Apr 21

Spring Clean Your Life

Say you will By Lauren Berger, MSW, RSW

Spring has finally sprung in Toronto! Since we’ve waited so very long for the season to arrive, we all want to make the most of it. There’s a sense of rebirth and newness that comes with Spring — the melting of all the leftover snow and the emergence of flowers and leaves on the trees. All this freshness in nature makes us crave freshness in our lives as well. For some, “out with the old and in with the new” becomes the motto. This is great when it comes to Spring Cleaning our homes (begone, dust bunnies!), but have you thought about Spring Cleaning your life? What bad habits are lurking in your life… Are you ready to give them the heave-ho? Perhaps replace them with healthier habits that feel fresh and can give your life a boost? Let’s talk tips for tidying up your life.

1) Make a list. Instead of tackling things willy-nilly, put pen to paper and list the things in your life that you’d like to change. Ditching coffee? Upping exercise? Dating differently? When you write things down, you take the idea from being a notion floating around your head to a more concrete idea that you are now acknowledging as important enough to record.

2) Give it importance. It’s easy enough to know what you’d like to change, but have you thought about why you want to change it? Personalize your reasoning to your own life. For example, if your goal is to quit smoking, why do you want to do that? I’m not talking about the obvious “well, because it’s bad for me” reason. Why does it matter to you? Does it upset your partner, causing tiffs? Do you find that your ability to give it your all in spin class is suffering? Are you thinking long-term, and considering how long you’d like to be around for your grandchildren? Whatever your reasoning, write it down beside your goal. Reflect on these reasons regularly for motivation if the going gets tough.

3) Start small. It’s fine to want to lose 50 pounds, but if you try to do that in one week, you’ll be back at the buffet by Wednesday. Break down your larger goal into smaller, achievable pieces. This will make things seem doable, and therefore sustainable. Try exchanging one white carb serving for one veggie serving. When that seems easy-peasy, move on to the next thing.

4) Have fun with it! All work and no play makes everyone cranky. How can you up the fun quotient? If you’re looking to get fit, enlist a buddy or try a dance class. If you’re cutting caffeine, host an herbal tea party (pinkies up!). The more you enjoy something, the more likely you are to keep doing it. Find the fun. It’s there.

5) Avoid amnesia. If you didn’t do #4, you may find yourself wondering why the heck you started making this change anyway. This is the time to go back to the list you made (see #1 and #2), and reacquaint yourself not only with your goal, but why it is so important to you. When you remember the real purpose of the change you’re striving for, it can jumpstart that desire and motivation to keep going.

Got it? Good! Ditch the mop and broom, and let the real Spring Cleaning begin! Still struggling? Check in with your counsellor and get the support you need to make these important changes happen… and stick.
Lauren Berger is a Registered Social Worker providing counselling and psychotherapy at IHI.  Check her out at www.laurenberger.ca, drop her a line at lauren@laurenberger.ca, or follow her on Twitter: @LaurenBergerMSW.

 

 

 

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Apr 14

Enough With the Neck Pain!

giraffe portrait

 By Dr. Gita Gupta, BHSc, DC, CAP

I think it’s time to discuss why so many of us experience daily neck pain, along with the associated headaches and shoulder pain. Firstly, we need to understand the main cause of it. Working Downtown, I tend to see a lot of patients with jobs that confine them to a desk all day, that will do it for most people. Of course things like nutrition, stress and jaw issues play a part, but there is a common theme for those who work in an office. When we are forced to be seated in the same position for hours at a time there is a lot of pressure and compression put on the back of the head and neck which end up causing a lot of stress to the muscles and compression within the spine. Since most of us can’t up and leave our jobs – or even get away from our desks every 20 minutes, what are some things we can do to help this problem? Simple things like altering the position of your chair and monitor are great ways to start but that won’t fix it all. More often than not, you need to get deeper into the painful area, and chiropractic treatments are your best option. Treatments can range from muscle stretching to deep myofascial release to gentle mobilization of the joints.

Common muscle associated with headaches and neck pain are: 

Sub Occipitals

Upper Trapezium

Levator Scapula

Deep Anterior Scalenes

Sternocledomastoid

Muscles surrounding the TMJ

 All of these muscles are connected from spinal segments in some way, and when these muscles are extremely tight they compress the spinal joints in the neck, increasing pressure in the joint spaces, and end up compressing nerves and arteries supplying the head neck and shoulder area. By releasing the tension and increasing the mobility within the spine, there will be more innervation to the area and more blood flow to the brain what can help alleviate a lot of headaches symptoms.  Chiropractors can also help alleviate lower and mid back pain you might have associated with sitting in your chair all day, in a similar manner.

