Blood Pathology – What is your blood telling you?

It’s not uncommon for my clients to admit they haven’t had a blood test in a very long time, or  they have been told their results were “normal” without ever seeing them. I always encourage my clients to visit their GP for a comprehensive panel of blood tests covered by Medicare. If there are additional tests I believe are necessary for a deeper understanding of their health, I’ll request them myself, although these may not be covered under Medicare.

As a naturopath, I utilise alternative diagnostics like iridology and symptom analysis, but I’ve learned the importance of blood pathology in identifying urgent health issues that may require medical intervention.

Some clients opt to have all their blood tests through me, willing to cover the costs themselves. They find comfort in having a thorough assessment and bringing any significant findings to their doctor’s attention.

Take, for instance, a recent case where a client suffered from severe headaches and eye pain. She was on several medications for 2 years to treat this pain but it was not. It was still there, just not as intense, as long as she took the pain killers. She had a few basic blood tests this time but none that explained her pain. By delving deeper with tests for average blood sugar levels and liver function, we discovered she had diabetes with dangerously high levels. Levels too high to respond to natural medicine.  Her levels were acute and she needed medical attention from her doctor.

These were tests the client had decided to pay for privately.  We then printed them out for her to take to her doctor and her medication was immediately changed to diabetic medication and as her sugar levels levelled out her severe headaches and eye pain disappeared.  The medication she had been taking for her pain, also had a side effect of increasing her liver enzymes.  This was corrected with some gentle detoxing.  We then worked with her on her diet and education so overtime her medication may be able to be reduced under her doctors supervision.

In another instance, an iridology assessment flagged prostate concerns and high cholesterol levels in a client. Confirmatory blood tests revealed elevated PSA levels and cholesterol. While his prostate was ultimately deemed healthy (non cancerous, from a scan), dietary adjustments and natural interventions effectively managed his cholesterol and reduced his PSA levels.  Blood pathology continued to be closely monitored by his doctor, who was surprised at the improvements, and pharmaceutical medication was not prescribed.

Blood pressure screenings have also been crucial in identifying clients at risk, prompting immediate referrals for medical attention when necessary. While natural remedies can help manage mild cases, we prioritise our clients’ well-being by advocating for conventional treatment when needed.

Collaboration between natural and conventional medicine ensures the best outcomes for our clients. Educating them on potential interactions between natural remedies and pharmaceuticals is paramount, as is the role of qualified professionals in navigating these complexities.

Moreover, blood tests provide valuable insights into nutritional deficiencies, such as iron and B12, and the importance of vitamin D for immune and bone health. Understanding these markers empowers individuals to take control of their health proactively.

Hemochromatosis is also interesting when it comes to high iron or ferritin levels.  A woman may have had lowish iron through her younger years but after menopause suddenly a high ferritin is noticed and continues to increase.  This is also picked up more so when men are older as well.  However, if there is a family history, it is important to test much earlier.  There is often high ferritin in many people these days, which is not hemochromatosis and could be related to an increase in inflammation and/or the need for liver support.

You might want to talk to your doctor about yearly blood tests.  You can ask about tests for your liver, kidneys, full blood count, iron and thyroid studies, b12 and vitamin d, inflammatory factors, cholesterol studies and average blood sugar.

Some Naturopaths can also request blood pathology tests using private labs where the client pays the lab directly.  This can also be useful for tests that may not be covered under medicare.  For example, if your thyroid levels are within range medicare does not usually cover the costs of thyroid antibodies to rule out hashimotos and this might be a test you want to check.  A naturopath could request that one for you for around $50-$60 which you pay the lab directly, and your naturopath will have the results within 24 hrs.

There are many other calculations that can be done on the normal numbers in your bloods to analyse further information with diet and inflammatory conditions.  It is best to always ask for a copy of your blood tests, for your own records, as well as copies of any reports from scans.  That way if you move surgeries or location, you will always have your own medical records.  Blood tests can also be uploaded to the MyGov app now as well. Your blood tests really can tell a story over your life and sometimes it really helps to be able to go back in time to look if a number had been slowly going up or down, or had been elevated for a while.

Author Disclaimer The information provided in this article is for information purposes only and should not be taken as medical, nutritional, or health advice. We recommend you consult with a GP or other healthcare professional before taking any action based on this article. While the author uses best endeavors to provide accurate and true content, the author makes no guarantees or promises regarding the accuracy, reliability, or completeness of the information presented.

Master Your Posture and Strength with These Top 10 Yoga Poses

Yoga is not only a practice of mindfulness and relaxation but also a powerful tool for improving posture and building strength. By its very definition, yoga is unity, the unity of body, mind and spirit. So how can we use yoga to unite strength, stability and overall wellbeing? By incorporating specific yoga poses into your routine, you can enhance your core stability to protect that spine, release tension that might be cause by poor posture or repetitive movements, and promote overall physical well-being.Poor posture can not only cause physical pain but it can impact your digestion by constricting the digestive organs and altering others perception of us.

 I’ll explore the top 10 yoga poses for posture and strength, each offering unique benefits to support your journey to a healthier, more aligned body.

1. High Plank (Phalakasana):

The first pose is one of my favourites, High plank. It is a foundational pose that strengthens the core, shoulders, and arms while also engaging the muscles along the spine. Holding this pose helps improve posture by stabilising the spine and protecting the lower back. 

Alignment tips: Slowly build up your high plank strength, starting on the knees and working up to the toes. Keep the elbows stacked under the shoulders to protect the joints and create stability. Draw the belly button towards the spine to activate the core and protect the back. Any pain or strain in the back, come out of the pose, this is where you can do more harm then good. 

