Category Archives for Medical Conditions

Treating Migraines with Acupuncture – Brisbane South

Acupuncture for Migraines in Moorooka, South Brisbane

Michelle Blum, is a Naturopath and Acupuncturist based in the South Brisbane suburb of Moorooka. In her latest blog she looks at a recent study that validates the effectiveness of treating Migraines with Acupuncture.

There are more than 1 billion people throughout the world who experience migraines which can have an enormous impact on quality of life.

Whilst drug therapy is an effective option for some, it isn’t always everyone’s cup of tea.

Did you know that a recent study in China which has been published in the British Medical Journal, compared manual acupuncture with sham acupuncture along with usual care ?

There were 147 patients in the study who averaged around the age of 37. All of whom, had a history of migraines without aura.

The conclusion was made from the study, that those patients who received manual acupuncture experienced fewer migraine days as well as fewer migraine attacks than the other two groups.

It has been suggested that Acupuncture should be a preventative treatment offered to patients by doctors given that 90 % of migraine sufferers, generally have no preventative treatment available to them.

How do I treat migraines in my Acupuncture clinic ?

It is interesting how many clients visiting the clinic for migraine treatment expect that needles will be placed on their scalp or head region. Many do not realise that Acupuncture involves a complex set of meridians or energy pathways that run throughout the whole body. Often needles will be placed in parts of the body like the legs and feet to treat the head or upper body.

When assessing a patient who is suffering with migraines, I will always look for any structural mis-alignment affecting the neck and address this if it seems to be the causative factor.

I will also always be sure to ask the client if they have any head injuries or trauma and if so, I will treat accordingly. The reason for this is that past head trauma, no matter how long ago, can act as a driver for migraines and headaches, possibly causing disturbance at a later stage down the track.

In Chinese Medicine, it is thought that migraines and headaches are a symptom belonging to the Wood element which involves both the Liver and Gall Bladder meridians. These pathways are highly sensitive to stress and can easily fall out of balance giving rise to upper body heat and pain.

A Japanese style Acupuncturist will usually identify such a pattern using the neck, abdomen and pulse reading. Then needles will be gently inserted to address what the skilled practitioner deems to be the underlying cause.

Herbal medicines that address the Liver and Gall Bladder Qi may also be prescribed.

In the world of Naturopathic and Nutritional Medicine, supplements such as Magnesium will be recommended due to their effect on the muscular and nervous systems. Be sure to ask your Naturopath for the right type and dose of magnesium that will best suit your personal presentation. The oral form of magnesium is by far the more effective form with magnesium salt baths, sprays or oils being less so.

As a holistic practitioner who integrates Acupuncture, Chinese Medicine, Naturopathic and Nutritional Medicine, I will often ask my clients to bring into the clinic any recent blood tests that have been conducted. If these have not been done, I may send them off for testing to ensure that everything is as it should be.

If you would like more information about whether Acupuncture or Naturopathy treatments may be suitable for your health condition, feel free to contact the clinic here.

Diet and cardiovascular health – Brisbane South Naturopath

Diet and cardiovascular Health – Brisbane South Naturopath shares the latest research

Brisbane South side Naturopath and Acupuncturist, Michelle Blum looks at evidence based dietary interventions for cardio-vascular health.

Cardiovascular disease is one of the leading causes of illness and death in Australia. Such prevalence results in a landslide of well-meaning but conflicting advice and misinformation, particularly online. The risk factors for cardiovascular disease when identified and addressed early, can make all the difference for preventing a cardiovascular event such as a stroke or a heart attack.

Naturopathic in-clinic screening methods for
cardiovascular disease may include:

  • Monitoring your blood pressure and pulse
  • Analysing your iris, tongue and nails
  • Checking your waist circumference
  • Testing your blood circulation and respiratory health
  • Exploring other risk factors such as diet, exercise
    and physical environment

To assess your risk of cardiovascular disease, your
Naturopath can also interpret routine blood test results and explain the
relationship between markers such as

  • Cholesterol / triglycerides and the importance of
    their ratios
  • C-reactive protein which is a marker of inflammation
  • Vitamin B12, B6 and folate levels
  • Homocysteine levels

High homocysteine levels can directly contribute to
the development of cardiovascular disease, by increasing the damaging effect of
cholesterol on the blood vessel walls. Homocysteine levels can become elevated
if you are not getting enough vitamin B12, B6 or folate in your diet, or if your
ability to absorb these nutrients isn’t quite up to scratch.  

the best diet for preventing cardiovascular disease?

The results are in – a 2019 study followed over 16 000 adults and found that those who followed a mostly plant-based diet were at a lower risk of heart failure than those who followed a diet high in processed or fried foods and consumed sugar sweetened beverages1<sup>1</sup>. The plant-based diet group were at 41% lower risk for experiencing heart failure. Unsurprisingly, the fried diet group were evaluated as having a 71% increase in risk of heart failure1.

A plant-based diet is also less likely to result in the
formation of trimethylamine n-oxide (TMAO), a metabolite produced by gut
bacteria which plays a role in how fats are processed in the liver2. Higher levels of TMAO are often
found in cases of cardiovascular disease. Because TMAO is formed during the breakdown
of certain nutrients found in red meat, egg yolk and full fat dairy products,
limiting these foods can help to reduce risk. Interestingly, choosing balsamic
vinegar and olive oil can help negate the effects of TMAO2.

about a vegetarian diet for stroke?

