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bigstock_homeopathy_7963486Spending a weekend in Hobart for a homeopathic conference is a good way to really focus on your practice. You query whether there is a better or faster way to get people well. Is someone else going to give you a gem that makes homeopathy crystal clear and straightforward? Well like a lot of homeopathic practice there were a few insights but I still feel I need to do more work and study.

Dr Joe Kellerstein, the keynote speaker, pvovided a good structure for case taking with his four quadrant approach. Reassuringly I recognised most of the key areas and took out of it some useful ways to drill up or down with questioning.

For perhaps the first time at a conference I also quickly recognised the homeopathic medicines presented. Now it was fairly easy with the Solomon Island’s homeopathy by numbers however identifying a homeopathic medicine I rarely use in a complex case was a bit more exciting.

The other aspect of any conference which is always useful is catching up with colleagues, particularly interstate ones who I haven’t seen since the last conference. The last night a few of us headed down to the Lark Distillery for a whiskey tasting and a great seafood meal at The Drunken Admiral. This was a real highlight for me as like so many small business people homeopaths are often isolated and it is good to be reminded that you have a “tribe” .

Usually with courses I am happy if I get one or two useful things which improve my practice. So what did this conference give me? I guess reassurance that I was on track with my case taking and remedy knowledge and perhaps a reminder to reconnect with my homeopathic roots a little more often.

Water Medicine in the Solomons

Island

At the 2014 Australian Homeopathic Medicine Conference in Hobart, Jane Lindsay, a Queensland homeopath, shared her experiences in the Solomon Island’s. Homeopathy was originally brought out by the missionaries from the South Sea Evangelical Church as a way of looking after their own health and that of their congregations over a hundred years ago. Today is is prescribed by 150 dispensers as a primary form of health care for over 60,000 people in the Solomon’s. They use a simple numbering system as the common language is a form of Pidgin English. Symptoms can include such gems as “Belly Stop” and “Belly Run”.

The homeopathic medicines are numbered and the dispensers have simple symptom descriptions to decide which medicine is appropriate. Originally starting with 36 remedies now it has expanded to 51 as changes in the population’s diet and the introduction of vaccines has created the need for additional homeopathic medicines. (Jane also shared that they would love any materia medica’s that were no longer needed as they don’t have access to a lot of books)

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I really resonated with the idea of a simple number of medicines as I am always surprised by how many clients, once they do my first aid workshop, are able to successfully treat a range of illnesses and injuries. My favourite story was a client who travelled to Israel with her small first aid kit and treated her family’s headaches, PMS and stomach upsets.

This system seems to work reasonably well and it really brings into question for me why as homeopaths we seem to have so many medicines (I have over 600 in my own dispensary!!). I really think we might be better off focusing on a smaller group of better understood medicines rather than trying to choose own of the 1000 in our books. Are we over complicating it for ourselves as homeopaths and making it harder to practice?

So what do you think?

Brain Fog – is your brain suffering?

Brain Fog – is your brain suffering?

Those of us who have given up gluten are often familiar with the concept of brain fog. Basically that’s what used to happen to us every time we had gluten ( the big protein found in grains such as wheat, rye, spelt, barley and oats).

However there may be other reasons you get a foggy brain, problems with your memory or keep losing things like the shopping or even the car at the shopping centre! Many of us just blame it on getting older or being really busy but what about if its something more concerning? Really what if the brain is starting to struggle and it needs more support?

Recently I have been reading a lot about the concept of a “leaky brain” , in many ways a similar concept to that of a “leaky gut”. The blood brain barrier is supposed to be relatively impermeable to protect our brain. There are a whole range of factors which can damage this barrier including not surprisingly diet but also infection and toxicity.

