Could you be suffering Premenstrual Dysphoric Disorder (PMDD)?





Could you be suffering Premenstrual Dysphoric Disorder (PMDD)?

Do you suffer any of the following symptoms?

Are some of these symptoms worse around your menses, or mid-cycle?

  • Mood swings (worse around your menses, or mid-cycle)
  • Depressed mood or feelings of hopelessness
  • Marked anger, increased interpersonal conflicts, the anger can be worse at certain times of your cycle, or near your period. You may even feel violent with the anger.
  • Tension and anxiety
  • Irritability, especially with your menses, or even mid cycle.
  • Decreased interest in usual activities
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Fatigue
  • Change in appetite
  • Feeling out of control or overwhelmed
  • Sleep problems
  • Physical problems, such as bloating, breast tenderness, swelling, headaches, joint or muscle pain.

If you do, then you may be suffering a condition called Premenstrual Dysphoric Disorder (PMDD). Premenstrual dysphoric disorder, or PMDD, is a severe form of premenstrual syndrome (PMS). The symptoms of PMDD are similar to those of PMS but are severe enough to interfere with work, social activities, and relationships. It is often a very much overlooked hormonal issue and often misdiagnosed. PMDD can actually cause women to have extreme anger and extreme mood swings and even become physically violent towards a partner, or loved ones.

How Common Is PMDD?

PMDD occurs in up to 10% of menstruating women, but it may be much higher than this.  Women with family history of premenstrual syndrome or PMDD are at greater risk for developing PMDD as there appears to be a strong genetic component. There can be underlying gynaecological conditions exacerbating, or contributing to PMDD too and we will talk about this later

What Causes PMDD?

As with PMS, the exact cause of PMDD is not known. Most researchers believe PMDD is brought about by the hormonal changes related to the menstrual cycle. Hormones can be affected from anything form dietary changes, increased stress, medications, lack of exercise, increased abdominal fats and also consumption of alcohol.  Recent studies have shown a connection between PMDD and low levels of serotonin, a chemical in the brain that helps transmit nerve signals and helps regulate moods, sleep and even pain. Changes in serotonin levels can lead to PMDD symptoms.

How Is PMDD Diagnosed?

PMMD is diagnosed by seeing a healthcare professional who knows what signs and symptoms to look for. Usually this is a gynaecologist or women’s health specialist.  PMMD can be diagnosed by charting mood swings at certain times in  the cycle, along with other changes to the body during this time.

Before a diagnosis of PMDD is made other emotional problems, such as depression or panic disorder, need to be ruled out first, as these may be a cause of all of the symptoms.  In addition, underlying medical or gynecological conditions, such as endometriosis, fibroids, menopause, and hormonal problems that could account for symptoms, also must be ruled out.

For the diagnosis of PMDD to be made usually at least five of the  listed symptoms listed before (including at least one of the first four) occur for most of the time during the seven days before menstruation and go away within a few days of the start of the menstrual period. If these symptoms are present every day and do not improve with menstruation, they are unlikely due to PMDD.

How Is PMDD Treated?

Many of the same strategies used to treat PMS may also be helpful in relieving symptoms of PMDD. The main ones to focus on are:

Good nutrition –  High Gi carbohydrates and highly refined grains increase insulin levels and this then in turn causes disturbances with hormone levels and can also cause inflammation. This then exacerbates the symptoms of PMDD. It is recommended that women with PMDD limit their intake of refined sugar, and alcohol. There are vitamins and nutritional supplements that will help with PMDD as well.

Exercise – Moving the body is so important  for PMDD and it is important to do some sort of weight bearing exercise, or resistance work such as weights. Exercise such as walking, or swimming appears to improve premenstrual symptoms too. Exercise will also have other benefits to the body and overall health as well.

Medications-  Medically PMDD is usually treated with medications such as antidepressants and hormone therapies. Some over-the-counter pain relievers may help some  of the symptoms of PMDD,  such as headache, breast tenderness, backache, and cramping. Diuretics, or water pills, can help with fluid retention and bloating. Hormones can be used to treat PMDD but it is unclear whether this approach is effective.

Natural Medicine– Various Herbal medicines and vitamins and nutritional supplements have all been researched and shown to reduce the symptoms of PMS and PMDD. Always consult with with a qualified natural medicine practitioner for proper treatment and advice.

Acupuncture & Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM)–  Research published in the BMC (Effects and treatment methods of acupuncture and herbal medicine for premenstrual syndrome/premenstrual dysphoric disorder: systematic review) showed that Acupuncture and herbal medicine treatments provided a 50% reduction in symptoms in the first month of treatment and symptoms continued to reduce with subsequent treatments.

Counseling-  Counseling and psychology need to be a big part of the overall treatment therapy to help women with PMDD develop effective coping strategies.

Other Therapies– Relaxation therapy, meditation, reflexology, and yoga may also help, but these approaches have not been widely studied.

At Shen Therapies, Dr Andrew Orr can help you with PMDD and PMS with a combined integrative approach of using western medicine and complementary medicine and therapies. Dr Andrew Orr is a Reproductive Medicine and Women’s Health Specialist (medical) but also has qualifications is TCM, Naturopathy and Nutritional medicine. If you need help with PMDD, please give our clinic a call on 07 32795697, or email


Foods That Can, and Do, Cause Constipation

Fibre from fruit and veggie

Many people have trouble moving their bowels on a daily basis and are none the wiser as to why this happens to them. Many do not realise how bad for their health it is not to move your bowels daily and many people just think it is normal for them to not need to get things moving each morning.

Of course some people have conditions, that cause constipation, and these need to be ruled out too.

Conditions such as Endometriosis, Pelvic Inflammatory disease, IBS and other bowel disorders can all cause chronic constipation and inflammation in the bowel

But for most people the clogging of the back passage is caused by what they are eating and lack of foods that contain real fibre and water to keep the bowels moving. Lack of proper hydration and stress is also a factor too. But when it comes to proper fibre, many people are just eating the wrong foods. Many of the foods people are having on a daily basis, thinking it is fibre, are actually closer to being cardboard and the effects on the bowel are just as bad.

So what are the foods that are causing a blockage in peoples elimination pipes.

1.Fast Or Prepared Foods

Those readymade meals and takeaway meals may be convenient, but they could cause a backup. Most are low in fiber, which you need to help food move through your system.

