2023 AIMA Conference Speakers

We are delighted to have the following speakers presenting at the 2023 AIMA Conference:

Keynote speaker:

  • James Maskell (USA), Community Builder, Healthcare Entrepreneur, Author, Speaker, Podcaster will present via zoom “The Community Cure: Transforming Health Outcomes”


  • Sharon Erdrich (NZ), Nurse, Naturopath & Medical Herbalist will present “Fibromyalgia is a Multi-Morbidity Disorder. Can We Join the Dots? Insights from The FIDGIT Study”
  • Dr Denise Furness (AUS), Molecular Geneticist, Functional Medicine Practitioner and CSO and Founder, Your Genes & Nutrition, will present “Building Resilience in a Modern World”. Sponsored by FxMed.
  • Dr Dayan Goodenowe (USA), Founder and CEO, Prodrome Sciences; Neuroscientist, Inventor, and Longevity Expert will present “Breaking Autism”. Sponsored by Nutrisearch.
  • Dr Sandeep Gupta (AUS), Integrative GP, will present “EMF and stealth infection” and present a workshop on “Building resilience against environmental toxins”
  • Dr Cliff Harvey (NZ), Clinical Nutritionist, Naturopath, and Medical Herbalist, will present a workshop on “Coaching in Practice – Building a Strong Foundation”
  • Dr Tabitha Healey (AUS), Health, Executive and Organisational Coach, Medical Oncologist and Clinical Hypnotherapist, will present “Holding the SPACE for Wellbeing: Understand the impact of caring and the data-driven framework to mitigate stress and maximise wellbeing”
  • Dr Leila Masson (AUS), integrative paediatrician, will present on “An integrative approach to the most common childhood issues” and give an“Update on integrative treatment for ADHD”
  • Sylvia North (NZ), Dietitian and Lecturer will present “Dietetic perspective on hyperinsulinemia and insulin resistance – from identification to management strategies”
  • Dr Geraldine Poynter (NZ), GP, will present “Out of the funk with Focused Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (FACT)”
  • Phil Rasmussen (NZ), Medical Herbalist, Pharmacist and Researcher will present “Phytomedicines for Post-Covid recovery”
  • Natasha Tassell-Matamua (NZ), Associate Professor. Doctoral Supervisor School of Psychology, Massey University will present “Indigenous Spirituality. Well-being wisdom for our contemporary times”
  • Professor Margreet Vissers (NZ), Research Professor and Principal Investigator, University of Otago will present “Vitamin C: Newly discovered functions and potential for impact in cancer, immunity and mood”
  • Dr Edward Walker (NZ), Scientist at The New Zealand Institute for Plant & Food Research Limited, will present “Developing a nutraceutical for weight management, learning lessons from evolution, history, and drug discovery”. Sponsored by Calocurb.

Find out more about the speakers and their talks below.

Sharon Erdrich (NZ)

Sharon is a NZ Registered Nurse with a MHSc (Hons) from the University of Auckland and is a Registered Naturopath & Medical Herbalist.

She is currently conducting her PhD at the University of Sydney. Through this work (The FIDGIT Study), centred on fibromyalgia and the digestive system, she was an invited collaborator & presenter at the 2023 International Myopain Symposium – a group of clinicians and researchers committed to understanding chronic pain in order to improve outcomes for those suffering with it.

An experienced teacher, Sharon has developed, delivered and co-ordinated programmes in naturopathy, aromatherapy, nutrition, and nursing across several tertiary institutions. Currently, she is an Adjunct Fellow at Southern Cross University (Australia), where she is involved in course writing and delivery on post-graduate programmes.

Sharon was lead author of the Gastrointestinal section (Ch 7) of the World Naturopathic Federation’s Health Technology Assessment, and to date, has 8 peer-reviewed publications.

She owns and practices at the Auckland Gut Clinic, which provides a nationwide breath testing service. Sharon also runs an internship programme to support recent graduates to upskill in the important area of digestion and the gut microbiome.

