Gill Stannard

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Health Trip has moved

Thanks for dropping by. There have been a few changes since you last visited. Health Trip has now been incorporated into my new website

All the articles from Health Trip can be accessed on the new site, there will be regular updates about the show, new information about naturopathy, complementary medicine, herbalism and a whole lot more.

Nothing else has changed:

• You can still find me at City Natural Therapies, 510/220 Collins St, Melbourne – for a consultation call me on (03)9650-3419.

• My radio show on RRR can be heard on 102.7FM at 9.15 am on the first Wednesday of the month.

• You can listen to podcasts from the show by subscribing to the Health Trip podcast.

• And don’t forget to sign up to the monthly e-newsletter for exclusive health tips, recipes and special subscriber offers.

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Thursday, July 16, 2009

The myth of the chemical cure

One on the most stunning pieces on psychoactive pharmaceutical drugs I have read. What is more Dr Moncrieff is a psychiatrist and has an impressive CV in the area of mental health and research.

The following article, just a small taste of her book, is reprinted from the BBC

'The myth of the chemical cure'

Dr Joanna Moncrieff
Mental health expert

Taking a pill to treat depression is widely believed to work by reversing a chemical imbalance.

But in this week's Scrubbing Up health column, Dr Joanna Moncrieff, of the department of mental health sciences at University College London, says they actually put people into "drug-induced states".

If you've seen a doctor about emotional problems some time over the past 20 years, you may have been told that you had a chemical imbalance, and that you needed tablets to correct it.

It's not just doctors that think this way, either.

Magazines, newspapers, patients' organisations and internet sites have all publicised the idea that conditions like depression, anxiety, schizophrenia and bipolar disorder can be treated by drugs that help to rectify an underlying brain problem.

People with schizophrenia and other conditions are frequently told that they need to take psychiatric medication for the rest of their lives to stabilise their brain chemicals, just like a diabetic needs to take insulin.

The trouble is there is little justification for this view of psychiatric drugs.

Altered states

First, although ideas like the serotonin theory of depression have been widely publicised, scientific research has not detected any reliable abnormalities of the serotonin system in people who are depressed.

Second, it is often said the fact that drug treatment "works" proves there's an underlying biological deficiency.

“ Psychoactive drugs make people feel different ”
But there is another explanation for how psychiatric drugs affect people with emotional problems.

It is frequently overlooked that drugs used in psychiatry are psychoactive drugs, like alcohol and cannabis.

Psychoactive drugs make people feel different; they put people into an altered mental and physical state.

They affect everyone, regardless of whether they have a mental disorder or not.

Therefore, an alternative way of understanding how psychiatric drugs affect people is to look at the psychoactive effects they produce.

Drugs referred to as antipsychotics, for example, dampen down thoughts and emotions, which may be helpful in someone with psychosis.

Drugs like Valium produce a state of relaxation and a pleasant drowsiness, which may reduce anxiety and agitation.

Drugs labelled as "anti-depressants" come from many different chemical classes and produce a variety of effects.

Prior to the 1950s, the drugs that were used for mental health problems were thought of as psychoactive drugs, which produced mainly sedative effects.

'Informed choice'

Views about psychiatric drugs changed over the course of the 1950s and 1960s.

They gradually came to be seen as being specific treatments for specific diseases, or "magic bullets", and their psychoactive effects were forgotten.

However, this transformation was not based on any compelling evidence.

In my view it remains more plausible that they "work" by producing drug-induced states which suppress or mask emotional problems.

“ If we gave people a clearer picture drug treatment might not always be so appealing ”
This doesn't mean psychiatric drugs can't be useful, sometimes.

But, people need to be aware of what they do and the sorts of effects they produce.

At the moment people are being encouraged to believe that taking a pill will make them feel better by reversing some defective brain process.

That sounds good. If your brain is not functioning properly, and a drug can make it work better, then it makes sense to take the pill.

If, on the other hand, we gave people a clearer picture, drug treatment might not always be so appealing.

If you told people that we have no idea what is going on in their brain, but that they could take a drug that would make them feel different and might help to suppress their thoughts and feelings, then many people might choose to avoid taking drugs if they could.

On the other hand, people who are severely disturbed or distressed might welcome these effects, at least for a time.

People need to make up their own minds about whether taking psychoactive drugs is a useful way to manage emotional problems.

To do this responsibly, however, doctors and patients need much more information about the nature of psychiatric drugs and the effects they produce.
Have we been misled about these medications? Are people now too reliant on them?

Provocative thoughts from experts in the worlds of health and medicine
Story from BBC NEWS:

Published: 2009/07/15 04:30:46 GMT

Friday, July 10, 2009

A pot of tea, a winter salad and an exciting new venture

I'm at my desk drinking a delicious cup of my "winter warming tea" with hibiscus flowers, liquorice and ginger. Currently the entire clinic is scented by the herb order that arrived this week from Southern Light Herbs. This is a great time of year to drink herbal teas but the trick is to use good quality, organic teas that are well stored so they retain their vibrancy and flavour. If you'd like me to make a special blend for you, let me know at your next consultation.

