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Volunteering in a Greek Island Refugee Camp Part 2

After spending the first week of our trip at Ritsona (read Part 1 of my refugee camp experience here ) I decided to fly down to Chios, one of the boat landing islands where we had heard more hands were needed. Jules, Lauren and I arrived in Chios and headed straight to the volunteer hotel owned by the amazingly big hearted Toula, the founder of CESRT(Chios Eastern Shores Rescue Team). What first struck us was how close to Turkey were, individual houses seen easily with the naked eye .When I asked Toula how she got involved with the refugee crisis she said “Because they were landing on my beach right here, I had to do something!”. So since that time early in the crisis three years ago when thousands of refugees were landing on the beaches she has dedicated her life to coordinating CERST. Toula does a magnificent job of not only providing humanitarian needs to the refugees but also supporting the local Greek community who are struggling with 50% unemployment and a tourist economy affected by the arrival of the refugees.   Next morning at 9am we attended the group meeting at CESRT HQ, the warehouse. We were so excited to feel like “Yes! This is where we are meant to be”. Each morning 30-40 volunteers of all ages from all over the world decide how they will help out for the day. They discuss issues and brainstorm solutions for problems such as how to keep the rats out of the tents which are biting people at night and how to get access to the basement of the... read more

Recollections of my time volunteering in Greek refugee camps.

In February this year I decided to go to Greece to work in a refugee camp accommodating primarily Syrian women and children refugees. It is something that I had been thinking of doing for a while. I have a very fortunate life and I am at the stage where my children are old enough to look after themselves and I have the opportunity to “pay it forward ” and help others in need. I had been looking for something where I could use my skills accumulated over almost 30 years as a naturopath. The opportunity arose with Involvement Volunteers International to work as a nutritionist in Greece and it took me about 30 seconds to decide to register my interest. Four months later taking almost $3000 in generous donations I found myself in Athens meeting up with 25 other naturopaths, nutritionists, nurses and doctors from Oz and the UK. We got stuck into it straight away and at Kora House, a refugee support centre, made up a healthy nut and seed slice to go in 100 food packs we put together to distribute to the homeless on the cold winter streets of Athens that night.           The following morning fellow naturopath Jules Galloway and I went to our herbal heaven, a fabulous shop selling a huge variety of medicinal herbs. We stocked up on kilos of herbs to make tea blends to take to the camp. We had a lot of fun comparing knowledge with the lovey self taught lady with such a happy, friendly personality.             Our huge team... read more

How to find the Best Naturopath in Wollongong for You.

How to Find the best Naturopath in Wollongong for you. By Sharyn Hocking N.D.   I have been in practice for almost 30 years. Over that time I have had patients who have stuck with me. I have treated their kids and now their grandkids…and that makes me feel old sometimes but it’s amazing to watch great health practises being passed on through the generations.   I have also had patients that come to see me once or twice and then never again. I used to take it personally. Did I fail to help them? Could I have done something different? Sometimes I would find out years later that the one visit was all they needed to get them back on track. But sometimes I think it was that we just didn’t click together.   When dealing with their health issues I encourage people to be proactive in their health. Do some research, but be aware that Dr Google is not always the way to get the best outcomes. I think it’s important to find the practitioner who can support you on your health journey; Someone you feel comfortable with on a personal level, but also someone that you have confidence in to have the right knowledge for you.   Practitioners of complementary medicine all have their own way of doing things and their preferred modalities.   Things that I feel are important include Are they an experienced practitioner? Do they use the type of medicine that you know you respond well to- herbal, nutritional, homeopathic? Do they use any functional testing? Is this justified and how much will... read more

Could Health Supplements be doing you Harm?

  For those of you who watched the ABC program’s Four Corners story on Monday 16th May on vitamin supplements I would like to set your mind at ease.   This story was primarily based on what is happening in the United States which is quite different to the Australian vitamin industry. In the US supplements are regarded as foods and therefore regulated in the same manner as foods by the FDA. In Australia the vitamin industry is regulated by the TGA and we have much stricter guidelines, on a similar level to pharmaceutical drugs.   This is why I don’t generally recommend that people buy their supplements over the internet .The difference in quality between practitioner only products prescribed by naturopaths and over the counter vitamins available at supermarkets can be huge especially when it comes to products like fish oils. Whilst it may seem like you are grabbing a bargain you may pay the price with rancid, oxidised oils that are higher in heavy metals and pesticides.   Another take home from story is that it can be dangerous to self prescribe and a consultation with a professional trained in nutritional and herbal medicine is imperative to ensure you are taking what is needed for your personal health issues at the optimum dosage. Too little or too much can be just as harmful. When used therapeutically vitamins and minerals can have a drug like action, ie they have a physiological effect on the body and need to be treated with respect.   If you have any concerns about your prescribed supplements please contact your... read more

Thyroid Problems? Is iodine the answer?

  Sally’s Story Sally came to see me because she had been diagnosed with hypothyroidism and was taking thyroid medication but she just wasn’t feeling any better. She had downloaded a list of hypothyroid symptons and ticked off 29/50 but her main complaints were fatigue, anxiety and just not coping with her 2 young children and not losing her pregnancy weight. Her Oligoscan showed deficiencies in zinc, selenium and iodine and I asked her to get an iodine loading test done which also confirmed this very low iodine level. Her treatment included a nutrient regime to start addressing these deficiencies with high dose iodine and 6 months later she is feeling like a different woman even though she hasn’t increased her thyroid drug.All her symptoms have improved and she has lost 6kg.   Janet’s Thinning Hair Janet was very distressed when she first came to see me. Her hair was noticeable thinning and she described how her shower drain was choked with falling hair. Janet hadn’t been diagnosed with hypothyroidism,her TSH was normal but she certainly had a lot of the signs; fatigue, cold hands and feet, and she had very lumpy fibrocystic breasts. The oligoscan showed low iodine so that’s was pretty much what we addressed. After 3 months she couldn’t believe the difference “I have so much more energy, I am going to gym every with a girlfriend and my hairdresser says keep going with what I am doing…she can see regrowth!” All those lumps that she had had for years are also gone and now 6 months later her hair is growing back thickly, especially around the... read more

A Natural Approach to Diabetes

World Diabetes Day Saturday 14th November.   With an increasing waistline so does the risk of developing diabetes This is a condition with serious consequences if not managed well and that’s where lifestyle and natural medicine can help.   The most important thing you can do is decrease the amount of carbohydrates you consume. Remember the food pyramid we were taught at school? Carbohydrates, breads and starches formed the base of this…but if you don’t burn up the carbohydrates and sugars found in these foods they turn to fat in your body. Your cells also become less able to respond to the flood of sugar and you can become insulin resistant, which raises your blood sugars even further.   Now look at the Wellness Lifestyle Pyramid in the photo above. Exercise and movement form the base of this pyramid. Vegetables, protein and fruit are the bottom 3 levels of foods that should comprise the majority of your diet. Combining exercise and diet can have a huge impact on insulin resistance, energy and blood sugar regulation.   Foods like cinnamon and cocoa contain phytochemicals, naturally occurring chemicals that restore insulin sensitivity and reduce inflammation in your body.   Making sure your magnesium levels are good is essential for fighting diabetes. Magnesium helps to regulate blood sugar, and improve insulin sensitivity. It decreases blood pressure and supports the heart which are common side effects of diabetes.   Chromium is another mineral essential for improving insulin resistance and if you are deficient in chromium your sugar cravings can be unmanageable.   Gymnema is a magic little herb that can help restore damaged... read more