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Six Steps To Boosting Your Immune System! October 20, 2016

Posted by Dreamhealer in Healing, immunity, vitamins.
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Cold & Flu Season is Here!
Six Steps To Boosting Your Immune System

Written By Dr. Kaleigh Coolsaet, ND

With fall officially here, it’s now time to prepare ourselves for the inevitable cold and flu season. With back to school and fall routines back in place we tend to spend more time indoors and in close quarters with others, which can easily lead to picking up the latest cold or flu virus.

The good news is we can support our immune systems early to keep healthy, and reduce the severity and duration of the common cold. Follow these six steps in order to keep your immune system in tiptop shape for this fall and winter season.

Six Steps to Enhancing your Immune System

1. Eat a balanced diet with reduced sugar intake

  • Sugar is known to wreak havoc with our immune system, so best to avoid any unnecessary sugar. Make sure to eat lots of colourful fruits and vegetables full of vitamins and minerals to support your immune system.
    Tip: Root vegetables are in season and are full of vitamins and minerals – try them roasted or in a delicious warming soup.

2. Reduce and Manage Stress

  • When we are stressed we produce a hormone called cortisol which helps us adapt to stress, but over the long run it can suppress the immune system leaving us vulnerable to picking up every virus we come across. Managing your stress and cortisol levels goes a long way in supporting your immune system. Read more about stress & your immune system here. 
    Try: Yoga, Meditation, Breathing Exercises

3. Obtain sufficient sleep

  • Proper sleep routines help with repair and regeneration of the body and improving the immune system.
    Tip: Get into a routine of sleeping and waking at the same time each day. Make sure your room is quiet and dark.  Try meditation or breathing exercises before bed to improve sleep quality.

4. Regular Exercise

  • Getting adequate exercise is a great way to boost the immune system and also great for overall general health. Whether its brisk walking or going to your favourite exercise class, keeping up this routine throughout the fall and winter season is going to help you stay healthy and improve your immune system.
    Tip: Set time aside each week for exercise so you don’t accidentally overbook yourself. Try exercising with a friend to increase your accountability.

5. Immune Support Naturally

  • There are lots of natural remedies to help support your immune system including but not limited to: garlic, echinacea, vitamin C, vitamin D, vitamin A, and zinc.  Best to see your Naturopathic Doctor to ensure these remedies are safe for you and when is the best time to take them.

6. IV Therapy and Immune Boosting Injections

  • IV Therapy is a great way to get a high dose of Vitamin C and other immune supporting vitamins and minerals straight into your system. These can be administered as a preventative measure and/or when you are actually sick to help your recovery time.
  • Immune Boosting Injections are another great preventative measure and best taking at the beginning of the cold/flu season to help boost your immune system before you come in contact with a virus.

Now that you have some great tips in supporting your immune system, make some time to implement at least one or more of these to help get you through this upcoming cold and flu season.

Best in Health,

Dr. Kaleigh

Natural Health Products (NHPs) Are Not Drugs. October 13, 2016

Posted by Dreamhealer in Healing, Health, Supplements.
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Written by: Dr. Reuben Dinsmore

I know that I’m preaching to the choir here – if you have been to see a naturopathic doctor, there’s a very high chance you’ve benefitted from the recommendation of certain nutraceutical supplements along your treatment journey. And so I invite you to take a moment to add your voice to the ongoing consultation with Health Canada over whether or not NHPs should be regulated in the same way that drugs are.

I wholeheartedly agree that there needs to be clear regulations over any product that is being marketed for its health benefits. However, there are various reasons why it’s impractical and unnecessary to require manufacturers of NHPs to go through the same procedures as drug manufacturers.

First, drugs are typically single ingredient formulations, with a single or occasionally dual purpose – for example, acetaminophen for pain relief, and also for fever reduction. When combinations are marketed, as in a cold formula, each of the single ingredients undergo their own clinical trials to prove their efficacy in whatever health claim that ingredient is aimed at.

