Monday, 5 November 2012

Excellent Articles to Empower your Mind

Hi folks, thanks to my colleagues at the National Institute of Integrative Medicine I am able to pass on links to these current article links.  Being informed and aware in an essential step in living healthy productive lives so I encourage you to read and share these articles with your friends, family's and loved ones.

Be well :)

Ingesting Poison – Dioxin Found to Cause Disease for over Three Generations

GMO Technology, Glyphosate Toxicity Leaving Men Sterile

Lack of Sleep Leads to Insulin Resistance in Teens

Russia bans GMO Corn!

The Amazing Healing Properties of Fermented Foods

Wednesday, 19 September 2012

Holistic Treatment of Child Food Intolerance

By Tim Howden ND BHSc MNHAA

Lily is fives years old and complains of consistent tummy pain and discomfort which has been going on for over a year.  Her appetite is diminished and her skin is blotchy, red and itchy to the point of disrupting her sleep. Her mother is also concerned that Lily’s immune system is low since she frequently picks up colds and has a constant running nose.  A food sensitivity test reveals that Lily is intolerant to Casein, Gliadin and chicken eggs.  Welcome to the world of or food sensitivity or intolerance.

Food intolerance is predominantly a Western condition that currently affects between 15 - 20% of children.  Food intolerance should not be confused with food allergy which can be  life threatening and affects between 6% - 8% of children.   The difference between the two is important since many parents often use the terms terms interchangeably which is incorrect.  

Allergy or Intolerance

A food allergy will usually occur within minutes of exposure.  A tingling sensation may be present accompanied by acute inflammation and rapid swelling.  Airways can become constricted and emergency medical intervention is often required.  Food intolerance on the other hand is for the most part less dramatic but does contribute to a myriad of health concerns.

Food intolerance is defined as any illness that is causally connected to the ingestion of any food or dietary component.  It has a slow onset ranging from hours to days and is usually accompanied by low grade irritation and inflammation in several body systems.  

Food Intolerance Symptoms

Gastrointestinal (GIT) signs include projectile vomiting in infants, frequent loose stools with presence of mucous, diarrhoea or constipation as well as stomach pain, bloating, poor appetite and weight gain.  Similarly the respiratory and integumentary systems (skin and connective tissues) may also be affected by food sensitivity.  Signs and symptoms include chronic nasal discharge, nose rubbing, frequent ear infections, ruddy complexion, eczema, hives and redness around the mouth or anus.   The thing with food intolerance is that it can masquerade as a vague set of signs and symptoms that can be difficult to diagnose correctly.  

How to Diagnose Food Intolerance

To do this a detailed clinical history must taken by a qualified health professional who has experience in food sensitivity conditions.  A naturopath, nutritionist or integrative GP are well trained in doing so.  This will help identify any accompanying factors that may require additional investigation, treatment or referral.   However the gold standard to determine food sensitivity is an IgG test.

This is a simple skin prick test that measures specific antibodies in the blood that are present and elevated in food sensitivity conditions.  The test can accurately assess up to 100 different foods which is fantastic given the test takes all of five minutes.  It is great for parents because it takes the guesswork out of what foods your child may be reacting to.  Once this is determined effective treatment can begin.

Management Strategies

Food sensitivity should be addressed in two ways.  Firstly to alleviate the presenting symptoms.   Avoidance of the reactive foods is an essential first step and can make a huge difference in as little as 24 hours.  The time needed to stay away from the offending foods will differ for each individual and can be assessed by a qualified practitioner. The second step in treat food intolerance successfully is to correct the problem at its root cause.  To do this we need to understand why an individual has developed sensitivity to certain foods?  

Understanding Potential Causes

The causes of Food intolerances are multifactorial and include Epigenetics, Family history, Immune dysregulation, Malnutrition, Systemic inflammation and Stress.  But  two common factors are worth mentioning in detail since these are the ones that present the most frequently in clinic.  The first is enzyme deficiency or error.  

