1 supplement in Hashimoto’s & Graves’ to reduce thyroid antibodies. Updated 2017

On the search to feel more energetic, more upbeat and regulate weight with Hashimoto’s thyroiditis and Graves’ disease?  Have you heard about the mineral selenium?  It is one of the most extensively researched, science based, natural treatments for reducing the autoimmune attack on the thyroid!

sonia mcnaughton, thyroid,autoimmune, hashimotos, graves, hypothyroidism, hypothyroid, hyperthyroidism, hyperthyroid, hormones
Image Courtesy: Pixabay: Sasint

The Selenium Story: Continue reading “1 supplement in Hashimoto’s & Graves’ to reduce thyroid antibodies. Updated 2017”


How to Reduce Thyroid Antibodies in Hashimoto’s: New Research 2017

Reducing thyroid antibodies may increase the quality of your life if you have Hashimoto’s thyroiditis, the autoimmune cause of hypothyroidism. A new, high quality, research study strengthens the evidence building for science based natural solutions in Hashimoto’s hypothyroidism. Continue reading “How to Reduce Thyroid Antibodies in Hashimoto’s: New Research 2017”

Hypothyroid weight gain? This little black seed may just help.

Do you have Hashimoto’s and have not been able to lose weight even though you are medicated?

This week I read a new study that might just signal some help for those suffering with the all too common symptom of weight gain and the difficulty of losing weight with hypothyroidism caused by Hashimoto’s thyroiditis.

The study was on a seed from a plant called Nigella sativa also known as black seeds or black cumin.  Nigella sativa has long been used in folk medicine in the middle and Far East as a traditional medicine for a wide range of disease including infections, obesity, high blood pressure and gastrointestinal problems.  Continue reading “Hypothyroid weight gain? This little black seed may just help.”

Hypothyroid, not yet medicated, but need to feel better?

Hashimoto’s thyroiditis (Hashimoto’s) is the most common autoimmune disorder in the world affecting more than 10% of females and 2% of males causing hypothyroidism with fatigue, weight gain / difficulty losing weight, infertility, constipation, depression, anxiety and panic attacks, dry skin, dry hair, hair loss, swelling and more.

A study was completed on women in their 30‘s whose lab tests were showing a slowing of thyroid function because of Hashimoto’s but they were not yet bad enough to need medication – medically these patients are said to be ‘sub-clinically hypothyroid’ (Nordio & Pajalich, 2013).   It’s important to acknowledge that whilst lab results may not have not declined enough to support medication the person could be experiencing the unpleasant symptoms of a slow thyroid (Davis & Tremont, 2007). Continue reading “Hypothyroid, not yet medicated, but need to feel better?”

Getting enough sunshine may help you avoid a thyroid disease.

Our bodies need sunshine!

Our current obsession with shielding ourselves from all sun exposure may be dangerous* if you have a family history of any autoimmune disease.

From the sun (and also from some foods) our body gets Vitamin D which is actually a precursor to a powerful hormone in our body.  Sunshine becomes in our bodies:

  • major regulator of calcium
  • regulator of cell growth and differentiation
  • regulator of our immune function. 

Continue reading “Getting enough sunshine may help you avoid a thyroid disease.”

Are pimples linked to diet?  The science of natural solutions to acne.

It’s the Easter Sunday tally of chocolate and hot cross buns and it’s time to get science to help me prevent pimples popping-up like bunny rabbits!  In 7 days I will be standing in front of a group of gals talking evidence based health solutions and a visage resembling a pizza is not a confidence booster – it’s emergency strategy time.

Pizza face prevention time
Pizza face prevention time

Don’t believe me that chocolate and hot cross buns can cause acne?  Studies on twins have proven that whilst the tendency to spots can run in families diet has a very large impact on whether or not your face has an outcrop of zits (6).

Twin studies show genetics + environment cause pimples
Twin studies show genetics + environment cause pimples

In fact the conservative Journal of Dermato-endocrinology said “nutrition is one of the most important parameters that is involved in modulating skin health and condition” (3).

The scientific research on the causes of acne:

  • Cows milk including skim milk. Proven by studies on girls before menarche (onset of their period) and in adult women (6).

