Category Archives: Case Studies

Boy’s behavior problems

Case Study: Boy’s behaviour problems
by Sue Kira, naturopath & 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. 

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

*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).

For more information about gluten and a gluten-free lifestyle, please click here (coming soon).

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).

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).

Fatty Liver Case Study

Not the real name* 

Fatty liver eradicated plus a weight loss bonus

60 yr old Maggie* came to me feeling a ‘bit of a mess’, as she called it. She was quite overweight, bordering on diabetes, had aches and pains in different joints and the final straw was that she had just been diagnosed with ‘fatty liver disease’.

Blood tests showed elevated bilirubin and liver enzymes ((LFT’s). An ultrasound showed enlargement of her liver as well as a few cysts. Maggie’s doctor told her to, “lose weight or else you will get serious complications”. Maggie tried to lose weight by cutting back her food intake, but it didn’t seem to help, so that’s why she decided to see me.

Because we already knew what we were dealing with, I didn’t suggest any more tests at that point. I found that Maggie’s diet was very carb heavy, using packet foods for convenience and lots of sweet foods like scones, muffins and biscuits as well as two teaspoons of sugar in each of her four cups of coffee per day.

I started her on a ‘liver detox’. Maggie was happy to do a ‘detox’ as it sounded much better for her than a ‘diet’, which she was afraid of. She had previously attempted many diets to lose weight, only to find that she would put it all back on again, plus much more, than what she started with. So the detox was a great place to start.

The detox comprised of going gluten free, dairy free, grain free, sugar free and alcohol free. But rather than focus on what she couldn’t have, we focused on what she could have. For example, Maggie was used to a light breakfast of a coffee with a slice of toast, so we didn’t go for a heavy breakfast. Instead I suggested a super easy to prepare green veg and berry smoothie with protein from some soaked nuts and seeds with the addition of some Spirulina powder to super boost her detox.

Cups of coffee through the day were exchanged for bone broth mineralised with loads of vegetable off cuts and seasoned with various herbs and spices such as turmeric, parsley and coriander, which would also help her to detox, all strained off to be a clear broth.

Lunch was a mega healthy salad with wild caught, low mercury species fish, like sardines. Dinner was steamed vegetables with a super greens dressing and either organic chicken livers or dry roasted almonds and sunflower seeds. Chicken livers, which are very low in fat, helped to boost Maggie’s nutrients, particularly B12. Various ways of cooking, using herbs and spices, make them taste great.

This is known as ‘organ therapy’ where the nutrients from healthy animal organs are used for a period to replenish the underperforming organ in the human body.

Apart from the food changes, I asked Maggie to walk around her block to where she felt was reasonably comfortable for her body, and to progressively build as she felt more able to do so. This was important, because without movement it is hard for the lymphatic system to clear toxins and the liver is the largest lymphatic organ in our body.

Her initial weight was 105kgs/231lbs. Maggie’s weight slowly dropped over a period of three months (the duration of the detox cleanse) to 85kgs/187lbs – a significant weight loss. While still some way to go to reach her optimal weight for her height, she was delighted with the result and felt so much stronger and healthier with loads more energy.

By that stage, Maggie was going to the gym for extra help with fitness and lymphatic movement. We adjusted her food plan to a diet for a healthy liver, which is less restrictive than the detox, but still helped her to slowly strip away the extra kilos/pounds over the next six months.

After this time, she returned to her doctor who barely recognised her. With beaming eyes, she requested a new test for her liver which all came back clear and healthy. Maggie now weighed 70kgs/154lbs which was great for her height. Not super slim, but healthy and she no longer had pains in her joints.

Maggie managed to drop a total of 35kgs (5½ stone), rid herself of pain and eliminate diabetes and fatty liver. She was encouraged to keep eating for a healthy liver and wanted to continue.

As she said, “I’ve never felt so good”.

For more information on how to have a healthy liver and foods that help or hinder the liver, please click here (coming soon).