The body has requires many many enzymes to help initiate essential biochemical processes. Some people lack particular enzymes that are needed to break down food components.  For example, lactose intolerance is the result of a deficiency of the enzyme lactase.  Without this enzyme the body is unable to digest lactose.  Eating dairy with a lactase deficiency will result in feeling unwell to a greater or lesser degree.  Enzyme therapy has proved quite successful in helping many people correct food intolerance.  There are other functional disorder of the GIT that contribute to food intolerance.

Intestinal permeability (IP) or Leaky-Gut Syndrome is a disorder involving the large intestine.  Under normal conditions this area acts as a type of filter which allows nutrients in their simple form to cross the gut wall and merge into the bloodstream for delivery around the body.  In IP this does not happen.  The tight junctions that are responsible for this filtration are damaged.   Large holes develop due mainly to chronic inflammation and the leaking gut cannot prevent large proteins from crossing the gut wall.  This sets off an immune reaction that affects the whole body.  A localized event that leads to systemic dis-ease, resulting in the signs and symptoms of food intolerance that were mentioned earlier.  Until the IP is corrected the food intolerance is unlikely to go away.

Treatment and Longterm Health

The good news though is that IP responds excellently to nutritional medicine and particularly to the effects of glutamine, an essential amino acid that is the primary food for enterocytes, the cells of the gut wall.  Other ways to support a healthy gut wall include low sugar and minimal refined carbohydrates such as cakes, breads, pastries and pasta. Conversley using naturally fermented foods such as yoghurts, sauerkraut, miso and tempeh encourage a healthly gut environment. Treating the underlying causes of food intolerance goes a long way to restoring long term health and bring the sparkle back to our children.

Hopefully this article has served to help parents understand food intolerance a little more.  Awareness around the signs and symptoms can prompt parents to seek professional help to correctly diagnose and more importantly initiate appropriate treatment.  Sound nutritional strategies play a vital role while holistic treatment can do the work of addressing the underlying causes successfully.  

Tuesday, 11 September 2012

Treating Food Intolerance in Children

by Tim Howden ND BHSc MNHAA
  • Around 8% of children have a true food allergies
  • Food sensitivity is more common and affects a greater percentage of the population
  • Predominantly a Western illness

What is an allergic reaction
  • Like a mini explosion that happens in our bodies
  • Most common to respiratory system and skin
  • Is an over reaction of the Immune System
  • Mild, Moderate, Severe reactions
  • Triggered by food proteins and cross-reactivity of food proteins that enter the bloodstream

The scope of natural medicine lies in help reduce mild to moderate food sensitivity and allergic reactions.

Understanding the causes
  1. Prenatal: Genetics and familiy history, Epigenetics, Stress, Environmental
  2. Birth: C-Section, Complications (preterm), Trauma (Physical, mental, emotional) Drugs
  3. Postpartum: Non-Breastfed, Early food introduction, Hygiene hypothesis, Poor quality nutrition, Nutrient deficiency, NSAIDS (baby panadol etc), Functional issues (ie. Digestive complaints that remain unaddressed) Excess antibiotic use.

Some Signs and Symptoms of Food Intolerance
  • Behaviour changes
  • Chronic running nose or sniffles
  • Chronic congestion
  • Repeat Ear infection
  • Skin Rash or eczema
  • Poor sleep
  • Poor Immunity
  • Ruddy cheeks

IgG food Sensitivity Tests can identify which foods are causing troubles. A simple blood spot test allows the pathology lab to assess for food IgG antibodies.

The right diet for your child
This will ensure that optimal nutrition is available through the diet and will not compromise your child’s health. A key point is to ensure effective nutrient absorption in the body. When the body can access good nutrition, vitality follows naturally.

Holistic Treatment
Is aimed at enhancing your child’s vitality and wellbeing. We want your child to thrive in the natural world and be full of beans! Holistic treatment will also consider your child’s individuality and treat according to his/her actual needs.

Tuesday, 21 August 2012


What can I expect from a consultation?

A good holistic health practitoner will consider your "Whole Health"and take a detailed history to establish what is the cause of your condition. Physical, Psychological, Emotional, Spiritual, Ancestral.  The root of all disease is multifactorial and as such needs to be considered from a broad and holistic perspective.

How is a Holistic approach different from Conventional medicine?

