampi!

The Clubhouse on Dent Island was a lovely day trip combined with a two course lunch. There is a short boat trip across the passage followed by an optional buggy tour of the golf course. This is the best way to see the course and was a lot of fun as the paths were quite steep. The clubhouse has wonderful views over the Whitsundays and Passage Peak, apparently during whale season its also a great viewing spot. The food is lovely and most dishes, excluding the pasta, were able to be made gluten free. It was impressive that with the market fish, which was a freshly caught barramundi they served seared scallops as the accompaniment was usually crab coquette which couldn’t be made gluten free. In the unlikely event you have room for dessert we really enjoyed the trio of sorbets with lychee, cherry and blood orange.

Being on an island always makes me crave a good seafood platter. Mariners have one as a special and made it gluten free which I think was a better option. The prawns and the Balmain bugs were delicious. The platter included fresh fish, salmon tartare , octopus and calamari. The fries are not gluten free so there was a little extra salad on the platter which was a good alternative as the serving size was quite large.

Another popular option on the marina was Romano’s who offered gluten free pasta as well as a number of other gluten and dairy free options. The prawn and crab meat tagliatelle (or in my case farafalle) was very tasty with a seafood and wine broth . We also enjoyed the confit duck and mushroom risotto which was not only generously sized and very flavoursome. Romano’s like many of the restaurants requires pre booking, however this venue offers some casual dining at the bar and at a few outside tables.

One of the favourite restaurants on our last stay was Coca Chu. The restaurant is in a separate building overlooking one end of Catseye beach and has a busy family restaurant vibe with large shared tables in the centre, but quieter tables on the verandah with a beach view. The food is excellent and we can recommend the betel leaf prawn as well as the salt and pepper squid. A blend of Australian and Asian flavours there are some Thai curries, a delicious sesame chicken and snake bean stir fry, crispy duck with a plum sauce and a crispy barramundi with nahm jim.

Ideally if you are booking a trip make sure you prebook restaurants well in advance. Popular options are likely to be booked out early. You can book on this link Hamilton island restaurants and bookings.

For more travel inspiration have a look at my other travel blogs Finding the best Gluten Free options on the North Coast of NSW , A tea lovers guide to the Blue Mountains and Gluten free Canberra .