Alberta Becomes Fifth Province to Regulate NDs!

The Alberta government announced final approval of the regulation of Naturopathic Doctors!  As of August 1, 2012 the new College of Naturopathic Doctors of Alberta will regulate the NDs who practice there.  NDs across Ontario are celebrating the regulation of Alberta as the fifth province; as mentioned in the Journal of the Canadian Medical Association (CMAJ) publication, the new College of Naturopathic Doctors of Alberta will ensure consistent regulations and practice standards across the country.  This consistency in practice standards across the country is better for Naturopathic Doctors practicing in different jurisdictions and beneficial for all patients.  Congratulations Alberta!

Exercise – Still Not Motivated?

Top 4 Tips to Change Your Motivation:

1. Purchase some new gear for exercising.
2. Download some new upbeat songs for your iPod that get you pumped and excited for exercise.
3. Take a picture of your current self and keep it in a place to remind you where you are coming from, and where you plan to go in terms of your personal health goals.
4. Visit your Naturopathic Doctor!

Find Exercise a Drag?

Top 10 exciting forms of play to give a go (other than the good ol’ treadmill):
1. Dragon boat
2. Dancing
3. Boxing
4. Yoga
5. Kayaking
6. Outdoor running
7. Rock climbing
8. Nordic pole walking
9. Squash
10. Cycling

Your Secret to Staying Disease-Free For Life

After a delightful summer of dragon boat training with Naturopathic Current – the end of summer Regatta is now upon us!  This weekend, you are cordially invited to come out to Marilyn Bell Park in Toronto, Ontario on September 8-9, 2012 for the 18th Annual Great White North Dragon Boat Festivities.  All the proceeds raised are donated to the Canadian Breast Cancer Foundation Ontario to raise money for breast cancer research, health promotion and advocacy.

And now, after a Naturopathic interlude…your secret to staying disease-free for life: exercise!  Sweaty, heart-pumping, endorphin-releasing, mood elevating, waist-reducing, muscle toning, health-promoting play!  An article was published this August 2012 in Archives of Internal Medicine and featured on the Journal of American Medical Association (JAMA) Network, which shows that people with higher fitness levels experienced a lower incidence of chronic medical conditions.

The researchers assessed 18,670 healthy participants between January 1, 1999 and December 31, 2009. After adjusting for age, body mass index, blood pressure, cholesterol and glucose levels, alcohol use, and smoking, they concluded that exercise was significantly associated with a lower risk of developing chronic disease outcomes.

Creating Healthy Food Cravings!

I was recently speaking with a fellow Naturopathic Doctor, whom had noticed the following observation in her interaction with her own patients – that very typically, those who did not seem to enjoy their food, also tended to come from families who did not have the pleasure of having their very own household chef.

Well fret no more, it is easy to create healthy food cravings for even those persons who claim they cannot cook!  Below you will find my delicious tropical mango recipe which requires “no cooking” in the classical sense, but is sure to be a family favourite.

Delicious Mango Salad

2 medium-sized ripened mangoes
1/4 bunch fresh cilantro or mint
1 medium-sized red pepper
1 medium-sized carrot
1/4 cup red onion
2 Tbsp of sesame oil
1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
1 pinch of fresh ground black pepper
1 Tbsp of crushed cashews or white and black sesame seeds

1. Peel the skin of each mango and proceed to cut the fruit as closely as you can to its pit. Don’t worry too much if there is fruit remaining on the pit, you can cut as much away as you are able, and use these pieces in your salad. I often like to cut the fruit off the pit in 2 large sections, after which I can proceed to julienne these sections more carefully, and to your preference. For riper mango, I tend to leave these in larger sections, so as to preserve its shape for visual aesthetics. For less ripe mango, I tend to cut these into skinnier rectangular pieces. Once you have finished preparing these sections, place in a medium-sized serving platter.
2. In a separate bowl, immerse approximately 1/4 of the bunch of fresh cilantro (or mint, depending on your preference) in cool water. You want to completely cover the bunch with water. Depending on the amount of dirt adhered to the roots of the fresh cilantro or mint bunch, you may wish to cut that off before immersing in your bowl of water. Set this aside for later use, allowing any remaining debris from the fresh herbs to gather at the bottom of your bowl.
3. Wash your red pepper and carrot. Slice both lengthwise and proceed to cut each in sizes roughly equivalent to the size of your mango. Place on platter with mango.
4. Remove the outermost peel of your red onion. If you tend to tear up easily when cutting onion, you may wish to lightly rinse off the portion of onion you are using to minimize irritation to your eyes. Proceed to cut your onion in square or rectangular pieces. Layer on platter with mango, red pepper and carrot.
5. Go back to the bowl with your cilantro (or mint). Remove the fresh herbs from the bowl, taking care not to disturb the debris from the fresh herbs at the bottom of the bowl of water. Take a pair of scissors, and begin to cut the cilantro leaves from their stem one at a time. Once you have removed the leaves from the stem, take a handful of the leaves and use the scissors to cut the herbs. I prefer using scissors as opposed to a serrated knife as it tends to cut the herbs in a way that allows them to retain their delicate shape and freshness without looking too handled. Layer this in the serving platter with the mango, red pepper, carrot and red onion.
6. Measure the sesame oil, balsamic vinegar and ground pepper and add to platter right before serving. Give all the ingredients a quick toss with your salad utensils.
7. Garnish with crushed cashews (or mixed white or black sesame seeds) before serving.
8. Enjoy your delicious tropical mango salad and bask in comments of your culinary expertise from your family and friends. Bon appetite!

