Gut Health – Why is it so important?


The topic of “gut health” is coming up more and more frequently in the media, documentaries and on social media.  But why is it so important?

There seems to be a lot more research coming out about the role our digestive system has on various other aspects of our physical (and mental!) wellbeing.  I find this awesome because it means that every person can do something to change their health. 

As a Naturopath, I find that almost all of my clients will show symptoms of gut issues, even if the problem they are coming to see me about isn’t specifically digestion-related.  So gut healing and repair is almost always the first place I start with their healing journey.  For many people, healing the gut can help to reduce a whole range of symptoms.

So what sort of things can be impacted by gut health?

1.  Digestion & Elimination
This is of course the most obvious one, so I will start here. Now, while what is “normal” for one person and another can vary, there are some obvious signs of digestive issues when it comes to food intake and elimination.

Symptoms such as heartburn, reflux, bloating, excessive wind or burping, pain on elimination, diarrhoea, constipation (and alternating between the two) are all problems that relate to issues within the gastrointestinal system. 

These sorts of symptoms can be problematic not just from the physical discomfort, but also with the stress and anxiety that can be associated with experiencing these symptoms on a daily basis. And while these symptoms may be due to a variety of diagnosed disorders, one of the more common disorders with these symptoms (experienced by one in five Australians (1)) is IBS.   IBS describes a set of symptoms that can be caused by a variety of things such as stress, infection, poor diet and food intolerances.  It also indicates that your digestive system may not be properly breaking down and digesting the food you eat, which means that those nutrients may not be properly absorbed.  This then can have a knock on effect with other body systems not working as well as they should be.

2.  Immune Function
When you consider the fact that poor digestive health can mean that the nutrients you eat aren’t getting absorbed properly, it stands to reason that this could contribute to poor immune function.  There are a number of nutrients such as zinc and vitamin C which are essential for immune health, and if you’re not absorbing these nutrients from your food you may end up prone to getting sick more often and unable to fight infections. 

The other factor that is important to consider is the role that the “good bacteria” in your gut plays with your immune health.  In simple terms, there needs to be a healthy balance of the varieties of bacteria in your gut – and the foods that you eat and the functionality of your digestive system plays a huge role in how well this is balanced. (2) There is a lot more research being done in this area which is very exciting, and we are learning more and more about how important this balance is for our immune function.  Not only that, imbalance can also increase inflammation in the body and lead to other diseases such as heart disease, cancer and diabetes.

The flip side of this problem is that your gut health can also impact on your immune system in the opposite way, where it becomes overstimulated wreaking havoc in the form of allergies, asthma, and even autoimmune conditions. (3, 4)

3. Mental Health
There is increasing information becoming available about the link between gut health and mental health.  Your mental health can be affected by inflammation in the body, food choices, stress, your gut bacteria balance and absorption of nutrients.

Many of the neurotransmitters that are involved in mental health have a relationship with the digestive system – for example 90% of serotonin is synthesized within the gut with your gut bacteria playing an important role in that process.(5)   This is one of the great examples, as serotonin is important for mood and sleep regulation, memory and function. (6) Your gut and your brain have a direct connection with each other,(7)  and this two way relationship can be impacted both by how well your gut functions (which affects your brain) and what’s going on with your brain (for example, chronic stress can impact on how well your gut functions).  This can create bit of a loop, and can sometimes be tricky to work out what’s the bigger factor in the chicken/egg conundrum.

Improving your gut health doesn’t have to be a big complicated process.  For some people it does require a little additional help, and that’s where I come in!  But that doesn’t mean you can’t start making changes to your diet and lifestyle right away to have an impact on your health.

So, here are three things you can start doing today!

1.  Start a food diary
For many people, gut related issues stem from incompatible or intolerant foods.  The best way to start looking at this is to keep a food and mood diary for at least a week, to try and identify if there are any foods that are exacerbating symptoms.  This can be obvious for the more common trigger foods such as milk, bread, or eggs, but sometimes there can be foods that contribute to symptoms on a lower level and can be trickier to identify.  If you’re unsure, then it’s helpful to look at something like Bio-Compatibility Testing to help you work out what to eat and what to leave out.  

2.  Eat the Rainbow
I am sure you have heard this one many times over but it is one of the most important recommendations!  Eating a variety of fresh fruits and vegetables of different colours not only ensures that you get a variety of nutrients into you, it also ensure that you are feeding a variety of those microbes that help with immune function and mental health.  Fresh really is best!  Eating the same thing every day means you’re only feeding certain types of bacteria, and you need that balance.

