Think snoring was just a harmless nuisance? Think again.
Snoring is one possible sign of sleep apnoea (in Greek apnoia means ‘breathless’): a condition where you can stop breathing for anywhere between 10 seconds up to 1 minute!
Why should you care if you or your partner snores? Imagine holding your breath for a minute…….doable but not easy right? Now imagine all that oxygen you missed out on, depriving your organs of this essential molecule. The brain and heart suffer most when this happens.
It isn’t any wonder that sufferers experience fatigue, poor mental focus, daytime sleepiness and waking up un-refreshed.
Long term, the stress on the heart and brain leads to high blood pressure (7-fold higher risk)
This is what Wikipedia says: Sleep apnea can affect people regardless of sex, race, or age. However, risk factors include:
an age above 40
large neck size (greater than 16–17 inches)
enlarged tonsils or tongue
small jaw bone
a family history of sleep apnea
A simple home test can help determine if you have sleep apnoea. Our pharmacist will help set up the kit and all you need to do is go home, hook up, and press a button. The test looks for hours slept, number of times you woke, and then give us a print out at the end when you return the kit.
Is dinner time still family time at your household? Or are your kids glued to an iPad whilst mum and dad chit chat the day’s events or themselves watch TV?
What is this digital revolution doing to our kids? Should we hand iPads to kids during their tender years? Does all these use of technology make our kids less sociable with their peers and later life? Is technology a band-aid solution to parenting? These are questions I’ve had for a few years now..
Technology is a necessary part of life..it’s impact widespread-a Digital is disrupting whole industries: Uber and taxis, AirBNB and hotels..rather than just feeling left behind..should we as parents be preparing our children for this revolution? Jobs like drivers, cleaners, data analysts…are going to be gone in the next few years. New industries built atop of: 3D printing (challenging manufacturing jobs), artificial intelligence (challenging data processing jobs) are actually available today..SpaceX rockets, IBM’s Watson Supercomputer, respectively. Heck I’m simply amazed that Woolies practically has no cashiers anymore!
…so what careers should we guide our children towards? Rather than answering that question I would like your permission explore the idea of nurturing our child’s inborn curiosities.
Albert Einstein said “I have no special talent. I am only passionately curious”
The reason I was inspired to write on this topic is because I had read somewhere in the USA that a 16 year old boy had made a nuclear fusion reaction in his grandma’s garage. I thought OMG! At what age did he start learning this stuff? Who influenced him? Did his parents not stop him?
You can watch the whole story at :
Wonderment: the state of awe or respect. In school and home we can foster this state where no questions are stupid and it’s okay not to know the answer…for the void of knowledge is the basis of curiosity. Take your child to the err library (seriously I still do because who has money for magazines) it encourages exploring new genres…or simply Google…you literally ask questions like “How do I…”, “How much does it cost to…”, “Why does this….” With 7 billion people on this planet there’s bound to be someone with the same questions.
Curiosity some say is a skill that’s like a muscle….use it or lose it. Use it on the daily and it grows into a tool that we can rely upon to push through hard times. Back when I was a student sitting there I would often have questions to ask but because I was too shy to seem like the idiot…I would hope some other kid had the same question in mind. Half the time they did, the other half I was resigned to silence. As adults, it’s not like these bad habits die away…imagine though the world of possibilities if you just had that bit of courage?
To start building courageous curiosity…try:
Letting our kids go wide: read/watch/study a wide range of things..rockets to volcanoes, role playing police and butcher, save the whales and ask why snow is snow. Branch off down the rabbit hole.
As the parent, ask lots of questions: rhetorical and non-rhetorical. Children will learn by modelling. Curiosity starts with an unknown and a question sets the stage for finding the answers.
Be patient. Learning can seem a struggle at the start when new jargon needs to be picked up or when the answer is obvious to you but not your child. Guide them with further questions.
Stand in the other person’s shoes: it can teach a different perspective on touchy subjects like politics and religion and build invaluable tolerance for other culture’s.
