Tired, Teary & Sluggish?

Feeling tired, teary & sluggish?  Can’t lose fat or gain muscle? 

You might have hypothyroidism. 

A whopping 5% of the total population have hypothyroidism and as you age your risk increases.  In your 50’s and 60’s 10% of the population have hypothyroidism.  Plus it’s more common in women than men (2, 3). 

Subclinical hypothyroidism, a hard to detect form that may still cause symptoms, is even more common with up to 10% of the adult population and in women over the age of 60 over 20% (1).

The most common cause of hypothyroidism in Australia is an autoimmune condition called Hashimoto’s thyroiditis.  In Hashimoto’s the immune system is over active and attacks the thyroid gland causing hypothyroidism.  Hypothyroidism is when your thyroid gland does not produce enough thyroid hormone for your body to function normally and fully (2).

If a family member has an autoimmune condition including Type 1 diabetes or Coealiac disease you are more likely to end up with Hashimoto’s (1).

Medically recognised signs and symptoms of hypothyroidism include:

•          Exhaustion

•          Feeling drowsy, close to sleep and sleeping for long periods of time, called somnolence

•          “Brain fog” -  memory loss and slower thinking times

•          Intolerance to cold

•          Constipation

•          Depression

•          Weight gain

•          Menstrual disturbances including heavy periods

•          Dry, thin and pale skin

•          Puffiness below the eyes

•          Carpal tunnel syndrome

•          Calf stiffness

•          Hearing impairment

•          High cholesterol levels.

If you suffer from any of these it may be worthwhile testing your thyroid.

In health,

Sonia x


1. Kalantari, S. (2007). Subclinical hypothyroidism. International Journal of Endocrinology and Metabolism, 5(1), 33-40. Retrieved from: http://endometabol.com/?page=article&article_id=2092

2. Topliss, D.J. & Eastman, C.J. (2004). Diagnosis and management of hyperthyroidism and hypothyroidism. Medical Journal of Australia, 180(4), 186-193. Retrieved from: https://www.mja.com.au/journal/2004/180/4/5-diagnosis-and-management-hyperthyroidism-and-hypothyroidism

3. Vaidya, B., & Pearce, S. H. (2008). Management of hypothyroidism in adults. British Medical Journal, 337. doi:10.1136/bmj.a801

Harris, P., Nagy, S. & Vardaxis, N. (2012) Mosby’s Dictionary of Medicine, Nursing and Health Professions: Australian and New Zealand (9th ed.). Sydney: Elsevier.

Sonia McNaughton
What to Believe When Choosing a Supplement?

Is it all just expensive pee? How do you know what to believe when choosing a supplement?

Do vitamin and mineral supplements even work? Isn’t popping a nutritional or herbal pill an expensive way to colour your pee yellow? There is so much conflicting information about supplements in the news and on social media how do you work out the fact from the fiction?

Almost every day a client will tell me they are taking magnesium for their period pain/ mood disorder/ sleep issues / muscle soreness/ constipation but it is not working and they are upset because of the wasted time, money and failed expectations. .  

I typically ask my clients to bring in all the supplements they are taking or have lurking in a cupboard so I can eyeball and educate.  As we work our way  through the bags and bags of pill bottles most women have at home we talk about:

-     what each ingredient in the supplement has been studied for

-     if it is in fact useful for what they were hoping it would do

-     what dosage to take to reach the health goal desired

-     best time of day to take the supplement

-     with or without food

-     medications interactions

-     other supplement interactions

-     how long they should take the product.

Most of my clients have never been given this information and yet they have bought literally hundreds and hundreds of dollars in supplements that are not working for them.

So let’s set the record straight about how to sort the good from the bad!

Here’s what you need to know and ask before you get out your wallet, find your credit card and invest your pay packet in what could be the most helpful thing you did in your journey to wellness or very expensive pee.  

1.       What dose and for how long?

If the person recommending the supplement cannot answer or research how much and for how long you should take it - do not buy what they are selling! 

