Simply and Naturally Herbal Health Blog

The Lymphatic system is our second immune system

Most of us are aware that Cancer is associated with a compromised immune system, however we tend to forget about the role of our Lymphatic system.

Working beside people through their journey with cancer, I have learnt an incredible amount of knowledge about what is really going on in the body.

As a Naturopath in Christchurch I was disturbed to say the least by the growing number of people coming to me wanting advice on treating cancer naturally. The subsequent journey has led me to a greater understanding of the dreaded Big C Diagnosis.

 In retrospect I have come to the realisation that stress plays a pivotal role in triggering cancer through the cortisol \ adrenal pathway.  Is it a coincidence that hormonal cancers such as breast, prostate and ovarian cancer started rising post Earthquake? I believe there is a strong link between the adrenal glands, the kidneys and the Lymphatic system

I have to impress upon you that I by no means suggest this is the only factor in the development of cancer. There are at least 7 main factors which need to be addressed and their subsequent significance to the individual. This in my opinion is why we need to explore the root cause for every individual person and not look towards a “ one size fits all” treatment.



Our Lymphatic system is our second immune system. This is often forgotten about and is an incredibly important system to understand how this works. In a nutshell you can say that the Lymphatic systems job is to clean up impurities from the blood and take pathogens and waste from the cells. The adrenals have to be strong enough to signal to the kidneys to “open the gates” to release unwanted toxic waste from the Lymphatic fluid. However if the adrenal glands are too weak they cannot signal to the kidneys to get rid of toxins and pathogens and the result is the lymphatic fluid becomes acidic and is reabsorbed to become a perfect medium for cancer cells to thrive.

When we combine factors such as an acidic diet and stress it assists the cancer cells to build up a protective mucus layer around the cells which is thick and full of protein. This aids in protecting the cells causing nutrient malabsorbtion. Hence the expensive organic food, natural herbs and supplements taken become very expensive urine and waste.

This realisation is why I believe we need to look first at the individuals adrenal glands along with gut health and strengthening as one of the first steps in dealing with cancer.


Working systematically through the possible factors and testing for heavy metal toxicity, nutritional deficiencies, supressed emotions, food intolerances and gut health are some of the main factors which are all part of the picture when dealing with cancer.  A cancer diagnosis creates considerable uncertainty and fear. Awareness regarding what is happening in our body can work in a positive manner which allows the individual to be armed with knowledge and empowerment to fight the battle ahead.

Good Health begins in the gut

There has been much knowledge and research in recent times regarding the connection between our gut and not only the immune system but the entire body including the brain. In fact the gut has been called the second brain and approximately 80% of immune receptors are found in the gut.

This knowledge can cause much confusion in how to target and simply correct the imbalance in our gastrointestinal  (GI) tract.

Most natural health practitioners will agree that majority of health issues can be traced back to intestinal permeability (leaky gut)

Simply explained the GI tract can become inflamed from many causes including antibiotics, medications, preservatives, refined sugar, pesticides, insecticides, food intolerances and stress. When this occurs inflammation causes gaps to appear in the lining of the GI tract. This in turn allows pathogens, toxins and undigested protein to enter the body with the result of causing an overgrowth of bad bacteria in which a myriad of health issues and imbalances can present themselves. Furthermore a weakened digestive system can allow the growth of unwanted pathogens and parasites which can infect not only the intestinal tract but also inhabit the blood, lymph, bodys tissues and vital organs.

I often give the analogy of building a strong gut is like preparing a garden before planting. The weeds need to be removed first before you plant the seeds. Then the fertiliser can be applied to feed the plants to assist them to grow healthy and strong. A simple way to explain the process of healing the gut is to weed out the unwanted bad bacteria, seed the gut with herbs, prebiotics and then feed with probiotics, beneficial and anti inflammatory foods.

Healing the gut first has a foundational domino effect on the whole body including strengthening the immune system, nutrient absorption, neurological health, skin issues and digestive health.

How do You know if you have leaky gut? Symptoms include feeling bloated, flatulence, belching, low energy, brain fog,poor memory,  diarrhoea, constipation, abdominal pains or cramps, headaches, skin rashes or irritations, acne, ecxema, irritable bowel symptoms, low and high blood sugar, chronic fatigue, weak /  insatiable appetite, depression, insomnia and allergies are a just a  few examples of how gut cleansing is integral to address  when embarking upon a healing journey in any chronic or degenerative health condition.

Tests available


Live blood analysis

Lactulose/Mannitol test


Stinging Nettle - Friend or Foe?



Most of us have been introduced to Nettle during our childhood through an  experience of brushing past its leaves leaving behind an unexpected and unpleasant sting. The stinging Nettle also has a bad rap as being an unwanted weed in our gardens. However from a Herbalists point of view the humble Nettle is a powerful spring tonic, blood cleanser and much more. The blood cleansing action can give relief for those who experience any joint pain, Gout, Osteoarthritis, Rheumatoid Arthritis, Kidney stones, skin conditions including childhood Eczema. Clinical evidence also shows Nettle can boost breast milk supply and as a tonic during pregnancy together with Raspberry leaf to increase iron levels and aid in preventing Anemia during the Mothers greater need at this time in her body. The astringent properties can be helpful for reducing excessive menstrual bleeding or an excessive nose bleed. Soak Nettle juice in a cotton cloth and insert gently to the nostril. Nettle also boasts being a diuretic, lowering blood pressure and blood glucose levels and urinary system strengthening properties. It is especially helpful for men who lose prostate / urinary strength as they age.

