Aug 7

The Fastest Test for Digestive Function: The Indican Test

Did you know there is a simple, in office test that can tell you about several key factors impacting your gut, including:

  • stomach acid production
  • production of digestive enzymes
  • malabsorption
  • bacterial overgrowth

I bet you didn’t! Too few doctors are using this simple test to diagnose digestive concerns (and it can also be used to monitor improvement over time).

How the Test Works

The Indican test (sometimes called the Obermeyer test) is a very simple test. Indican is a compound (technically an indole) produced by bacteria in the gut when they eat a specific amino acid, tryptophan. Most of this indican is excreted in our bowel movements, but some is absorbed, processed by the liver and then excreted in our urine.

In a healthy individual only trace amounts of indican are found in a urine sample. However, if there are dysfunctions in the gut we can find large amounts of indican in the urine.

Causes of a Positive Indican Test

A positive Indican test can point to some likely causes of digestive dysfunction. It won’t tell us which one the problem is, but gives us guidance as to how to best put together a plan to understand it.

Possible causes of a positive indican test include:

  1. Low stomach acid, causing poor digestion of proteins
  2. Insufficient production of digestive enzymes, especially proteases and peptidases that break down proteins
  3. Malabsorption of protein
  4. Leaky gut, or disruption of the gut lining
  5. Overgrowth of bacteria in the small or large intestines
  6. Excessive intake of protein in the diet
  7. Celiac disease

Why Should I Do an Indican Test

The best reason to do an Indican test is to help you and your Naturopathic Doctor determine next steps in developing a plan to resolve digestive issues. If you experience gas, bloating, cramping, diarrhea or constipation, it can be difficult to determine the underlying cause. The Indican test can help to point towards some possible causes, and possible treatments.

Other conditions that can be the result of digestive imbalances or imbalanced bacteria (dysbiosis) include:

  • Constipation
  • Diarrhea
  • Bloating or gas
  • Fatigue
  • Acne, eczema and psoriasis
  • Headaches
  • Autoimmune disease
  • Mood swings, depression and anxiety
  • Brain fog and difficulty concentrating
  • Muscle weakness or soreness
  • Joint pain
  • Frequent colds or poor immune function
  • Weight gain

The Indican test can also help you to monitor the effectiveness of the treatments used. If you support your stomach acid production and your Indican test normalizes, then you’ve got the right treatment in place!

How To Do an Indican Test 

The Indican test is a simple urine test done in your Naturopathic Doctor’s office. All that is needed is a urine sample and the Indican preparation. To prepare for your test you will need to:

  1. Avoid alcohol for 24 hours prior to the test
  2. Take no supplements that contain iodine (such as a multivitamin, prenatal or thyroid support supplement) for 3 days prior to testing
  3. Eat a meal that contains protein the night before the test

Your results are compared to a colour chart to determine the amount of Indican present in the sample.

What if My Results are Positive?

A positive Indican test is a starting off point for further investigation into your gut health. Whether you have digestive symptoms or not, a positive Indican tells us you need to look at how well this system is functioning.

Your Naturopathic Doctor will guide you to the next steps for you. This may include optimizing stomach acid, replenishing digestive enzymes, probiotic supplementation or supports to heal the gut. It may also mean further testing for SIBO, or a comprehensive digestive stool analysis (CDSA).

Now Available at the Integrative Health Institute

Indican testing is now available through our Naturopathic Doctors at the Integrative Health Institute. Book a meet and greet appointment to discuss if this is the test you’ve been looking for to assess your gut health.

Dr. Lisa Watson delivers health care that supports balanced and attainable health at all ages and stages of life. Of primary importance is health care that nurtures the body, mind, spirit, family and community. As a Naturopathic Doctor and mother, Lisa believes that health care and a healthy lifestyle are intrinsically linked and that each serves to support the other. Dr. Watson practices at the Integrative Health Institute in Downtown Toronto.

Check out Dr Watson’s blog: www.drlisawatson.com

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Jul 30

Self-Help To Go

In our now now now society, we want everything on demand: our internet, our Ubers, our full seasons of TV shows (thanks, Netflix!). When it comes to our mental health, I advise that patience is a virtue; changes are absolutely possible and attainable when you put the time and effort into the process, and the results are typically long lasting, sustainable, and relieving.

That said, welcome to your cheat sheet for quick-acting, on-the-go mental health tips that can help you feel better in times of stress (think: awkward social situations, turbulent flights, stressful work crises, moments of poor self-esteem). Consider this 3-pack of techniques when you need a little help and a counselling session isn’t possible. Lauren’s Top Tips are here to save the day!

  1. Breathe. Sounds simple, doesn’t it?

    In a moment of anxiety or stress, breathing is often the first thing to go out the window. Big mistake. Huge. Our breath is a physiological superhero that allows us to regulate stress hormones (oh hello adrenaline), slow down a stress-related elevated heart rate, and help clear our heads for more helpful self-talk. This technique is easy to master. I suggest practicing for even one to two minutes per day; then it will be second nature at times when you need it. You want to focus on slow, controlled breathing, preferably (but not mandatory) breathing in through your nose and out through your mouth, for a count of 4-5 seconds per each inhale and exhale. Think of a bow gliding along the strings of a violin, slow and smooth, rather than breathing in quickly, holding the breath for a few seconds, and then forcibly exhaling. You also want to focus on filling up the lower lobes of your lungs, as if you were trying to fill up your belly with air. Breathing shortly, into the top of your chest, will only increase feelings of anxiety. Try this for about 10 breaths and notice how you feel. I’m betting you will notice a sense of calm and control that is invaluable during times of stress.

