'Smudging': Is there room for traditional beliefs in modern, scientific natural medicine?

Have you heard of smudging? It’s the native American ritual of burning herbs, mainly white sage, to waft pungent herbal smoke in a space to cleanse it of any unwanted energies.

Sometimes balancing my passionate support of evidence-based solutions with the kookier cross-cultural traditions of herbalism makes me dive straight into a peer review journal article to see if I can find some kernel of fact in these woo-woo practices.

Guess what I found! A study published in the Journal of Ethnopharmacology proved medicinal smoke produced from burning wood and a mixture of smelly medicinal herbs caused a 94% reduction of bacterial counts in 60 minutes.

It seems as if there may be some basis in fact to why native Americans used to burn herbs to clear their air.  Whether or not my efforts create a fresh space remains to be seen …at least there will be less chance of catching a bug in my room.

If you are keen to ‘smudge’ your space please make sure you keep the smoke well away from your smoke detectors and sprinkler systems unless you want to add a water element to your ritual.

In health,

Sonia x


Braithwaite, M., Van Vuuren, S. F., & Viljoen, A. M. (2008). Validation of smoke inhalation therapy to treat microbial infections. Journal of ethnopharmacology, 119(3), 501-506.

Sonia McNaughton
Mental Health: Beating the Blues Naturally

One in five Australians will experience a mental illness this year and researchers have found what we eat, how often we move our body and how much sunshine we get may influence the risk of depression and anxiety.  Even suicide rates in children and teenagers have been linked to their lifestyle choices.

Australian tax payers spend $7.6 billion / year on mental health-related services. For many preventing and treating mental illness may not be as simple as diet and exercise but encouraging even small steps to build a healthier life are worthwhile exploring.

Convincing research suggests a diet rich in unprocessed vegetables, fruits, fish, meats, nuts and seeds will lower the chance of both depression and anxiety across all age groups from children to adults and the over 65s*.   

For those currently suffering from depression and anxiety specific nutrient-based supplements both in isolation and in combination have been shown to be effective for some people including omega-3 fatty acids, zinc, B vitamins, s-adenosyl methionine (SAMe) and n-acetyl cysteine (NAC)*.

Regular physical activity has been found repeatedly to be protective against the onset of both anxiety and depression as well as effective in treatment and management for some people.

In Australia any conversation about increasing unprotected time in the sun is controversial but it is important. Vitamin D made in our bodies from sunshine has been found to be protective against developing depression.  Unfortunately Australians are the most melanoma prone people in the world yet one third of us over 25 years of age is also Vitamin D deficient.  It’s time to talk about safe sun exposure! 

So this World Mental Health Day, Saturday 10 October, protect yourself against mental illness by getting accurate and tailored advice from a registered naturopath* and make sure you share with your doctor how you feel, what you are taking and doing – even if it is natural.

If you or someone you know is in crisis contact: Lifeline 13 11 14 (24 hour crisis hotline) Kids Help Line 1800 55 1800.

*Never stop or reduce medication without first speaking with your doctor or treating medical professional

In health,

Sonia x

Article originally published in InTouch Magazine


Anglin, R. E., Samaan, Z., Walter, S. D., & McDonald, S. D. (2013). Vitamin D deficiency and depression in adults: Systematic review and meta-analysis. The British Journal of Psychiatry, 202(2), 100-107.

Appleton, K. M., Rogers, P. J., & Ness, A. R. (2010). Updated systematic review and meta-analysis of the effects of n− 3 long-chain polyunsaturated fatty acids on depressed mood. The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, ajcn-28313.

Australian Institute of Health and Wellness (2012). Mental Health Services in Australia. Retrieved from: https://mhsa.aihw.gov.au/home/

Daly, R. M., Gagnon, C., Lu, Z. X., Magliano, D. J., Dunstan, D. W., Sikaris, K. A., … & Shaw, J. E. (2012). Prevalence of vitamin D deficiency and its determinants in Australian adults aged 25 years and older: A national, population‐based study. Clinical Endocrinology, 77(1), 26-35.

