Do Detox Diets work and do you need to do one?



The word ‘detox’ seems to cause such a stir in the media and online world.

You have one side making radical claims about their detox curing all sorts of ills and then you have the other side saying that the concept of detox is a load of rubbish and you shouldn’t waste your time and money.


I prefer to use the word ‘cleanse’ for my detox programs because I think it more accurately describes what we are trying to achieve. What we want to do with a detox is give your body a rest from processing anything that places a load on the major organs of elimination (the liver, the kidneys, the gut and the skin) and at the same time use supplements that assist these organs with their function.

As a naturopath, I always find myself frowning when people say that detox doesn’t work.

I just don’t understand this. Its like saying breathing doesn’t work. I think that when people say detox doesn’t work its because they have a skewed concept of what detox is. It feels like everyone these days is looking for a quick fix and an instant cure. Detox is not a miracle cure to all of your health issues.

Detox is a holiday for your body.

You know what it feels like when you’re due for a holiday; you’re exhausted, you might be snappy, emotional, moody, your body aches, you don’t want to get out of bed YOU JUST NEED A BREAK!

This is how I imagine the poor body when it needs a detox. Its screaming at you “come on! Stop putting so much pressure on me! I’m so sick of processing your caffeine, your alcohol, your processed foods, your cosmetics. Man I need a break!”

Four weeks of fresh, nutritious food, minimising exposure to toxins, nourishing the body and assisting elimination with naturopathic herbs and supplements is a pretty decent break for your tired body.

Some people argue that your body is already designed to detox itself. That’s why you’re born with a liver, kidneys, lymphatic system, intestines etc. Yep, that’s true. But I think we all expect more from these organs than they originally signed up for and helping them out with an annual or bi-annual rejuvenation can only help them to perform better.


At the end of my cleanse programs people usually report that they are sleeping better, they wake up in the morning feeling alert, their energy is consistent throughout the day, their skin is improved (I was once told that I was ‘glowing’ when I was midway through a detox), they are not feeling bloated, their bowels are working well and they just generally feel more vibrant.

I try to get my clients to continue using the principles and recipes they have learnt during detox for the rest of their lives. And a lot of them do. Detox is like a restart button, it gets you back into good habits and it reminds you how the body is meant to feel.

So, do you need to detox?

You may not NEED to. But i’m sure your body will thank you for it!

Is Dry Skin Driving You Mad?

I would guesstimate that 80% of my patients complain about dry skin in winter. Until I ask the question, a lot of them have never made the link that they only get dry, itchy skin during the colder months.

Why so dry in winter?

There are a few contributing factors.

The most obvious being our tendency to make our homes very warm. This dry, warm air sucks the moisture right out of our skin.

Next there are the hot showers we stand under once or twice a day. I am also guilty of this, stepping out of the shower with a bright red glow all over!

And lastly, a lot of people forget to drink their daily quota of water in winter.

How can you make it through winter with beautiful supple skin?

Lets hit the obvious ones first:

1. Turn the heat down and/or go a few hours without the heater on. Put on a jumper and some slippers and have a cup of warm tea.

2. Turn the shower down! I struggle with this one so I spend my shower time alternating between hot and warm water to minimise the drying effect.

3. Keep your fluids up. I don’t recommend drinking cold water at any time of year, but especially in winter, have your water room temperature or slightly warm. Aim for two litres of pure water daily. If you really struggle then add a pot of herbal tea to the mix (caffeine free of course) to help boost the h2o intake.

And a couple more skin saving tips:

4. Dry skin brush before you shower. This will help to remove dead skin cells and it also gets your lymphatic circulation moving to help with detoxification and immune function.

5. Takea good quality fish oil or eat low heavy metal, oily fish 3-4 times a week. Omega 3 fats help to keep skin cells plump and healthy and reduce inflammation.

6. Use natural or organic moisturiser to help nourish the skin topically. I use organic coconut oil at night all over my face and body to re-hydrate my epidermis.

And next winter, start doing all of these things as soon as the cooler weather hits and you’ll prevent dry skin completely.


One Week Into My Detox and I'm Still Alive

Not that I ever thought I wouldn’t be, but I think that’s how people sometimes feel when they embark on a detox program.

I have to say that transitioning into this cleanse has been unbelievably easy for me. Yes, I can here you saying “But you’re a Naturopath, of course it’s easy. You should be healthy anyway!”.

