6 Weeks to Summer Wellness Program

Sugar Cavings?


chocolate heartYou have probably heard or read that chocolate can be beneficial for your health. In pre-Columbian Mesoamerica, chocolate was considered a “food for the gods”, was used in religious rituals and cacao beans were such a previous commodity that they were even used as a form of currency.

Today we are fortunate that chocolate is readily available, but the big problem is that a lot of commercial chocolate you buy is full of things that are best avoided… such as hydrogenated vegetable oils, sugar, artificial sweeteners, additives, preservatives, colours, flavour, powdered milk solids, and much more.

There is a lot of exciting research coming to light about raw cacao, and the benefits of the cacao bean and dark chocolate. These benefits extend to the heart, vascular system, brain, aging, mood and energy. This is in some part due to the fact that raw cacao is abundant in antioxidants, minerals, vitamins and many unique properties. Cacao contains twice the antioxidant content of red wine, and up to three times that of green tea. These antioxidants can improve cognitive impairment and produce nitric oxide with some great cardiovascular benefits.

The ORAC Score measures the benefits of antioxidants. Here is a comparison of the ORAC score per 100 grams for some common foods known to have a high antioxidant level, listed in descending order.

  • Dark Chocolate – ORAC 13,120
  • Milk Chocolate – ORAC 6,740
  • Prunes – 5,770
  • Raisins – 2,830
  • Blueberries – 2,400
  • Blackberries – 2036
  • Kale – 1,770
  • Strawberries – 1540
  • Spinach – 1260
  • Raspberries – 1220
  • Brussel Sprouts – 980
  • Broccoli – 890

Another important nutrient found in cacao is theobromine (a chemical related to caffeine). Theobromine was discovered in cacao and a few other plants in the 19th century, by 1916 it had been extracted from the bean and was being used in medical treatment for oedema and angina. In modern medicine the compound theobromine is used as a vasodilator, this means it can dilate smooth muscle such as the blood vessels, bronchial tubes, large intestine. It is also used as a diuretic and heart stimulant. Recent research shows the effects of how theobromine can lower blood pressure as well as help with asthma.

Unlike caffeine, theobromine does not have an addictive nature or have the same strong affects as caffeine has on the nervous system. The cacao bean can have up to 10% of its weight made up of theobromine, the effects of the theobromine on the body can be up to 6 – 10 hours after consumption.

Importantly, as many of you will attest, chocolate enhances the mood and boosts energy.

So what is the best way to obtain the benefits of chocolate without the nasty hydrogenated fats and processed sugars? Raw cacao powder is now readily available in health food stores, along with raw cacao chocolate bars in an amazing variety of flavours.

Or experiment and make your own raw chocolate truffles. These make great Christmas presenters and look great packaged up in a pretty box or cellophane wrap and ribbon.


Raw Chocolate Truffles


  • 1/2 cup of sunflower seeds (or any other seeds you have on hand)
  • 1/2 cup walnuts (or any other nuts you have on hand – cashews are wonderful too)
  • 1/2 cup dates
  • 1/8 teaspoon sea salt
  • 4 tablespoons raw cacao powder


  1. Process the nuts in the food processor. Keep processing them until you can’t see the nuts anymore, but stop processing before they get too soft looking.
  2. Add the dates, sea salt and cacao powder. Process again until everything is well mixed and clumped together.
  3. Roll the balls in your hand and form balls. You may also like to roll the completed truffles in goji berries, coconut, cacao powder, etc.

These keep well in the fridge.



12 ways to stay healthy(ish) over Christmas

naturopathy healthy christmasDecember and early January can be tempting times of year to fall off your usual health regime. In some ways it’s ok to give yourself a little bit of a break and not feel too guilty about it, but there are certainly things you can do, to ensure you don’t fall too far!

Following are some tips I like to follow over this silly season, that’s right, even a Naturopath is tempted at this time.

1. Eat before you go out.

It’s hard to know what sort of food is going to be available at your Christmas party, so it helps to have a light and healthy snack before you go out. This will line your stomach to help absorb the alcohol, stop you from overeating, and ensure you still get some healthy food into you.