Hosseinzadeh, M., Vafa, M., Esmaillzadeh, A., Feizi, A., Majdzadeh, R., Afshar, H., … & Adibi, P. (2015). Empirically derived dietary patterns in relation to psychological disorders. Public Health Nutrition, 1-14.

Kato, K. (2015). Differential Effects of Dietary Oils on Emotional and Cognitive Behaviors. PloS one, 10(3), e0120753.

Knight, A., Bryan, J., Wilson, C., Hodgson, J., & Murphy, K. (2015). A randomised controlled intervention trial evaluating the efficacy of a Mediterranean dietary pattern on cognitive function and psychological wellbeing in healthy older adults: the MedLey study. BMC Geriatrics, 15(1), 55.

Mental Health Australia (2015), Mental Health Begins with Me. Retrieved from: https://1010.org.au/about

Sarris, J., Logan, A. C., Akbaraly, T. N., Amminger, G. P., Balanzá-Martínez, V., Freeman, M. P., … & Jacka, F. N. (2015). Nutritional medicine as mainstream in psychiatry. The Lancet Psychiatry, 2(3), 271-274.

Australian Statistics:

Statistics quoted from 2007 National Survey of Mental Health and Wellbeing reported on Australian Institute of Health and Wellness.

Sonia McNaughton
Are you avoiding the sun? It may harm your thyroid!

The current obsession with shielding from all sun exposure may be dangerous* if you have a family history of any autoimmune condition.

Our bodies have been created with the ability to turn sunshine into Vitamin D and our immune systems need Vitamin D to work properly and well.

Vitamin D and Autoimmunity

In fact scientists have found people with low Vitamin D levels may have an increased risk of developing autoimmune thyroid diseases including Hashimoto’s thyroiditis and Graves’ disease as well as Systemic Lupus Erythematosus, Multiple Sclerosis, Rheumatoid Arthritis, Inflammatory Bowel Disease, and even Type 1 Diabetes.

If you have a family history of any type of autoimmune disease keeping your Vitamin D level healthy may be even more critical for you than the average person.  Investigate more than just mum, dad, grandma & grandad to find out if any aunts, uncles or cousins have an autoimmune conditions.

Vitamin D and Your Thyroid

Your thyroid gland is found in your neck just under where your Adam’s apple sits. 

Your thyroid gland has specific locations built for vitamin D called Vitamin D receptors.  New research has also found your thyroid might actually make Vitamin D itself!

Does SunBathing Mean My Vitamin D Level is Enough?

Unfortunately some people struggle to make Vitamin D from the sun.  Most at risk of this are those with autoimmune conditions, the overweight and obese and the elderly.

In fact in sunny Crete, an island in Greece, people with Hashimoto’s hypothyroidism were given a Vitamin D supplement and their thyroid antibody levels reduced.  This suggests even when you are in the sun regularly if you have an autoimmune thyroid condition you may need extra support from a supplement.

Should I Take a Pill?

I suggest to my clients to get their Vitamin D level tested at the end of summer with a simple blood test as one size does not fit all when it comes to sun exposure, supplementation and Vitamin D!

In health,

Sonia x

If you would like more information contact me on sonia@soniamcnaughton.com.

*    Always use your common sense in the sun.  Avoid looking directly into the sun, always protect your face and get out of the sun before you get burnt / turn pink.

*    If you have been given specific medical advice to avoid the sun you must follow the advice given by your treating medical professional.


Boelaert, K., Newby, P. R., Simmonds, M. J., Holder, R. L., Carr-Smith, J. D., Heward, J. M., … & Franklyn, J. A. (2010). Prevalence and relative risk of other autoimmune diseases in subjects with autoimmune thyroid disease. The American Journal of Medicine, 123(2), 183-e1. doi:10.1016/j.amjmed.2009.06.030

Hong Zhang, Lingyun Liang, and Zhongjian Xie (2015) Low Vitamin D status is associated with increased thyrotropin-receptor antibody titer in Graves Disease. Endocrine Practice, 21(3), 258-263. doi:10.4158/EP14191.OR 

Mazokopakis, E. E., Papadomanolaki, M. G., Tsekouras, K. C., Evangelopoulos, A. D., Kotsiris, D. A., & Tzortzinis, A. A. (2015). Is vitamin D related to pathogenesis and treatment of Hashimoto’s thyroiditis. Hellenic Journal of Nuclear Medicine, 18(3), 222-227.

