Come Try One of Our Special Introductory Offers!


To celebrate our opening, The Health Lodge is offering a range of specials in our first month.   


Mondays - Community Naturopathy day

Drop in to the clinic for a $20 naturopathic consultation.

Tuesdays - Community Acupuncture day

Drop in and receive a $20 acupuncture treatment.


Wednesdays - Community Craniosacral mornings from 9am - 1pm

Drop in and receive a $20 craniosacral treatment.


Come and meet our team of dedicated health practitioners. 

78 Bangalow Rd Byron Bay

Lyme disease - Integrative Treatment Approach Part One

Lyme disease, or Lyme Borreliosis, is caused by a species of bacteria called Borrelia. It is transmitted to humans by ticks. Some ticks carry Borrelia, and when they attach and suck blood, they can regurgitate the bacteria into their host. The most common strain is Borrelia burgdorferi. This is the cause of most cases of Lyme disease in America. In Europe, the main strains are B. garinii and B. afzelii.


What are the symptoms of Lyme disease?

Borrelia bacteria are slow growing. Symptoms may take days or months to appear. In some cases, the disease may lie dormant for years, and surface after a stressful event such as illness, surgery, or physical or emotional trauma. One of the earliest and most defining signs of Lyme disease is a rash that spreads out from the site of the tick bite. The rash resembles a bulls-eye. At this early stage you may feel like you have the flu- fatigue, fever, headaches, muscle and joint aches and pains, and swollen lymph nodes are common.

The later stages of Lyme disease can take months or years to develop, and can cause problems in the joints, heart, and nervous system, and may affect mood and cognition.


Lyme disease in Australia, why the controversy?

The question of whether Australian ticks carry the bacteria that causes Lyme disease is controversial. The Australian government denies that Australian ticks carry the Borrelia bacteria, and suggests that people with Lyme disease must have contracted it while overseas. However, switched-on health practitioners are finding that not all patients with Lyme disease have been outside of Australia.

So why is there so much disagreement on Lyme disease in Australia? In 1994 a study by Russell and Doggett set out to answer the question of whether Australian ticks carry Borrelia bacteria. They collected 12 000 common Australian ticks and did not isolate any Borrelia DNA, concluding that Australian ticks do not carry the bacteria that causes Lyme disease. However, there were a number of issues in this study. Of the 12 000 ticks, only 1038 were actually tested for Borrelia. Russell and Doggett also worked on the assumption that only the burgdorferi strain of Borrelia causes Lyme disease, yet European studies have found that B.garinii and B.afzelii can also cause Borreliosis.

In 1959 Mackerras isolated Borrelia from Australian kangaroos, wallabies and bandicoots. Russell and Doggett did not mention this study in their own work. In 1962 Carley and Pope discovered an Australian strain of Borrelia, called Borrelia Queenslandica. Again, Russell and Doggett made no mention of this in their study. In 1995 Barry, Wills and Hudson isolated and grew Borrelia bacteria from Australian ticks. They also tested people with symptoms of Lyme disease, and 20% were positive for B.garinii, B.afzelii or B.burgdorferi.

Given that three out of four studies isolated Borrelia species from Australian fauna, a review of the government position on Lyme disease in Australia would be wise. We need more research to fully understand Lyme disease in Australia, and more public awareness of Lyme disease, to ensure people receive the correct diagnosis and best treatment.


Why is Lyme disease so difficult to diagnose?

Aside from the clear roadblocks that the controversy of Lyme disease in Australia causes for diagnosis, a number of other issues make diagnosis difficult. Firstly, less than 30% of patients with Lyme disease can recall getting a tick bite. Secondly, the bulls-eye rash that is a defining feature of Lyme disease occurs in less than 30% of cases.

And the list of reasons goes on: Borrelia can live inside cells and inside the central nervous system, and so may not come up in blood tests, especially in chronic cases. The tests currently used are very poor at detecting Borrelia, and results may come back falsely negative. None of the tests, either in Australia or overseas, test for strains of Borrelia specific to Australia, like Borrelia Queenslandica.

Because Lyme is difficult to diagnose, and awareness of Lyme disease in Australia is poor, patients are being misdiagnosed. People with Lyme disease have been misdiagnosed with fibromyalgia, motor neurone disease, Parkinson’s disease, Alzheimer’s disease, and chronic fatigue syndrome.


The complexities of Lyme disease

Lyme disease is not your average bacterial infection. Ticks often carry other organisms, including Babesia, Anaplasma, Ehrlichia, and Bartonella. These can be transmitted to humans at the same time as the Borrelia bacteria, causing co-infection. It is incredibly important to test and treat these co-infections as well. Animal and human studies show that these co-infections can cause more severe and treatment-resistant Lyme disease.