And I am. But I’m not perfect and I fall into habits quite easily. Before I started this cleanse I was having a coffee every morning, drinking red wine too regularly and, I just opened a new clinic which was a very busy and full on month, so there were way too many “quick” dinners A.K.A takeaways.

I started my cleanse on a Thursday because I expected to get caffeine withdrawals so didn’t want to be at work when that happened. But it never did.
I expected to get cravings for red wine and chocolate but that still hasn’t happened and on Monday I gave my left over (home made)
 bounty bars away without even flinching!

What’s the secret to my success? Well I think there are a few things going on here.

The lack of coffee withdrawals I think is due to the fact that I did a 6 week detox at the beginning of this year which really improved my liver function and my liver has (so far) been keeping up with processing my daily coffee intake.

The lack of cravings is partly due mindset, partly because I like being healthy and looking after my body and partly because I am still eating lots of really yummy food! I start my day with a green banana smoothie, then I might snack on some nuts, lunch is a salad with boiled egg, walnuts and pepitas, maybe some rice crackers with macadamia butter as an arvo snack and then something yummy for dinner like salmon and veggies or chicken quinoa salad. So I really don’t feel like I’m missing out on anything when it comes to food.

I’ve also been getting up of a morning and exercising (walking or hula hooping), doing my stretching, I went for a massage on Friday and I had a bath on Saturday AND Sunday. So I really have been practising what I preach and it feels great!

It’s so nice to do a cleanse every 6 months or so just to check in with yourself, mentally and physically, and to get back on track with your health and lifestyle goals. And the fact that I’ve found it so easy this time just reinforces the benefits and proves that a good cleanse program really does have long lasting results 



Taking liquid herbs



I love using liquid herbal medicines in my clinic because they are individually designed on a client by client basis and there is the potential to work on a few conditions with one bottle of herbs which keeps patient costs down and also means less supplements to take each day.

The one and only down side to liquid herbs is the taste! Ohh man can it be bad! Even I have to psych myself up to take some of my mixes and the really yucky ones will be taken followed by a lot of complaining and face pulling!

The feral taste of liquid herbs is the main complaint I hear in my clinic (others include the size of the tablets and the taste of the powders). The great thing is that my clients persevere and continue to take their herbs despite the taste. Why? Because they work! Plain and simple, no other explanation needed.

Liquid herbs are cost-effective, quickly and easily absorbed and really work so for this reason I will often tell my clients to just ‘suck it up’ and take their herbs. Really, it’s a moment of displeasure for a big gain and, if you have ever done a tequila or sambuca shot, I’m sure you can take liquid herbs!

And the good news is, the longer you take them the easier it gets! Often a big part of what we don’t like in liquid herbs is the ‘bitter’ flavour. This is because the western diet is greatly deficient in bitter foods so we are not used to the taste. Once we wake up the bitter taste buds the herbs are quite easy to take.

Other tips for taking your herbs

1.       Take them as a shot
Don’t pour your dose of herbs into a 200ml glass of water and force yourself to scull the whole thing! I advise my clients to measure out their herbs and then fill the rest of the measuring cup with water and get it down quick, like a shot.

2.       Use warm water
One of my clients told me that this makes them a whole lot easier to swallow.

3.       Use pineapple juice
I don’t like mixing my herbs with juice because it just makes the juice taste bad. But some people find them easier to take this way.

4.       Wash them down with a glass of water with lemon juice
This will help to get the aftertaste out of your mouth

There are other options like glycerine and special flavour mixes that can be purchased from the herb wholesalers to add to the formula but I don’t believe in using these so I don’t stock them in my clinic. I know, I’m a big meanie!
Certain herbs, like those used to improve digestive function, actually need to be tasted. The bitter taste is what gets your digestion started so there is nothing gained by covering the taste up. Plus I don’t want to waste space in the formula with a flavour improver instead of using a valuable herb. And, I hate it when people try to mask an unpleasant flavour. I can always taste the real flavour underneath and it just makes the whole experience a lot worse. So I believe that the flavour of liquid herbs should be embraced!

Now, I don’t want to totally turn you off using liquid herbs.  Some people actually like the taste and I have to admit that I will sometimes take a mix and find myself saying “ohh yummy” afterwards! To me, Liquorice is delicious and cramp bark is pretty good too! I always tell my new clients how bad their herbs are going to taste and really make them sound like the worst thing ever and I am often pleasantly surprised when they come to their next appointment and say “the herbs were fine, I don’t mind taking them at all”.