Sonia McNaughton
Hashimoto's Hypothyroidism and Exhausted? Here are Supplements for more energy!

What does having Hashimoto’s hypothyroidism feel like?

Hashimoto’s hypothyroidism causes you to feel tired, gain weight and/or difficulty losing weight, constipated depressed and anxious. It can leave you experiencing infertility, high cholesterol levels, dry skin, dry hair, hair loss and much more.  

Often the symptoms get progressively worse over years as the thyroid gland gradually slows its production of hormones leaving the person with Hashimoto’s feeling as if they have little control over how miserable they feel or how much weight they are gaining.

Personally I thought I was a hypochondriac, secret eater when in my 30’s I experienced persistent weight gain, foggy brain and profound fatigue regardless of eating less, exercising more and a suitcase full of supplements promising miracles and delivering fools gold.   

Whilst I was complaining of the signs and symptoms of early hypothyroidism my blood tests and lab results were not quite bad enough to medicate. Medically the condition is called ‘sub-clinical hypothyroidism’ and doctors typically take a ‘watch and wait’ approach monitoring thyroid results until the condition deteriorates into full blown hypothyroidism and they are permitted to prescribe medication (Nordio & Pajalich, 2013).

Until your blood tests show a high thyroid stimulating hormone (TSH) level there are no medical solutions excepting anti-depressants and symptom management of the depression, constipation, rising cholesterol etc. Yet the Hashimoto’s sufferer can be experiencing real and unpleasant symptoms of a gradually slowing thyroid (Davis & Tremont, 2007).

Natural Solutions for the Sub-Clinically Hypothyroid

The good news is there are a range of natural solutions with varying levels of scientific research offering the sluggish subclinical hypothyroid some respite.

Natural Remedies Researched by Science

Great news for the subclinical hypothyroid with Hashimoto’s thyroiditis is a new study showing improved thyroid function and reduced Hashimoto’s thyroid antibodies after 6 months on 2 easy to find nutrients! 

The good news:

The study found:

-      Reduced thyroid antibodies - this means the immune system attack on the thyroid had reduced slowing the destruction of the thyroid gland.

-      Improved TSH levels – TSH levels measure how much thyroid hormone the brain is telling the thyroid to make.

Why do I need to care about reduced thyroid antibodies?

Researchers have found the larger the number of thyroid antibodies the worse a person feels and the worsened negative impact on their ability to perform daily tasks (Watt, et al., 2012).

So reducing antibody numbers may mean you have more energy and feel better!

Why do I need to care about improved TSH levels?

Improved TSH levels mean feeling better as well. 

Plus for those wanting to avoid being medicated it possibly means staving off your need to take thyroid hormone replacement. For those wanting to wean off their thyroid medication it may be a reduced dosage.  Reducing medication must always be done with your doctor’s agreement.  

Show me the science!

The study was published in the Journal of Thyroid Research.  

It was a double-blind, randomised, control trial over 6 months comparing the effects of:

•          Selenium (in the form of 83 g selenomethionine)

•          Combined treatment of 83 g selenium with 600 mg of inositol (in the form of myo-inositol).


•          Well being:  The group taking the combined treatment felt significantly more improvement in their wellbeing than group only taking selenium.

•          Antibody levels: Both groups reduced both antibody levels by over 40% antibody levels specifically:

•          Selenium only: TPOAb decreased by 42% and TgAb decreased by 38%.

•          Combined treatment of selenium + inositol: TPOAb decreased by 44% and TgAb decreased by 48%.

•          TSH: Only the combined treatment group saw an improved TSH with a reduction of 31%

The Bottom Line

The “Against Selenium + Inositol” argument

For me 1 study is not strong evidence.  Ideally we need to see this study repeated a few more times with large numbers of people. The study was not placebo controlled nor was there an investigation into side effects. 

