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Mental Health and Adaptogens with Naturopath Monica Shepherd (EP #112)

We hope you all tune in for today's podcast as Mason sits down with mental health-focused naturopath Monica Shepherd (The Organic Naturopath), facilitator of The Connected Brain course, for a conversation around mental health, stress, and the power of adaptogens to improve brain health.

Something we aim to deliver here on the SuperFeast podcast is a sense of health sovereignty and empowerment through diverse conversations. We want to bring you inspiring individuals, their stories, and valuable knowledge that empower your mental/physical/spiritual wellbeing.

With all of us feeling the ripple effects of these unprecedented times, there has never been a better time to talk about mental wellness practices to keep us healthy as a society and better equipped to deal with stress. We hope you all tune in for today's podcast as Mason sits down with mental health-focused naturopath Monica Shepherd (The Organic Naturopath), facilitator of The Connected Brain course, for a conversation around mental health and adaptogens. Monica unpacks the healing nature of these powerful herbs and their ability to improve neuroplasticity, behavioural disorders, and all facets of mental health. An empowering conversation, shedding light on a subject that sometimes feels a bit heavy to pick up, Monica reminds us that not only are our brains designed to survive in life, but also to thrive.   


That’s an incredible reality to realise- the odds are in our favour. Thanks for bringing this positive energy and reminding us what adaptogens are doing for our HPA, our general health, and our capacity to thrive.

-Mason Taylor


Mason and Monica discuss:

  • Addiction healing.
  • Balancing the HPA axis.
  • Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder.
  • Healing trauma through adaptogens.
  • Adaptogens for children with trauma & anxiety.
  • What happens in the body when we experience trauma.
  • EMDR (Eye Movement Desensitisation and Reprocessing).
  • Adaptogens for mental illness.
  • Amygdala balance through adaptogens.
  • How adaptogens enhance brain neuroplasticity.
  • Adaptogens for the liver and lymphatic system.


 Who is Monica Shepherd?

Monica Shepherd (The Organic Naturopath) is a trained naturopath and nutritionist who specialises in all things mental health and is currently undertaking a Masters in Mental Health. 

Her goal as a practitioner is to be both practical and balanced in her approach while striving to uncover solutions to a pandemic of disconnection and mental health symptoms through a combination of science and traditional knowledge. 



Monica's website ( The Organic Naturopath)

Instagram (The Organic Naturopath)

SuperFeast Adaptogens

Ashwagandha - Your New Best Friend To Beat Stress


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Check Out The Transcript Here:


Mason: (00:02)

All right. We're on, Monica. Thank you so much for joining me.


Monica Shepherd: (00:06)

Thank you for having me.


Mason: (00:10)

How long have you been up in the Northern Rivers since you've moved up from Victoria?


Monica Shepherd: (00:14)

Just before Christmas, so it's still new, but it feels like forever.


Mason: (00:20)

Next time we're going to get you in. If you're in the Northern Rivers, have to come into the podcast chamber.


Monica Shepherd: (00:28)

I'm looking forward to this chamber. Wow, I love that word.


Mason: (00:33)

It's a little dank at the moment, but I think this year we'll actually work on it. Not dank, just daggy, is probably the better word. You're not missing much, other than for us to be face-to-face, but that is okay. I'm still excited that you're out of Victoria and in the Rainbow Region.


Monica Shepherd: (00:54)

Yes. Me too.


Mason: (00:55)

Thanks so much for reaching out. I really want to hear about your master's that you're doing around mental health. Of course, you're a naturopath, you come with that angle. You're already dealing with a whole variety of mental health issues in-clinic from a naturopathic standpoint, but can you just tell me what made you go in this direction of your master's? I'm so stoked that you reached out because it's been so long since I've really made the connection around adaptogens, medicinal mushrooms and mental health issues and them being included in the process of reducing symptomatology, at least. I'm really excited to hear all about it.


Monica Shepherd: (01:38)

Well, I mean, look, the research, as we know, is always evolving, so you've probably come at a good time to get excited about it again. But for me, personally, when I was doing my training as a naturopath, I was sitting in with a naturopath who had also trained as a psychologist and I was seeing some remarkable cases. So we were dealing with everything from children with severe ADHD, people with uncontrolled schizophrenia, people whose mental health disorders and issues, were just really impacting on their quality of life, and a lot of the time they had gone down a lot of routes and they were already doing all the right things, per se. So they were already seeing their psychologist or counsellor, they were already learning all those skills and their techniques, but their biochemistry just still wasn't quite correct. Obviously we're working with all your traditional things that you work with as a natural health practitioner. We'll really zone in on their diet, we'll help them with their nutritional deficiencies. But then what really got me excited is seeing how adaptogens can really help with their brain neuroplasticity.


Monica Shepherd: (02:53)

As we know, a child's brain is able to adapt and change more quickly, but that doesn't mean that an adult's brain is not able to be tuned in on as well. I guess the difference is, as an adult, we're not deleting those connections in the brain or we're not adding to them, we're fine-tuning what's there, and that's where things like adaptogens can be really exciting. And as you probably know in your research as well, when we're helping someone on that basic level with their stress, then we're going to be helping with that response in the brain. And so, the things that I tend to see clinically and that I've had personal experience with, are things like post-traumatic stress disorder. So when someone has experienced trauma and that can be acute trauma, as we know. So for example, when you have a car accident, we're hoping that's a one-off experience and a one-off traumatic experience and it's not going to be something that's ongoing. But then you can get chronic trauma, so like domestic violence, for example, would be an example of trauma that was ongoing and didn't just happen once usually.


Monica Shepherd: (04:06)

And so, well, is really interesting and what you know is that we're looking at, okay, so in post-traumatic stress disorder, how do these memories develop and how does this actually affect the body? Because physical and emotional pain are very different. I could see somebody who's broke their ankle playing sport, and as long as that event wasn't particularly emotionally traumatic for them, as soon as the ankle's healed, they're straight back playing their sport again and they're probably not going to have much feeling of anxiousness or low mood, et cetera, going forward. But you give someone an experience where it's emotionally traumatic, and then we are going to see some long-term side effects. We're going to see some anxiety related symptoms, simple things like being more nervous socially or finger twitching or issues sleeping, et cetera. So if we want to deal with that kind of trauma, we really need to understand what happens in the body when we experience this trauma, and what happens with emotional pain versus physical pain. The research shows a lot about the Amygdala, and we're looking at, okay, so here is our fight or flight response, but here is our ability to process fear, but also to process bliss.


Monica Shepherd: (05:36)

So it really fascinates me. We literally have this part in our brain that is here for us, not to just survive in life, but to thrive in life. And if we can get this working and functioning really well, we are literally tapping into our biochemistry of bliss and our ability to process fearful experiences and emotions more effectively, and our ability as well, with what kind of memories are we going to develop around our trauma that we have experienced. So, as we know, long-term memory takes time to develop, so ideally, how we would want to help somebody with adaptogens in trauma is, they would already be taking them, because you don't know when acute trauma is going to happen. But with long-term trauma, I've really seen that the panacea here is patience and persistence. So patience and persistence and daily taking those adaptogens over time. And then we're getting that amygdala really balanced and we're helping not just with those anxiety-related symptoms that someone is experiencing, but we're helping with the memories that have been formed. It's such a fascinating and exciting area of research that's coming around. And clinically, it's really rewarding seeing how it can just support people.


