Mental Health: Brain vs Gut?

mental health advice from our southend chiropractorWhen it comes to mental health everyone thinks that the brain is in charge but in reality it maybe your gut. Even way back in the 1800s it was thought that wastes in your colon could cause toxins that lead to depression.

Purges to the colon and even bowel surgery were thought of as the cure!

There is in the wall of your gut a nervous system made up of 500 million nerve cells which works both with your brain and independently. This is what is responsible for your “gut instincts”, sending information between the brain and gut affecting your mood. For instance, eating fatty food makes you feel good as the cells in your gut send warm and fuzzy signals to the brain.

So if our gut becomes less than healthy we are in danger of triggering signals to the brain that can alter our behaviour. Without going into scientific detail studies have been done that show altered and high-risk behaviour in mice when the bacteria in the gut are out of balance.

mental health advice from our chiropractor in southendWhen you know that there can be around 2kg of bacteria and about 70% of your immune system is located in your gut wall then it is no surprise that an altered balance of bacteria (dysbiosis) or any cause of inflammation in the gut can cause lowered mood, depression, anxiety, panic attacks or other symptoms.

The main causes for an imbalance in bacteria are poor diet, additives in food, alcohol, stress, food allergies, drugs (Ibuprofen is a particular culprit) and pesticides and herbicides in our food.

Depression and anxiety of course do not have a single underlying cause and many factors come into play. Scientists believe it is due to in an imbalance in the brain’s level of neurotransmitters- the brains chemical messengers and this is where it can be linked to poor gut health. Depression is a devastating illness that effects a person’s life on a physical, mental and emotional level and all these areas need to be addressed. It influences self-esteem and the sufferer’s perception of other people and can range in intensity from melancholy to despondency and thoughts of suicide.

What can you do if you are suffering with anxiety or depression?

So if you are suffering with anxiety or depression how can you help yourself? If you are already taking anti-depressants it is best to always consult a qualified Medical Herbalist like myself (Melanie at Cliffs Chiro) or Nutritionist before taking supplements. Taking a course of probiotics is a good place to start to try and recolonize the gut with some good bacteria. Try eliminating wheat from your diet completely for two weeks and see if symptoms improve. People with anxiety should try calcium, magnesium and vitamin B complex, all of which support a healthy nervous system. St John’s wort may be a safe alternative to prescription drugs and for people over 50 gingko biloba combats depression more effectively than prescription drugs.

Women can be particularly susceptible to low levels of tryptophan in the brain, this this reduces the brain’s production of the neurotransmitter serotonin which helps regulate mood. Eating turkey, salmon and some milk products contain tryptophan and may help increase serotonin production.

In fact studies have shown that taking milk protein hydrolysate reduces anxiety symptoms and is even more effective when Theanine is added the chemical which gives you that  ‘aaah lovely cup of tea” feeling.

What else can you do?

Exercise regularly, this is one of the best natural anti-depressants. Avoid alcohol, tobacco and excessive caffeine. Seek counselling, there are free services in the Southend-On Sea area. Talk to us, your chiropractor will be ready to listen and will be able to help you choose supplements that are the most appropriate for you. If you think you have a gut issue or more serious depression please ask for an appointment with Melanie Cutting who is also a Medical Herbalist with a special interest in nutrition.

Eat Your Way to a Pain-Free Summer

Whether it’s the colourful flowers in full bloom or the longer, brighter days, there’s just something about summertime that gives us that extra zest to be fit and healthy. To help you boost your health this summer, our Southend chiropractor lists three surprising foods that are known to have pain-fighting components. Enjoy…

1: Ginger

Although ginger is traditionally used to combat nausea, it has also been found to contain inflammation-fighting compounds.

2: Coffee

Possibly the trendiest drink in the world right now, low doses of coffee are believed to help reduce the perception of pain.

3: Red Grapes

As if the juicy and refreshing taste of red grapes wasn’t appealing enough, they have now been found to contain resveratrol – a chemical compound that is believed to have anti-inflammatory benefits.

Feed your spine well this summer; you are what you eat after all!

Eat Your Way to Better Health With This Delicious Recipe

Gluten-Free French Onion Soup

Looking for a healthy meal that will warm those winter taste buds this February? How about French Onion Soup –immune stimulating and antibacterial for winter!

Here’s the recipe: (You’ll love it!)

What You Need:
  • 800g brown onions, thinly sliced
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted organic butter
  • 1/2 teaspoon raw sugar
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt
  • 3 tablespoons gluten-free plain flour
  • 2 litres of beef stock
  • 125ml red wine
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1/4 teaspoon of dried thyme
  • Salt and pepper
How to Cook:

Place a large saucepan over a medium-low heat and add olive oil and butter to the bottom. Once melted, add your sliced onions and stir until they are evenly coated with the oil and butter. Cover and cook for about 20 minutes until they are very tender and clear.

Next, take off the cover, add the salt and sugar, then mix. Raise the heat to a medium and continue cooking the onions. Make sure you stir frequently to allow them to caramelise until they turn to a deep golden brown. (This will take approximately 30 to 40 minutes).

