Hashimoto's or Graves Disease and Still Feeling Tired, Sick & Moody?

Vitamin D levels are often low in Hashimoto’s hypothyroidism as well as Graves hyperthyroidism.  

Unfortunately low ‘sunshine vitamin’ levels mean possibly a higher risk for a whole host of problems including:

•          depression

•          osteoporosis

•          inability to resist colds and ‘flus.

Spending more time lolling about in the sun unfortunately may not work alone as a strategy for increasing Vitamin D levels in those with Hashimoto’s and Graves as they may not be able to make vitamin D from sunshine in enough quantity to provide full benefit. 

So if you have Hashimoto’s or Graves, are hypothyroid or hyperthyroid, and you are feeling down, getting sick a lot and tired all the time make sure you get your vitamin D levels checked. 

Personally I encourage my Hashimoto’s & Graves clients to have their Vitamin D levels tested at the end of summer which should be at their highest level. 

In health,

Sonia x

Sonia McNaughton
Can a probiotic make you skinny?

Probiotics and weight loss - can a probiotic make you skinny?

A 12 week randomised, controlled trial on 87 generally healthy adults with “obese tendencies” found those fed the probiotic Lactobacillus gasseri SBT2055 showed statistically significant decreases in abdominal fat, as well as body weight, BMI, waist and hip circumferences, and body fat mass as compared with their control group (3).

The probiotic selected in the study came from human intestine and had been found to reduce enlarged fat cells caused by a high-fat diet in rats.  The strain had also been found to bind with cholesterol and promote its clearance (2). 

Do you match the participants’ profiles?

•          Between 33–63 years old

•          Body mass index (BMI) between 24.2 and 30.7kg/m2,

•          Abdominal visceral fat area between 81.2 and 178.5 cm2

•          Apart from their weight and fat stores participants did not have any serious health concerns including liver disease, autoimmune diseases or diabetes.

•          All participants were able to drink milk as the probiotic was in fermented milk.

•          Participants were Japanese (3).

So do you have car keys at the ready to race out and hunt down Lactobacillus gasseri SBT2055?

The good news:

•          Previous and more recent studies on the same strain of probiotics have been able to reproduce similar results (1).

•          Research on the influence of bacteria on obesity is an exploding area of study and many more discoveries are soon to be released (2).

The not so good news:

•          The study size was very small, only 87 participants.

•          Men far outweighed women:  59 men and 28 women.

•          Potentially Japanese diets and lifestyles may interact with the probiotic strain in ways that our ethnic heritage does not.

•          Two of the researchers listed on the study were from dairy manufactures. However no conflicts of interest were declared (3).

Would I recommend it?

If you were between 33 – 63, overweight, with fat stores around your tummy Lactobacillus gasseri SBT2055 could certainly be one element of your tailored treatment plan. It is important to also eat a diet rich in the foods probiotic bugs enjoy eating so make sure you also increase your veggies and fibre in general. 

In health,

Sonia x


1. Cani, P. D., & Delzenne, N. M. (2011). The gut microbiome as therapeutic target. Pharmacology & therapeutics, 130(2), 202-212.

2. Delzenne, N. M., Neyrinck, A. M., Bäckhed, F., & Cani, P. D. (2011). Targeting gut microbiota in obesity: effects of prebiotics and probiotics. Nature Reviews Endocrinology, 7(11), 639-646.

3. Kadooka, Y., Sato, M., Imaizumi, K., Ogawa, A., Ikuyama, K., Akai, Y., … & Tsuchida, T. (2010). Regulation of abdominal adiposity by probiotics (Lactobacillus gasseri SBT2055) in adults with obese tendencies in a randomized controlled trial. European Journal of Clinical Nutrition, 64(6), 636-643.  doi:10.1038/ejcn.2010.19;

Sonia McNaughton
Can Chocolate cause Pimples? The science of acne & what you eat

It’s the Easter Sunday tally of chocolate and hot cross buns and it’s time to get science to help me prevent pimples popping-up like bunny rabbits!

Don’t believe me that chocolate and hot cross buns can cause acne?  Studies on twins have proven, whilst the tendency to spots can run in families, diet has a very large impact on whether or not your face has an outcrop of zits (6).

In fact the Journal of Dermato-Endocrinology said “nutrition is one of the most important parameters that is involved in modulating skin health and condition” (3).

Causes of acne:

  • Cows milk including skim milk. Proven by studies on girls before the onset of their period and in adult women (6).

  • High glycemic foods, that is, foods high in sugar alter insulin and hormone production and function causing the skin to produce more oil (6).

  • Type of fat eaten.  Healthy fats in fish, avocados and meat do not promote pimples but unfortunately fats in processed foods may (6).