Mason: (07:05)

This is literally branching off from where I've left it in my understanding and saw adaptogens being used clinically for the amygdala. I like your pronunciation. Amygdala.


Monica Shepherd: (07:23)

Oh, yeah. I'm glad you're a fan.


Mason: (07:24)

It feels like a mandala kind of vibe about it.


Monica Shepherd: (07:28)

Actually, that's the perfect description.


Mason: (07:32)

Little almond-shaped mandala.


Monica Shepherd: (07:35)

A little mandala in your brain, yeah.


Mason: (07:38)

So, okay, you've said several things that I want to unpack. So the healing process you've associated and so now I'm assuming it's this healing process and allowing the amygdala to not get bogged down in repeating, say like an overly fearful or whatever other emotion, is a fearful emotion around the experience or the trauma and it goes through processing that so it can move back into, say more of a blissful state. And to have that, you then require a certain amount of neuroplasticity within your nervous system and your brain. The more neuroplasticity you have or the more plastic you are before going into a trauma, the better equipped you're going to be, psychologically and physiologically, to move through that process. Is that right?


Monica Shepherd: (08:32)

Yeah, that is right. I guess there's two things to that as well, and the first thing is when we want to influence the brain, we definitely want to influence the nervous system as well as the adrenal, so when we're controlling the amount of cortisol that's being released and how balanced that is and what state our nervous system is, that's going to affect that brain response as well. So as we know, adaptogens are particularly useful, because the same way we can develop a mental habit, we can also develop a physical habit of being stuck in high cortisol or being stuck in a wired nervous system, and that will influence the brain's ability to bounce back, so to speak. And you're absolutely right when you say it's more ideal to already be taking adaptogens, because right after a trauma, that long-term memory hasn't been developed yet, so how long that trauma is going to last or how they're going to look back at it in say, three years, five years, 10 years, we can influence that so much when we interact with the brain right close to the trauma.


Mason: (09:47)

I mean, already, I feel like I'm becoming more plastic. I don't know if you quickly want to explain neuroplasticity, because I just realised there's a lot of people that may not be on top of this topic. I mean, I remember I first heard about it after my mom had an aneurysm, which I'll explain that's where my understanding came from and I read Norman Doidge's book, The Brain That Changes Itself, and I was like, ew, plastic, I don't even want to know that word. But I just want to explain that to people.


Monica Shepherd: (10:18)

It is a weird word and term when you think about it and I'd probably name it something different if it was me and myself, to give people a clearer understanding, but I think even the title of that book explains it really well. The Brain That Can Change Itself, right? And so, essentially, if we want to keep it really simple, that's exactly what neuroplasticity is. It's the ability of our brain to change itself and so we have this understanding that, as a child, the brain is obviously learning and it's really prime to learn and is able to be really adaptable and change. I guess a good example would be language learning. So we know, for example, children are much more prime to pick up second and third languages more so than an adult to the point where, if a child learns a second or a third language, they're less likely to have an accent in either of those languages. They're more likely to have a native accent, where an adult still absolutely has the ability to learn as many different languages as they want, but they're much more likely to have their native accent in all those other languages that they learn.


Monica Shepherd: (11:28)

So we can see that there is a difference, but the exciting thing is that even after 25, so we're saying the average brain by 25 years old is pretty set, there are still ways we can influence those synapses. So there's connections that happen in the brain. And we can definitely fine-tune them and as we're talking about, well I want to call it the mandala in your brain now, you can absolutely influence the mandala in your brain. So we've been talking a lot about adaptogens which have really good research, and we know even, one of the research, for example of Buddhist monks or of people who are more socially connected, that that also influenced this changes in the brain, because the exciting thing is, we are built for bliss, we are built for social connection and we're physically, actually, built for this, and our brain is physically built to overcome these traumatic experiences that we experience and more than that, to have really deep connection.


Mason: (12:35)

But what's interesting, just to get a little bit understanding that process. If there's neuroplasticity, which I always associate it with healing from traumatic brain injury, like brain injury or stroke or aneurysm in my mom's case, which was quite effective. They were like, she's going to be a vegetable, and she can still now laugh and still improve neurologically, even though it's nine years later and that's why lion's mane and a lot of the other adaptogens came into my range in the beginning in SuperFeast, because that was like, just wanted to pump mom full of them as well as everything else, utilising all these techniques. And so, it's associated with brain healing or kind of mental performance, right? So retention of information, languages, so on and so forth, so I had this, for me it had this intellectual potentiation association as well as the brain healing. I'm not good in any of those directions. I'm not a practitioner and I'm not a biohacker, one of those entrepreneurs that needs to be optimal all the time, even though I do in my own way. But just associating it here with having yourself being plastic within, able to create these synapses and these new pathways is going to, ultimately, do what we'll talk about in tonic herbalism and long-term adaptogen use, is make it easier to be yourself and flourish when you get to later life like 80 and 90.


Mason: (14:17)

It's like, yeah, good, strong body and have a strong output, but if you're just stuck in projecting particular stories you have about the way life is or stuck in a particular trauma or fear or whatever it is, you're going, more likely, to be dysfunctional when you get into your older age and eventually get bogged down. I don't think people realise how hard it is, as you go along, if you stop going through this process, and this is what I want to get to, you were saying you get to give the bliss, but you have to go back through that trauma, so you're going to need to be able to have the capacity to... I don't know if it's reliving that fear through the amygdala or how it works when your body is functioning correctly, how that moves from fear to bliss as far as you understand. What are we actually supporting here with the adaptogens? Does the HPA axis kind of come in there as well a little bit?


Monica Shepherd: (15:20)

Yeah, definitely the HPA axis comes in there as well, and I could see somebody who might have an anxiety-related disorder that they've had for a decade, for example. And the other interesting thing as well is that we know that anxiety-related disorders can lead into addiction as well, and so there's a really good example when you're meeting someone. It may be just a simple addiction. Well, what we would consider simple, like smoking cigarettes, for example, nicotine, and they could've had that addiction for 10 or 20 years. So being able to change that physically and emotionally is huge. So you're right in that with the emotional aspects, we do need to go back and feel that and that's where you get all those therapies like the EMDR for example, the Eye Movement Desensitation technique.


Mason: (16:13)

That's an old Daoist technique, I believe.


Monica Shepherd: (16:14)

Yeah. Look, I've used it myself, personally, and I found it really helpful and I've seen it really help for the clients as well, but you are right, they do need to, to some degree, go back and feel that trauma, but you're kind of just having a bird's-eye view, so you're not reliving it, you're just going back to heal it physically in the brain. But where adaptogens come in is that, with the HPA axis, like I was saying before, you will get an imbalanced cortisol habit. So, for example, instead of, as we know, cortisol rises in the morning, it's at it's peak usually mid-morning and then at night it is lowering again for sleep.