Challenge the status quo. Like Taylor, the kid who believed he could produce greener energy and built the nuclear reactor in his garage
Travel: this ones self explanatory
Go BIG: dive into unsolved mysteries of the world, try to tackle the hard issues which can be the most rewarding
Remember that kids will learn at their own pace. Just because your friend’s child started talking at two doesn’t make your child any less effective a person if he/she starts talking at three. Be observant of times when your kid is flexing their new brain power…like devouring higher level textbooks, being more pre-occupied with a certain musical instrument, or drawing sketches on the margins of the exercise book =p
SPF = Sun Protection Factor….the time it takes for your skin to turn red
Here’s the definition from HowStuffWorks.com (this site saved my HSC btw)
To determine a sunscreen’s SPF, testers round up 20 sun-sensitive people and measure the amount of UV rays it takes them to burn without sunscreen. Then they redo the test with sunscreen. The “with sunscreen” number is divided by the “without sunscreen” number, and the result is rounded down to the nearest five. This is the SPF.
SPF numbers start at 2 and have just recently reached 70. To figure out how long you can stay in the sun with a given SPF, use this equation:
Minutes to burn without sunscreen x SPF number = maximum sun exposure time*
e.g. if it takes you 10 minutes to burn without sunscreen…using SPF 30 means 10mins x 30 = 300mins before you burn*
*WARNING this formula isn’t applicable once you past SPF 30! See this table:
% UV absorbed
So that SPF 70 that you saw at your Myer store is giving you a false sense of protection if you think it gives you 700 minutes of protection (10min x70). So how much time do you enjoy in the sun with SPF70? it’s anybody’s guess unless you called the company itself.
Further…how many times do we slip, slop, slip, half-assed? C’mon Hands up! To get the supposed 300 minutes of protection from the earlier example, you will need to lather to a thickness of 2.0 mg/cm. Erm what? Most folks apply only a quarter (if at all) that thickness. Research in China showed that SPF 15 not slapped on properly drops to only SPF 2! So the lesson is to slap on generously. Try the teaspoon rule:
TEA SPOON RULE:
Legs, chest and back: 6mL aka a tad more than one teaspoon
Arms, face, and neck: 3mL or a tad less than a teaspoon worth.
Second thing, UV radiation has two main forms:
UV A: causes that goddess-tan look; long term causes premature aging and wrinkling
Because SPF only measures UV B levels...you’re going to be misled if you simply look at SPF numbers. What you should look for are the words: “Broad Spectrum” which means it covers both.
The stuff in MooGoo SPF 15 is Zinc Oxide….the white stuff cricketers have on their noses and the same ingredient in nappy rash cream. Zinc is an excellent blocker of both UVA and UVB. Now a lot of us don’t like the “white” look and so companies have come out with “microfine” versions that are invisible to the eye. Great! I hear you say. Here’s the catch (like that pun?), the smaller “microfine” particles are not as good at protecting you against UV A…Alas!
Third, a sunscreen ain’t gonna work if it doesn’t stay on you through water, sweat and rubbing. Re-apply after every swim or every hour to be sure. Here’s what those other labels mean:
Sweat-resistant: protects up to 30 minutes of continuous heavy perspiration.
Water-resistant: protects up to 40 minutes of continuous water exposure; and
Waterproof: protects for up to 80 minutes of continuous water exposure.
Finally, between chemical and physical blockers, what’s safer for our kids? Physical blockers sit atop the skin and don’t get absorbed. Chemical blockers absorb into the top layers of the skin and some can cause dermatitis. Both are safe to use in adults but in young infants its best avoid because they have a larger surface area to weight ratio meaning they’re more likely to absorb chemical blockers in minute amounts and be susceptible to possible irritation.
For infants under 6 months, the FDA recommend not using any sunscreen-but if you’re at Bondi Beach and just spent an hour finding parking…try sunscreens made of titanium dioxide or zinc oxide. From 6 months plus, you’re quite safe to try any on the market. Just spot-test a small area to check for allergies in either case.
UV B Chemical Blockers
Para-aminobenzoic acid (PABA)
Can cause contact dermatitis. Avoid in children under 6months as it may absorb through skin.