2.Fried Food

Fried foods are full of fat, lack fiber and are hard to digest. When food moves through your colon slowly, too much water can be taken out of it. That makes for a hard, dry stool.

3.Cakes, Sweets and Pastries

Pastries, cookies, and other treats with refined sugar are low in fiber and fluids, and high in fat. Many people think that because they contain grains, that they are good for you. But nothing could be further from the truth. Wheat grains are actually inflammatory and cause disruption to the digestive system. There is actually more fiber in whole foods such as fruit and vegetable. Grains are refined grains are not good if you’re having trouble keeping things moving. Satisfy your sweet tooth with some fresh fruits and yogurt. Your tummy will thank you for it.


Bread is basically made from flour and water and what does flour and water make? Glue that’s what it makes! That is what it turns to in your stomach and bowel too. Plus refined flours are made from inflammatory grains and these cause disruption to your digestion and bowel too. Too much bread will give you hard, dry stools and also mess with your digestion. It’s also made with low-fiber flour. The whole grain variety may be a little bit better, but not much. If your digestive system is shot and you are having trouble getting things to move, time to ditch the bread. We don’t need to eat it anyway.


A couple cups of teas coffee makes some people race to the bathroom, but it can have the opposite effect, too. The caffeine in coffee and tea are diuretics and soft drinks can keep your body from holding onto water, and you need water to stay regular. If you’re constipated, check how much tea and coffee you might be drinking and make sure you drink plenty of water after each cup of caffeine.


Alcohol can definitely dehydrate the body make it hard for your body to hang onto water. This can then cause gastrointestinal inflammation, upset the liver function and then cause constipation.


Eggs are really good for us and they are high in protein but low in fiber. But, you don’t have to stop eating them though. Just add some high-fiber foods into the mix. Add some greens with them when you eat them. Try an omelet with fresh spinach and tomatoes.

8.Well Done Meat

Meat is a great source of protein but when its well-done and over cooked, it is lacking in fiber, that juicy steak needs to be a little less cooked (medium rare) and balanced with a side of nice green veggies, or salad. This will help get it comfortably through your digestive system.


Some Fiber Facts.

Veggie and whole Fruits (not dried fruits) have more fiber than cereals and grains and as they contain water and other nutrients needed to keep the bowel hydrated and moving properly. Time to ditch the cereals and start eating some more whole foods instead.

Oh… and don’t forget the prebiotics and probiotics to keep healthy gut flora and keep the digestive system functioning properly. Of course we should drink plenty of water and also make sure you get some electrolytes into your diet daily too. This will help keep your bowels working the way they should work, rather than the way they have been.

If you are having trouble with chronic constipation and getting your bowels to move daily, then give Shen Therapies a call and we can help you get your digestion back on track again.






Seminal fluid improves fertility women and improves IVF pregnancy rates

o-SPERM-FERTILITY-facebookSeminal fluid is often viewed as simply a vehicle to carry sperm to fertilize the female egg, but a more complex function in influencing female reproductive physiology is now evident
Remarkably, seminal fluid contains special signaling agents that interact with the female reproductive tract to prime the immune response, with consequences for fertility and pregnancy outcome. This research isn’t new and we have spoken about this in previous posts. But we now know a bit more about how sperm may assist in implantation for, especially for IVF.

See our other post

Recent studies demonstrate a key role for seminal fluid in enabling  embryo implantation and optimal placental development. In particular, seminal fluid promotes health immune responses which facilitate embryo implantation by suppressing inflammation, assisting uterine circulation and blood supply and also protecting the embryo.

There is emerging evidence  where seminal fluid provokes an adaptive immune response in the cervical tissues after contact at intercourse, and spermatozoa accessing the higher tract potentially affect the endometrium directly. Research has now shown that sperm and seminal fluid actually help with endometrial receptivity, which is needed to create the right environment for a healthy embryo to implant.

These biological responses may have clinical significance, explaining why

[1] intercourse in IVF ET cycles improves the likelihood of pregnancy

[2] inflammatory disorders of gestation are more common in women who conceive after limited exposure to seminal fluid of the prospective father

[3] preeclampsia incidence is elevated after use of donor oocytes or donor sperm where prior contact with conceptusalloantigens has not occurred.

Research like this is important to define the mechanisms through which seminal fluid interacts with female reproductive tissues, to provide knowledge that may assist in preconception planning and infertility treatment. It also bring attention to the fact that couples still need to be engaging in regular intercourse during IVF cycles to help not only with implantation, but to increase pregnancy rates through optimization on the endometrial lining through contact with seminal fluid. Regular intercourse also promotes connection and bonding for the couple as well and this is something that is very much overlooked.

Shen Therapies offer a Fertility Program where couples are educated on important factors such as this… and more

If you would like to find out how you could improve your chances of having a baby, please give Shen Therapies a call and ask about our highly successful fertility program that has helped over 12,000 babies (and counting) into the world and can increase a couples chances of conception by 96.1% *

For more information on our highly success fertility program, see also

A Special Kind of Pill for Better Health and Increased Fertility

Chill PillSeveral weeks ago I mentioned that I was going to talk to you all about a special medicine and a special kind of pill, that can not only help you with gynaecological and other healthy issues, but it can also help with fertility and being able to fall pregnant. I was going to post this up straight away, but then I had to think more about it, because I know when you mention this subject, people can take a message with the intention of helping the wrong way.

So what is this special pill that I am talking about and not yet available on the market?

Well, it’s called a “Chill Pill” and many of us need to be taking it often, or learning to administer it often.

Now, before anyone gets all up in arms about this and what I am about to say, I need you to listen and take the personal out of this and just hear the reasons why. I have been on the other end of stress, where it almost killed me, literally and I know how it then affected my health and then exacerbated pre-existing health complaints I had. So I am coming from a place of understanding, but also a place of wanting to help people through my own experienced personally, but also what I see in clinical practice daily. I was one of those people who kept saying that weren’t stressed, or that I don’t feel stressed, yet all the while my body signs were saying something different. Like any change we need to make, the first part is admitting there may be something wrong in order to enact that change.

The sad fact is that 9 out of 10 people report being stressed and 41% of people feel they experience unhealthy levels of stress. Stress and the body’s response to it, can affect people in different ways. Small amounts of stress that are easily resolved can help to keep us motivated and achieve our goals. The difference with long term or chronic stress is that it can affect the whole body in a negative way. It is the long grade, low grade stress (or busyness) that often creeps up on us and causes issues. Many people do not even know they are stressed, or that stress is a big factor in their current health issues, because they are either so used to it, or their health issues takes over and they cannot even begin to see the correlation.