Monica Shepherd: (16:55)

When somebody's had these anxiety-related disorders, in a lot of cases, a lot of people I see, it's more than a decade, it's more than 10 years, so I consider that quite significant and quite chronic as far as the habits are set in the body. Without adaptogens, even with all these techniques, I find it very difficult to get their cortisol doing what it's meant to be doing again and getting back to their own body's cycle and rhythm. So they could be having really high cortisol at night, for example, and then we've got somebody who's not resting easily, not falling asleep easily and certainly not in line with nature and the way their body would like to be. It's really fascinating, but I do find, without adaptogens, it's going to be really difficult to change that axis.


Mason: (17:49)

I mean, just hearing that, if you can't get the axis back in line, essentially it's going to be like pushing a boulder up a hill to take that, I mean, from say like a feared state, where you're living that same rooted in, lack of a better word, the negative experience where that can then lead to a mental disorder if not dealt with or treated versus being able to slowly go through that process, and I assume 10 years, that's going to be a longer process, there's going to be more of a bundle like a fishing wire that's all...


Monica Shepherd: (18:23)

Absolutely. Well we're going to see as well, if someone's had their HPA axis imbalanced that long, then it's very likely that it'll affect their thyroid or it's going to affect their hormones, and so we'll get all these secondary complications that have been switched on and developed by the immune system from having that high cortisol which has led to inflammation et cetera, but we always want to go right back to the root cause. But you're right. It does take time and in chronic trauma, you definitely do want to be using adaptogens consistently, daily, as a daily habit, and you want to be doing that for a considerable amount of time. And that becomes the panacea, that becomes the cure, unfortunately is being really consistent, being really simple with your habits and that's where the magic comes over time. But I think you touched on a really important thing as well where you're saying, what happens if we don't try and balance that HPA axis? We could have somebody who's in therapy for 20 or 30 years and they're doing all those right techniques, they're doing that great talk therapy, but their biochemistry is still just not right, and so they're still going to struggle with some symptoms.


Mason: (19:43)

You just saying that and acknowledging that and saying that the panacea is in that consistency and almost like there's a simplicity of that. We keep on coming back to it here, I think because we've been going hard for so long and I've been so extreme in the health realm for so long, and I like that extreme. But there's a chop wood, carry water energy and I talk a lot about extremism and especially when you're trying to heal. And you bring up again, if you're not doing very consistently well with diet, with exercise, hydration, not flogging yourself so that you go to the point of exhaustion and then needing to come back and then you're going and looking for, whether it's extreme therapies. Around here a lot of people going for deep-dive plant medicine ceremonies, long-term meditation retreats, and these things are so good, but then there's going to be nothing. And as you said, kind of I feel, it's what I see, you see that looping.


Mason: (20:46)

If you don't have that foundation, you know you just have to get the basics done really well and it seems like bullshit when you have this blown-out-of-your-skull healing experience on whatever, some plant medicine, which is bloody amazing and I was there years and years ago. Nothing compares. It works to an extent, especially the first times and in therapy as well, but if you're not getting those basics right, you don't have a foundation to build upon and you just keep on looping and looping and looping in the long run.


Monica Shepherd: (21:18)

Absolutely. I mean, the brain likes consistency and if we go into psychology as well, so does the ego, where the ego doesn't like too much change, and it likes what we're doing most of the time and even when we go into our gut microbiome. The gut microbiome is based on what we're doing most of the time. So they've even shown some studies that if your diet was consistent five to six days a week but you had one day where you were eating a bit differently, as long as you went back to that the next day, because you're mostly eating a certain way, it's not going to make a huge difference. What does make a difference is what we do consistently, all the time. And exactly, if we're having these big experiences where we're using these plant medicines, that's great, but how are we going to ground that into our everyday experience. And that's the thing with addiction healing as well, is these people have actually developed consistent habits a lot of the time, they're just not necessarily favourable ones. So how do we develop addictions or habits that are favourable and it does come down to what we're doing all the time.


Monica Shepherd: (22:34)

So whether it's you're having your adaptogens in the morning or at night and you're kind of doing that consistently, it doesn't mean you can't sometimes have these bigger experiences or that things don't come up and you need to change things a little bit, but we're giving ourselves a foundation and a protective barrier so to speak, and that's really important because, like you were saying before, we don't really ever know when acute trauma is going to happen to us and we know that stress and slight trauma are actually really important for the human experience of learning and growing, so we don't necessarily want to avoid those either. We don't want to avoid all stress or we'll never learn. For example, you've got positive stress like when you're stressed before an exam or you're stressed because you care about your family, they're really good stressors to have. We don't want to get rid of those, but how are we going to prime our bodies so that we are still going to be blissful, we are still going to make good decisions? It's absolutely the foundation. Yep. And I love that you have come back to the simplicity.


Monica Shepherd: (23:45)

And you probably understand a lot more as well, Mason, about how these mushrooms are in the forest as well, and I think when you understand that whole system and how everything is interconnected and how everything works, it gives us a really good idea of how these plants then connect with us as well.


Mason: (24:07)

Yeah. I'd love to talk about that. I was just going to ask, when we talk about adaptogens, I know, clinically, there's a certain element of... But it's like with herbalism, this is one of my favourite quotes [inaudible 00:24:21] people go like, "Oh my gosh, there's thousands and thousands of herbs you talk about, which one should I take?" And then he's like, "Any of them." It's such a good entry, and everyone wants to complicate it. And with adaptogens, I know a lot of practitioners are like, you just take any. And sometimes I'm kind of like that. I refer to them a lot as tonic herbs from the Daoist tradition, but the same deal with adaptogens. You've generally got a lot of rope. It's kind of hard to go wrong with them, which is nice. I'm sure, as a practitioner, when you're looking at the intricacy of panels, you might be a little bit more sensitive than I am, but nonetheless, they're not very aggressive herbs and they were generally going to be regulating the body in a direction you want, say bar someone's got hyperthyroidism and take ashwagandha.


Mason: (25:15)

I'm curious. I'll jump into the mushrooms because there's something there you've just reminded me of. But I'm curious what's in your arsenal, are you working with panels, are you working with the person, are you kind of looking at whether someone needs to come down or get regulated up a little bit more and that determines what adaptogens you use? Or do you find they're literally just generally regulating the body no matter what?


Monica Shepherd: (25:42)

Yeah. They're great questions. So I think, firstly, you've touched on how safe they are, and I think that that's such a good thing to touch on quickly. I mean, withania for example, even breastfeeding mothers can take it, and there was a study that showed that it actually supported a baby's weight being at a really healthy range. So I thought that was really exciting. And then of course we've got reishi as well, which has got such positive results of when pregnant mothers consume reishi as well as how it affects their children's behaviour long-term. So as far as safety, I think that that's the great thing about adaptogens, is that they're generally really safe, regardless of what stage of your life you're in or what you're experiencing and children right to adults right to elderly can often take adaptogens as well. So that kind of makes it really available for everybody, but then as far as choosing what is ideal for somebody that I see, I'm going to consider all those personal factors as well. So I'm going to consider, where are they in their life cycle, what is it that they're trying to achieve that they really need?


