Tag Archives: Aging

Navigating the Journey of Menopause, Naturally!

Dr. Judith Ancheta, Naturopathic Doctor cordially invites you to attend an enlightening, casual discussion on “Navigating the Journey of Menopause, Naturally!” with Whole Woman Network at their April 23, 2012 meeting. Please join us to learn more about the signs and symptoms which indicate you are transitioning into the next, exciting life-changing stage and about the hormonal changes, which are driving many of the symptoms you may, or are currently, experiencing (hot flashes, vaginal dryness, libido changes, urinary tract changes, mental and emotional changes). We invite you to learn about naturopathic strategies including the best medicinal foods, dietary strategies to employ, and a teaser on controversial topics such as menopause and hormone replacement therapy. As women, we naturally tend towards being life-giving towards others, and as a result of this, can put off well-deserved self-care. Aging women today are more wise, beautiful, active, happy, saucy and sexier than ever before! Join us as we celebrate one of life’s milestones and embrace aging, redefining together what this stage means in a woman’s life.

Details: Loblaws, 2nd Floor Meeting Room, 301 High Tech Road, Richmond Hill
Date: April 23, 2012
Time: 7:00 pm – 9:00 pm
Cost: Complimentary!

Suffer from Multiple Chemical Sensitivity (MCS)? Another Reason to Go Green!

The rate at which people are experiencing a barrage of health problems such as rashes, allergies, respiratory problems,  difficulties focusing mentally due to fragrances and a gambit of other chemical sensitivities to cleaning supplies, off-gassing clothes, furniture, varnishes, new carpets etc., is rising substantially.

There are at least two good reasons to consider purchasing organic clothing:  one, your clothing is intimately in contact with the largest (and arguably, most neglected) organ of the body, your skin!  Organic clothing has not been treated with harmful pesticides, insecticides and dyes, and is therefore not contributing to the pollution of your own body’s biological terrain.  Two, organic clothing made from natural fibers and materials are eco-friendly, are from renewable resources and is also *hopefully, socially conscious.

Persons who might benefit the most in making this conscious change are persons who have itchy, irritated skin, are constantly sneezing, coughing or congested, or persons who have multiple chemical sensitivities (MCS).  These persons may find organic clothing is an essential component of their self-care plan in reducing their exposure to the vast array of toxic chemicals that we are unknowingly (and now knowingly) exposing ourselves to every day.

When I think of organic clothing, the first eco-friendly material that pops into mind is hemp.  It was the original eco-fabric incorporated into t-shirts and denim.  It grows quickly and does not require the use of pesticides.  It is an environmentally positive crop, which means it actually improves the condition of the soil it grows in!

Organic cotton is grown without the use of herbicides, fertilizers or pesticides resulting in finer, naturally softer fabric with higher thread counts.

Jute, likely more commonly known to you as burlap or hessian, is produced from a plant that matures in less than 6 months and is therefore highly renewable.  Moreover, it is biodegradable and recyclable and a great alternative to plastic.  While this may not be your first choice for eco-friendly fibers against your skin because of its coarse texture, it is durable and breathable and is used in bags, shoes and jackets.  The camouflage suit (known as a ghillie suit) was initially used in the military for concealment.  For civilians, this material is used in camo jackets worn by hunters and serious paintball or airsoft participants.

Clothing (I digress a moment – as well as flooring in our homes) made from organic bamboo is another growing hot commodity amongst contemporary green clothing line designers.  It is a plant which you know grows readily in our households, without the need of harmful fertilizers and pesticides.  Material made from bamboo, does however undergo some degree of chemical processing by the time it gets to your wardrobe.

Lyocell fibers, whose trademark name is Tencel, are made from wood pulp cellulose.  Cellulose is a natural polymer found in the cells of all vegetation.  Although it is generally eco-friendly and environmentally sustainable, its soft and durable qualities making it desirable, it can undergo the same harsh chemical treatment conventional clothing undergoes from its natural fibers to your garments.

Other natural fabrics which are increasingly “all the rage” and are being incorporated into luxurious clothing designers’ green lines (and eventually percolates into the average persons’ wardrobe) include: aloe (Germany, Spain and Italy), modal (Beech tree cellulose), soy (“vegetable cashmere”) and yak (long-haired bovine that is indigenous to the Himalayan mountains).

We are becoming increasingly aware of the food we put into our bodies.  Perhaps it is also time we become conscious of the clothes we place against our skin.