Many supplements, particularly herbal formulations, are designed to take advantage of the synergy between the various ingredients. Less often do we recommend a single remedy for a single purpose, as a main tenet is treating the patient as a whole instead of simply a symptom in a body system.

This becomes difficult, even impossible, to prove efficacy of a formula, as clinical trials are designed around single ingredients, to exclude all possible variables. In addition, supplements are intended to work over a longer time period than drugs – helping the body return to its natural state of health rather than pharmaceutically forcing it into an unnatural place. I’ve often asked patients to be patient – that they’ve often spent decades getting to their current state, so they shouldn’t expect me to fix them in a few weeks. The expense of running a clinical trial is difficult at best, for a product that typically can’t be patented and charged drug company prices for – this onus becomes even more difficult when a clinical trial needs to run over many months to determine efficacy.

Bottom line, changing the regulation requirements will increase prices of NHPs and would likely make access much more difficult – and for what purpose?

Please consider expressing your views, hopefully in opposition to this attempt to fix a system that isn’t even broken. You can read more and find contact information at the following site:


In health,

Dr. Reuben Dinsmore, ND

Alzheimer’s Disease and Dementia September 29, 2016

Posted by Dreamhealer in Aging, best vancouver naturopath, Healing.
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Alzheimer’s Awareness Day is September 21st , so I wanted to take this opportunity to talk a bit about Alzheimer’s disease and how naturopathic medicine may provide the answer that has thus far eluded the pharmaceutical world.

There are many potential causes of dementia, which affects more than half a million people in Canada, and that number is forecast to double in the next 20 years. Alzheimer’s Disease accounts for approximately 60% of dementia patients, and has been called the “second-most feared disease in Canada”. This description will come as no surprise to anyone who has been personally involved in caring for a loved one with Alzheimer’s, as it can be heartbreaking to watch their personality vanish before one’s eyes.

When it comes to conventional treatment options, there are at least 4 different drugs approved for Alzheimer’s in Canada, which target either of the neurotransmitters acetylcholine or glutamate. These drugs do not cure the disease or slow its progress, but merely alleviate some of the symptoms. However, this can provide an improved quality of life for patients for several years, until they lose their efficacy.

As usual, prevention is still the best option. Research has long indicated that Alzheimer’s was associated with diabetes. However, new research is now indicating that Alzheimer’s may be related specifically to elevated insulin levels, as is seen in type 2 diabetes. Whereas type 1 diabetes (aka juvenile diabetes, as it is most commonly diagnosed in childhood) is an autoimmune condition in which the body’s immune system attacks and destroys the insulin-producing cells in the pancreas, type 2 diabetes is a progressive condition associated with cells becoming less sensitive to the action of insulin. This forces the body to produce more and more insulin until the pancreas simply gets burned out. While insulin levels are high, this puts people at significant risk of developing Alzheimer’s. Simply put, the enzymes that process excess insulin are the same ones responsible for breaking down amyloid-beta, the protein that forms the plaques and tangles seen in the brains of Alzheimer’s patients.

When you take in foods that are high in simple refined carbohydrates (sugar and starches), they are rapidly digested and absorbed into the bloodstream. Your body responds by quickly pumping out insulin to bring these blood sugar levels down. However, your pancreas evolved to operate in more of a slow and steady way, producing a trickle of insulin to carefully balance a gradual blood sugar increase. In time, forcing it to break into a sprint over and over takes a serious toll.

At the same time, your cells are becoming resistant to the signal from insulin telling them to take in sugar from the bloodstream. This is caused by a few things that are all related – obesity, increased fats circulating in the blood, and a diet high in fructose (yes, that wonderful sugar seen in things like pop, candy – and anything else that contains high-fructose corn syrup). As insulin resistance develops, more and more insulin is put into circulation to get the same effect. This is where the risk of developing Alzheimer’s increases, as those enzymes are being diverted away from breaking down amyloid-beta in favour of dealing with the elevated levels of insulin.

