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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.