Estrogen (Oestrogen) Case Study

Not the real names*

Raising estrogen for late age pregnancy

Helen* was a ‘career women’ who didn’t give children much of a thought when she was younger, and she also professed that she never found the ‘right man’ until somewhat recently. At 44 yrs old and already getting peri-menopausal symptoms, Helen thought her time was up to have children but wanted to ‘have a go’ and see where nature took her.

Helen’s doctor told her that her hormone levels and egg levels were very low and that if she wanted a child then it would need to be done via IVF. This was not what Helen or her partner wanted to do, so they came to me to see what could be done to ‘increase their odds’ naturally.

Helen and her partner had been together for two years, without falling pregnant, so we had a look at their hormones and general health. Both checked out to be quite healthy. The only stumbling block was Helen’s declining hormone levels, particularly her estrogen and she was only ovulating once every 2-3 months.

The first step was to increase their nutrients from a healthy diet packed with nutritious foods.

Both had been eating lots of bread and pasta for quick meals, so this was changed over to a high plant based diet rich in phyto-estrogens, especially adding flax crackers which helped to make things easy for food prep, but gave a boost of much needed phyto-estrogens to Helen. This was served with hummus and guacamole dips to get that extra boost, and eggs for breakfast to increase her lowish cholesterol levels.

We included pumpkin and pumpkin seed dip for zinc (also needed for hormones) and B6 and B12 rich foods such as chicken livers (also used as a dip) and pasture raised beef and lamb. Basically, they had eggs and veggies for breakfast, dips and flax crackers for lunches and quality proteins with loads of veggies or salads for dinner each night.

They both said that they had heaps more energy and vigour for life on this eating plan compared to their previous toast or cereal brekkie, sandwich lunch and pasta dinners.

They felt so good eating this way that they didn’t really mind if they did or didn’t fall pregnant but if it happened it would be a marvellous joy for them. I think they were trying to not feel attached to the idea of having a baby in case they couldn’t.

I didn’t hear from them for about 14 months, but then heard the good news of the safe and healthy arrival of baby Joel*.

I often say jokingly (yet seriously) to many of my female clients to, “watch out as you get healthier, you might just have a baby”. Countless clients who change over to a healthier way of eating and living fall pregnant, whether they are trying to or not.

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

Erectile Dysfunction Case Study

Not the real name*

From erectile dysfunction to happy chappy

Damien,* who was about 45 years old, first came to see me for weight issues and he suspected an underactive thyroid, which on testing, showed he had a sub-clinical underactive thyroid. Sub-clinical means that thyroid levels are on the border of needing drugs, but not to the level that a doctor would medicate.

Damien was exercising a little by walking but couldn’t do much more as his energy was so poor. He was stressed with what he called his ‘home life’. At that point I wasn’t aware that the home stress was due to his erectile issues.

We started a program for his thyroid which included foods high in selenium, zinc, B vitamins, anti-oxidants, tyrosine and iodine. I also asked him to remove foods that were not good for his thyroid such as gluten foods, dairy products, sugar and alcohol

After a few weeks on the thyroid diet he said he had lots more energy, was losing the extra weight and had started weight training at a gym. His thyroid markers in the follow-up blood tests had also improved.

It was then he mentioned that his erectile dysfunction was getting better but wished to improve it further.

I told him that a lot of what he had been doing with his diet and exercise for his thyroid would have helped him to regain erectile function, but that he could boost it further by including some different food types.

He added chilli to his fish meals and replaced chicken meals with turkey and pork dishes. He was already eating pepitas (pumpkin seeds) for his zinc, but also added oysters. He chose to eat smoked oysters which I said wouldn’t be a healthy option long-term due to the unhealthy smoke ingredients, but he said he couldn’t eat them raw. I gave him some cooked recipe versions that he used which really boosted his zinc levels that were previously unresponsive. This was probably because he only ate a few pepita seeds a day.

After an additional month on the adjusted diet, he emailed me to say that he didn’t think he needed a follow up appointment as all was going well with the ‘old fella’ (what a strange name for a penis) and his weight was better than ever. His actual kilo/pounds weight was higher but it was all muscle now instead of flab. A great result for a happy chappy.

For more information about support for Erectile Dysfunction and foods that help or hinder Erectile function, please click here (coming soon).