Borrelia is also capable of creating a biofilm. A biofilm is a slippery, glue-like coating that some bacteria create to act as a protective shield. The plaque on your teeth is a type of biofilm produced by Treponema denticola, which causes gum disease. To create the biofilm, the bacteria clump together and build a complex matrix around themselves. They can do this on a range of surfaces including our soft tissues. Other organisms, including the co-infections common in Lyme disease, can live inside the biofilm. The biofilm protects the bacteria from attacks from the immune system and antibiotics.  The Borrelia biofilm is one of the reasons Lyme disease and its co-infections are so difficult to treat.


Diagnostic considerations for Lyme disease

At The Health Lodge, we understand that the diagnosis and treatment of Lyme disease is complex. Therefore, we suggest a comprehensive diagnostic work-up to gather information relating to your health, including:

  • Screening for Borrelia
  • Screening for co-infections
  • Testing for nutrient deficiencies. Practitioners have found vitamin B12 and magnesium deficiency are common in patients with Lyme disease
  • We may test levels of stress and thyroid hormones. Thyroid and adrenal function is often impaired in Lyme disease
  • Screening for markers of inflammation, as chronic inflammation is an issue in Lyme disease
  • Assessing the health of your detoxification organs. Lyme disease and its co-infections can release toxins that attack the body, especially the nervous system. It is very important that the liver, kidneys, and digestive system are working well to get rid of these toxins. Unfortunately, in many patients with Lyme disease, these detoxification organs are under-functioning.
  • Heavy metal screening. Heavy metals can be incorporated into the bacterial biofilm, and affect the body’s ability to detoxify.


Treatment considerations for Lyme disease

Treatment of Lyme disease can be a long and difficult journey. Many people with Lyme disease do not get the treatment they need due to misdiagnosis.  Lyme disease is incredibly complex, and best treated by a team of health practitioners. At The Health Lodge, our treatment plan for patients with Lyme disease may include:

  • Supporting detoxification
  • Breaking down the biofilm
  • Treating Borrelia and co-infections
  • Decreasing inflammation
  • Supporting affected organs and systems
  • Heavy metal chelation
  • Correcting nutrient imbalances
  • Psychological support


Your integrative team of health care specialists

We believe that a multidisciplinary team of health care professionals is essential in managing all the aspects of Lyme disease. The multidisciplinary team may include general practitioners, psychologists, dietitians or nutritionists, naturopaths, osteopaths, and acupuncturists. This comprehensive and holistic approach is designed to support the patient’s physical, mental, and emotional well being.

For enquiries call The Health Lodge on 02 6685 6445


What are eating disorders? Treating with mainstream and complementary medicine

What are eating disorders?

Eating disorders are a complex and serious group of mental illnesses associated with significant problems with eating habits, weight management practices, and body image. People with eating disorders have extreme attitudes towards food intake, weight, and body shape. These factors become unhealthy preoccupations, interfere with daily activities, and negatively impact quality of life.

Eating disorders can affect men and women of any age from a range of cultures and backgrounds. The two main types of eating disorders are anorexia nervosa and bulimia nervosa.

The key feature of anorexia nervosa is that the individual is focused on achieving and maintaining a low body weight. The goal weight is often so low that the body cannot function normally. Extreme dieting, food avoidance, purging behaviours (i.e. self-induced vomiting or laxative abuse), and excessive exercise are often used to reduce weight.

Bulimia nervosa is characterized by recurrent, uncontrolled periods of binge eating, followed by behaviours designed to compensate for the binge, such as extreme dieting, fasting, excessive exercise, or purging.

What are the causes of eating disorders?

There is no single cause of eating disorders. It is thought that a number of interacting psychological, biological, and social factors may contribute to the development of an eating disorder. These include:

  • Unstable or difficult family and personal relationships
  • Other mental illnesses such as depression and anxiety
  • Feelings of loneliness and social isolation
  • Feelings of loss of control
  • Feelings of unworthiness and inadequacy
  • High personal expectations and unrealistic personal goals
  • Major life changes or crises such as relationship breakdown or loss of a loved one
  • Imbalances in brain chemicals
  • Cultural attitudes around beauty and weight


Signs and symptoms of eating disorders

There are a number of signs and symptoms of eating disorders, and no two cases are identical. If you suspect that you or a loved one may have an eating disorder or may be developing one, it is very important to seek help. Early intervention is vital in preventing the development of long-term patterns, and promoting recovery. Signs of eating disorders can be mental, physical, or behavioural.