When assessing over 13 000 people for a link between
diet and risk of stroke, researchers found that those on a vegetarian diet, enjoy
a 74% lower risk of stroke3. It is important to note that a
strictly vegetarian diet can result in inadequate intake of important nutrients
like vitamin B6 and B12. Deficiency in these vitamins can elevate homocysteine
levels which as mentioned above, can increase your risk of cardiovascular
disease. The solution? Consider decreasing your intake of animal products and
increase the quality of the products you’re choosing! Still include some high
quality animal products but choose organic or grass-fed options for your meat
and eggs.

oil or coconut oil – which is healthier in for the heart?

Many people are choosing coconut oil over other
cooking oils such as olive or canola oil. However, a recent study found that
coconut oil does have the ability to raise levels of LDL cholesterol, which is
problematic for those at risk of cardiovascular disease4. This study was based on the
consumption of 3-4 tablespoons of coconut oil per day – an amount most people
aren’t going to be eating on a daily basis.

A 2020 study found that replacing just a teaspoon of
margarine, butter or mayonnaise with olive oil per day, reduces risk of
cardiovascular disease by up to 7%5. The study was conducted in the
United States over 24 years and determined that those who consumed ½ a
tablespoon of olive oil per day were 14% less likely to develop cardiovascular
disease and 18% less likely to develop coronary heart disease5.

The key points:

  • A plant-based diet decreases risk of heart failure, while a diet featuring fried or highly processed foods and drinks has a higher risk of heart failure
  • A Mediterranean style diet with a range of plant fibres from vegetables, legumes, nuts and fruits with a daily dose of high quality olive oil and balsamic vinegar can help to mediate the effects of animal products in cardiovascular disease risk
  • Don’t overdo the coconut oil and replace high fat condiments with olive oil

Contact Michelle Blum Natural Health if you would like to book an appointment or discuss how Naturopathy and/or Acupuncture can assist you with your particular health concern.


1.       Lara KM,
Levitan EB, Gutierrez OM, et al. Dietary Patterns and Incident Heart Failure in
U.S. Adults Without Known Coronary Disease. J Am Coll Cardiol. 2019.

2.       Senthong V, Wang Z, Fan Y,
Wu Y, Hazen SL, Tang WHW. Trimethylamine N-oxide and mortality risk in patients
with peripheral artery disease. J Am Heart Assoc. 2016.

3.       Chiu THT, Chang H-R, Wang
L-Y, Chang C-C, Lin M-N, Lin C-L. Vegetarian diet and incidence of total,
ischemic, and hemorrhagic stroke in 2 cohorts in Taiwan. Neurology.
2020;0:10.1212/WNL.0000000000009093. doi:10.1212/WNL.0000000000009093

4.       Eyres L, Eyres MF, Chisholm
A, Brown RC. Coconut oil consumption and cardiovascular risk factors in humans.
Nutr Rev. 2016. doi:10.1093/nutrit/nuw002

5.       Marta Guasch-Ferré, Gang
Liu, Yanping Li, Laura Sampson, JoAnn E. Manson, Jordi Salas-Salvadó, Miguel A.
Martínez-González, Meir J. Stampfer, Walter C. Willett QS and FBH. Olive Oil
Consumption and Cardiovascular Risk in U.S. Adults. J Am Coll Cardiol.

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Chinese Medicine and the Autumn season by Brisbane south-side Acupuncturist and Naturopath.

The meaning of Autumn in Chinese Medicine and Acupuncture – Brisbane South side

Michelle Blum, Brisbane south side Acupuncturist, Chinese Medicine Practitioner and Naturopath talks about the seasonal shift from summer to Autumn and what this means in Chinese Medicine.
Well it’s March already, which means that Autumn is upon us !

Despite the fact that in South East Queensland, autumn doesn’t really commence until late March/early April, according to Chine Medicine philosophy, it is still important to respect this seasonal transition.In Chinese Medicine each season is classified into elements, that being the metal element for the season of Autumn.The metal element relates to the lung and large intestine organs and their affiliated meridians. The nose is the orifice pertaining to the metal element and its associated emotion is grief or sadness.The metal element is also about letting go of the expansive, active and joyful phase that is associated with summer and embracing the contraction and more quiet and reflective aspects of the approaching winter. This process can itself engender feelings of grief and sadness.The climatic conditions associated with the metal element are dryness and coolness which can give rise to symptoms such as asthma or eczema.
In terms of our diet, Chinese Medicine principles guide us to consume food and beverages that are warming, preferring cooked foods over cold foods such as salads and smoothies. This would be especially recommended at breakfast and dinner time when the air is cooler.

Stewed pears with cooked oats or quinoa flakes and a non dairy milk would be a perfect autumnal breakfast.

Below is a lovely autumnal dinner recipe that you may wish try at home. Let me know how you go by sending me a message on the Michelle Blum Natural Health Facebook page though perhaps you may need to like the page first.