Can cause contact dermatitis
Phenyl benzimidazole sulfonic acid
UV A Chemical Blockers
Can cause contact dermatitis
Terephthalylidene dicamphor sulfonic acid or Mexoryl SX
Bisethylhexyloxyphenol methoxy phenyl triazene
Physical Blockers (UV A and UV B)
ideal for infants as it won’t absorb through skin
ideal for infants as it won’t absorb through skin
*don’t bring these if you’re watching Fifty Shades Darker =P
So what would I recommend to that mum with the baby? Seek shade for her infant, avoid the hours of 10am to 2pm if possible. If you’re at the beach, try a physical blocker such as titanium dioxide or zinc oxide.
Apply sunscreen 15-30mins before going in the sun.
Re-apply every 15-30mins
Apply a thick layer (you’re allowed to be wasteful in this instance)
Wear a shirt, hat, sunnies
Seek shade between 10am-2pm esp for infants under 6months
Physical blockers are ideal for infants…just apply to exposed areas and keep use to a minimum
Melissa Jeffries. 2017. What do SPF numbers mean? How Stuff Works:Link
Schneider J. The Teaspoon Rule of Applying Sunscreen. Arch Dermatol. 2002;138(6):838-839. Link
Rai, R. and Srinivas, C.R., 2007. Photoprotection. Indian Journal of Dermatology, Venereology, and Leprology, 73(2), p.73. Link
Liu W. et al. 2012. Sunburn protection as a function of sunscreen application thickness differs between high and low SPFs. Photodermatology,Photoimmunology&Photomedicine, 28(3), p.120-126 Link
Wulf, H.-C., Stender, I.-M. and Lock-Andersen, J. 1997. Sunscreens used at the beach do not protect against erythema: A new definition of SPF is proposed. Photodermatology, Photoimmunology & Photomedicine, 13: p.129–132. Link
Commonwealth of Australia as represented by the Australian Radiation Protection and Nuclear Safety Agency (ARPANSA). 2015. Ultraviolet Radiation. Link
More, B.D., 2007. Physical sunscreens: on the comeback trail. Indian Journal of Dermatology, Venereology, and Leprology, 73(2), p.80.
US Food & Drug Administration. 2016. Should You Put Sunscreen on Infants? Not Usually Link
Do first impressions count? A whiter smile can often make the difference..or so the ads say….find out in this episode with pharmacist, Vien, as he meets folks within our community.
In this funny episode-we call it “edu-tainment”-Vien gets behind the scenes of next door’s dental centre. Safa is a tour guide/practice manager and Rami shares his view on the best teeth whitening products.
This one is just going to be short and sweet. But excuse me if I get on my soapbox and rant.
I’m just so angry that over the last two months I’ve seen three accidents. My sister, two days later myself then only last weekend our barista next door.
The latter two involved the other driver at fault and more importantly, under the influence of alcohol.
On the 6th of Feb I was driving my girlfriend home…had just left home and driving past Canterbury Hospital when I noticed a white van signalling to turn onto a side street. The idiot didn’t see me driving straight and we had a collision. I swear the first thing I noticed after the crash one that his front wheels were still spinning. Suggesting he did not even hit the breaks. He was just blind drunk? He got out of the car…lit a cigarette and acted like he knew nothing. I was so stupid to let him get back into the van and he did a runner. Luckily we had his number plate on camera.
You know what the really dumb thing is? Police eventually found him that night but because of the delay…couldn’t officially use alcohol breath tests. He wasn’t charged for driving under the influence. And I am left without a car for 6+ weeks and waiting.
The barista was in a worse off accident. Horrific when she retold it to me. She was in a hired van with her partner and was on Canterbury Road waiting to turn right. Suddenly I madman rear-ends their van at ~80km/hr….sending the van towards oncoming traffic…causing a secondary head on collision with another car. The first idiot was also under the influence of alcohol. The barista and her partner had to be hospitalized for two days.
Roundabout story but this alcohol fueled insanity is not healthy for our communities. Honestly men, if you can’t handle your alcohol-man up about it. Stop putting other people’s families in harms way for your recklessness. I think we need tougher laws..maybe following the USA for once and implementing a 21 year age limit is a good idea? And tougher sanctions on those who have previously offended with DUIs. I once had a chat with a lawyer and he said paraphrasing here: “Hands down alcohol is the biggest offender and responsible for much of the harm in the Sydney area-Much more than other illicit drugs”
Do you know someone involved as an alcohol-fuel collateral? Leave your 2 cents in the comments.