The harsh reality of many problems in life is that we are ultimately responsible for our own well-being. Not all people will want to accept this, as it is so much easier to blame someone or something else for our dilemmas.

Nearly every problem we experience in life may have an element of stress to it bought on by ourselves and our busy lives, with many of us not consciously knowing it is at play. That means everything from a common cold to a long-standing illness. Everyone reading this will be by now squirming in his or her seats as the harsh reality of such a statement hits home. But the real problem with this is that it is true. I know I had to face this reality with my own health issues. We do cause many of our own health problems, or exacerbate them, either consciously, or subconsciously.

The problem with any health matter is getting people to become responsible for their own self. So much illness is completely preventable if we would just take responsibility for our own actions. It is so much easier to blame someone, or something else with comments such as “ I have tried everything”, “That didn’t work for me”, or “I’ve been everywhere and nothing can help me”. The problem with many of these statements is that they are all just excuses not to take responsibility for our actions. Maybe it isn’t that the methods you are trying aren’t working. Maybe it is simply a matter of nothing will ever work unless we make that all important change for ourselves first. Sure, some disease states are hereditary, or someone have a predisposition for them, but even so, once the illness, or disease is expressed in the body, it is our responsibility to do what we can to control it. Yes, sometimes it doesn’t seem fair, I get that, but sometimes you just have to admit there is an issue that isn’t going away in a hurry, or keeps being flared up, because you need to make some changes in your life to better manage this issue. I know this is something I had to learn myself. Boy did I fight the reality of this in the beginning too.

Stress is also a major factor in many couples not being able to conceive. Stress affects cortisol levels and the adrenals and this then has an effect on testicular and ovarian function. Stress can affect both sperm and egg quality and high stress levels also affects our hormones and our immune system. Stress also has an effect on the uterine environment, which can affect implantation, affect circulation in the uterine lining, activate high number of natural killer cells and also increase the risk of miscarriage. High stress levels also exacerbate, or fuel many gynaecological and men’s reproductive health issues too.

Looking for the ‘Off ’ Butt on

Stress can affect each of us differently. Perhaps you are suffering from anxiety, feeling worried, depressed or irritable; even feeling exhausted and overwhelmed can indicate you are under stress. As well as affecting your ability to cope, stress may also be causing a disruption to your health. When under stress for a length of time, you may be more susceptible to tension headaches, high blood pressure, frequent colds and flus, digestive disorders or a worsening of an existing condition. So you can see, there are many reasons why it is so important to manage your stress now, take that “Chill Pill” before it starts impacting your health and wellbeing.

How Resilience Begins

Some people seem to deal with stress better than others. That doesn’t mean that the rest of us need to continue suffering. The ability to increase your resilience to stress is something that can be learned and helped with talking to a counsellor, or psychologist etc. There are supplements, nutrients, and vitamins to support your body’s individual stress response system too. Many people are lacking key nutrients because of our highly processed diets now and we also know that gut health, and a healthy microbiome is integral to psychological wellbeing and our moods. Taking a strain specific probiotic and a prebiotic daily can improve gut health and improve your immune system and psychological wellbeing. Omega 3 oils, multivitamins, melatonin, St John’s wort, passion flower, chamomile and many other herbs and nutrients can assist with coping with stress and its impact on the body. Don’t buy vitamins or supplements off the shelf at the chemist or supermarket as these are so inferior and contain lots of fillers and additives that aren’t good for you. Always see a qualified healthcare practitioner to get proper advice on what nutrients and supplements are needed for your health complaint. By the way, Dr Google is banned in my clinic. Dr Google is not a reliable way to find out about healthcare products and illnesses. Only a trained healthcare professional should be giving you that advice.

Some people may be in such a bad state that medication may be needed to get them over their first hurdles and develop some resilience and coping skills. This should always be done in conjunction with talk therapy as well. To be honest, most of us could do with talking to a good counsellor or psychologist to get some coping strategies to deal with work, business, health, or life better.

Lifestyle Tips to Help Manage Stress

Managing your stress is essential for long-term health and vitality. With proper support, a variety of stress relief techniques can be introduced, in conjunction with a

healthy eating plan to help you stress less. These may include:

  1. Exercise: Daily movement is essential for brain health. Aerobic exercise including running, swimming or walking is proven to decrease stress hormones. Resistance exercise is also great for stress relief, burning fats, increasing lean muscle and keeping you healthy.
  2. Enjoy the benefits of spending some time in the sun. Being in nature for 30 minutes per day can help reduce stress hormones and assist recovery after a stressful situation.
  3. Meditation and/or yoga can help to increase relaxation whilst benefiting not just the mind, but also the body. Learning to unwind is important for reducing stress.
  4. Favourite pastime: create time for YOU! Do something that you love, like listening to music, enjoying a candle lit bath, watching a movie, or starting a creative project – these fun activities can help you become more tolerant of everyday stress.
  5. Get creative and express yourself in as many different ways as feels good; singing, dancing, and art projects are but a few ways to do this.
  6. Eat seasonally, fresh and organic as much as possible. Include protein at every meal with a variety of fruit and vegetables.
  7. Include good fats such as omega 3s from fish, nuts and seeds, and olive oil to help with brain health and mood regulation.
  8. Drink plenty of water, a minimum of eight glasses per day and avoid excessive alcohol, caffeine, sugar and salt.
  9. See a counsellor, or psychologist to get some coping strategies in place.
  10. Acupuncture has been shown to be as effective as medications for stress and equal to the effects of talk therapy in several major studies.

Stress Less for Good Health

Our modern lifestyle is inescapable. The stress of it however, is manageable. This is why I mentioned the magic “Chill Pill”. All people have to do is take the advice and administer it often. You aren’t born stressed and being stress isn’t a part of you. It is a learnt behaviour that can be changed. You can become more resilient to the symptoms and long term effects of stress through the aid of individualised lifestyle and dietary changes, together with nutrients, supplement and in some cases medicines that your healthcare provider can help you with. Talk therapy such as counselling and psychology is an integral part of leaning to cope with stress and dealing with it better too. Supporting a healthy stress response will allow you to feel more energised, resilient and ready to tackle life, so you can maintain the state of health and wellness that you deserve. I hope that helps everyone and please remember to take off those superwoman/superman capes regularly, allow space to just breath and shut off the mind and just have some you time. It is OK to just sit there and not feel guilty about it. People need to learn to switch off the “busyness” and close down the 100 boxes they have open. It is Ok just to sit in peace and quietness and not feel guilty about it. Actually, your body needs to do this to maintain your inner health, but also your psychological health.