Autumnal Vegetable and Apple Stew

2 sweet potatoes, peeled and roughly chopped
200g pumpkin, roughly chopped
4 carrots, peeled and roughly chopped
4 parsnips, roughly chopped (or 2 medium potatoes)
1 onion, roughly chopped
2 green apples, cored, peeled and roughly chopped
2 cups roughly chopped silverbeet
½ cup roughly chopped parsley
½ tsp sea salt
½ tsp ground black pepper
½ tsp ground cumin
½ tsp ground cinnamon
3 cups vegetable stock

Add all ingredients except for silverbeet into slow cooker and cook on low for 4 hours.Turn heat off and add silverbeet, stir through until wilted. May be served alone or with a dollop of plain coconut yoghurt.

If you liked the recipe or would like to know how Acupuncture, Chinese Medicine or Naturopathy may help you, please drop me a line here

Acupuncture and Naturopathy for Depression Brisbane South – Evidence based lifestyle modifications explored.

Naturopathy and Acupuncture for Depression Brisbane

Michelle Blum, who practices Acupuncture and Naturopathy is Brisbane’s south, lists some evidence based lifestyle modifications that can improve outcomes for depression.

Depression is now considered the second leading cause of years of life lost to disability (YLD), trailing just behind cardiovascular disease1. It is highly likely that either you experience depression personally, or are close to someone who does. As rates of depression rise, the ripple effect expands outwards from the individual to the families, friends, social and medical systems that support those affected.

Whilst depression can have various underlying causes, the influence of diet and lifestyle on mood is undeniable. Fortunately, we have the scientific evidence to back this up.

An anti-inflammatory, Mediterranean style diet improves depression scores

An interesting link between depression and cardiovascular disease is that systemic inflammation has been identified as both a risk factor and an exacerbating factor driving their development2.

A 2017 trial wherein participants adopted a Mediterranean style diet in addition to omega-3 fatty acid supplementation demonstrated positive results for depression at both the three and six month mark3. Indeed, 60% of participants reported experiencing less severe depression, 72% experienced less anxiety and 69% experienced less stress after following a Mediterranean style diet. Importantly, there was also an emphasis on the social and lifestyle elements that feature in a Mediterranean lifestyle – those participants who cooked and ate together reported improvements in other measures of mental health as well3.

Does chocolate make you happier?

Wouldn’t it be nice? Chocolate has long been proclaimed as being able to increase levels of the ‘happy hormone’ serotonin. Further research is required to establish a causal mechanism, however psychoactive compounds found in chocolate may induce feelings of euphoria by acting upon the endocannabinoid system4. A study that was based on a survey of over 13 000 people found that those who did not consume any dark chocolate were more likely to experience depression than those who regularly consumed dark chocolate4. So for now, the link between chocolate consumption and reduced rates of depression is one of association, rather than one of causation.

Vitamin D supplementation in depression

Deficient levels of vitamin D are a frequent finding in depression sufferers. To validate her positive observations of vitamin D supplementation in depressed patients, Marissa Flaherty MD, conducted a review of the scientific evidence. An analysis of five clinical trials confirmed that vitamin D supplementation does lead to improvements in depression. One trial showed that vitamin D in combination with fluoxetine yielded better results for patients than fluoxetine alone, meaning that vitamin D can be administered alongside conventional pharmaceutical treatment5. Getting sunshine in addition to having your vitamin D levels checked could make a significant difference!

Meditation and mindfulness – powerful tools for managing depression

Those with a regular mindfulness or meditation practice will not need any convincing when it comes to the benefits of these techniques. There is a reason such practices have persisted for thousands of years – now there is modern-day evidence to prove why. Most of the population will experience a mild depressive episode at some point, with a percentage of people going on to develop major depression6.

For many patients, treatment with anti-depressant medications does not lead to complete remission. Recently, a study found that when combined with usual depression care, online mindfulness-based cognitive behaviour therapy had better outcomes for patients compared to usual depression care alone7.  The study found that patients were less likely to relapse if they were also provided with web-based ‘Mindfulness Mood Balance’. The same group also experienced reduced levels of anxiety, more frequent depression-free days and better mental functioning7.

An earlier trial of people with sub-threshold depression (who didn’t quite meet the diagnostic criteria for clinical depression) were provided with behavioural activation mindfulness treatment (BAM) for 12 months. They received training in mindfulness, body-scanning, lifestyle planning and walking meditation in addition to guided meditation tapes for home practice.  Another group who received only usual care, without the mindfulness treatment were also studied as a comparison. At the end of the trial, the BAM group were less likely to have developed major depression (10.8% compared to 26.8%) and reported slightly higher improvements to depressive symptoms6.

The best part?

These research-backed lifestyle modifications are of low cost and can be safely implemented for many people who experience chronic depression. They also provide a solid foundation for wellness and disease prevention in those without a mental health condition.

If you or someone you know is suffering from depression and would like to discuss some natural options please do not hesitate to contact Michelle Blum Natural Health here.