I have been a little bit quiet on the site lately because (drum roll please!) I am creating a new website that incorporates both the practice and the radio show. I'm very excited about it and hope to announce that it is live - very soon.

In the meantime, if you haven't signed up for the Health Trip newsletter that comes out each month, the following recipe is a taste of what you are missing.

Pumpkin and chickpea salad with tahini dressing
(Double the ingredients for a large group or for a tasty packed lunch)

1/2 medium sized pumpkin
1 can organic chickpeas, drained and well rinsed (even better use freshly cooked chickpeas)
1 medium sized red onion, finely sliced (or 1-2 baked brown onions)
a generous handful (or a whole bunch), coriander, ripped or chopped

Cook the pumpkin by your preferred method. I like to cut it into a few large chunks and bake it in a hot oven for about 30 minutes - til tender without being too soft. Once cool enough to handle, remove skin and cut into bite sized cubes. If you aren’t a fan of raw onion, throw in a brown onion or two as well to bake.

Add the remaining ingredients and toss with the dressing below.

Tahini, lemon and garlic dressing

1-3 cloves of garlic, crushed
1/4 cup tahini (fresh tahini is best, make sure it doesn’t taste bitter)
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
2 tablespoons hot water
pinch of sea salt

Combine ingredients well then mix through the salad.

Friday, July 03, 2009

July newsletter out now

...get it while it's hot!

Winter teas, salad and lots more. You can view it here for a limited time. But even better type your email in the box below and the newsletter should arrive within seconds.

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Thursday, July 02, 2009

Fish pie

Have you signed up to the newsletter yet?

If you haven’t you would have missed last June’s recipe of the month. I have received such fantastic feedback about the recipes, especially my fish pie, that I am posting it here for those that missed it.

July’s newsletter will be out any day now. If you don’t want to miss the next tasty treat and bite size pieces of health information – click the sign up button on the right side of the page, or type your email address directly into the box in the welcome post above.


Each winter I get a strong craving for a piping hot, potato topped fish pie. When I started searching for a recipe it was hard to find one free of white sauce, so in the end I had to make up my own!

This one is gluten-free and can be made with a dairy-free mash if required. It has got me through the last half dozen winters so I can promise you it tastes delicious.

Gill’s Fish Pie
(serves at least 4 but this recipe halves well to make two individual pies)

Olive oil for sautéing
600g blue eye (or similar firm white fish) fillets, in approx. 8mm chunks
600g leeks, washed trimmed and sliced
2 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
Additional vegetables as desired, diced
75g green olives, pitted and roughly chopped
45 g of small capers (the ones in salt where you soak for an hour, then drain)
1 tablespoon lemon peel, finely chopped or grated
1/3 cup flat leaf parsley, chopped
Mashed potato – enough to cover your pie dish (boil potatoes til tender, drain well, mash with olive oil/butter and a dash of salt)

Get the potatoes on for the mash.

Cook fish in olive oil. Do this in batches so you don’t crowd the pan. Just 1 minute per side (to seal rather than cook through). Put aside. Now saute the leeks and then add the garlic, cook til soft. If you want to add more vegetables (zucchini, silverbeet etc) toss them in now too. Mix the fish and vegetables with lemon peel, capers, olives and parsley. Give it a quick toss then set aside.

Make the mash.

Combine the fish/leek mixture in the pie dish. Top with generous amounts of mash. Bake in a hot oven, around 200 C for about 20-30 minutes, til the mash is golden on top.

Wednesday, July 01, 2009

What is naturopathy?

Today was another milestone in Health Trip’s history. As I work my way around the RRR grid, I now find myself on Wax Lyrical at the early hour of 9.15 on a Wednesday morning. Namila Benson welcomed me on with some great music from Aotearoa. If you aren’t familiar with her morning slot Namila is a highly sort after DJ and journalist, on her RRR show she loves to play music from across the Pacific. She made me feel right at home.

As the world of naturopathy is new to Namila, today we had a general talk about naturopathy, complementary medicine, what happens when you come to see me and how different health practitioners can work together to help make you well.

Tune into the podcast (it should be up later in the week) if you’d like to listen to the show.

In the meantime – here is some information about naturopathy.

What happens when you see a herbalist/naturopath for the first time – more on how I work.

One of the cornerstones of naturopathy is “constitution” - What do I mean when I talk about constitution.

The professional organizations I belong to and recommend as a reliable way to help you find a qualified alternative therapist:

The National Herbalists Association phone (02) 8765 0071.

The Australian Natural Therapists Association phone 1800 817 577.

If you have any topics you’d like me to cover on the show, just leave a comment below.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Health Trip is Moving

After over four years of broadcasting the show on Monday mornings (The Long Grass Sessions/The Grapevine) Health Trip moves to a new time of 9.15 on Wednesday mornings. You’ll find me talking to the lovely Namila Benson about all sorts of healthy things on the first week of the month from the beginning of July.

Tune in next Wednesday morning at 9.15 as I join the team at Wax Lyrical. There will be talkback as usual, so don’t forget to call up.