Category Archives: Case Studies

Diabetes and Kidney Disease Case Study

Diabetes and kidney disease nipped in the bud
by Sue Kira, Naturopath & Clinical Nutritionist

Apart from wanting to be very thorough when investigating my clients’ health concerns, urinalysis (a simple urine test) is a fast tool to screen many things. Most of the time, nothing shows up and that’s great, but often it uncovers lingering background infections, including early signs of diabetes or other potential conditions.

I remember a Japanese client, aged about 50, whose urine analysis indicated markers were present for diabetes and infection. She showed low and medium levels of protein, glucose, nitrates, leucocytes and an acid pH.

She told me those readings had been picked up by doctors for many years, but they couldn’t find anything else of significance. Consequently, the rationale was ‘this was just how she was’, and ‘let’s keep an eye on it’. But nothing had changed for more than 10 years.

I then asked about her family illness history. She told me her brother, who lived in Japan, had severe diabetes, was nearly blind, one kidney failed, and a foot amputated due to complications. To make matters worse, he was threatened with the removal of one of his hands, all due to not being able to control his sugar levels, even with strong drugs.

Apparently, his diet had not been changed, and as a traditional eater, he consumed lots of rice, especially sushi (which is sweetened rice) plus ‘diet’ soft drinks (not good!).

With this in mind, and after checking her blood and eyes, I could see she had the potential to go down the same path as her brother.

But unlike her brother she was dedicated to make changes to her diet.

She was taken off rice (yes, I know, terrible for someone who had eaten rice as a staple for her whole life, but we had to try it) along with using specific nutritional and herbals.

Within a few months, those markers that had been there for over 10 years were gone and her blood and eyes looked clearer. She felt so much better with more energy – which was the reason why she came to me in the first place.

If I hadn’t organised the in-clinic urine test and didn’t ask about family, I may have missed the real cause of her fatigue.

Incidentally, urine is tested using a Test Strip, called a Combur 9 test by Roche.

Boy’s behavior problems

Case Study: Boy’s behaviour problems
by Sue Kira, Naturopath & Clinical Nutritionist

From my many years of experience in clinic I could write a book about the profound differences made by clients who changed their diet to foods that suited their bodies. Here’s one to share with you.

A five-year-old boy had massive shifts in his behaviour. One day he would be ‘off the wall crazy’ and the next day he would be sweet as an angel. His mum couldn’t understand it. Doctors’ blood tests showed normal. She had been to a child behaviour specialist; in one session he would be an angel and in another session, he could not be controlled and wouldn’t listen or sit still.

Fortunately for me (and my clinic space) he was having a ‘good day’ when he saw me. But clever mum showed me a phone video of what he was like on those ‘other’ days so I could see what she was going through.

I asked her about his favourite foods, because people often crave and eat lots of the very things they shouldn’t have. She said, “That’s easy, all he will drink is milk with chocolate drink powder and eat cheese, chicken nuggets, sausages, potatoes and raw beans. He pretty much eats the same foods every day but his behaviour is different day-to-day”.

My first thought was that it must be the dairy products, as this is quite common. But I discovered that they used two different brands of chicken nuggets on different days (one with additives and one with no additives). Also, there were two different chocolate drink powders he liked.

I felt that his extreme behaviour was the reaction to a particular mix of the two foods. In other words, it appeared it was about combinations of the additives in the chicken nuggets and the chocolate drink mix.

The only way we could find out was by trying different combinations and monitoring his behaviour. We used a core diet that excluded additives of every type. I wanted to take out the milk first, but mum said that he could go for days drinking milk and eating cheese and be fine, so we initially we included the milk products.

His behaviour improved and after a few weeks of good behaviour he started to complain of tummy pains. When I questioned him, it seemed that he had always had these pains but it wasn’t so obvious when all the focus was on his behaviour.

So we talked and it was actually the boy who said he thought it might be milk. I think he had been carefully listening to what we had been talking about previously and he started to listen to his own body.

He wasn’t too worried about giving up dairy milk when we found a delicious coconut milk and added raw cacao powder and sweetened it slightly with rice malt syrup, which agreed very well with his little tummy.