Continue reading “Are pimples linked to diet?  The science of natural solutions to acne.”

The Goldilocks Hormone Keeping Your Heart Beating

Heart cells can only use a biologically active thyroid hormone (T3) that is not commonly tested nor prescribed in Australia.  If you do not have the correct amount of T3 getting into your heart an alarming array of signs and symptoms can develop with fatal outcomes.

Drs’ Klein and Danzi in the American Heart Association publication, Circulation* claim:


“low T3 is a strong predictor of all cause and cardiovascular mortality” and that T3 is a stronger predictor than age, poorly regulated fats or malfunctioning heart muscle.


Too much T3 in hyperthyroidism and Graves can be just as fatal as too little in hypothyroidism and Hashimotos.

Does the discussion leave you confused? Let’s do a quick thyroid recap: Continue reading “The Goldilocks Hormone Keeping Your Heart Beating”

Heart disease kills more Australian women than any other cause, including breast cancer – do you know your risk factors?  

My mum died of a sudden and fatal heart attack after years of being regarded as the “healthy one” having dodged the family narrative of autoimmune diseases, arthritis and dementia.

My mum Roslyn, my sister and I rocking the 1970s polyester in the outback Queensland heat. I do believe my scarf is wrapped around my Nonna’s long-suffering cat’s neck (out of shot).
My mum, Roslyn, my sister and me rocking the polyester 1970’s style in the Queensland outback.

When my mum died I started researching what would have caused an otherwise healthy woman to have such a massive heart attack.  I was shocked to learn heart disease is the #1 cause of death for Australian women.  4 x as many women die of coronary heart disease than from breast cancer in Australia!

And even more frightening it is very common for a woman having a heart attack to discount and ignore her symptoms as the tremendous chest pain that men report is not likely for a woman.

In one study, 58% of women reported the comparatively gentle symptom of breathlessness. Others reported vague symptoms of weakness, unusual fatigue, cold sweats and dizziness yet no chest pain.

The morning of my mother’s heart attack she chatted on the phone with a girlfriend sharing how she felt really tired but she couldn’t work out why.  She told her friend she thought she just needed pep up with a strong cup of tea so she was heading to the shops to get some milk for her cuppa.  Less than 1 hour after this phone call to her friend my mum had a massive heart attack at her local grocery store and did not survive.

If you suffer any combination of these more subtle symptoms for more than a few minutes, particularly if you are a woman, please seek medical help quickly:

  • Ache or pain in the upper back, jaw or neck
  • Sudden difficulty breathing
  • Sudden overwhelming fatigue or weakness
  • Flu-like symptoms: nausea, vomiting, cold sweats
  • Sudden anxiety, malaise and loss of appetite.
My last photo of my mum and I at my wedding just a few years before her heart attack.
My last photo of my mum and me at my wedding just a few years before her heart attack.

February is Heart Research Month a great time to think about our heart health, and for me, to honour my mum Roslyn. Let’s have a closer look at the top 3 risk factors you can do something about  that have a huge impact of your heart:

  • High blood pressure:  shockingly 2 – 3 x more common in women than in men.
  • Smoking: even more harmful in women than in men.
  • Diabetes: again even more scary for women than men diabetes increases the risk of heart attack by 3 – 7 x in women compared with 2 – 3 x in men.

Frighteningly Heart Research Australia claim “women are much less likely than men to change risky behaviours” relating to their heart health.  High blood pressure, smoking cessation and diabetes are all health issues that can be managed, controlled and reduced.

Always make sure you speak with your GP to get an accurate picture of your current heart health and as a naturopath I believe it is my role to increase your chance of sticking to and committing to decisions that make for a long and healthy life through:

  • Education based on valid scientific research
  • Mood-lifting herbs and supplements that help reduce the cravings and anxiety that can accompany withdrawal from sugar, salt and cigarettes
  • Ongoing coaching and motivation to address your risk factors and goals.

Do you know your risk factors?  What is stopping you from loving your heart?