  • Chocolate. The (scientific) jury is still out on milk chocolate, however, if your chocolate has dairy, sugar and was not made in your kitchen it is more than likely to be pimple promoting (6).

Well considering afternoon tea was a high sugar nougat filled Easter Egg it’s too late for analysis of causes – time to research solutions!

When I was an image obsessed teenager I insisted my GP prescribe a course of antibiotics to fix my acne promising like a junkie jonesing for a fix “this would be my last time”!  Fast forward 20 years and my personal history of multiple immune disorders is a warning to all that antibiotic abuse is a short-sighted, short-term solution.

Natural solutions to Acne:

Vitamins and Minerals: Pimples typically leave a wound that is red, lumpy, and inflamed and nutrients like vitamins A and C, zinc and glucosamine may reduce pimple healing time and improve the appearance of the wound (3). 

Low sugar, high fibre:  Not only are high sugar diets linked to acne but a study on male volunteers noticed a greater improvement in total acne lesions while eating a low sugar, high fibre diet (3).

Avoid dairy and processed fats (6). 

Scientific theory but little research on vitamin D. Vitamin D is produced by your skin after sun exposure and scientists believe it may play some role in helping with acne.  Whilst this has not been proven there are many other benefits to regular sun exposure so I’ll make sure I top up my Vitamin D every day this week* (4,5).

Natural antiseptic: If pimples do turn up I will pop a drop of topical antiseptic tea tree oil (an essential oil of the Australian native tree Melaleuca alternifolia) on the bumps.  A single-blind, randomised clinical trial on 124 patients of 5% tea-tree oil compared with 5% benzoyl peroxide lotion found both treatments had a significant effect in reducing the number of inflamed and non-inflamed lesions and improving acne.  Although the onset of action in the case of tea-tree oil was slower it also had fewer side effects (1).

My own theory with my own research: When dodging the very real possibility of pizza face I make sure my “organs of excretion”, that is, my liver, kidneys, bowels and lungs are working to move out the indulgences of the weekend.  In practical terms this means I add vegetables to every meal to increase fibre and the possibility of a big poo, drink over 2L (0.5 gallon) of water a day and go for a walk in the fresh air. On my face I use a clean salt based stick as an antibacterial solution just in those areas I am most likely to break out.

If you find that you have acne that is not responsive to these simple lifestyle measures you might have an underlying condition requiring further investigation and targeted treatment personalised to your body and circumstances.  

Happy Easter Sunday!

Sonia x

*Please always be sun safe.  I get my sun exposure before 11am, protect my face from the sun and leave before I turn pink.


1. Bassett, I. B., Pannowitz, D. L., & Barnetson, R. S. (1990). A comparative study of tea-tree oil versus benzoylperoxide in the treatment of acne. The Medical Journal of Australia, 153(8), 455-458.

2. Melnik, B. C. (2013). The role of mTORC1 in acne pathogenesis and treatment.  Expert Review of Dermatology, 8(6), 617-622. doi:10.1586/17469872.2013.846514.

3. Piccardi, N., & Manissier, P. (2009). Nutrition and nutritional supplementation: impact on skin health and beauty. Dermato-endocrinology, 1(5), 271-274.

4. Reichrath, J. (2007). Vitamin D and the skin: an ancient friend, revisited. Experimental dermatology, 16(7), 618-625.

5. Schwalfenberg, G. K. (2011). A review of the critical role of vitamin D in the functioning of the immune system and the clinical implications of vitamin D deficiency. Molecular nutrition & food research, 55(1), 96-108.

6. Spencer, E. H., Ferdowsian, H. R., & Barnard, N. D. (2009). Diet and acne: a review of the evidence. International journal of dermatology, 48(4), 339-347.

Sonia McNaughton
Reducing Thyroid Antibodies in Hashimotos & Graves - The Essential Mineral Suppliment

If you are wanting to feel more energetic, more upbeat and regulate your weight with Hashimoto’s thyroiditis or Graves’ disease have you heard about selenium?  It is one of the most extensively researched, natural treatments for possibly reducing the autoimmune attack on the thyroid!

With selenium those with Hashimoto’s hypothyroidism “had a higher chance to improve the mood without significant adverse events”  (Fan, et al., 2014). 

What is Selenium?

Selenium is found in the food you eat and is needed for your thyroid and your immune system.

Not enough selenium in your body leads to:

-      Poor amounts of active thyroid hormone (T3). Low T3 levels can leave you feeling sluggish, tired and gaining weight (Canaris, Steiner & Ridgway, 1997).

-      Increased autoimmune destruction of the thyroid gland which increases your risk of Hashimoto’s hypothyroidism or Graves’ hyperthyroidism (van Zuuren, et al, 2014).