Reference List:

1.       Mendis S, Armstrong T, Bettcher D, et al. Global Status Report on Noncommunicable Diseases 2014. World Health Organisation.; 2014. doi:ISBN 9789241564854

2.       Dowlati Y, Herrmann N, Swardfager W, et al. A Meta-Analysis of Cytokines in Major Depression. Biol Psychiatry. 2010. doi:10.1016/j.biopsych.2009.09.033

3.       Parletta N, Zarnowiecki D, Cho J, et al. A Mediterranean-style dietary intervention supplemented with fish oil improves diet quality and mental health in people with depression: A randomized controlled trial (HELFIMED). Nutr Neurosci. 2019. doi:10.1080/1028415X.2017.1411320

4.       Jackson SE, Smith L, Firth J, et al. Is there a relationship between chocolate consumption and symptoms of depression? A cross-sectional survey of 13,626 US adults. Depress Anxiety. 2019. doi:10.1002/da.22950

5.       Khoraminya N, Tehrani-Doost M, Jazayeri S, Hosseini A, Djazayery A. Therapeutic effects of vitamin D as adjunctive therapy to fluoxetine in patients with major depressive disorder. Aust N Z J Psychiatry. 2013. doi:10.1177/0004867412465022

6.       Wong SYS, Sun YY, Chan ATY, et al. Treating subthreshold depression in primary care: A randomized controlled trial of behavioral activation with mindfulness. Ann Fam Med. 2018. doi:10.1370/afm.2206

7.       Segal Z V., Dimidjian S, Beck A, et al. Outcomes of Online Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy for Patients with Residual Depressive Symptoms: A Randomized Clinical Trial. JAMA Psychiatry. 2020. doi:10.1001/jamapsychiatry.2019.4693

Acupuncture for Back Pain – Brisbane South

America officially recommends Acupuncture for low back pain… Will Australia follow suit? South Brisbane Acupuncturist Michelle Blum explores.

Low back pain is one of the most frequently reported pain conditions in adults world-wide. In the United States (US) alone, 25% of adults reported experiencing low back pain in some capacity within the last 90 days1.

Whether it’s a dull ache, shooting pains down the leg, numbness or acute injury, lower back pain hurts. In those suffering, reaching for pain killing medications and anti-inflammatories is often second nature.

The pharmacological arsenal for the day-to-day management of lower back pain includes; nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) acetaminophen, opioid drugs, skeletal muscle relaxants, systemic corticosteroids and medications that act on the nervous system such as benzodiazepines, anti-depressants and even anti-seizure medications2.

Whilst the burden of the opioid epidemic cannot be understated, household drugs such as NSAIDs are an understated risk factor in the development of kidney disease, gastrointestinal ulcers3, leaky-gut syndrome4 and liver damage5.

The effects of lower back pain are far reaching, with negative consequences for workplace productivity, loss of wages and costs to the healthcare system. On an individual level, chronic pain conditions such as low back pain are associated with reduced quality of life and higher rates of depression6 in many people.

Never has the need for an effective, safe treatment for low back pain been higher!

A systematic review conducted by the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ) examined the evidence and efficacy of common treatments for lower back pain including:

  • Pharmacological drugs
  • Psychological therapies
  • Physical rehabilitation
  • Spinal manipulation
  • Acupuncture
  • Massage
  • Exercise therapies

They evaluated each treatment in regards to the following outcomes:

  • Reduction of elimination in of low back pain
  • Improvements to mobility and function
  • Improvements to quality of life
  • Return to work
  • Frequency of low back pain episodes
  • Patient satisfaction
  • Adverse effects

How does Acupuncture perform in low back pain?

In acute and subacute cases of low back pain, acupuncture demonstrated a decrease in pain intensity with an increase in overall improvement compared to NSAID therapy. That means improved pain outcomes, without the risks associated with pain medication2.

In chronic low back pain, acupuncture reduced pain severity immediately following the treatment as well as for up to 12 weeks after the session2. When evaluating changes to low-back function, researchers found that acupuncture was associated with improved function compared to NSAIDs, analgesics and muscle relaxants and the placebo (non-penetrating acupuncture needles)2

Based on the review of evidence, The American College of Physicians (ACP) developed the following recommendations for clinical treatment of low back pain:

Recommendation 1

“Given that most patients with acute or subacute low back pain improve over time regardless of treatment, clinicians and patients should select nonpharmacologic treatment with superficial heat (moderate-quality evidence), massage, acupuncture, or spinal manipulation (low-quality evidence). If pharmacologic treatment is desired, clinicians and patients should select nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs or skeletal muscle relaxants (moderate-quality evidence). (Grade: strong recommendation)2

Recommendation 2:

For patients with chronic low back pain, clinicians and patients should initially select nonpharmacologic treatment with exercise, multidisciplinary rehabilitation, acupuncture, mindfulness-based stress reduction (moderate-quality evidence), tai chi, yoga, motor control exercise, progressive relaxation, electromyography biofeedback, low-level laser therapy, operant therapy, cognitive behavioral therapy, or spinal manipulation (low-quality evidence). (Grade: strong recommendation)2

Recommendation 3:

“In patients with chronic low back pain who have had an inadequate response to nonpharmacologic therapy, clinicians and patients should consider pharmacologic treatment with nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs as first-line therapy, or tramadol or duloxetine as second-line therapy. Clinicians should only consider opioids as an option in patients who have failed the aforementioned treatments and only if the potential benefits outweigh the risks for individual patients and after a discussion of known risks and realistic benefits with patients. (Grade: weak recommendation, moderate-quality evidence)2

Australia does tend to take its lead from the US – will health care providers take these recommendations into consideration when addressing the four million Australians who experience back pain?