When was the last time you allowed yourself the space to just be, just take some quite time and let the world pass by for a little while without worrying about it?

Take care and relax and don’t work too hard. We work to live, not live to work.


Dr Andrew Orr


Alcohol Decreases Fertility & Makes Gynaecological Conditions Worse

glasses of alcohol







In today’s modern society, alcohol has become the cornerstone for social engagements, business dinners and after work relaxation. It is important to realise however, that alcohol can directly impact the fertility of both males and females. In males it can decrease sperm quality, reduce testicular size, decrease libido and cause impotence, all of which can impair fertility. In females it has a more systemic response, affecting the reproductive hormones, leading to abnormalities in the menstrual cycle and an increased risk of miscarriage.

Effect of Alcohol on Conception for Men

Fecundability refers to the probability of conception during a particular menstrual cycle. It is dependent on the reproductive potential of both partners. Alcohol decreases fecundability by its effect on sperm quality and quantity. Men who continue to consume alcohol on a regular basis, can decrease their sperm motility, morphology and their DNA in the sperm. All of which are important factors in achieving fertility. While outwardly a man’s sperm may look OK, many forget that inwardly, the sperm DNA could be highly fragmented and unless this is tested every ejaculation, you will have no idea how bad the sperm actually is. A one off DNA fragmentation analysis does not mean the sperm each time is OK. It only measures the sperm from the ejaculate that was tested and sperm quality can change by as much as 20% each ejaculation.

Testicular size is also affected by alcohol intake; and can also affect sperm production. Alcohol is a depressant of the central nervous system (CNS), and can disrupt the autonomic system of the CNS. These effects are temporary and short lived. Abnormal sperm production is also temporary and also can resume after abstaining from alcohol.

One study, this one looking at couples going through IVF treatment, found that for every additional drink a man consumed per day, the risk of conception not leading to a live birth increased by 2 to 8 times. This was especially true if the drinking occurred within a month of the IVF treatment.

Effect of Alcohol on Conception for Women

In women, alcohol affects fecundability, by disrupting the delicate balance of the menstrual cycle. Clinical research data published in the “British Medical Journal” suggests that women, who drank socially, 1-5 drinks per week, were at a greater risk of decreased fecundability when compared to women who remained abstinent. These findings underscore the importance of remaining abstinent while attempting to conceive.

Alcohol disrupts the hormonal imbalance of the female reproductive system, leading to menstrual irregularities, and even Anovulatory cycles, (menstrual cycles where ovulation fails to occur). Menstrual pain can directly be linked to the amount of alcohol consumed in the lead up to the menses and consumptions of alcohol, even small amounts, exacerbates most gynaecological conditions. These changes can drastically decrease a woman’s chance of becoming pregnant and thus affect fertility.

Alcohol effects fertility in both partners, and can do so in so many ways. For couples who desire to have a baby, it is best to stay away from drinking completely. Presently there is no safe limit of alcohol intake; even socially acceptable amounts of alcohol can affect fertility potential and outcomes. Moderate drinking (1-2 drinks in one sitting) is probably okay, especially if you reserve those drinks to a few times a week, instead of daily. However, if you’re going through IVF treatment, or trying to conceive naturally, you might consider cutting out alcohol for the time being.

Trying to conceive is a special time in a couple’s life, it should be filled with love, devotion and safe health practices, which means a healthy diet and lifestyle and having a healthy mind too.

A healthy detoxification program is also a great idea for those trying to increase their fertility and get their reproductive systems working better. Healthy eggs and health sperm make healthy babies. Healthy reproductive systems also mean better menstrual cycles and better testicular health too.


Are We Over-Feeding Our Children and Killing Them with Kindness?

obese child








Ever year of practice, I see children becoming more over weight, more sedentary and being sick more often. Even the children that are not overweight are suffering from more compromised immunity and being set up for an adulthood impaired by illness. Many children see even come into my clinic eating countless packets of tiny teddies, crisps, lollies and all sorts and mum and dad are trying to tell them that the children eat a balanced diet, or they cant understand while their child is sick all the time. Some children quite literally have not eaten vegetable, or fruits and only eat small selections of packet and highly processed foods.

We have gone from letting children climb trees, play in the streets with friends, climb on play ground equipment and hovering over their every move, for fear they may be in danger, or hurt themselves. Thus the term “Helicopter Parent” is born

While we have gone from over protect them in the playground, we have gone to under protecting them in the lunch box, breakfast bowl and dinner plate. While being over concerned about how they may, or may not die in the playground, we are actually starting to slowly lead them to an early grave through the kitchen and their bellies.

Before we go any further, I do know that there are parents with children that do have genuine special needs and how hard it can be for them to make changes. But, even so, I have seen many of these parents make small changes for the better of their children. So if they can, we all can. Plus, there are always circumstances that are contrary to what I am talking about, I get that, but this is more about other children and other parents, who actually do have a choice in what they are putting in a child’s mouth.

Children are now eating more refined foods, more inflammatory grains, more junk foods, more sugars, more sweet drinks, more processed foods that every before. What once was a treat a few times a year, is now a staple foods source for many children and adults. While children once rode bikes and played in the playgrounds and streets, they are now sedentary and the only exercise they get is with their fingers on the controller of the play station, or X-box. Because of this, children’s muscles aren’t being moved properly, they are developing properly, they are more immune compromised and many just are not getting the vitamins, amino acids, proteins, good carbohydrates etc, needed to maintain proper health. Many children are now eating over 100gms of sugars in their diet daily.

Parent’s seem to come up with all sorts of excuses as to why their child eats the way they do, yet never seem to be taking control and actually doing something about it. Denial, defeat, blame and just not wanting to deal with the cries and demands of a child that hates change is all too much and thus the cycle continues. We bury our heads in the sands, the wine glass, the TV, the social media scene and pretend that life is grand. Many parents will even try to convince you that their child will eventually shoot up, lose the puppy fat, grow out of their fussiness and be OK. But, all the while each year their child has grown more overweight, had more illness and cant even walk to the end of the street and back. We are quite literally failing our children, by giving into them and their every demand. Like I said before, if parents with special needs can make changes to a child’s diet and lifestyle and make the effort, often under difficult circumstances, then we can make those changes for other children. It is a choice. But this isn’t about judging parents either. This is a point of saying that they need help, they need to change and educating them on what they need to do to help their child’s future. Help is always here, if you want to receive the help that is being provided.

