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  • Writer's pictureGary Moller

Modern-day Adventurer, Axe Rawlinson, talks Nutrition

Updated: Feb 16

A wonderful example of detoxification in action!

Axe: rowing home

Charlie and Grant Hauling in Anchor

Image: Charlie Smith and Grant (Axe) Rawlinson (foreground) struggling to haul in the anchor while rowing from Singapore to Darwin


To Gary:

"I have two main aims with my current 12,000km expedition to travel from Singapore to New Zealand completely by human power. The first is not to die. The second is to arrive on the shores of New Zealand at the end of this one year journey feeling healthy and strong, not having 'wrecked' myself physically in the process. Whilst I take full responsibility for ensuring I stay alive, I needed help achieving the second aim and that was when I was introduced to Gary.

For 1.5 years we have worked together. We are carrying out regular hair tissue analysis to determine what my body needs and I am in a position now, 2/3 of the way through my expedition where I am healthier and have more energy than when I started 7 months ago. My only regret was that I wish I had been working with Gary from a much earlier stage.

His ability to tailor a plan specifically designed for my body's requirements, his experience as a top level athlete and his understanding of the extreme environment I operate in and the limitations on what I can carry have helped me enormously."

Axe on Everest

Image: Axe on Everest



When I first met Axe, my impression was that, despite his extreme level of fitness and history of extreme adventuring (15 years of expeditioning, including summiting everest), he actually looked tired and washed out. I told him so. His Hair Tissue Mineral Analysis (HTMA) that arrived on my desk a few weeks later confirmed that Axe was indeed stressed to the max and tired.

This finding rang some alarm bells for me because he was just two months away from beginning the most horrendous of physical challenges: rowing to Darwin, riding a bike across the top of Australia to Coffs Harbour, rowing solo across the tempestuous Tasman Sea to New Zealand, then running to his Mum and Dad's home in rural Taranaki!

The first leg, was to be three months bobbing about in a tiny boat while enduring extreme heat and humidity day and night, while rowing to the death 18 hours a day against treacherous currents and dodging massive supertankers who stop for no one, and all the while facing the constant threat of pirates, crocodiles and tropical storms.

That was just the first leg and I had only a few weeks to prepare Axe and his team mate, Charlie, for the first leg of this dangerous and gruelling expedition!

For the purposes of this article, I'll briefly explain what each of the following HTMA tell us about Grant's journey.

(I have similar HTMA for Charlie who completed the first leg of the journey before leaving Grant to continue the ride across Australia and the solo row of the Tasman. The Tasman row begins in a few weeks from now).


Not even started; but already running on empty!

The first test above indicates a person who is generally 'running on empty'. This is a typical finding in many athletes who have pursued exhausting activities while eating depleted food and hardly a surprise when you consider what Axe has put himself through over the years. Organising an expedition like this is also extremely exhausting and it shows in the HTMA.

The elevated Na and K are what we see when there is excess stress and the body is beginning to fail with coping. The adrenal glands have many functions, including regulating the response to stress of all kinds. Cellular sodium and potassium levels are regulated by the adrenal glands. Axe's cellular sodium and potassium levels should be no more than 36 and 24 respectively but measured as 171 and 64!

It was concluded that Axe needed urgent and aggressive adrenal support as well as a good feed of everything. We were able to go a step further: he needed large amounts of magnesium and calcium as well as most trace nutrients.

With Axe having the pattern of a 'Fast Metaboliser' foods high in purines, such as mussels, sardines, heart, liver and black sausages were recommended.

When a person is running on empty, exhausted and stressed, there is always the possibility that they may be a nett accumulator of environmental toxins, whereas a person with vigorous metabolic processes will be a nett excretor of the toxins that we are all exposed to, toxins such as mercury and cadmium which are everywhere. If we do not get rid of these toxins as fast as they enter our bodies then they will be sequestered deep inside with organs like the liver and in the bones and fat (which includes the brain). I suspected that we might just trigger a 'detoxification' in Axe as we upregulated his metabolic processes.


To assist the challenges of the expedition, Axe was introduced to several nutrition companies who, were enthusiastic to support him with their specialist products. These wonderful supporters are:


Safely in Darwin (phew!) and HTMA evidence of dramatic detoxification!

Please refer to the HTMA chart below which was completed upon arrival in Darwin, after three months of the most exhausting exertion, in the most extreme heat one can bear, sweating out eight or more liters of water each day.

This chart is a record of what was his cellular hair tissue mineral balance while he was rowing day-in-day-out- to the point of near death. It is a dramatic result to say the least.

Axe has been undergoing a detoxification of toxic elements, principally arsenic, cadmium, lead and aluminium. These must be coming out from deep within his body. We were unable to identify anything on while on the boat that could have been a source of contamination.

The wild fluctuations in other minerals such as molybdenum are further indicators that there are dramatic adjustments for the better taking place within his cells.

It is possible that the elevated zinc is from contamination of the hair sample from zinc-based treatments for chronic, rampant fungal infections, or from the body itself mobilising zinc from tissue stores to fight the fungal infections that eventually covered their bodies.

The lowering of sodium and potassium indicates and improvement in his adrenals despite the extreme sleep deprivation, heat, sweating and physical exertion. That was a pleasant surprise.

What struck me about Axe and his team mate, Charlie, was they looked in better shape on arrival in Darwin than prior to leaving Singapore (apart from their skin which was infected with fungus from the constant damp). The norm is to expect such adventurers to be in a wasted state of health.

Many of the supplements that we had Axe taking and nutrients like those from Frezzor,NZ Fulvic and Sujon Blackcurrant were included with the knowledge that these will support the body's detoxification pathways. I have a suspicion that it was NZ Fulvic which is extracted from pristine ancient Southland peat that made all the difference.

Their main meals consisted of Back Country Cuisine freeze-dried sachets which were surprisingly nutritious and delicious as compared to some of the other food on board, some of which became indigestible due to the extreme heat and humidity, and partly due to the constant rocking motion of the boat that caused a kind of constant nausea. The easy tolerance of Back Country Cuisine meals was an interesting discovery that bodes well for the most gruelling and dangerous leg of Axe's expedition which is the solo crossing of the tempestuous Tasman Sea.

How to prepare for a solo row across the Tasman: Try riding your wife's bike across Australia!

The HTMA above is again a dramatic and very pleasing result.

Axe has as good as completed his detoxification (refer toxic elements). The ideal result is to have all the Nutritional Elements bars in a nice, even line and all within the chart's Reference Range. While nobody ever gets there, Axe is now tantalisingly close.

He is low overall, but the chart is nicely even. Axe needs a very good feed. We need to pile in the nutrients as well as the calories (we need to build his reserves, including body fat before he sets out for New Zealand).

This HTMA indicates that, despite struggling day-after-day into the freezing headwinds, his adrenals are in better condition that prior to beginning the earlier stages of his journey (riding West to East of Australia is not recommended because of the prevailing headwinds). Yes, he did ride his wife's bike all that way!

This all bodes very well for Axe's Trans-Tasman crossing. We can be quite confident that Axe is now a "clean machine".

We will be repeating the HTMA upon his arrival in New Zealand. This exercise is a unique record of the what is happening deep within the body of an extreme adventurer. I would never have expected Axe to be in better health than he was prior to beginning his journey - astonishing stuff.

Go the Axe!

Axe on summit

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