WOTOI (Whats Our Take On It) is a layperson’s plain English interpretation of medical journals found online.
This one is going to be unique because I look at TWO journals and give my thoughts and opinions. The journals are:
Online and Social Networking Interventions for the Treatment of Depression in Young People:A Systematic Review, 2014, by Rice SM, Goodall J, and others.
Association Between Social Media Use and Depression Among U.S. Young Adults, 2016, by Liu yi Lin, Jaime E. Sidani, and others.
Two articles. Two different hypotheses. But for sake of clarity essentially: Does Social Media Positively or Negatively Affect Young Adults in Terms of Depression.
Before I dig into the results…I want to say I felt that each had its good points but were quite limited by its scope. Let me explain:
For instance, Article 1 only looked at Facebook as the ONLY social media platform available, which back in 2014, definitely wasn’t the case. There was and still is Twitter, Snapchat, Instagram, Pinterest, among others.
I’ll digress for a moment here: If you consider how you typically use Facebook vs Instagram vs Snapchat…..the thinking would be:
Facebook-use to keep up with birthdays and anniversaries and nearby events;
Instagram-foodporn, aspirational lifestyles of the rich and famous, motivational infographics;
Pinterest-hunt for the next home DIY project; aspiring trophy homes; and
Snapchat: share daily musings, bloopers, and more intimate moments.
Clearly the study is limited to only Facebook where people might see a ton of baby anniversary photos and possibly feel glum that they’re still single (just one possibility) VS say browsing foodporn on Insta and salivating for their ossu bucco at Jamie Oliver. Different platform, different feelings!
Article 2 did better to cover all social platforms by asking people: Q: how many hours do you spend on social media each week. Again though I think there’s room to drill down further into the data! They looked at: Facebook, Twitter, Google+, YouTube, LinkedIn,
Instagram, Pinterest, Tumblr, Vine, Snapchat, andReddit. But wait! what about Whatsapp, or Weibo, or Messenger? Social media surely covers that too? It has photos, it has messages, it involves people. Seriously it is a disservice to do a study and exclude the second most used platform in the world! Look below!
So back to the study results Article 1 says social media is an “OK” tool for psychologists, psychiatrists, doctors and mental health workers because it is a very accessible way for young adults to find and get help (rather than sitting in a cold waiting room I presume!). Because the of the scattered data that they found on social media, it was hard for them to say definitely whether it is positive or negative at detecting depression and/or treating depression. More work needed!
Article 2 was ehh-I really didn’t like their method of surveying people’s use of social media and surveying scores of depression and anxiety, then simply marrying the two together. If I did a survey of monkeys crossing the road VS monkeys crossing the road and they can see a zoo keeper with a bunch of bananas on the opposite side…I too would say that bananas give monkeys navigational intelligence for oncoming traffic =p Don’t get started on the road toll.
What also annoys me is they say women are more likely to be depressed from social media usage. Especially the younger they are. Firstly, it’s a fact that women are more likely than men to have depression, regardless of cause-They also tend to seek out help earlier than men on the whole-men are too proud oftentimes. Secondly, it doesn’t take a genius to figure than teenage girls are the top users of social media. Any parent can attest to this.
The saving grace for the authors is that they admit a lot of their shortcomings. For instance: that most of their participants are on social media; that different posts on Facebook elicit different emotions, and that it can be a chicken or the egg situation with social media-depression.
“However, one reason for our finding may be that our sample had so few individuals who did not use social media (only 3.2% of the sample).”
One great take-away I thought is that they did mention that active participation on social e.g. 1 on 1 conversation was better than passive consumption e.g. scrolling through the news feed. Reasoning was that if you keep comparing your lifestyle to that of the rich and famous, you’d probably feel bummed.
WOTOI? I think Facebook could probably give us a better answer, considering the richness of their database and new features such as Reactions (Haha, Wow, Sad, Angry, Love) on top of the LIKE button. Science being science, more “clinical” trials need to be done on a more in-depth level and should include chat programs like Whatsapp, WeChat, Skype etc…
As a pharmacist I would recommended cultivating deeper your relationships with your friends and family. That way when life throws you a curveball, you’re less likely to stumble and if you did, you’d bounce back faster with those support networks. Chat away!