So what can you do about this? Type 2 diabetes is one of the most preventable and even reversible conditions out there, simply by following the basic diet and lifestyle advice that’s been around for decades. Diet-wise, you want to prevent blood sugar spikes that come from high-glycemic foods and drinks. The Mediterranean diet – promoted for years for its cardiovascular protection – is ideal for this purpose as well. More fruits and vegetables and whole grains, and limited simple carbohydrates; lean protein like fish, chicken and legumes with each meal slows digestion and absorption of carbohydrates, as do healthy fats like olive oil, avocados, and fish oils. Regular cardiovascular exercise is also critical to restoring insulin sensitivity.

Naturopathic medicine may also have the best options out there for treatment of Alzheimer’s. At least one doctor in the US has reported significant improvement in patients following his protocol – in some cases, symptoms improved by 70-80%, even allowing some formerly severely debilitated patients to return to work. Although results are still preliminary – considering the lack of other options, these developments are really exciting.

As we learn more about prevention, and treatment options become more promising, Alzheimer’s disease doesn’t have to be the frightening prospect it has been. If you have questions about how you can reduce your risk, make an appointment with one of our doctors at Yaletown Naturopathic Clinic.

What is Manual Osteopathic Medicine? September 22, 2016

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Many patients have asked us ‘What is Manual Osteopathic Medicine and how can it help me?’ so we decided to create a blog post with all the answers to your questions!

Here is a breakdown of osteopathy and the conditions it can treat:

What is Manual Osteopathic Medicine?

Osteopathy is a natural and scientific way to treat the whole person. It was developed by Andrew T. Still, a frontier physician and American Civil War field surgeon, who grew disillusioned with the failure of conventional medicine and it’s dependence on addictive and often ineffective drugs.  Osteopathy is a safe drug and surgery free alternative to treat problems that arise in the body.

Backed by a deep understanding of anatomy and physiology, the practitioner uses highly refined palpation skills to diagnose and treat imbalances. Practitioners use their hands to find problem areas in the body, then manipulate the bones, muscles and connective tissue to restore balance. Rather than simply treating the symptoms, an osteopath seeks to determine and treat the root of dysfunction resulting in lasting improvement.

As well as taking a detailed medical history of your symptoms, osteopaths also take time to look at your general lifestyle, including work, diet and exercise.  This allows them to determine the underlying reasons for health problems and offer lifestyle and exercise advice to help prevent problems from recurring.

By bringing the body back into alignment the whole body functions more smoothly. Respiratory, digestive, excretory, hormonal, lymphatic, circulatory and nervous systems function more optimally.  Fresh oxygen, blood and nutrients are brought into areas that were previously restricted.  Manual therapy improves circulation, reduces swelling, eases pain and helps to restore movement.

As tension is released, energy flows more readily throughout the body allowing the patient to experience a greater sense of well being and balance.  Allow osteopathy to guide your body back to a place of total body health, so you can focus on what’s important to you.

Manual Osteopathy is covered by most extended health care plans, please check with your insurance provider for details.

What are the Principles of Osteopathy?

  • Structure governs function
    Structure and function are thought to be intricately entwined.  The structure must be able to move freely and not impinge on nerves and blood vessels.  A body that is structurally sound is much less likely to be a vessel for disease.
  • The body functions as an integrated unit
    Everything is connected and interdependent.  If one part of the body is compromised or compensated it will affect the whole.
  • The body has the ability to self regulate
    When structurally aligned the body has the inherent ability to self regulate.  Once the fluid channels and nerve pathways are opened, the body is better able to self heal.

What are some techniques an Osteopath might use to treat me?

Trigger Point Release
Releases painful muscle contractions using the activator gun as well as manual methods

Myofascial Release
Releases restrictions in the connective tissue using soft tissue techniques

Soft Tissue Massage
Melts tension at all levels to create an overall feeling of relaxation

Joint Mobilizations
Gently brings the joints back into alignment, creating more space.  The mobility of the joints is increased by passively moving skeletal joints, allowing the body to move with more fluidity and ease

Muscle Energy Techniques
Strengthens and stretches the muscles, tendons and ligaments through guided active and passive stretches

Cranial Osteopathy
This gentle therapy can be helpful with headaches, stress and fluid retention.  The practitioner treats subtle imbalances by tapping into the primary respiratory mechanism to clear blockages in the cerebrospinal fluid

Therapeutic Exercises
Demonstrate stretches that can be practiced at home to create more lasting improvement

What conditions can Osteopathic medicine treat?