The “Pro Selenium Inositol” argument

Pro- Selenium: There is already mounting evidence for the use of selenium in reducing thyroid antibodies in Hashimoto’s (Toulis, et al., 2010) and whilst it is not conclusive it’s a low risk strategy that might just be extremely helpful.

Pro - Inositol: Inositol has a biological function in the thyroid in signalling TSH hormone (Nordio & Pajalich, 2013) and it is beneficial for women with PCOS (Unfer, et al., 2012) which is a condition also commonly found with Hashimoto’s  (Kachuei, et al., 2012).

My bottom line:  If you are a woman wth Hashimoto’s subclinical hypothyroidism not yet on medication this combination of selenium and inositol might just be the helping hand improving your quality of life.

In health,

Sonia x 


Davis, J.D. & Tremont, G. (2007). Neuropsychiatric aspects of hypothyroidism and treatment reversibility. Minerva Endocrinology, 32(1), 49-65.  Retrieved from: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/17353866

Kachuei, M., Jafari, F., Kachuei, A., & Keshteli, A. H. (2012). Prevalence of autoimmune thyroiditis in patients with polycystic ovary syndrome. Archives of Gynecology and Obstetrics, 285(3), 853-856. doi: 10.1007/s00404-011-2040-5

Nordio, M., & Pajalich, R. (2013). Combined treatment with myo-Inositol and selenium ensures euthyroidism in subclinical hypothyroidism patients with autoimmune thyroiditis. Journal of Thyroid Research, 2013.  Retrieved from: http://dx.doi.org/10.1155/2013/424163

Toulis, K. A., Anastasilakis, A. D., Tzellos, T. G., Goulis, D. G., & Kouvelas, D. (2010). Selenium supplementation in the treatment of Hashimoto’s thyroiditis: A systematic review and a meta-analysis. Thyroid, 20(10), 1163-1173. doi:10.1089/thy.2009.0351.

Unfer, V., Carlomagno, G., Dante, G., & Facchinetti, F. (2012). Effects of myo-inositol in women with PCOS: A systematic review of randomized controlled trials. Gynecological Endocrinology, 28(7), 509-515. doi: 10.3109/09513590.2011.650660

Watt, T., Hegedüs, L., Bjorner, J. B., Groenvold, M., Bonnema, S. J., Rasmussen, Å. K., & Feldt-Rasmussen, U. (2012). Is thyroid autoimmunity per se a determinant of quality of life in patients with autoimmune hypothyroidism?  European Thyroid Journal, 1(3), 186-192.doi:  10.1159/000342623

Sonia McNaughton
Reduce Thyroid Antibodies - A Key Vitamin You Need to Know About.

Taking a Vitamin D supplement lowered thyroid antibodies in Hashimoto’s hypothyroidism and this may just help you feel better! (3).

So many people who see me have been told there is absolutely no way to reduce thyroid antibodies and yet there are scientists working on this problem at this very moment and publishing papers like this one to give us all hope and a direction to follow.  

The Vitamin D & Hashimoto’s Story So Far:

We’ve known for some time that low vitamin D status was associated with the most common cause of hypothyroidism in the US, UK and Australia  – an autoimmune disease called Hashimoto’s thyroiditis.   

What we’ve not known was if increasing vitamin D levels would have any impact on Hashimoto’s (1,2)

This Is Brand New Information:

Women with Hashimoto’s hypothyroidism taking the number one medication prescribed for hypothyroidism, levothyroxine (also called Oroxoine, Thyroxine, Synthyroid, Tirosint, Levothyroid), were studied with promising results. When Vitamin D was taken as a supplement their thyroid antibodies reduced (1).

Why Should I Even Care About Antibody Levels?

Have you been told you don’t need to be concerned with your antibody levels because you are on a thyroid hormone replacement?  Yet the larger the number of antibodies the greater the immune attack on your thyroid and the worse you might feel (3,4). 

Don’t think the prescription for thyroid medication is lowering antibodies because that is not what it is doing.  Levothyroxine (that is Oroxoine, Thyroxine, Synthyroid, Tirosint, Levothyroid) is increasing the amount of thyroid hormone in your body but it is doing nothing to calm the antibody attack on your thyroid gland.