Childhood obesity is a growing epidemic that not only puts children at risk for a lifetime of type 2 diabetes, heart disease, cancer, infertility and many other health issues, but it also creates a huge financial strain on our health system as well. According to a new study published in the journal Obesity, one out of every four children in Australia is overweight, or obese by the time they start school, and it’s costing our health system millions of dollars each year.

In this study, researchers from the University of Sydney in Australia collected all of the medical tests, diagnostics, medicines, and hospital admission data from 350 children in Australia at ages 2, 3 and a half, and 5 years old. They found that the health care costs for obese and overweight preschoolers were 60 percent higher than costs for healthy kids. Obese and overweight children were also nearly three times more likely to be admitted to the hospital for respiratory disorders, ear conditions, nasal issues, colds, flu’s and other disease states, due to poorer immune systems.

The study’s lead researcher Alison Hayes, associate professor of health economics at the University, has stated, “Childhood obesity is a serious public health issue, and is becoming an increasing problem in children under five years old. In addition to the health impacts of childhood obesity, there are major economic impacts, which may occur earlier than previously thought.”

She also says, “We know that children who are obese, or overweight, in early childhood are more likely to be obese, or overweight in later in the their childhood, adolescence and adulthood, which can lead to serious chronic diseases that have a huge impact on our health care system. This can also have impacts on families and future generations too. Early prevention of obesity is important to improve children’s health, but we need to be having more prevention and education to ease the costs and burden on the healthcare system too. We really need to get serious about this crisis in our nations health and start to take our heads out of the sand about an increasing worrying epidemic.

The researchers also noted that throughout the world, 6.9 percent of children under the age of five are either overweight or obese; however, countries such as Australia, America, and the UK have rates as high as 23 percent. According to the Centers for Disease control and Prevention, over the last 30 years in America and countries like Australia, obesity has nearly tripled among children and quadrupled among adolescents.

Children are now being raised in a world that is very different to what it was in our parents generation, 40 to 50 years ago. Parents are now feeding children more refined foods, more junk foods, more sugars, more grains, more fast foods, more sweet drinks, more sugar drinks etc, than every before. What once was a treat to a child 40-50 years ago, is now an every day occurrence, with many children consuming processed foods, sugary foods, grains, and junk foods with every meal. It is really out of control. Some children are not getting fresh foods and sustainable foods in their diets at all. Some children do not even know what some of the basic fruits and vegetables are.

We have become all too lazy when it comes to feeding our children. Childhood obesity is a disease of the environment. It’s a natural consequence of normal kids with normal genes being raised in unhealthy, abnormal environments and this was one of the findings of this landmark study.

According to the Obesity Society, overweight and obese preschoolers are five times more likely to grow up to be overweight and obese as adults. The most recent estimated annual medical costs for obese adults were $1,429 higher than those of normal weight adults. In order to lower the rates of obesity in future generations, we really do need to be looking at preventive measures and better education for children and their parents. We do know that many obese, overweight and unhealthy children have parents that over also overweight, obese, or have unhealthy eating habits and sedentary lifestyles.

This ever-growing issue might seem complex, but we need to start really looking at ourselves as parents and we also need better education in schools and the educations systems. The solution to lowering obesity rates and soaring healthcare costs is teaching adults and healthcare professionals what a healthy diet. We need to be looking at preventative measures and being more proactive, rather than reactive.

We need to get parents of overweight or obese children to consult with a qualified nutritionist and show these parents on ways to improve their everyday diet, which includes cutting empty calories and foods high in bad fats and added sugars. We need to educate parents what an actual good diet looks like and start following more of a clean eating, grain free, lower GI, primal based diet. When parents often question the use of grains and refined foods, I often ask them “How do we fatten up cattle???? ….. We Feed them grains”

Besides teaching adults and children to be eating better, we also need to teach them to be healthier on the inside, as well as outside and also the importance of exercise and also accessing healthy vitamins, probiotics, prebiotics, omega oils, amino acids and drinking water. Good education about eating starts at home and we can’t keep blaming others for all of our problems. These days we have more access to online education about our health than we ever have. It is time we take our heads out of the sand and start admitting that we have a big problem that every parent needs to recognize along with all our healthcare providers as well. We also need some of the organisations promoting health care to get with the program and stop promoting out of date education that is actually increasing the health crisis, not helping it.

At Shen Therapies, we can help parents with diet and lifestyle choices and help keep their children healthy into adulthood too.

Source: Hayes A, Simpson J, Chevalier A, D’Souza M, Baur L, and Wen LM. Early childhood obesity: Association with Healthcare expenditure in Australia. Obesity. 2016.

Excess Body Fat Can Cause Gynaecological Conditions, Lead to Menstrual Irregularities and Also Lead to Infertility

Metabolic table








When women come to see me for help with gynaecological conditions, or couples come to see me for help with having a baby, one of the first things I ask all of them to address is excess body fats and look at diet and lifestyle modifications. Women, men, and couples who are underweight, need to look at this also, because being underweight can be just as bad as being overweight, but for the purposes of this post, we are going to look at how excess fats can not only interfere with fertility, but they can be a major driving factor in gynaecological and men’s health conditions that many face on a daily basis. Worse still, excess body fat can also lead to many cancers that both men and women get also.

One of my biggest challenges with men, women and couples is getting them to look at how excess body fat is playing a big part in their current health, the gynaecological condition they have, or how it is affecting their fertility. I always get all sorts of excuses from “My friend was overweight and he/she does not have my condition”, or “The next door neighbour is overweight and she has had 3 children” and all many of excuses that seem to be a big block in actually taking responsibility for one’s health. I get that it can be hard to get started and hard to make the steps for a better life, but at the end of the day, all these things I hear are just excuses really. Yes, the next door neighbour may not have your health issue, but they may also have some other health issue, or be at risk of another health issue. Yes, your friend might be overweight and has had a couple of children easily, but they may also be younger than you and many of the health issues they face because of their weight may not have caught up with them yet, but it will. I always have to get people to stop focusing on others and get back to looking at themselves, because other people are different. Other people are not you. We are all different individuals with different weaknesses in the body and what may affect one person, may not affect another, but this does not mean we can sit back and just do nothing about our health, or keep comparing our life to another.