In the meantime, consider booking an acupuncture treatment to relieve your low back pain.

Reference List.

1.       Deyo RA, Mirza SK, Martin BI. Back pain prevalence and visit rates: Estimates from U.S. national surveys, 2002. Spine (Phila Pa 1976). 2006. doi:10.1097/

2.       Qaseem A, Wilt TJ, McLean RM, Forciea MA. Noninvasive treatments for acute, subacute, and chronic low back pain: A clinical practice guideline from the American College of Physicians. Ann Intern Med. 2017. doi:10.7326/M16-2367

3.       Marcum ZA, Hanlon JT. Recognizing the risks of chronic nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug use in older adults. Ann Long-Term Care. 2010.

4.       Bhatt AP, Gunasekara DB, Speer J, et al. Nonsteroidal Anti-Inflammatory Drug-Induced Leaky Gut Modeled Using Polarized Monolayers of Primary Human Intestinal Epithelial Cells. ACS Infect Dis. 2018. doi:10.1021/acsinfecdis.7b00139

5.       Sriuttha P, Sirichanchuen B, Permsuwan U. Hepatotoxicity of Nonsteroidal Anti-Inflammatory Drugs: A Systematic Review of Randomized Controlled Trials. Int J Hepatol. 2018. doi:10.1155/2018/5253623

6.       Sheng J, Liu S, Wang Y, Cui R, Zhang X. The Link between Depression and Chronic Pain: Neural Mechanisms in the Brain. Neural Plast. 2017. doi:10.1155/2017/9724371

Brisbane South Naturopathy – The low down on Calcium Dairy and Osteoporosis.

Brisbane South Naturopathy – The low down on Calcium, Dairy and Osteoporosis.

Michelle Blum who practices Acupuncture and Naturopathy in Brisbane’s south, discusses all things Calcium, Dairy and Osteoporosis in this latest blog.

Calcium is synonymous with three things; strong bones, strong teeth and dairy. They fit nicely together when it comes to selling milk and dairy products, but is it all really that simple? With the rates of osteoporosis on the rise in the western world, despite regular consumption of calcium-rich dairy, it’s time to review the role of calcium. 

Calcium and bone health

Yes, calcium is vital for strong bones and teeth, with 99% of the body’s calcium stored in these connective tissues. The intake and absorption of dietary calcium is critical for the mineral deposition in bone as well as bone growth and repair1. Outside of bone tissue, calcium also helps to regulate muscle contractions and movement1. To read this study, click here.

Does calcium actually lower the risk of Osteoporosis?

If you are a woman in your post-menopausal years, chances are that you have a little bottle of calcium in your medicine cabinet. If you don’t, your elderly parents probably do. Maintaining bone mineral density (BMD) is a key measure in preventing osteoporosis, and calcium supplementation aims to support this.

The evidence between average calcium intake from milk consumption and the prevention of osteoporosis and fractures is limited. A Harvard-led study found that men and women who drank one glass of milk or less per week were at no more risk of fracture than those who drank two or more glasses of milk each week2,3

A large analysis of the available evidence concluded that there is no significant association between calcium intake or supplementation and the risk of fracture in men and women4. However, the study acknowledges that the form and effects of supplemental calcium in some of the trials was not assessed4

Not all calcium supplements are created equal

Over the counter calcium supplements often contain calcium in the form of calcium carbonate. Which actually has the same chemical structure as chalk!

A recent trial administered 60 post-menopausal women either calcium carbonate, calcium hydroxyapatite or a control for two years, to determine the effects of calcium supplementation on BMD5. The hydroxyapatite form resulted in less than 1% loss in BMD at the two year mark, compared to almost 4% BMD in the calcium carbonate group (Figure 1)5. This confirms that for the purpose of maintaining BMD, calcium hydroxyapatite is likely to be superior to supplementation with calcium carbonate5. These findings supported those of an earlier trial in Figure 26.

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Figure One: Calcium Hydroxyapatite Reduces Bone Loss5

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Figure Two: Calcium Hydroxapatite Reduces Trabecular Bone Loss6

Is dairy the best dietary source of calcium?

Calcium has been dairy’s selling point for, well, ever. While dairy does contain calcium and is a convenient source for many people, the correlation between dairy consumption and disease prevention is not strong. At present, the recommended dietary calcium intake for adults is upward of 1000mg per day. To meet this target through dairy alone would require drinking 2-3 glasses of milk daily. This can present other health challenges in terms of:

  • Bloating, gas, pain and diarrhoea from excess lactose consumption
  • The effects of lactose and casein as proteins that can trigger the immune system
  • Saturated fat intake particularly in populations already consuming animal products
  • Possible increased risk of ovarian7,8 and prostate cancer9,10

The best non-dairy calcium sources11:

  • Firm Tofu – 1 cup delivers 832mg 
  • Sardines – a 90g can delivers between 330-486mg 
  • Pink salmon – a 90g can delivers between 183-279mg 
  • Red salmon – a 90g can delivers between 175-203mg
  • Mussels – 100g delivers 173mg
  • Snapper – 1 fillet delivers 163mg
  • Silverbeet, boiled – 1 cup delivers 174mg
  • Figs, dried – 6 figs delivers 160mg
  • Soybeans – 1 cup delivers 106mg
  • Tahini – 1 tablespoon delivers 66mg

A word on the environmental impacts of milk…

There is an emerging concern that the recent demand for plant-based milk substitutes is contributing to greenhouse gas emissions and destruction of land. Currently, it is still more environmentally friendly in terms of greenhouse gas emissions and land use, to grow almonds than it is to produce dairy milk12.