2. Natural hangover helpers.

If you do happen to overindulge.. and let’s be honest, it may happen at least once, following are some natural hangover helpers;

a. Coconut water is excellent for rehydrating, as it’s a natural source of electrolytes.

b. B vitamins, as a lot of these are depleted by alcohol consumption.

c. Zinc containing foods or a supplement, zinc helps alcohol dehydrogenase, which is a liver enzyme that helps to break down alcohol.

d. No beer until your wee is clear – actually it’s much better to not drink the day of a hangover, but do drink a lot of water until your urine is clear.

e. Consider taking a herbal supplement of St Mary’s Thistle before you go out, this herb does wonders for protecting the liver.

3. Work for that tart.

If  you have something coming up and you know you will be likely to indulge, earn it first with a workout and then look at it as a reward and enjoy!

4. Well hydrated throughout the day.

It’s important to keep yourself hydrated throughout the day that you will be drinking so you are well hydrated before you have your first drink. Then alternate 1 drink for 1 water, you can also top your wine glass up with mineral water for a spritzer – nice and refreshing in summer, half the calories and alcohol content.

5. Eat well earlier in the day.

Sometimes when you go out it can be hard to control what you eat, and what is available. Eat all your fruit and vegetables earlier in the day, this way you know you’re getting all of your vitamins and minerals. If there is more in your dinner it is an added bonus.

6. Weight loss.

So the truth is, it’s unlikely that you are going to lose weight over Christmas and New Year, but set yourself a challenge to maintain your weight, rather than gaining any. Enjoy yourself on the days you have to such as Christmas Day and any parties, but try to keep things under control on the other days, with lots of healthy eating and exercise.

If you know you are going to have a really big dinner, then try to cut your caloric intake back for breakfast and lunch.

Don’t fall into feeling that you can eat what you want and start again in January, whatever you put on now will take those extra few weeks to come off in January

7. Keep special occasion special.

Don’t drink and indulge everyday, try to give yourself at least 2-3 days of not drinking at all.

8. Tips for eating well on holidays & when out to dinner.

It is possible to go on holidays and not pile on the kilograms. Base most of your meals around lean protein, with lots of fruit and vegetables. Try not to overindulge in carbohydrates, alcohol and desserts. Keep in mind there are 245 calories in a pina colada, so while it’s nice to enjoy yourself on holidays, the calories really add up if you have too many cocktails.

Make the most of exploring the town you are in… on foot! The walking will help balance out those extra calories.

9. Take a healthy plate.

You may not be able to control what everyone else takes/makes, but at least if you take a healthy plate you can control at least one of them to provide a nutritious meal or snack.

10. The 20 minute rule.

Eat slowly, chew your food thoroughly, and allow your body 20 minutes to register before going for seconds. Another helpful tool is to consume fibre 30 minutes before eating, this could be either psyllium, chia seeds, flax or slippery elm mixed in with water. The fibre will bulk up in your stomach and you should get full before you eat too much.

11. Eat liver cleansing foods.

Eating liver cleansing foods regularly is beneficial for everyone, but even more so over this silly season when you will be putting an extra load on your liver. Eating as many of the following foods as possible – onion, garlic, broccoli, beetroot, egg yolks and lots of water.

12. Enjoy yourself.

The holidays are not just about eating and drinking, it is also about spending quality time with those that you love. So find a good balance, have the occasional treat, and enjoy this special time with your friends and family.


Naturopathy and Digestive Disorders

naturopath digestive disordersDigestive disorders can be a very frustrating condition to have, with the stomach aches, urgent trips to the toilet, bloating, pain, avoiding certain foods and many more embarrassing situations. It comes as a very welcome relief for patients when they seek help for these conditions.

The gastrointestinal system is so important for overall health of every other organ and body system. It is needed for proper digestion, absorption and assimilation of nutrients, without these the body would not be able to function. It is no wonder why people that complain of problems associated with poor digestion are often sluggish, lethargic and lacking in vitality

Naturopathy can help with a range of digestive complaints, are few are listed below;

  • Irritable bowel syndrome
  • Coeliac disease
  • Pain, bloating, discomfort
  • Constipation and/or diarrhoea
  • Diverticular disease
  • Ulcerative colitis
  • Crohn’s disease
  • Prevention of travellers diarrhoea
  • Gastro-oesophageal reflux disorder


How can Naturopathy help with digestive disorders?

There is great potential for naturopathy to help with digestive disorders, quite often is can be due to certain food intolerances or allergies. Sometimes if the food is removed for 3 months, and then reintroduced it can be tolerated again, and sometimes the food needs to be avoided on a more permanent basis.

Your naturopath will take a thorough case history as well as observe your body, as there are physical manifestations of poor digestion that will appear in the hair, nails and/or skin.