We take consider..............and your story.  There are many sides to being healthy, getting well and achieving lasting good health.  Holistic natural medicine is not a prescription pad practice.  It considers how diet and lifestyle as well as attitude play a role in a healthy body and mind.  Medicines are used to support your body to self heal and never with the intent of becoming addicted or dependent. 

What if my children don't like the herbal or other natural medicine?

In our practice in Melbourne and Healesville we use an array of herbs, supplements and homoeopathics to help babies and beyond. Very rarely do we experience children that cannot take the remedies.  We have many tricks up our sleeve to help with this so that results come fast.  This help parents feel confident and relaxed which in itself improves compliance.

How long will it take to achieve results?

Results come to those who are ready.  With an alert and attentive mind patients find that recovery comes quickly.  For example I have had babies covered head to toe in eczema who have experienced 80% improvement in several weeks. The parents have made the necessary changes to diet and lifestyle factors and taken all the prescribed medicines with diligence.  When all the ingredients are right the body can heal itself with great speed.

Wednesday, 8 August 2012

Effective Treatment for Baby and childhood Eczema - A Holistic Paradigm

by Tim Howden ND BHSc MNHAA
Effective treatment of eczema needs to be holistic. This approach is gaining momentum in the community as parents become frustrated with the narrow scope of conventional medicine in treating chronic disorders like eczema.  Holistic treatment can provide excellent improvement in your symptoms while importantly addressing the underlying causes of eczema. Lets explore how this approach can provide you with the long lasting results you're looking for.

Conventional treatment has clear limitations.  In his book General Practice John Murtagh suggests using soap substitutes along with either aqueous creams, sorbolene or paraffin based preparations as a first line approach.  If this fails cortisone therapy begins.  It is used in varying strengths to match the severity of the condition.  If the condition continues to worsen internal steroids are prescribed.  Apart from the long-term health concerns of cortisone there is nothing more conventional medicine can offer for eczema.  It does not consider your personal involvement in eczema or the role of dietary, lifestyle or toxicity in the condition.  The scope of conventional treatment in chronic eczema is narrow to say the least.

Eczema is a complex multi-system problem not just affecting the skin.  There is good quality literature supporting environmental, dietary, immune and digestive involvement as drivers and sustaining causes of chronic eczema.  Effective treatment needs to be thorough and consider what your mind-body needs to help resolve the condition.

A good naturopath will be interested in your story.  When did the eczema arise?  Is there a family history? Does anything make it better or worse? In this way we begin to see the blueprint of how your eczema developed.  For holistic treatment to be effective it must address the underlying causes.

Without an holistic approach treatment will only be temporary with little hope of complete resolution.  Without addressing the physiological drivers of eczema the likelihood of it turning into Asthma or Allergy increases by up to 60%.  We want you to clear up your skin, not push it deeper into the body where the inflammation attacks other systems.

It is important to consider pre and postnatal events in the case of children.  For example, atopic disease is more likely in C-Section babies especially when there is a family history of allergy, asthma or eczema.  Eczema is also more prevalent in non-breast fed infants or in children or babies displaying signs of food intolerance or sensitivity.

Diet plays a major role in eczema and is a cornerstone of any successful treatment strategy.
We need to look at your diet as a whole.
           What you eat
                 Where you eat
                       How you eat.

This is about being aware of the effect of meal environments and ensuring adequate and quality food groups are accounted for.  Your body needs the following food groups in the right ratios.

  • Water
  • Proteins 
  • Carbohydrates
  • Lipids
  • Vitamins
  • Minerals
  • Trace Elements 

The clinician needs to evaluate your diet looking for any obvious deficiencies or excesses.  A lack of essential fatty acids is common in eczema for example and highly refined foods such as sugar and wheat can make skin conditions worse.  Food sensitivity testing may be advantageous in identifying multiple food intolerances or sensitivities.  A good practitioner will always try to enhance nutrient absorption.