Good quality scientific research done on humans always states dosage and duration with the results achieved. Why would you spend money on something that has not been researched on humans?

If you are shopping online you need to hunt down the research yourself or read blogs where they describe the research- there is a reason why the product you are buying is cheaper online there is no need to build in the cost of staffing.

2. Who were the people the study was performed on?

If the person recommending the supplement cannot answer or research if you match the population the nutrient was studied on - do not buy what they are selling. 

Have you heard iodine is useful in thyroid conditions? Let’s talk about it!

Do you match the population the nutrient was studied on: does the amount of iodine a healthy Japanese person eating a traditional diet equate to the amount of iodine needed by an Australian, American or British person with Hashimoto’s or Graves eating a standard western diet with an anglo-saxon ethnicity?  

Dosage:  Should you take more or less iodine if you are not of Japanese ethnicity eating a fish & vegetable diet?

Do you take more or less iodine because you have a thyroid condition but the Japanese population statistic does not specify if they factor in autoimmune thyroid conditions?

What is your weight as compared with average weight of the Japanese people studied?

Have you asked yourself what if it goes horribly wrong? Does the person selling you the iodine accept the very real consequences of the guess they made if you end up in hospital with the symptoms of a heart attack? Do you?  

Using another very common weight loss example I see regularly: 

is a weight loss supplement researched only on fit and healthy men aged 18 - 21 mean weight loss can be expected by a post menopausal woman aged over 55 on multiple medications for chronic conditions living a largely sedentary life? If you choose to take the supplement studied only on fit, young men with large amounts of muscle on no medications do you take more of the supplement or less of the supplement? 

3. When did study participants take the supplement?

A supplement may only be beneficial at one stage of a disease or condition and not another, so studies done at different stages may have different results.

Some supplements are better at night or in the day. Some are boosted by being taken with food and others need to be taken on an empty stomach to even have an impact.

For example Vitamin C may be an increase the amount of hormones your body gets from thyroid medication whereas calcium or iron may reduce the amount of thyroid medication absorbed.

4. How did researchers measure the supplement’s effectiveness?

If you are told a herbal remedy gives you more energy what does that mean? Is it sleeping less or sleeping more, mental acuity or physical energy? Is one more important to you than another?

5.  Was the ingredient studied the same ingredient that is in the supplement?

A study done on the impact of a plant on the weight loss of women with Hashimoto’s was from the plant’s dry seed pounded into a powder and put in a capsule. If you take a liquid form of that plant extracted into alcohol should you expect to get the same results?

The answer to the question do supplements even work is - YES! As long as the right supplement, in the right dose is matched with the people studied in the research.  If not there it is a lucky draw if you are helping or harming your health.

The Harvard School of Public Health published a guideline to shoppers on how to work out if a supplement might be useful to you or not and it is this article that started the conversation with you.  Jump here to read their article.

Have you ever been given advice on a nutrient or herb that you later found just simply did not work for you?

In health,

Sonia x


Harvard School of Public Health (2018). “Supplement Studies: Sorting Out the Confusion” Retrieved from: https://www.hsph.harvard.edu/nutritionsource/supplement-studies/?utm_source=Twitter&utm_medium=Social&utm_campaign=Chan-Twitter-General

Sonia McNaughton
Feeling Stressed, Tired or Irritable? A Herbal Miracle May Just Help!

Winter getting you down? A herbal tonic called Rhodiola rosea is a natural pick-me-up to help you cope with feeling overwhelmed, exhausted and down.

Rhodiola  has been used for hundreds of years in many different cultures for its anti-stress, anti-fatigue and antidepressant properties. 

A 2016 review of the scientific studies on Rhodiola found evidence to support its use with people who have:

•          stress induced depression

•          depressive disorders.

(Amsterdam & Panossian, 2016).

How does it do that?

Rhodiola has been found to produce a variety of mediator interactions with neuroendocrine-immune and neurotransmitter receptor systems likely to be involved in the cause of depression.

Show me the Science

The Study Details: 

•          146 people with diagnosed major depressive disorder in 2 randomised, double-blind, placebo-controlled trials.