Sharon will present “Fibromyalgia is a Multi-Morbidity Disorder. Can We Join the Dots? Insights from The FIDGIT Study”

A number of comorbidities are known to be highly prevalent in people with fibromyalgia, such as the common coexistence of irritable bowel syndrome. However, digestive dysfunction may extend beyond IBS. Findings from our recent investigation into Fibromyalgia, Digestive function and the microbiome of the Gastrointestinal Tract (the FIDGIT Study) will be presented, including a summary of associations between symptoms experienced in this population, markers of their digestive dysfunction, co-morbidities, and quality of life measures.

Dr Denise Furness (AUS)
PhD BSc(Hons) RNutr

Denise, PhD is a molecular geneticist and functional medicine practitioner. She is a pioneer in the field of nutrigenomics and epigenetics (precision medicine) with 20 years’ experience.

Denise began her career as a research scientist focusing on folate nutrigenomics, methylation, and DNA damage. She has published her work in peer reviewed journals and won numerous awards for her research and conference presentations.

In 2012 she founded Your Genes and Nutrition and began applying her knowledge in clinical practice. Denise has a special interest in fertility, thyroid and autoimmunity (after recovering from autoimmune thyroid disease herself), as well as healthy ageing. She is currently running a biological ageing study, aimed at improving cellular health and naturally slowing the ageing process.

Denise will present “Building Resilience in a Modern World” at the 2023 AIMA Conference

Humans are part of the global ecosystem and have evolved with the earth systems including land, atmosphere, and oceans. Humans adapted in the face of environmental challenges and opportunities making tools, using fire, hunting and gathering food and creating complex societies. Within these societies ancient humans worked together and interacted with their environment.

The modern world has seen a dramatic shift in a relatively short amount of time. This has resulted in a genetic, physical and emotional disconnection from our environment and earths systems. The modern human is likely to sit rather than move, eat processed foods, be exposed to polluted air or manmade chemicals, experience chronic stress and be overweight. In addition, mental health disorders and chronic disease are on the rise.

To combat this disconnection a 3-month intervention trial was conducted involving diet and lifestyle interventions, a mental fitness app (mental fitness project) along with key supplements to improve mental and physical wellbeing. Preliminary data indicates these factors can improve mental wellbeing, build resilience and improve epigenetic patterns reducing risk for chronic disease.

Denise’s presence at the conference is sponsored by FxMed.

Dr. Dayan Goodenowe, PhD

Dayan is an expert on the biochemical mechanisms of aging and disease. In 1999, he invented a technology platform that could simultaneously measure thousands of biochemicals in blood. Tens of thousands of human samples have been analyzed from healthy and diseased persons of all ages. The biochemical data collected has enabled Dr. Goodenowe to identify specific biochemical system failures (Prodromes) that occur with aging and prior to the occurrence of disease. In addition to predicting disease and death before it happens, Dr. Goodenowe designs bioidentical metabolic intermediates to correct prodromes, prevent disease, and increase longevity and vitality.  More info here: https://drgoodenowe.com/

Dayan will present “Breaking Autism” at the 2023 AIMA Conference.

Dayan’s presence at the conference is sponsored by Nutrisearch.

Dr Sandeep Gupta (AUS)

Sandeep is a vocationally registered general practitioner who runs an integrative medicine clinic on the Sunshine Coast. His main passion relates to finding the underlying causes and innovated approaches to managing chronic illness. Dr Gupta graduated from medical school at the University of Queensland 1999. He has received specialized training in integrative medicine, and was awarded a Fellowship of the Australasian College of Nutritional and Environmental Medicine in 2008 and a Fellowship of the Australian College of General Practitioners in 2010. He also has a physician training certification with Dr Ritchie Shoemaker in biotoxin illness and Masters of Nutrition with Dr Gabriel Cousens in diabetes and living food nutrition. He is currently a board member of the Australian Chronic Infectious & Inflammatory Disease Society (ACIIDS) and also the International Society for Acquired Environmental Illness (ISEAI). He has a broad range of interests including environmental medicine, management of cardiology and cancer cases and mast cell activation syndrome, multiple chemical sensitivity and management of chronic infections.