Looking at a person’s overall weight is paramount for any health condition that the body faces and we need to look at the individual, not at the masses. Research shows us that excess body fat can lead to diabetes, heart disease, cardiovascular events, cancers, gynaecological issues, infertility, men’s health issues and many other complaints in the body. It can also lead to an early death too. This is a fact and no matter how many excuses people want to make, nothing is going to change the fact that excess body fat is not good for us and it causes problems with our health and now costing the health systems dearly too.

Excess body fat produces excess estrogens in the body and we are now calling these “Obestrogens”. These excess estrogens can not only have an effect on testicular and ovarian function, but they also interfere with other hormones, increase inflammation in the body and then add as drivers for other health issues in the body. These “Obestrogens’ can also interfere with your DNA and can also be passed on to your future offspring through the DNA of the sperm and eggs and also pass genetic conditions onto them as well.

Eating too many grains, sugars, alcohol and refined foods are a big cause of excess fats in the body. These foods lead to increased blood sugar levels, which in turn lead to excess insulin in the body. This then leads to the body storing fat and also stopping the burning of fat. This then leads to high levels of inflammation in the body and a big driver behind many of the major health complaints in the body and even our leading causes of death, in both men and women. When people ask me how refined foods and grains lead to excess fats I also ask them “How do we fatten up cattle and livestock?” The answer is we give them high amounts of grains which increase hormone levels, which then lead to excess growth and also lead to higher amounts of fats in their bodies.

Excess body fats are a big contributing factor in PCOS, Endometriosis, Fibroids, Cysts, Polyps, Sperm quality issues, Prostate issues, Diabetes, Infertility, Cardiovascular disease, Heart disease and Cancers in both men and women

For women excess body fat can lead to menstrual irregularities and heavy periods too, without necessarily having a known gynaecological condition. These excess fats produce estrogens, which is needed to thicken the uterine lining. But when there are too much circulating estrogens, the lining becomes too thick and unstable, eventually leading to bleeding. This can be unpredictable, and often very heavy, lasting a long period of time. These excess estrogens can then lead to gynaecological conditions such as PCOS, Endometriosis, Fibroids etc, but they can also be a big contributing driver of cancers in women.

These excess fats can also lead to men growing breasts, feminisation, having prostate cancers, prostate issues, sperm issues, diabetes, heart disease, infertility, erectile dysfunction, and many cancers that men face.

With many of the developed western countries have a population with over 70% of its people being overweight, or obese, now more than ever we need to look at ways of educating people about eating better, exercising more and looking after their health. While we need governments to intervene, we also need people to take personal responsibility too. With so much health information about the dangers of refined foods, processed foods, sugars, grains and alcohol, we really do have lots of resources that we never used to have available to us. There really is no excuse any longer. If you really do not know what a good diet is supposed to be, there are qualified health professionals, such as nutritionists etc, who can help you. If you truly are eating a proper healthy diet and exercising, then you shouldn’t be overweight. If you are doing all the right things, then there could be other underlying issues that need to be addressed by an appropriate healthcare professional. But many times I find that what people think is a healthy diet, or appropriate exercise, is very far from what a healthy diet and appropriate exercise is. It is all about what people have been taught by their family and what their perception of a healthy lifestyle is.

If you do have a gynaecological condition, have a men’s health issue, are having problem with fertility, or just need to get healthier, now is the time to act. We can no longer deny that excess fats are a major concern for the population and are causing so many health issues across the board.

Just so people know, it isn’t necessarily about weight and measuring yourself with scales. Scales do not show the amount of body fat we have and muscles weighs more than fat. We need people to get out the tape measure to truly see how much fat they have and start to look at waist measurement, rather than weight measurement.

A health male needs to have a waist measurement of 94cms or below and a woman needs to have a healthy waist measurement of 80cms or below. If a male has a waist measurement about 94cm or more, or a woman has a waist measurement of 80cms or more, both he and she are at increased risk of health issues. A measurement of above 102 cm (for men) or 88 cm (for women) is one of the components of Metabolic Syndrome, which puts you at increased risk of diabetes, cardiovascular disease and cancers.

Maintaining a healthy lifestyle is vital protection against many of the health issues we face. Regular exercise, limiting alcohol, non-smoking, a nutritious diet, reducing grains and refined foods and stress reduction are all important. The lower GI diets (Primal, Zone etc) have been shown to be much better than others for people who are overweight, obese and have excess body fats. At Shen Therapies we believe that we can give you the best dietary advice available. A healthy diet, nutritional and herbal supplementation has been researched and shown to benefit many people and is a big part of our overall treatment for everybody that comes to see us for help. Please know that we are here to help you, not judge you. Helping you, help yourself have a better life and have better health, is our priority.

Acupuncture Treats, Clears & Prevents Migraines

Acupuncture on skin,Closeup.



Researchers have successfully documented not only that acupuncture is safe and effective for the relief of migraines, but also how acupuncture achieves positive outcomes.

As a past sufferer (yes past sufferer) of Migraines, I know all too well how debilitating and painful this condition can be when an attack happens. Even when the initial stage of the Migraine subsides, the aura and residual effects can last for days. While pain medication is a much needed part of the process, I also know that if you don’t administer the medication at the right time, the medication sometimes will have little, or no effect, once the migraine takes hold. Worse still, the withdrawal effects of these very strong pain medications can often then induce migraines and headaches, which then require further medication. It really can be a never-ending viscous cycle.

Migraines really do need a multimodality approach to them because the causes of them come from neck dysfunction(sublaxations), diet, blood sugars, hormones, stress and lifestyle. This is why an individual approach is always needed to properly assess, evaluate and treat migraines is needed. Too many people are just patching their condition, with a variety of treatments that really are only just getting them through to the next attack. What people need is a treatment that will not only treat the cause of their migraines, but also help prevent further migraines and give them long term relief and even cure. Acupuncture is just one component in that overall treatment and prevention. So let’s look at how acupuncture can help.

Acupuncture has been shown to induce important biological responses to prevent and alleviate migraines. Imaging studies of the brain using fMRI technology confirm that acupuncture causes specific cortical responses to achieve lasting analgesic effects. In addition, blood level measurements document specific responses to acupuncture that play an important role in preventing and eliminating pain.