Diet is a relatively easy example. In the US Cyprex labs tests include a wide range of gluten intolerance testing including transglutamaninsases 2 ,3 and 6. Each of these is associated with different types of gluten intolerance reactions and only one of them is a gut type reaction, commonly associated with coeliac or gluten intolerance. If you have antibodies to the transglutaminase 6 for example you can be reacting to your central nervous system – on other words autoimmunity to brain tissue. Some early indications suggest this is what may be happening in the case of MS where the sheath around nerves starts to unravel.
Bakery Bread on a Wooden Table. Various Bread and Sheaf of Wheat
How do you support brain health if you are having problems? First up if you have coeliac or gluten intolerance in the family get testing done to ensure you are not coealiac (much easier to do whilst still eating gluten) and then do a food intolerance panel to eliminate any other allergens. Unfortunately the testing done in the US is not available here yet but you can easily get gene testing done on a couple of genes which do indicate a strong possiblity of gluten intolerance.

Next try eliminating gluten and dairy for 6-8 weeks. I know it seems like a long time but it takes a while for damage to be repaired and for you to see a shift in your symptoms. Make sure they are eliminated and not just reduced and also include any foods which come up in the food intolerance panel. During this period make sure you are eating a lot of vegetables ( 3 cups a day) and a couple of serves of fruit a day. You may even find smaller meals more often will support your energy levels better.

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In addition some basic anti-oxidant support in the form of fish oils as well as resveratol may also be useful but at a minimum ensure that you are eating good quality fats such as olive oil, coconut oil, flaxseed oil and including sources such as nuts and seeds and avocado.

Then see how you are going? Is your memory better, gut less upset etc. If it shifts it might be time to say goodbye to gluten!

What’s your mineral status like?

Dairy products

Most of us are aware that we need calcium and the dairy lobby do a great job at reminding us that we need three serves a day. I think we need a marketing lobby for the other sixteen nutrient minerals which really don’t get the same air time but have really critical roles to play in how well we function.

I have posted extensively about the role of magnesium in the past as its probably calcium’s forgotten partner. Calcium and magnesium are required for effective muscle contraction and release as well as to assist calcium to mobilise into bone. Muscle cramping is a common sign of magnesium deficiency. Good sources of magnesium include most of the green leafy vegetables, ideally at least one cup a day.

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Magnesium is also well indicated if your energy levels are low and will often help improve energy quite quickly. However if magnesium isn’t doing the job you may need to add Manganese as well. Good sources include most of the legumes such as chickpeas and lentils.

Zinc for example is critical for effective digestion as it is required for many digestive enzymes. Good sources of red meat are zinc and oysters – two things that many women don’t eat enough of or don’t like (really oysters YUK). Low zinc status means low immunity so you are prone to getting every infection that goes around. Signs of zinc deficiency include white spots on the finger nails and noticing you are losing your sense of taste or smell. Compromised digestion can also be another signal that zinc levels are low.

So how do you check all these levels easily – there are a couple of tools in naturopathic practice , Hair Tissue Mineral Analysis, which is offered by a few companies such as Interclinical and Healthscope Pathology. There is also a new tool which has been recently released in Australia called Oligoscan, which uses Spectrophotometry to measure the optical density of the trace elements, minerals and heavy metals, currently present in the tissues. It provides, in real time, a precise analysis of the minerals in the skin and peripheral blood vessels. No biopsy, blood or hair sample is needed. There are often delays in waiting for Hair Tissue Mineral Analysis as women often need to grow out colour before a sample can be taken and many dislike cutting their hair.

Having recently introduced the Oligoscan I have found it really helps target potential health issues related to mineral deficiciencies and heavy metal toxicity. One of the areas that is consistently a problem is Aluminium levels as we are exposed to it in so many ways. Basically you think of Aluminium in cans and foil but it is widely present in toiletries and cosmetics as well as being used in the form of aluminium sulfate to treat water to kill off bacteria. Given the concerns about Aluminium and it relationship to Alzheimers it would be sensible to reduce your exposure to this element as much as possible. A good quality water filter should remove the Aluminium before you drink the water, after all you only need the Aluminium sulfate to do its job killing bacteria you don’t need it after that.