Sonia x

To make a booking contact Mayfield Medical Connection 02 4968 2157. To contact Sonia go to her Facebook page Sonia McNaughton.Naturopath


For more information check out the Red Feb here


Albarran, J. W., Clarke, B. A., & Crawford, J. (2007). ‘It was not chest pain really, I can’t explain it!’An exploratory study on the nature of symptoms experienced by women during their myocardial infarction. Journal of Clinical Nursing16(7), 1292-1301.

National Center for Health Statistics (US). (2014). Health Risk Factors.

Subcommittee, S. S. (2007). AHA statistical update. Circulation115, e69-e171.

What to do when you’ve lost that lovin’ feeling*. The science behind regaining your lost libido.

What can you do when that lovin’ feeling is gone, gone, gone?*  And where does it go?  Are there any facts supporting the claims that aphrodisiacs can bring your sexy back**?

Lost libido can be an early warning sign or further proof that something is not quite right with your health, your diet or your lifestyle.  Not feeling the urge should not be ignored. It might in fact be an important clue in detecting what is happening and hidden in your body.

Continue reading “What to do when you’ve lost that lovin’ feeling*. The science behind regaining your lost libido.”

Energy-Boosting, Craving-Busting Snacks

Busting Cravings
Busting Cravings

Do you find you are looking for something to pep you up to get through the day?  Is the diet coke / coffee and chocolate afternoon snack more than the occasional go-to food?

I was talking fatigue and craving-busting strategies with my gorgeous friend Leah who is a mum to 2 active boys (3yo & 18months), a professional singer

Leah & Luke
Leah & Luke

with a busy performing schedule and a part-time student.  Leah was asking me for snack ideas that were portable, affordable, healthy and most important of all helped her juggle all her daily balls…. challenge accepted. Continue reading “Energy-Boosting, Craving-Busting Snacks”

Fighting Fatigue, Boosting Energy

Feeling fatigued is a wide-spread problems for about 20% of our population who possess so little energy their exhaustion interferes with their ability to enjoy a normal life (9).

Are there evidence-based solutions that boost your energy that don’t leave you crashing and worse-off?

The simplest, natural treatment for fatigue is rest and sleep. Sadly this solution is often not possible or effective in cases when the lack of energy is caused by an underlying health problem, medication, or chronic long term stress (9).

Thankfully there are a wide range of solutions that are effective, affordable and easy to implement.

For a quick overview of the fatigue busters check out the mind map below.  For more detailed information I’ve included the evidence-based rationale behind each of the strategies. Continue reading “Fighting Fatigue, Boosting Energy”

Tired, teary & sluggish?

Feeling tired, teary & sluggish?  Can’t lose fat or gain muscle? 

You might have one of the most common chronic disorders – hypothyroidism. 

A whopping 5% of the total population have hypothyroidism and as you age your risk increases.  In your 50’s and 60’s 10% of the population have hypothyroidism.  Plus it’s more common in women than men (2, 3).  Continue reading “Tired, teary & sluggish?”

Feeling stressed, tired or irritable? 

What can you do if you are deep in the mid-year, mid-winter drag?

A herbal tonic called Rhodiola rosea is a natural pick-me-up to help you cope with feeling overwhelmed, exhausted and down.

Rhodiola has been used for hundreds of years in many different cultures for its anti-stress, anti-fatigue and antidepressant properties.

A 2016 review of the scientific studies on Rhodiola found evidence to support its use with people who have:

  • stress induced depression
  • depressive disorders.

(Amsterdam & Panossian, 2016).

I’ve put loads more information on Rhodiola below or if you’d like to talk about if Rhodiola could help you with fatigue, low mood or feeling overwhelmed please contact me on (02) 4968 2157.

Sonia x


Rhodiola rosea in more detail

Who was Rhodiola trialled on?  

  • 146 people with diagnosed major depressive disorder in 2 randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled trials.
  • 714 people with diagnosed stress induced mild depression (diagnosed as asthenic syndrome or psychoneurosis) from 7 open-label studies.


How does Rhodiola work? 

Rhodiola has been found to produce a variety of mediator interactions with several molecular networks of neuroendocrine-immune and neurotransmitter receptor systems likely to be involved in the pathophysiology of depression.


Is Rhodiola safe? 