3.  Bone Broth/ Vegie Broth Is Your Friend
An important part of gut healing is the repair and nourishment of the gut lining.  If you’ve had chronic digestive complaints for a long time, chances are your gut lining may be inflamed and reactive, which can compound the digestive issues.  By including a nourishing bone broth or gut healing vegie broth (link) you can help to heal and seal your gut lining, reducing the inflammation and allowing it to function the way it is meant to.

While these tips are great for getting started, it is really important to be aware that if you have severe digestive symptoms that seem to have come out of the blue, you must ensure that you see a health professional about it.  There are some serious conditions that can cause digestive symptoms and so when in doubt always always get it checked out.


1.         Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS)2015 03 May 2018. Available from:
2.         University OS. Gut microbes closely linked to proper immune function, other health issues2013 03 May 2018. Available from:
3.         Van Evra J. Inside the Microbiome: Why Good Gut Bacteria Is the Big Hope For Allergic Disease. Allergic Living [Internet]. 2017 03 May 2018. Available from:
4.         Craven C. How Balancing Gut Bacteria Can Ease Autoimmune Diseases2016 03 May 2018. Available from: - 1.
5.         Stoller-Conrad J. Microbes Help Produce Serotonin in Gut2015 03 May 2018. Available from:
6.         McIntosh J. What is serotonin and what does it do?2018 03 May 2018. Available from:
7.         Bertrand P, Loughman A, Jackson M. Gut feeling: how your microbiota affects your mood, sleep and stress levels2016 03 May 2018. Available from:

Sleep Hygiene – What Does It Mean?

 Photo by Vladislav Muslakov,

Photo by Vladislav Muslakov,

One of the common issues that I experience with my clients is sleep complaints.   This includes the ability to get to sleep, quality of sleep, and the ability to wake up feeling refreshed after getting enough sleep.  The main sleep issue that I come across is the inability to fall asleep with ease (racing mind, laying awake, anxiety, overthinking), closely followed by waking up feeling lethargic, and like you’ve not actually slept well at all.

A 2016 Sleep Health Survey of Australian Adults found that sleep problems are quite common, with around 33-45% of adults having difficulty sleeping or feeling the results of inadequate sleep during the day.  Of these people, around 20% experienced problems relating to chronic insomnia.  Most interestingly, 26% of respondents stated that they use the internet right before sleep and experience sleep related difficulties.(1)  For some people, an underlying medical condition such as restless legs or sleep apnoea can cause problems sleeping, however for the majority of people its due to their sleeping and night time habits.

Lack of sleep can affect a person’s physical and mental health and wellbeing, as well as their ability to work and function with day to day tasks. Not only that, it could shorten your life expectancy, and put you at risk for diseases such as obesity, heart disease and diabetes. (2)

Why is sleep so important?
When we sleep, there are many functions that the body carries out that are required for optimal health and well-being. 

Sleeping is important for maintaining memory and consciousness – and during REM sleep the brain can clear your working memory and improve the ability to process information when you next wake.  It is also during sleep that your brain is able to remove toxic accumulation of by-products of neural activity that are accumulated during the da.  This is due to the fact that when you sleep the space between the brain cells increases, allowing for the waste to be removed more effectively.

During sleep, your body also repairs itself.  The major functions designed to restore the body such as muscle growth, tissue repair, protein synthesis and growth hormone release mostly happen during sleep.  It is also important for immune function and to conserve energy resources. (3)

So as you can see, sleep is pretty important!

Unfortunately, a lot of people don’t realize the effect their evening and pre-bed time habits have on their ability to get to and stay asleep.  And this is where the term “sleep hygiene” comes in.   These are first-step basics that you can implement to try and help you get a good night’s rest.  Of course some of you may require more – which I can definitely help with – but this is a great place to start.