-      The greater the number of thyroid antibodies the greater the risk of experiencing chronic fatigue, irritability, nervousness, dry hair, a history of breast cancer, early miscarriage, and lower quality-of- life levels (Ott, et al., 2011).  

Will it work for me?

The effect of selenium on reducing thyroid antibodies in both Hashimoto’s and Graves has been repeatedly studied by scientists with promising results.

Hashimoto’s hypothyroidism: 

Taking a selenium supplement may reduce the antibody attack on your thyroid improving your mood and feeling of general well being. 

The research: Selenium supplementation has been repeatedly found to be associated with a significant decrease in thyroid antibody levels after 3, 6 and 12 months of use (Toulis, et al., 2010; Fan, et al., 2014)!

Graves’ disease:

Selenium supplementation has been found to enhance the effect of antithyroid drugs in patients with recurrent Graves’ disease (Wang et al., 2016; Vrca et al., 2004).

When you are pregnant & at risk of postpartum thyroiditis:

Selenium supplementation during pregnancy* and in the postpartum period reduced thyroid inflammatory activity and the incidence of hypothyroidism (Negro, et al., 2007). *Never take a supplement during pregnancy unless you have been specifically advised it is  ok for you and your developing bub by your treating medical professional. 

Graves’ orbitopathy:

Graves’ orbitopathy affects about half of people with Graves and a study concluded selenium supplementation for 6 months improves the course of Graves’ orbitopathy and the related impairment in quality of life (Marcocci, et al., 2011).

Can I Eat Selenium?

Selenium is found in our foods with the richest sources from: meat, fish, shellfish, offal, eggs and Brazil nuts (Thompson, 2004; Tinggi, 2003). However the amount of selenium in your food is dependent on the amount of selenium in the soil. If you are from Australia, New Zealand or Europe these countries are known to have very low selenium in their soil (Thompson, 2004; Tinggi, 2003).

How do I know if I am low in Selenium?

The most accurate way to find out own body’s selenium levels is to test your blood via a simple blood test.

Is it the miracle I have been searching for?

The jury is still out.

The argument PRO Selenium:

•          It might just help you feel better by reducing thyroid antibodies and improving the amount of active thyroid hormone in your body.

•          You don’t take it forever - somewhere between 3 – 12 months.

The argument ANTI Selenium

•      It may not work if you have enough selenium in your body (Karanikas, et at ., 2008). 

•      It may not work at all (van Zuuren, et al., 2014).

•      Need to remember to stop taking it after 3 - 12 months as long term selenium supplementation over 7 years was linked to high incidents of diabetes type 2 (Stranges, et al., 2007).

•      You can take too much selenium and too much is dangerous.

Tell me more about Selenium:

•      Your thyroid loves selenium! Your thyroid has the highest selenium concentrations (per gram) in your body as compared with all your other organs. 

•      Selenium makes thyroid hormones work. It helps make thyroid hormones active in the body forming part of the protein that converts the storage form of thyroid hormone T4 into the active thyroid hormone T3. 

•      Selenium protects your thyroid.  It has been found in scientific studies to help reduce damage to the thyroid by thyroid antibodies.

•      If you don’t have enough you could feel worse than you should be feeling.  Not having enough selenium in your body has been linked to greater potential for damage to both thyroid cells and tissue and this means potentially worse symptoms (Drutel, Archambeaud & Caron, 2013; Ott, et al., 2011).

In health,
Sonia x

Please remember the information contained in this blog is for your education and as a jumping off point for you to seek tailored advice specific to your circumstances.  Nothing written here can constitute medical advice for an individual. 


Calissendorff, J., Mikulski, E., Larsen, E. H., & Möller, M. (2015). A Prospective investigation of Graves’ disease and selenium: thyroid hormones, auto-antibodies and self-rated symptoms. European Thyroid Journal, 4(2), 93-98.

Canaris, G. J., Steiner, J. F., & Ridgway, E. C. (1997). Do traditional symptoms of hypothyroidism correlate with biochemical disease?. Journal of general internal medicine, 12(9), 544-550.

Drutel, A., Archambeaud, F., & Caron, P. (2013). Selenium and the thyroid gland: more good news for clinicians. Clinical Endocrinology, 78(2), 155-164.

Fan, Y., Xu, S., Zhang, H., Cao, W., Wang, K., Chen, G., … & Liu, C. (2014). Selenium supplementation for autoimmune thyroiditis: a systematic review and meta-analysis. International Journal of Endocrinology, 2014.

Karanikas, G., Schuetz, M., Kontur, S., Duan, H., Kommata, S., Schoen, R., ... & Willheim, M. (2008). No immunological benefit of selenium in consecutive patients with autoimmune thyroiditis. Thyroid, 18(1), 7-12.