Monica Shepherd: (26:57)

So I might see somebody who is wanting more focus because they're learning, they're studying, they've got a lot going on, or maybe they've got a lot of circumstantial stress, so they've got these circumstances in their life that are stressful and they're not going to resolve any time soon. So they're being really wise and they're being really proactive and going, "Okay, what can I take?" So someone like that, then you know yeah, so I'm definitely looking at things like lion's mane, I'm definitely looking at ashwagandha, which is so beautiful at keeping us really balanced. But then there's such scope and adaptogens can be used for so many different conditions. So I'm going as well, yes, what's going on with their thyroid, is that a big goal right now? What's going on with their immune system? There's so much auto-immune disorders right now. And generally, I don't tend to use one herb by itself. So I tend to find that in combination we're getting that really beautiful personalised blend, but everything I do is always personalised. It does make it a bit difficult because we like to have, hey, there's this one condition and here's this one pill, but here we go for adaptogens going, ah, you can take it for 20 different things. Or you can take 20 different adaptogens and they're all going to be really useful, so how do you choose?


Monica Shepherd: (28:27)

And I do think it becomes that combination of size and that combination of intuition as well, and I find people are generally pretty intuitive, so I like to give them a choice and I go, okay this is what I'm thinking. I think that you should be using a combination of this and that, and they'll go, yeah, that feels really good to me. And that's what works beautifully.


Mason: (28:53)

What about for you personally? Have you got any favourites? I'm always fascinated. You're doing a master's, you've got a scientific brain and you have to be deep. You have to be thyroid deep into science. But you've obviously got an intuitive connection. And you talk about these adaptogens being just so good across the board or in general when you go back to the basics. It's the same as the Daoist principle. You get them in your lifestyle and you have a little bit daily and you keep yourself regulatory. I look at the population and look what you're saying around cortisol level, HPA axis, homeostasis, so that then we can process just being alive and just how effective these adaptogens are and they just go far out. They're here man. They're considered the herbs, the messengers from heaven. This is what they're called in Daoism. They're astrologically, they're celestial, connected to that immortal plane and they've come down and just helped not guide us, but work with us so that we can guide ourselves. And that's the more esoteric. They're just here with a mission with a vengeance, just trying to help us steady this ship. Bit of a ramble.


Monica Shepherd: (30:21)

No, I love that. That was a good ramble. I like that. I'm definitely going to be saying to people from now on, "Would you like some of these messengers from heaven?" And seeing their reaction. How can you say no to that?


Mason: (30:36)

Which heaven are you talking about? More of the immortal plane.


Monica Shepherd: (30:43)

But at the moment I've been seeing a lot of children who, due to stress or trauma or anxiety-related disorders, are struggling to learn because we know that trauma affects our learning. And so one of the things for these children at the moment that's been really helpful, is a lot of them are having a little bit of lion's mane in their smoothie in the morning or in a bit of peppermint tea. You've probably got better combinations than me, but I've just found that most children will have some lion's mane in a bit of peppermint tea.


Mason: (31:12)

Whatever works is the combo with kids. Whatever bloody works.


Monica Shepherd: (31:18)

And then they're having some reishi at night before they go to sleep with some warm milk of some description and that's really supporting them. For adults, though, I can never go past anything with rehmannia and schizandra. They're still among my favourite herbs because we're supporting kidneys, we're supporting the liver detoxification pathways and then we're supporting energy levels as well. And so many people are coming off coffee, which is exciting. Although at least reducing their coffee from a ridiculous amount, like four coffees a day and they're trying to cut back. Then they're getting into the cordyceps, they're getting into the chaga and they're getting really good results. So I think that that's really practical and that's really exciting and that's a really good way that mushrooms can support the everyday person as well, because how many people are addicted to coffee? It's a huge amount. So practical and simple.


Mason: (32:24)

Mushrooms and coffee. Every July. Or every winter in the Southern hemisphere. Let's just say we're really launching in America so we're like, "How do we deal with being a seasonally-driven company right now?" and education in two hemispheres, but that's a good challenge. You need to be adaptable. You need neuro adaptability, not plasticity. Neuro Adaptability. We always do a 30 Days of Jing. We just get off the coffee or reduce the coffee as a community. It's kind of like a create-your-own-adventure. We don't really mind if someone's like, "I can't get off coffee." It's like, cool, just bring in the Jing kidney.


Monica Shepherd: (33:00)

I love those herbs.


Mason: (33:09)

It ground the whole HPA axis, I find. I think people sometimes... And I relate to this. It's why the Jing herbs work so well, the kidney herbs work so well for me. You mentioned cordyceps, schizandra is a beautiful Jing herb as well, goji's in there as well. But they ground the whole process. I had an indigenous mate. I think I've told this story on the podcast. But we were talking about trauma and he didn't know the word amygdala, but he talked about this little part in your brain that was like a projector and it kept on projecting up the memory of the battle or the trauma and you just keep on reliving it and you just pulled called up. And he was like, so at that point, we need foods and herbs to kind of take you down and ground you. And I was like, that's the first step. I was like, yeah, that's the Jing herbs and you need to not be going and doing extreme healing therapies at that point, that continue to blast you up and out excessively. But he said the second part is when you go walkabout after a battle and you can't stop reliving it or after a death you can't stop reliving it.


Mason: (34:23)

And he's like, you need to go walkabout. And he was saying the projector, which I'm kind of seeing as a stick amygdala just projecting up that memory, he's like, when you're walking along, whether you go walkabout by yourself in the city consistently, that's just what you do, go for a walk every day or when you're in the bush, you just go for days, weeks or months. As long as it takes. But you go and you look at the horizon with a soft gaze. And the way it works is, when you're in the city, you're so distracted that it just keeps on looping because it still seems like that's really important for survival, but when you go walking long-term, there's this relationship we have with nature that, whether you're looking at waves or the treeline slowly moving, your systems knows, as it's gazing at it, that you don't need to remember that wave breaking in order to survive. And so there's a symbiotic relationship where it almost plucks out this projection and you get to get the experience that this isn't real and get pulled out by the trees moving. And slowly but surely, it's a healing modality, but it's like taking adaptogens regularly. It's like the ultimate adaptogen for mental health.


Mason: (35:35)

I kind of saw from his perspective is he just constantly walk and continues to work with you to make sure you subconsciously know that that's not real anymore, that's an interpretation, so that you can then, in your life, go and deal with the trauma. What you're saying is really kind of crystallising that a lot for me, I guess, in terms of [crosstalk 00:35:55].