You aren't what you eat, you are what you absorb!" - Bernard Jensen

Poor digestive function can cause and prolong eczema.
Children's digestive tracts don't resemble that of an adult until about the age of 10.  Up until this time the immaturity and sensitivity of this system can significantly influence nutrient bio-availability.  If your children suffer from eczema it would be worthwhile to have a qualified naturopath of nutritionist assess their diet and digestive function.  It is important for your body to access the fuel it needs.  In many cases, diet adjustment alone can be enough to clear up eczema.  Sometimes however other factors can be the cause of eczema.

Environmental factors can aggravate some types of eczema.  Contact dermatitis for example. It can be a good idea to do a household audit of the chemicals you use.  For example cleaning products, harsh detergents, synthetic fibres, dusts, moulds and other toxic substances can irritate your skin and compromise your immunity.

A patient of mine who lived in a damp and mouldy apartment was always in a state of poor health, no matter how many herbs or nutrients were used.  Their condition never fully resolved until they moved house.  Take the time to assess your immediate and local environments for unwanted toxicity and "sick building syndrome".

In this article I have set out to convey the virtues of holistic treatment for eczema.  Your skin condition or your children's eczema is likely to stem from multiple causes and as such treatment should be multifaceted.  By identifying the causes you can resolve eczema in a way that will support and strengthen your whole body.  The benefits of an holistic approach are likely to ensure long-term relief with good quality overall health.

Holistic treatment is a great option for those who wish to try an alternative to steroid therapy.   Remember, there is growing scientific literature to support various natural medicines in the treatment of eczema. If this article has ignited a spark I strongly encourage you to seek out a qualified practitioner who can provide you with comprehensive holistic treatment.

Tuesday, 31 July 2012

The Patterns of Childhood Illness are Changing

By Tim Howden ND BHSc MNHAA
Current implications for childhood illness suggests that diet and lifestyle factors play a significant role in the rise in certain conditions.  This is compounded by reduced exposure to helpful germs, reduced vitamin D levels and diets high in refined processed foods that are high in sugar and poor quality fats.

Here are some fascinating recent stats.

  • Allergies have increased by 7 times, up to 50% of kids have allergies
  • Asthma affects 36% of children in Australia.  In 1965 it affected 1.9%
  • 11% of school age children are diagnosed with ADHD
  • Autism affects 1/100 children.  In 1985 it was 4/10,000
All these conditions share an underlying immune system shift.  Largely this is driven by poor digestive function and development that is primed in the pre-natal period.  We know that babies born under stressful circumstances, who are not breastfed and introduced inappropriate foods too early are more likely to develop these conditions. We also know that certain foods, natural food chemicals and artificial additives can do similar damage.  Setting off inflammation in the digestive tract that affects brain function and neurotransmission.  

The important thing is to allow our children to develop healthy robust immune systems.  Here is a couple of tips.
  • Avoid unnecessary antibiotic overuse.  There are alternatives that are safe and effective
  • Introduce solids to babies at around 6 months.  
  • Support immune function using a child/baby specific probiotic. (don't by supermarket quality, these may be doing harm)
  • Provide a diet that is low reactive and full of fresh, seasonal organic produce with a healthy and varied array of  proteins, fruits and veg, grains and essential fatty acids
  • Allow your child to spend time outside getting sun exposure in the safe times of day

Low Fat Diets = Poor Health!!

By Tim Howden ND BHSc MNHAA
You will be missing out on essential nutrients by choosing "low fat" foods.
You will be doing harm to yourself by eating a low-fat diet and possibly more harm by eating foods that contain synthetic fats.  You will be depriving your unborn baby of essential nutrients with Low-fat foods (LFF).  Put simply LFF contribute to ill-health and contribute to chronic health problems.

Good quality fat is essential to health

Appropriate fats and oils are determined by their freshness, the use you have for them and the amount you use.
  • Choose cold-pressed organic where possible in dark containers.
  • Buy small quantities and use them generously don't save them for best.
  • Rancid oils cause oxidative stress and cell damage to you body. Never use them!
It's not fats that make us gain weight.  Rather, refined sugars, carbs and poor quality fats are to blame.

It is vital to make the distinction between eating a diet that is rich in good quality fat verses one that is laden with poor quality substitutes.