Köhrle, J., & Gärtner, R. (2009). Selenium and thyroid. Best practice & research Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism, 23(6), 815-827.

Marcocci, C., Kahaly, G. J., Krassas, G. E., Bartalena, L., Prummel, M., Stahl, M., … & Sivelli, P. (2011). Selenium and the course of mild Graves’ orbitopathy. New England Journal of Medicine, 364(20), 1920-1931.

Nacamulli, D., Mian, C., Petricca, D., Lazzarotto, F., Barollo, S., Pozza, D., … & Mantero, F. (2010). Influence of physiological dietary selenium supplementation on the natural course of autoimmune thyroiditis. Clinical Endocrinology, 73(4), 535-539.

Negro, R., Greco, G., Mangieri, T., Pezzarossa, A., Dazzi, D., & Hassan, H. (2007). The influence of selenium supplementation on postpartum thyroid status in pregnant women with thyroid peroxidase autoantibodies. The Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism, 92(4), 1263-1268.

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.

Stranges, S., Marshall, J. R., Natarajan, R., Donahue, R. P., Trevisan, M., Combs, G. F., ... & Reid, M. E. (2007). Effects of long-term selenium supplementation on the incidence of type 2 diabetes: a randomized trial. Annals of internal medicine, 147(4), 217-223.

Thomson, C. D. (2004). Selenium and iodine intakes and status in New Zealand and Australia. British Journal of Nutrition, 91(5), 661-672.

Tinggi, U. (2003). Essentiality and toxicity of selenium and its status in Australia: a review. Toxicology letters, 137(1), 103-110.

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.

van Zuuren, E. J., Albusta, A. Y., Fedorowicz, Z., Carter, B., & Pijl, H. (2014). Selenium supplementation for Hashimoto's thyroiditis: summary of a Cochrane Systematic Review. European thyroid journal, 3(1), 25-31. 

Vrca, V. B., Skreb, F., Cepelak, I., Romic, Z., & Mayer, L. (2004). Supplementation with antioxidants in the treatment of Graves’ disease; the effect on glutathione peroxidase activity and concentration of selenium.Clinica chimica acta, 341(1), 55-63.

Wang, L., Wang, B., Chen, S. R., Hou, X., Wang, X. F., Zhao, S. H., … & Wang, Y. G. (2016). Effect of selenium supplementation on recurrent hyperthyroidism caused by Graves’ disease: a prospective pilot study.Hormone and Metabolic Research, 48(09), 559-564.

Winther, K. H., Wichman, J. E. M., Bonnema, S. J., & Hegedüs, L. (2017). Insufficient documentation for clinical efficacy of selenium supplementation in chronic autoimmune thyroiditis, based on a systematic review and meta-analysis. Endocrine, 55(2), 376. doi:10.1007/s12020-016-1098-z

Sonia McNaughton
Hashimoto's Hypothyroidism Weight Gain? A Solution from Nature Tested by Science

Do you have hypothyroidism and have not been able to lose weight even though you are medicated?  The all too common symptom of weight gain and the difficulty of losing weight with hypothyroidism caused by Hashimoto’s thyroiditis may have just been solved by scientists researching natural solutions.

Not Losing Weight on Thyroid Medication

When I was first diagnosed with hypothyroidism I was as excited as a 4 year old waiting for Santa’s arrival on Christmas morning in anticipation of the gift of weight loss I thought starting on thyroid hormone replacement (called levothyroxine, thyroxine or T4 replacement) would bring.

What I discovered was the standard medical treatment for hypothyroidism was a lump of coal / bundle of sticks when it came to weight loss. This lack of weight loss from thyroid medication is a very well known truism in the long term hypothyroid community and has scientific research to support it as well (Lee, Braverman & Pearce, 2014).  So not losing weight on thyroid medication is not just in our heads!

New Research on Weight Loss for Hashimoto’s hypothyroid

Constantly I hunt the research scouring publications for clues that someone somewhere is studying a solution to weight loss for those of us who are medicated with hypothyroidism.  So when the researchers first published their promising results using a seed from a plant on people with Hashimoto’s hypothyroid who were medicated I threw tinsel in the air and ran around my neighbourhood wishing everyone a Merry Christmas - Santa’s arrived and he is bearing gifts!  

The study was on the impact of a seed from a plant called Nigella sativa also known as black seed, black cumin or Nigella.  Nigella sativa has long been used as a traditional medicine for a wide range of diseases including obesity and investigations into its constituents detected the presence of thyimoquinone which has been linked to improved thyroid status in animals.


Treatment with Nigella sativa was at a dosage of 1 gram/ twice a day for 8 weeks (Farhangi, et al., 2016). 