Unfortunately, the current agricultural paradigm means that the farming of most crops is having detrimental effects on the climate and environment. When choosing your milk, whether it is dairy or plant-based, consider purchasing an organic brand or do some research and find a source that has been bio-dynamically farmed. 

Ways to maintain healthy bones and prevent osteoporosis:

  • Keep active – using your muscles also strengthens bone tissue13
  • Get plenty of sunlight – vitamin D helps to regulate calcium in the body to prevent fractures14
  • Avoid Cola – cola soft drinks contain a lot of phosphorous, which has been associated with loss of bone mineral density and weaker bones15

For Acupuncture and/or Naturopathy bookings or enquiries please visit Michelle Blum Natural Health here, located on Brisbane’s south side.

Reference List:

1. Harvey NC, Biver E, Kaufman JM, et al. The role of calcium supplementation in healthy musculoskeletal ageing: An expert consensus meeting of the European Society for Clinical and Economic Aspects of Osteoporosis, Osteoarthritis and Musculoskeletal Diseases (ESCEO) and the International Foundation for Osteoporosis (IOF). Osteoporos Int. 2017. doi:10.1007/s00198-016-3773-6

2. Owusu W, Willett WC, Feskanich D, Ascherio A, Spiegelman D, Colditz GA. Calcium Intake and the Incidence of Forearm and Hip Fractures among Men. J Nutr. 1997. doi:10.1093/jn/127.9.1782

3. Feskanich D, Willett WC, Stampfer MJ, Colditz GA. Milk, dietary calcium, and bone fractures in women: A 12-year prospective study. Am J Public Health. 1997. doi:10.2105/AJPH.87.6.992

4. Bischoff-Ferrari HA, Dawson-Hughes B, Baron JA, et al. Calcium intake and hip fracture risk in men and women: A meta-analysis of prospective cohort studies and randomized controlled trials. Am J Clin Nutr. 2007. doi:10.1093/ajcn/86.6.1780

5. Castelo-Branco C, Pons F, Vicente JJ, Sanjuán A, Vanrell JA. Preventing postmenopausal bone loss with ossein-hydroxyapatite compounds: Results of a two-year, prospective trial. J Reprod Med Obstet Gynecol. 1999.

6. Rüegsegger P, Keller A, Dambacher MA. Comparison of the treatment effects of ossein-hydroxyapatite compound and calcium carbonate in osteoporotic females. Osteoporos Int. 1995. doi:10.1007/BF01623655

7. Genkinger JM, Hunter DJ, Spiegelman D, et al. Dairy products and ovarian cancer: A pooled analysis of 12 cohort studies. Cancer Epidemiol Biomarkers Prev. 2006. doi:10.1158/1055-9965.EPI-05-0484

8. Ganmaa D, Sato A. The possible role of female sex hormones in milk from pregnant cows in the development of breast, ovarian and corpus uteri cancers. Med Hypotheses. 2005. doi:10.1016/j.mehy.2005.06.026

9. Giovannucci E, Liu Y, Platz EA, Stampfer MJ, Willett WC. Risk factors for prostate cancer incidence and progression in the health professionals follow-up study. Int J Cancer. 2007. doi:10.1002/ijc.22788

10. Giovannucci E, Rimm EB, Wolk A, et al. Calcium and fructose intake in relation to risk of prostate cancer. Cancer Res. 1998.

11. Committee OAM& SA. Calcium Consumer Guide 4th Edition.; 2006. Calcium Ed4(1).pdf.

12. Poore J, Nemecek T. Reducing food’s environmental impacts through producers and consumers. Science (80- ). 2018. doi:10.1126/science.aaq0216

13. Borer KT. Physical activity in the prevention and amelioration of osteoporosis in women: Interaction of mechanical, hormonal and dietary factors. Sport Med. 2005. doi:10.2165/00007256-200535090-00004

14. Bischoff-Ferrari HA, Willett WC, Wong JB, Giovannucci E, Dietrich T, Dawson-Hughes B. Fracture prevention with vitamin D supplementation: A meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials. J Am Med Assoc. 2005. doi:10.1001/jama.293.18.2257

15. Tucker KL, Morita K, Qiao N, Hannan MT, Cupples LA, Kiel DP. Colas, but not other carbonated beverages, are associated with low bone mineral density in older women: The Framingham osteoporosis study. Am J Clin Nutr. 2006. doi:10.1093/ajcn/84.4.936

Naturopathy and Acupuncture for heartburn and reflux

Naturopathy and Acupuncture for heartburn and reflux?