Another way to help keep the muscles and joints healthy and happy are to keep them hydrated, so always keep water at your desk. Another easy trick is to have a simple stretching routine for your neck and shoulders that can be done at your desk.  A few simple stretches that I recommend to my patients are, three-way stretch, Bruggers and seated lean. These will draw little attention to you, so there is no need to feel self-conscious and really help take the edge off a long work day.

If you have any questions or would like to set up an appointment please contact me at ggupta@integrativehealthinstitute.ca

 

Though Dr. Gupta has always had a passion for helping others, it was a personal experience that initially lead her down her current path in health care.  While training as a long distance runner, she began to experience many painful injuries which did not improve with conventional prescription medications or general exercises. It was only through the safe and natural process of chiropractic care that she noticed an extensive improvement.

While receiving chiropractic treatment she became fascinated with the body’s ability to heal itself, especially with regard  to the spine and the central nervous system. Through many therapeutic endeavors, Dr. Gupta gained first-hand experience of the profound healing power of chiropractic medicine, enabling her to bring enthusiasm and dedication to each of her patients’ treatments. Dr. Gupta practices at the Integrative Health Institute in Downtown Toronto.

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Apr 7

Fertility Diet

Happy ThanksgivingBy Dr. Lisa Watson, ND

Those who take medicine and neglect their diet waste the skill of the physician ~ Chinese proverb

Eating a nutritious diet can boost your health and improve your life in many ways. For women struggling with issues of fertility, eating properly can boost your fertility and increase the chances of becoming pregnant.

The recommendations below incorporate the teachings from Traditional Chinese Medicine and groundbreaking research from the Nurses Health Study which examined the impact of lifestyle and diet on the health of nearly 20 000 female nurses. By fusing traditional knowledge and scientific research we can bring a natural balance to a woman’s life and increase her ability to conceive.

Fertility Diet Tips

1. Consume a Whole Foods Diet

Whole foods are minimally processed and provide maximum nutrients, fiber, enzymes, antixoidants and taste without added artificial flavours, colours, preservatives, sweeteners or trans fats.

2. Focus on Slow Carbs

Slow carbohydrates are slowly digested causing a slower and more gradual rise in blood sugar after being eaten. They include beans, peas, lentils, whole grains (such as brown rice, barley, millet and quinoa) and vegetables. Slow carbs minimize insulin resistance, regulate blood sugar, improve fertility and prevent gestational diabetes. Eliminate all white carbs – white flour, white pasta, white rice, white potatoes and white bread.

3. Eat Primarily Plant Based Foods

Plant based foods include a rainbow of high fiber, high antioxidant fruits and vegetables, legumes, nuts, seeds and whole grains. A plant based diet means that most (but not necessarily all) of the diet is based on plant foods. This diet is eaten around the world and is associated with health promotion, disease prevention and longevity.

4. High Antioxidant Foods

A diet high in plant based foods will be naturally high in antioxidant foods. Fruits, vegetables, herbs and spices decrease oxidative stress and cellular inflammation associated with decreased fertility. Select primarily organic produce – it has been shown in multiple studies to be higher in antioxidants (and free of hormone-disrupting pesticides!)

5. Consume Healthy Fats and Avoid Trans Fats

Healthy fats combat inflammation and improve hormone sensitivity. Healthy fats and oils include coconut oil, nuts, seeds, avocados, olives, raw (uncooked) olive oil, and fats found in wild cold-water fish. Trans fast (also known as hydrogenated or partially hydrogenated fat) – typically found in commercially prepared baked goods, fried foods, and processed snack can disrupt with normal ovulation by interfering with a cell receptor that controls inflammation, glucose metabolism, and insulin sensitivity.

6. Eat Only High Quality Dairy Products

Small amounts of full-fat dairy products daily, such as live culture yoghurt, kefir, and high quality organic goat and cow cheeses have been shown to enhance fertility.

7. Eat Mindfully

Slow down and tune into the nutritive properties of food. Allow mealtime to be a time when you focus on nourishing your mind, body and spirit. Mindfulness has been shown to help decrease stress, lower blood sugar and blood pressure, decrease anxiety and depression and enhance well-being.

8. Eat For Balance

In TCM all health concerns are based on an imbalance in the body. This may be an excess or a deficiency of one of the vital substances or a blockage of energy flow in one of the organ systems of the body. Your Naturopathic Doctor can help you determine your imbalance and give you recommendations for foods to promote balance (e.g. foods to boost yin or clear heat).

9. Take Supplements Appropriately

Supplements can be used to enhance a healthy diet but should not be used as a replacement for a healthy, balanced diet. A prenatal multivitamin with iron, calcium, antioxidant nutrients (A, C, E, selenium and zinc), probiotics, fish oils and others may be used to enhance fertility and support a healthy pregnancy for both mother and child.

Select resources:

Chavarro J, Willett W. The Fertility Diet. Harvard Health Publications. 2008.