Monica Shepherd: (35:54)

That's really beautiful. And you're right. I mean, we've learned that these therapies like being in nature, that meditation et cetera, can change the amygdala. Well, the question is, a lot of people can't even do those things to begin with. When they're so wired up, the idea of having to sit in meditation or to walk in nature would be a bit confronting for them. I think that we can really support these people with adaptogens as well so that they're more likely to be able to consistently do these therapies, that the research is consistently showing does make a difference. I mean, like we were saying before, our understanding of the brain is always evolving and there's always new research and for as much as we know, there's still so little we don't know. But the exciting thing is that science is proving what we already know through traditional knowledge at the moment and that's exciting. It's going, okay, we already knew this, but now we have a study to show us that what we knew was actually valid.


Mason: (37:06)

I appreciate it. I used to roll my eyes at that, but I appreciate the fact. That institution, that's what it's based on, that's its foundation, that's its religion. Not speculating. And sometimes that bites them in the ass and makes them very slow, but a lot of the time correlation doesn't mean causation, and that plays out a lot of the time. So I get it. It's interesting. So you're talking about adaptogens. With SuperFeast we're not here to treat anything, but we work with a lot of practitioners, we have a lot of practitioners on because they come in a lot of the time, either like yourself or a practitioner. At that point you can hit specific doses and specific herbs, but even just to step back and if you're just getting hydrated and moving and stuff so when you're dealing with these mental health issues, they can creep up on any of us. With the research backing and with the validation. You doing your master's on it, that's incredible. And I know more research coming out, it's interesting to see that, I saw on your website, there's alcoholism you've mentioned, there's addictions, which I think is incredible. I've always thought people dealing with addiction should be taking tonic adaptogens.


Mason: (38:26)

And you've got Asperger's, schizophrenia, severe depressive disorder. It's really exciting, I'm sure it is for you as well, to see that this is possibly the way of the future and we're going to see adaptogens used in treatment and then just creating a platform that people can get a handle on these mental disorders.


Monica Shepherd: (38:49)

Absolutely. You're absolutely right. It can happen to anybody. I mean, we know that there are things like genetic influence and we know that environmental and life factors can influence that on well. But depressive disorders, for example, anxiety disorders, can happen to absolutely anybody at any stage of their life, even somebody who's never experienced that before, because we know the biggest risk factor for developing a depressive disorder is long-term stress. And how many people do we see who are experiencing long-term stress? And they're not able to adapt and like I was saying before, I can meet people and I've been there myself, but sometimes we have circumstantial stress. So it's not something that we can control. The only thing that we can control are all those little things, like are we still going to stay hydrated, are we still going to keep control of our diet, are we still going to exercise, can we take adaptogens so that physically I can get through this long period of circumstantial stress and I'm less likely to develop a depressive disorder? And the science is there that that is the number one biggest risk factor. So, essentially, as simple as it sounds, if we want to be preventing mental illness, which is so common, we need to really be dealing with our stress, as a society, much better.


Mason: (40:13)

You practise iridology as well, right?


Monica Shepherd: (40:17)

Yeah. I have been doing iridology. It gets really fascinating. And there's different fields of iridology too, so you'll get different styles, you'll get your more [crosstalk 00:40:28].


Mason: (40:31)

German or American.


Monica Shepherd: (40:31)

Yeah, German or American. Pretty much. And the German is very much like, your iris doesn't change, this is just your constitution and who you are. And the American style is much more, you can detox, et cetera and your iris will change. And kind of what I've seen over doing iridology in time, is that the truth tends to be somewhere in the middle of that. So the truth is that it does change, but the iris is slow-changing, it's not quite as rapid as what we'd see in these people doing extreme detoxes, for the average person.


Mason: (41:03)

I'm curious what you see. You get those bands that tell you the nervous system's wound up, so on and so forth. Reading the iris is what iridology is, for those of you who don't know. Very interesting. Again, I like it when practitioners like yourself are so rooted in the science and these techniques, which I'd say I definitely know works and are effective and have been a fan of it, just a hobbyist in that field, something that's such quackery. A lot of practitioners are like, it's such bullshit. And in the real Western medical world, it always makes my heart sing when I see the bridge being made in someone that's like, yeah, I'm in your world and then this is valid. But I guess that's the part of it with the scientific, in the science, that they'll throw the baby out of the bathwater because it's an adaptable system. It's a system that chops and changes and moves. Anyway, I love that you're into it.


Monica Shepherd: (42:12)

Thank you. I definitely think, and I found over time, that we shouldn't limit ourselves. If we're having those really black and white beliefs when it comes to health or certain health systems, whether that's, like you said, some of the scientific approach of throwing all the babies out of the bathwater.


Mason: (42:30)

The babies.


Monica Shepherd: (42:32)

All the babies. How could they? We're limiting ourselves. We're limiting our ability to help people get well. It should just be, really, about what works and what's going to find people solutions, so we don't want to limit ourselves in any way. Iridology, what's really interesting is that, basically, straight up you're going to see what is somebody's physical genetic weakness. So for some people it might be their lymphatic system, for some people it might be hey, this nervous system is going to be something that I'm going to have to pay attention to nourishing in my lifetime. Some people it might be their digestive system. But that's really valuable information. It's going, okay, what am I going to need to focus more on in this lifetime to keep myself really well and well-functioning? And iridology does give that. The other interesting thing is that if you break an arm or you have surgery or you have some major illness, that will show up in the iris as well. So the iris is almost like a history map, so it's giving you history of major health things that have happened to you in your lifetime, but often from both of your parents and your grandparents as well.


Monica Shepherd: (43:55)

It'll be interesting, because I might find someone who's doing iridology, especially when I've done whole families and I've done siblings, one sibling I can see clearly they've inherited more from dad's side of the family health-wise, and the other sibling has been more from mom's side. And that's not really based on how they look, like one might look like one parent or a grandparent or et cetera, but what have they physically inherited and what attributes do they need to be mindful of? So they're going to be almost their superpowers, but their weaknesses as well. So iridology for me, the American view would be, we keep looking at it, we keep detoxing it and it will change. In my experience, it can change a little bit. Like if I see somebody's got a lot of liver congestion, that can change in time, and the other thing as well is, it's not just the iris that we look at, though. We look at the sclera as well, so the white part of the eye, and that changes much more quickly than the iris so that we can see some liver signs in the sclera and if somebody was really working on their liver, we can see that sclera really clear up within three to six months and look remarkably different.


Mason: (45:05)

With the usage of adaptogens, across the board, do you see a general change in your patients, you can say there's this aspect of the iris or the physiology always shifts, or is it always individual? I'm assuming it's probably somewhere between that.


Monica Shepherd: (45:23)

It's somewhere in between that. I mean, if someone comes to me and they've got a lot of nervous system signs and they've got a lot of, what we call, cramp rings, spasm rings, they've got different names. With adaptogens I might see that shift from being, say, four rings in someone's iris to three or two over time, or not be so thick lines [inaudible 00:45:43]. But in some individuals, they may not have had any of those nervous rings to start with. It may be for them that we're focusing on the adaptogens that are more for the immune system and so we're seeing some lymphatic clearance. It'll take time, like I'm talking three to six months of continual, habitual supplementation with the adaptogens, and decent doses as well.