Sandeep will present “EMF and stealth infection” and a workshop on “Building resilience against environmental toxins” at the 2023 AIMA Conference.

Dr Cliff Harvey
PhD, DipFit, DipNat, MNMHNZ, RCN, FCNA

Cliff is a Registered Clinical Nutritionist, and Registered Naturopath & Medical Herbalist. He is one of only three people inducted as a Fellow of the Clinical Nutrition Association for exemplary services to clinical nutrition in Aotearoa. He has worked with Olympic and World Champion level athletes, and people with severe health conditions alike in his 25 years in practice. Cliff’s doctoral and post-doctoral research has focussed on ketosis and ketogenesis, carbohydrate tolerance, complex autoimmune conditions, and nutrient interactions with post-COVID syndrome and COVID vaccination adverse events. He is a board member of the Clinical Nutrition Association, Sports Nutrition Association, and a technical advisor to Health Coaches Australia & New Zealand Association, and is a former world champion and world record holding strength athlete, and catch-wrestler.

Cliff will present a workshop titled “Coaching in Practice – Building a Strong Foundation” at the 2023 AIMA Conference.

Complimentary health practice can be prone to pseudoscience and unnecessary over-complication. This workshop’s presenter, Dr Cliff Harvey has developed a reputation for achieving exemplary client results (even in intractable clients) with an uncomplicated approach to health. In this workshop, Cliff explore with how to build a stronger foundation in health practice with a ‘coaching first’, holistic, yet evidence-based approach to practice.

This workshop will cover topics and themes such as:

  • The importance of the ‘coach first’ approach regardless of what type of practitioner you are
  • The importance of a building strong foundations of health
  • The trap of over-complication in health care
  • The ‘garbage in, garbage out’ conundrum in health data and testing
  • Guidance and prescription ‘hierarchies of needs’  for working with clients
  • How to ethically expand scope of practice and add more clinical tools to your kit!

Dr Tabitha Healey (AUS)
Health Executive and Organisational Coach
BMBS FRACP – Medical Oncologist,Clinical Hypnotherapist,GAICD

Having worked for 20 years as a Medical Oncologist and later in her career in Palliative Medicine, Tabitha has witnessed the impact that lifestyle choices have on chronic disease at an individual and societal level. Her move into Health and Wellness Coaching was driven by the desire to focus on prevention rather than palliation, providing individuals with the tools to take back control of their health and their lives.  As the medical system buckles under the burden of chronic disease, Tabitha works predominantly with health professionals to prioritise their own health in order to care for others. The increasing demands and dwindling resources in the healthcare sector requires a new approach and Tabitha as a Board Member of HCANZA is committed to increasing the contribution that Health and Wellness Coaching can make in preventing and reversing chronic lifestyle related disease.

Tabitha will present “Holding the SPACE for Wellbeing: Understand the impact of caring and the data driven framework to mitigate stress and maximise wellbeing” at the 2023 AIMA Conference.

Understand the impact of caring and the data driven framework to mitigate stress and maximise wellbeing.

Tabitha’s presence at the conference is sponsored by Health Coaches Australia New Zealand Association

James Maskell (USA)

James has spent the last decade innovating at the cross section of functional medicine and community. He grew up in an intentional community, and has lived in South Africa, UK and America. Originally trained in health economics, James is on a mission to flatten the curve of healthcare costs building companies and creating content along the way. A lively speaker and in-demand impresario, James has spoken to audiences on six continents. James is the creator of Functional Forum, the world’s largest integrative medicine conference.  He lectures internationally and has been featured on TEDMED, Hufpost Live, TEDx and more.  He is a contributor to the Huffington Post, KevinMD, thedoctorblog and MindBodyGreen.  He serves on the Faculty of George Washington University’s Metabolic Medicine Institute.  He lives in Northern California with his wife and two daughters. He loves playing cricket, riding horses and plotting our survival on this planet and emergence into our potential.

