Beyond the vampire facial – ANMJ

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Beyond the vampire facial – ANMJ

The use of platelet-rich plasma (PRP) has the potential for so much more than skin rejuvenation for cosmetic and aesthetic purposes, says RN, nutritionist and naturopath, Madeline Calfas.

by Natalie Drago from Australian Nursing and Midwifery Federation. Contributed by Madeline Calfas

Platelet Rich Plasma (PRP) injections are a relatively new medical technology used in sports medicine for the treatment of musculoskeletal injuries and in aesthetic medicine for anti-ageing.

Celebrities such as Kim Kardashian and Kate Langbroek have made the ‘vampire facial’ famous. The processes of PRP reported of which are inaccurate, says Ms Calfas who has been doing PRP injections for the past six years at the Wellness Group she founded in 2002.

Ms Calfas will be demystifying PRP at the 2018 A5M Conference in anti-ageing and aesthetic medicine held in Melbourne this month. The conference theme is Exploring the intrinsic connection between inner and outer health.

PRP is concentrated platelet content present in blood. Platelets also release growth factors that help the human body to repair itself by stimulating cells to regenerate new tissue.

Ms Calfas says the blood’s platelets and plasma are “liquid gold”.

“PRP harnesses the body’s own healing powers. When we injure ourselves we get a bruise. We get plasma growth factors which causes a healing cascade to repair an injury.

“PRP brings on the body’s platelets and growth factors quicker to fasten the process.

There is so much potential for PRP but some people see it just for skin rejuvenation.”

This includes for wound healing, inflammatory control, diabetic leg ulcers and burns, Ms Calfas says.

One client had a leg ulcer following leg vein removal that hadn’t healed in five months, she says. “It was quite inflamed. We used PRP and four weeks later it had dried up. Another four weeks and the wound had shrunk.”

Another woman had an infected wound on the top of her foot from a stingray barb. “She was going to need a wound revision. She was in her 30s with young children and couldn’t be off her feet for three weeks post-surgery. We used PRP which was successful.”

The process is relatively simple, says Ms Calfas. Blood is taken and spun through a centrifuge. What is not needed or wanted is rejected. The ‘liquid gold’ PRP is isolated. “Five minutes for a blood test, eight minutes for it to spin and then 10 minutes to inject it.”

PRP is not covered by Medicare or currently any private health fund.

“Mainstream medicine is of the view that it is a cosmetic treatment,” says Ms Calfas.

The cost of PRP injections varies but is around $350-500. Generally people require one treatment a month for three to four months.

As the body’s own plasma is used, there is no risk of disease transmission, anaphylaxis or neoplasia. Worst case scenario is that nothing happens, says Ms Calfas.

The benefits of PRP could be expanded beyond chronic injuries and wounds, says Ms Calfas.

“One lady who came to us for something else had rosacea. She needed steroid creams which were not working. We used PRP for inflammatory control and it worked. PRP would be a good tool to heal burns.”

“I really hope it takes off in Australia, yes there is the potential for musculoskeletal but also for gynaecological conditions.”

The A5M Conference will be held on 4-5 August at the Sofitel Melbourne on Collins. Visit


This one will come as no surprise – caffeine.

Whether it’s from your afternoon coffee or that amazing dark chocolate, foods and drinks containing high levels of caffeine can interfere with sleep production by stimulating your mind and keeping it active, says Madeline Calfas, an integrative medicine practitioner, naturopath and nutritionist. “In turn, it makes it very difficult to fall asleep and switch off,” she said.

The academic journal Nutrients reports Australian adults struggling with quality sleep have on average two cups of coffee more than those who do not.

Another big sleep obstructor is alcohol.

Ms Calfas said while some drinks might make you feel sleepy, and even help you fall asleep, the type of sleep is not the good, deep sleep that moves you into REM cycles and leaves you feeling nice and refreshed in the morning.

“On the contrary, alcohol consumption prior to bed results in poor, restless sleep and leaves you vulnerable to vivid dreams that leave you tossing and turning and feeling like you’ve been hit by a Mack truck the next morning,” she explained.

According to ResSleep, as consumed alcohol metabolises into sugar, rising glucose levels can cause wakefulness, fragmenting your sleep.

“Since alcohol causes dehydration, you may also find yourself awake, thirsty for water,” their website states.

“On the other hand, another cause of sleep problems could be a full bladder, which occurs with alcohol, as it’s a diuretic.”

Sugar is said to be linked to poor sleep, according to an Advances in Nutrition report, including increased evening awakenings.

“Granola, muesli bars and even health bars are often loaded with sugar. Even if these sugars are from natural sources such as dates, honey or agave, the body digests these sugars the same way as it does refined sugars as found in chocolates and cakes. Result? You’ll still adversely affect your sleep and struggle to feel fresh in the morning,” sleep specialist Olivia Arezzolo told

Ms Calfas, who is also the founder of The Wellness Group, said those who consumed high protein and/or fat meals prior to bed might also suffer from affected sleep.

“Both of these will leave your digestive system working overtime to try and break down your meal, but because your body is so busy trying to focus on digestion, it is unable to do what it should be doing at that time, which is promoting sleep,” she said.

“High fat consumption also interferes with orexin, which is another neurotransmitter that is responsible for the sleep/wake cycle,” Ms Calfas told

Those who struggle to sleep should also reconsider consuming spicy foods before bed.

”A chilli hit before you sleep can cause indigestion, heartburn and acid reflux, which is bad enough on its own, but when combined with lying down, it allows the stomach acid to reach higher up your oesophagus and intensifies that burning sensation,” Ms Calfas explained.


When it comes to what you should be drinking, it’s less soft drinks and fruit juices and more camomile tea.

According to the Molecular Medicine Reports, camomile contains the compound apigenin, which enhances relaxation and feelings of ease.

“Passionflower tea can help to increase your GABA (gamma-aminobutyric acid) production, an amino acid that works by blocking/reducing other amino acids and neurotransmitters that create stress,” Ms Calfas said.

Foods that either produce or contain any of the following – melatonin, tryptophan, serotonin, GABA and theanine – are amino acids and neurotransmitters that are responsible for promoting and regulating sleep, according to Ms Calfas.

“Some of these foods include tart cherries, pomegranate, broccoli, cucumber, olives, grapes, turkey, chicken, spinach, tuna, salmon and almonds,” she said.

The nutritionist said it was also important to take in calcium such as green snap peas, okra, sardines and cheese.

“Especially those dairy products that contain both tryptophan (an amino acid) and calcium,” she said.

“Calcium is a mineral that helps your body make melatonin, which gets your body into a sleep-ready state,” she continued, adding vitamin B6 also helps convert tryptophan into melatonin and helps to regulate serotonin levels.


Depending on your health goals, you should leave between three and four hours between your last meal and when you go to bed, naturopath and clinical nutritionist Michaela Sparrow advises.

“It can take around three hours to properly digest a full meal, so if you are eating too late your body will be digesting while you’re sleeping when it should be focusing on other beneficial bodily processes that occur when you are asleep,” Ms Sparrow told

The Longevity Remedy founder said there were numerous reasons why you should have a few hours space between eating and sleep.

Originally published at  here.

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