Take care. xoxo.
PS. Tonnes of good info on our FB page including these blogs so make sure to follow us at:
If you missed it…our previous blog was on Autism in Young Children. Read the story at: Brainy Kids
Also as part of Brain Week we’re going to explore mental health. Specifically, Depression.
Everyday life is a frenetic rush for most of us readers. Getting errands done, picking up the kids, checking off our to-dos. Seldom does one have time to slow down for any extended period-heck just the thought of it may even be so abnormal/weird-I know I think that! It’s a fact though that half the people with depression are without employment and so life in the slow lane is a place one can definitely go to-and it’s not what you think.
Waking up and just not feeling it. Not knowing what to do with your life so you go back to sleep. Feeling like you have no friends and noone to speak to-even just to hang out is a mission. Your drive and zest for life just ain’t there and so following through with tasks is a big ask. Compulsive drinking/gambling, reckless driving can sometimes be conduits of escape though shortlived.
Do you know someone like this? As cheesy as it sounds but there are many support lines one can call such as Beyond Blue, LifeLine, as well as chat rooms such as HeadSpace, etc… The sooner contact is made, the better the outcomes as depression can spiral out other aspects of life: relationships, job commitments, and physical health. Think about it: you don’t feel like going out with friends-next time they don’t invite you out; you are grouchy to your partner-all because you haven’t been sleeping enough; or you oversleep and keep missing your work appointments-causing you to lose your job; etc..
Personally I know of someone who withdrew completely from our social circle. Before he was the chirpy guy, loud and socially attuned. Now quite stunted in his communication. What happened? He had led himself to believe that he wasn’t enough for any girl-he was single. With the low self-esteem, he turned to alcohol. From there he began a downward spiral-he let go of work commitments as well as TAFE. He’s undergoing treatment now but it’s a long time coming.
Another close female friend went through a bad break up and her ex-boyfriend became quite physically abusive. She’s a young girl in her twenties and in the prime of her life with plenty of friends. After the breakup she felt she could no longer trust her friends. Her social life began a downward spiral and she admitted herself to hospital. Luckily she got treatment early on but the after effects, anxiety, and general caution with peers is always there.
As you can see depression can stem from life events-breakup, divorce, loss. Some of the risk factors that can add to the stressful event include:
living in isolation
family history of depression
few social connections
If you know someone going through a tough time, these are some of the things YOU can do to make a positive impact:
Reach out and listen. Start the conversation. Meet for lunch.
Encourage them to get moving (I always like to say motion is emotion)
Help them reconnect with nature/volunteer together/share in a hobby you once enjoyed.
Whatever you do, don’t give up on that person! Chances are they just don’t know how to reconnect. Importantly, don’t feel like you need to fix the problem or provide solutions. A listening ear can be huge solace for those who are lonely.
WELCOME TO THE FIRST IN A SERIES OF ‘WHAT’S OUR TAKE ON IT!?’
(We read scientific journals and distill the core ideas into bite-sized, easy-to-read English!)
First the formalities…todays journal is from Houston, Texas, USA and poses the question-do probiotics work for our kids with autism? Click the link below if you want to see the full article:
Navarro F, Liu Y, Rhoads JM. Can probiotics benefit children with autism spectrum disorders? World Journal of Gastroenterology. 2016;22(46):10093-10102. doi:10.3748/wjg.v22.i46.10093.Click here for original text
IMO probiotics are a confusing lot! Walk into any good pharmacy these days and they’ll present you with a 20+ selection to choose from. Combine these with the new ones coming out each year and it’s easy to fall behind. Hence why I’m looking at some research data to see if I can make any sense of it for you.
Again I’m talking about autism, a topic I covered in the last blog [insert link] because I’m starting to see more and more of it daily. I also think probiotics are cutting edge stuff yet still cloaked in mystique.
Good bacteria live inside us. There they perform things like digest the carbohydrates (sugars) we eat, manufacture vitamins, help absorb nutrients, boost our immune system and the list goes on. Because they live in our gut, scientists believe they are involved with common symptoms like diarrhea, bloating, constipation, and stomach aches. To be precise, scientists think that when there’s an imbalance of good vs bad bacteria…it can cause said problems. Their Question is: Do probiotics help kids with autism-specifically their gut problems?