James will join the conference via zoom to present “The Community Cure: Transforming Health Outcomes”

Dr. Leila Masson (AUS)

Leila is a consultant paediatrician who specialises in nutritional and environmental medicine for children’s health issues, including allergies, asthma, behaviour problems, autism spectrum disorders and ADHD. She has a busy clinic in Sydney where she treats children and mentors doctors in integrative paediatrics. She received her doctorate in medicine from the Free University of Berlin and did her paediatric specialist training at the University of California in San Francisco. She received her Master in Public Health from Harvard University and her Diploma in Tropical Medicine from the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine. She is a fellow of the Australasian College of Nutritional and Environmental Medicine and the Royal Australasian College of Physicians. Dr. Masson is a board member of AIMA. She is also on the board of professional advisors of La Leche League New Zealand.

Leila has worked in the US, Europe, New Zealand, and volunteered for 2 years setting up a rural clinic in Pakistan.  She is the author of Children’s Health A-Z a parent’s guide to natural therapies for common childhood ailments.

Leila will be giving two presentations, the first on “An integrative approach to the most common childhood issues” and the second giving an “Update on integrative treatment for ADHD” at the 2023 AIMA Conference.

Sylvia North (NZ)

Sylvia is a NZ Registered Dietitian and lecturer at Auckland University of Technology. As an advocate for whole-food nutrition, her clinical practice focuses on supporting metabolic health and averting lifestyle diseases. She has a special interest in women’s health and supports female clients in optimising hormonal health and fertility, including those planning pregnancy.

Sylvia is a current PhD candidate with AUT University’s Human Potential Centre, expected completion 2023. Her PhD was centred around exploring hyperinsulinaemia during pregnancy and the implications for the dietary management of gestational diabetes. From this work she has published individual studies in four peer-reviewed journals.

Silvia will present “Dietetic perspective on hyperinsulinemia and insulin resistance – from identification to management strategies” at the 2023 AIMA Conference.

Hyperinsulinaemia is recognised is an important health risk marker for many chronic metabolic diseases, including type 2 diabetes. I’ll be talking about challenges defining hyperinsulinaemia and the role of nutrition and lifestyle in altering the trajectory of this metabolic risk marker early in the life-course – from a dietetic perspective.

Dr Geraldine Poynter (NZ)

Geraldine is a General Practitioner in Tāmaki Makaurau. She works at Greenstone Family Clinic in Manurewa, providing Focused Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (FACT) once a week and also regular GP locum work closer to her home in Glendowie. She has started presenting short talks and seminars on FACT to primary health care workers over the past year, with the support of Professor Bruce Arroll. Geraldine is an Auckland Medical School graduate and completed her GP training with the RCGP UK in Yorkshire. She is also a Fellow of the RNZCGP. Geraldine’s passion is providing timely, evidenced based mental health support within primary health clinics. She promotes the benefit of wearing both a GP and FACT ‘hat’ at the same time and is committed to continual expansion of her skills and sharing of her knowledge with others.

Geraldine will present “Out of the Funk with FACT” at the 2023 AIMA Conference.

Geraldine will present you with a tool kit to use for your next day at work. She will provide a Focused Acceptance and Commitment (FACT) strategy to support your patients/clients to build psychological flexibility and get back into the river of life. You will learn how to contextually assess your patients and help both of you understand why they are ‘stuck’. This will be followed by strategies for values-based behavioural activation towards a life that is rich and meaningful and reflecting the person your patient/client wants to be.

Phil Rasmussen (NZ)
M.Pharm., M.P.S., Dip. Herb. Med.; M.N.I.M.H.(UK), M.N.H.A.A; F.N.Z.A.M.H.