People with high Hashimoto’s antibody levels have been found to experience:

-      Chronic fatigue (3)

-      Dry hair (3)

-      Chronic irritability (3)

-      Chronic nervousness (3)

-      A history of breast cancer (3)

-      Early miscarriage (3)

-      Lower quality-of- life levels (3)

-      Worse mental health (4).

Do we shout this from the roof tops?

The study was only on 34 women which is not a big number. It does though build happily on the picture started research on 218 Hashimoto’s hypothyroid sufferers given a Vitamin D supplement (2). 

Pop a Pill or Sit in the Sun?

Vitamin D is made in our body after being exposed to sunshine so I would love to issue a prescription for time in the sun* for Hashimoto’s hypothyroidism for you!  Except a study done in sunny Crete in Greece on 218 Hashimoto’s hypothyroidism sufferers found when they were given a Vitamin D supplement they ended up with lower levels of antibodies attacking their thyroid (2).

This means we simply do not know if more time in the sun will have any impact at all.  For predictable results in reducing thyroid antibodies via Vitamin D this study suggests taking a supplement.

The Bottom Line:

It still is early days to make a definitive recommendation so when that happens I like to do a pro’s and cons comparison.


•          Keeping your Vitamin D in the optimal range may just mean lower thyroid antibodies, less immune attack on your thyroid, and a better quality of life.

•          Good quality Vitamin D3 supplements (with Vitamin K2) could be cheap insurance for your health and wellbeing.

•          Healthy Vitamin D levels are correlated with better health outcomes in general.


•          It is still early days in the Vitamin D story for Hashimoto’s hypothyroidism.  When larger, better quality studies are done it may be found that Vitamin D supplements do in fact not reduce thyroid antibodies significantly.  Which means the money spent on Vitamin D supplements may have not helped you achieve your health goal of reduced thyroid antibodies.

I’m inside right now but I’m going get outside, arms and legs bared for a spot of sunshine today!

In Health

Sonia x

Research Study Details (1):

People studied: 34 women with Hashimoto’s thyroiditis and normal vitamin D status (serum 25-hydroxyvitamin D levels above 30 ng/mL) who had been treated for at least 6 months with levothyroxine.

Method used: 2 groups, receiving (n=18) or not receiving (n=16) oral vitamin D preparations (2000 IU daily).

Testing: Serum levels of thyrotropin (thyroid stimulating hormone), free thyroxine (T4), free triiodothyronine (T3) and 25-hydroxyvitamin D (Vitamin D), as well as titers of thyroid peroxidase (antiTPO antibodies) and thyroglobulin (Tg antibodies) antibodies were measured at the beginning of the study and 6 months later.

Results: Low Vitamin D levels were found to be linked to higher thyroid antibody levels, that is, an increased attack on the thyroid. Higher Vitamin D levels were found to be linked to lower thyroid antibody levels most especially the anti-TPO antibodies.

Research Study Details (2):

People studied: 218 Hashimoto’s thyroiditis (HT) patients whose thyroid function was within normal levels: 180 females and 38 males aged 35.3 ± 8.5 years.

Methods used: The 186 vitamin D deficient HT patients received vitamin D3 orally, 1200-4000 IU, every day for 4 months aiming to maintain serum 25(OH)D levels ≥ 40 ng/mL.

Testing: Anthropometric characteristics (height, weight, waist circumference), systolic and diastolic blood pressure, serum concentration of 25(OH)D, thyrotropin (TSH), free thyroxine (FT4), anti-thyroid peroxidase (anti-TPO), antithyroglobulin (anti-TG), calcium and phosphorus levels and thyroid and kidney sonographic findings were recorded and measured before and after supplementation. 

Results: After 4 months of supplementation a significant decrease (20.3%) of thyroid antibodies (specifically anti-TPO antibodies) was found suggesting supplementation with Vitamin D3 couldbe a valuable treatment option for those with Hashimoto’s thyroiditis. 