When two events happen at the same time and a definite link can be found…it’s called a causation. When there is a possibility (but unconfirmed) of a link…its called a correlation. Scientists think there’s an correlation between autism and their gut problems. i.e. 40% of autistic kids have gut problems. Fix the gut fix the autism? Not so fast!
..feeding abnormalities, gastroesophageal reflux, abdominal pain, diarrhea, fecal incontinence, constipation, and alternating diarrhea and constipation.
Theories abound for why autistic kids have more gut issues. One of these is inflammation. When you sprain your ankle, it starts to swell with blood; it hurts to touch-let alone walk on; and it looks pinkish-red. This is inflammation and it can happen on a smaller scale inside your gut. Scientists can measure things like cytokines and special sugars and enzymes to say Yes there’s something going on. Unfortunately the evidence isn’t clear cut. One group says one thing and another the opposite.
Another theory is that autistic kids have guts that are just more sensitive to stimuli such as various foods in our diet. Their symptoms resemble those of adults who have IBS. So maybe it’s just IBS that our kids have and the gut problems have no link to autism?
So if probiotics can perform wonderful things, why not just stick them in the gut? There’s a 1000 species of bacteria in our gut and in total their numbers are in the trillions. We just don’t know what does what and where (stomach, small intestines, large intestines, etc). Scientists think that it’s not so much the bacteria but the by-products bacteria produce. Short-Chain Fatty Acids (SCFAs) are such a by-product which is supposed to affect our brain chemicals (neurotransmitters e.g. dopamine) as well as behaviour and moods.
Here are some examples:
Bifidobacterium bifidum – may help prevent leaky gut aka unwanted toxins getting absorbed… (tested in animals)
Lactobacillus rhamnosus GG (LGG) – may help reduce ADHD and Aspergers syndrome in the newborn. (tested in humans)
Lactobacillus reuteri – may help with behaviour issues (tested in animals)
All that said…scientists are still dumbfounded as to whether probiotics can definitely help [human] kids or not. First it’s an ethical question…if you knew your child was sick and needed treatment..would you sign them up to a clinical study where they might only get placebo tablets vs the real thing? I know I wouldn’t. So evidence is lacking. Our knowledge therefore is also lacking. Making informed decisions therefore is guesswork at best.
So what’s a parent to do? Considering that most probiotics on the market are generally safe, my take on it is that you can trial and error your child on different brands for say 1-2 months, keep a bowel motion diary (many on iPhone/Android App stores) and stay in touch with your doctor. Exceptions to this advice would be and not limited to: those with weak immune systems e.g. HIV-AIDS, auto-immune conditions like lupus, organ transplant patients, patients with large sections of their gut removed through surgery, and/or patients with heart issues.
Your kid is the best thing that’s ever happened to you. But what happens when you’ve been told they have autism?
March is Brain Awareness Month and I thought I’d choose a topic close to my heart and that being autism. Because I once worked at a compounding pharmacy making specialized vitamins for them and saw first-hand how tough the condition is to treat-not to mention the hardships for the mums + dads.
Working in the pharmacy you will never spot the autistic child-they’re usually at home, afraid to venture out into the bright, noisy world of a pharmacy let alone a shopping centre. What you will see is a young parent, bright faced but with dark circles around searching eyes.
I don’t say this lightly but they’re almost always looking for the next silver bullet for the son/daughters eczema or fungal rash. Strange you may think..what’s a skin condition got to do with autism. Actually, your skin is the largest, external, organ of your body and it does a marvellous thing called inflammation-say what? Basically it acts like a traffic light. Signalling whatever chemical imbalance is going on inside the body. Red=Severe inflammation/allergy to toxin/compromised immunity; Orange=Mild and so forth. In autism, kids often have severe intolerances to certain foods-chicken nuggets, biscuits, chips-yet also the ones they love best! So it becomes a vicious cycle. The skin simply relays internal problems as an external alarm.
