Barbara O’Neill, a qualified naturopath and nutritionist, is also an international speaker on natural self-healing. She has raised eight children and is a specialist in women’s and children’s health.
She is also the health director of the successful Misty Mountain Health Retreat, located in the Macleay Valley west of Kempsey, between Coffs Harbour and Port Macquarie. In this blog, we drill Barbara on 12 questions about being a naturopath and nutritionist and learn a few things along the way…
1. What was the key turning point that led you into a career in natural health?
I was trained in psych nursing and some friends and I wanted to do a ‘back to nature’ experience and so we went up into the rainforest. I had children and my daughter got sick and I didn’t know what to do. So I went to the doctor and over six weeks and four courses of antibiotics I became very frustrated. Eventually she recovered, so when my next child got sick, I didn’t go to the doctor, instead I started to seek out alternatives. I asked older people what their mothers did when they were sick, I got books, there wasn’t a lot around, but there were a few ancients. My daughter is now 36 and little by little, I started to use them and I was very happy with the results and I started to realize that it is actually not that hard.
2. What do you think the most common cause of disease is today and how can it be prevented?
The body is not given the right conditions to function properly and giving the body the right conditions, I have seen profound results and I have seen real turnarounds. The turnaround depends on a couple of things – how long the body has been given the wrong conditions and how diligent the person is in doing what they must do in order to get a turnaround.
3. Why is a detox important for our health and wellbeing?
The main reason why our body requires a detox is because we are exposed to a lot of environmental poisons and some are obviously dangerous, and some are not obviously dangerous. It’s quite alarming how toxic some of the things are that people use, like what people clean their bathrooms with, even more scary is what people are washing their clothes with, cleaning their teeth with, putting on their face etc etc. Another very hidden environmental poison comes through the food we eat, the pesticides and herbicides that are sprayed on the plants, seeds and grains we are eating. Australia eats a lot of wheat; it is grown in huge amounts, usually with herbicides and insecticides. There are many hidden ways on how environmental poisons are coming into our bodies.
4. Many people still talk about the benefits of meat and dairy in a diet. Can you talk about your views on this?
I think the main reason people say that meat and dairy is important is because it is well acknowledged that protein and fats are from the meats and calcium’s from the dairy are essential for the body to function well. I have met a lot of sick vegetarians, who have stopped the meat and the dairy, but they are not replacing it. They are eating huge amounts of carbohydrates (pasta, bread, cereal), so the question is then posed, how do we replace the meat and dairy? There are some excellent alternatives for providing your calcium; proteins and fats in legumes, nuts and seeds and the most accessible form of calcium is found in your greens. A lot of Aussies aren’t real good on their raws and their vegetables. It is basically a balanced diet and then one would ask well what is wrong with meat and dairy? Number one, I think an animal has to be killed and if we were to kill all our own meat, it would stop a lot of people from eating meat. But of course we don’t do that now, we have butcher shops, but then you have a look at the state of the animals, you have a look at their exposure to the environmental poisons, it has to be handled quickly and effectively or the meat putrefies. Our gastro intestinal tract is 7 meters long and by that time the meat is starting to rot, so by that time only people with very good digestive tracts and high hydrochloric acid can really handle it well and coli-rectal cancer is in its highest amount in the meat eating countries because of the slow transit that the meat causes. I don’t have time to talk through all the dangers of meat and dairy products, but that’s just touching on it. Cow’s milk is very good for baby calves and we are the only creatures that drink milk past baby hood, there I rest my case briefly.
5. Do you think it is possible to live a truly healthy lifestyle in the city or do you need to move to the country?
I think it is very difficult to live a completely healthy lifestyle in the city because of the air pollution being one of the main factors. I must say it is a lot easier to buy organic food in the city than in the country, because the cream of organics does go to the city markets. But of course living in the country, you can grow your own and that is one of the best sources, although not everyone is able to or prepared to do that. I think if you live in the city, it is very important to be mindful of the dangers and what one has to do to counteract the dangers. I think one can live quite well if you are able to do that. Weekend trips to the country help a lot and if the city is near the sea, then you are getting the fresh air of the sea. I think it is possible as long as the person is very mindful of what they must do. The beauty of living in the country is that you don’t even have to think about the air that you are breathing.
6. What is the biggest issue you face with clients as a naturopath?
Inspiring people to live the life. People often say ‘Barbara, it is easy for you, look where you live’ and I understand that, but the fact is that a lot of my friends and relatives don’t live this life. I visit my friends and relatives, because of the nature of my work, because I travel quite a bit doing lectures, I know what it is like out there and I believe we can do it. My biggest issue is convincing people that they can live this life, that it is a superior life, that if they live like this they will prevent much illness and that it is very attainable for them.
7. What are the most common health problems you treat in your clients?
Obesity, diabetes, high blood pressure, heart disease. I find one of the main causes for these problems is the high sugar, high carbohydrate diet, which is why a lot of writers these days are saying we should be eating meat and dairy and lots of vegetables. I don’t totally agree with that, I agree with their science, that we have to drop those carbs, but I think you can do it incredibly more effectively and efficiently doing it vegetarian. What comes not far behind these is depression and panic attacks. Even though these are mental problems or problems that happen in the mind, they too benefit from the changes in the diet.
8. What are your favourite foods?
I am a green lover, the salad is my most favourite part of the meal. Especially when it is from the garden, when the cucumber is crisp and the tomatoes are sweet, and I enjoy making nice dressings for those. The greens, the raws, the second would be legumes. I take great joy in showing people how fantastic they can taste because I think for too long legumes have been made boring. With good quality olive oils, fresh herbs, good quality salts and cooked in a way to bring the flavors out they can be an incredible taste.