Michelle Blum – Acupuncturist and Naturopath in Brisbane’s south-side suburb of Moorooka discusses effective evidence based Naturopathy and Acupuncture treatments for heart burn and reflux.

When it comes to treating digestive symptoms, natural therapies are becoming increasingly popular.In fact, a US survey conducted on patients with gastrointestinal symptoms found that up to 85% were actively seeking relief from complementary therapies1.

Why turn to Naturopathy and Acupuncture for reflux and heartburn?

Naturopaths and Acupuncturists consider the gut to be the foundation of health and understand the importance of gut health on the rest of the body. Digestive symptoms are how the body communicates that something is not right and must not be ignored. It has been accepted in the medicine community that an inflamed gut can be the underlying cause for many chronic health conditions. Luckily, Naturopaths & Acupuncturists are equipped with evidence-based natural therapies that are proven to restore balance to the gut.  

Melatonin for heartburn and reflux

Heartburn and reflux are some of the most commonly reported digestive symptoms in natural health clinics. One natural remedy that has been proven to be effective in the treatment of reflux is melatonin2. Melatonin is most commonly known as a brain chemical needed during sleep, but it is also an incredibly potent anti-inflammatory for the gut! So much so, that melatonin is produced in the gut in amounts 400 times that of the pineal gland1. In reflux disease, under frequent exposure to regurgitated stomach acid, the lining of the oesophagus becomes inflamed and is at risk of serious damage. Melatonin can strengthen and protect this lining, which is especially useful for clients who experience reflux in the night whilst they are asleep1.

Peppermint oil relieves symptoms of Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS)

Another simple and underrated natural remedy in the treatment of digestive symptoms is peppermint oil. Studies have shown peppermint oil to be effective in relieving the symptoms of IBS, particularly upper-gastrointestinal symptoms such as chest pain and dysphagia (difficulty swallowing)3. Peppermint oil works by helping the smooth muscle tissue in the gut to relax, bringing welcome relief from pain and tension1. When put to the test, peppermint oil was effective in 63% of patients with non-obstructive dysphagia4. The study used peppermint-based Altoid mints – a testament to how simple yet effective peppermint can be!

What about Acupuncture for digestive discomfort?

Acupuncture has also demonstrated benefits in the treatment of heartburn and reflux5. A key factor in reflux disease is the pressure on the sphincter that sits at the lower end of the oesophagus. Acupuncture is able to manage this distension pressure6, bringing relief from the pain of heartburn. As a direct result, clients who receive acupuncture are less likely to require symptomatic relief from proton-pump inhibitors (PPIs), which is a wonderful step in the right direction for systemic health.

Rikkunshito – a Japanese herbal formula used for heartburn and reflux

Rikkunshito combines 8 different herbs to form a synergistic combination:

  • Glycyrrhizae radix
  • Zingiberis rhizome
  • Atractylodis lanceae rhizome
  • Zizyphi fruit
  • Aurantii nobilis pericarpium
  • Ginseng radix
  • Pinelliae tuber
  • Hoelen

Although there are a limited number of scientific trials using Rikkunshito, it is considered effective and is widely used across Japan, particularly in the treatment of reflux and heartburn1.

Are there more natural remedies? Yes! Naturopathy and Acupuncture can not only treat heart burn and reflux but also a myriad of other digestive symptoms such as bloating, cramping, constipation and diarrhoea. If you feel that any of these symptoms ring true for you it would be most worthwhile to seek out a Naturopath and or an Acupuncturist in your area or to make a booking with Michelle click here.


1.       Johnson DA. From Licorice to Slippery Elm: What Works for GI Symptoms? Medscape. Published 2019. Accessed February 5, 2020.

2.       Kandil TS, Mousa AA, El-Gendy AA, Abbas AM. The potential therapeutic effect of melatonin in gastro-esophageal reflux disease. BMC Gastroenterol. 2010. doi:10.1186/1471-230X-10-7

3.       Alammar N, Wang L, Saberi B, et al. The impact of peppermint oil on the irritable bowel syndrome: a meta-analysis of the pooled clinical data. BMC Complement Altern Med. 2019. doi:10.1186/s12906-018-2409-0

4.       Khalaf MHG, Chowdhary S, Elmunzer BJ, Elias PS, Castell D. Impact of Peppermint Therapy on Dysphagia and Non-cardiac Chest Pain: A Pilot Study. Dig Dis Sci. 2019. doi:10.1007/s10620-019-05523-8

5.       MacPherson H, Dumville JC. Acupuncture as a potential treatment for non-cardiac chest pain – A survey. Acupunct Med. 2007. doi:10.1136/aim.25.1-2.18

6.       Börjesson M, Pilhall M, Eliasson T, Norssell H, Mannheimer C, Rolny P. Esophageal visceral pain sensitivity: Effects of TENS and correlation with manometric findings. Dig Dis Sci. 1998. doi:10.1023/A:1018886309364

Acupuncture for Chronic Pain Brisbane

Acupuncture For Chronic Pain

Acupuncture has been found to be an effective form of treatment for chronic pain. In this article, Brisbane south side Acupuncturist, Michelle Blum, explains how Acupuncture can do this.