•          714 people with diagnosed stress induced mild depression (diagnosed as asthenic syndrome or psychoneurosis) from 7 open-label studies.

Is it safe?

- Never come off medication or change your dose without your doctor or psychologist’s approval as a blog post cannot constitute medical advice for your own set of individual circumstances.

- The scientists in the study found Rhodiola was well-tolerated with a favourable safety profile.

- As a trained herbalist I do however caution if you are trying to fall pregnant, are currently pregnant, or lactating unless you are under the care of a trained herbalist you are best not to use Rhodiola.  I also caution my caffeine loving clients that Rhodiola in combination with caffeine may cause unpleasant side effects.

In health,

Sonia x

NB:  Never come off medication or change your dose or without your doctor or psychologist’s approval as a blog post cannot constitute medical advice for your own set of individual circumstances.

Sonia McNaughton
Increasing Milk Supply for Nursing Mothers with Herbal Tea

It’s world breast feeding week so what better time to look at the evidence and scientific research behind nursing mothers’ teas for increasing milk supply.


Fenugreek tea given to breast feeding mums were found to produce significantly higher amounts of breast milk, have babies who lost the least birth weight, and experienced the shortest time to regain their birth weight as compared with mums given apple tea. 

And for all my statistic-loving readers significance achieved in each measurement (p < 0.05).

Do you know a nursing mother?  A gift of fenugreek tea might be very appreciated if she is struggling to produce enough milk.

Check out what Australian Breastfeeding Association say about Fenugreek here: https://www.breastfeeding.asn.au/bfinfo/galactagogues-substances-claimed-increase-supply

Sonia McNaughton
A Healthy Delicious Fast Lunch

Keeping on track with my 2019 goals gets hard when I’m time poor!  What I need is a quick and healthy meal to help me stay alert, calm and full throughout my busy afternoon while lovin’ my liver.

Challenge accepted!

Carrot & Beetroot Salad (with thanks to Everyday Cookbook)


1 carrot

2 beetroot (raw)

1/2 green apple

1/4 red onion


Blitz together in food processor / Thermomix 3 secs (speed 5 for Thermie lovers).

Dump into large bowl & take 1 serving for lunch. Cover tightly and enjoy the rest with dinner.  I don’t find I need a dressing with this salad as the beetroot, carrot, apple and onion all get very moist when you process them together.

This salad is paleo, AIP (autoimmune paleo protocol), thyroid friendly, Mediterranean diet friendly, low calorie, low fat… this salad could join the United Nations it crosses so many different diet boundaries! 

I add a tin of Wild Alaskan Pink Salmon to this meal to boost the protein, calcium, essential fatty acid content and most importantly for me personally balance my blood sugar levels so I stay energised and calm all afternoon!

I drain the tin into a sink and with a fork mush the bones into the salmon flesh so they become one with the salmon.

Making the salad and adding the salmon takes only a few moments so really most of my 5 minutes is spent cleaning up!  I rinse the food processor bowl and drain it on the sink and pop my leftovers in the fridge.  I also had time to spare to take a quick pic & upload to Instagram. 

Do you have a healthy ‘go-to’ lunch idea you can make in less than 5 mins? I’d love to hear it!

In health,

Sonia x

Sonia McNaughton
How to Make Salmon Taste and Smell Delicious

What’s a naturopath to do when she gags at the thought of salmon?

4 years of studying naturopathy indelibly imprinted the seemingly endless health virtues of the humble fish fillet on my brain.  The only problem was I had never been introduced to a piece of fish that was not battered and deep fried that didn’t make me gag.

I outed my loathing of all edible aquatic life forms in a class only to be scorned like cream-bun on the Biggest Loser.  How could a naturopath not love fish?

A fellow mature age student, Amanda, sidled up to me one day and furtively whispered the words that changed my life….. “my fussy five year old will eat salmon if I put it in baking paper, drown it in soy sauce, poke a garlic clove in it and then wrap it up like a birthday present.” 