Less Weight

The study found the 40 Hashimoto’s hypothyroid participants lost weight and reduced their body mass index (BMI).  

Better Thyroid Labs

For those of you who track your lab results the study also found a lowered thyroid stimulating hormone (TSH) level, increased active thyroid hormone (T3) and reduced thyroid autoantibodies - a stunning result (Farhangi, et al., 2016). 

Deep Dive Into The Research

So if you’re like me and want to delve a little deeper here are some key snippets of the research:

The Study:

-      40 Hashimoto’s thyroiditis patients

-      Aged between 22 and 50 years old

-      Placebo Controlled & randomised into two groups for 8 weeks of treatment one receiving 1g of powdered Nigella sativa in a capsule twice/day and the other a placebo capsule of starch twice/day.

-      Measurement was of changes in body weight, BMI, waist circumference, dietary intakes, thyroid status.

-      Also measured was Nesfatin-1 concentrations (a neuropeptide that influences hunger and fat storage) as several studies have proposed its possible role in thyroid dysfunction and serum vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) linked to pathological changes in the thyroid gland itself (Farhangi, et al., 2016).


After 8 weeks:

•          TSH and anti-thyroid peroxidase (anti-TPO) antibodies decreased in the Nigella sativa group.

•          T3 concentrations increased in the Nigella sativa group with a with a significance of P < 0.05

•          T4 concentrations increased in the Nigella sativa group but not significantly

•          Treatment with Nigella sativa significantly reduced body weight, waist circumference and BMI with a significance of P < 0.05

•          There was a significant reduction in serum VEGF concentrations in the Nigella sativa group.

•          There was no significant change in the Nesfatin-1 concentrations

•          None of these changes had been observed in placebo treated group

•          There was no change to the food eaten by either group over the 8 weeks studied specifically no change to calories consumed nor carbohydrate, protein, fat ratios.

Side effects:

During the trial, three patients in Nigella sativa-treated group experienced itching and nausea which are possible side effects of taking this herbal remedy. 

The researchers said:

“Our data showed a potent beneficial effect of powdered Nigella sativa in improving thyroid status … in patients with Hashimoto’s thyroiditis. … Considering observed health- promoting effect of this medicinal plant in ameliorating the disease severity, it can be regarded as a useful therapeutic approach in management of Hashimoto’s thyroiditis.” (Farhangi, et al., 2016).

The Bottom Line

The “Against Nigella” Argument

-      1 study is not a strong piece of evidence and let’s face it 40 people is not a big group for a result.  If the study had been in the thousands or if it had been repeated a few more times I’d be more confident recommending it for weight loss and raising T3 levels.

-      The potential cost of a taking a supplement of 1 gram twice a day for 8 weeks of Nigella and not noticing any weight loss.

The “Pro Nigella” Argument

- What’s your scientifically researched alternative for weight loss with Hashimoto’s when medicated for hypothyroidism? Nada! I know this is not a resounding successful “pro” argument in all fairness.

- However from personal experience in my study of N=1 it is gosh darn-hard to lose weight with Hashimoto’s when you are on T4 medication. Personally I would have been super happy to fork out $ for 8 weeks of a supplement that might just might work with the downside, the worst case scenario being the lost $ and/or some tummy cramps.

Still Want More Info?

Other Studies on Nigella

The only other studies on Nigella sativa in hypothyroidism has been on rats with mixed results: 

- 30 days of Nigella oil saw an increase in both T3 and T4 levels significantly (P ≤ 0.005) and TSH level decreased significantly (P < 0.005) as compared with control groups (Jasim, et al., 2016)

- 14 days of Nigella in an ethanolic extract saw a significant increase in T4 results but not T3 results (Sharif, et al., 2012)

In health,

Sonia x 


Farhangi, M. A., Dehghan, P., Tajmiri, S., & Abbasi, M. M. (2016). The effects of Nigella sativa on thyroid function, serum Vascular Endothelial Growth Factor (VEGF)–1, Nesfatin-1 and anthropometric features in patients with Hashimoto’s thyroiditis: a randomized controlled trial. BMC Complementary and Alternative Medicine, 16(1), 471.DOI: 10.1186/s12906-016-1432-2

Jasim, W. K., Hassan, M. S., & Keam, G. G. (2016). Study the effect of Nigella sativa on thyroid function and reproductive hormone of female rat. Journal of Contemporary Medical Sciences, 2(6), 67-69. 

Lee, S., Braverman, L., & Pearce, E. (2014). Changes in body weight after treatment of primary hypothyroidism with levothyroxine. Endocrine Practice, 20(11), 1122-1128.