Once your onions are caramelised, turn down the heat to medium-low and sprinkle flour over the onions. Next, brown the flour for about 2-3 minutes and stir constantly. Add the wine, the bay leaf, the thyme and the stock (add the stock a bit at a time).

Next, add salt and pepper to taste and continue to add the rest of your stock (stirring as you do so). Simmer for 30 minutes then remove the bay leaf.



By the way, if you’re a vegetarian, mushroom stock is a great substitution.

To book an appointment with our award winning team of chiropractors, contact Cliffs Chiropractor in Southend on 01702 430430.

The Importance of Detox

beet juiceHow many of us after Christmas couldn’t do with helping our bodies to overcome the toxic overload and giving them a spring clean in the New Year?

Here is a plan which if you follow for 14 days will make you feel more energetic, less tired, aid digestion and improve your complexion.

Every day life exposes us to a lot of chemicals and toxins that put extra stress on our bodies on a daily basis. We have a great system for dealing with the onslaught, and that’s the liver. It is responsible for processing all our rubbish, both what we ingest and what is made in our bodies. But we need to make sure that it is working properly, by giving it all the materials it needs to function to its best ability. Your liver relies on some essential nutrients, amino acids, antioxidants, vitamins and minerals. If the process is put under pressure the system becomes unbalanced and the liver will be unable to effectively eliminate all the toxins.

This can lead to symptoms of toxic overload, which may include:
• Allergies and sensitivities (often to things that previously didn’t cause a problem)
• Depression
• Aches and pains
• Bloating
• Memory and concentration problems
• Headaches
• Skin rashes

VeggiesDay 1 – 3

  • Drink 2 litres of water a day
  • No red meat, no alcohol, no products containing white flour. Try and reduce your sugar intake.
  • Eat a lot of vegetables the wider the variety of colours the better.
  • Eat little and often rather than large meals and don’t eat anything after 8.00pm
  • Foods to aid the liver include:
    • Broccoli, cabbage and watercress, romaine lettuce, chicory, celery, parsley and asparagus
    • Antioxidant rich, vibrantly coloured fruits and vegetables, such as berries.
  • Take Vitamin C 1000mg a day.

Days 4 – 7

Keep following the above diet but add 2 glasses of carrot or beet juice (available at supermarkets). These will support the liver and they are full of nutrients.

  • Reduce exposure to toxins further by moderating consumption of:
    • Caffeine, including cola and chocolate
    • Refined sugars
    • Food additives
  • Take a good quality probiotic daily for a month.

Days 8 – 14

You should be feeling less tired by now and sleeping better.

Add the occasional portion of red meat to your diet if you feel the need. High quality proteins, such as pulses, nuts and seeds are great for helping you feel full. If you are hungry eat six nuts at a time and wait 20 mins before eating anything else.

Drink green tea regularly, catechins from green tea are thought to boost liver detoxification pathways. They are also potent antioxidants. Dandelion, turmeric and milk thistle are all herbs that help boost the liver’s detoxification process.

After 14 days if you stick with only one idea then do drink more water on a daily basis, you will feel lighter, brighter and happier.

New Year Detox Tips from Melanie at Cliffs Chiropractor Southend

Feeling bloated and groggy after the Christmas and New Year festivities? Melanie’s quick post Christmas detox tips will have you feeling energised in no time.

1. Drink plenty of water, aim for 8 glasses a day. In the mornings add slices of fresh lemon to kick start your digestive system. During the day continue this with fresh ginger or mint which will dispel wind and ease food through the digestive tract.
2. Take some pre or pro biotics, these will improve digestion, help ease constipation and normalize gut bacteria.
3. Cut down on carbohydrates- remove the white stuff from your life for a few days. This means white bread, pasta, rice, cakes and biscuits.
4. Take a course of vitamin B complex, these are depleted after too much alcohol and are needed by the liver. Vitamin C will also help the breakdown and removal of alcohol from the body start off with 1000mg daily.
5. Gentian found in Angostura bitters is a digestive stimulant and will help your body rid itself of excess.

Tomato Sunrise

If you have a Nutribullet or Vitamix blender try my health giving cocktail. Full of vitamins especially A in carrots and tomatoes which may help with hangovers.

1 large glass of tomato Juice
1 carrot
½ raw beetroot
1 small chunk of celeriac
½ tsp vitamin C powder
a dash of angostura bitters

Blend all together and pour over ice garnish with a celery stick.




Leaky Gut – Could this be the cause of many modern day illnesses shares Melanie at Cliffs Chiropractor Southend

Do you have a Leaky Gut?

hrebal medicine at cliffs chiropractor southendDid you know the digestive system has been called ‘the second brain’? It is not an overstatement to say that a healthy digestive system is the gateway to good health. The highest-quality, organic, wholefood diet and supplements will be entirely wasted on you if your body isn’t processing any of that food.

The secret to any diet or supplement programme lies is in your body’s ability to digest properly. It is your digestive system—your stomach and intestines—that does most of the work of turning what you eat into nourishment for your body.

However, there’s a condition called leaky gut that can lead to a host of health problems. In fact all manner of modern-day illnessand many of the chronic problems medicine has no answer for can link back to disturbances in the digestive system.