Challenge accepted!

I dropped past Aldi on the way home and before you judge my economical shopping choice, after years of projectile vomiting from even the smell of cooking fish I was not prepared to invest serious $ into the wild caught variety for an experiment with so little chance of success.

My first ever attempt to eat salmon I cooked. So momentus the occasion I recorded it for posterity, well actually, for the paramedics if they needed to confirm my last meal.

I laid the fish on some baking paper, sprinkled the slippery sucker liberally with Tamari (wheat free soy sauce), crushed a garlic clove with the side of my knife as taught by my Nonna, poked small pieces of garlic along the length of the fillet and then wrapped the baking paper up like a parcel-the-parcel. No more than 2 minutes in preparation!

10 (no-fishy-smell-at-all) minutes later I opened the now browned paper, gingerly tasted a teeny-tiny morsel, and cue angels singing, it was d.e.l.i.o.u.s. 

Yep you got that right, not only was it edible, it was scrumptious….. ahhhhhh…..this must be what golfers’ experience with a hole-in-one.

Even better no preparation mess, no cooking dishes to clean -just throw the paper in the bin.

What is even more interesting is my former “if it is not from a cow or a pig it’s not food” husband and I have started to become more adventurous with fish discovering a genuine love for the delicate flavour. In fact on the stove now is a fish curry of sorts bubbling away ready for my dinner. 

It seems my journey-with-fish was how naturopaths describe introducing broccoli to a 3 year old – you’ve just gotta keep trying no matter how many times they throw it on the ceiling. 

I’ve gotta share with you, for the sake of total honesty, I still very rarely order fish when eat out because if it is not perfectly fresh I do vomit just a little in my mouth.

So what’s my recipe?  Well I challenge you to cook fish this week the way I first learnt it and hopefully everyone in your family will love it as much as mine.

Salmon En Papillote

Salmon En Papillote or ‘salmon cooked in paper’ for those of us who don’t speak french.

Per Person

1 fish fillet (try a strong tasting fish like salmon to truly appreciate how good at masking flavour this recipe is),

A good dousing of tamari/soy sauce

1 garlic clove

1 knob ginger (optional)

1/2 lemon

splosh of extra virgin olive oil.


•          Lay a large piece of baking paper (I used Glad Bake here) on your kitchen bench (not alfoil, not a chicken roasting bag, it must be baking paper).

•          Place your salmon fillet in the middle.

•          Check there are no pesky bones poking out and if you find one pull that sucker out.  If you are a MasterChef fan of course you will have the kitchen-tweezers at the ready.

•          Slice small nicks and cuts along the meaty body of the salmon.

•          Take at least 1 garlic clove and squash it under the side of your knife, peal off the skin and throw the skin away and slice the smelly clove roughly.

•          (If you have ginger, take a thumb-sized nob of ginger and slice roughly.)

•          Stuff bits of ginger and garlic into those nicks you previously made.

•          Douse the fish roughly 2 tbspns in tamari (wheat-free soy sauce) or soy sauce (for those of you still blithely eating wheat – no judgement).

•          Hold up the 2 ends of the paper nestling little-fishy in the middle still on the bench.

•          Gradually fold/roll the two ends together down so you create a tightly wrapped parcel.

•          Fold/roll the sticky-out ends in towards the fish and then finish with the other side.

•          Pop your carefully rolled parcel in a warmed oven on approx 180C/medium for approx 10-12 minutes.

•          While that’s in the oven why not multi-task! Put a saucepan of water on to boil and chop up a sweet potato into small bits and place in salted boiling water.  On top of the boiling water add a steaming basket and cook your favourite green veggies.

•          When you take the fish out of the oven be careful opening the parcel as steam will flood out.  If you are serving this to bubbas pull out the bits of garlic and ginger.  Those pieces have really done their job in infusing flavour in to the flesh and can now be discarded that is thrown in the bin - do not eat them unless worried about vampires later that night.