Lewis R. The Infertility Cure. Little Brown and Company. 2004.
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.

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

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Apr 2

Naturopathic Approach to Treating Autism

http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/b/b3/Boy_playing_in_sand_on_beach.jpgBy Dr. Jen Newell, ND

Today, April 2 is recognized as World Autism Awareness Day and to show their support and raise awareness iconic landmarks around the world will be illuminated in a blue light (Autism Speaks Light It Up Blue campaign).

1 in 200 Canadian children is affected by autism and autism spectrum disorders, making it the most prevalent childhood neurological disorder in the country. There has been a 600% increase in prevalence in the last 10 years and there is no established explanation for this increase, though improved diagnosis and environmental influences are considered as likely contributors.

Autism appears to be rooted in very early brain development with the most obvious signs and symptoms emerging between 2 and 3 years of age. Autism spectrum disorders are associated with intellectual disability, difficulties in motor coordination and attention, and physical health issues such as sleep and gastrointestinal disturbances.

Signs and Symptoms of Autism Spectrum Disorders:

  • Social challenges
    • Failure to respond to their name
    • Reduced interest in people
    • Difficulty playing social games and establishing friendships with peers
    • Failure to imitate actions of others
    • Preference to play alone
    • Failure to seek comfort or respond to parents’ displays of anger or affection in typically expected ways and lack of empathy
    • Verbal and nonverbal communication
      • Lack of eye contact and problems developing nonverbal communication skills
      • Delay in or lack of learning to talk
      • Difficulties taking steps to initiate a conversation and to continue conversations
      • Repetitive use of language (ie. repeating a phrase over and over)
      • Failure to understand implied meanings
      • Limited interests in activities
        • Unusual focus on a single part of a toy (eg. wheels on cars)
        • Preoccupation with certain topics
        • Need for a routine to be maintained
        • Repetitive stimulating behaviours (eg. body rocking, hand flapping)

Naturopathic Care:

Early intervention is critical to gain maximum benefit from existing therapies. Naturopathic care offers comprehensive treatment addressing the central nervous system, the digestive system and the immune system; these three systems of the body are the most frequently compromised in autism and autism spectrum disorders.

1. Rebalance the nervous system

Specific supplements or drainage protocols can restore homeostasis to the disrupted system and allow brain development to progress through appropriate stages. Certain products may also be chosen to reduce the oversensitivity to stimuli and to calm the brain’s reactivity.

In practice, I have found a personalized protocol including homeopathics, UNDAs and other drainage products have resulted in significant results. Additionally, I have found working with a skilled Osteopathic manual practitioner to optimize potential for healing and promoting development has resulted with profound improvements.

2. Evaluate the diet and improve gastrointestinal health

Gluten and casein-free diets are often recommended in the treatment of autism. This is because molecules found in these two types of food increases the leakiness of the cells lining the gut. Protein molecules can then pass through the gut lining, initiating an inappropriate immune system response and travel to the brain where they have the potential to cause harm. I have found greater results from a diet that not only prevents leaky gut syndrome, but also helps regulate the immune system response and provide brain-nourishing foods.

With regards to healing the gut and improving gastrointestinal health the goal is to reestablish normal gut flora colonization, address permeability of the gut lining and reduce inflammation in the system. While healing the gastrointestinal tract, it is also critical to address any underlying nutrient deficiencies such as zinc, vitamin D, B vitamins, essential fatty acids and iron.

3. Modulate and regulate the immune response

There is an ever-increasing body of evidence that at least some forms of autism are associated with chronic inflammation and immune system imbalance. Inflammatory markers (cytokines) have been found to be higher in those with autism than in those that do not have the disorder

Ashwood P, Krakowiak P, Hertz-Picciotto I, et al. Elevated plasma cytokines in autism spectrum disorders provide evidence of immune dysfunction and are associated with impaired behavioral outcome. Brain, Behavior, and Immunology. 2011;25(1):40-5.

Dr. Jen Newell is passionate about helping people embrace health, feel amazing and easily incorporate “real” food into their busy lives. Her mission is to make health accessible and achievable, and to inspire patients to live an active, vibrant and healthy life.

Jen has a clinical focus on digestive health, food sensitivities and healthy nutrition; mental health and stress-related illness; women’s health, hormone balance and fertility; optimal aging; and dermatology. She focuses on integrating healthy foods into one’s diet in a medicinal and therapeutic capacity and providing individuals with nutritional support that is easy to incorporate into a busy day. Dr. Newell practices at the Integrative Health Institute in Downtown Toronto.