These include: joint and muscle pains, skin conditions of every variety, mood problems, chronic fatigue, allergies, sleep problems, general immune dysfunction and even emotional or mental problems of all varieties.

It might be a surprise to learn that one or more of your chronic and seemingly unrelated complaints could be caused by a leaky gut.

What is a Leaky Gut?

Think of your gut as a one-way fence. The lining of the gut is permeable—small particles of food are able to pass through it to reach the other cells of the body—and, in a healthy body, these ‘holes’ are small enough to keep out molecules which might otherwise cause harm.

herbal medicine at cliffs chiropractor southendIn addition to the nutrients we need which pass through our permeable gut, food contains a toxic load that the body needs to be protected from. This protection is supplied by complex mechanisms: intestinal secretions, the lining of the intestine and certain white blood cells.

It is through this complex system that the digested, important portions of food are able to pass through to the body while toxins are barricaded out.

However if the gut mucosa is injured or somehow compromised, unwanted products can escape from your intestines and travel throughout your body via your bloodstream. Your immune system marks these “foreign invaders” as pathogens and attacks them. The immune response to these invaders can appear in the form of any of the nine signs you have a leaky gut, which are listed below.

What causes leaky gut?

herbal medicine at cliffs chiropractor southendThe main culprits are foods, infections, and toxins. Gluten is the number one cause of leaky gut. Other inflammatory foods like dairy or toxic foods, such as sugar and excessive alcohol, are suspected as well. The most common infectious causes are candida overgrowth, intestinal parasites, and small intestine bacterial overgrowth. Toxins come in the form of medications, like anti-inflammatories, steroids, antibiotics, acid-reducing drugs, and environmental toxins like mercury, pesticides and BPA from plastics. Stress and age also contribute to a leaky gut.

9 Signs You May Have a Leaky Gut

1. Digestive issues such as gas, bloating, diarrhea or irritable bowel syndrome (IBS).
2. Seasonal allergies or asthma.
3. Hormonal imbalances such as PMS.
4. Diagnosis of an autoimmune disease such as rheumatoid arthritis, Hashimoto’s thyroiditis, lupus, psoriasis, or coeliac disease.
5. Diagnosis of chronic fatigue or fibromyalgia.
6. Mood and mind issues such as depression, anxiety.
7. Skin issues such as acne, dermatitis, or eczema.
8. Diagnosis of candida overgrowth.
9. Food allergies or food intolerances.

Repairing a leaky gut:

In my Clinic I have patients follow an elimination diet, which removes the toxins and inflammatory foods for a certain period of time. In addition, I have them follow a 4R programme to heal their gut. The 4R program is as follows:
1. Remove.
Remove the bad. The goal is to get rid of things that negatively affect the environment of the gastro-intestinal tract, such as inflammatory and toxic foods, and intestinal infections.
2. Replace.
Replace the good. Add back the essential ingredients for proper digestion and absorption, such as digestive enzymes and hydrochloric acid and bile acids. The liver and gallbladder can be stimulated with herbs such as Dandelion and Milk Thistle.
3. Reinoculate.
It’s critical to restore beneficial bacteria to re-establish a healthy balance of good bacteria.
4. Repair.
It’s essential to provide the nutrients necessary to help the gut repair itself. One of the best supplements is L-glutamine, an amino acid that helps to rejuvenate the lining of the gut wall. Herbs such as Marshmallow and Licquorice can be used to sooth and repair intestinal tissue.

It’s possible to cure a leaky gut with a nutrient-dense diet and appropriate herbs and supplements. Nothing will replace consulting a professional for a correct diagnosis and a tailor made prescription so try the advice above and if you are still having problems give me a call.

Did you know chiropractors are taught nutrition? Melanie at Cliffs Chiropractor Southend shares this…

Did you know chiropractors are taught nutrition as part of their 5 year course? Here at Cliffs Chiropractor Southend we have recently participated in some great professional development courses on gut health to update and further our knowledge. Ask us about the “weed, seed and feed” programme for restoring and healing your gut. It may do wonders for you-naturally.

All chiropractors like to take a natural approach towards health. Chiropractors are educated specifically on anatomy, physiology, pathology, neurology, bio-mechanics, X-ray, spinal adjusting techniques, and related subjects. This extremely demanding curriculum helps to prepare chiropractic doctors to distinguish problems that can be treated without surgery or drugs from those that may be symptoms of a condition requiring medical intervention.

Before graduating, there is a closely supervised internship at the Chiropractic College Clinic, where the trainee chiropractor treats patients. This gives valuable hands-on experience.

After graduation there is a post graduation training scheme of one year where you work under the supervision of a designated chiropractor. This further solidifies your chiropractic training.

As part of the on-going training, all chiropractors in the UK complete a minimum of 30 hours of post-graduate education on an annual basis. This can, amongst other things consist of attending seminars, scientific symposia, and reading professional journals to keep up with the latest research.

If you would like to know more about nutrition or have other concerns please get in touch with us as we offer a lot of help and advice. You can contact us at Cliffs Chiropractor Southend on 01702 430430.