So what of these foods? Well you’ve heard the saying: You are what you eat. Food for thought. These kids can massively benefit from having a close check up of their dietary habits. Operative word being habits. As parents you can sometimes feel like treating your kids to a snack here and there or you’re in a rush and the local take-out is the quickest option. Unfortunately theses fragile tummies cop the assault and as a direct consequence, so does their brain. Memory, cognition, speech centres…these all become ‘inflammed’ and can slow down your child’s learning and development. Every child takes a different approach, but I’ve found the diet has always been the core protocol. Make it a habit not to get junk food from the supermarket for starters and not to fuel your kids on these types of foods-but let me stop there. Else you’ll think I’m preaching. I am. But it’s your responsibility =p
Start with a good doctor-by that I mean the numerous ones trained specifically in the area of Austism Spectrum Disorders (ASD). Some of the pseudonyms for these experts are: holistic doctors/integrative doctors/paediatricians/biomedical doctors/naturopaths/chiropractors along with their allied professionals: nutritionists, speech therapists, cognitive therapists, dietitians, movement therapist, psychologist and of course pharmacist!
With the right guidance of a professional your child can improve. There is hope.
PS. As of writing I’m aware of the NDIS-National Disability Insurance Scheme-which includes funding for children with autism. There’s a lot of red tape to cut through but I hear the results can quite good in the end. In Sydney it will be rolling out in July 2017 so best prepare by looking at: www.ndis.gov.au
Have you ever suffered from stomach pains, gas, diarrhoea, or constipation? Chances are you have! And its just part of normal life. What’s not normal is if it’s recurring or consistently there.
One of the possible diagnoses for this condition is Irritable Bowel Sydnrome (IBS). I really hate this term because doctors (often, but not all) label you as having IBS and then send you on your way with no solid treatments or corrective actions. Often you’re left feeling clueless as to what’s next.
I think the reason IBS is challenging for both doctor and patient is that it’s unique to everyone. Much like your preference for Asian vs Mexican cuisine…your body has different constitutions which cause it to prefer one food group over another. So one person may eat chilli just fine but another will experience same-day diarrhoea.
Below is an interview I had with my neighbour, George who suffers from IBS.
Vien: When did health become a priority in your life?
George: Health has always been a part of my life….in high school I used to play volleyball, cricket, soccer….but I never really focused on the food aspect-it was always the physical training aspect. But as I grew older I realized that food contributes to up 80% of someone’s health. Physical exercise is not as important as what you put into your physical body
Back in 2011, I had a few stressful events in my life which in combination with the acne medications, I believe triggered my IBS. I can’t be certain but I think the acne medication, in particular, caused damage to my internal organs, including stomach lining. This led to me suffering chronic fatigue and all symptoms associated with Crohn’s and IBS.
Vien: Before you go futher, could you explain to the audience what IBS is?
George: IBS stands for Irritable Bowel Syndrome, basically inflammation in the gut. Inflammation can manifest as redness, irritation, itchiness [of the skin]. And as you may know, there is a link between the brain and gut, an open gateway [gut-brain axis], which is how chronic fatigue can be linked to gut issues. Other mental effects include emotional stress disturbances, mood changes, brain fog, etc…because of brain chemicals are being changed.
Vien: In pharmacy I often see mothers bring in their young child who is suffering from eczema or dermatitis. I like to point out that that is one form of inflammation. Inflammation is when there is some form of internal stress….manifesting (in this case) as itching, redness, swelling on the skin. George you’ve used these same words to describe IBS so how does that fit?
George: That’s right so in IBS the inflammation happens internally and the physical symptoms are that of diarrhoea or constipation. It’s a matter of finding out the the issue is and solving it in a manner that’s individual to your body.
Vien: Sounds like you’ve had [IBS] for a while
George: Yes, six years ago….ever since high school with me taking the anti-acne medications. I believe it caused my system to reach a hyper-active mode whereby I was getting all these symptoms…my natural skin pigment disappeared turning white, and so did my hair. Combined with a emotionally charged event in 2011, it was the catalyst for the IBS..
I was determined to heal myself and not go down the supplementation or drug route because I think the drugs were the root cause.
Vien: You began this journey at a young age…were there any mentors or people that helped you along the way?
George: Initially I did my own Google research and read medical journals and followed this with opinions from specialists. I realized that in fact there was a gap in our medical knowledge regarding IBS and so different people were giving me sometimes contradicting advice. It was at this point that I began to dig and dig…I had questions I needed to answer such as: “Is this stress-related?” or “Is this food-related?”