1.  Your electronic devices are probably contributing to your sleep issues
When you consider the survey results above, you’ll notice the link between using the internet right before bed and prevalence of sleep issues.  This is not a coincidence, and it has to do with both the use of electronic devices and not allowing your mind to calm down and relax before bed.  Our bodies are designed to regulate our sleep / wake cycle based on light.  Electronic devices emit a “blue light” which is fine during the day because it can boost attention and reaction times, however at night it has been shown to inhibit the secretion of melatonin, which is essential for good sleep. (4)

If you have trouble getting to sleep at night, it would probably be beneficial for you avoid looking at bright screens for a good 2-3 hours before bed.  However we all know this may not be realistic at all.  A lot of people work late, or use TV to relax after a busy day, or like to read in bed.  If you can, try for at least an hour before you want to sleep.  If even that is too difficult, it would be worth investing in a pair of red lens glasses to wear in the evening.  Red light has the least power to shift your circadian rhythm and suppress melatonin, meaning it will reduce the effect that blue light has.  Smart phones also have the ability to either install an app that will put a red overlay over the screen, or may have a night time setting that will do a similar thing.  These apps can also be installed on some desktops/laptops.  I would strongly recommend taking the TV out of the bedroom if you have one, to avoid the temptation of watching TV while trying to get to sleep.

2.  Create a routine around going to bed.
This is something new parents do for babies, to help them wind down at the end of the day and teach them that night time is for sleeping.  The same applies for adults. If you are still rushing from your day, or try to jump straight into bed after working or watching a high paced TV show then your body hasn’t had the chance to wind down, and it’s fair to expect you won’t be able to go to sleep right away. 

If this is you, then maybe it’s time to create your sleep time routine.  What sort of calming and relaxing things can you incorporate into it?  For some, it’s the making and drinking of a bed time tea.  For others, it may be yoga or stretching in the quiet of the house.  Some like to read a book (best to use a real book or a red light filter if it must be an electronic device!), meditate, breathing exercises, have a shower or bath, or have a body care routine.  Anything is possible, but the key is to establish this routine and turn it into a habit.  And then your body will start recognizing this as “preparing for sleep”, and start to wind down as you begin your routine.  By the time you want to actually sleep, your body and mind should be ready.

3.  Create a sleep environment that promotes good sleep.
If you are sensitive to light, try block out curtains and covering your clock/putting your phone face down.  If you know that your phone will tempt you to check if you hear it beeping or buzzing, turn on flight mode so that you cannot be disturbed by it (or leave it in another room).  If you are someone who requires sound to sleep, consider a white noise machine or try a podcast like “Sleep with Me”.  Make sure your bedroom is free of clutter so that energetically you are not feeling overwhelmed or feeling confined when you are in your bed.   And try not to work in bed!

4.  As always, diet is important!
It’s not just a matter of what you eat, but when you eat.  Heavy meals right before bed can hinder your sleep.  Not only that, it could cause you to wake during the night with reflux and indigestion.  This is because our bodies are designed to better digest foods while in an upright position. (5) The stomach can take up to 3 hours to empty, which is why it’s best to eat at least 3 hours before bed OR have a very light dinner. 

If you were to look at the Chinese Medicine perspective, the stomach has the highest amount of energy at 7-9am (which is why a decent breakfast at this time is a perfect way to start the day), which means that it has the least amount of energy between 7-9pm (which is when most people eat a heavy dinner).   So if falling asleep is an issue for you (or night time waking due to heartburn or digestive discomfort), consider eating earlier (by 6-6:30pm) and have a lighter, easily digestible meal – and then keep a food and mood diary and see if it makes a difference.

These are just some suggestions you can start straight away to make some changes to improve your quality of sleep.  Of course, there are a number of herbal remedies and nutritional supplements that can be helpful in promoting sleep, such as magnesium, chamomile, lavender and passionflower.  Essential oils, bath salts, and magnesium lotions can all be helpful too.  If you feel you require some guidance or further support in this area, then that is what I am here for!



1.         Adams R, Appleton S, Taylor A, McEvoy D, Antic N. Report to the Sleep Health Foundation 2016 Sleep Health Survey of Australian Adults The Adelaide Institute for Sleep Health; 2016.
2.         NHS. Why lack of sleep is bad for your health2015 16 Feb 18. Available from:
3.         Osiecki H. Promoting Restful Sleep: The Overlooked Factor for Wellbeing. n.d.
4.         Health H. Blue light has a dark side2012 16 Feb 18. Available from:
5.         Brodwin E. Here's Why You Should Never Eat Right Before Bed2016 16 Feb 18. Available from:


New Service - Flower Essence Therapy


I am so excited to now offer Flower Essence Therapy as part of my services to you.  I found myself drawn to them when I studied my Naturopath course, as I love how they work on an energetic level and can support a person who is working through emotional or mental blocks or challenges. 

You may have heard of a product called “Rescue Remedy”, used to help with stress, anxiety and insomnia.  This product is a Flower Essence Product.

So what is Flower Essence therapy?

