Tag Archives: Health

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!

Are You Overly Acidic?

Find it difficult to concentrate?  Suffer from recurrent viral infections, allergies and respiratory problems?  Fatigue quickly and recover slowly?  Do you feel pessimistic?  Notice a loss of enthusiasm, joy and motivation?  Experience chronic muscle stiffness, soreness or pain?  Have recurring headaches?  Notice areas of inflamed and itchy skin?  Have you been told you have brittle, or thinning bones?  Noticed a change in your perspiration and body odours (towards one that is more rancid)?

We live in a society that is constantly on the go and will unquestioningly pop that prescription “cure-all” magic pill.  Imagine for a moment however, if you could roll back the clock prior to your diagnosis of hypertension, diabetes, chronic kidney disease, heart disease, recurrent headaches, premenstrual dysphoria – and you had someone tell you your prescription could be wholesome food and a healthy lifestyle!  What would you do with that information?

I present to you the original happy meal

The primary force creating, or further contributing to many of the above-listed common illnesses is directly linked to your…drum roll please…you guessed it, diet!  As a Naturopathic Doctor, the vast majority of patients who walk in through our doors are persons with less-than-optimal health and are those who also have an acidic body terrain.

Fortunately, there is much you can do to turn an unhealthy acidic environment into a health-promoting alkaline environment. In fact, the most important step you can take in creating an ideal acid-alkaline balance in your body is to take control of your diet by making smart food choices.

Hind sight is always 20/20. What happens if you had the key to unlocking health and vitality, without the negative side-effects of pharmaceuticals, which consequently also require additional pharmaceuticals to offset your original prescription’s side effects? Would you unlock the door to your potential health and well-being?  Incorporation of an alkaline diet is not just a buzz word used by Naturopathic Doctors.  Ask your Naturopathic Doctor how you can achieve more of an alkaline body balance!

Fertility Woes

Just how many people are experiencing this, you ask?  Approximately 7.3 million American couples of child-bearing age have trouble conceiving a child.  This means reproductive concerns affect one out of every eight couples.  The reasons for reduced fertility are numerous and increasing, especially given that many young couples are having to put off starting a family because they are busy pursuing their academic careers and entering into the workforce much later than their parents or their grandparents.

My wife is going through fertility treatments, what can I do?

Your partner needs you!  Your involvement is key, even if you are not the one undergoing a treatment.  Depending on the fertility treatment your wife is undergoing, the procedure can be more invasive.  An easy way to offer support is by attending medical appointments with your partner as a lot of information can be disseminated in an appointment and can be overwhelming for one set of ears to absorb it all in one sitting!  Learning how to administer medications if required can go a long way in terms of support, as well as taking the time to just simply understand what your partner is being prescribed. Be an informed consumer and do your own research about various fertility tests and procedures. Local fertility support groups are valuable resources you may also wish to attend together.

I’m already seeing a Fertility Specialist, can I still work with a Naturopathic Doctor?

Yes! Your Naturopathic Doctor is quite happy to work with you and all other members of your healthcare team, so you can achieve all your goals.  The real benefit to seeking Naturopathic medical care even if you are skeptical, is that we can discuss strategies to improve your overall health, which in turn can only improve your chances of conceiving.

Supporting Husbands and Partners in the Quest to Overcome their Fertility Fear Factors

Reduced fertility in men today is far more common than people realize — the great news is that people are speaking about their health concerns more openly.  We are moving into an era where people are recognizing that reduced fertility in male partners is by no means indicative of a person’s virility or manliness – and this change in perception is freeing people and allowing them to seek care.  If you are someone who suspects you might have difficulty conceiving a child, both you and your partner are encouraged to seek Naturopathic Medical care, which at the very least, will be able to improve your overall health.

I have compiled a list of questions and answers for you, particularly since knowing what to expect and what questions to ask at your appointment can help you feel more at ease as you prepare for your appointment. Remember, whatever you discuss with your Naturopathic Doctor is kept confidential. There are no embarrassing questions you could possibly ask – so don’t hold back, and ask them all.

When should I see a healthcare provider?

Both partners should consider getting tested if pregnancy fails to occur after a year of regular, unprotected sexual intercourse.  A comprehensive work-up with your Naturopathic Doctor, Family Doctor or Fertility Specialist can can help uncover the causes of infertility, and can also detect other potentially serious medical problems as well.

What topics might my ND want to speak with me about?

There are several factors that may affect fertility that will be important to discuss.  Your Naturopathic Doctor will likely ask you about frequency and timing of sexual intercourse, duration of infertility and any previous fertility events, childhood illnesses and any problems in development, past or current illnesses (diabetes, cancer, previous surgeries), sexual history (including any sexually transmitted diseases), any exposure to toxins (such as chemicals or radiation in the workplace or home), history of any medications and allergies and any family history of reduced fertility.

What treatments may be prescribed?

Treatments are geared towards understanding what the cause of your problems are.  Your Naturopathic Doctor will offer many suggestions, some of which will include an examination of your nutritional intake, and a discussion around lifestyle and environmental factors that may be contributing to decreased fertility (ie. quitting smoking, reducing heavy drinking).  You may be counselled to incorporate the following nutrients  to increase sperm count, improve sperm quality and motility as needed: essential fatty acids, zinc, vitamin E, selenium, glutathione and arginine.  If you have a low sperm count, it may be recommended that you pace your sexual activity to accumulate sperm.