 

main image via Wikimedia

 

 

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Mar 31

Blood Sugars and Brain Power

Global Warming Brains By Dr. Marc Bubbs, ND
A few months ago, a ground breaking new study was released in one of the most prestigious medical journals in the world, highlighting a potential cure for one of the most debilitating diseases in the world. Interestingly, although tremendously significant in its scientific findings, it did not make the front page of the newspaper or headlines on TV. What are we talking about?  The health of the brain as it relates to the food you are eating.

Did you know that cognitive decline could start affecting all of use from the age of 40 onwards and that by the age of 60 one in eight can have significant cognitive decline. Shockingly, by the age of 80 one in two people will suffer from Alzheimer’s disease or some form of dementia. Currently, conventional medicine says there is no cure for this disease. The latest research suggests there may be a lot you can do to keep your brain vital and healthy.

The aforementioned study in the prestigious New England Journal of Medicine was examining the connection between blood sugar levels and the rate of cognitive decline. The study examined over 2,000 people, whose average age was 76 years old, and researchers took more than 35,000 different clinical laboratory measures. Their findings were very compelling. The authors discovered that individuals with the highest average blood sugar levels (as measure by hemoglobin A1c (HA1c), a three-month average of blood sugar levels) had the greatest decline in cognitive health. In fact, those with the highest levels were almost seven times more likely to develop dementia as the age! This is a truly ground breaking finding.

However, there is an even more interesting twist to these results. You would expect that those individuals with elevated blood sugars must have been diabetic or pre-diabetic, meaning there results were outside the normal ranges found on lab test results? Not so. In this study, individuals who were almost seven times more likely to develop dementia typically had high blood sugars within the normal range listed on the lab report (high end of normal). Therefore, the logical question seems to be… should we not revisit the current medical definition of ‘normal’ blood sugars? How can you be in the ‘normal range’ and still be at such an increased risk of cognitive decline? Unfortunately, many of the lab report normal ranges can be quite generous and new research is being done to try and tackle this problem.

However, the good news is that you can influence your risk of cognitive decline. If you keep your blood sugar levels within optimal ranges you can keep your brain vibrant and healthy throughout your life. How can you do this? The answer is quite simple… diet and exercise. Start by increasing your dietary intake protein and healthy fats intake, while lowering your complex carbohydrates.  Aim for a ‘fist’ size of protein at each meal and ‘two thumbs’ size of healthy fats, such as; coconut oil, avocadoes, olive-oil (extra-virgin), or fish oils. Cut out the starchy carbs like bread, pasta, and cereals and replace them with cruciferous vegetables like cabbage, Brussels sprouts, broccoli, cauliflower, and asparagus. Next, get 30 minutes of walking in daily. Try adding a ‘Fit-Bit’ to your daily regime and see if you can achieve 10,000 steps per day. If you already exercise, add 1-2 weight training sessions in per week, as this is a quick and efficient way to normalize blood sugar.

The solution is simple; yet the effects are profound. Be pro-active and preventative about your health. Inquire with your naturopath or local doctor about specific testing that can measure your short-term and long-term blood sugar levels. Getting baseline measurements is a great first step to taking your health into your own hands. Live long and live happy, keep your blood sugars in check to keep your brain finely tuned, your energy levels up, and your overall health in top gear!

 

Dr. Marc Bubbs N.D. has been working with athletes and active people for almost a decade. As a Naturopathic Doctor and Strength and Conditioning Coach, Marc focuses on the integration of health and exercise, believing that movement is the best medicine. He focuses on a holistic approach, using a combination of traditional Eastern and cutting-edge Western medicine to meet his client’s health and performance goals. Marc spent several years working in London, England as a personal trainer and strength coach for business executives and competitive athletes. He currently works as a sports medical consultant at Laylor Performance Systems and Canada Basketball.

 

Reference
1)     Crane, P. et al. Glucose Levels and Risk of Dementia. N Engl J Med 2013; 369:540-548

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Mar 24

Scientific Support for Natural Treatments During Menopause

En el silencio y de perfil... By Dr. Lisa Watson, ND

Menopause is the natural transition out of the childbearing years of a woman’s life.  For most women symptoms begin between 46-55 years of age and can persist for 2-20 years (8 years is average).  With significant risks associated with synthetic hormone replacement therapy (HRT) more and more women are looking for natural alternatives. Emerging scientific studies support the use of many natural therapies during menopause. Here are seven of the best evidence-based natural treatments for menopause and how they may help you transition smoothly through menopause.

Black cohosh (Actaea racemosa)

Black cohosh is one of the most important and popular natural remedies for menopause.  Several large studies have found that daily use of black cohosh for a minimum of 8 weeks improved symptoms of menopause including hot flashes, night sweats, headaches, insomnia, mood swings, irritability and vaginal dryness.

Black cohosh is often self-prescribed but should be used under supervision of a Naturopathic Doctor.  Studies suggest that the effectiveness of black cohosh can be increased by combining it with other natural treatments.