  2. Change the conversation.

    Now that you’ve relaxed your body and mind with your breath, it’s time to work on your self-talk. This is the running conversation you have with yourself, the little voice in your head, that is going on during all your waking hours. Pay attention: what kinds of thoughts are taking up most of the dialogue? If you’re feeling stressed, anxious, or full of self-doubt, I’m guessing they are negative thoughts. Shut these down right now. Not only are they wickedly unhelpful, but they are also likely untrue, at least to some degree. Attempt to find even a more realistic point of view (positively leaning) to bring your focus to. Finding it a challenge? Channel your best friend and imagine what he or she may say to you about the situation. It’s doubtful that she would say “you’re right, you’re done for!” and more likely that she would calm your nerves by offering a solution or a realistic point of view that will help calm you and set you up to finding a solution to the problem or help you feel better.

  3. Mindful reminder. Remember the popular expression “stop and smell the roses”?

    It’s an oldie but goodie for a reason – during our hectic days, we often forget the five senses that make us human and help us connect to our sense of self and ability to exist. The buzz word for this is “mindfulness”, and its popularity has to do with its effectiveness; so why not give it a shot? The easiest introduction to mindfulness is to start with eating a food. The idea is to experience it slowly with each of your senses to gain a fuller appreciation for what you’re consuming. This leads to feeling much more satisfied in every way. Let’s practice together: you just went to one of those insane ice cream parlors that have popped up everywhere. Instead of downing your treat in a millisecond while Instagramming the pics of your dessert (you know who you are), let’s focus on savouring it with each of your senses. Sight: how beautiful is this cone?! Look at the creamy-looking ice cream, the colourful sprinkles, the way the one drip runs down the cone, the intricate pattern of the waffle cone. What do you notice? Smell: take a whiff. Can you smell that Dutch chocolate? Does the cone have that fresh-baked smell? Taste: go in for that first bite. How do the flavours mix? Do they complement each other? Ooh, that hit of sea salt in the caramel is a surprise! Sound: go for the slurp. Bite that cone and listen to that snap and crunch. Tactile touch: how does that waffle cone feel in your hand? How does that ice cold treat feel on your tongue? Notice the smoothness of the ice cream compared with the crunchy toppings. When you bring your attention to a single bite using all of your senses, you truly experience that ice cream. Yours is the only “like” that truly matters. (Pro tip: try this mindfulness exercise with more than just food. Run through your senses as you wash your hair, go for a walk, or play with your dog. One caveat: leave out the sense of taste if you’re not eating!)

There you have it, folks! A little self-help to go. I hope you enjoy these quick tips – they are faster-acting than a Redbull. And now if you’ll excuse me, I have to Google-map the nearest Sweet Jesus.

**Disclaimer: The advice in this article is for informational purposes only and does not replace the diagnosis/treatment of a licensed medical or mental health professional.**


Lauren Berger is a Registered Social Worker Psychotherapist providing counselling and psychotherapy at IHI. Check her out at www.laurenberger.ca, drop her a line at lauren@laurenberger.ca, follow her on Twitter: @LaurenBergerMSW, or sneak a peek at her Instagram: laurenberger_msw.

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Jul 27

IV Vitamin Treatment for Athletes

Today’s world is demanding. We expect our body to perform. Foundational treatments provide long-standing results but take time to implement. Offering nutrient replacement via intravenous drip provides doses that can bypass the digestive system giving us results and the luxury of time to work on those foundational skills.

What is an IV Vitamin Treatment?

Introducing vitamins and minerals into your system via Intravenous Injections is intended to support energy and rehydrate cells.

What are the benefits of IV Vitamin treatment?

Intravenous administration of nutrients can achieve concentrations that may not be obtainable with oral, or even intramuscular (IM), administration. Allowing for these higher concentrations can achieve pharmacological effects. For example, some nutrients like magnesium may cause side effects such as diarrhea when taken orally at higher doses. Nutrients being taken orally may be subject to absorption restrictions and renal clearance[i] which an IV treatment can bypass.

IV nutrient therapy may be more effective than oral or IM treatment for correcting intracellular nutrient deficits since some nutrients are present at much higher concentrations in the cells than in the serum[ii].

Supporting your immune system can help prevent colds and illness prior to an event, keeping you in the game!

What nutrients go into an IV treatment?

You have options. IV treatments can be presented as a single ingredient or a cocktail of ingredients. These ingredients can be custom designed to suit your health and performance needs.

A common formula used for IV treatments is the Meyers. This cocktail includes magnesium, calcium, B-vitamins (including B12, B5, and B-6), B-Complex, selenium and vitamin C, and it has been found effective in improving athletic achievement.

Glutathione is often an IV treatment done as a single ingredient. Recent studies have shown a possible link between Glutathione and increased stamina. Glutathione is involved in the synthesis and repair of DNA, assists the recycling of vitamins C and E, blocks free radical damage, enhances the antioxidant activity of vitamin C, facilitates the transport of amino acids, and plays a critical role in detoxification[iii].

Amino Acids and other sport-specific nutrients can be added into work on mental focus, muscle repair and growth and cellular energy.:

How could IV Vitamin Therapy enhance my athletic performance?

Whether you are competing at a high level or committed to a regular exercise routine IV Vitamin Therapy works to improve performance by:

  • Strengthening the body
  • Reduce fatigue
  • Provide anti-inflammatory effects
  • Shorten the time it takes you to bounce back after exercise
  • Maintain a strong immune system post-exercise stress
  • Boost metabolism of carbohydrates, proteins, and fats
  • Rehydrate cells
  • Top up levels of the minerals, vitamins, and electrolytes that can be depleted by strenuous exercise

Which is the best IV Vitamin Therapy to improve my athletic performance?

After assessing your symptoms, labs, and requirements, adjustments can be made to your formula making it specific to your needs.

What is required before I receive my treatment?

An initial intake is required before treatment can be administered to determine which ingredients are safe and effective for you.

A full blood work is required as well to ensure your safety, proper functioning of your kidneys and liver and address any other areas of deficiency. The labs required are a CBC with differential, urea, creatinine, sodium, potassium, chloride, calcium, magnesium, AST/ALT, ALK, Albumin, Bilirubin, G6PD. Labs specific to any conditions you may have may be suggested as well.

What are the side effects?