A Natural Approach to Your Motor Vehicle Accident Aches and Pains

Naturopathic care is often overlooked as a treatment choice for individuals who have experienced both minor and catastrophic motor vehicle injuries.  However, it may be a valuable component of integrative rehabilitative measures you may wish to explore, particularly if you, or someone you know, is receiving care for musculoskeletal injuries, is currently in the process of healing their tissues, is experiencing ongoing locomotor deficits, requires assistance with pain management, or is experiencing cognitive concerns post-head injury.

Very recently, I was in a motor vehicle collision where I was rear-ended by a cube van driver who was preoccupied and did not decelerate on time to avoid contacting my car during the usual home-time rush hour traffic.  The collision was not a pretty one involving my car, the cube van, and another car in on-coming traffic.  After almost 2 months, my car was returned to me after $16,000 of repair.  Thankfully, everyone walked away from the accident safe and intact.  After the fright of the incident and in the aftermath of my soft-tissue injuries, I teasingly told my fiancé that it was a good thing the only thing dinged was replaceable metal and thank goodness he did not have to replace me with new OEM (original equipment manufacturer) parts.  From a curious scientific, physiologist’s and healthcare practitioner’s perspective, the accident provided me with first-hand experience of whiplash, whereby the head and neck are forced to go beyond its natural range of motion into hyper-flexion and hyper-extension.

With respect to MVCs, I now appreciate more than ever the importance of having a car with good safety features and a reputable safety track record.  Post-accident, I spoke with a very delightful and caring Chiropractic Doctor who happened to be at the scene of the accident.  Though I was ambulatory post-accident (likely as a result of large amounts of adrenaline pumping through my bloodstream from the fright of the accident) this very same Chiropractic Doctor later told me he thought I would have been immobilized for a good 2 months given the damage to the vehicles involved.

My secret?  I attribute my relatively speedy recovery to diligent self-care utilizing the various tools provided through naturopathic medicine post-accident.  I was diagnosed by the treating ER physician at North York Central Hospital with soft-tissue injuries to the neck and back, mostly localized to the left-side of my body from the seat belt.  I was prescribed your typical musculoskeletal anti-inflammatories and was sent home to monitor changes in mental acuity and dizziness I had been experiencing.  By the time I had been evaluated by the ER physician, the muscle stiffness had begun to set in and I was warned I would feel 10x worse than I did at present, and that it would only continue to get worse 72-hours post-accident before it got better.

It is difficult for anyone truly, to be able to foresee what may have happened had I decided to go the route of conventional medical care versus naturopathic medical care that evening.  What I do know is that immediate post-injury naturopathic treatment with the combination of homeopathic remedies and creams, targeted nutraceutical therapy for pain management, the use of medicinal foods (including omega-3 fatty acids to alter the prostaglandin series associated with inflammation, tissue repair and injury), use of specific medicinal botanicals (including curcumin, bromelain, boswellia, rutin) and natural topical analgesics (including menthol and camphor) resulted in  timely recovery, return to work and activities of daily living.  To-date, acupuncture, hydrotherapy, massage and prescribed physical exercises focused on strengthening my neck, shoulders, back and core abdominal muscles have played a vital role in my improvements.

Alongside the sage advice of your medical doctor, chiropractic doctor, physiotherapist, massage therapist, certified exercise physiologist and psychologist I encourage you to consider the benefits of receiving naturopathic medical care to help you with your injuries and to help expedite your recovery time.

You Are Cordially Invited to Attend the Children’s Wellness Expo 2012!

Children’s Wellness Expo is this Saturday, June 16, 2012!

This event is to raise awareness of the products and services available in our community that promote the health and wellness of children and their families.  The founder, Wendy Vaiopoulos is a lovely Ontario teacher who is passionate about supporting our children’s academic growth.  She is also passionate about connecting children and their families with professionals in our community who are committed to providing holistic services for health and wellness.  I am very excited to be invited to this community event at the Varley Art Gallery in Unionville, Ontario.