Isoflavones

Isoflavones are compounds found in plants that have estrogen-like actions in humans.  They are also known as “phytoestrogens”.  Clinical studies have shown that isoflavones can reduce symptoms of hot flashes and vaginal dryness in menopause.

Additionally some isoflavones (such as genistein) are also effective preventative agents for certain types of cancer, including breast cancer.  Isoflavones also protect the body against heart disease, increase good (HDL) cholesterol, decrease bad (LDL) cholesterol and triglycerides, and help prevent osteoporosis.

Red Clover (Trifolium pratense)

Red clover is a popular phytoestrogen supplement for management of menopausal symptoms.  Studies have found it to be effective for hot flashes and night sweats.  It contains isoflavones so it also has many of the same benefits listed above (decreasing bad cholesterol, prevention of osteoporosis).

There are multiple drug-herb interactions for red clover, so it should only be taken under supervision by a Naturopathic Doctor.  Red clover interacts with blood thinners and antivirals and may not be appropriate if you are taking these medications.

Siberian Rhubarb (Rheum rhaponticum)

While not a common natural treatment for menopausal symptoms, Siberian Rhubarb is making an impression on the natural health community with its impressive clinical results in managing the symptoms of menopause.

Siberian rhubarb extract (also known as ERr 731) has been used in Germany for nearly 20 years and is now available in international markets.  Studies of this extract have shown it to be as effective as hormone replacement therapy in the treatment of menopausal hot flashes.  It has also shown promise in stabilizing mood and reducing sleep disturbances – a symptom that many women find worsens as menopause progresses.

Siberian rhubarb tends to act quickly, making it a favourite with women currently experiencing menopausal symptoms.  Decrease in hot flashes is seen in as little as four weeks with optimal results seen in twelve weeks.

Eating rhubarb from your garden will not give you these same benefits.  Garden-variety rhubarb is used in natural medicine primarily as a laxative.

Vitamin C

Vitamin C and citrus bioflavonoids are known to improve the integrity of blood vessels and promote healthy blood flow.  This has been shown in preliminary studies to improve symptoms of hot flashes.  Vitamin C is also incredibly safe and can be taken in food form.  Good sources of vitamin C include citrus fruits, papaya, bell pepper, strawberries, cauliflower and dark green leafy vegetables.

Exercise

Exercise should be incorporated into a healthy lifestyle during the menopausal transition and beyond.  Some of the benefits of exercise in menopause are listed below.  Exercise has been demonstrated in clinical studies to improve quality of life in menopausal symptoms, and decreases the frequency and severity of hot flashes.  A combination of weight bearing and aerobic exercise at least 3.5 hours per week is recommended for women in menopause and postmenopausal women.

Health Benefits of Regular Exercise in Menopause

  • Relief from hot flashes
  • Decreased bone loss
  • Improved cardiovascular function and circulation
  • Decreased blood pressure
  • Decreased cholesterol levels
  • Increased self-esteem, mood, endurance and energy levels

Acupuncture

Acupuncture is one of the most researched natural menopause treatments the world over and the mainstream media has taken notice!  Acupuncture, when individually tailored to a woman’s menopausal symptoms can be extremely effective in decreasing discomfort and relieving symptoms.  A range of 6 to 12 sessions over an 8 to 12 week period should be used to determine if acupuncture will be effective.

As with all natural therapies, the most effective approach is an integrative one.  Consultation with a qualified Naturopathic Doctor who can tailor a treatment plan to your symptoms, current health and lifestyle will allow you to reap all the benefits natural therapies have to offer.

Select References

Osmers R, Friede M, Liske E, et al: Efficacy and safety of isopropanolic black cohosh extract for climacteric symptoms.  Obstet Gynecol  2005; 105:1074-1083

Wuttke W, Seidlova-Wuttke D, Gorkow C: The Cimicifuga preparation BNO 1055 vs. conjugated estrogens in a double-blind placebo-controlled study: Effects on menopause symptoms and bone markers.  Maturitas  2003; 44 (Suppl 1):S67-S77.

Tice JA, et al: Phytoestrogen supplements for the treatment of hot flashes: The Isoflavone Clover Extract (ICE) Study: A randomized controlled trial.  JAMA  2003; 290:207-214.

Wyon Y, et al: A comparison of acupuncture and oral estradiol treatment of vasomotor symptoms in postmenopausal women.  Climacteric  2004; 7:153-164.

Lindh-Astrand L, Nedstrand E, Wyon Y, Hammar M: Vasomotor symptoms and quality of life in previously sedentary postmenopausal women randomised to physical activity or estrogen therapy.  Maturitas  2004; 48:97-105.

Nachtigall L, La Grega L, Lee W, Fenichel R. The effects of isoflavones derived from red clover on vasomotor symptoms and endometrial thickness. In: Proceedings of the 9th International Menopause Society World Congress on the Menopause. Yokohama, Japan: 1999.