Monica Shepherd: (46:09)

I mean, if we want to talk about, in science, I'm not going to tell somebody to take an eighth of a Panadol and expect that to get rid of their pain, so I'm not going to tell somebody, hey, take one dropper of your adaptogen or an eighth of a teaspoon daily and expect to see any results. Some people are very sensitive, but even so, it is going to want a decent dose as well and you're going to need to do it, with the iris it does take many months before you'd see a change. But it is very exciting when you do. Because of that reason, because we know it is so slow-changing, when you do see that change in the iris, it's pretty exciting.


Mason: (46:53)

I mean, it is somewhat representing. It's either going to be extreme congestion and stagnation, then it's exciting just moving because that almost becomes your new constitution if you're not careful, right? You're probably just like, okay, cool, I've got a real hard, congested liver or I've just got lymph that just won't move and I just deal with this sticky, viscousy substance. That's me now.


Monica Shepherd: (47:21)

Unfortunately, I would say that most of the population could definitely be supporting their liver and their lymphatic systems much more than what they are. And if we're talking about wanting to prevent chronic disease before it develops, in the same way that we're talking how can we support ourselves with stress and support ourselves so that we're limiting the emotional and physical reaction to traumatic events, then we really want to be proactive. Everybody should be doing some support for their liver and their lymphatic system. That should just go without saying, absolutely. Otherwise, other people are walking around with liver stagnation and a congested lymphatic system. That's very common.


Mason: (48:10)

You don't want that as the constitution when you get [crosstalk 00:48:10].


Monica Shepherd: (48:10)



Mason: (48:15)

What's your fave little liver tips? I know it's probably different for everyone. Just curious. I know it's one of those things you ask and a lot of the time we all know the really simple ones even, because I'm sure everyone could do with a reminder.


Monica Shepherd: (48:35)

I love being simple and practical because, in my experience, people always go and I know I myself have been always going from wanting the extreme types of healing and then I've missed all the basics that I'm not doing and hoping it's something really crazy out there that I need to be doing. Liver, you can't go wrong with doing some kind of liver detox once a year where you're ideally not having any alcohol, your caffeine. Your sugar is a big one. So people will sometimes say to me, "I'm not consuming much alcohol, so my liver should be great." I'm like, no, but you know you are having all your simple carbohydrates, and essentially that's what alcohol is. It's sugar as well. I can see the other way around when someone's like, "I don't eat much sweets", but they're essentially drinking their sweets by the amount of alcohol that they're drinking. We want to bring it back so that we're limiting those sweets for a little while, but especially in Western societies as we are so obsessed with sweets and we're not getting much bitter foods in. So having that break and having those lemon juices in water, bitter dandelion teas, those bitter foods for a while. As simple as it is, that's really supportive for the liver.


Monica Shepherd: (49:50)

And you do, I find in most circumstances, want to be taking some herbs that would go to support the liver pathways as well. Increasing those nutrients that the liver needs, so all your activated B vitamins and making sure you're getting good quality protein.


Mason: (50:07)

How do you get the Bs in? Do you in the beginning supplement a complex and then move to dietary, or what's your approach?


Monica Shepherd: (50:15)

For most people it would be starting a supplementary activated Bs and then focusing more on dietary in the long run. So your whole seeds, for example, your buckwheat, your quinoa, your pumpkin seeds, your avocados. Those kinds of foods that are going to really support you with high levels of B vitamins long term. If you're wanting to really support the liver short term, often diet is extremely beneficial and helpful, but it just takes time. So supplementation can be really important, along with the herbs as well, and along with protein. The liver really does need protein to help it detoxify in its different pathways. So not just when it identifies all the toxins that are in the body, but then when it's able to make them water-soluble and less toxic in the body and be excreted, we really do need protein. I find, across the board, all people of all different diets and lifestyles, generally are not eating enough protein when they first see me. So whether they're vegan or vegetarian, they're not having their legumes. If I meet someone who's a meat-eater, they're still, a lot of the time, eating a lot of processed carbohydrates and not enough good quality protein, and that's really going to cause issues with your liver and digestion over time.


Mason: (51:42)

And lymph, are you focusing on a combo of herbs and movement practises? Which way do you swing?


Monica Shepherd: (51:52)

Look, I mean, I definitely love the movement practises for your lymph and that's why it is important to do some movement as many times as you can. It doesn't have to be a long period of exercise, all movement for lymph is just so important. I love teaching people your simple lymphatic massages and tips that they can do for themselves as well, because that's just exciting because you can see, even with your face lymphatic massages, even with your breasts for example, for women, you can see how the lymph is moved within that five minutes of massage and those simple techniques. It kind of gives them something rewarding because you can see the results quite quickly. But for most people, they will need some support nutritionally as well. So it could be your bioflavonoids for example, your certain vitamin Cs can be really important, but then your herbs as well, most definitely.


Mason: (52:51)

What are your fave lymph herbs? We got asked. It's good to kind of clear why everyone's focused on their lymphs, but for some reason, lately especially, everyone's just like, "What do I take for my lymphatic system?"


Monica Shepherd: (53:06)

Okay. Something I'm really liking at the moment is red root. That is really important, and especially because I'm seeing quite severe auto-immune issues. Everything from scleroderma, where the skin tightens and the immune system is tightening all the tissues and that can have a really bad prognosis in the long run, so I'm like okay, this person does need some work on their lymphatic system so that we're getting that drainage system of the body completely clear. So red root is a favourite. You said it, ones like calendula, your high-potency echinacea. I'm definitely a snob in that. Unfortunately, with a herb like echinacea, there's such a big difference in what's available on the market and how it's processed, so there's only a couple of brands that I'll use. So they can be really important. Sometimes red clover as well, if it's fitting someone's full symptom profile, would also be something that I'd add in as well.


Monica Shepherd: (54:07)

But, I mean, as you know, most of your herbs that people associate with the immune system are going to have some action on the lymphatic system and there's a really big range. Astragalus as well. So a nice mix like that, with all those combinations of herbs, can be really beautiful. But with the lymphatic system, that would be one area where I tend to go quite slow with people, because I've made that mistake as an early practitioner and being super keen and being like, okay, I want to fix this person in the shortest amount of time. And I could be dealing with someone who's got a lot of swelling and I'm going to give them these really high doses of lymphatic herbs, and of course it makes the swelling quite more severe to start with, and they're not particularly happy with me. So I do tend to go a bit slower with the lymphatic herbs.


Mason: (54:56)

Then it's like, what do you do? Do you do Winston Churchill as they say? When you're going through hell, keep going.


Monica Shepherd: (55:04)

It becomes a personal decision that we kind of have to work out. Some people would have a more Winston Churchill, and some people are definitely not.


Mason: (55:15)

We used to have that with the mushrooms a lot. It hasn't really happened as much. I think maybe because we put a message out around how to go slow and steady. But when I was at the markets, especially. was a bit more of a Wild West time of taking medicinal mushrooms and adaptogens and everyone was like megadosing all the time. But people with arthritis would come back with this massive swell-up and then they're like, it's worse. And I'm like, well, it's not.