*Obviously protect yourself from sun cancer by never letting yourself burn, and while we are talking common sense, there is little benefit in exposing your face.  Rather take your long sleeve shirt off, roll up your pants and get sun on your arms and legs.

If you have been given medical advice to avoid the sun you must follow that advice as a priority.

Never look directly at the sun.  


1. Krysiak, R., Szkróbka, W., & Okopień, B. (2017). The Effect of Vitamin D on Thyroid Autoimmunity in Levothyroxine-Treated Women with Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis and Normal Vitamin D Status. Experimental and Clinical Endocrinology & Diabetes, 125(04), 229-233. doi: 10.1055/s-0042-123038

2. Mazokopakis, E. E., Papadomanolaki, M. G., Tsekouras, K. C., Evangelopoulos, A. D., Kotsiris, D. A., & Tzortzinis, A. A. (2015). Is vitamin D related to pathogenesis and treatment of Hashimoto’s thyroiditis. Hellenic Journal of Nuclear Medicine, 18(3), 222-227.

3. Ott, J., Promberger, R., Kober, F., Neuhold, N., Tea, M., Huber, J. C., & Hermann, M. (2011). Hashimoto's thyroiditis affects symptom load and quality of life unrelated to hypothyroidism: a prospective case–control study in women undergoing thyroidectomy for benign goiter. Thyroid, 21(2), 161-167. 

4. Watt, T., Hegedüs, L., Bjorner, J. B., Groenvold, M., Bonnema, S. J., Rasmussen, Å. K., & Feldt-Rasmussen, U. (2012). Is thyroid autoimmunity per se a determinant of quality of life in patients with autoimmune hypothyroidism?. European Thyroid Journal, 1(3), 186-192. doi:  10.1159/000342623

Sonia McNaughton
Spring & Pollen - Are You Ready for Hay Fever Season?

It’s Spring and the pollen count is rising... If you have hay fever, medically known as allergic rhinitis, Spring brings pain with its brightly, blooming beauty: itchy eyes, ears, nose, and throat, sneezing, runny nose and nasal congestion.

Picnicking in the park on Father’s Day was magical: the poppies with their brilliant colours and stems so tall and proud, the pansies swaying like ballerinas with tutus dancing in the wind and the magnolias pouring their rich scent the air.

But for those with hay fever it is the season of pain, red noses, tissues & brain fog.  Here is my evidence based naturopathic approach to calming hay fever symptoms. 

Nutrients:  Natural antihistamines have been shown to give relief to hay fever symptoms:

•          Quercetin

•          Bromelain

•          N-Acetylcysteine (NAC)

•          Vitamin C and bioflavonoids.

Herbs:  Stinging nettle was found by 58% of participants to be effective in relieving their symptoms of hay fever and 48% of them found it equally or more effective than their previous medicine!

Show Me the Science!

Bromelain is a nutrient found in Pineapples that has been found to be an effective mucolytic agent in respiratory tract diseases making the mucous in your lungs, less thick, sticky and easier to cough up.

The therapeutic dose for allergic rhinitis ranges from 400-500 mg three times daily (of an 1800-2000 m.c.u. potency) taken on an empty stomach preferably if no concerns..

Side effects are very unlikely but if they occur include nausea, vomiting, diarrhoea, menorrhagia, and metrorrhagia.

Pineapple allergies beware - Bromelain must not to be taken by those allergic to pineapple!

Quercetin a nutrient in a wide variety of vegetables and herbs has been shown to inhibit inflammatory processes.

In a Japanese study of mast cells from nasal mucosa of individuals with perennial allergic rhinitis, quercetin significantly inhibited (antigen-stimulated) histamine release. Quercetin’s impact was almost twice that of the synthetic non-steroidal anti-inflammatory (NSAID) drug, inhaled to prevent asthmatic attacks and allergic reactions, sodium cromoglycate at the same concentration.

The recommended dosage for allergic rhinitis ranges from 250-600 mg, three times daily, five to ten minutes before meals. Taken with bromelain may enhanced actions.

N-Acetylcysteine (NAC) is a natural amino acid derivative that protects cells and cellular components against oxidative stress.