Mental signs:

  • Preoccupation with body weight and appearance
  • Poor concentration
  • Sudden mood changes, and feelings of irritability, sadness, or anger
  • Intense fear of gaining weight
  • Distorted, negative body image
  • Constant preoccupation with food
  • Anxiety and depression
  • Low self-esteem
  • Feelings of loss of control


Physical signs:

  • Rapid weight loss or weight change
  • Irregular or absent menstrual periods in females
  • Sensitivity to cold
  • Faintness or dizziness
  • Fatigue and increased need for sleep


Behavioural signs:

  • Extreme and constant dieting
  • Disappearance of large amounts of food (may indicate binge eating)
  • Frequent trips to the bathroom around meal times (may suggest vomiting or laxative use)
  • Compulsive, excessive exercise
  • Changes in food preferences, fussy eating, or restrictive food choices
  • Obsessive rituals around food and eating
  • Withdrawal from social situations that involve food
  • Avoidance of eating meals, and frequent excuses not to eat
  • Social withdrawal or isolation
  • Wearing baggy clothes or changing clothing style
  • Lying about the amount or type of food eaten, eating in secret, or secretly throwing out uneaten food
  • Denial of hunger


Diagnostic considerations

At The Health Lodge, we run tests to gather more information relating to the health of patients with eating disorders.

  • Nutritional deficiencies are common in eating disorders, so we may screen for a number of nutrient deficiencies
  • Depression, anxiety and obsessive-compulsive disorder are common co-morbidities in eating disorders, and can have major impacts on health. It may be important to test for zinc deficiency and copper overload, metabolic abnormalities such as raised urinary pyrroles, and genetic factors including MTHFR gene polymorphisms. These factors can all play major roles in a person’s psychological well being.
  • We may test levels of stress hormones, as these can be raised in eating disorders
  • Digestion may be impaired and tests that give us important information on digestive function may be needed.


Treatment options for eating disorders

Treatment of eating disorders can be a long and difficult journey. Many people with eating disorders do not seek treatment due to an unwillingness to change, feelings of fear and shame, or because they do not believe that their behaviour is a problem. Treatment of eating disorders is very important, as eating disorders can severely impact health, and in some cases can be fatal.

Eating disorders are incredibly complex, and are best treated by a team of health carers. One or more psychologists are essential in every health care team for a person with an eating disorder. Psychological support aims to help the individual to learn about their eating patterns and beliefs associated with eating and weight, and provides strategies to help shift dysfunctional attitudes and develop healthier behaviours. Strategies may include:

  • Cognitive behavioral therapy
  • Family therapy for children and adolescents
  • Education regarding eating disorders and factors that influence or increase the risk of developing eating disorders
  • Building self-esteem and improving self-awareness
  • Supporting and enhancing social and family relationships
  • Learning and developing tools to prevent relapse


At The Health Lodge, the integrated healthcare team will include:

  • A GP to oversee medication if required, diagnostics and specialist referrals
  • A naturopath to assist with digestive health and nutrient imbalances
  • A dietitian to advise on diet and eating practices
  • An acupuncturist to help treat underlying causes i.e. anxiety/depression
  • A yoga/meditation teacher to bring body awareness back into balance
  • A carer who has a prior history of eating disorders and can share the journey


Your integrative team of health care specialists

We believe that a multidisciplinary team of health care professionals is essential in managing all the aspects of eating disorders. The multidisciplinary team may include general practitioners, psychologists, dietitians or nutritionists, naturopaths, osteopaths, and acupuncturists. This comprehensive and holistic approach is designed to support the patient’s physical, mental, and emotional well being.


For enquiries call The Health Lodge on 02 6685 6445

What is Coeliac Disease?

Coeliac disease is a chronic disease of the small intestine (also called the small bowel) caused by intolerance to gluten. Gluten is a protein found in wheat, oats, rye, barley, spelt and kamut.

Cause of coeliac disease

 As we mentioned above, coeliac disease is caused by an abnormal immune reaction to the protein gluten. In people with coeliac disease, gluten causes inflammation and flattening of the villi of the small intestine. Villi are small finger-like projections that line the wall of the small intestine.  The role of villi is to absorb nutrients from your food. In coeliac disease, the villi are so inflamed and flattened that they are unable to fulfill their role. The surface area of the bowel that absorbs food is greatly reduced, leading to malabsorption of nutrients, and nutrient deficiencies.