Later, he decided that he didn’t want chicken nuggets anymore and was going to eat ‘big person’ chicken meat instead, which was great as he was then having less gluten and starch from the coating, which he said was also better for his tummy.

A clever boy, who not only felt better with his food choices, but also listened to his body and was the first to say he wasn’t going to eat something that didn’t suit him.

Simple dietary modifications made a remarkable difference to the young boy’s behavior problems and as a consequence, generated harmony for the family. 

SIBO Diet Case Study

Symptoms settled after two weeks on SIBO diet
by Sue Kira, Naturopath & Clinical Nutritionist
Client’s name changed

Angelina came to me suffering from terrible bloating after every meal she ate. She also had headaches nearly every second day, was constipated, uncomfortable in the belly and her sleep was affected by disturbing dreams and bouts of restless legs. She was tired most of the time and her hormones were playing up (irregular periods). She also carried about five extra kilos of weight that she couldn’t shift.

Angelina had been previously tested for parasites and all tests were clear. But she hadn’t been tested for small intestine bacterial overgrowth (SIBO). I arranged the tests and it didn’t take long to discover that she was suffering from the effects of SIBO. She was also low in Iron, B12 and B6 and intolerant to most grains, dairy and cashews (her favourite food).

Her malnutrition was a result of the bad bacteria robbing her body of nutrients.

I advised her to go onto the SIBO Phase 1 diet for three weeks, along with SIBO specific herbs, and then come back. After only three days on the diet she had no symptoms (she emailed to let me know). The SIBO would have still been there, but it was great to know that with the food she was eating, she wasn’t feeding the bacteria and the food was no longer fermenting in her gut.

She wanted to go straight onto Phase 2 of the SIBO diet as she was a bit bored with the limited food choices, but I encouraged her to stay with Phase 1 for the three weeks. When she returned, she admitted that she did eat a few of the Phase 2 foods she had been missing and there were a couple of days that she felt bloated, so she backed off those foods and she was fine again.

The fact that she reacted showed us that she still had the bacterial overgrowth, otherwise she would have been fine with the added foods.

But it didn’t take too long (although Angelina was a bit impatient) until she could eat many of her favourite foods again. She omitted cashews, foods containing sugar, and decided not to eat grains or dairy products as she intuitively felt that these foods possibly triggered the SIBO in the first place.

Click for more information about SIBO and SIBO Diets

Case Study – a vegan SIBO Diet challenge

A Vegan SIBO Diet Challenge
by Sue Kira, Naturopath and Nutritionist

Client’s name has been changed

SIBO is the abbreviation for Small Intestine Bacterial Overgrowth, which involves a very restrictive Phase 1 diet for the first few weeks, followed by a less restrictive Phase 2 diet for a period of time.

But being a vegetarian or vegan has its own special challenges when the standard diets for SIBO exclude much of what they eat.

Mary was the first vegan I worked with who needed a vegan SIBO diet, so it was a bit of a challenge for both of us. But this was also good, because it helped me to come up with some vegan friendly SIBO recipes to help pave the way for other vegans who needed to do the same.

Unfortunately, Mary had previously kicked her toe on a metal chair and had to have antibiotics because her toe was not healing. After that episode, she never felt right and over the next two years she developed digestive complaints such as bloating, diarrhoea and fatigue. She thought that it would settle in time, but it didn’t go away. Her doctor found low levels of iron and B12, but he didn’t check her stools.

When Mary came to see me, I arranged some tests to work out why she had these symptoms. My suspicions were either parasites or SIBO, so we checked for both which revealed she had SIBO, leaky gut and some inflammation. It seemed that the antibiotics may have upset the balance of bacteria in her gut and then started a cascade of effects leaving her with SIBO and the effects of SIBO.

The SIBO was irritating her digestive system, but further tests showed she was intolerant to gluten grains, which had been a big part of her vegan diet. While the grains may have been all right to eat before, once she developed ‘leaky gut’ from the original infection, molecules of gluten crossed over into her blood stream and set up a reaction. It wasn’t celiac but it showed she was intolerant to gluten foods and was slightly intolerant to other grains.

