Tag Archives: Lifestyle Counselling

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.

Prone to Change of Season Coughs and Colds? “Weather-Proof” Your Immunity

I was just musing over a keynote presentation given by Dr. Kerry Bone at the Ontario Association of Naturopathic Doctors’ Annual November 2011 Convention, “Emerging Trends and Treatments in Naturopathic Medicine”. Every year this conference invites leading physicians and field-experts to share their knowledge on an array of hot topics.

To give you some background information on Dr. Bone, he is a highly experienced researcher and industrial chemist turned well-respected, leading phytotherapy (or herbal medicine) expert. He has maintained an active practice over the last 28 years in Australia and is a prolific author on herbal texts used world-wide and over 30 peer-reviewed scientific journals.

He spoke about how immunity is the “new” priority in the modern day patient. With every new epidemic that arises, be it severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS), avian flu, swine flu or an outbreak of an antibiotic-resistant bacteria such as clostridium difficile (C. diff), methicillin-resistant staphylococcus aureus (MRSA), a popular question becomes, what can Naturopathic Medicine offer?

Though winter is almost over, from an immune system stand point, we aren’t quite out of the woods just yet. As a Naturopathic Doctor, based on the character of, say your cough (is it dry, wet, spasmodic?) we can make recommendations on the botanical herbs most appropriate for you.

Some dry cough remedies may include glycerrhiza glabra, tussilago farfara, verbascum thapsus or althea officinalis. If you have a wet cough we may recommend sanguinaria canadensis, lobelia inflata or aspidosperma quebracho. If you present with more of a spasmodic cough, grindelia robustica, foeniculum officinale, hyoscyamus niger, actea racemosa, or prunus serotina may be most appropriate.  These botanical medicines are not only fantastic but they are also safe when used appropriately and while under supervision of your Naturopathic Doctor who is aware of your medical history [this point cannot be emphasized enough].

To illustrate my point, there are upper dose recommendations that should not be exceeded when using glycerrhiza glabra (you may know it as licorice) in patients with high blood pressure or hypokalemia (low potassium levels).  Tussilago (colt’s foot) is best used short term only because its medicinal constituent, pyrrolizidine alkaloids can be toxic to your liver when used for an extended period of time much like many other over-the-counter pharmaceuticals.  Additional considerations include a discussion about which part of the botanical herb is best (is it the roots, flowers, leaves)?  Is this better as a hot liquid extraction (ie. tea) or better as a cold infusion, or does it require alcohol extraction (ie. tincture)?  What is the appropriate dose?  What will inhibit its absorption?  What vitamins can enhance its delivery and efficacy?  What can it interact with?  Are you a woman of child-bearing age, who may require an alternative botanical?  Do you have an autoimmune disorder that must be taken into consideration?

There are many herbal medicines that may be used to strengthen your immune system so you are able to cut down the duration of your cold and flu, and the latest antibiotic epidemic.  The great thing is, as a Naturopathic Doctor, this is only one of several other modalities, or tools, at our disposal to help address your concerns.

We encourage you to come, chat with us about your concerns, so together we can investigate the most appropriate treatments for you and your family.

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.

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.

Welcome Whole Woman Network!

I am very pleased to announce I will be participating in the Whole Woman Network’s Healthy Lifestyle Walking Club initiative!

Please feel free to contact either myself or Diana and Juliet, Whole Woman Network co-founders for details about joining a walking group in Richmond Hill, Ontario.

Whole Woman Network is a lovely organization facilitated by women, for women!  They strive to educate, empower, inspire and engage women (very much in line with the philosophy Naturopathic Doctors take!), regarding health and well being.  For more information, visit Whole Woman Network.

Please stay tuned for more information regarding a complimentary presentation Dr. Judy Ancheta, ND will be giving on menopausal health at the Whole Woman’s Network Meeting in April 2012!

Laughter to Longevity

This past week, I attended a Laughter Yoga session with the Richmond Hill Walk-In Laughter Yoga Club at the McConaghy Community Centre.

For those of you who haven’t experienced laughtercise, essentially as a group, you go through various ice breaker activities essentially practicing simulated laughter.  For me, the best part was that a lot of the activities led to infectious, genuine laughter, especially watching and hearing those around me.

Did you know? When you laugh you use approximately 50 facial muscles and more than 300 distinct groups of muscles of the body! Amazing, isn’t it? What’s especially neat is the fact that the brain is not able to distinguish between simulated laughter versus self-induced, red-faced, belly-aching laughter (and for me, the occasional laugh interspersed with some snorting – I know it happens to you too!)

The scientist in me could not resist looking up some of the comprehensive laughter literature studies confirming quantifiable physiological, psychological, social and spiritual benefits to improve quality of life and enhance wellbeing.  Essentially, laughter is great for combating burnout (by decreasing cortisol, our stress hormone), helps persons who are grieving, it induces natural pain-killing effects, enhances muscle relaxation, improves oxygenation of your tissues, is heart protective, contributes to longevity and directly improves immune function (by increasing natural killer cells, or NK cells) to name but a few of its benefits.  Laughter is simply one of my favourite past times; I left the session feeling energized, centered and more calm.  The days that followed were probably some of my more efficient days.

As it turns out, we can’t practice laughter with others, if we can’t laugh at ourselves.  Half the benefit of laughter is sharing it — so do that!

Richmond Hill Community Events

OnRichmondHill is a great website to find out about events happening in our vibrant Richmond Hill Community.  The Director of the website, Marj Andre is a passionate individual looking to connect our fellow neighbours with one another.  I thoroughly encourage everyone to sign up for the weekly e-newsletter.  See you around town!