Kaszkin-Bettag M, Ventskovsky BM, Solskyy S, et al. Confirmation of the efficacy of ERr 731 in perimenopausal women with menopausal symptoms. Altern Ther Health Med. 2009;15(1):24-34.

Nedeljkovic M, Tian L, Ji P, et al. Effects of acupuncture and Chinese herbal medicine (Zhi Mu 14) on hot flushes and quality of life in postmenopausal women: results of a four-arm randomized controlled pilot trial. Menopause 2014;21(1):15-24.

Aidelsburger P, Schauser S, Grabein K, Wasem J. Alternative methods for the treatment of post-menopausal troubles. GMS Health Technol Assess 2013;8:Doc03

 

Dr. Lisa Watson completed her pre-medical training at the University of Western Ontario in London with a Bachelors degree in Health Sciences (BHSc). Following this, she completed the four year full-time program at the Canadian College of Naturopathic Medicine in Toronto where she received the designation of Naturopathic Doctor (ND).

Lisa first encountered Naturopathic Medicine when investigating her own health issues during her teen years. A natural health care model that supports the body, mind, and spirit for a lifetime was a good fit for this aspiring doctor.

Dr. Watson’s philosophy of practice emphasizes a patient-focused approach where listening to and gaining understanding of a patient’s unique story is a top priority.

Lisa’s practice integrates natural treatments backed by scientific and traditional research to enhance the health of her patients and prevent future illness.

Dr. Watson maintains a general family practice in the Old Town Toronto neighbourhood of Toronto. She welcomes patients of all ages and stages of wellness and has a special interest in adolescent and pediatric health, teen health, women’s health, pregnancy, fertility, menopause, dermatology, headaches and healthy aging.

Dr. Watson is licensed by the Board of Directors of Drugless Therapy – Naturopathy. She is a member of the Canadian Association of Naturopathic Doctors and the Ontario Association of Naturopathic Doctors.

Follow Dr. Watson on Twitter & Facebook
Check out Dr Watson’s blog: www.drlisawatson.com

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Mar 17

New Toxins Threatening Today’s Women

The Pink MafiaBy Dr. Jen Newell, ND

Recent news has highlighted the health risks posed by sports bottles, personal care products and food containers. Its scary information but how concerned should we really be?

Many experts confirm that we should be very concerned, especially because women may be particularly vulnerable. Women tend to accumulate higher levels of toxins in their  bodies than men do and many behave like hormones or interfere with a woman’s endocrine or hormonal system. Disrupting hormonal systems is problematic since hormones act as messengers that our cells rely on to communicate; for example hormones tell your body when you are full after eating, they also regulate the release the matured eggs from the ovaries. Interfering with such a finely tuned and integrated process, ultimately leads to bad consequences.

The most concerning chemicals we are regularly exposed to include BPA, phthalates and tributyltin (TBT); these have the potential to throw crucial bodily processes such as metabolism, fertility and immune system responses into disarray. BPA has been known to be estrogenic since the 1930s and was declared a toxic substance in Canada in 2010.  BPA was banned from use in baby bottles in Canada and Europe because early development appears to be the period of greatest sensitivity to its effects on the endocrine system. Phthalates are added to plastics to increase flexibility, transparency and longevity; diet is believed to be the main source of phthalate exposure with fatty foods such as dairy products and meats being the major source.  In addition, phthalates are absorbed through the skin and inhaled from our environment. Phthalates are being investigated to determine their cumulative effects as anti-androgens and endocrine disruptors in the body. TBT is often used as a wood preservative and pesticide/anti-fungal; they are highly persistent organic pollutants that concentrate in the marine food chain. They have been linked to obesity in humans as exposure triggers genes that stimulate fat cell growth.

It appears that chemicals may be contributing to the obesity epidemic affecting North Americans. New research is exploring the effect of environmental chemicals and rapid weight gain in infants. A biologist at the University of California recently found that exposure to TBT, a common chemical in the production of PVC plastic, caused mice to develop excess fat cells. Not only is TBT a concern; BPA and phthalates may also be playing a role. These chemicals may disrupt the body’s ability to regulate blood sugar and hunger, two key factors in weight loss.

The chemicals we are exposed to on a daily basis may also be harming our immune systems and making us more susceptible to illness and disease. Chemicals imitate estrogen and may affect our risk of developing cancer.  Research has linked exposure to BPA with an increased risk of breast cancer and autoimmune disease in animals. While there has been little research demonstrating this association in humans, it is rare for a chemical carcinogen identified in animals to not eventually be found to also cause cancer in humans.

