Pain is a universal language. We all experience it at one time or another as it’s an unavoidable aspect of residing in our human body. It can manifest as very intense, acute pain such as that of childbirth or a broken bone, while some of us endure it daily with chronic conditions like arthritis or musculoskeletal conditions. Although most people would probably say they would avoid pain if given the option, in actual fact it is an extremely useful and downright essential function of our physiological makeup.Read More
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.
- 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
- 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
- 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
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 motor neurone disease?
The muscles that allow us to speak, breath, swallow, and move around are all controlled by nerve cells called neurones. In motor neurone disease (MND) these neurones stop working normally. Muscles need to be used to stay strong and function properly, and without neurons to activate them, muscles gradually weaken and waste. The muscle weakness can start anywhere in the body, and progression of MND varies from person to person. Often, MND begins with weakness of the muscles in the hands or feet, and eventually leads to generalised paralysis. Loss of muscle function can be incredibly debilitating, and people with motor neurone disease often need support and help with daily activities. Depending on the severity of their condition, a person may need a part-time or full-time carer. While some people can live a long time with MND, the average life expectancy is 2 to 3 years from diagnosis.
What are the causes of motor neurone disease?
Around 5-7% of cases of MND are hereditary, caused by inheritance of genetic mutations. Of hereditary cases, about 40% are caused by C9ORF72 gene mutation, and about 20% are caused by mutations of the superoxide dismutase-1 gene.
In the other 93-95% of cases the cause of MND remain unknown. Factors that are suspected of playing a role in MND include abnormal growth, repair and ageing of motor neurons, imbalances of the brain chemical glutamate, viral infections, environmental toxins, inflammation, oxidative stress, and immune dysfunction.
Symptoms of motor neurone disease
Early symptoms of MND include weakness of the muscles of the hands and legs. A person may notice that they cannot grasp objects in a firm grip, or are more clumsy than usual. The tongue and throat muscles may weaken, and a person may notice that their speech is slurred and they have difficulty chewing and swallowing. Other symptoms include fatigue, weight loss, muscle twitching, cramps, muscle pain, and emotional lability. The sense of smell, sight, hearing, taste, and touch are not usually affected by MDN. Nor are bowel and bladder control.
Diagnostic considerations in motor neurone disease
At The Health Lodge, we may be interested in running tests to gather more information to help us manage all aspects of your health.
- Nutritional deficiencies are common in MND, as so we may screen for a number of nutrient deficiencies and work with diet and supplements to correct these
- Checking inflammatory markers is also important as inflammation is thought to play a role in MND
- It may also be beneficial to test for heavy metal toxicities using hair mineral analysis, and blood and urine tests, as heavy metals can affect your mental wellbeing and the health of your neurological system, and are suspected of playing a role in some cases of MND
- If depression or anxiety is a major factor in your 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 your psychological wellbeing.
Treatment options for motor neurone disease
Early education is very important in managing MND. Knowing the progression of the disease allows people to plan ahead and find the care they need in managing current and future symptoms. We believe that a multidisciplinary team of health care professionals is essential in managing all the aspects of motor neurone disease. A coordinated, integrated team approach to your care helps you live better, and may help you to live longer with MND. Health professionals that you may have in you health care team include:
- A GP and/or neurologist for regular check-ups and advice on medications.
- A Psychologist for you emotional and mental wellbeing, as living with a disease can be incredibly emotionally distressing and mentally taxing
- A Naturopath to prevent nutritional deficiencies
- A Respiratory specialist if you experience breathing difficulties
- An Occupational therapist if you require skills and equipment to help you carry out daily living activities
- A Speech pathologist to help with issues of speech, swallowing, and eating
- An Osteopath and/or physiotherapist to help with joint stiffness and structural problems
- Carers to help with daily living needs
This comprehensive and holistic team approach is designed to support all aspects of your health, including your physical, mental, and emotional wellbeing.
For enquiries call The Health Lodge on 02 6685 6445
I have spent many years searching for an answer to my chronic pain, and it has been a long and lonely road. There is not an area of my life that has not been changed by chronic pain. I have lost friends, and it has stopped me playing sports and enjoying my social life. I have to constantly watch my stress levels to not send my pain levels soaring. I feel restricted and burdened inside, yet I keep it to myself, because who wants to hear about that?
I speak from a place of being an experienced Healer, with good awareness of anatomy and physiology, energy, and of the role of emotions on our health. Still I was lost. As hard as I tried I could not heal myself despite facilitating healing for thousands of people. It is so tiring taking yourself from one practitioner to another trying to find the 'cure', or at least some relief from the relentless pain and discomfort that chronic pain brings. I walked the alternative route and I walked the medical route, yet still I felt like I was in a maze of which I could not make sense. How must this feel to the average person suffering from chronic pain, who does not have my background, knowledge and experience? It must be even harder!
Well-meaning friends and family tell you to try this person or that person, trying to find you an answer. So you pick yourself up from the weariness and depression that drags you deeper into the hole and hope that the next approach will fix it. Maybe the last physio/doctor/healer was not the right one and this one will be the one to help you at long last. And when you still get no results your spirits drop once more and you are back to square one dealing with pain as your constant unwanted friend.
Recently I saw Reine Du Bois (Naturopath) and Dr Bettie Honey (GP). Together they took time to get my story of how I came to have chronic pain, and to see what had worked and what hadn't worked in the past. They used their collective knowledge from both medical and alternative perspectives to brainstorm possible courses of treatment for me. They did this with great care and respect, and checked in with me on how I felt about the options they were presenting. I felt relief that I had two caring people in front of me who were going to help me put the pieces of the jigsaw puzzle together. I wasn't alone anymore; there was a team now. It felt like there was more hope, that together we could do it. It soothed my mind and gave my spirits a great lift. I felt I could relax a little knowing I was in good hands; knowing my problem was being looked at from a few angles at once.
The world needs this new approach. We have become a society of individuals running solo in our lives, some of us living alone, working alone, barely seeing extended family, and pushed for time to spend with friends. Collectively we can become a mastermind if we work together building on one another’s knowledge and expertise. If you had a dedicated, hand picked team of medical and alternative practitioners focused on your healing, the power in that concept alone could be enough for your healing, and that is even before the work begins. If I could take the money I spent over the last decade and put it into a team to heal not just my chronic pain but heal myself on all levels, I would be there in a nanosecond.... (This article has been written by an experienced practitioner who for professional reasons wishes to remain anonymous.)