High dose intravenous vitamin C appears to be remarkably safe[iv] (for those that are not G6PD deficient).

Common side effects of The Myers’ Cocktail are it often produces a sensation of heat, particularly with large doses or rapid administration. Too rapid administration of magnesium can cause hypotension, which can lead to lightheadedness or even fainting. Patients receiving a Myers’ should report the onset of excessive heat so the IV can be adjusted accordingly[v]. Patients with kidney, liver and cardiovascular disease are prone to more side effects.

Does everyone qualify for IVIT?

No, not everyone should have IV therapy.

  •  In circumstances where it is unsafe for an IV to be infused, oral supplementation can be considered.
  • In circumstances when the same therapeutic goal can be achieved orally, the risk-benefit to the individual needs to be considered and oral therapy is recommended.
  • Some IV substances and methods of administration are prohibited according to the World Anit-Doping Agency. To view WADA guidelines click here.

How do I book my Athletic Performance IV Vitamin Treatment?

If you are interested in finding out if IV therapy is a viable option for your health, book your initial consultation today! Dr. Tanner offers Complimentary 15 minute consultations for you to see if you are a good match.

You can book by clicking here. Or calling the Integrative Health Institute 416.260.6038

Disclaimer The information provided is for informative purposes and is not intended to substitute professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.

References

[i] http://www.altmedrev.com/archive/publications/7/5/389.pdf
[ii] http://www.altmedrev.com/archive/publications/7/5/389.pdf
[iii] https://www.hammernutrition.com/knowledge/endurance-library/intravenous-glutathione-enhances-cycling-time-trial-performance/
[iv] http://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0011414
[v] http://www.altmedrev.com/archive/publications/7/5/389.pdf

Dr. Jennifer Tanner, has a broad, evidence-based practice with a focus on sports and performance-based medicine. Being a marathon runner and having been a competitive equestrian, an active lifestyle is important. Dr. Tanner uses a variety of tools including Acupuncture and Clinical Nutrition, putting an emphasis on “food as medicine” and addressing the root causes of inflammation. In conjunction with the Integrative Health team, Dr. Tanner is thrilled to help people achieve an optimal state of health and pursue their performance based health goals!

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Jul 23

An Imperfect Guide to Live Your X

As a practitioner at IHI—in acknowledgement of the clinic’s tenth anniversary—I have been contemplating my understanding of our celebration slogan, ‘Live your ten’…

Live your ten.

Automatically I think ‘the perfect 10’. There is a story told in my family about me as a little girl, learning to tie my shoes, and crying when the loops weren’t symmetrical because “it’s not perfect”. As an adult I have worked hard to let go of those perfectionist tendencies, seeing perfection for what it is: a completely arbitrary and, therefore, unattainable thing that keeps me stuck in inaction if I let it.

But, in looking at the Roman numeral, I am able to move past my old nemesis and initial rejection of the concept, and find inspiration for what it means to me.

X…

‘X’ marks the spot. Like a mark on a trail or a mall map, it is indicative of ‘you are here’. In every day, I try to remember that I am in fact here, and to be present in each moment with gratitude for it.

‘X’ is the unknown entity in a math equation. That thing for which we are searching. Unlike math, in which that calculation has a linear formula to find it, in life it is seldom that straightforward. In life, we tend to fear the unknown. And, for those brave enough to embrace it, the path to finding ‘it’ is rarely (never?) linear.

‘X’ is the symbol of multiplication. Whatever is your greatest gift to share, let it shine, grow, and multiply! The truly important things in life can be multiplied by giving them away. Kindness. Love. Compassion. Empathy. Everything that we need to make ourselves and each other better can be multiplied by sharing.

Principles that sound very simple. Be present. Embrace the unknown. Multiply what you have. Simple in theory, but often forgotten in the busyness of life, or neglected as ‘easier said than done’…

Yet it is important to note that life’s questions have many answers (which often lead to more questions!), but also contains unlimited opportunities for continual growth. And, despite the lack of formulas or algorithms, the true joy in living your ‘ten’ can be found with curiosity for where your trail may lead, and what is to be learned along the way.

So, may you remain curious…of where you are and where you are headed. Present in each moment with all that is within you, ready to experience whatever life has to offer, and offer whatever you have to the experience. Being willing to explore the infinite definitions of ‘perfect’, and find the ‘X factor’ within yourself, which makes you truly unique and special.

Shannon is a Physical Therapist with an interest in helping her patients achieve holistic healing from whatever ails them and achieve optimum functioning in pursuing their passions.

Shannon graduated from the University of Alberta with a Bachelor of Physical Education with distinction, and followed with a Master of Science in Physical Therapy. She is licensed with the College of Physical Therapists of Ontario and is a member of the Canadian Physiotherapy Association.

Shannon has trained extensively in John F. Barnes Myofascial Release (MFR), and this is the focus of her practice. She has worked with patients with mental illness, has trained in women’s health treatment, and is a sports enthusiast; MFR allows her a means to assist with all of these issues in a meaningful way. She has also worked across the lifespan, with experience addressing the health concerns of older adults. Through her experience in work and in life, she has come to understand that there is more to healing than just the body. While physical health is paramount, the roles of the mind and the soul in health and healing are of equal importance.

Shannon is excited for the opportunity to work with the talented team at IHI, and looks forward to working with you, in wherever the journey may lead.

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Jul 11

When Soccer Imitates Life: Diving in Soccer through a Nuanced Lens of Neuroscience

In the midst of World Cup fandom, a number of interesting human behaviours come to light—both amidst players and fans. In watching how it all plays out, I have come to notice and try to explain some of the reactions and tactics that I have seen unfold.

One of the main issues that tends to draw the most intense reactions is diving. While it is a hot button for fans and opposing players, there are a few things to consider.

When it comes to emotions, there is a range of 34 000 emotions that we can have. Most of us don’t; we limit ourselves to 5-10—the ones that we are the most familiar and comfortable with. Emotion is defined as energy in motion, with feelings being how we respond to it.