Acupuncture and Chinese Herbal Medicine in Pregnancy

acupuncture fertilityPart 1 – Early pregnancy

Congratulations, you’re pregnant! While you might be thrilled to bits, you might not yet be experiencing that “glow” everyone talks about. In fact you might be feeling distinctly unglowing! Some women breeze through this stage of pregnancy but many find their energy is at rock bottom and they experience anything from “morning sickness” to all-day queasiness to outright nausea and vomiting. You may also feel anxious about the weeks and months to come, especially if you’ve previously had fertility struggles or a miscarriage.

The good news is that acupuncture and Chinese herbal medicine can help with many of these conditions.

You might be wondering if acupuncture and Chinese Herbal Medicine are safe in pregnancy. The answer is a resounding “Yes”, as long as given by a qualified practitioner who has been trained in the points and herbs to use during pregnancy and those to avoid.


Quell nausea naturally

Some researchers think that the heightened sense of smell and aversion to anything but the blandest of food could be part of an evolutionary mechanism to protect the embryo from food poisoning. Perhaps pregnancy hormones boost our sense of smell to protect us from consuming food that has gone off or would be harmful in another way. This certainly seems to make sense given that we did not have fridges for most of our evolutionary history!

Some women experience disabling nausea to the point where they can barely get out of bed and their diet becomes very restricted. If you are finding it hard to cope with morning sickness, acupuncture can be very useful. Unfortunately this has not yet been well proven by medical research. However, one study looked at 88 women with morning sickness who received either acupuncture plus acupressure or medication plus vitamin B12. The women who had acupuncture/acupressure had similar relief to those who took medication. Although it took longer to gain this improvement, the acupuncture group were actually better able to function in everyday life than those who took the drugs.


Boost your energy levels

Feeling extremely tired in early pregnancy may be another evolutionary adaptation, as it encourages us to rest during this time. That being said, if you are completely wiped out and unable to get out of bed, then treatment is a good idea.

I find acupuncture very helpful in gently boosting energy levels in early pregnancy. Treatments concentrate on boosting energy production by working on specific meridians (energy pathways) and organs, depending on your symptoms, pulse and tongue pattern. In this way, treatments are tailored to suit your individual circumstances. As well as very gentle needling, we warm key points on the body by applying a herb (moxibustion).


Calm your mind

Acupuncture is fantastic for calming the mind and harmonizing the emotions. Many women find themselves feeling anxious at the change in their circumstances and wondering how they will cope with pregnancy, birth or being a mum. Acupuncture treatments, as well as talking it over with a trusted friend, or if necessary, a counsellor, can really help. It can also help you sleep better at a time when hormonal changes may be interfering with your night’s rest.


Protecting the pregnancy

One of the things you may be concerned about is miscarriage, which is something no-one wants to experience. Most miscarriages are caused by chromosomal abnormalities in the embryo, and cannot be avoided. However, other causes do occur, where something seems to go wrong in the implantation process. So, particularly if you have had more than one miscarriage, acupuncture and Chinese herbal medicine may be of benefit. We theorize that these therapies counteract an over-active immune system or aid implantation in another way. This is certainly borne out by studies on animals. There has not been much research done on this in humans, but one study of 250 women who had become pregnant after IVF showed that those who took a Chinese herbal formula as well as a standard medication (progesterone) to support the pregnancy had a significantly lower miscarriage rate (13% miscarried) than those who just took the progesterone (23% miscarried).

Several acupuncture points are also used to reduce the chance of miscarriage. I recommend that women who’ve had previous miscarriages, especially if a chromosomal cause has been ruled out, have acupuncture weekly from conception (preferably before, as part of a pre-conception program) until about 12 weeks. Herbs would also be useful in this situation.

If you do experience bleeding in pregnancy, as alarming as it seems, remember that reasons other than miscarriage are often found, such as bleeding from the implantation site and hormonal changes affecting the cervix. Get checked out medically (see your obstetrician or ask your GP for a referral to your hospital’s Early Pregnancy Unit) and also see your acupuncturist as soon as you can, and hopefully your mind can be put at rest.


Moving past the first trimester

Once they get past the first 13 weeks, many women find they start to feel much better, with energy levels picking up and nausea subsiding. This is when the glow starts! See next month’s newsletter for more about how acupuncture can help later in pregnancy.


More information?

For more information or to make an appointment to see Toby or Louise, our Acupuncturists, call 9904-1333 or contact us here: Contact.