So I guess the message is, we’re all different and our taste buds are different too but if you persevere with your herbs, you should get used to the taste.
And if not, whinge enough and your naturopath will probably give in and order you tablets instead but remember, this will probably be more expensive as you’ll more than likely need a few different tablets to cover the different actions of the liquid herbs.


Do you have any secret tips for taking liquid herbs? Please share them with us in the comments box below 

What is a Naturopath?

As a Naturopath, I am a Herbalist and Nutritionist…. With a few extra hidden talents

Every now and then it gets brought to my attention that not everyone knows what a Naturopath is! These are things you forget when you work in the industry!

Each Naturopath is different as we often continue to study throughout our careers to add extra tools to our belts. But generally a Naturopath is someone who works with natural medicines including Herbs, Vitamins, Minerals, Homoeopathics and Flower Essences.

In addition to the above modalities their studies should have included Nutrition, Iridology, Counselling, Pharmacology (to learn about pharmaceutical drugs and how they interact with natural medicine), Anatomy, Chemistry, Biochemistry and courses about symptoms of disease. The older courses, like the one I studied also included body work such as Remedial Massage.

Your Naturopath should have an industry recognised Advanced Diploma or Bachelor level qualification and they should be registered with an association such as ATMS or NHAA. Registration with one of the associations means that their qualifications meet a high standard and it should enable them to provide you with private health fund rebates. It also means that your practitioner is monitored to ensure they keep their knowledge up to date with courses and seminars every year.

As a Naturopath, I believe that it is my role to work alongside other health care practitioners whether that be Acupuncturists, Energetic Healers or GPs. I don’t believe that a one size fits all approach should be taken to health care and I think that every form of healing has its place. Usually its just about finding the right practitioner to suit your needs.

When you are looking for a new practitioner, don’t be afraid to ask questions. Your health is your most important asset and you should feel confident that you have the right person looking after you.

Immune Health for Children

We’re well into winter in Australia and the past week has been wet and cold in Sydney. Perfect conditions for catching colds, coughs and flu!

School aged children and little ones at day care are prime candidates for these viruses. You don’t have to sit back and wait for them to strike. We’re always hearing that prevention is better than cure so lets boost your child’s immune system and prevent them from getting sick this winter.

I am offering acute immune boosting consultations for children and adultsat my clinics in Dural and St Leonards. These appointments are quick 20-30minute check ins to get a little bit of medical history and formulate the best treatment plan. Acute appointments are also great if you or your child are already suffering from cold or flu as we can reduce symptoms and shorten the duration.

Immune boosting treatments often include herbal medicines such as Echinacea, Elderberry, Olive Leaf and Ginger. As well as vitamins and minerals such as Vitamin C and Zinc. These can be prescribed in liquid, tablet of powder form and children are usually very good at taking their naturopathic medicines (often better than adults!).

As well as herbs and nutrients, there are also things you can do at home to ensure your children have the best natural defences. Here are my 5 tips for children’s immune health:

1. Enjoy a nutrient dense diet – It is best to go for seasonal fruit and vegetables because you have the best chance of them being fresh and richer in nutrients. If you’re buying produce that is out of season it has most likely been in cold storage and hanging around for quite some time so a lot of the nutrients will be depleted. If you can, go for organic or local farmers markets to get the best quality, nutrient dense food. Autumn and winter seasonal fruits include pears, mandarins, apple, tangelo, orange and kiwifruit. Vegetables include broccoli, cauliflower, lettuce, spinach, broad beans, peas, avocado, pumpkin, carrot, parsnip, sweet potato.

2. Get adequate sleep – A healthy immune system requires proper rest and
rejuvenation so make sure your little one gets plenty of sleep. Stress (even from lack of sleep) will lower the immune system so ensure your child has a regular bed time even in school holidays.

3. Remember hygiene – Washing hands before eating food is a must as children love to touch and feel everything they see. Minimise risk of infection by ensuring your child washes their hands before touching something that’s about to go in their mouth. But try not to be too paranoid about washing them constantly, disinfecting everything and using hand sanitizer. Little bodies need to come in to contact with some dirt to help build the immune system but proper hygiene is essential.

4. Freshen up your home – Let fresh air into the house during the day. Open windows and doors to allow the air and sunlight to naturally clean and disinfect your home.

5 Play outside – Make sure you child gets out in the sunlight and fresh air to play. Vitamin D is essential for immune health and running around will increase circulation and oxygen supply to increase vitality, energy and immunity.