For a sport as ethno-driven as soccer, a lot is on the line. From an evolutionary biology perspective, environment and culture dictate behaviour. In attempting to bring glory to your country and your family, actions that some may see as appalling over-acting, may serve the bigger purpose of an advantage during the game and lead to victory. Yet, it can also be detrimental in turning people off of the game.

But from the pain science perspective, not every ‘dive’ may be as fake as it seems. From this side, it is not as much about the brutality of the tackle or the extent of the injury, but rather the perceived threat of the attack, which is influential in the response and beyond the control of the individual. Someone with a previous ankle injury, for example, may have a massive neurophysiological pain response that seems disproportionate to the input of the actual contact. Adding onto that the incredible pressure of the situation, and the fact that loss or failure may also be perceived as threatening, and this response may be heightened even further.

Imagine that you have sustained a whiplash injury, for example. You may have basically recovered, but one day you flip your hair in the shower and experience a massive amount of neck pain. Many people experience some form of this scenario, when a relatively innocuous incident “causes” an injury. You may do this small activity repetitively (which may also be a contributing factor), but consider also that the subsequent “re-injury” is also more likely if you are experiencing an increase in stress in other areas of your life, like pressure at work or tension in your relationships.

Considering how ramped up these players are in the intensity of the spotlight and expectations, it would not be unexpected to have hyper-emotional or over-reacted physical responses—not just to physical play, but to trash-talking as well. For boys raised in a cultural subset in which they have been told to toughen up, where tenacity and truculence have been prized, to then be in a situation where millions of people are judging and scrutinizing you—it’s hard to imagine how any one of us would react in the face of failing to perform, when so many people are counting on you. There may be a subconscious protective mechanism also in which if people think you are injured, they may judge you less harshly. But from a performance standpoint, if a player is to ‘get up for the game’, that is going to set his nervous system above baseline and make rationality less likely in any adverse circumstances.

For fans, somehow, rationality is also at a premium. We start to lose ownership of our emotions; we personalize the reffing and the diving. Our brains have implicit blind spots, in what is known as a ‘self- selection bias’, in which we see only fowls that affect our team. We make it political, and start to embody an ‘us vs. them’ mentality. We become radically less responsible for our own behaviour, and begin to identify so much with the team that what they are experiencing comes to mirror our own struggles. Once that self-selection bias is triggered, as it is a closed loop system, it feeds that chain reaction of outrage, or whatever is your pattern, and can take you into default-mode and down the rabbit hole. For example, if you feel unappreciated at work, you feel the ref is not appreciating your team, so you feel there is systemic corruption working against you on both the local and global scale.

Try being able to watch and enjoy a soccer game with compassion for the players—strive for your own vertical development and upgrade your emotional operating system while observing them in action. Put yourself in their cleats and imagine the pressure they are under, and the discipline it has taken to perform at such a high level. Allow yourself to appreciate the unifying aspects of such a global experience, and the simple intention of the beautiful game amidst the complex skills and even more complex political environment. Be detached enough to audit your own responses and practice emotional mastery. And, when Ronaldo scores another goal and takes his shirt off, we all just need to admit that feeling…it’s jealousy.

Dr. Tabrizi is a chiropractor, osteopath and a passionate member of both the local and scientific community, whose goal is to teach that the pursuit of optimal health and wellness is much more than being symptom-free. His practice is rooted in the philosophy of treating the person rather than just treating the illness or ailment. As a result of his interdisciplinary training, Dr. Tabrizi has developed a neuroscience-based therapeutic education approach to treating his patients, focusing on healing illness from a wider perspective, placing equal responsibility on patient as well as practitioner. Dr. Tabrizi aims to educate his patients and provide them with the tools and framework needed to integrate pain management and healthy living into the fabric of their everyday lives.

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Jun 25

NSAID Overuse

The things you didn’t know about your pain medication that could hurt you.

After winning a 24-hour track run in record time, Stephanie Ehret should have been celebrating. Instead she was in the hospital being treated for rhabdomyolosis[i]. This is a dangerous breakdown of muscle that can damage your kidneys. Turns out she wasn’t following the recommended guidelines for Ibuprofen usage and took one too many during her race. This in conjunction with the athletic overload was too much for her kidneys to handle. Yes, this is an extreme case of overuse of pain medication, but is it? There is no doubt that this class of medication works and works well. However, in the face of situations like Stephanie’s, we can all use this as a reminder to check in on our usage and proper dosages.

I get it. You are busy. You have goals. You have meetings, deadlines, work and life demands and you need to be on your game. You don’t have time to deal with a headache or an injury, so you reach into your purse for an Advil. You think, just let me get through this meeting, finish this race, just one more day and then I will deal with it. But that day rarely comes.

Let’s review some of the common side effects of this medication and what you need to know.

What are NSAIDs?

Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAID) are medications that relieve or reduce pain. The most popular examples of this group of drugs are aspirin and ibuprofen[ii]. Inflammation is the immune system’s response to infection and injury. Heat, redness, swelling, and pain are noticeable signs of inflammation. This class of drug helps to stop or reduce these inflammatory signals.

NSAIDs are widely used and often used in a manner that increases the risk of serious side effects[iii]. Studies show that NSAID use could be hurting you more than you realize.

If overused, NSAIDs can cause great harm to patients. In fact, these drugs are one of the leading causes of hospitalization among patients admitted for adverse or side effects of medications.[iv] For some, continuing to put your symptoms aside may lead to a more serious condition that forces you to stop and deal with the problem.

Heads Up Runners:

Ever see that commercial where the person has an injury, pops an over the counter pain reliever and then goes for a run? Unless you are an Olympic Athlete, running through the pain, isn’t always the best plan of action.

Anti-inflammatories can delay the healing process. If you have an injury that is taking a long time to heal it might be time to investigate other options.

Almost half of all runners take NSAID medication. Like Stephanie, they don’t realize the risks involved or understand that excessive or inappropriate NSAID use during such events could pose considerable potential risks to runners’ health.[v] Especially those with already elevated blood pressure or other pre-existing conditions.

