A Deeper Healing Through Gut Health: In Conversation With Kirsten Shanks of Orchard St

We've embarked on an exploration of the often underestimated epicenter of our well-being – the gut.

The vital connection between a healthy gut and your overall health physically and mentally, offers compelling reasons to prioritise this often-neglected aspect of self-care.

If you experience symptoms such as digestive issues including gas, bloating, constipation and diarrhoea or sleep issues, experiencing either high or low mood changes, skin issues and/or frequently falling ill with the common cold, taking a closer look at your current gut condition and looking at ways to improve your overall gut health could be the answer.

So, we turned to Kirsten Shanks, founder of Orchard St and qualified Naturopath with over 20 years experience in the plant realm to discuss the importance of gut health and her newly released 10 day gut detox kit which we were lucky enough to try and deeply enjoyed. 

First, we’d love to start this off with a gratitude practice. What’s something you’re grateful for today?

My little one has just started sleeping through the night! Hallelujah! After 18 months of chronic sleep deprivation, I’m immensely grateful for the opportunity to finally get some rest.

kirsten orchard st gut health

Can you tell us a little bit about your journey into naturopathic work, how did you get started?

I began studying naturopathy as a 19 yr old. A life-long fascination with the natural world, an all-pervasive desire to be in a ‘healing’ profession, alongside a deep interest in true nourishment (after some hard teen years of undernourishment) had me heading in a health science trajectory when I happened to stumble across a prospectus for Nature Care College. There was no turning back from that moment; over 20 yrs later I still feel as unwaveringly purposeful and passionate about all this healing profession has to offer us as a collective.

We want to talk a bit about gut health, can you explain what gut health is and gut microbiome?

Gut health is ultimately a state of ease or well-being within your digestive tract; free from discomfort, symptoms and complaints. This inner health is largely determined by the ecological balance of the trillions of bacteria which comprise our microbiome, but also by the foods we eat, emotions we feel, stress we juggle and lifestyles we lead.

Why do you believe gut health is so important?

Many of us have daily wellness ambitions; doing our best to choose foods and supplements which elevate our health. However if the inner garden of our gut is irritated, inflamed and reactive, our potential to fully reap the benefits of our wellness endeavours is limited. 

An irritated, inflamed and microbially imbalanced gut health, along with a body burden of toxins, significantly compromises our experience of wellbeing, impacting our mood, immunity, energy and appearance. This is why naturopath’s first port of call on the road to wellness is to restore the gut to health!

How can we tell if we have an unhealthy gut? Are there any signs or symptoms to be aware of?

Our gut can speak to us in direct symptoms; the ‘tummy troubles’ we know so well such as bloating, gas, indigestion, constipation or diarrhoea. But as an imbalanced gut can significantly impact our entire state of health, we often see systemic inflammation, heightened anxiety and/or low moods, foggy thinking, hormonal imbalances and lacklustre skin, hair and nails. It can also become incredibly difficult to feel our innate energy with the chronic depletion that can result from the poor absorption, assimilation of the foods we eat when our gut is irritated, inflamed and imbalanced.

If someone is looking to improve their gut health, but doesn't know where to begin, what would you suggest? (Are there any effective ways to improve gut health?)

The first port of call would be to tend to stress; practically reducing this if/where possible and prioritising lifestyle practises and plant medicines which enable greater relaxation and support our stress response.

Next it would be to look at your diet; what might be irritating your gut? Are there processed foods you could reduce? What might be impacting your liver/ detox pathways?

Then, or ideally parallel to this, I would recommend a naturopathic gut reset protocol, one that works on healing the gut lining, removing dysbiotic bacteria, fungi and/or parasites, supporting liver function and ensuring your elimination pathways are super regular… if only there was one on the market ;)

You've created the 10-Day Gut Detox Kit, can you tell us a bit about how this came about for you, how it works and why it's for 10 days?

After 20 years in the natural health realm, and one of these decades providing thousands of juice cleanses through Orchard St.; it became apparent there was a collective need for a deeper healing detox option which leaned on plant medicines. Ultimately, it was created in response to the need of our community. The creation of it was almost 3 years in the making, with many many months of research, consultations, refinements, peer reviews, development and testing. But I honestly couldn’t be more proud of what we created, and the life-changing customer testimonials that keep coming in make all that hard work beyond worthwhile!

gut detox

Ultimately, it is a ‘inner reset program’ which uses high-strength plant medicines (alongside a suggested meal plan) to calm and clear your gut while supporting detoxification pathways. It adheres to four naturopathic principles; 1. Heal the gut, 2. Weed / reset gut dysbiosis, 3. Support liver detox, 4. Eliminate!

The 10 days are the minimum we found to be effective to get the desired results. It is approachable (only one weekend necessary) although the dietary and lifestyle suggestions are designed to be integrated into daily life without too much/any disruption. We do have some detoxers with more chronic gut troubles, or needing greater clearance, who do 2-3 subsequent kits. For most however, the 10 Days give the results they need and following on with our Gut Greens and/or Liv Tox supplements enables long-term benefits. 

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