Flower Essence Therapy is an ancient healing modality that has been used by the Nyoongah Aboriginal People in the south west of Australia spanning thousands of years.  It has also been used in other cultures in South East Asia, Ancient Egypt and Europe. (1) (2)   Flower Essence Therapy was re-introduced into Western Society by Dr. Edward Bach in the 1930s, and since then research into the modality continued to grow.  These days there are a number of different Flower Essences throughout the world.

Living Essence Flower Essences are infusions or decoctions made of the flowering part of Australian plants.  Each species of flowering plant has its own unique characteristic, and it’s these characteristics that are utilized as part of the healing process.  

Flower Essences work by unlocking the inner wisdom that is within every human being, at a conscious, unconscious and subconscious level.  The healing is subtle and gentle, making it appropriate for all ages and for both physical and mental ailments. (1)  Flower Essences can be used as a standalone treatment, or incorporated into other therapies such as massage and Reiki. 

Why would I choose Flower Essences?

Flower Essences are a wonderful addition to other therapies that you may be utilizing for emotional or mental health.  They are also beneficial for times when you may be feeling stuck about a decision to make, or have some personal or emotional aspects about you that you’d like to change, or have a recurring pattern that you need a little extra support in shifting. 

What happens during a Flower Essences appointment?

Flower Essence Therapy is not only unique for each person, but it also changes based on your personal circumstances and what is going on in your life.  You may find that the flower combination changes each time you do it.

I use Flower Cards to help you choose the flower essences that will go together to create your formula.  As it is an energetic therapy, when choosing the flowers it is best to go with your first instinct.  I will also ask you to think of the one major issue or circumstance that is going on with you and get a clear picture of it prior to starting the process.   Once you have that in mind, we will begin the process of choosing your flowers based on the cards presented.   Each flower has specific characteristics and meanings that I will provide to you to read and see how it resonates with you and what is going on in your life.  Please also be aware that sometimes we can tune into other peoples’ “stuff”, so you may find yourself choosing flowers relevant for someone else close to you such as a spouse or child.  This is still beneficial, especially if those issues are impacting you.

Once you have chosen your flowers, we will narrow the cards down to 7 flowers which will make up your remedy.  This remedy will be yours to take over a 6 week period, after which you are welcome to come back for a follow up or to choose a new remedy if appropriate.

When using flower essences for physical ailments or as part of massage or other therapies, I may simply choosing the flower most appropriate to the physical symptoms and using it during the therapy session or make up the remedy for you to take home and use.

1.         Australia LEo. Living Essences of Australia 2017 [updated n.d. Available from:
2.         ABFE. Australian Bush Flower Essences n.d. [Available from:



Babies & Teething

Babies & Teething

I think it’s pretty safe to say that for many parents, the bit where the babies get the teeth is absolute rubbish.  Some babies have no problems at all, others are have a really hard time of it, making life pretty awful for them and their family. 

Having just gone through this experience myself (again) I thought it may be helpful to write about it – I have had one child who got through the process with minimal fuss, and my most recent one on the extreme opposite end of the scale.  Which was no fun for him (or us).

So what can be done to help babies who have hard time popping their chompers through?   Unfortunately there is no one size fits all here.  If you ask a variety of parents, you will most likely find that everyone has a different remedy or solution that worked well for them that may or may not work for you.  This article is just to give you ideas of what is available from a Naturopathic / natural remedy perspective – so that you can try and see what works.  In some cases, none of it may work and if that’s the case, I feel your pain and my sympathies to you.

Firstly, and most importantly, the number one thing to do is to rule out anything else!  Is it possible they have a sore throat or ears?  Could they have a cold or bug?  Are they going through a growth spurt and need feeding more regularly?  When in doubt, see your GP.  Identifying a tangible cause will make life a lot easier!

If you’re ruled everything out and now you’re thinking it is teething then there are many remedies for you to choose from.  Take your pick – and good luck.

1. Homeopathics
Homeopathics are a wonderful tool to have in your home medical kit for babies.  They are safe and can be very effective – however the key thing is to make sure you pick a remedy that actually matches your child’s full symptom.  Yes you could try your luck with a homeopathic teething mix from the chemist or health food store – as they have a combination of remedies that are most commonly used for teething babies.  However, you may find that the mix doesn’t contain the right one.  Again, from experience – my child was a typical “Pulsatilla” child, and this remedy is not in any of the teething mixes.  So I had to grab the individual one to use.