We sat together and worked out a meal plan that would work for Mary and her food preferences, while omitting the grains, legume and pulses. Instead she needed to get her protein and fats from nuts and seeds for the time being, and later she could reintroduce the legumes and pulses and possibly some grains.

Because the SIBO diet restricts the quantity of nuts and seeds, we decided to keep to this restriction for the first week, but it proved to be almost impossible to satisfy Mary. As she was already quite slim, especially with the diarrhoea, she couldn’t afford to lose more weight. For the next two weeks, we decided to double the quantity of nuts and seeds and add quite a bit more coconut oil to keep her calories up.

This was tricky as there was a fine line between consuming adequate coconut oil to provide enough calories and too much to make her diarrhoea worse. She was sensitive to herbs so we couldn’t use them to kill off the bad bugs, but she was able to tolerate loads of dairy free probiotics which made a big difference to keeping diarrhoea at bay.

This diet plan was much better for her and by the third week she was feeling more like her normal self, but still a bit hungry for more food options. Because she responded so well, we didn’t need the full six weeks on the Phase 1 level of her SIBO diet and Phase 2 gave her more options to choose from.

After three weeks on the Phase 2 SIBO diet, she had regained her energy and felt great, so we decided on a trial to introduce legumes and pulses, just a little at a time, and she was fine. Later we introduced a few grain-seeds like quinoa, buckwheat and amaranth and included a lot more vegetables. Mary then had a diet that she felt good about.

Although Mary didn’t normally have a sweet tooth, when she had the SIBO she craved sweet foods. Yet once SIBO was under control, she didn’t feel a need to eat sweet things, which would help her body to remain stable and in balance.

I haven’t heard from Mary since, so no news is great news! ????

Click for more information about SIBO and SIBO Diets

Vaginitis and Cervicitis Case Study

Alkaline diet helps clear up Vaginitis and Cervicitis
by Sue Kira, naturopath & nutritionist

Not the real name*

When Monica* first came to me she was suffering from recurring bouts of vaginitis and cervicitis (inflammation and infections of the vagina and cervix) nearly every month. We did many tests to see if there were any bacterial imbalances in her system and she didn’t really show anything worth considering as a contributing factor. She had already been checked for any abnormal cells and other factors by her doctor.

Looking at her diet, she ate lots of acid forming foods including grains, cheese, meats and sugar in tea and coffee. She also drank a glass of wine each night and more on the weekends.

I discussed with Monica the possibility that she had an acid to alkaline imbalance and how more alkaline foods and drinks in her diet could help to sort out the genital inflammations. She was open to give it a try.

For the next three months, Monica ate an alkaline diet of 80% plant based foods and the other 20% consisted of good fats and a small amount of animal/fish protein. No alcohol, coffee, tea (except herbal), grains, dairy, gluten or sugar was consumed during this time to allow her body to heal and balance. I asked her to come back after three months, unless she had another flare up in the meantime.

Three months later Monica returned and she had no inflammation or infections during this time. Her blood showed no inflammation markers and she looked vibrant, healthy and had more energy. She wondered if she could go back to eating and drinking what she ate previously. I told her I wouldn’t endorse food and drinks that were not healthy for her, but if she chose to consume any, then to monitor how she felt in general and any effects on her genital area.

Monica emailed me a few months later telling me that she had allowed her old favourite foods and drinks to gradually sneak back in because she felt ok, but then began to suffer. This time she knew what to do and was more committed to looking after her body, especially after her doctor told her that if she got repeated infections in the genital area, she was at an increased risk for reproductive cancers.

She was ‘sold’ and now sticks to a healthy mostly alkaline diet, with just the very occasional ‘sneaky’ treat.

For more information about foods that help support your body to be more alkaline, go to the Alkaline Diet 

Gut and Back Issues Case Study

Love in a Box
by Sue Kira, Naturopath & Clinical Nutritionist
*not the real name

Sam,* who worked as a packer for a clothing manufacturer, came to me with tummy problems as well as back problems from lifting heavy boxes all day.

As we talked, it was obvious he disliked packing clothes into boxes and found it boring. His tummy problems related to when he ate bread, so I suggested that he trial eating gluten free for a few weeks and see how he felt.