Is it any coincidence that the fresh leaves appear in Spring? This is the best time to collect the young leaves and may be used as a spring cleaning, gentle detoxifying and blood cleansing tonic for the body. The leaves can be used as a tea or added to soups or stews. A green pesto with nettle added to additional green herbs can be a delicious way to add more nutrients to your diet. Once the leaves are dried or rinsed in water it loses the stinging effect. The fresh leaves can be dried or placed straight in the freezer ready to add into your soups or stews.

 Nettle can be considered as Natures multi vitamin and mineral tonic. It is highly nutritious and contains almost every nutrient the body requires including  B vitamins, potassium, magnesium, calcium phosphorus, sodium, iron, vitamin C, A, K, essential amino acids, polyphenols, antioxidants and beta-carotenes which protect against cancer.

The highly nutritive properties in Nettle allow it to be beneficial to regenerate, strengthen and support the whole body after a bout of chronic diarrhea or heavy menstrual bleeding.

Nettle has also been used as a remedy for chronic cystitis with mucus discharge also Nettle has been found effective for removing warts. Try rubbing Nettle juice over the wart 3-4 times a day for 10 -14 days. Clinical evidence has shown this as an effective easy way for warts to disappear. Nettle tea infusion can provide relief and more rapid healing from burns by wetting and frequently reapplying linen or cotton cloth to the area.


Nettle (Urtica Doica) is a natural anti inflammatory which contains histamine and formic acid. It is these chemicals which allow great pain relief by its counter irritant action for anyone who is dealing with the pain and unpleasant symptoms of Osteoarthritis, Rheumatoid Arthritis or Gout. Using thick gloves cut nettles back to the base of the stem. Collect 3-4 bushy stems and whip over affected painful area. It will initially cause stinging but this will soon subside and great relief may be found from this simple action. If you find this treatment works well for you it is best to continue 3-4 times a week. Then cease treatment for 3 days before resuming. The break in treatment is required to allow for optimum effectiveness.

It is also interesting  to note Nettle juice is its own antidote for the sting it provides. Dock is usually found growing not far from where Nettle is growing. The Dock leaves can be also used as an antidote and rubbed over the sting area to give relief.

By adding Nettle to our daily dietary regime can be a simple, gentle and effective way to assist our body in cleansing, detoxifying and nourishing our body to assist us on bringing nourishment and balance back to our body


Rongoa Herbs on Aotea – healing on your doorstep

It was on a recent trip to Great barrier island that I fell in love with Aotea for the second time. The first time was 18 years ago when we used to sail a triangle from Russell to Whangarei via the Barrier. We would rock hop and explore beautiful anchorages from Tryphena to Katherine Bay. However it was not until last year I returned for the first time on the ferry that I experienced that beautiful energy from being surrounded by so much native bush. My partner Mike and I hired a car and for the first time we explored a lot of the island by road and also explored some wonderful walking tracks. It was at that point I realised what a powerful island Aotea is for healing.

Maori have always been aware of the power Rongoa has to assist our body in the healing process. Rongoa is the wholistic Maori traditional healing practice meaning it encompasses the balance not only the physical body but also the mental and emotional bodies. Knowledge of Rongoa is passed down verbally and includes herbal medicine, flower, native plant and fern essences, massage and spiritual healing.

Through the eyes of a herbalist I was so excited to see so much Kawa Kawa all over the island.  Kawa kawa (also known as pepper tree) is shaped like a heart which suggests it is great for improving circulation. Kawa Kawa is known by herbalists as an “adaptogen” which simply means it is beneficial for almost every health concern. The amazing fact about adaptogens is the intelligence of these herbs to work on areas of the body which need balance and strengthening the most. Kawa kawa is in the same family as Kava but it has a more gentle calming effect on the nervous system than its cousin. Actions of Kawa Kawa include anti fungal, anti bacterial and antiviral. It has been shown to boost the immune system and balance hormones including blood sugar levels and assists in cleansing the blood and kidneys. It can also aid in slowing down milk supply and assist in weaning babies off breastfeeding. The ripe berries when they turn black are high in flavonoids and vitamin C. They can be dried and used as a pepper substitute. Kawa kawa is also beneficial for skin irritations including eczema applied topically as an ointment or cream. Burning the leaves can also deter insects. My interest in Kawa Kawa was peaked when I learnt it also aids in delivery of oxygen to the cells. This action is only found in a few herbs which makes Kawa Kawa a powerful adjunct for cancer treatments. Kawa kawa is also known as “spiritual heart” and has the ability for deep emotional healing of the heart in our dreamtime. I have experienced this myself after drinking a nice cup of kawa kawa tea before bed.


Remember when wild harvesting Kawa kawa never take more than is required. The leaves are often seen to have holes which have been eaten by caterpillars. It is these leaves which are suggested to be more nutritious and preferred by herbalists. Please be mindful the Rongoa herbs have a strong spiritual foundation. It is respectful to ask permission by offering a karakia (prayer) of thanks when harvesting and asking for the intention for use.

Please be aware the information in this article is for sharing knowledge and not intended as medical advice. Although herbs are natures tools for healing the body they may also have an effect on medications or treatments you may already be taking. Before using any herbs it is advised to check with your qualified health professional.




Kawa Kawa  herbal tea recipe

Collect 2 cups kawa Kawa leaves ( leaves with holes are preferred)

2 litres water

Tear leaves add to a saucepan and cover with water. Place the lid on. Bring to the boil and simmer 40 minutes.

Allow to steep for 10-15 minutes. Add a squeeze of lemon and grated fresh ginger if desired. Strain and store remaining tea in the refrigerator for 3-4  days.