A quick preview of the technology is given on this Youtube clip. https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC6nwFFQndS10wG6t2FWBsGQ

More information on Oligoscan is on their website at http://www.oligoscan.net.au or you can visit me at St Ives and organise a test either as part of a consult or as a standalone test. Clinic number is 8084 0081 and I am available Tuesdays and Wednesdays. Other days I am lecturing at Nature Care College.

Field trip – the gluten free expo

gf products

Last week I went to my first gluten free expo. Not sure what I was expecting but I was surprised when I got to Homebush to find people queued up around two sides of the building waiting for it to open at 12. Also many of those people had those wheelie trolleys ready to stock up on gluten free goodies.

At the entry we were handed a Coles green bag with a few goodies in it, which was a great idea as I came away with a bag full of new things to try.

First up, my biggest success as far as my children were concerned , were the Genius brand croissants that actually tasted flaky and buttery. Subsequently found them in the freezer at Coles and I am now trying their puff pastry. They have a range of other gluten free breads and muffins and even pain au chocolat!

Bakery Bread on a Wooden Table. Various Bread and Sheaf of Wheat

The other big success was a “paleo” version of a protein bar, called Paleo Bars. There were two flavours and they are gluten, dairy and soy free. The key ingredients are walnuts, dates pecans, cocoa and coconut oil in the original and apricots, almonds and ginger plus the coconut oil in the ginger bar. They both taste good and don’t have that dehyrating after effect that you usually get from a protein bar. The website is http://www.bdpaleo.com and you can order both in boxes of 10 or 25. My son was quite impressed with the taste and said he had more energy at the gym when he had a bar before training. The Medicum Chain Triglcyerides in the coconut oil are used preferentially by the body for energy.

Another favourite and portable gluten free snack was the corn crunch. I am sure you could easily make these at home but the roasted corn kernels are rather tasty and a good snack that fits easily into the handbag or school bag. I know with so many schools gluten free this type of snack is going to become more popular and I would also recommend the roasted chickpeas and broad beans you can find in the Woolworths health food section.

Next year when I go back to this expo I will make sure I am prepared to make a couple of trips to the car with bags as well as coming on an empty stomach so I can do lots of tasting!! All the stallholders were very generous with their tasting supplies and it does make things easier if you can graze and grab lots of flyers so you know where to order it from in the future. I am sure since Coles were one of the major sponsors that there will be a number of the products carried in their stores but for others it was great to know you could order online.

What’s for dinner? Save time with meal planning

One of the hardest things to deal with every night is what’s for dinner? Its worse if you are getting home after work and don’t have everything to ready to prepare. Each week I usually prepare a list for weekday meals and then make sure when I order online or shop that I have the basics for those meals – it reduces stress dramatically as whoever gets home first can start cooking.

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My usual meal plan for a week looks something like this;

Monday : Gluten and Dairy Free turkey and eggplant lasagne with Cos salad (often make the lasagne Sunday afternoon when I have more time)

Tuesday: Roast Lamb and Vegetables with steamed snow peas OR Easy Roast Chicken and vegetables

Wednesday: Sausages (usually organic gluten free chicken and leek) and Potato Curry

Thursday :Honey Soy Chicken Drumsticks and Wombok salad

Friday : Leftovers with some cold meats, humuus, olives and crudites.

Saturday :Cauliflower and Chicken Curry with rice.

I really like doing a roast early in the week as the leftovers are great for school lunches or even a lamb salad (cos, lebanese cucumber and olives with lamb and aoili mayonnaise). The easy roast chicken is basically the same as roasting a chicken except you use thigh cutlets and roast two per person on top of your choice of roast vegetables and just sprinkle the chicken with rosemary and rock salt plus the juice of a lemon and some olive oil. The vegetables that work well include parsnips, sweet potato, carrots and pumpkin. Usually takes about 50 minutes at 180c for the chicken which I then take out and keep warm and just crisp off the vegetables. Best part is that it all cooks together in one roasting dish.