I asked him how he packed the boxes, and he said that most of the time he didn’t even think about how he was packing; he had done this job for so long that he could probably do it blind-folded. He was fed up with his boring monotonous job, so he packed the boxes with feelings of anger and resentment and felt unappreciated by his employer.

I brought to his attention that he was packing boxes in the energy of anger, frustration and resentment, and suggested that people at shops who unpack the boxes would receive the energy of his ‘boxes of anger’ which could affect them. He was blown away.

I suggested that rather than ‘check-out’ at work, instead be present by completely focusing his attention on what he was doing when packing and lifting.

By feeling his body – his muscles, joints, posture and how he moved – he would be more aware if he was lifting inappropriately, straining or if his body needed a rest.

I suggested for four weeks, until I saw him again, that he pack the boxes with an energy of love, which would then be felt by those who unpacked the boxes.

In other words, he was bringing purpose, presence, service and commitment to what had seemed like a mundane job.

When we caught up, he told me that his back issues had disappeared and there was no more pain, and his tummy was no longer bloated and uncomfortable. He also realised that he had been holding anger in his body and noticed the difference when he was very ‘present’ with his body and with the products he packed.

Remarkably, he also told me he had really enjoyed his work over the previous month and changed his attitude about his job.

A month later Sam phoned and told me that his boss must have noticed the shift because he received a promotion. He was happy, as was his gentle body.

It just shows what an amazing affect conscious presence can have (with a touch of love).


Prevent gall bladder removal

Case Study: Vegan diet settled gall bladder disease
by Sue Kira ND

Not the real name*

Brett* was in his mid-20’s when he first saw me, just after he’d been told that his gall bladder was diseased and needed to be removed. But first he had to go onto antibiotics and anti-inflammatory drugs before it was safe for him to have the operation. So Brett wanted to see if I could help him support his body through this journey.

My advice was to continue to take the drugs to help calm his gall bladder, and to also go onto a vegan diet, which was low fat, so he didn’t eat anything to upset his gallbladder.

He normally ate a lot of red meat and rich creamy foods, but he was happy to have a vegetable based diet because he felt so sick at that time and couldn’t really bear to eat anything else.

We also arranged a ‘cocktail’ to drink daily with turmeric powder, glutathione powder, and slippery elm powder mixed into some vegetable juice. We also included some rosemary oil for Brett to gently rub over his gallbladder area to help reduce inflammation. I also advised him to go on gentle exercise walks at the beach or parks so his lymphatic system could slowly move the poison from his gallbladder.

Against my advice, Brett decided not to take any of the medications that had been prescribed by his doctor as he intuitively felt they would make things worse, and he also felt my additional advice sounded good, so he just stayed with our plan for several weeks.

When he returned, he told me he felt very normal, and had been to his doctor for some tests. His gallbladder had completely healed and was no longer in need of an operation, which was a great result and a credit to him for sticking with it. Brett decided that this diet really suited him so he decided to continue with it.

Brett came back to see me when he was in his 30’s, looking to conceive his first child with his wife. He wanted to check that all his levels were fine, because he wasn’t sure if his B12 and other nutrient levels were ok, even though he felt good. This was a very sensible thing to do, considering that making a baby takes two healthy people.

We ran some tests and the only thing that was out was his zinc level, so I put him onto a zinc supplement to pick things up quickly and told him how to add more zinc to his diet with pepitas (pumpkin seeds).

There are other zinc rich foods, but they are also rich in copper, so he was happy to add some extra seeds to his morning muesli and also make a dip with avocado and pepitas and add pepitas to his paleo style seed bread.

Fourteen months later I met their first child and all had gone well with the pregnancy and birth.

For more information about Vegan eating and foods that help support you with a Vegan Diet, please click here (coming soon).

Fluid Retention Edema (Oedema) Case Study

Not the real name*

Diet reduced fluid retention

Eileen* had already been to her doctor to see why she suffered terrible fluid retention and all her tests came back fine, which was great, but didn’t solve the problem.

At the start of each day Eileen was okay, but by mid-afternoon she needed to have a rest to help ease the puffiness in her lower legs and feet. Her feet swelled up so much that she couldn’t put her shoes on in the afternoon and needed to use her slippers instead.