Reconnecting to the Earth, Barefoot!

I was listening to an introduction on Earthing by David Wolfe.  For those of you who are new to this concept, it is this growing idea that speaks to how the widespread use of plastic- and rubber-soled shoes have contributed to our disconnection from the Earth and its natural electric charge.

While this idea may seem rather bogus at first, it is does offer an explanation as to why people feel so much better after kicking off their loafers and burying their toes in the sand, or after swimming in the cool ocean waters, or after having walked barefoot across a dewy lawn.  On a mechanistic level, it is thought that when we make direct contact with the earth’s surface, negatively-charged electrons from the earth are absorbed into the body and reduce free radicals and sites of inflammation (which are positively-charged).  It is only when these inflamed sites are neutralized that destructive action on healthy tissues is decreased.  If true, this simple concept would have incredible implications that may be utilized world-wide to help individuals experiencing chronic conditions such as Lyme disease, persons with chronic fatigue and even those with depressed mood disorders, autoimmune disorders, cardiovascular disorders, chronic pain and insomnia.

David Wolfe suggests that the advent of the modern day shoe is changing the natural infrastructure of our feet and ultimately our natural gait, and he has stated that he has noticed positive improvements since walking barefoot.  All that is needed is 20-30 minutes of direct contact with the earth on a regular basis!

For more information on this neat topic, you can read Earthing The Most Important Health Discovery Ever by Clinton Ober.

Spring Has Sprung…and So Have Allergies

It’s that time of year when patients waltz through the doors of my office, looking for natural alternatives for their over-the-counter (OTC) medicine cabinet staples – the most popular being Claritin, Allegra, Aerius, Reactine (oral antihistamines), Visine (antihistamine eye drops) and Sudafed (decongestant).

Not sure you suffer from allergies? Typical symptoms and signs can include an itchy nose, eyes, or mouth, sneezing, tearing of eyes, runny nose (post-nasal drip or rhinorrhea), swollen nasal cavities (rhinitis) and nasal and sinus congestion (rhinosinusitis). You may also get frontal headaches as a result of a sinus obstruction. If you also suffer from asthma, your symptoms may also include coughing and wheezing. Parents of little ones may also commonly report the chronic nasal obstruction in their child reliably precedes the complaints of a chronic inner ear infection (otitis media).

Seasonal allergens may include tree pollen (late-April through May), grasses and weeds (late-May through mid-July) and weed pollen (late-August through late-Fall). Perennial allergies affect sufferers year-round and are typically triggered by indoor allergens like dust mites, animal fur and dander, mould, feathers and/or cockroaches. Environmental exposure to pollution, perfume, aerosol sprays, cold air, humidity and second-hand cigarette smoke can further exacerbate seasonal and perennial allergies.

Interestingly, the allergies you experience are caused by a mishap or hypersensitivity of your immune system. While a properly functioning immune system is able to distinguish a true foreign invader from that of a “harmless” or innocuous substance, a person with a hypersensitive immune system will respond to the allergen with furry, initiate an immunological response when it comes in contact with IgE antibodies, and causes immune cells to release histamine, causing blood vessel dilation and smooth muscle contraction to varying degrees.

Several natural therapies that can block the allergic response or can target inappropriate inflammation at the root of allergic symptoms include:
Quercetin, a widely consumed flavonoid in the diet, and a potent inhibitor of allergic and inflammatory responses, which inhibits histamine release.
Butterbur, (latin name, Petasites hybridus) a shrub found in North America, Europe and Asia. Its antihistamine effect is comparable to Cetirizine, a popular antihistamine for seasonal allergic rhinitis minus unwanted sedative effects. It is also able improve lung ventilation and decrease bronchial reactivity.
Rosemary, whose medicinal constituent is rosmarinic acid, is able to inhibit alternate pathways of inflammation via the complement system. It is able to block cytokines IL-4 and IL-5 (protein messengers).

In addition to some of the above strategies, one of my natural favourites is the use of a netipot with warm saline water diluted with some of my favourite immunomodulating herbs, as guided by my patient’s concerns.

While OTC medications may be used to suppress unwanted spring time symptoms, they do not treat the underlying cause of allergies. Get a head-start on building your allergy strategy by asking yourself the following questions prior to your visit with your Naturopathic Doctor or other healthcare provider: What symptoms do I typically experience? When do my symptoms typically occur? Are my symptoms triggered while indoors or while outdoors? Before starting any course of treatment, particularly if you have moderate to severe allergies, it is important for you to begin treatment supervised by a regulated healthcare provider to ensure your safety.