•          Drain your veggies and mash your sweet potato.  I don’t cook with dairy ‘cause otherwise I snore like a rhinoceros so I add extra virgin olive oil to transform my mash to creamy goodness. You use whatever fat suits your body - oil, butter, ghee, cream.

•          Pop the fragrant morsel of fish on your mashed sweet potato and add your veggies on your plate. I always top my vegies with a teaspoon or so of raw extra virgin olive oil and a squeeze of lemon.  Lemon on any food but especially vegetables helps make the iron content more absorbable – so important for women struggling with fatigue.

•          Or if you want to serve this the fancy-smancy french restaurant way keep the parcel closed and take it to the table on the plate. Diners do feel very compelled to utter exclamations of wonder when they open their own parcel – always good for the chef’s ego.

So why spend so much time talking about a recipe which I am sure for the average home cook sounds incredibly simple and basic?

Most people I see in my clinic don’t eat fish at all let alone regularly enough to get the endless inflammation lowering and mood boosting benefits of fish (that has not been deep fried). 

When I delve into why they don’t eat fish inevitably they either don’t know how to cook it or there is a family member who threatens to stage a full scale riot if a piece of smelly fish is cooked in the house.

For me it is very sad to hear a whole family is missing out of all the goodness of fish because of previous bad experiences.

Fish has strong evidence behind it as being not only good for your heart, but also in fighting mild to moderate depression, inflammatory conditions such as arthritis and the list goes on. All up this simple meal provides:

•          heart loving omega 3’s in the salmon and monounsaturated fats in the extra virgin olive oil

•          bowel loving and tummy filling fibre and nutrients in the veggies

•          dense in protein and healthy fats means it keeps you feeling full longer. 

In fact I dare and double-dare you to reach for a chocolate when you are on the couch critiquing the efforts of those handsome boys on My Kitchen Rules after this meal.

Now on to a more serious matter…talking about MKR I don’t think the blonde dude looks at all like his cousin Thor, do you?  Maybe if he took his shirt off?

For more heart healthy recipes check out these babies on the Heart Foundation’s site.  They even provide videos for step by step instruction.  http://www.heartfoundation.org.au/recipes/pages/videos.aspx

I’d love to swap a heart healthy recipe with you if you have a fail-safe fish dish? 

In health,

Sonia x

Sonia McNaughton
PCOS, Obesity, Infertility & Facial Hair Linked To Vitamin Level

Women with PCOS have been found to have worse symptoms if their vitamin D* levels were low.  That is worse obesity, lower pregnancy success, excess facial hair as well as a long list of other problems. 1;2.

Unfortunately an alarming 6785% of PCOS women have been found to have extremely low levels of vitamin D in their bodies. 2.

So it’s time to talk about a thorny issue for all Australians … sunshine exposure.

I’m sure most Aussies have known someone who has been diagnosed with a sun cancer of some type and we’ve certainly taken the message to stay out of the sun to heart.  I regularly see clients with extremely low vitamin D levels who look at me in horror when I suggest their skin feels the warm rays of the sun on a daily basis without sunscreen**.

But here’s the thing…  Whilst your body gets most of the vitamins and minerals it needs from the foods you eat only a few foods naturally contain any vitamin D so it’s almost impossible to get what your body needs just from unprocessed food 3. 

I certainly don’t mean baking yourself like a rotisserie chicken! In fact your skin can make Vitamin D quickly, particularly in the summer. You don’t need to tan or burn your skin to get vitamin D.  You only need to expose your unprotected skin for around half the time it takes for your skin to turn pink and begin to burn. Whilst how much vitamin D you make from the sun depends on the time of day, where you live in the world, your age and the colour of your skin the more skin you expose the more vitamin D is produced. 3.

Strange though it might sound some of us struggle to make Vitamin D from the sun.  For this reason I encourage you to get your own Vitamin D level checked via a simple blood test your doctor can prescribe or your naturopath can order for you.

*Vitamin D is made in the body after it has been exposed to the sun, eaten in foods and can be consumed in a supplement.

**Please be sun safe and use your common sense. Never let yourself burn. If you have been given medical advice to protect yourself from the sun you must follow that advice as it has been personalised to your own body and circumstances.  