The scientists also found Rhodiola was well-tolerated with a favorable safety profile.

As a trained herbalist I do however caution if you are trying to fall pregnant, are currently pregnant or lactating unless you are under the care of a trained herbalist you are best not to use Rhodiola.  I also caution my caffeine loving clients that Rhodiola in combination with caffeine may cause unpleasant side effects.


I’ve not heard of Rhodiola before – tell me more about it!

Rhodiola rosea is commonly referred to as Golden Root or Roseroot and grows in dry sandy ground at high altitudes in the arctic regions of Europe and Asia. The freshly cut root has a rose-like odour that has led to its botanical name and one of its common names. The root has been used for centuries in the traditional medicines of Russia and Scandinavia.


Give me the bottom line, what did the scientists conclude about Rhodiola?  

Rodiola demonstrated multi-target effects on various levels of the regulation of cell response to stress, affecting various components of the neuroendocrine, neurotransmitter receptor and molecular networks associated with possible beneficial effects on mood.


Amsterdam, J.D. & Panossian, A.G. (2016). Rhodiola rosea L. as a putative botanical antidepressant, Phytomedicine, 23, 770–783. doi:10.1016/j.phymed.2016.02.009

Hashimoto’s or Graves & still tired, sick & depressed?

Vitamin D levels are often low in Hashimoto’s hypothyroidism as well as Graves hyperthyroidism.  

Unfortunately low ‘sunshine vitamin’ levels mean possibly a higher risk for a whole host of problems including:

  • depression
  • osteoporosis
  • inability to resist colds and ‘flus.

So simple fix right? Spend more time lolling about in the sun!  Continue reading “Hashimoto’s or Graves & still tired, sick & depressed?”

Lost libido in women: Let’s Marvin Gaye & get this conversation on!

Reduced sex drive in women can have a profound negative impact on their quality of life.  When sexual desire decreases there really isn’t a pill you can pop or food you can eat that will miraculously create the urge to merge (Arcos, 2004).

There is no one solution because we women are complex!  It could be due to altered hormone levels, decreased vaginal lubrication, and/or pain – especially common with thyroid disorders and throughout menopause.  Or flagging libido could be a hint at a more serious underlying health concern needing investigation (Arcos, 2004).

So what can you do when you want to get it on?

As an evidence based practitioner I abhor the massive ads on billboards and social media claiming miracle responses in pills and potions for this very complex issue.  It is not a well researched topic in the scientific literature so I can’t support strong claims on the effectiveness of any product unless I see the research… in short …show me the data (Just warning you now if you follow that link you’ll get 2 glorious minutes of early-Tom Cruise &  a half naked Cuba Gooding under the guise of it being related to evidence based solutions …surely permissible on a post about female libido )

So do we give up? No not at all! There are many strategies that have been shown time and again to work to restore desire it’s just that if they don’t work for you it’s time to do some investigative work with a trained professional to get to the bottom of why your libido is lost.

I often find myself using these strategies with my clients with some degree of usefulness.


L-arginine, an amino acid, is the precursor to nitric oxide involved in the relaxation of (vascular and nonvascular smooth muscle of) the clitoris and vagina (Kellogg-Spadt & Albaugh, 2003).

Arginine is a widely used and typically helpful therapy for assisting men to achieve erection and it seems in the early research on women it could also be useful to enhance female orgasm and female desire (Youngworth, Chek, & Zaslau, 2001).

If you have a history of the herpes simplex virus you need to know that high doses of L-arginine can potentiate oral and/or genital herpes outbreaks.


female desire, women libido, sex drive, thyroid, menopause,
Damiana Image:

Damiana is a plant used traditionally in herbalism as an aphrodisiac for women.  It is thought it works to enhance dopamine levels in the brain (Kellogg-Spadt & Albaugh, 2003).


Although there are no quality studies on Damiana used alone anecdotal reports tout the effectiveness of a daily cup of Damiana tea for increasing female sexual desire (Ratsch, 1997; Watson, 1993).  A cup of organic, herbal tea which tastes quite nice is a pretty cheap, low risk strategy to try and you never know it might just work for you!