Going for a fertility evaluation can provoke a lot of anxiety, however your fertility issues can only be dealt with by seeking help.  Don’t let a fear of having your suspicions confirmed deter you; it is in your best interest to know what it is you are up against and what it will take to overcome those obstacles, particularly if you or your partner are in a time-sensitive situation.  You have nothing to lose and everything to gain by exploring your fertility care options – so do just that!

The Daddy of All Problems: Focusing on Sperm

What are the most common causes of reduced fertility in men?

A common question male patients have is whether fertility testing is invasive.  Let’s face it, for many men, medical testing (nevermind fertility testing) can conjure up some invasive, faint-worthy examination procedures. Testing, however, is usually no worse than a regular medical check-up with your family doctor. Depending on the specifics of your case, your Naturopathic Doctor may recommend, if you haven’t had it completed already, routine blood work check, a sonographic evaluation of your scrotum (which checks for any physical signs that may be causing reduced fertility), and a semen analysis (which checks sperm concentration, morphological features and sperm motility).

A Sanctuary for Life’s Travellers: Hill House Hospice

This past weekend it was my pleasure to help with the Richmond Hill Beaded Art Gallery Spring 2012 Show and Sale at the Thomas Boyton House whose proceeds were being donated to York Region’s Hill House Hospice.

As you enter the house, there was literature and pamphlets displayed by the door.  I was able to read some of their stories, and was really moved by the various written accounts. This palliative care home constantly has events running and I encourage you to get involved in whatever capacity you are able.

Are Genetically Modified Foods, Modifying Health?

I just watched an absolutely mind-blowing movie found on YouTube called The Future of Food.  This movie comments on gene patenting and the introduction of genetically-modified foods (perhaps more correctly so, its integration), into our food chain.

The initial intent of introducing genetically-modified organisms (GMOs) was to assist the speed and cost-effectiveness of growing crops to help feed the world.  One alarming consequence that arose from the work on GMOs, however, was that genetically-modified plants led to the development of the terminator gene, whereby crops have been programmed to “commit suicide” after one harvest season.  These genetically-modified plants produce sterile seeds that cannot be used the following season.  Scarily enough, this movie raised important questions for consideration – what would happen if these terminator genes contaminated other crops around the world?  What long-term effects do GMOs cause when consumed by our livestock?  What happens to the insects that pollinate these genetically-modified plants?

Epigenetics is the study of heritable alterations in gene expression caused by mechanisms other than changes in DNA sequence.  To relate this idea back to the discussion of our agriculture, while organic produce may be loosely “indistinguishable” from GMO produce at quick glance, there are undeniable differences between it and our organic produce and this is seen in subsequent generations of genetically-modified plants (it may look like “regular” crop and produce seeds, but seeds from these genetically-modified plants are not viable and therefore unable to produce future crop).

The food we are consuming is often over-looked as playing a contributory role in the progression of disease.  Remember, the body is amazing at being able to take a high-level of “abuse” before it reaches a tipping point, whereby illness manifests.  Just because you are able to buy it off the store shelf, does not mean it is a food you should be eating.  The fact of the matter is that we do not know what the long-term effects genetically-modified foods will have on our bodies, on our health or the health of our families.  Unfortunately, we cannot forecast what unintended consequences may come from these food choices.

My advice: choose quality foods over quantity.  Purchase the best quality food you are able, opting for a food that is not genetically-modified (as indicated by its SKU code), and is local and organic.  You owe it to yourself to consider the effect GMOs will have on human epigenetics and epigenetic inheritance, which means that what you eat can affect the health and wellness of your grandchildren, great grandchildren and great great grandchildren.  A major advantage of choosing locally-produced crop is that it is harvested when it is at its peak nutritive value.  According to this movie, local food travels an average of 50 miles (80 km), whereas food in the average supermarket is said to travel an average of 1500 miles (2414 km).  To give you a better appreciation of what that means, the longest east-west distance of Toronto is approximately 43 km, and for Ontario it is 1690 km.  The bottom line – the nutritional content of your food decreases the further your food has to travel before it reaches the produce isle at your grocery store and subsequently, your family’s dinner table.

Love Your Body, Change Your Life

I attended the Ontario Association of Naturopathic Doctors (OAND) Spring Conference and Annual General Meeting last weekend.  Naturopathic Doctors from all over Ontario gathered to discuss the changes surrounding the set up of a new College of Naturopathic Doctors, with expected proclamation in March 2013.  The Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care (MOHLT) recognizes the care Naturopathic Doctors are providing to their patients is helping alleviate many issues associated with our publicly-funded health care system and Naturopathic Doctors everywhere are proud to be part of the solution!

Naturopathic Medicine Week in Ontario this year May 7-13, 2012!


I am excited that Dr. Natasha Turner, ND will be speaking about her new book, The Carb Sensitivity Program to help patients discover which carbs will curb cravings, control appetite and banish belly fat to stave off chronic diseases such as diabetes and cardiovascular disease.

Dr. Turner is the best selling author of The Hormone Diet and The Super-Charged Hormone Diet, two must-read books.

Details:  Glenn Gould Studio, Toronto, Ontario
Date:  May 9, 2012
Time:  7:00 pm – 9:00 pm
Cost: $15 (it’s a steal!)

For tickets, you can purchase them at the Roy Thomson Hall Box Office or call the Box Office at (416) 872-4255.

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.