Common homeopathics prescribed for teething include:

Chamomilla: Common sign for this is one cheek is hot/red and the other pale.  Other symptoms include inflamed gums, excessive dribbling, chewing and gnawing at fingers, anger, irritability and not knowing what they want for comfort.  They are worse at night and only calm down when being rocked or carried.  Stool can be very loose and greenish in colour.

Belladonna: The common symptoms for a belladonna remedy is fever, flushed face, screaming in pain, biting of hands, crying the entire time, sudden onset.  As I have mentioned above, if your baby is like this – please do be sure to rule out anything else.  Some babies do get this way from teething with no other underlying illness - which is where this remedy may help.

Pulsatilla:  This is the weepy and clingy baby who will not let the parent out of their site and craves attention.  Better for being in the fresh air/outside and may be accompanied by congestion.

Calc carb:  When the teething is slow and distressing.  This remedy supports growth and calcium metabolism, and babies who require this remedy are usually slow to learn to crawl or walk, tend to be chubby and often sweat during sleep.  They can be stubborn and prone to tantrums.

Silica:  Also used for slow teething, where the teeth won’t break through or come to the gum line then recede.  Better for warmth/being wrapped up, worse for drafts and open air.

Sulphur:  Teething is accompanied by red rash or irritation on the chin or nappy area, with an irritable or anxious temperament.  Better for fresh air.

Other remedies that may be beneficial during the whole process of teeth busting through include calc phos, ferr phos, mag phos and silica as these can support the body longer term rather than just being a short term/acute remedy.  These along with calc carb are also beneficial to have on hand for when your baby grows up and starts getting their adult teeth. (1)

As you can see with these remedies, it’s not just a case of“sore teeth there you go”, homeopathy looks at a whole picture including the physical symptoms, the emotional/mood aspects and what makes it better or worse.  For a brief intro into homeopathy and how prescribing works, please see  In my clinic, I use and prescribe Owen Homeopathic pillules as individual remedies, and I also make up custom blends in liquid form.  If this is a topic that interests you, I can also have available copies of the book “Homeopathy for the Home Prescriber” which is a great little resource for you to use at home.

I will make mention of the homeopathic pre-made remedies which may be helpful:  Weleda Baby Teething Powder, Scheussler KIDZ Minerals Strong Bones & Teeth, Brauer’s Baby & Child Teething Relief, and Brauer’s Baby & Child Teething Gel.   You should be able to find these at your local pharmacy or health food store, or I can order them in for you.

2. Herbal Remedies:
Chamomile is a lovely herb that can be used during teething, as it has relaxing properties that may help to calm your baby down.  You can make a tea, allow it to cool then add it to your baby’s water or milk bottle (if they are taking either), or use something like KiwiHerb Kid’s Calm which is a chamomile liquid formula.  

3.  Nutritional Considerations
If we consider that some teething issues stem from inflammation, then it may be worth looking at whether there any dietary aspects that are exacerbating the symptoms – particularly if there is a history of colic and reflux, or a family history of nutritional intolerances or allergies.   In these instances it may be worth considering a 500 Item Hair Test for both the baby and the mother (if breastfeeding) to pick up any incompatibilities and adjust the diet according to the program.  Otherwise, general good diet practices such as ensuring that you and your family’s diet is high in nutrient dense, antioxidant rich foods is a great place to start!  If you need help with this, then book in for a Naturopathic appointment today so we can work together to get the dietary factors sorted.

4.  Chiropractic Care
Chiropractic may be beneficial if there is another underlying spinal imbalance that is causing your baby grief or upset, which you may not have picked up. I highly recommend Nervana Chiropractic in Kalamunda, as they are fantastic with families and have a lot of experience working with babies and children. 

5.  Flower Essences
This one is for both the parents and the child – because the whole teething process can be quite frustrating and upsetting for the parents too!  Flower Essences are very gentle and can help with emotional highs and lows.   You can come in for a consultation and card reading, where I will make up a custom blend for you – and I find that the flowers chosen usually will relate to both the parent and the child.  They can be added to the bath, the bottle (water or milk) or turned into a room spray for use in the home.  Book a Flower Essence Consultation now.

Of course there are the other usual remedies such as cold teething rings, wet flannels, amber ankle bracelets, other teething toys – but I am sure that if you are reading this, chances are you’ve already tried all the standard recommended remedies and treatments and know them well.

Good luck - and may the force be with you.

 Image: Daniel Cheung

Image: Daniel Cheung


1.         Owen J. Homeopathy for the Home Prescriber2003.