Did you know that according to “Pain Australia ………

  • 3.24 million Aussies were living with chronic pain in the year 2018.
  • 64 % of those with chronic pain were women whilst the remainder were men.
  • 56 % of Australians living with chronic pain were reported to have restricted mobility.
  • To add to this, approximately 46 % of people with chronic pain, sadly ended up experiencing depression and anxiety.

So what is chronic pain ?

Chronic pain is pain that usually lasts longer than the expected recovery time after an incident such as an injury, trauma or surgery.

Usually chronic pain denotes pain that lingers for around 3 months or more.

Some of the conditions that produce chronic pain include migraines, osteo-arthritis, muscle and joint pain. Other less, well known chronic pain conditions include nerve, pelvic, abdominal and facial pain as well as pain that persists post-surgery.

Acute pain on the other hand is pain that exists for a short time following surgery, trauma or other condition. It is usually the body’s signal for help and if left untreated, acute pain can sometimes lead to chronic pain.

It is always worth visiting a GP for a chronic pain diagnosis however in most cases, allopathic treatment will address the symptoms of pain only, which can end up providing a mere short-term solution.

Some of the medications given for chronic pain include cortisone injections, non-steroidal anti-inflammatories, paracetamol and codeine.

These medications provide short term pain relief only without considering what might be driving the pain in the first instance. This approach to treatment may also mean that once the drug therapy which can sometimes be addictive, ceases, the pain is likely to return.

Acupuncture on the other hand, aims at relieving the symptoms in a non-drug and non-addictive manner as well as addressing and treating the cause of that pain.

Often an experienced Acupuncturist will also do an assessment of the body to see what musculo-skeletal anomalies might be causing complications and treat these. This might involve helping to re-align the hips or pelvis.

In Chinese Medicine there is a saying that “when there is free flow of Qi there is no pain” hence painful conditions will often arise when the qi or vital force in the body is stagnant or blocked. Another way of saying this is that when there is poor flow of nutrients, oxygen and blood to an area then pain ensues. Hence a lot of acupuncture treatments for pain will involve the movement of blood, nutrients and oxygen by the needling of certain acupuncture points on the body.

More often than not an Acupuncturist will insert needles in places that seem far from the site of pain. This is because of the intricate meridian network that exists within the body. Often points on the feet may be used to treat pain in the head area or upper extremities. This may not make much sense to the patient but a great deal of sense to the experienced Acupuncturist.

A “stick it where it hurts” Acupuncture approach is only used by non – Acupuncturists who use the term dry needling which is often a very superficial and simplistic style of treatment.

So, if you think you have chronic pain and would like to try Acupuncture but feel afraid that it might hurt then I urge you to seek out a Japanese style Acupuncturist like myself, who has completed special post graduate studies.

Japanese style acupuncture is very effective, relaxing and non –  invasive so great for individuals that are a little worried that Acupuncture might be painful.

So, a little about me. My name is Michelle Blum and I am an Acupuncturist of 17 years. I have a 4 year bachelor degree in Health Sciences majoring in Acupuncture as well as an Advanced Diploma in Naturopathy. In addition, I have a certificate in Massage Therapy and Oriental Massage Therapy.

My Acupuncture practice is located in Moorooka on the south side of Brisbane just 10 or so minutes from Brisbane’s CBD.

Often, I will combine Acupuncture with my knowledge of these other modalities to give the best possible results.

Chronic pain is also something that can be addressed using Naturopathy, Herbal Medicine and Nutritional Medicine by looking at the body’s biochemistry as well as using supplements such as Magnesium, Curcumin and other natural anti-inflammatories.

If you’re curious about receiving treatment for a chronic pain condition, feel free to contact me to discuss the best ways in which I can help you with the pain you might be experiencing.

Study finds that acupuncture cools hot flushes – Brisbane

Acupuncture Effective For Hot Flushes – Brisbane

Michelle Blum, Brisbane based Acupuncturist and Naturopath, shares the findings of a clinical trial where Acupuncture was found to be an effective form of treatment for women experiencing hot flushes.
These debilitating symptoms are often experienced by women during menopause as well as during cancer treatment. They can cause disturbance not only through the day but also at night and can cause frequent waking,  irritability, fatigue and distress.

This recent study that Michelle refers to, involves the use of four different types of treatment groups. These include:- electro acupuncture; gabbapentin (an anti-epeleptic medication); sham acupuncture and placebo treatments. 

These treatments were all administered to 120 trial participants over an 8 week period, to determine which out of the four therapies had the greatest impact.

At the end of the 8 week period and then again later at the 24 week mark, the results showed  that acupuncture was in fact the most effective therapy at reducing the hot flushes. Impressively, the effects from the Acupuncture treatments were still maintained 16 weeks after the acupuncture treatments ceased.

There are other natural remedies that are commonly used by qualified Naturopaths that may also help with reducing hot flushes. Some of these will target the Liver’s detoxification process, the nervous system and adrenal function. It is definitely not the case of “one size fits all” but rahter investigating what the drivers are for the hormonal imbalance. These are identified through thorough questioning and discussion as well as testing.

For more information on how Acupuncture can help with hot flushes or to book an appointment, please contact Michelle Blum at her Brisbane south side clinic, Michelle Blum Natural Health.