Hormone-like chemicals may also be contributing to the increasing incidence in infertility. BPA has been found to impair the process of producing healthy normal eggs leading to a greater risk of chromosomal defects and infertility. Not only are these chemicals causing problems in fertility but they may also contribute to complications in pregnancy.

How do we protect ourselves from these chemicals? The simplest solution is to minimize exposure to them.

·  Eat well and exercise. Develop a healthy body so that your immune system will be better able to defend against the toxins encountered

·  Buy fresh produce if possible and choose foods in glass containers instead of plastic or metal. BPA has been detected leaching from the linings of metal cans, especially in containers holding acidic foods such as tomatoes.

·  Don’t heat plastic in the microwave. Heat may release the chemicals in the plastic causing it to leach into the food it holds. Also avoid washing plastic containers in a dishwasher as the heat will promote the leaching of chemicals.

·  Purchase organic fruits and vegetables that have edible skins. This includes peaches, apples, berries, leafy greens and celery. Pesticides sprayed on the non-organic versions of these foods linger on the skins where they are consumed.

·  Check the safety of your cosmetics. Use cosmeticsdatabase.com to assess the safety of their ingredients. If any come back as “high hazard” look for a safer product.

·  Cut back on using cleaning products with fragrance or air fresheners. Phthalates are often used in these to help fragrances last longer.

·  Filter your tap water. Tap water may contain pesticides, which are suspected endocrine disrupters.

·  Take your shoes off before entering your home. Walking into the house with your shoes on tracks in things like pesticides and environmental chemicals.

·  Be proactive. Do not wait for the government or other group to confirm that these chemicals are harmful because often by the time they do too many people have had to suffer. 

·  Consult a Naturopath for a personalized detoxification strategy. There are a number of effective and safe nutritional and botanical methods for supporting detoxification and a Naturopathic Doctor will be able to create the ideal protocol tailored to your individual needs.

Want to know more about detox? Join Dr. Jen Newell this Thursday for her talk, ‘Give Your Liver Some Love!’. Please register here.

Dr. Jen Newell is passionate about helping people embrace health, feel amazing and easily incorporate “real” food into their busy lives. Her mission is to make health accessible and achievable, and to inspire patients to live an active, vibrant and healthy life.

Jen has a clinical focus on digestive health, food sensitivities and healthy nutrition; mental health and stress-related illness; women’s health, hormone balance and fertility; optimal aging; and dermatology. She focuses on integrating healthy foods into one’s diet in a medicinal and therapeutic capacity and providing individuals with nutritional support that is easy to incorporate into a busy day.

 

main image via Andrew Becraft via Compfight

 

 

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Mar 10

Acne Attack!

By Dr. Gita Gupta, BHSc, DC, CAP

A common concern for my female patients is acne.  Most of them thought that their acne would clear up after puberty, but this was not the case. In fact, a large percentage of women experience acne well into their 50′s and 60′s even after trying several prescribed and over-the-counter treatments. It is a difficult problem to deal with.

What is the solution for these women?

From an ayurvedic perspective, acne and other forms of skin problems are directly related to excess heat, affecting the Pitta dosha, particularly the blood. When there is too much heat built up, the channels or nadis inflame creating a reaction underneath the skin, resulting in pimples.
A consistent increase in pitta or heat tends to be the result of eating foods of the salty, fried, or spicy variety AND not eating enough bitters, cooling, and soothing foods at the same time. I myself am a spicy-salty eater, but I have to keep it in balance for the sake of my doshic balance and am a big fan of bitter melon and triphala. Even though we all enjoy a spicy savoury snack now and then, some foods just aren’t worth it!

A few simple remedies to try if you have reoccurring adult acne:

  • a daily cooled bitter tea (dandelion, aloe, neem)
  • applying a mask of tulsi, neem and honey to the face weekly
  • removing heating and inflammatory foods from the diet

Please keep in mind that these are general tips, and some individuals require a more specific skin care program. If you have any questions or would like to set up an appointment please contact me at ggupta@integrativehealthinstitute.ca

 

Though Dr. Gupta has always had a passion for helping others, it was a personal experience that initially lead her down her current path in health care.  While training as a long distance runner, she began to experience many painful injuries which did not improve with conventional prescription medications or general exercises. It was only through the safe and natural process of chiropractic care that she noticed an extensive improvement.

While receiving chiropractic treatment she became fascinated with the body’s ability to heal itself, especially with regard  to the spine and the central nervous system. Through many therapeutic endeavors, Dr. Gupta gained first-hand experience of the profound healing power of chiropractic medicine, enabling her to bring enthusiasm and dedication to each of her patients’ treatments.

Her passion for healing has only intensified as she has had the fortune to learn about and experience the amazing and powerful effects of Ayurvedic Medicine and she brings that practice with her to IHI. Dr.Gupta continues to share her knowledge and experience as a natural healing practitioner  with family, friends and patients, and encourages everyone she meets to “find a conscious way to live so that we can preserve our bodies, and as importantly, so we can preserve the earth.”