Your Naturopathic Doctor can assist you in developing a plan that is most appropriate for you and may include management techniques, provide you with practical recommendations you can incorporate to alleviate and remove/avoid known triggers, as well as the suitability of sublingual immunotherapy to help desensitize your immune system to specific allergens.

Naturopathic Word of the Day: Sirtuins

Sirtuins are a class of longevity genes which function as universal regulators of the aging process in all living organisms. It appears that the activation of these genes extend life by initiating processes in the body which slow metabolism and increase oxygen uptake. The result: up to a 60% extension in life, which could mean a life span of up to 140-160 years of age. Can you imagine? Scientists have not completely unlocked all the secrets and minutiae implicated in the activation of this segment of our genetics. The potential to one day do so is impressive, to say the least. In the interim, you can always visit your neighbourhood Naturopathic Doctor to find out what changes you can make to slow down your cellular aging process.

Got Milk? Perhaps You Can Actually Skip It.

Part of the problem is that the milk you bring home from the grocery store comes from modern dairy farms, where milk is mass-produced 300 days of the year. For much of that time, these dairy cows are pregnant. The hormones contained in the cow’s milk increase as her pregnancy progresses.

The milk we drink today is quite unlike the milk our grandparents and great grandparents were drinking. Before the advent of mass-produced milk, cows were milked for human consumption approximately five months a year, and certainly not when cows were in their later stages of pregnancy, therefore minimizing the amount of estrogen in the milk consumed.

It is thought that cow’s milk accounts for 60-80% of the estrogens consumed (WOW!), further contributing this idea that we live in an “estrogen dominant” society. For comparison’s sake, it is thought that a dairy cow in the later stages of pregnancy excretes as much as 33 times as much estrogen (in the form of estrone sulfate) than its non-pregnant counterpart.

The link between heightened cancer risk and dietary estrogen was examined in 42 countries. Curiously, the rates of testicular cancer among men aged 30 to 39 are higher is places such as Switzerland and Denmark, where cheese is a national food, and lowest in Algeria and other countries where dairy is not widely consumed.

What can you do?

Of course there are not going to be any radical changes in the dairy industry and this of course is not the only factor that needs to be considered when examining the pros and cons of dairy consumption as we often think “milk does a body good”.

However, if you are consuming cow’s milk to get your daily dose of calcium, perhaps this is a reason to explore other sources – green leafy vegetables, carrots, and other tasty dairy substitutes (goat, almond, rice or soy milk).

Also, you can help yourself reduce your dietary estrogen consumption by swapping your homogenous milk (containing 3.25% fat) and even 2% milk for 1% milk or skim milk (as hormones reside in milk fat).

If you have great dairy alternatives you use, please let us know! We look forward to hearing your thoughts and recommendations!

Spring Forward to Better Sleep

I absolutely love spring.

What’s not to like?  Days become longer and warmer so you can spend more time with your family and loved ones.

It also means the start of daylight savings, rolling forward the clock and subsequently losing one precious hour of sleep. Adjusting to the lost hour of sleep in spring is harder than adjusting to the gained hour of sleep in the fall. If you are a person who has to drag yourself out of bed, this adjustment in time makes this process even more difficult, particularly if you are sleep-deprived.

The importance of sleep and its role in restoration, cannot be emphasized enough. If we look at shift workers, who epitomize irregular sleep patterns at the extreme, we see increased rates of cancer, cardiovascular diseases, digestive issues, irregular menstrual cycles, difficulty shedding weight, depressed moods, occupational injuries, decreased mental acuity, daytime sleepiness, impaired judgement etc.

24 hours without sleep is roughly equivalent to consuming enough alcohol to be considered legally drunk!

Not sure if you are sleep-deprived? A good question to ask yourself is do you wake up in the morning feeling rested?

Some tips for you to help improve your quality of sleep:
– Get to bed at a regular time each night, before midnight.
– Sleep in complete darkness.
– Keep the bedroom only for sleep so your mind associates it with sleep alone.
– Get exposure to ample amounts of sunlight to help entrain your circadian rhythms (biological clock).

Contrary to what they tell you, ordering a venti Cafe Americano from Starbucks or grabbing a Red Bull (or another energy drink) from your local convenience store is not an adequate substitute for quality sleep.

If you don’t snooze, you lose.