Sharif, S. H., Elmahdi, B. M., Mohammed, A. M. A., & Mohammed, A. H. (2012). The effects of Nigella sativa L. ethanolic extract on thyroid function in normal and alloxan-induced diabetic rats. Thyroid Research and Practice, 9(2), 48.

Sonia McNaughton
Fighting Fatigue & Boosting Energy Naturally

Feeling tired is a wide-spread problem for about 20% of our population who possess so little energy their exhaustion interferes with their ability to enjoy a normal life (9).

The simplest, natural treatment for fatigue is rest and sleep. Sadly this solution is often not effective when the lack of energy is caused by an underlying health problem, medication, or chronic long term stressor (9). 

Thankfully there are a wide range of solutions that are effective, affordable and easy to implement.


Sunshine and Temperature

Light has an acute, immediate and alerting effect on mood and performance so spending your lunch-break soaking up sunshine* is an easy energy boost for your afternoon (3).

Bear in mind though 75% of us report worsened fatigue when our core body temperature heats up. So to prevent the 3pm slump sip on cool drinks and open a window / turn on the air conditioning when you are back at work and need to concentrate (6). 

Boosting Nutrient Intake

Eating too many processed foods may lead to fatigue and poor concentration. Young to middle-aged adults especially women with demanding lifestyles, who are physically active yet whose food choices are based on convenience and/or regular attempts to lose weight have been found to be at greater risk of nutrient deficiency and fatigue (5).

As we age our need for nutrient dense foods increases so eating the same foods you enjoyed in your 20‘s may no longer work in your 50‘s (5).

From a naturopathic perspective the best way to consume a diet rich in energy-giving nutrients is to eat foods in their most natural state.  Specific supplements should then chosen to fill individual gaps to meet your own personal health goals, balance underlying conditions and/or counteract deficiencies caused by medications.

Using Supplements to Boost Energy

Multi-vitamin mineral supplement

Often I get asked if a general multi-vitamin mineral supplement is worthwhile and if you are taking it to boost energy and prevent fatigue there is evidence of benefit. 

A placebo-controlled, double blind, randomised trial on 216 healthy women aged 25–50 taking a daily multi-vitamin mineral found fatigue was reduced with multi-tasking and mathematical tasks completed faster and more accurately after 90 days of supplementation (4).

B12 and Iron

B12 and iron are well known nutrients to relieve the fatigue caused from anaemia (1).

B12 deficiency is most commonly caused as we age by the reduced ability of the stomach to digest animal protein (1), the conscious choice to restrict/eliminate animal foods in vegetarians/vegans and is found in over 10% of Hashimoto’s thyroiditis (the most common form of low thyroid function) patients (2).

Iron deficiency anaemia is common in menstruating women with inadequate dietary intake of iron rich foods, people with compromised absorption of nutrients in the small intestine as in coeliacs disease or in cases of intestinal bleeding (1). 

Excess iron intake is dangerous so before supplementing iron always check with your GP or naturopath.

Choosing a Supplement

Potentially there are many other nutrients helpful in boosting energy including magnesium, B group vitamins (5) and Coenzyme Q10 (7). 

The choice of what to eat or what to supplement must be based on your own personal needs and individual circumstances.

If always prefer my clients to get their nutrients from food rather than a manufactured supplement so before I prescribe a solution I run through this quick process to work out which option will match the client’s health goals and lifestyle the best:

•          Analyse nutrient content of all foods and drinks consumed over a few days

•          Test specific nutrients levels for example iron and B12

•          Compare the optimal level of the nutrient required to meet the health goals against the potential amount available via food sources in the diet

•          Choose a supplements to fill gaps not able to be met through food.


A day when you don’t move makes you feel more tired yet for some this sounds counter-intuitive.  Shouldn’t we feel rested and therefore more energetic if we don’t exercise?  Researchers found physical activity reduced the chance of feeling fatigued regardless of the amount of nighttime sleep in adults aged 20 to 59 years (10).

Fatigue when overweight

Researchers found in overweight people fatigue is more likely to be caused by diet and exercise as well as emotional and psychological stress than sleep disorders such as sleep apnoea (11) .

So if you are overweight and fatigued seek out support to create an achievable plan for reducing emotional and psychological stress as well as strategies for enjoyable movement and healthy eating to boost your energy and fight fatigue.

Herbal Remedies

There are herbs that have been studied for their anti-fatigue results with promising early evidence-supporting the use of: Rhodiola rosea, Eleutherococcus senticosus, Schizandra chinensis, for increased endurance and mental performance in patients with mild fatigue and weakness (9).

A favourite of mine is Rhodiola rosea especially for stress-related fatigue as in a randomised, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial with parallel groups in both males and females aged between 20 and 55 years over 28-day period found Rhodiola had an anti-fatigue effect with increased mental performance, particularly the ability to concentrate in burnout patients with fatigue syndrome (8).