L-arginine & Damiana used together

Preliminary double-blind, placebo-controlled studies of oral supplements containing L-arginine and Damiana have demonstrated that up to 70% of pre and postmenopausal women experience significant improvement in desire and sexual responsiveness after 4 to 6 weeks of daily use (Trant & Polan, 2000).

Relaxation & Marvin Gaye

The cycle of sexual response begins in the brain, where a memory, an image, a scent, music, or a fantasy can act as a trigger to prompt sexual arousal.  Thus, the brain may be the key and good starting place for treatment of sexual dysfunction (Arcos, 2004).

female desire, sex drive, libido, thyroid, menopause
Damiana Image:

My prescription is for at least 15 uninterrupted minutes in a relaxing bath with

Marvin Gaye’s soulful notes


Just like they say in the song, let’s Marvin Gaye and get it on…. 

If you’d like to talk about lifting your libido contact me via or for an appointment (02) 4968 2157.

To source Damiana tea & l-Arginine contact me via:


Featured Image from: Treatment Today

Arcos, B. (2004). Female sexual function and response. The Journal of the American Osteopathic Association, 104(1_suppl), 16S-20S.

Billups, K., Berman, L., Berman, J. Metz, M., Glennon, M., & Goldstein, I. (2001). A new non-pharmacological vacuum therapy for female sexual dysfunction. Journal of Sex and Marital Therapy, 27,435-420.

Kellogg-Spadt, S., & Albaugh, J. A. (2003). Herbs, amino acids, and female libido. Urologic Nursing, 23(2), 160.

Modelska, K., & Cummings, S. (2003). Female sexual dysfunction in postmenopausal women: Systematic review of placebo-controlled trials. American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology, 188(1), 286-293.

Meston, C.M., & Worcel, M. (2000). The effects of l-arginine and yohimbe on sexual arousal in postmenopausal women with SAD. Proceedings from the Female Sexual Function Forum, Boston, MA.

Munariz, R., Talakoub, L., & Garcia, S. (2001). DHEA treatment for female androgen insufficiency and sexual dysfunction. Proceedings from the Female Sexual Function Forum, Boston, MA.

Ratsch, C. (1997). Plants of love. Berkeley, CA: Ten-Speed Press.

Trant, A.S., & Polan, M.L. (2000). Clinical study on a nutritional supplement for the enhancement of female sexual function.  Proceedings from the Female Sexual Function Forum, Boston, MA.

Watson, C.M. (1993). Love potions. New York: GP Putnam Books.

Youngworth, H., Chek, K., & Zaslau, S. (2001). A topical therapyfor female sexual dysfunction: Results of a pilot study with1 year follow-up. Proceedings from the Female Sexual Function Forum, Boston, MA.

I call bullshit on oversimplified info on supplements

The amazing peeps at Harvard are trying to help the average shopper interested in their health with an article on why information on nutrients and supplements (and I think herbs too) is so confusing and overwhelming.

Simply put it comes back to the science: what formulation of the nutrient was used in the scientific trials, what dosage, what gender were the participants, what age were they, how long did they take the nutrient for and importantly were the participants healthy or sick?  Even more confused? Well that’s not surprising!

sonia mcnaughton, newcastle, naturopath, herbalist, supplement, nutrition, thyroid, pms, pcos, graves, hashimotos, evidence based naturopathy, evidence based medicine, acne, menopause

In short has the person giving you the advice read the original research or are they aware of the original research specific to differing formulations, dosage, duration of treatment and suitability for population groups? I’m often reading blogs my clients ask me to check out for them on thyroid issues, menopause & PMS and I am pretty frequently amazed/horrified by the misinformation being peddled by clearly caring and well meaning human beings who just unfortunately haven’t read the original research.  ‘Cause only when you know this level of detail can you draw a conclusion on whether or not you will get the sorts of results you are after.

I call this ‘bang for your buck’!  A simple strategy of only using nutritional supplements and herbs that have been tested on people that are similar to you.

Personally I think it is just not ethical to lump all the results of all the trials on a specific nutrient/herb together, mash them up, and spit out a universal one liner.