In addition to this event, Wendy is generously donating her hair and raising money for A Child’s Voice Foundation Angel Hair for Kids, an organization which I am also pleased to have contributed to in the past.  These wigs are provided at no cost to under privileged Canadian children who have lost their hair due to illness and/or medical treatment.

Please invite your family members, children, friends and neighbours to attend this year’s Expo.  I look forward to seeing you there!

Fat Genes, Fat Jeans and “Phat” Jeans!

I was reading two fantastic articles discussing nutrigenomics – how nutrients interact with our genes to produce health and disease.  Despite the massive promotion of “low-fat” food labels, as a society we have seen the rapid increase in the prevalence of increased weight, obesity and obesity-related health conditions.  There are many studies which suggest how lipogenesis, the production of fat, may be regulated in people.  It is thought that more than 20 genes are involved in regulating fat storage, appetite, the ability to process glucose and energy use.

When it comes to our waistlines, a protein specifically secreted from our adipose (fat) tissue named leptin is often cited.  Leptin is a protein which is transported to the part of our brain known as the hypothalamus.  It is significant in the discussion of weight reduction and maintenance because its binding of specific receptors in our brain affect neuro/endocrine signaling and elicit the feeling of satiety after a meal.  What we know is that food intake is controlled in part by inhibitory signals such as leptin; when this signal diminishes, this signals our body that it is time to eat.

When you gain weight, your lepin signaling becomes distorted.  In addition to this, your body becomes resistant to insulin.  Insulin is a hormone that is produced by the pancreas, and keeps your blood glucose at normal levels by moving it from the blood stream into the cells of your body.  Conditions such as diabetes arise when your body becomes resistant to insulin, or does not produce enough insulin, meaning you need more insulin to maintain healthy blood sugar levels.  This creates a somewhat vicious cycle – you may be recommended to take more insulin to regulate your blood sugars, gain more weight as a result, and need more insulin use.

As your Naturopathic Doctor, nutrigenomics is one important component of your treatment plan that we examine.  Signals such as leptin and insulin affect your ability to turn off your fat genes and reduce your waistline so you can swap your “fat jeans” for your “phat” jeans.

“Phat” – urban dictionary, meaning cool, trendy.

Understanding Your Gyn-Ecology

Do you know how many days your menstrual cycle is?  You’d be surprised how many women don’t.  The first step in taking charge of your health is understanding the length of your cycle.  The day you first experience menstrual flow, and not just spotting, is the first day of your menstrual cycle.   The above diagram illustrates the general changes in your body during your cycle.  If your patterns aren’t like the above graph, don’t fret – you are not the only one, and in fact, only a small percentage of women have the textbook 28-day cycle depicted above.  Naturopathic treatments are focused on bringing into balance any disharmonies in your cycle.  Signs that you can benefit from Naturopathic Medical care include painful menstrual cramps, blood clots, irritable moods, excessive menstrual bleeding, bleeding between your menstrual cycles, having a menstrual cycle which end too quickly, irregular menstrual cycles, fibroids, polycystic ovaries and endometriosis.  Your menstrual cycles play an important role in your health and despite popular belief, are absolutely necessary.

Easing Alzheimer’s-Related Sundowning

I have always had an interest in the workings of the human brain.  While at McMaster University, I completed my research thesis on the ability of vitamins and minerals to off-set cognitive decline, which peaked my interest in the subject matter early on in my educational career.  The combination of my work in retirement homes, my clinical experience working with persons with dementia who are sun downing (a common finding whereby confusion and disorientation in persons with dementia tend to increase when the sun starts to go down, hence its name), as well as my work with their loved ones, has further fueled my interest in the ability to hail the later years of our lives with all of our cognitive faculties in tact and my interest in examining strategies to improve quality of life for persons with dementia as well as our much-loved and appreciated caregivers.

Selected Naturopathic Strategies to Ease Sundowning

Check-in to see if the person is trying to communicate hunger, thirst, discomfort or a need to toilet and therapeutic touch to bring reassurance and remind the person of who you are and your presence.

If the person is ambulatory, or able to walk with assistance safely, try to incorporate exercise earlier on in the day to reduce restlessness later in the afternoon and early evening.

Expose the patient to natural light in order to maintain their vitamin D stores and to help entrain circadian levels needed for sleep-wake cycles. As the sun goes down, ensure the person’s surroundings are well-lighted to reduce shadows that can mask common objects and create confusion or disorientation.

Minimize sugar intake, which can lead to an aggravation in moods due to the fluctuation in glucose levels.

Experiment with soothing herbal teas, including chamomile and passion flower.

Encourage feelings of self-efficacy by providing persons with bite-sized foods, in smaller meal proportions. The act of eating may help soothe agitation.

Ask your Naturopathic Doctor about nutrients including melatonin, which are safe alternatives to sleeping aids because they don’t interfere with REM sleep or produce that groggy “morning-after hangover”.