Monica Shepherd: (55:41)

It's a healing crisis.


Mason: (55:44)

Yeah, it's a big adverse reaction. It's a big healing crisis. But it always amazed me because it's hard to have faith, I felt. I'm talking to people just having these as a lifestyle thing and I know what it is, but I'm not a practitioner. I do kind of have faith that you're not under my care, so I can't tell you what to do. But sometimes it's a hard one for them, especially. I'm like, well look, that's a healing reaction, but just in case there's something auto-immune as well, I'm going to tell you to go. For people to then go, you know what, I'm trusting my body. It's hard to get to that point, especially if you're under a practitioner and it's going to get much worse before it gets better. I think it's an interesting insight for people to remember just to keep a big chunk of that faith in your body. You're going through something, you're going to get through it, it's going to be okay. But especially, in that instance, going back, I'm glad I was conservative because I'm sure there are instances where immune markers are going up when they're already auto-immune, and you want to be onto that.


Mason: (56:53)

For some reason, even though I was in the Wild West and on the frontier with all this kind of stuff as well, I was always conservative, to an extent, for some reason. Not with myself, but with what I told everyone. This has been so awesome. How far are you through your master's?


Monica Shepherd: (57:12)

I'm quite at the beginning, to be honest. So it is only two years full-time. I feel really blessed, to be honest, that they accepted a naturopath in the first place to do this degree and I still remind myself, hey, I'm really honoured that they accepted me. And there was a bit of work getting into it as well, because usually you'd have someone with your more traditional medical training who does this course. What we've been looking at so far are all the factors that stop somebody getting better when they have a mental illness, and that can be as simple as looking at what stops somebody seeking help and that is a big topic. And why are people who have mental health disorders less likely to seek help, and when they do seek help, they're less likely to continue to seek help, to continue to keep getting help. We can talk about things like stigma, and stigma is as simple as we don't talk a lot about mental health. We see it as something that's still a bit shush and quiet, even in this day and era, and we still don't associate it as, trauma is an experience of life, biochemistry is something that's physically happening in the body and there are all these simple ways that we can do to support it.


Monica Shepherd: (58:41)

We're also looking at what happens. Do we treat people with mental health disorders differently? And in the medical system we definitely still do. It might be as simple as studies are showing over and over again that medical practitioners are likely to change their tone of voice to someone who they're talking to who's come in for help with a mental health disorder. And that's just not appropriate. You're not going to belittle someone who's got cancer and start talking to them like they're a child, but we would do that to somebody who's come in seeking support for depression, for example.


Mason: (59:17)

Is that because there's a stigma around. I'm trying to think of a way to say it without it sounding offensive. That that's a simpler mind that can't keep itself happy?


Monica Shepherd: (59:33)

Yeah. It's a simple person, but that's not the case at all. We find that you can have really educated people who are still going to get depression because, like I was saying before, the biggest risk factor is long-term stress. You can have stress from someone who's got low socio-economic stress, and poverty is pretty stressful. I think we can all agree. But you can have somebody who is a CEO of a big company. That's going to be pretty stressful as well, and that's going to give them a big predisposition to depression. Does any of this mean that they've got a simple mind? No. It's definitely not that case at all. And the other thing that we're finding consistently with the research is that people don't feel like they can give clear lifestyle advice to friends and family or to patients in a medical setting of someone who is coming in for mental health disorder. So they don't feel like they can say to them, hey, let's go for a walk, for example. As you were talking before, we know that simple exercise makes a big difference to our mood. They don't feel like it's their place or that they can confidently say that, when actually the research is going, you really should.


Monica Shepherd: (01:00:43)

You should be saying to your friend, "Let's go for a walk." We should be saying, even if your friend doesn't like it, hey, you should reduce your caffeine or smoking or have you considered looking at that? They're less likely to say that. They think it's not their place. Actually the research is going, it's all our place to say something and help these people and we can feel confident knowing that simple lifestyle factors do make a big difference in mental health disorders.


Mason: (01:01:09)

Yeah, that interpretation of the Hippocratic Oath not doing harm is thankfully changing for the better. And not just the GP. Because it's almost like I can't talk to you about anything. I just got to get you on antidepressants, for example, and then I'm kind of covered. Then I'm fine. I've always got a sore spot with that, partly my mom's responsibility and go full pelt with antidepressants, but at the same time, it's massively irresponsible, as her GP, he was just like, well I'm just getting you on antidepressants. And there was no kind of plan, there was no other conversations around integrating other specialists. And fine, that was an institutional doctor that isn't talking about this quackery like walking, helping depression. That led to decades and decades of addiction to the drug, naturally. And the fact that there's still defence of that as the sole way to treat, I would argue that that is indeed creating a lot of harm in patients. So it's nice to see, albeit slowly, that the narrative's changing.


Monica Shepherd: (01:02:29)

It needs to change because it's not quackery. The science is there. The science is overwhelmingly in support of exercise and supportive meditation, which seems like this crazy thing that hippies do, essentially, but actually it's something that everybody can be doing. And the science is really starting to back up with adaptogens as well. But unfortunately, we are going to have some medical practitioners who are going to stick to their narrative. Their brains are not as plastic as we'd like for them to be right now.


Mason: (01:03:04)

That surgical grey, plastic hardness.


Monica Shepherd: (01:03:07)

Yes. And then we're going to see exactly that, and I see that a lot, where I see people who've been on the same medication for many years, and it's not reviewed, it's not changed, they're not encouraged to go and do some other techniques and they're not encouraged to slowly come off their medication in time. It's mind-boggling. It really is.


Mason: (01:03:30)

Yeah. It is mind-boggling. We can go down that route, but we know it's just a fact.


Monica Shepherd: (01:03:39)

Yes, it is. Yep.


Mason: (01:03:41)

Probably the same thing, like the fact that we just went through a pandemic and not one opportunity to look at what metabolic factors or whatever it is, mental health factors are going to keep us as a population healthy when everyone was inside and had time to do these things, there wasn't a mass education process and review of the science. There was just, stick to what works. And, mostly, they're just like, suck it up and keep battling. Actually, we're seeing it now, it's coming out in the wash and it does not work like that.


Monica Shepherd: (01:04:15)

No. It's been interesting seeing what the world's going through at the moment and even seeing our level of freedom of speech being really questioned at the moment as well, is what's happened with the pandemic. There's this whole thing about facts and it's a whole another topic that we could go into for a long period of time as well. But it comes back to the big question of, we should all really be able to educate ourselves. There's been this shift that's happening where we're kind of going, okay, why are we not given this information when we know the research is there that vitamin D can be just as effective as the flu vaccine, for example. So why are we not being told this? Why are we not being told that, hey, adaptogens could really support you right now?