Sonia McNaughton, naturopath, herbalist, newcastle, vitamins, minerals, nutrition, confused, vitamin d, magnesium, thyroid, pms, acne

Let me give you an example I hear almost every day:  a client will ask me if magnesium is good for their thyroid disease/ weight problem/ muscle soreness/ constipation/ skin issues/ period pain/ mood disorder/ sleep issues etc etc because they are beginning to suspect their very expensive bottle of magnesium is not working for them.

Well if we dive into the detail here for a moment different formulations of magnesium at differing dosages have been shown to help with most of these concerns, however, the type of magnesium may mean you are taking a pill you hope will help with your period pain when all it has been tested to do is relieve constipation!  Or you are taking too small a dosage to have any impact at all and wondering why you are the only person not on the magnesium bandwagon.

This is one of the reasons why I became an evidence based natural therapist – yes it is more work but it is also more rewarding seeing my patients’ health improve!

You can read the article that started this conversation, some might say rant, here.  


Have you ever been given advice on a nutrient or herb that you later found just simply did not work for you?

Sonia x


For more information or to contact me for a consultation (02) 4968 2157

Main image:


‘Smudging’: is there room for traditional beliefs in modern, scientific, natural medicine?

Ahhh the irony ‘smudging’ my new room in the integrative medical practice where I proudly use scientific, research methodology to help people get better.

Have you heard of smudging? It’s an ancient practice of native Americans where they burn herbs, mainly white sage, to waft smoke through the air of a space to cleanse the location and sometimes people of any unwanted energies that may be lingering.Sonia McNaughton herbalism naturopathy evidence based medicine thyroid pmt pmdd pcos

Sometimes balancing my passionate belief and practice of evidence-based, natural medicine with the kookier cross-cultural traditions of  herbalism makes me dive straight into a peer review journal article to see if I can find some kernel of fact in these practices.

Guess what I found?! A study published in the Journal of Ethnopharmacology proved medicinal smoke produced from burning wood and a mixture of smelly medicinal herbs caused a 94% reduction of bacterial counts in 60 minutes!
Link to study here if you want to check it out.

It seems as if there may be some basis in fact to why native Americans used to burn herbs to clear their air.  Whether or not my efforts create a fresh space remains to be seen …at least there will be less chance of catching a bug in my rooms 😉

If you are keen to ‘smudge’ your space please make sure you keep the smoke well away from your smoke detectors and sprinkler systems unless you want to add a water element to your ritual.

Healthy, delicious, fast lunch

Keeping on track with my 2016 goals gets hard when I’m time poor!  What I need is a quick and healthy meal to help me stay alert, calm and full throughout my busy afternoon while lovin’ my liver.
Challenge accepted!
Carrot & Beetroot Salad (with thanks to Everyday Cookbook)
1 carrot
2 beetroot (raw)
½ green apple
¼ red onion
Blitz together in food processor / Thermomix 3 secs (speed 5 for Thermie lovers).
Dump into large bowl & take 1 serving for lunch. Cover tightly and enjoy the rest with dinner.  I don’t find I need a dressing with this salad as the beetroot, carrot, apple and onion all get very moist when you process them together.
This salad is paleo, AIP (autoimmune paleo/protocol), thyroid friendly, Mediterranean diet friendly, low calorie, low fat… let’s face it this salad should join the UN it crosses so many different diet boundaries!
I add a tin of Wild Alaskan Pink Salmon to this meal to boost the protein, calcium, essential fatty acid content and most importantly for me personally balance my blood sugar levels so I stay energised and calm all afternoon!
wild alaskan salmon_sonia mcnaughton naturopath herbalist
I drain the tin into a sink and with a fork mush the bones into the salmon flesh so they become one with the salmon.
Making the salad and adding the salmon takes only a few moments so really most of my 5 minutes is spent cleaning up!  I rinse the food processor bowl and drain it on the sink and pop my leftovers in the fridge.  I also had time to spare to take a quick pic & upload to Facebook 😉
For more quick and healthy lunch ideas check out my Facebook page: SoniaMcNaughton.Naturopath or make a time to see me (02) 4968 2157 at Mayfield Medical Connection.
Do you have a healthy ‘go-to’ lunch idea you can make in less than 5 mins? I’d love to hear it!