 

image via flickr

 

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Mar 3

Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome

straight to the sun ...By Dr. Jen Newell, ND

Approximately 5-10% of women of reproductive age are affected by PCOS. Excessive body and facial hair growth, ovarian cysts, obesity, irregular menstrual periods and impaired blood sugar control are possible signs of Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome. PCOS is one of the most common causes of infertility and is associated with delayed ovulation and increased risk of miscarriage.

Signs and Symptoms of PCOS:

  • Irregular menstrual cycles
  • Absence of period
  • Infertility or difficulty conceiving
  • Ovarian cysts
  • Heavy menstrual flow
  • Severe acne as a teenager
  • Adult acne and/or cystic acne on face, neck, back or shoulders
  • Hirsuitism – excessive hair on face, body, upper lip, chin, neck or abdomen
  • Thinning hair on head
  • Acanthosis nigricans – discoloration or darkening of skin around the neck, underarms and skin folds
  • Weight gain around the abdomen, especially after the age of 30
  • Poor insulin and blood sugar control
  • Difficulty losing weight
  • Family history of diabetes or menstrual irregularity
  • Abnormal cholesterol

Treatment:

The treatment of PCOS is multifaceted as a number of systems are imbalanced but there is great potential for the relief of symptoms and the prevention of further complications with Naturopathic support. Clinical nutrition and herbal medicines are powerful tools that can treat the underlying hormonal imbalances and improve fertility.

Nutrition for PCOS:

  • Consume high quality fats, particularly omega-3’s such as ground flax, chia seeds, and salmon.
  • Avoid refined carbohydrates.
  • Eat sources of B vitamins. For example, whole grains, nuts and organic meats.
  • Pair carbohydrates with sources of healthy fats and proteins to balance blood sugar levels.

Treatment can take time to support the body as it undergoes changes to restore its normal function. It is best to start comprehensive integrative treatment as early as possible to ensure optimal results and to support healthy fertility.

Dr. Jen Newell is passionate about helping people embrace health, feel amazing and easily incorporate “real” food into their busy lives. Her mission is to make health accessible and achievable, and to inspire patients to live an active, vibrant and healthy life.

Jen has a clinical focus on digestive health, food sensitivities and healthy nutrition; mental health and stress-related illness; women’s health, hormone balance and fertility; optimal aging; and dermatology. She focuses on integrating healthy foods into one’s diet in a medicinal and therapeutic capacity and providing individuals with nutritional support that is easy to incorporate into a busy day.

 

main image via David Kracht via Compfight

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Feb 24

Lost Your Libido?

terrazzo lounge vol.2 By Erin Wiley ND

Like your car keys, you may not remember the last time you saw your libido, or exactly where you left it, but when your libido is missing, you can’t get very far without it! Our sex drive is an important part of our overall health and well-being. For many of us, the stress and pressure of daily life can take its toll on our precious endocrine system and our hormonal balance.

Although you might not remember exactly when you lost your libido, you may be surprised at where you can find it. For centuries, many traditional practices have focused on improving hormone balance through the power of deep relaxation. Connecting the mind and body has a restorative effect on our endocrine system and can help rebuild your libido. Yoga, Meditation, Thai Chi, and Qi Gong provide practices and techniques that allow us to train our mind to transition into deep relaxation. In contrast, most of western society promotes the “adrenalin rush”. We are focused on how to get more done faster. The constant challenge to perform can be very demanding and can drain your libido. Our body and mind needs rest and recovery to maximize our potential, and more importantly, to prevent burn out! The key is to find the balance in both.

So where do we start when it comes to hormone balance? Your Naturopathic doctor can perform a detailed health history and analysis of your concerns that may include hormone testing. From there we can create a comprehensive treatment protocol to address your concerns. With the support of a healthy diet, optimal nutrition, and supplements that work to nourish your endocrine system, you may be surprised to find your libido and a whole lot more. So go ahead and look for your sex drive in the image of a still lake, or dim candle light, a sun salutation, or a calming deep breath. The power of small things cannot be taken for granted as we assess our daily doses of both stress and relaxation. Get the support of professional supplements and botanical medicines that restore imbalances and nourish your endocrine system. Talk to our Naturopathic team about how you can make a change today.

 

Dr. Erin Wiley is a naturopathic doctor with a strong focus on preventative and integrative medicine. She is the Co-founder and Clinic Director of the Integrative Health Institute, an integrative medical clinic located in downtown Toronto. Erin has a strong clinical emphasis on stress related illness, anxiety, depression and hormone balance. As a naturopathic doctor, Erin is passionate about working with people to help them better understand their health and achieve their health goals.

 

 

 

 

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