Researchers conclude that acupuncture is effective for the prevention and treatment of migraine headaches. A meta-analysis of controlled clinical and laboratory investigations are the basis for the conclusion. In analysis of recent clinical trials, they showed the effectiveness of acupuncture as a treatment for migraines, with less migraine days and less pain intensity levels when acupuncture was administered. Furthermore, no severe adverse effects occurred. A follow-up of up to three months following acupuncture treatments maintained the same results and showed that acupuncture is effective for the treatment of migraines both on the short-term and long-term basis.

In some of the investigation, researchers conducting a clinically-controlled study using fMRI (functional magnetic resonance imaging) where they found a significant decrease in the functional connectivity of the right frontoparietal network of migraine patients. This connectivity dysfunctions was found to be reversible after four weeks of treatment using acupuncture. This is another curative effect of acupuncture that is quantifiable in repeated controlled experiments.

For over 7 thousand years, people have used acupuncture in China for the treatment of various pain conditions, including migraines. It is useful, both as a supplementary treatment and as an alternative treatment, in situations where there is no response to drug therapy. Migraines are a headache disorder affecting a broad population that causes many burdens due to associated healthcare costs and people not being able to go to school and work.

Up to 25% of households in Australia and the United States have at least one member who suffers from migraines. The estimated total number of migraine patients in the United States alone exceeds 28 million and half of them have reduced work or school productivity. In Australia millions of people suffer from Migraines daily and it also affects their work, study and general day to day function, with some not even able to leave their homes due to this debilitating condition.

Scientists have uncovered some of the biochemical mechanisms responsible for acupuncture’s pain killing effects. Drugs used for the treatment of migraines not only have a analgesic action, but they also activate a reaction in the cerebral vessels. In the studies analyzed it was found that acupuncture has been found this very same analgesic action and also activated the same process in the cerebral vessels. The studies revealed acupuncture’s ability to regulate key regions of the brain affected by migraines. The areas are essentially the pain circuitry regions of the brain and cognitive components of pain processing. In addition, acupuncture also restores normal serum nitric oxide (NO) levels that have been found to be almost 55% higher in patients with migraines. Excess NO is a potent vasodilator contributing to headaches and acupuncture restores homeostasis. The regulatory effects of acupuncture can be quantified as early as the fifth acupuncture session and the effects are cumulative.

Based on these and other studies in the meta-analysis, the researchers conclude that acupuncture improves patients’ psychological profile, relieves pain, is safe and cost-effective, and has been found to be at least as effective as conventional preventative pharmacologic treatments for migraines.

At Shen Therapies we know how to treat Migraines properly and also help prevent them returning. We use a multimodaility approach that also give an individualized treatment and also looks at the individuals cause. Our aim is to prevent Migraines from happening in the first place and hopefully prevent them from returning for good. With the right care, this can be done and now research is now backing up what we have known for many years.


Wang Y, Xue CC, Helme R, Da Costa C, Zheng Z (2015) Acupuncture for Frequent Migraine: A Randomized, Patient/Assessor Blinded, Controlled Trial with One-Year Follow-Up. Evid based Complement Alternat Med 2015: 920353.

Da Silva AN (2015) Acupuncture for migraine prevention. Headache 55: 470-473.

Vijayalakshmi I, Sjankar N, Saxena A, Bhatia MS (2014) Coomparison of effectiveness of acupuncture therapy and conventional drug therapy on psychological profile of migraine patients. Indian J Physiol Pharmacol 58: 69-76.

What You Can Eat During Pregnancy

Pregnant belly 2




“What you can eat during Pregnancy”

Earlier this year, I put up a post to see what people thought that you (can) and (can’t) eat during… pregnancy, or if you were trying to fall pregnant. It was really interesting to see what foods people thought you could not eat during pregnancy. It is really interesting that most people want to tell you want you can’t eat, but hardly anyone tells you what you can eat during pregnancy and while trying to fall.

What prompted this post was that a while back I overheard one of my staff and lovely mother to be, talking to another mother to be about what she has been cutting from her diet while she was pregnant and how her food choices were so limited.

I heard all kind of wonderful things from not eating any seafood; not eating any cold meat, not eating soft cheeses, not eating eggs, not eating nuts and nearly the whole food pyramid was being added.

What many people don’t know is that I actually have a background in food science and that I used to teach about bacteria and food hygiene and the nasty consequences of what bacteria can do to the body.

Most pregnant women have the number one fear of foods containing Listeria. It is a rare form of bacteria but it can be fatal (very rare) to a lady if she is pregnant and cause issues such as miscarriage. So not discounting it at all and some countries around the world do not have the food hygiene standards we have here in Australia. We only see about 5 cases per million people in Australia. Basically there is about 0.3-0.4% chance of getting it and we all make such a big deal about it. Again, this is not to discount it either. Listeria can be found in unpasteurised products such as diary and cheese and can be found in some forms of deli meats mainly.

But if a health issues such as Listeria poisoning is so rare, why do we make such a fuss about it and not warn women of other potentially worse factors that cause more cases per year, and can be potentially fatal too. The problem is if women only hear about the foods they can’t eat, many of them are going to be nutrient deficient all for the fear of a tiny chance of listeria causing an issue with a pregnancy.

The truth is, other bacteria such as Salmonella, Shigella and Camphyobacter have a higher rate of infection per year than listeria ever will and nobody ever talks about them. There are over 25,000 cases of these combined and most of the spread is through person to person contact, not just foods themselves. Basically many food poisoning cases are actually from bacteria being on your own hands, which then at some stage end up in, or near your mouth. This is why smokers are at higher risk of food poisoning.

Then we have a far wider implication of gestational diabetes, which account for about 15,000 plus, pregnant women per year, with an annual increase of 5% per year. When someone eats sugary foods, highly processed foods, grains etc during pregnancy, that are a major cause of diabetes, nobody says a thing. Yet mention the word Brie cheese, cold meats etc and everyone goes nuts.

So what do pregnant women really need to know and what can you eat?

Basically the same food hygiene that is needed when you aren’t pregnant is to be observed when you are. There only needs to be a little bit more caution, not an ‘OMG’ stay clear of everything, that unreliable Dr Google, or ‘Someone’, has told you. I would love to know who ‘Someone’ is because he, or she, causes a lot of problems. Remember temperatures between 5 and 60 degrees C are you danger zone area. This is why foods need to be stored below 5 degrees and heated over 60 degrees C.