What Are NSAIDs Commonly Used For?

Cramps, aches, pains, musculoskeletal injuries, arthritis, headaches, swelling and fevers.

Potential Interactions and Side Effects to Watch For:Calendar

Mood

NSAIDs have the potential to interact with another commonly prescribed class of anti-depressant drugs called SSRI’s (Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitor’s such as Paxil, Celexa and Prozac.) One study discovered that the combination of NSAID and SSRI greatly increased the chance of gastrointestinal adverse effects; this is particularly worrisome, as SSRIs are usually prescribed for daily use, and people commonly take over the counter NSAID medication daily, or even several times a day, as well[vi].

Fertility

New research suggests NSAIDs have been shown to inhibit ovulation and reduce progesterone levels in young women, which could seriously undermine fertility[vii]. This is especially important for females choosing to conceive in their 30’s and 40’s.

Tummy

If you already have a peptic ulcer, NSAID use may not be your choice of pain management. Long-term or high-dose use of NSAIDs could lead to ulcer development in the gut. NSAIDs reduce the actions of prostaglandins, which reduces inflammation. This is good when looking to manage pain and inflammation; however, prostaglandins also protect the stomach lining by helping it to produce mucus. In this way, NSAIDs leave the stomach open to the effects of acid[viii].

Cardiovascular Health

A 2017 study shocked researchers with its results indicating that all NSAIDs can statistically increase your risk for a myocardial infarction, or heart attack. This is most serious for people who have experienced a heart attack, have other heart problems or have risk factors for cardiovascular events. This correlation may be most significant with higher doses of medication[ix].

What is the Answer?

It is important to have this discussion with your doctor to determine if usage is safe, what a safe dosage might be and what alternatives might exist. Keep in mind:

  • Stopping NSAID use suddenly can also pose a risk. The body’s reaction to such a cut off could make blood clots more likely, adding to the risk of heart attack or stroke. Instead, a person who is regularly using NSAIDs should talk with his or her doctor about the best way to taper off[x].
  • Stay within the recommended dosages.

YOU are the answer. There comes a point that you simply have to “make time” to deal with our symptoms before you land yourself in the hospital like Stephanie.

Naturopathic Medicine provides an opportunity to dig a little deeper, find out why you are suffering and treat the root cause. Acupuncture, Clinical Nutrition and Supplemental support are just a few of the treatment options you have for pain and injury management.

The information relayed in this article is not intended to create fear. It is important to have an awareness of your symptoms and what you are putting into your body. If you are concerned about your NSAID intake, this is an important discussion to have with your Medical and Naturopathic Doctor.

The information provided is for informative purposes and is not intended to substitute professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.

References

[i] http://www.nbcnews.com/id/37341523/ns/health-pain_center/t/common-pain-meds-can-put-you-world-hurt/#.WyPTLYpKjIU

[ii] https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/179211.php

[iii] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/27865294

[iv] https://www.physiciansweekly.com/the-overuse-of-nsaids/

[v] https://www.g2gultra.com/images/SAJSM%20495.pdf

[vi] https://www.physiciansweekly.com/the-overuse-of-nsaids/

[vii] https://www.medscape.com/viewarticle/846552

[viii] https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/179211.php

[ix] https://www.spine-health.com/treatment/pain-medication/potential-risks-and-complications-nsaids

[x] https://www.spine-health.com/treatment/pain-medication/potential-risks-and-complications-nsaids

Dr. Jennifer Tanner, has a broad, evidence based practice with a focus on sports and performance based medicine. Being a marathon runner and having been a competitive equestrian, an active lifestyle is important. Dr. Tanner uses a variety of tools including Acupuncture and Clinical Nutrition, putting an emphasis on “food as medicine” and addressing the root causes of inflammation . In conjunction with the Integrative Health team, Dr. Tanner is thrilled to help people achieve an optimal state of health and pursue their performance based health goals!

 

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Jun 22

The Ultimate Orgasm: A Guide to Inhabiting the Flow State

We have about 28, 000 days in our lives, on average…give or take. We have 60,000 thoughts a day. “No wonder we feel like we’re going nuts!”

Many of us may go through phases of feeling stuck in the repetitive nature of our days, wondering what it is all for, trying to navigate either situations that are not ideal, or simply our own mind traps and perceptions.

Tom Peters said, “Intelligent people can always come up with an intelligent reason for doing nothing.”

We’re all craving something—even a fleeting moment where we feel we are in the right place and we are meant to be doing what we are doing. Athletes call it “the zone”, musicians call it “the pocket”, spiritualists call it “being one with the universe”. It is the flow state—and those of us more average in nature call it elusive.

But what is it really? Is it the neurophysiological orgasm that it is made out to be? And is there a tactical and meaningful way that we can prep our physiology to receive this state?

Neurologically, the flow state is characterized by transient hypo-frontality—meaning simply that it is neither driven by intentional thought nor emotions and background noise. Top-down processing begins with the prefrontal cortex where conscious, albeit repetitive, thoughts and actions emerge—that is why even the temporary reduction in its activity assists in flow, with established mastery of skills. More recently, the concept of ‘elastic thinking’ has come to light—the bottom-up process through which creative, expansive thoughts and insights occur, as parts of the brain that do not normally talk to each other are able to connect. Along with that is the concept of inter-leaving—meaning the capacity to be able to leave a challenging task completely and come back to it later, rather than focusing on one problem and hitting the proverbial wall.

Our brains operate in three different modes. The default mode, which consists mostly of those repeating patterns based on past experience—we spend nearly 70% of our time in this familiar and automated state. The cognitive-focused mode, in which we are engaged in problem-solving; and the salient mode, in which the brain is looking for novelty. Optimally, we could be inter-leaving between the cognitive-focused and salient modes—which, in turn, down-regulates the default, and keeps us engaged in focused and novel tasks. This is where we can train the flow state.