Good fats include 

Avocado, fish, Nuts and Seeds, Lean meats, Eggs, Crustaceans, Fish oils, Evening Primrose oils, Flaxseed oils, Cod liver oils, Wheatgerm oil, Full fat raw milk, Goat and Sheep's milk, Olive oil, Eggs, Almonds, Liver and Soy.  

Why fats are important?

Fat contains essential nutrients, minerals and vitamins plus trace elements that allow our bodies to heal.  Fat is largely responsible for carrying the flavour in food and for creating desirable texture.  Good quality fats are abundant in natural whole foods and are essential to good health.  

From a physiological point of view good fats are vital for correct cell function. All cells in the body have a fatty bi-layer membrane.   This membrane facilitates transport of nutrients and messengers into the cell and allow for wastes to be removed.  A diet which lacks quality fat will also be deficient in essential nutrients.  This can result in poor cell function and disease.

A diet absent in good fats can lead to health problems

  • Chronic inflammation
  • Poor immune function
  • Bone disease like Rickets
  • Eye sight problems 
  • Weight problems
  • Eczema, psoriasis and dandruff  
  • Cancers
  • Insomnia 
  • Nervous tension
  • low birth weight
  • Diarrhoea and digestive illness
  • Poor co-ordination
  • Liver and gallbladder disease,
  • Haematological conditions
  • Accelerated ageing
  • Atherosclerosis 
  • Cognitive impairment 
  • Bleeding disorders  
  • Poor bone health

What fats to use when

Saturated Fats 

Solid at room temperature.
Butter is best for spreading and it is high in butyric acid which is fantastic for digestive health.  Ghee, Coconut oil, Duck, Beef, Chicken, Pork and Lamb fats are excellent for frying, baking and roasting.  These techniques should be minimized in ones cooking regime.

Monounsaturated Fats

Solid below 5C
Extra Virgin Olive oil.  Ideal in dressings and drizzled after cooking.  Olive oil can be used for sauteing at temperatures below 185C


These oils do not solidify at any temperature.
Nut, seed and vegetable oils that are relatively unstable and delicate.  When overheated they make free radicals which cause oxidative stress to the body. Fresh cold pressed choices are essential.  

Cheap vegetable oils are a problem.  Solvents are used in processing and the oils are heavily refined and heated altering their chemical profile making them undesirable for consumption.  This is known as hydrogenation and margarines are by far the biggest culprit. Hydrogenated fats have been implicated in cancer and auto immune diseases. 

Essential Fatty Acids

Essential because our bodies are unable to endogenously make these lipids but are vital for physiological function.  Found in Cod liver and fish oils as well as evening primrose and flaxseed.  They must not be heated.
  • Omega 3
  • Omega 6
  • Omega 9


  • Always buy fresh oils that are stable and in dark containers
  • Buy small quantities and use them generously
  • Choose the right fat for the job
  • Avoid Hydrogenated fats (margarines) and vegetable oil blends
  • Healthy fats contain essential nutrient that your body needs
  • Healthy fat will keep you immune system primed and your brain smart

Bad Fats

These are found in the following places and spaces.  One needs to be a vigilant label reader because manufactures try to hide their ingredients behind numbered codes.                               
  • Most take out food
  • Confectionary and junk foods 
  • Margarines and butter alternatives 
  • Low-fat anything because they have been chemically denatured then infused with synthetic substitutes and additives 
  • Commercial bakery goods and cakes (pretty much everything in the supermarket!)
  • Anything which claims to be 99.9% fat free
As mentioned previously hydrogenated fat has been chemically altered and rendered completely unnatural to our bodies. They are highly unstable products that turn rancid easily causing destruction in the body.  From a health perspective synthetic or poor quality fat compromises the body's innate ability to perform essential tasks.  They scramble chemical messengers, increase inflammation and clog our arteries.

Poor quality fat wont affect you overnight but the cumulative effect is potentially disastrous.  Poor quality fats limits necessary nutrients entering the body.  Overtime this creates deficiencies which compromise metabolic function.  There are many disease states as a result of either blatant deficiency or because of poor dietary choices.  What you put in your body now untimately affects whether your health will suffer or thrive.