Phil is a practicing Medical Herbalist, pharmacist and researcher with 30 years of broad-ranging experience, and an Honorary Lecturer in Pharmacy, at the University of Auckland. His experience includes founding, managing and building a GMP-certified complementary medicine company manufacturing and exporting practitioner-only herbal extracts. He is a founding director of Natural Health Products New Zealand, and was President of the New Zealand Association of Medical Herbalists for 3 years.

He teaches, writes and podcasts regularly to practitioner audiences about a wide range of subjects in relation to plant medicines, and has a particular interest in native plants of Aotearoa New Zealand, medicinal plant sustainability, the use of plant medicines alongside conventional medical treatments, and their applications in substance dependency and mental wellness. He established and ran a herbal detoxification service for the Auckland Regional Alcohol and Drug Services, from 1993 to 1997.

Phil has also worked in private clinical practice since 1993, and through this has treated many patients with post-viral syndromes, including a large number with long-Covid. In recent years he has become more focused on this clinical practice and continues to be a strong advocate for greater patient access to phytotherapy through the health system of Aotearoa.

Phil will present “Phytomedicines for post-Covid recovery” at the 2023 AIMA Conference.

Long Covid has emerged as a serious problem experienced by an alarming number of patients following infection with the SARS-2 coronavirus, and is having a major impact on patient wellness and the pharmacoeconomic burden resulting from this recent pandemic.

As with post-viral or chronic fatigue syndromes sometimes experienced following other viral infections, conventional treatment options can be somewhat limited, and the toll of the syndrome on some patients can be protracted and very debilitating.

Phyto (plant) medicines have been used in the management of infectious diseases and to assist with post-infection recovery, for millions of years. These exhibit multiple relevant pharmacological actions including antimicrobial, anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, immunomodulatory, neuroprotective, adaptogenic and others, which can be helpful in facilitating recovery in long Covid patients.

In this presentation, Phil will discuss the evidence for several such phytomedicines, and how we and our patients can use them optimally in clinical practice.

Natasha Tassell-Matamua (NZ)
Ph.D. Associate Professor, Doctoral Supervisor School of Psychology

Natasha is an Associate Professor in the School of Psychology at Massey University and Director of the Centre for Indigenous Psychologies. She is of Indigenous Māori, Cook Islands and European descent. Her teaching is in the area of Indigneous psychologies, and she established the first Minor in Indigenous Psychologies to be taught at any tertiary institution in Aotearoa New Zealand. Over the past 15 years, her research has focussed on the very specialised area of near-death and other exceptional experiences of consciousness. She investigates and writes about the implications of such experiences for enhancing understandings abotu the nature of consciousness, as well as their interface with spirituality and Indigenous knowledges. Natasha’s more recent publications have focussed on Indigneous notions of spirituality, drawing on her personal experience and positionality as Indigneous Māori. Natasha continues to present nationally and internationally on these topics.

Natasha will present “Indigenous Spirituality. Well-being wisdom for our contemporary times” at the 2023 AIMA Conference.

Spirituality is an integral part of what it means to be human, and nowhere is this more evident than within the psyche of Indigenous peoples. Although almost all Indigenous communities around the globe have been affected by colonisation, notions of spirituality remain dominant, reflected in beliefs, practices and rituals. Drawing on Indigenous Māori notions of spirituality, this presentation will provide an overview of how spirituality comprises an important component of holistic well-being.