If These Do Not Work Then What? 

Fatigue is a common symptom of many health conditions and it is often one of the first symptoms to show up as the body tries to talk to you about how it is feeling. For this reason when fatigue is not related to poor sleep, changes in exercise, food intake, a stressful situation, or a medication I always want to investigate further!

What’s your favourite energy boosting, fatigue busting solution?

In health,

Sonia x

*    Normal and safe precautions for sunshine exposure should always be taken. For more information check-out https://www.skincancer.org


1. Balducci, L. (2010). Anemia, fatigue and aging. Transfusion Clinique et Biologique, 17(5), 375-381.

2. 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.

3. Cajochen, C. (2007). Alerting effects of light. Sleep Medicine Reviews, 11(6), 453-464.

4. Haskell, C. F., Robertson, B., Jones, E., Forster, J., Jones, R., Wilde, A., … & Kennedy, D. O. (2010). Effects of a multi‐vitamin/mineral supplement on cognitive function and fatigue during extended multi‐tasking. Human Psychopharmacology: Clinical and Experimental, 25(6), 448-461.

5. Huskisson, E., Maggini, S., & Ruf, M. (2007). The role of vitamins and minerals in energy metabolism and well-being. Journal of International Medical Research, 35(3), 277-289.

6. Meeusen, R., Watson, P., Hasegawa, H., Roelands, B., & Piacentini, M. F. (2006). Central fatigue. Sports Medicine, 36(10), 881-909.

7. Mizuno, K., Tanaka, M., Nozaki, S., Mizuma, H., Ataka, S., Tahara, T., … & Watanabe, Y. (2008). Antifatigue effects of coenzyme Q10 during physical fatigue. Nutrition, 24(4), 293-299.

8. Olsson, E. M., von Schéele, B., & Panossian, A. G. (2009). A randomised, double-blind, placebo-controlled, parallel-group study of the standardised extract shr-5 of the roots of Rhodiola rosea in the treatment of subjects with stress-related fatigue. Planta medica, 75(2), 105.

9. Panossian, A., & Wikman, G. (2009). Evidence-based efficacy of adaptogens in fatigue, and molecular mechanisms related to their stress-protective activity. Current Clinical Pharmacology, 4(3), 198-219.

10. Resnick, H. E., Carter, E. A., Aloia, M., & Phillips, B. (2006). Cross-sectional relationship of reported fatigue to obesity, diet, and physical activity: results from the third national health and nutrition examination survey. Journal of Clinical Sleep Medicine: JCSM: Official publication of the American Academy of Sleep Medicine, 2(2), 163-169.

11. Vgontzas, A.N. Bixler, E.O. & Chrousos, G.P. (2006). Obesity-related sleepiness and fatigue: the role of the stress system and cytokines. Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences, 1083, 329-344.

Sonia McNaughton
International Women’s Day #IWD

International Women’s Day is one of the most important days in the calendar for women. Since the 1900s it has both celebrated women’s achievements and sought to stimulate discussion on progress in women’s issues.

It’s easy as a woman in 2019 to reap the fruits of the labour of our sisters whose blood, sweat and tears have provided me the life of privilege I now enjoy.  The women who starved themselves on hunger strikes and were violently force fed for me to gain the right to vote.  Women who flung off their bras as they wished to fling off the restrictions on them in the workforce so I could be considered equally as any man for any job.  

It’s easy to think there is nothing we can do to move the cause of women forward today and feel justified in doing nothing. Yet small changes in our attitude and the way we talk to and about each other can change the world for women!

In my job, I see first hand the destructive aftermath on my female clients of comments on womens’ appearance in social media, jokes and japes at home, and overheard whispers at work.

This International Women’s Day, let’s hold back judgement and criticism on and with our friends, our family and our co-workers to end the evaluation of women based on their appearance.  Whether you know the person or not let’s just not.

This one small change could grow into a movement that changes our world!

Whatever you choose to do today, whether you wear purple to symbolise justice and dignity or not, why don’t we all commit to freeing women from the stifling chains of judgement of our worth based on our appearance.

In health,

Sonia x

Sonia McNaughton
A crunchy, healthy snack that’s good for you

My latest food obsession is baked cauliflower…I am absolutely obsessed with this easy-to-make, delicious-to-eat, healthy snack at the moment. It’s Paleo, it’s 5:2, it’s low GI, it’s just downright spectacular!

Cinnamon Baked Cauliflower

Not only is it the perfect Paleo snack, for 5:2 lovers it is a super low calorie way of filling yourself up on fast days.