Want to learn more? I recently recorded a podcast with acupuncturist Kim Gatenby where we talk all about immune health so if you’d like to get a bit more info you can download the podcast here.

And last but not least please please please Don’t send your kids to day care or school when they’re sick. This is for the greater good of everyone! If adults stop going to work sick and children stop going to school sick we can really reduce the spread of germs. Unfortunately we’ve been marketed this idea of popping pills to dry up our runny noses so we can keep going with our daily tasks but this really doesn’t help anyone. If you or your child catch a cold its because your immune system is low and you really need to stay at home and rest.

To book your immune boosting consultation call or email me today Ph: 0405 123 852 Email:

Is your work place making you fat?

A friend emailed me this week telling me that this was happening to her. She said that she felt like people in her office were always pushing food on her like team lunches, birthday cakes etc. And that when she declines she feels like people are judging her when they say “Ohh you’re so good”.

It seems that this is a pretty common problem. You go to work and your colleagues are eating biscuits (the work place biscuit jar is a temptation I often hear about), drinking soft drink, having fast food lunches and trying to take you along for the ride. Well it’s time for it to stop! And I’m going to help you.

This is not just for people who are trying to lose weight or maintain their weight loss. This is for people who want to be healthy and nourish their bodies with high quality fuel that makes them feel vital and alive instead of filling it with rubbish that makes them feel tired and flat. But, it’s important to do this in a way that doesn’t make you the office outcast or make you feel deprived.

Here are some of my tips to help you along the way:

1. Educate yourself. If you know why you want to eat good food it makes eating good food a lot easier. Do some research into what goes into junk food and then read up on the health benefits of natural food. A good place to start are the DVD’s called Food Matters or Hungry for Change these movies will help to cement what food is all about. It’s meant to be our fuel but we’re generally guilty of using really poor quality fuel instead of what our bodies really need and want.

2. Accept that just because you are now enlightened and have a pretty good understanding of the evils of junk food, not everyone cares or is ready to change their eating habits. If you want to keep friends at work, don’t try and push your new habits on them. If they enquire or show interest then YES definitely tell them what you know and help them to achieve better health. But if they’re not interested, don’t waste your time. You’ll just end up feeling frustrated and disappointed.

3. Be prepared. This is such an important part of maintaining a healthy diet. If you prepare your lunch and snacks and take them to work with you then you will have everything you need to eat for the day and it is easy to eat well. If you get to work with no packed lunch then you will most likely forget to have your morning snack, feel hungry and tired by lunch time and reach for a ‘convenience’ food because your brain is too starved of nutrients to be able to clearly think of something nourishing to eat. Make yourself a nut and seed mix for morning snack or useharvest box and have a different mix delivered every week. Make salads the night before and put your dressing in a separate container so you don’t have to endure a soggy salad. And if you want a treat in the afternoon make a cake/biscuit/slice at home so that you can eat something that is preservative, additive and nasty free. There are a lot of yummy recipes available online.


4. If there is a work lunch or morning tea where everyone brings a plate bring something that is healthy but doesn’t look it. Like a raw cacao chocolate slice, or a beetroot chocolate cake or homemade hommous with MSG free rice crackers and vegetable sticks. Healthy doesn’t have to be boring and you don’t have to miss out.

5. Remember that people will always try to sabotage you but you don’t have to sabotage yourself. Like my friend who said that “ohh you’re so good” sounds like judgement to her rather than a true compliment. This is not your green light to stuff a cheese burger down your throat. If you have followed step one and educated yourself then hopefully you’ll be able to think ‘Yes, I am good’ and you’ll hear your body saying “THANK YOU!”

Herb Profile: Passionflower

This week I’m profiling Passiflora incarnata commonly known as Passionflower.

This is such a beautiful, calming herb that I commonly use in sleep formulas or anxiety mixes.

Its actions include reducing anxiety, reducing muscle spasms, decreasing nervous tension, and inducing sleep.

We naturopaths and herbalists use passionflower to help people get to sleep and stay asleep, reduce irritability or anxiety, reduce headaches and period pain, to help support people withdrawing from drugs and alcohol, to aid asthma and coughing, as well as for people who get an upset stomach when nervous.

I find that passionflower works wonderfully in sleep mixes for both adults and children and it can also be taken as a tea.

Passionflower should not be used in pregnancy (unless under the close supervision of your herbalist or naturopath). And as with all herbal medicines and supplements it is always best to get advice and recommendations from your Naturopath if you think passionflower might be the herb for you