9. You have talked in your DVDs a lot about balancing hormones for both women and men, do you have any advice regarding this for our readers?
I enjoy giving a two-hour lecture on this one where I can touch every subject, but in a nutshell, what is throwing the hormones out more than anything is the contraceptive pill, because of the synthetic hormones. We are seeing that the daughters of the women who are on the pill are having a lot of trouble now, they’re the daughters of the baby boomers who are in their 30s. That’s the generation where we are really seeing it. Definitely stopping the synthetic hormones and being very mindful of plastic, because plastics have estrogen mimickers in them. You can get healthy plastics today, again keeping away from environmental poisons. You’ve got to stop what is causing the imbalance. One of the easiest way’s to get the hormone balance back and I take great joy in promoting, is the Australian cream; Anna’s Wild Yam Cream, made by a local couple who live near Taree. I have seen so many women and men’s lives turn around when they start applying this cream. This is a cream that stimulates the body to balance the hormones naturally, which is what I like to do in bringing about a healing condition, rather than putting a healer in, I stimulate the great healer, which really is the human body.
10. What are the principles you live by and was it easy or hard to adjust your life to live by them?
The 8 Laws of Health. These laws of life have been giving many names over the centuries. They include fresh air; I take great delight in fresh air, I go to the point of making sure my bedding, mattress, the place where I am sleeping has pure air. I live in a house that has lots of windows and they are rarely shut. Sunshine; whenever I am outside I have as little on as possible so I can access myself to vitamin D. I try not to take anything to the body that harms it – I don’t drink coffee. People say to me ‘why don’t you drink coffee’ and I say; ‘I just watch the people suffer on the first day of the detox’. It is a highly addictive substance. I don’t eat refined sugar, I don’t have alcohol, I don’t smoke, I don’t take drugs. There are some things that must not go into the body. The fourth law is rest. I try to be in bed by 9 – 10pm every night, 9pm in winter, 10pm in summer, so I get my hours of power so my body rejuvenates. That enables me to get up very early in the morning where I exercise every morning. I do about a 3km walk, I do high intensity and recovery exercise and then I dive in the creek. Then I have a breakfast that is high in fibre, with substantial amount of protein and fat. I usually drink about 1 litre of water before breakfast. I wake at 5am and usually eat by 7am. The next law is proper diet. A diet high in fibre (veges, fruits, legumes, nuts and seeds), they all have fibre. Protein; I have legumes every day, sometimes every meal. I have nuts with every meal, some seeds, I have a very low carb diet, I do that because it keeps my weight at 50kg and I have lots and lots of energy. So there’s the proper diet. The seventh law is use of water. I drink two litres of water every day, between meals as I don’t want to dilute my hydrochloric acid. The eighth law is trust in divine power. One of joys in my life is knowing God as my personal savior and so very early in the morning I always pray. I pray for my children, my guests, the staff, I pray for wisdom in each and I ask for God’s wisdom through the day and I read the bible which gives me food for my mind and guidance for the day. They weren’t hard to implement. At the age of 25 I became a Christian and I stopped marijuana and alcohol and I believe my life went to an almost higher level, I found peace in my soul and I found it a lot easier to implement these lifestyle changes in my life. I raised six children of my own, I married Michael 15 years ago, he had two children, and it is easy to implement them in my life because the results are so good.
11. Do you have any favourite success stories from Misty Mountain that you would like to share?
One of our most remarkable stories, was a lady named Emily who came to Misty Mountain Health Retreat. She was nearly dead, she was only 48, she’d had cancer four or five times, strong chemo therapy, her nails had fallen out, she’d had lock jaw and had lost the ability to sweat. She sat in front of me and said ‘I have waited a long time to come here, whatever you say I will do’. Now I knew at that time that we were going to go places with this lady, because everything I said she did and she did it with great gusto. She also said to me; ‘I know that God bought me here’, so she believed that she would get a turnaround at our retreat. She didn’t tell me till the second week, that her pain levels were nine out of ten, she had liver cancer and bone cancer, which are basically death sentences. Now I always say at our health retreat, ‘I am not sure what will happen but I am going to give it all we’ve got’ and so we did with Emily. By the second week her pain levels had gone to one out of ten, and she was overtaking all our other guests on our morning walk whereas on the first day she could hardly walk up the hill. She began to perspire again, her lockjaw released. We basically gave her body some dramatic conditions; we do some special wraps, drinks and herbs and hydrotherapy treatments. She went home a different lady and the man who drove her home, is a man that does a lot of maintenance work here for us. And when he came back from driving her to the plane, he came into the kitchen and sat down and said ‘I have just heard the most unbelievable story. I never realized that anyone could get such a turnaround in two weeks’. He looked at me and said ‘I will work for you for the rest of my life’. He was so amazed. Emily rang me three months later and told me she had a scan and that the tumour on her liver had gone.
12. If you could have one health wish for the world what would it be?
That every single person could experience what our guests experience here at Misty Mountain Health Retreat and get a taste of a healthier, better life.
Barbara is happy to communicate via email should you seek her advice in health matters. If you would like a phone consultation with Barbara, you can arrange this by contacting the office at Misty Mountain on (02) 6567 2221.To find out more about Misty Mountain, where Barbara works, please visit Misty Mountain Health Retreat.