As a grandmother, Eileen was in charge of two little ones after school and it was hard for her to ‘run-around’ after them, so she would often let them watch TV with a snack, just so she could rest.

On examining her diet and daily activities, I discovered that she never drank water, but instead had two cups of tea and three cups of coffee each day, which she thought would be great for her fluid.

Her diet comprised of toast with jam and a cuppa for breakfast, scones with jam and cream and a cuppa for morning and afternoon tea, a bacon and tomato sauce sandwich or a tuna and lettuce sandwich for lunch with a cuppa, and dinner was usually some sort of meat (commonly silverside cured in salt) and vegetables, and she loved piling salt onto all her foods, irrespective of taste.

This combination was drying her up from the inside and making her cells hold onto what little water they could. This was her diet for the past 60 years so you can imagine the look on her face when I talked about changing her hot drinks over to herbal teas like Rooibos or hot or cold water with a splash of lemon or apple juice (or both together).

Apple juice in small amounts helps to hold water inside cells to re-hydrate them, and lemon helps to detoxify the liver. I explained that her body would be somewhat like a dry sponge and if she just drank plain water it would likely run straight through her. That’s a common comment I get from people who drink lots of water. Eileen had experienced this herself so she knew what I meant.

The foods and drinks she was consuming were dehydrating her body, so we needed to change her diet to rehydrate her cells (intracellular) which would facilitate fluid removal from outside her cells (extracellular) to restore her natural fluids balance.

Using small amounts of apple juice in her water (like making a cordial) can rehydrate and make a difference. Liquid chlorophyll in water can do the same thing. Eileen made the change, but still drank one cup of coffee per day and a small amount of chocolate as her ‘sweet treat’. (I needed to compromise to get her to comply).

We also needed to change her food. I asked her to stop having the scones and jam and instead have some mixed chopped up fruit. That way she could still have something sweet which would add fluid to the inside of her cells rather than take it away.

I replaced her normal salt with potassium and herb salt, as potassium will help with fluid balance and she could then still have her foods tasting salty. The salty meats had to go and be replaced by ‘normal meats’ and loads more vegetables.

It didn’t take long for Eileen’s body to respond and by week two she was taking her grandkids to the park or local pool instead of being perched in front of the television all afternoon. Not only is this lifestyle healthier for Eileen, it was also benefitting her grandchildren.

I do hope they all stick with it.

For more information about Fluid Retention and foods that help or hinder Fluid levels and Edema (Oedema), please click here (coming soon).

Fibromyalgia Case Study

Not the real name*

Clearing fibromyalgia

Michelle* first came to me when I used to do massage, along with naturopathy, as she wanted relief from her long-term fibromyalgia pains. She had so much pain that she needed morphine plus ‘normal painkillers’, along with various nutritional supplements to help her go to the toilet, due to the side effects of the medication.

The pharmaceutical drugs had a huge impact on her liver which created more problems, but she felt she had nowhere to go with it because if she reduced her medication the pain was unbearable.

When I massaged her, I could feel her lymphatic system was very congested. Even though she said the massage felt good at the time, afterwards her pain would intensify for a few days, which necessitated even more pain relief. I suggested to stop the massage for a while and focus on her diet and lifestyle to see what could be done.

Fortunately, she was prepared to do almost anything to feel better so compliance was great. First it was important to ensure all organs of elimination were functioning well to help clear the build-up of toxins. I prescribed large doses of magnesium to help her go to the toilet better without the use of laxatives, which helped to reduce the intensity of the pain. Magnesium is hydrophilic, meaning that it attracts water to itself, which hydrates the bowel.

We also included simple things to reduce the toxic burden on her body. We arranged to filter her water from chlorine, fluoride and bromides, including her shower and bath water. Her pool and spa water was changed to an ozone system to purify, instead of adding toxins. Magnesium was added to the pool and spa water to help relax her muscles, joints and connective tissue.

We abolished all chemical personal care products, including her toothpaste and favourite perfume and changed them all over to natural chemical free products.

These things alone were significant as she started to detoxify immediately, albeit with increased pain initially. After settling, her pain levels reduced from 9/10 to 7/10. She was still on existing medication at this stage.