I find myself making this recipe most days with a few minor variations to coincide with my mood and I leave it on the kitchen bench so when I pop into the kitchen looking for a food based distraction I have a health, low calorie snack to nosh on.


•          1/2 cauliflower head broken into flowerettes.  Don’t discard the thick stalks they are so creamy and nutty when baked. Chop the stalks into bite sized pieces

•          Pinch or two of good quality salt

•          1-2 tsp cinnamon powder – no sugar added.  Although curiosity got the better of me 1 day and I added a drizzle of maple syrup OMG it was like there was heaven in my mouth…for me though sugar/syrup sets up the tyranny of food cravings 2-4 hours later and honestly it just isn’t worth the mental torture.

•          – If cinnamon doesn’t float your boat and you prefer more savoury flavours to your snacks try a tsp of cumin and tsp sesame seeds –

•          1 tbspn coconut oil (or if you are a bit over the ubiquitous coconut you are cooking at a lowish heat so 1 tbspn extra virgin olive oil)

 If you are concerned about your response to sugar/uncontrollable food cravings cinnamon is a great additive to your diet.  Research supports its use for as a mild blood sugar balancer.


•          Grab your fave baking dish and line with baking paper which means you don’t have any washing up to do at the end  – I couldn’t love this recipe more if it bought me jewellery

•          Add all ingredients together to baking dish

•          Shake dish to mix all ingredients together

•          Pop in low oven (150C) for 30 mins.

•          When you see it starting to brown and go crispy on edges most probably it is finished

•          Push sharp object through a thick end of a stalk and if it penetrates easily if is cooked.  If it is a little underdone for you cover the dish and leave on your bench top as the steam will finish cooking.

I leave it uncovered on the bench all day as the flowerettes retain their crispy, crunchy texture better.  If you pop it in a container to take to work it will end up a little soft, still delicious, just soft.

For my gorgeous thyroid followers, yes cauliflower is a member of the family of vegetables that has goitrogenic properties so in theory can limit the production of thyroid hormones.  I have scoured all the available research on goitrogens for hypothyroidism and Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis and whilst admittedly evidence in human trials is limited studies have concluded no detected impact on thyroid function. Still on the fence?  Use your own body and energy as a guide.  Personally cooked cauliflower a few times a week has no impact on my energy levels which I self-monitor carefully nor on my thyroid lab results which I get done regularly.  However I do have a beautiful Hashi’s friend who feels she is sensitive to broccoli and cauliflower when cooked so she sensibly avoids it.

I’d love to hear from you about your delicious, healthy, easy-to-cook snacks.

In health,

Sonia x

Sonia McNaughton
A Healthy Thyroid is a Healthy Heart - Why Your Heart Needs a Health Thyroid

If you have a thyroid condition or a heart condition a hormone made by your thyroid gland called “T3" might just be the most important number you need to know.  Researchers claim T3 is a stronger predictor of death and cardiovascular mortality than age, fats or a poor functioning heart muscle!

Heart cells can only use a a form of thyroid hormone that is biologically active called T3. Unfortunately in the US, UK and in Australia T3 is not commonly tested nor prescribed.  

The lack of knowledge about T3 means if you get too much or too little of this hormone in your heart it may just have a fatal outcome. I call this your ‘Goldilocks number’. Like Goldilocks your heart doesn’t like to be too hot / too fast or too cold / too slow it wants to be just right!

This conversation is not just relevant for those with a known thyroid condition. A review of congestive heart failure found approximately 30% of these patients had low T3 even though they had not been diagnosed with a thyroid condition.  Plus the decreased T3 level was proportional to the severity of the heart disease.

In the US, UK and Australia when a thyroid problem is diagnosed whether it be hyperthyroidism (typically caused by Graves’ diseases) or hypothyroidism (typically caused by Hashimoto’s thyroiditis) rarely is T3 monitored or medicated.

When hyperthyroid and in Graves’ disease people can develop:  heart palpitations, fast heart beat, exercise intolerance, breathlessness, blood pressure changes and atrial fibrillation.  Cardiac output may be increased by 50% to 300% over that of healthy people. The combined effect of increases in resting heart rate may lead to enlarged hearts and high risk of heart failure. 

When hypothyroid and in Hashimoto’s thyroiditis people commonly develop: slow heart beat, high blood pressure, cold intolerance, and fatigue. Unfortunately these patients also have a reduced ability to process fats and a tendency to high cholesterol levels and atherosclerosis - a symptom picture commonly associated with serious and life threatening heart conditions.

Do you know your Goldilocks number?

In health,

Sonia x 


Klein, I., & Danzi, S. (2007). Thyroid disease and the heart. Circulation, 116(15), 1725-1735.

Sonia McNaughton