The recipes for the Wombok salad, cauliflower and chicken curry and potato curry can be found under my page gluten and diary free dinners on my blog and the recipes for the lasagne and chicken drumsticks I will detail below as they are really quite easy.

Honey and Soy Chicken Drumsticks
Mix half cup each of caster sugar and soy sauce (Fountain for gluten free soy sauce) and pour over chicken drumsticks which have been scored (cut in two places) to help absorb the marinade. Cook for 40-50 minutes at 180C and then serve with Wombok salad. Always make up extras allowing 2-3 drumsticks per adult as they are a favourite in the lunchbox.

Lasagne – Turkey and Eggplant

Orgran Lasagne (or similar gluten free lasagne)
2 jars of tomato sauce or 2 cans of chopped tomatoes
One onion and one carrot diced
2 cloves of crushed garlic
600g turkey mince (chicken, pork or beef all work well too)
1 large or 2 small eggplant

Pierce eggplant with a fork in several places and roast in oven at 180c for 40-50 minutes. Allow to cool and then remove skin and add soft eggplant chopped in small pieces to simmering lasagne sauce. Once eggplant is soft you can often just spoon it out of the skin.

Saute onion in carrot in olive oil until onion is soft. Add turkey mince and brown and then add crushed garlic and tomato sauce. Simmer on low for a further 20 minutes. Add eggplant and cook for a further 5 minutes.

Layer lasagne sheets and mince in a large casserole dish. Start with a thin layer of the sauce and then place a layer of lasagne sheets,cover the lasagne sheets with the sauce and then add another layer – you usually have three or four layers.

Cook in a warm oven at 180C for 40 minutes with the lid on – then serve with a cos salad.

Healthy Food in a Hurry

Last weekend I was invited to attend a Thermomix demonstration. Who could say no when they offer to cook you lunch? And lunch was good – it started with strawberry sorbet, obviously to cleanse the palate (so to speak) and then we had a herbed dip, a beetroot salad, a vegetable soup and chicken veloute with freshly made bread rolls and to finish an amazing custard. All cooked in about 2 hours.

Thermomix

What impressed me most with the demonstration is that the machine can replace several gadgets as well as being a big timesaver in the kitchen and can help you saving money by using fresh unprocessed food wherever possible. It was also very simple to clean.

For those of you unfamiliar with a Thermomix you can actually grind your own flours with it, use it as a juicer, make sorbets and icecream as well as easily chopping up vegetables. It also cooks at several different temperatures and can even stir ingredients on a couple of different settings to allow you to make a stew, stir fry or a risotto. If you want more information have a look at their website or hop on to the youtube channel and actually see it in action.

The benefit that really appealed to me as someone who spends a lot of time cooking from scratch is the speed with which you can produce a healthy meal. Now finally someone is focussing on some better options for time poor people in a busy world. Even more so when you are catering for children with allergies and intolerances where the food becomes more expensive. A gluten free loaf of bread for example is often around $7, even just making your own gluten free flours as you need them could be a great cost saving.

If you decide to follow up on a Thermomix there are lots of people around who sell them through party plan so just do it quietly or risk being inundated with offers!!

How do I save time in the kitchen? One way is to prepare batches of meals and freeze them – I particularly like the site Once a Month Freezer Meals as I think its a great resource and they even have gluten free and dairy free meal plans. My best timesaver however was teaching my husband to cook a few simple meals – although the children got annoyed when he added chilli to my gluten and dairy free lasagne but it tasted great!! And my proudest moment was when I came home and found him teaching my daughter to make the lasagne. The best timesaver of all – sharing the load.

Christine Pope is a homeopath and nutritionist who practices at Elemental Health, St Ives. She can be contacted for appointments on 8084 0081.