Some tips to follow to allow flow to emerge are as follows:

1. Be physically pain-free.

Pain is a big distraction, and a big focal point when we are experiencing it. The less physical and mental space that pain is occupying in our awareness, the more we are able to focus on other things.

2. Be optimistic

The brain is always looking for previous outcomes or experiences to which to relate the present moment. If we have been previously successful, there is less activity in the prefrontal cortex, as there is less over-analysis and worry happening. The less we assume the worst, the more at ease we feel.

3. Have less psychomotor agitation

Minimize what irritates you about yourself and the people around you. The less internal and external negativity we have, the more space for flow to occur. Being in a group that shares your value system and is dedicated to the same perspectives enhances the possibility for flow in everyone.

4. Focus on enjoyable results

Next-level optimism! Actually visualize success and the positive possibilities. Engage in clever execution and practice. This doesn’t happen overnight! Have the patience and self-discipline to train your brain and behaviour—to create a better interface between your body and brain without the incoherence which causes distress.

The problem that we tend to encounter, is that the part of our brain that is supposed to make us evolutionarily superior, is also the part that is contributing to our suffering. It is a uniquely human ability that we are cursed with the capacity to carry our stresses and failures over the course of our lives and continually relive them in self-judgement. Through the various practices listed above, we aim to at least recognize these mind traps, if not find ways to fully escape them.

Achieving the flow state is not just about having the occasional moment—although even a fleeting glimpse into something to which you have not previously had access is encouraging. It is about becoming the person in the process of establishing it who is capable of maximizing your adaptive potential, with elasticity of thought and freedom from crushing expectations; alternating between different states, with a sprinkle of Buddhism in being detached from the outcome.

Many of us know of the flow state only in the abstract, what we have heard from the experience of others. As such, we don’t know for ourselves what the experience of it will be—we’re hoping for a high-five or fist pump from God that says “welcome to ‘club flow’“. But maybe it is just a subtle nod or wink that emerges from doing the work.

Dr. Tabrizi is a chiropractor, osteopath and a passionate member of both the local and scientific community, whose goal is to teach that the pursuit of optimal health and wellness is much more than being symptom-free. His practice is rooted in the philosophy of treating the person rather than just treating the illness or ailment. As a result of his interdisciplinary training, Dr. Tabrizi has developed a neuroscience-based therapeutic education approach to treating his patients, focusing on healing illness from a wider perspective, placing equal responsibility on patient as well as practitioner. Dr. Tabrizi aims to educate his patients and provide them with the tools and framework needed to integrate pain management and healthy living into the fabric of their everyday lives.

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Jun 18

Low Key Addictions

Cigarettes. Alcohol. Gambling. Heroin. When most people think of addiction, these are the things that come to mind. While you may not be enabling a pack-a-day habit, you may have addictive tendencies to something much more minor. Think about it: If I told you that your morning coffee is off-limits tomorrow, how do you react? Are you cool as a cucumber or is your heart racing a bit at the thought? What about if I asked you to delete Instagram off your phone for a month? Or no shopping this weekend? What things may you be low-key addicted to, and how are those things ruling your life? Lauren’s Top Tips are here to help you discover your low key addictions, determine if they’re a problem, and keep them in check.

  1. Gotta have it?

    Think about the necessities in your life (I’m not talking food and oxygen, but the individualized things that make their way into your daily life). What is your attitude toward them? Do you wake up thinking about it or count down the minutes until you can have it? Do you think everything sucks, but it will all be okay once you can have that thing? These types of thoughts suggest an addictive mindset. Most of us can agree that it’s more than possible to live without coffee, but if you wake up thinking about your 9am cup and that you’ll be able to get through your day only once you get your hands wrapped around that warm mug, then you may have an unhealthy attachment to that cup of joe.

  2. Getting in the way?

    Some things that we love enhance our lives and others hinder our lives. One good way to determine which is which is to evaluate if you have the resources to sustain your vice. Is your habit taking up too much time that you need for other things (family, work, sleep), or too much money (that should be spent on rent, good food, paying off debt, or retirement savings)? If so, it may be time to reevaluate its importance and placement in your life. Don’t sacrifice the important “musts” in your life.

  3. Make it work on your (new) terms!

    We’ve all heard the expression “everything in moderation”… and it’s a good one! If you’re finding that your habit is more excessive than moderate, fear not. Being low-key addicted does not mean you’re doomed to be a slave to your habit. Decide how often is reasonable to have that Starbucks or check those socials, and set calendar alarms in your phone to alert you that it’s go-time. This way, you can take it off your mind and know that you’ll still have that thing when the time is (predetermined-ly) right. It’s a great way to let your mind look forward to it and lets you cut the obsessive thinking.

  4. Release the associated anxiety.

    Now that you have your plan in place and you know when you’re going to indulge, help yourself get into your new habits by minimizing any anxiety that comes along with cutting back. It’s very common to feel like your mind is always on the one thing you can’t have, which can lead to feelings of anxiety. There are many ways to keep them in check. A couple favourites include: deep breathing (to help the physical symptoms of anxiety, such as rapid heard beat, sweating, or stomach issues) and mindfulness (to help you bring positive attention to all the things you do during the day that you’re not low-key addicted to, and show yourself the pleasure you can derive from those things). You do have the power to rule your feelings, and these techniques can really help ease the transition.

  5. Seek help.

    If you’re struggling to make changes on your own, you’re not alone. If change was always easy, we’d all morph into our best selves overnight! Seek out support from friends and family, or for more direct assistance, meet with a counsellor. Clinical hypnosis (my personal fave) can be an excellent tool to help you get over the hump of addiction and make changes in your life. Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (okay, so I have two faves) is a stellar therapy for helping change your thought process around your habits, leading to a more positive emotional response and easier behavioural change. Success!