So what can you eat?

  • So basically you can eat any deli meats as long as they are cryo-vacced and in date. Cryovacced means the air has been taken out and not even bacteria can live in an non-oxygenated environment.
  • You can eat all seafoods as long as they are cooked and fresh.
  • You can eat all cheeses but need to be more careful around the soft cheeses. New research actually shows that small amounts can be beneficial for you. If you cook soft cheeses there is definitely no issue. Just don’t eat cheeses from unpasteurised sources.
  • You can have any form of pasteurised milk or UHT milk.
  • You can have soft serve ice-cream as long as the place you are getting it from looks hygienically clean. Maybe not a good idea to get them from the old ice-cream trucks that aren’t checked regularly by food standards.
  • You can eat nuts and now there is evidence to show that mums not eating nuts during pregnancy may now be the cause of nut allergies.
  • You can definitely eat eggs and you just have to make sure they aren’t raw. Boiled eggs, poached eggs and fried eggs are all fine. Egg custard is fine because it is cooked
  • You can eat all meats if they are cooked and you don’t have to char it until it resembles an old leather shoe. Medium is fine. You just need to cook all chicken right through because all chicken contains salmonella and cooking it kills it.
  • You can have coffee and tea and you just need to limit all caffeine to no more than two cups per day (remember tea has as much caffeine as coffee)

Basically the healthy food pyramid we teach at Shen Therapies needs to be applied.

1. Take our ConceptShen Multivitamin & Omega 3 Oils daily and take a probiotic

2. Eat 2 handful of nuts daily or two tablespoons of healthy oils

3. Limit you grains to one serve (only) per day or cut them completely (best)

4. Eat 2 pieces of low GI fruits per day

5. Protein with every meal or snack

6. 3 serves of veggies or salads per day (just not from a salad bar)

7. 8 glasses of water

8. 2 serves of electrolytes per day when pregnant

9. 30 -45 minutes exercise 2-3 times per week

# No diet drinks or artificial sweeteners at all

Remember food is to be enjoyed and so is pregnancy. Don’t get too caught up in all the worry of what you can’t eat and look more at what you can eat and stick to those foods.

Traditional Chinese Medicine and Fibromyalgia






TCM and Fibromyalgia

Traditional acupuncture takes a holistic approach to health and regards illness as a sign that the body is out of balance. The exact pattern and degree of imbalance is unique to each individual. The traditional acupuncturists skill lies in identifying the precise nature of the underlying disharmony and selecting the most effective treatment. The choice of acupuncture points will be specific and individual to each patients needs. Traditional acupuncture can also be used as a preventive measure to strengthen the constitution and promote general wellbeing.

Fibromyalgia often happens after a chronic illness, or disease state, such as Chronic Fatigue, Ross River Fever etc. Fibromyalgia needs a multi-modality approach to treat it effectively as no single therapy on its own offers a complete fix to this issue. In Chinese Medicine Fibromyalgia is seen as a disharmony of 3 of the major organs (Spleen, Liver and Kidneys). In Chinese medicine when they talk about the Spleen they are talking about the gut and the immune system. The Kidneys is the Adrenals and the Liver is either the physical liver or the emotional side of the liver, being anger and frustration.

The major pattern of disharmony for Fibromyalgia, according to TCM, is called hot Bi-Sydrome. The Chinese believe that excess fluids cause excess fluids to build in the body (called dampness), and this causes inflammation and heat. They also say that internal wind pushes the damp around the system. Think of the wind over a fire. Basically this relates to wide spread inflammation.  Because the organs are in disharmony they cannot transport the fluids properly, detox properly and this cause stagnation in the body. Think of damming a running river and then the water builds up and becomes stagnant. This fluid accumulation, the inflammation and stagnant state cause heat and pain all over the body and this then represents itself as Fibromyalgia.

This is where acupuncture and Chinese herbs can help. The acupuncture and Chinese herbs helps stimulate the organs to work properly, the acupuncture works locally on circulation and pain, and both the herbs and acupuncture reduce inflammation and remove fluids from the body to help in the overall treatment.

On a western medicine perspective, TCM and acupuncture help to release endorphins into the body to help pain and inflammation. They also help with adrenal function and help with any stress response causing inflammation in the body. TCM and acupuncture also help with circulation of the fluids and help with the immune system and gut so that the body functions healthily again.

In modern times with the advent of TENS (Transcutaneous Electro Neuro Stimulation, or Electro stimulation), acupuncture needles can have electro pulses run through them to stimulate nerves and muscles at a local level. It also helps to stimulate more pain helping endorphins into the system and helps to transport the fluid accumulation causing the pain response and inflammation. This electro stimulation helps to increase the efficiency of the acupunctures therapeutic response and helps with increased success in the treatment of pain and arthritic like conditions like fibromyalgia. This can be seen in many of the latest studies on helping pain be electro-acupuncture.

Acupuncture may help relieve pain in patients with fibromyalgia by:

  • altering the brains chemistry, increasing endorphins (Han 2004) and neuropeptide Y levels (Lee 2009; Cheng 2009), and reducing serotonin levels (Zhou 2008);
  • evoking short-term increases in mu -opioid receptors binding potential, in multiple pain and sensory processing regions of the brain (Harris 2009);
  • stimulating nerves located in muscles and other tissues, which leads to release of endorphins and other neurohumoral factors, and changes the processing of pain in the brain and spinal cord (Pomeranz 1987, Zhao 2008);
  • reducing inflammation, by promoting release of vascular and immunomodulatory factors (Kavoussi 2007, Zijlstra 2003)
  • improving muscle stiffness and joint mobility by increasing local microcirculation (Komori 2009), which aids dispersal of swelling.

The Chinese have been treating Fibromyalgia like symptoms for centuries with acupuncture and Chinese herbs and had great success in doing so. While this modern disease state may be known by another name to Chinese Medicine, the cause is still the same as it was 10,000 years ago. In Chinese Medicine they treat the cause to fix a complaint, not treat the symptoms and hope the cause gets fixed at the same time. Basically stress, diet, poor gut function, poor adrenal function, lifestyle and emotional factors and disease states (chronic fatigue, EBV, Ross River etc) are all the cause and these all need to be addressed to fix Fibromylagia. Just addressing the pain (the symptoms) isn’t going to fix this complex issue.