NAC has been documented as an effective mucolytic agent in individuals with chronic bronchitis, cystic fibrosis, asthma, sinusitis, and pneumonia.

A dosage of 200 mg twice daily was found to decrease symptoms of chronic bronchitis. NAC helps to reduce the viscosity of mucus so it may be more easily coughed up.

While specific research on the use of NAC for allergic rhinitis has not been conducted it is recommended because of its affinity for mucus membranes, both as an antioxidant and mucolytic.

Recommended therapeutic dosages range from 500 mg to 2 gm daily.

Vitamin C has been found to influence histamine levels in the body. It appears to prevent the secretion of histamine by white blood cells and increase its detoxification. Histamine levels were found to increase exponentially as Vitamin C / ascorbic acid levels decreased.

In a study on the effectiveness of intranasal vitamin C, 48 subjects received either ascorbic acid/Vitamin C solution or placebo sprayed into the nose three times daily. After two weeks 74% of subjects treated with Vitamin C were found to have decreased nasal secretions, blockage, and oedema. Improvement was seen in only 24 % of placebo treated patients.

ContraIndicated when there is a tendency to experience kidney stones.

Side effects: Vitamin C is nontoxic and virtually free of side effects however whenever taking Vitamin C it is common to experience diarrhoea and abdominal distention at the start and with any increase in dosage.  Always start dosage at the low end and increase gradually.  For allergic rhinitis, a dosage of at least 2 grams per day should be administered.

Stinging nettle / Urtica dioica :  

A randomised, double-blind study using 300 mg freeze-dried Stinging Nettle in the treatment of allergic rhinitis found 69 patients who completed the study rated it higher than placebo.

58 % rated it effective in relieving their symptoms and 48% found it to be equally or more effective than their previous medicine!

Side effects with Stinging Nettle are rare and when they occur are typically allergic and/or felt as gastrointestinal distress.

If you suffer from hay fever the naturopathic approach can provide a natural alternative for getting you out of pain and keeping you symptom free.  I always recommend a consultation rather than just taking the advice off a blog, even mine as every person should have their own individual prescription to get safe results quickly and effectively.

In health,

Sonia x


Thornhill, S. M., & Kelly, A. M. (2000). Natural treatment of perennial allergic rhinitis. Alternative Medicine Review, 5(5), 448-454.

Clemetson, C.A. (1980). Histamine and ascorbic acid in human blood. Journal of Nutrition, 110, 662-668.

Kelly, G.S. (1996). Bromelain: A literature review and discussion of its therapeutic applications. Alternative Medicine Review, 1, 243-257.

Mittman, P. (1990). Randomized, double blind study of freeze dried urtica dioica in the treatment of allergic rhinitis. Planta Med, 56, 44-47.

Murray, M.T. (1996).  A comprehensive review of vitamin C. American Journal of Natural Medicine, 3, 8-21.

Otsuka, H., Inaba, M., Fujikura, T., Kunitomo, M. (1995). Histochemical and functional characteristics of metachromic cells in the nasal epithelium in allergic rhinitis: Studies of nasal scrapings and their dispersed cells. Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology, 96, 528-536.

Podoshin, L., Gertner, R., Fradis, M. (1991). Treatment of perennial allergic rhinitis with ascorbic acid solution. Ear Nose and Throat Journal, 170, 54-55.

Rimoldi, R., Ginesu, F., Giura R. (1978). The use of bromelain in pneumological therapy. Drugs Under Experimental & Clinical Research, 4:55-66.

Taussig, S. (1980). The mechanism of the physiological action of bromelain. Medical Hypotheses, 6, 99-104.

Thornhill, S. M., & Kelly, A. M. (2000). Natural treatment of perennial allergic rhinitis. Alternative Medicine Review, 5(5), 448-454.

Sheffner, A. (1963). The reduction in vitro in viscosity of mucoprotein solution by a new mucolytic agent, n-acetyl-l-cysteine. Annals of New York Academy of Science, 106, 298-310.

(1980). Long-term oral acetylcysteine in chronic bronchitis: A double-blind controlled study. European Journal of Respiratory Diseases, 111, 93-108

Sonia McNaughton
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