  6. Don’t punish yourself.

    You just mobile ordered a venti latte, didn’t you? Don’t sweat it; happens to the best of us. The important thing is to get back on the horse. People often think that if they’ve blown their plan, they may as well over-indulge because the day is ruined anyway. Just because you’ve nipped into your chocolate stash or sneaked a peek at your socials off-schedule doesn’t mean you’re a failure. Remind yourself of your goal, remind yourself of the reason why it’s important to you, and resume the process. We all slip up sometimes; it’s what you do next that counts.

Remember, just because you enjoy something doesn’t mean it’s a problematic addiction. Having (relatively healthy) habits is normal, safe, and part of being a human being. Decide which of your habits are cool, which need to be kicked to the curb, and revel in your own power to make the changes!

**Disclaimer: The advice in this article is for informational purposes only and does not replace the diagnosis/treatment of a licensed medical or mental health professional.**

Lauren Berger is a Registered Social Worker Psychotherapist providing counselling and psychotherapy at IHI. Check her out at www.laurenberger.ca, drop her a line at lauren@laurenberger.ca, follow her on Twitter: @LaurenBergerMSW, or sneak a peek at her Instagram: laurenberger_msw.

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May 22

Social Media? Who Are You Following?

Gone are the days when being followed was a creepy event. With the advent of social media, being “followed” is now a desirable feat. While most people agree that the growth of social media isn’t slowing down any time soon, many also agree that it has the potential to wreak havoc on your mental health. There are many reasons for this, and the idea of “following” is just one. Here are just a few of the reasons we have to be aware of our social media following habits and my top tips for keeping your mental health in check while you click:

Celeb overload

Your IRL friends are cute and all, but most of our feeds are made up of a celeb or two or 200. While it can be intriguing to see what Fill-In-The-Blank Kardashian is up to this weekend, the potential to feel inferior about your own life is huge. Why are their lives so awesome and ours so… well… not? It’s important to do a daily reality check and remember that most of these people aren’t simply snapping that selfie while waiting for a streetcar, but rather have curated a team of professionals to take that perfectly “effortless and natural” shot. We’re talking hair and make-up, profesh photographers, expensive lighting, and Photoshop galore. Many even travel to funky, exotic locations for the sole purpose of taking drool-worthy Insta snaps. You can’t go comparing these shots to your sweet pics of eating ice cream or going on a hike. Comparison can be the killer of a healthy self-esteem. If you do go down that rabbit hole, and you find yourself feeling inferior, make sure you do a mental inventory of all the gear and personnel your fave celeb needed for that cool pic versus what you needed for yours. Don’t forget, it’s their job to spend hours a day perfecting their appearance, creating a fantasy, and making the world envious. Don’t fall into the trap. Be proud of your authentic life.

Feeling unpretty

“Sigh. If I only had that skin, those brows, that ’do, that BOD! Then I’d be happy/meet the right guy/have more fun/be a better person.” Sound familiar? If it doesn’t, these kinds of thoughts may very well still be on your mind as part of your subconscious thinking. Having these thoughts lurking in your subconscious may be even more damaging than actively thinking them because they can be eating away at your self-esteem without you having an inkling about it, like a silent killer. Like the previous point, comparison is your worst enemy here. The antidote is to take the opportunity to really celebrate our differences and what makes each of us uniquely beautiful (because we are all uniquely beautiful). What about yourself do you love that makes you, you? Your constellation of freckles? Your fearlessness when it comes to unicorn hair dye? Your ability to rock a red lip like a ’50’s movie star? Your strong arms that you earned at the gym (or hauling around a teething baby at 4am… why no, I’m not talking about myself…)? Start appreciating your own beauty and you’ll find you’ll have more fun drawing inspo from those you follow; it will actually be an inspiration rather than a sobfest of wishing you looked like a stranger.

Motivation Station!

Following others on social media ain’t all bad. It can definitely have a positive effect! The key is to identify those who you follow that bring you down (promptly clicking the unfollow button when you do) and those who raise you up. There are plenty of influencers out there who can motivate you to help you in the areas of life you want to improve. Seek out happiness gurus, mindfulness mavens, fitness folks, badass girl bosses, or whoever else inspires you to float your own boat.

Find the funny

…And on the subject of who to follow, here’s a bonus tip from me to you: do yourself a favour and follow some funny people. Like, really funny. Who doesn’t need some comic relief here and there? Go for your fave comedian, and then see who pops up under the “suggested for you” section. A couple personal favourites from my Twitter to follow are Anna Kendrick and Chrissy Teigen. They definitely keep me laughing when the world gets too serious.

The limit DOES exist

All you Mean Girls fans out there may be yelling out “The limit does not exist!”, but let me tell you, it needs to where your social media is concerned. With our phones at our fingertips, it is so easy to have a quick peek at Instagram whenever you have a literal second, but checking in with your social on a minute-to-minute basis is not doing you any favours. We’re too tapped in these days. Being bombarded with constant pics or blurbs in 280 characters or less can start frying your brain, making your attention span weaken. Practicing a little mindfulness (a personal fave in my practice!) in lieu of a newsfeed swipe can offer a huge perk to your mental health. An awesome goal to get you started is to avoid temptation for at least one hour a day. You can do this by – gasp – turning off your phone, or at least putting it into airplane mode. Disconnecting, even for a short time, can give you a few extra moments in the day to do the things you love instead of worrying about Instagramming them.

Give these tips a try and take notice of how your mental health improves so you can once again have fun with all your socials. Hashtag Happy Face!

**Disclaimer: The advice in this article is for informational purposes only and does not replace the diagnosis/treatment of a licensed medical or mental health professional.**

Lauren Berger is a Registered Social Worker Psychotherapist providing counselling and psychotherapy at IHI. Check her out at www.laurenberger.ca, drop her a line at lauren@laurenberger.ca, follow her on Twitter: @LaurenBergerMSW, or sneak a peek at her Instagram: @laurenberger_msw. She is currently booking for August 2018.

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May 15

Aching. Stiff. Sore Joints. Osteoarthritis and YOUR choices.

What is Osteoarthritis?

Osteoarthritis is the most common type of arthritis, affecting millions of North Americans. It generally affects those over 40 years of age and is often one sided, preferring knees, hips and thumbs.