We then tackled her diet to remove all grains, sugar, caffeine and alcohol. She thought a glass of red wine a night made her feel better, but it was only temporary. We also removed dairy products and certain fruits such as bananas which can be mucus forming for some people.

Vegetables from the nightshade family, which can be damp and form congestion, were also removed. These included eggplant (aubergines), tomatoes, chilli, capsicum (peppers) and potatoes. This meant eliminating her favourite comfort food, hot potato chips. But it was more important for Michelle to feel comfortable rather than ‘eat comfort’.

Basically, she ate fish, chicken and plenty of appropriate vegetables and fruits and drank lots of purified water. She initially found the diet boring until I showed her how to use herbs and spices to liven up meals, then she was happy.

She also loved the comfort of chocolate, so I shared some raw cacao delights recipes with her, but only as a once-a-week treat because they contained a little sugar from rice malt or maple syrup. Chocolate’s also high in oxalic acid, which Michelle needed to avoid to reduce her pain levels.

These changes were gradual, because with each change she would further detox, which temporarily resulted in increased pain, headaches and tiredness – which she initially put down to the lack of caffeine and simple carbs.

However, these symptoms cleared quickly, and she had more energy than ever before.

Michelle gradually cut back her meds to half dose and her pain dropped to 5/10. She had not had this low level of pain for 20 years.

As she felt better, we next looked at movement, because she really needed to get her lymphatic system moving to clear the rest of the stagnation from her body. She was reluctant as exercise brought on lactic acid pains, but I asked her to be gentle and start with a short walk around her house each day for two weeks.

At her next appointment, she was then walking the block and feeling much better. We recommenced massage therapy to help move the accumulated lymphatic waste. Later she introduced social dancing and swimming in the ocean and longer walks.

To this day, she continues to improve and has much less pain and medication.

For more information about Fibromyalgia and foods that help or hinder Fibromyalgia, please click here (coming soon).

Fertility Case Study

Not the real name*

From Anovulation (absent ovulation) to a baby boy

One of the great joys of being a naturopath is to help ladies who are having difficulty conceiving.

Many ladies just don’t seem to ovulate often. Sometimes anovulation is due to PCOS (polycystic ovaries) but other times, they just don’t ovulate. There are various reasons, but it’s frequently due to diet and lifestyle factors such as excessive exercise, poor eating habits, stress, being overweight or underweight and a condition called hyperprolactinemia. Basically, the result is no ovulation and you can’t fall pregnant.

Josephine* came to me after trying to fall pregnant for several months. It wasn’t until she thought about why it was taking so long to fall pregnant that she realised that she wasn’t ovulating every month. She was ovulating once every 3-4 months and sometimes after 6 months. This was stressful for her as her partner worked away and they would only get brief moments together when they could possibly conceive, which made things worse.

Bordering on considering IVF, they visited me to see what could be done. Josephine’s partner had been tested and was fine, so we crossed that off the list. Josephine had many tests and there didn’t appear to be any reason why she wasn’t ovulating.

I wanted to make sure they were both getting plenty of the right nutrients to make conception as likely as possible, so we started by making some changes to their diet.

Rather than starting with the usual oestrogen increasing diet, I felt it was more important to sort out their ordinary diet. There was much room for improvement and they both had stress in their life.

I looked at Josephine’s vitamin and mineral levels and tests showed that she was low in nearly all of those needed for healthy hormones, such as vitamin D, B6, zinc, iron and her B12 was sub-optimal. We set up a diet that was rich in these nutrients as well as cutting out foods and drinks with the potential to cause problems such as gluten, dairy, sugar, alcohol, coffee, additives, most grains and white rice (whole grain rice is ok in small amounts).

Josephine’s vitamin D was so low that I also started her on a vitamin D supplement and encouraged her to get out into the sun a bit more and we also included vitamin D rich foods in her diet.

Within three months Josephine started to ovulate every month. Another three months later she was finally pregnant. Several months later, Josephine gave birth to a lovely, bubbly baby boy.

Josephine now has three gorgeous healthy children…and I have their photos

For more information about supporting fertility and foods that help or hinder Fertility, please click here (coming soon).