In health,

Sonia x


1. Kotsa, K., Yavropoulou, M. P., Anastasiou, O., & Yovos, J. G. (2009). Role of vitamin D treatment in glucose metabolism in polycystic ovary syndrome. Fertility and Sterility, 92(3), 1053-1058.

2. Thomson, R. L., Spedding, S., & Buckley, J. D. (2012). Vitamin D in the aetiology and management of polycystic ovary syndrome. Clinical Endocrinology, 77(3), 343-350.

3. Vitamin D Council (n.d.). How do I get the vitamin D my body needs? Retrieved from: https://www.vitamindcouncil.org/about-vitamin-d/how-do-i-get-the-vitamin-d-my-body-needs/

Sonia McNaughton
PCOS & Boosting Fertility

Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) is on the increase causing rising rates of devastating infertility. But sadly that’s not all.  It’s also found with insulin resistance which means for PCOS gals they experience debilitating fatigue, easy weight gain / difficulty losing weight and a higher chance of diabetes. 

The buzz around a supplement called myo-inositol has been so strong that a high quality review was performed on all of the scientific trials undertaken around the world.  This factual report concluded myo-inositol taken by  PCOS gals may:

•          cause ovulation

•          raise progesterone levels

•          lower testosterone levels

•          lower insulin levels after eating sugar (glucose)

•          and cause weight loss!

Remarkably, in all the studies analysed, no side effects were reported at the doses of both 2 and 4 g/day.  It is worthwhile sharing the 4 g/day did cause a more complete and effective treatment in those with PCOS.

Let’s hear from the scientists of this report:

“MYO (myo-inositol) mechanism of action appears to be mainly based on improving insulin sensitivity of target tissues, resulting in a positive effect on the reproductive axis (MYO restores ovulation and improves oocyte quality) and hormonal functions (MYO reduces clinical and biochemical hyperandrogenism and dyslipidemia) through the reduction of insulin plasma levels.”

There is also some VERY exciting research on inositol and slow thyroid function

In Health,
Sonia x

Sonia McNaughton
Your Thyroid is Normal But You're Still Exhausted, Forgetful & Gaining Weight

So you’ve been told your thyroid is normal but you are still exhausted, forgetful & gaining weight?

You’ve been told your thyroid is normal but you suspect it isn’t. Did you know your immune system could be causing these symptoms 7 years before they show up on your ‘thyroid test’?

Antibodies from the immune system have been found attacking the thyroid up to 7 years before it was severe enough to cause the need for medication (Caturegli, et al., 2013).

That’s 7 long years of weight gain, fatigue, illness, joint pain & moodiness.  Having lived through this myself it was 7 years too long!

The good news is it is possible to determine your antibody levels with a simple blood test – it’s almost like looking into a crystal ball and seeing your thyroid future .

If you are experiencing any of the following it might be worthwhile checking your immune system’s treatment of your thyroid to get a head start on healing:

•    feeling more tired than you think you should be considering how much you are sleeping

•    gaining or losing weight even though you have not changed how you are eating or exercising

•    are feeling anxious or depressed

•    Someone in your biological family has an autoimmune disease.

Whilst you may not be able to access these tests via medicare without a confirmed abnormal TSH test you can order them easily via your naturopath if you opt to pay for them yourself. 

The tests for the assessment of your immune system’s impact on your thyroid when low thyroid function is suspected

Thyroperoxidase antibody test (anti-TPO)

Antibodies to thyroglobulin test (TgAb).

If you suspect something is wrong make sure you know your risks, get the right tests & have an effective solution tailored to your body.

In health,

Sonia x


Caturegli, P., De Remigis, A., Chuang, K., Dembele, M., Iwama, A., & Iwama, S. (2013). Hashimoto’s thyroiditis: celebrating the centennial through the lens of the Johns Hopkins hospital surgical pathology records. Thyroid23(2), 142-150.http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.autrev.2014.01.007

Sonia McNaughton