Professor Margreet Vissers (NZ)
BSc Hons (Cant), MSc, PhD(Otago)

Research Professor and Principal Investigator, Mātai Hāora – the Centre for Redox Biology and Medicine, Dept of Pathology and Biomedical Sciences, University of Otago, Christchurch NZ

Margreet trained as a Biochemist, graduating with a PhD in 1986, followed by post-doctoral studies at the University of Michigan, USA, and a career in research at the University of Otago, Christchurch.  She is currently a Research Professor and Principal Investigator in Mātai Hāora – the Centre for Redox Biology and Medicine. She leads a research team investigating vitamin C and its many functions in the body. A main focus is its activity as a support for enzymes involved with cancer cell survival and metabolism, epigenetic programming, immune cell function, hormone synthesis and energy production. As an antioxidant, vitamin C also protects against oxidative stress and the risk of the diseases of aging, including heart disease, arthritis and cancer. Their research has led to the discovery of new roles for food-based antioxidants in the maintenance of good health and disease prevention.

Margreet has published over 150 peer-reviewed publications in the scientific literature and has received an Excellence in Research medal from the University of Otago, Christchurch in recognition of long-term high-level research achievement. She has an established international reputation and is regularly invited as a plenary speaker at national and international meetings. She maintains a high public profile for her work on vitamin C in cancer and in general health.

Margreet will present “Vitamin C: Newly discovered functions and potential for impact in Cancer, immunity and mood” at the 2023 AIMA Conference.

Vitamin C has long been known to be required to support the enzymes that make collagen. In the past decade, numerous other enzymes have been discovered that are equally dependent on vitamin C for activity. These new enzymes are involved in many aspects of human biology, and insight into their vitamin dependency is providing important information on the potential role for vitamin C in cancer management, in supporting immune responses and in supporting daily wellbeing.

Dr Edward Walker (NZ)
Scientist – The New Zealand Institute for Plant & Food Research Limited

Edward is a scientist and lecturer, who believes that developing a healthy relationship with food is key for long-term wellness. He completed his PhD at the University of Auckland on the antioxidant effects of berry fruits and has continued to research how dietary plant compounds can improve health and wellness. He works at The New Zealand Institute for Plant and Food Research, undertaking commercially focused research of nutraceutical products for human health applications, with a focus on clinical validation of lab-based results. He is also a guest lecturer at the University of Auckland on the topic of nutraceuticals and functional foods.

Over the last 13 years Edward’s primary research focus has been the investigation of plant-based, appetite suppressants that may reduce hunger and support healthy food choices. This work led to the development of a novel NZ hops-based appetite suppressant that shares an overlapping mode of action with a new class of effective GLP-1 based anti-obesity drugs.

He is passionate about plant-based nutraceuticals and believes that with the appropriate scientific research, they have the potential to improve health and wellness, and even prevent or delay the development of chronic disease.

Edward will present “Developing a nutraceutical for weight management, learning lessons from evolution, history, and drug discovery” at the 2023 AIMA Conference.

Nutraceuticals bridge the gap between nutrition and pharmacology, offering potentially effective health treatments to those either unwilling or unable to take pharmaceuticals. To date, the prospect of an Impactful nutraceutical market is widely unrealised, with the presence of many unproven or ineffective products leading to consumer and clinician scepticism. In 2010 Plant and Food Research began a 20M NZD government funded research program to develop a plant-based, non-pharmaceutical, appetite suppressant for use as an adjunct therapy in weight management. This research has spanned the last 13 years, combining nutritional science with drug discovery, and has developed a novel appetite suppressing nutraceutical that targets bitter taste systems present within the gastrointestinal (GI) tract. This talk will discuss the approach taken to develop this appetite suppressant. It will include how traditional medicine informed the identification of bitter taste as the biological target, the validation of bitter taste systems within appetite-regulating cells of the GI tract, and the clinical interventions demonstrating efficacy for both the stimulation of appetite suppressing GI hormones, GLP-1, CCK and PYY, as well as its use in reducing hunger and rebound eating during an acute model of fasting. With the growth of effective, yet expensive, injectable GLP-1 based pharmaceuticals for weight management, there is a growing gap between the haves and the have nots. Scientifically validated nutraceuticals may offer an avenue to support dietary change in the wider population, and to improve health outcomes and quality of life.

Edward’s presence at the conference is sponsored by Calocurb.