Over time, the cartilage that normally supports and cushions joint motion begins to wear down. The cartilage itself does not have pain receptors, but boy oh boy, when bone rubs on bone, this can be incredibly uncomfortable. Osteoarthritis is not an acute injury. The chondrocytes, cartilage cells, are very sensitive and are constantly adapting to changes in the mechanical, inflammatory and the metabolic environment of the joint which then triggers alterations to its matrix[i]. Supportive tissues are affected as the shape and structure of the joint changes. As the disease progresses, so does the level of discomfort and people naturally slow down their activity levels. Although it is pain that drives people into my office, it is often their mental state that we end up treating as well. Losing your independence or having to give up a sport or activity you love can play a toll on your mental health and happiness.

Environmental causes of Osteoarthritis are often multi-factoral. The following all have potential to contribute to joint damage:

  • occupations that require repeated motions
  • physical activity
  • strength of the quadriceps muscle(s)
  • traumatic injury to the joint
  • obesity
  • diet
  • sex hormones
  • bone density
  • aging and changes to cellular metabolism alter our internal environment[ii]

What are the symptoms of Osteoarthritis?

  • Pain that occurs with activity. As the wear and tear on the joint advances, the pain increases and can also occur with rest.
  • The pain is deep and aching with a gradual onset.
  • Short-lived stiffness after inactivity.
  • Joint instability – buckling or giving way.
  • Patients may also complain of reduced function, such as reduced movement, deformity, swelling and crepitus.
  • When the pain becomes persistent, pain-related psychological distress begins[iii].

How is Osteoarthritis diagnosed?

Clinical symptoms (listed above) are the leading standard for ruling in Osteoarthritis. X-rays are not a definitive diagnosis but can be used to rule out other joint diseases and can identify the presence of joint deterioration[iv].

YOUR Natural Treatment options for Osteoarthritis

These are just a few elements in nature that can improve your quality of life.

Improve your Collagen Count

Sip on bone broth

Or using this mineral rich food as a base to soups and stews can improve your collagen count. Cartilage is made up of collagen and other substances that make connective tissue both flexible and strong[v]. Collagen supplements are all the rage now for both joint support and anti-aging. Just be aware that collagen depletes you of tryptophan so if you are prone to anxiety and depression this may not be the treatment for you. You can discuss what options are best for YOU with your Naturopathic Doctor.

Maintaining a healthy weight

Reduces the stress on your joints both from a physical mechanics standpoint as well as an internal metabolic state. Increased adipose tissue can influence your hormones and encourage inflammatory states. At the Integrative Health Institute, we offer Bio Impedance Testing to monitor fat mass ratios.

Make the Switch and Choose REAL fat.

Swap high fat junk food for fruit and natural sugars like honey while adding in fat that your body loves – olives, avocados, chia. This will not only help make the shift in body composition but in overall health. Omega 3’s, particularly EPA, may help to stop the destruction of joint structure[vi].

Reduce your joint burden

Switch to an activity that has less impact such as swimming or cycling. Or focus on the opposite end of your body. For example, if it is your knees that hurt, hit the gym with an upper body focused work out instead of legs and squats.

Acupuncture

A study conducted by Manyanga et al, found the use of acupuncture to be associated with significant reductions in pain intensity, improvement in functional mobility and quality of life in patients with Osteoarthritis[vii].

Choose supplements that will support your tissue.

Ask your ND if any of the following supplements are appropriate for YOU and YOUR Pain Management Program.

  • Glucosamine and Chondroitin. A 2014 study noted improvements in patient reported pain as well as a reduction in acetaminophen consumption after a 16 week trial[viii]. People with shellfish allergies cannot take these supplements.
  • Supplementing Ginger has been found to reduce pain in patients with osteoarthritis of the knee or hip[ix].
  • Turmeric is found in many anti-inflammatory and joint complexes. One study showed that this in combination with Boswellia was found to be more successful than celecoxib (a common arthritis medication) in knee osteoarthritis[x].

NSAIDS such as Advil and Naproxen are a common treatment for Osteoarthritis. Stay tuned for next months blog on the use of pain medication such as NSAID’s and YOUR health.

Take Action

If your joints are aching, see your Naturopathic Doctor for support. Dr. Tanner is accepting new patients Mondays, Tuesdays and Fridays at the Integrative Health Institute.

The information provided is for informative purposes and is not intended to substitute professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.

References

[i] https://www.sharecare.com/health/osteoarthritis-causes-risk-factors/environmental-causes-osteoarthritis

[ii] https://www.sharecare.com/health/osteoarthritis-causes-risk-factors/environmental-causes-osteoarthritis

[iii] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2597216/

[iv] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2597216/

[v] https://draxe.com/effective-all-natural-treatments-for-arthritis/

[vi] Pol Merkur Lekarski. 2012 May;32(191):329-34.

[vii] Manyanga T, Froese M, Zarychanski R, Abou-Setta A, Friesen C, Tennenhouse M, Shay B. Pain management with acupuncture in osteoarthritis: a systematic review and meta-analysis.

[viii] Shinjo SK, Silva JM, Peron CR, Rocha FA. Combined glucosamine and chondroitin sulfate, once or three times daily, provides clinically relevant analgesia in knee osteoarthritis. Clinical Rheumatol. 2015; 34(8): 1455-62.

[ix] J Altern Complement Med. 2012 Jun; 18(6):583-8.

[x] Mol Med Rep. 2013 Nov;8(5):1542-8

Dr. Jennifer Tanner, has a broad, evidence based practice with a focus on sports and performance based medicine. Being a marathon runner and having been a competitive equestrian, an active lifestyle is important. Dr. Tanner uses a variety of tools including Acupuncture and Clinical Nutrition, putting an emphasis on “food as medicine” and addressing the root causes of inflammation . In conjunction with the Integrative Health team, Dr. Tanner is thrilled to help people achieve an optimal state of health and pursue their performance based health goals!

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