Monica Shepherd: (01:05:13)

And unfortunately we're still in the period of time where we have to empower ourselves, we have to educate ourselves and remember, this is my body, this is my health and I do get to make my own decision right now. And I see podcasts like this as being a fantastic example, because we're having a conversation with two people as well, as opposed to just being preached to in the media where it's very one way, you can't respond and that's kind of how we train the brain to be washed over time, is when you don't get to form your own opinion, you don't get to have an interactive conversation. You just get told a narrative. But we're seeing podcasts like this, we're seeing great conversations happen, we're seeing people more willing to educate themselves and more willing to seek help from both traditional knowledge as well, and that's exciting. I'm grateful that we get to be a part of it.


Mason: (01:06:12)

It is exciting. It is very exciting. And you coming on and bringing up this conversation around adaptogens again, I guess reminds everyone how blessed we are to be able to get access to these incredible herbs. And then from there, we all can remember, all right, yes, the kids can get onto these. We've got such a stressful world, why aren't we getting the kids or our grandparents or our workplace onto these herbs which we know 100% how across the population this is going to help fortifiers get the cortisol down, get us processing these things that make us getting into chronic states of mental illness. It's going to put the odds in our favour, ideally. It's been so good talking to you.


Monica Shepherd: (01:07:01)

It works in our favour. Thank you. I like that. The odds are in our favour today. Let's go.


Mason: (01:07:07)

That as a reality is incredible to realise. The odds are in your favour. So good. Thanks for bringing this positive energy and reminding us how the messengers from heaven, what they're doing for our HPA and our general health and our capacity to thrive and be hyperplastic.


Monica Shepherd: (01:07:26)

You're so welcome. Thank you for having me. This has been lots of fun.


Mason: (01:07:30)

Best place for people to tune in is, is that right?


Monica Shepherd: (01:07:37)

Yep, that is.


Mason: (01:07:39)

Your Instagram, it's theorganicnaturopath as well, isn't it?


Monica Shepherd: (01:07:43)

It is. Yep.


Mason: (01:07:45)

Beautiful, everyone. Are you doing online consultations mostly now, or are you going to have a clinic eventually?


Monica Shepherd: (01:07:50)

Yeah, I'm mostly doing online consultations now. Yep.


Mason: (01:07:54)

Guys, look into that. If you can hear, Monica is all over it. I'm thinking I might do a little bit of an iridology session with you. It'd be good to tune in again.


Monica Shepherd: (01:08:04)

Mm-hmm (affirmative). See what's happening.


Mason: (01:08:13)

Are you open for getting new clients at the moment?


Monica Shepherd: (01:08:13)

Yeah, I am pretty open. I had kind of stopped over Christmas and New Year just because I've got a lot of courses that I do as well and a lot of workshops, so I also do a course helping people with addictions. So that takes a lot of time and energy, but I am open, at the moment, to take in some new clients.


Mason: (01:08:36)

Sweet. What's the course for addictions? I mean, I've had that topic come up and people wanting to hear about addictions. I mean, around the herbs, but I think on a wider level. As you know, kind of on the podcast we don't just have to talk about the adaptogens. It just happened to be this awesome that you were talking about adaptogens in your master's. [inaudible 01:08:58]


Monica Shepherd: (01:08:58)



Mason: (01:09:01)

Just briefly, and maybe we can have another chat on the pod about it.


Monica Shepherd: (01:09:05)

Yeah. So I run a course called The Connected Brain. I do it alongside a meditation teacher and it's just a small group. Sometimes we do it online. The next time we'll be doing here in Northern Rivers and it's a small group and we're literally helping people with their habit change. So often they've done rehab, they've done their 10 sessions with the counsellor already and then they're kind of just let out into the wild and going, okay, good luck for the rest of your life and let's hope you never get addicted to anything again or you never relapse. But, once again, they're not give that foundation, so that's kind of what we do with them in this short course, is we're giving them the foundations of going, okay, here's a great everyday technique for meditation and you can go into your consciousness, spirituality, whatever you want to do with that, or you can keep it really basic.


Monica Shepherd: (01:09:54)

It's just being able to resolve stress each day. I go through diet with them. I teach them about adaptogens that they can then access at any point in time and they can essentially have a bit more control of their own health and life in the future. And go, okay, if I'm feeling a bit stressed at this time or I can't sleep, I'm going to reach for this herb, I'm going to reach for this herb. And it's giving them that knowledge and control back and it's really exciting. It's really exciting.


Mason: (01:10:24)

How do people find info on that, especially if they're in the Northern Rivers and can do it in person?


Monica Shepherd: (01:10:29)

So at the moment the easiest way to find it is on my Instagram, @theorganicnaturopath. But the next one will be at Ocean Shores Community Centre.


Mason: (01:10:41)

Oh, cool.


Monica Shepherd: (01:10:41)

That is exciting.


Mason: (01:10:43)

That's super exciting. Are you looking at physiology, lifestyle, diet, or are you brushing towards the psychology of it at all or are you keeping it kind of down the line like meditative practise and then-


Monica Shepherd: (01:10:56)

I do a bit of both. I mean, it's only three nights. So it's over three nights, so obviously even though we're covering a lot in that time, I can kind of just go over everything a little bit. So I do cover a bit of the biochemistry so they can kind of understand, what is my body doing when I'm going for this addictive substance? Or how did I get here in the first place? Was there something else going on for me? Was it pyrrole disorder? Was it something else that kind of made me more susceptible to this or was it a neurotransmitter that needed a bit of support? So we do that and we do a bit of the psychology as well. So more about teaching them how to be socially connected again, as well, which is a big message right now coming through the pandemic. Like we said, where people have been locked down and restricted and where connection is kind of the biggest solution that we've got for the brain.


Mason: (01:12:00)

Sounds so good. When's the next course coming?


Monica Shepherd: (01:12:06)

The next course is actually in a couple of weeks. It's at the end of March.


Mason: (01:12:11)

Oh, cool. So we'll probably miss that for an interview. But let's look at doing that. I'm sure everyone would love to hear about it as well, with addiction kicking around at the moment.


Monica Shepherd: (01:12:15)

Yeah, absolutely. I'd love to talk more about addictions. It's really interesting and it just comes back to simple habit change.


Mason: (01:12:27)

Yeah, cool. Fun to talk about, fun to develop one in the beginning and then hopefully [inaudible 01:12:33]. Get it up on the other side.


Monica Shepherd: (01:12:39)

Yep. That's a good [inaudible 01:12:40]. I'll get you to come and talk at my course.


Mason: (01:12:50)

I'm just reminiscing on how awesome it was in the early days. Awesome. I'd be honoured. Thank you so much, once again. Encourage everyone to go check out your work and get along to that if you're in the Northern rivers, and we'll speak to you again soon.


Monica Shepherd: (01:13:07)

Thank you so much, Mason. You have a great day. Bye.


Mason: (01:13:10)

You too.


Monica Shepherd: (01:13:10)


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Addiction, Influencing & Orthorexia with Vanessa Fitzgerald (EP#113)

Today on the podcast, Mason chats to holistic health coach and Nutrition Response Testing Practitioner Vanessa Fitzgerald about her healing journey with addiction, Orthorexia, Hashimoto's, and navigating her platform as a wellness influencer. 

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Addiction, Influencing & Orthorexia with Vanessa Fitzgerald (EP#113)