Vien: Can you name the different people you saw?
George: I saw my GP, gastroenterologist, neurosurgeon…everyone had their own 2 cents. I then came across the concept of natural healing which involves eating natural, organic, plant-based foods.
Being an extreme-type personality I quit animal products straight away and went raw vegan for 9 months. How I did it was I would do a mono-diet of a single type of food for many months at a time such as bananas for 3 months…theory being that it would retrain my stomach to recognize and consistently produce the right amounts of [stomach] acid and enzymes to match the meal. Because one of the symptoms of IBS is that your body doesn’t digest the food properly leading to gas, diarrhoea, and constipation. The need to go extreme was because of my desire to fix each issue step-by-step. The goal being to achieve regular bowel movements.
I had also researched supplementation and tried medications. One medication being Nexium which after two weeks stopped working, and so the focus was back on natural therapies. Supplementation-wise I couldn’t really find anything-if it did exist I would have tried it. As an IBS sufferer, you’d go to great lengths to just ease the pain and lead a normal lifestyle.
Going out with friends becomes difficult with IBS because you have to be careful with what you eat and the embarrassment of needing a bathroom all the time. My biggest issue however is that I don’t trust how chefs prepare my food. You don’t know what oils they are using…sunflower oil, olive oil, palm oil-it’s all processed ingredients. When I prepare meals today I don’t use any oils. I haven’t for four years. So the question is, do I go out and enjoy that social aspect of eating and deal with the consequences of pain or do I just stay home. Some will think that’s being anti-social but I think it’s just being as healthy as you can for yourself.
Vien: You just something interesting before, you said that if you correct your eating habits early, you can prevent IBS from ever happening. And secondly that once you get IBS you CAN rid yourself of it?
George: That’s speaking from my own experience. Gaining and staying in remission is very, very hard and I think I’ve mastered it now compared to four or five years ago. I also know for a fact that if I consume products with trans-fats or is high in protein that my body will go into defensive mode and I will trigger the IBS symptoms.
Vien: How long do the symptoms last before you achieve remission?
George: It really depends…usually if I eat a known trigger food then as soon as it hits my stomach, and the acids start to digest the food, I feel it [symptoms] straight away. Then it [the food] takes about 24hrs to pass [through the body] and within about 48hrs I have a few symptoms. Knowing this if I eat clean food immediately this usually allows my body to handle the issue. So for me I just eat clean 24/7.
Vien: Do you know the practice of fasting?
George: Yes I started about two years ago but I didn’t really know what I was doing..
Vien: Isn’t fasting just fasting? Is there a technique to it?
George: There are so many techniques to fasting…There’s intermittent fasting which is all the rage these days..but I do what’s called a water fast. I like to do things to the extreme so I would drink water only for ten days and not consume any food. But before I do anything I do my research.
Vien: I’m so glad you said that because everybody’s different. Beware and do your homework first.
George: That’s right so listen to your body. Or listen to your gut [feelings] as they say.
George: My thinking for the fast is this: if I want outcome X then I need to do Y. So if I fast for ten days I would give my body enough time to rid toxins that have built up over the years. It would also mean I don’t add further toxins in the mean time. The first two days are really tough-your brain is sending hunger signals…all the while your glycogen [sugar stores] are going up and down. By the third day your body goes into ketosis whereby your body taps into fat stores for fuel. Since toxins can be stored for a long time in fat, my burning of this fat would slowly rid me of the toxins. At day six or seven I was feeling great, I was waking up refreshed. Finally day 10 came and I was ready to eat. I received a distinct signal for true hunger.
George: No really, I don’t think many people know what it feels like to have true hunger. Most people are eating because it’s that time of day…or they’re eating because of emotions.
Vien: I’m trying to imagine how you looked by the end of it. Were your eyes sunken or…
George: No no…honestly I did lose a lot of weight. I lost a lot of water weight and about 2 kilos of body fat so that’s 3-3.5% body fat..which is pretty good.
George: So after the fast I re-introduced foods back in slowly so as to not shock the system..I started with drinking juices…apples, celery, kale, just greens. After five days of this I started on whole foods again. I think this was the final step towards healing myself and getting remission.