2. Child’s Pose (Balasana):

Child’s pose is a gentle stretch that releases tension in the lower back and hips while elongating the spine. It provides a counterbalance to backbends and forward folds, helping to restore alignment and alleviate discomfort. If you are taking this at home, holding the childs pose with a pillow or bolster under the belly can add some extra support and help ground the body and mind. 

Alignment tips: this pose can be taken on your back if the knees don’t allow you to hold it face down. Waggling the tail gently side to side can help release the tension in the lower back and move deeper into the pose. 

3. Bridge Pose (Setu Bandhasana):

Bridge pose is an excellent posture for opening the chest and shoulders while also stretching the hip flexors. By strengthening the back and glutes, it supports proper spinal alignment and encourages good posture.

Alignment tips: Keep your feet parallel, toes pointing straight forward to the front of the mat. Pressing in firmly to the feet will help activate the muscles along the back line of the body. Keep the knees stacking straight over the ankles to avoid any pain. 

4. Downward-Facing Dog (Adho Mukha Svanasana):

At the beginning of your yoga practice this pose will seem like a lot of work. Slowly with experience this pose becomes a resting pose, with a stronger core and correct alignment, you could hold this as long as your tadasana. Downward-facing dog is a dynamic pose that stretches and strengthens the entire body, including the spine, shoulders, hamstrings, and calves. Using gravity to help lengthen the spine and improve overall posture by releasing tension in the back and promoting alignment.

Alignment tips: Avoid arching the back, bending the knees as much as you need to try and keep the spine long. Work to draw the shoulder blades down the back towards the tailbone to avoid dumping into the shoulders and neck. 

5. Locust (Salabhasana):

Locust pose is a back strengthening pose, which you can slowly increase the intensity by taking more of your body off the ground. Slowly and safely strengthen the muscles around your spine to support and protect it. 

Alignment tip: Keep your gaze forward and down, avoid looking up as this will compress the vertebrae in the spine. Lengthen your lower back by gently pressing your pubic bone into the floor to allow strengthening without compression of the vertebrae. 

6. Tree Pose (Vrksasana):

Tree pose challenges balance and stability while strengthening the muscles of the legs, hips, and core. By focusing on alignment and engaging the core, it helps improve posture and focus. Standing balances including tree works the minute muscles in the foot and ankle creating stability. Often back pain and poor posture comes from something further away, either the ankle, knee or hip being misaligned. As your body tries to compensate for this imbalance. 

Alignment Tip: work to draw the arch of the grounded foot up the inseam of the leg, this is often where people are weaker and collapse. Try to keep both hip bone pointing straight forward, avoid trying twisting the hips to try and bring the knee out further. Adjust as much as needed, moving the raised foot down the leg to the calf or as a kickstand on the floor to help build muscles to keep the correct postural alignment.

7. Cobra Pose (Bhujangasana):

Cobra pose is a gentle backbend which strengthens the muscles of the back, shoulders, and arms while also stretching the chest and abdomen. Allowing the shoulders to pull back into place, counteracting the effects of prolonged sitting and promotes spinal extension for better posture.

Alignment tip: Keep your gaze forward and down to avoid compressing the neck. Actively work to broaden the collar bones and pull the shoulder blades down the back. If the shoulders are creeping up by the ears, lower the chest down closer to the floor. 

8. Cat-Cow Pose (Marjaryasana-Bitilasana):

Cat-cow pose is a gentle spinal warm-up that moves the spine through flexion and extension. It can be done on all fours, seated or standing. It helps increase spinal mobility, release tension, and improve posture by promoting awareness of the natural curves of the spine. You can take this pose just along the center line, or start to bring in any intuitive movement, looking over your shoulders, lowering one shoulder down then the other. Take it however feels good in your body. 

Alignment tip: draw the belly button towards your spine to help activate the core. Avoid any movements which cause pain, numbness or tingling as this is hitting your nerves. 

9. Seated Forward Fold (Paschimottanasana):

Seated forward fold stretches the entire back of the body, including the spine, hamstrings, and calves. It encourages lengthening of the spine and promotes a sense of relaxation and release, which can contribute to better posture.

Alignment tip: The most common mistake here is letting the ego take over and forcing the head towards the legs which causing an arching in the back. This will pull the muscles around the spine, not release and lengthen as we are trying to achieve. Bend the knees as much as you need here to keep the back long and straight. You will still stretch the hamstrings with the knees bent. 

10. Moving Lizard Lunges:

Moving lizard lunges dynamically stretch the hip flexors, groin, and psoas muscles while also engaging the core and upper body. By releasing tension in these areas, they help improve posture and alleviate discomfort associated with prolonged sitting. If one hip is tight you might start to see one side of your body tilit or be a little lopsided. Each variation of lizard pose works slightly different muscles around the hips, so try to incorporate a few of them.

Alignment tip: Moving in and out of the different lizard lunge poses helps to work that hard to reach psoas muscle. Work on pulsing, straightening and bending that front leg or moving between lizard and winged lizard pose. 

Incorporating these top 10 yoga poses into your practice can help you cultivate strength, stability, and better posture. Whether you’re a beginner or an experienced yogi, integrating these poses into your routine can support your journey to a healthier, more aligned body. When working with an injury or starting something new, take it slow, use as many props or modifications as you need, and never do anything which causes pain or numbness. Remember to move mindfully, listen to your body, and enjoy the transformative benefits of yoga on your posture and strength.