Symptoms of coeliac disease

The most common symptoms of coeliac disease include diarrhoea, abdominal pain, bloating, flatulence, nausea and vomiting, weight loss, anaemia, and fatigue. Untreated coeliac disease can lead to infertility, loss of bone mineral density (osteoporosis), neurological disorders, and dental problems. Some of the symptoms of coeliac disease are related to the gluten-induced damage to the wall of the small intestine, while other symptoms, such as anaemia, are related to nutritional deficiencies caused by poor absorption of nutrients from food.  In children, untreated coeliac disease can affect growth and normal development, leading to short stature, weight loss or poor weight gain, and behavioural problems.

How is coeliac disease diagnosed?

Two blood tests are used to screen for coeliac disease. These are tissue transglutaminase antibodies (TTG), and deamidated gliadin peptide antibodies (DGP). Other tests that may be used are anti-endomysial antibodies and anti-gliadin antibody, but these tests are less commonly used these days.

If you suspect you may have coeliac disease, do not commence a gluten free diet before you have these tests. Cutting out gluten can make the tests unreliable, and you can get a false negative result. If you have already cut gluten out of your diet, but wish to have the tests done, you will have to re-introduce gluten into the diet for at least six weeks prior to getting the tests to make sure your results are reliable.

The most reliable diagnostic test for coeliac disease is a biopsy of the small intestine. In coeliac disease, the biopsy will find inflammation and flattening of the villi. If your blood tests come back positive for coeliac disease, your GP may recommend that you see a gastroenterologist and have a biopsy.

Treatment options for coeliac disease

The only recognised treatment for coeliac disease is to remove all gluten from the diet. This means cutting out all wheat, oats, rye, and barley, and all food products that contain them, such as bread, pasta, pizza, biscuits, cakes, and pastries. Ingredients within packaged foods can also come from a gluten source. Reading labels and becoming ingredient aware is essential to following a gluten free diet. At The Health Lodge, we work closely with your chef and dietitian or nutritionist to provide you with a gluten-free diet that is tailored to your individual needs.

At The Health Lodge, we recommend a multidisciplinary program that integrates the best of medical and complementary therapies in managing all aspects of coeliac disease, including gastrointestinal health, psychological wellbeing, and potential nutrient deficiencies.  There is a range of therapies available to you, including:

  • Medical care: People with coeliac disease are at a higher risk of nutrient deficiencies, especially iron, folate, calcium, and B12. Your GP may order blood tests to screen for nutrient deficiencies.
  • Nutrition: A dietician or nutritionist can offer nutritional advice and counseling to ensure you enjoy a healthy, nutritious diet that is sustainable in the long run.
  • Psychological support: Research has shown that psychological factors such as anxiety, depression and fatigue contribute to poor compliance to a gluten-free diet. A psychologist can support you in your mental wellbeing, and help you develop strong beliefs in personal control and self-management. These factors, along with a greater understanding of coeliac disease, have been shown to contribute to improved quality of life and improved dietary self-management in people with coeliac disease.
  • Naturopathy: Many of the symptoms and nutrient deficiencies seen in coeliac disease are due to chronic inflammation of the gut wall. Your naturopath may suggest the use of herbs with anti-inflammatory properties to help decrease inflammation and aid in repairing the gut wall.


Helpful tips for a gluten free diet

  • Read labels: Gluten can be found in many packages foods. Always read the label and check if any ingredients are made from gluten sources.
  • Look for gluten free products: The public is becoming increasingly aware of gluten-intolerance. You can find gluten free flour, bread and pasta and other products in supermarkets and many food stores.
  • Focus on what you can eat: For many at first, following a gluten-free diet can feel very restricted. Try to focus on the huge amount of food that is available to you, including fresh fruits and vegetables, fish, meats, eggs, legumes, nuts, seeds, and dairy. Many grains are also gluten free, including buckwheat, rice, corn, and quinoa.
  • Plan ahead when eating out: Many cafes and restaurants now offer gluten-free options. Find out which cafes and restaurants cater to your needs, or phone ahead to check menu options when going somewhere new.
  • Build a gluten free recipe repertoire: A simple internet search will find many sites that offer gluten free recipes. Get cooking, get creative!


In the long run

The gluten-sensitivity seen in coeliac disease is a life-long sensitivity. Symptoms will flare-up if gluten is reintroduced to the diet. A gluten free diet allows the wall of the small intestine to heal and resume normal function. If a life-long gluten free diet is strictly followed, the condition can be managed effectively, and symptoms and nutritional deficiencies can be prevented. At Byron integrated Medicine, we suggest that you seek out ongoing support and education, and see that any changes in nutritional needs are addressed, to ensure a high level of general wellbeing and quality of life.


Coeliac Australia

For enquiries call The Health Lodge on 02 6685 6445