  • Sore or pulled muscles and joints
  • Chronic pain, fibromyalgia
  • Postural problems
  • Repetitive strain injuries
  • TMJ syndrome and jaw problems
  • Sprains and strains
  • Whip lash, frozen shoulder
  • Headached (tension, migraine)
  • Digestive problems
  • Post surgical pain, scar tissue
  • Stress and anxiety
  • Pinched nerve, sciatica
  • Herniated or slipped disc
  • Tendinitis or carpal tunnel

Interested in booking a treatment or want to learn more about Osteopathic medicine? Contact us today at 604-235-8068 or by email at info@yaletownnaturopathic.com to book an appointment or a free 15 minutes consultation to see if you would benefit from Osteopathic treatments.

Suicide Prevention and Awareness September 19, 2016

Posted by Dreamhealer in best vancouver naturopath, Healing, mental health, suicide.
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suicide-prevention-vancouver-naturopathAlmost two years ago I woke to the news that a very good friend of mine had committed suicide. In the past, I’d known of people who had done this, but this was the first it had hit this close to home. And as is always the case in situations like this, all I was left with was sadness and unanswered questions – all variations on “What could I have done?”.

Everyone experiences pain, whether it be physical pain or mental/emotional pain. And everyone has different resources to help cope with that pain: for physical pain – analgesics, acupuncture, herbal medicines. For mental/emotional pain – spending time with friends and family, exercise, anti-depressant medications, counselling, etc. But when the pain one is experiencing overwhelms the resources one has to deal with it, then often suicide starts to become a viable option in one’s mind.

How do you react if someone tells you that they’re thinking about ending their life? Most people react in an emotional way – “That’s a terrible idea, things will get better, you’re just feeling down today, only a coward would think of doing that” or even worse, “You can’t end your life – you’ll go to hell if you do”.

Instead, try just saying “Thank you for telling me” and then just listen. When a friend is stuck in the black spiral of depression, it can seem like nothing will ever change for the better. In can be hard to even remember what being happy feels like. They feel trapped in their own heads, locked in with the negative voices that get louder and louder, and which drown out the voice that is always there reassuring them that, in fact, things will get better. And it helps just having someone to listen to them talk. It allows them – for a moment at least – to speak over those voices and feel like they’re not alone with their dark thoughts.

If you are experiencing such mental pain that you are thinking about ending your life – I can promise you that you haven’t tried everything yet. Pharmaceutical anti-depressants can be a lifesaver for some people, especially when combined with something like cognitive behavioural therapy. (Although in my opinion, they are overused in our society – given to people who didn’t really need them in the first place and who find themselves stuck on a medicine that they can’t manage to get off of.) Non-pharmaceutical options – regular exercise; supplements like 5-HTP, vitamin D, omega-3s; herbal medicines like St. John’s Wort (which has been shown in clinical trials to be as effective as SSRIs in mild to moderate depression); eating a healthy diet; making future plans for something that you can look forward to; engaging in activities that you have enjoyed in the past; the list goes on.

For my friend, I make this pledge: if you are someone who has considered or is considering suicide, I will always be someone who will listen in a completely non-judgemental way, and only offer advice if that is what you need from me. And if you are a person who finds themselves uncomfortable when someone tries to talk to you about suicide, then please learn to open your heart and mind and just listen. You may be given the chance that I wish I had been given – to save a life.

Caution: Natural supplements can be harmful, especially if taken with other medications, and so should only be used on advice from a health care practitioner

How to Balance the Phases of Your Menstrual Cycle to Get Pregnant: Advice from a Fertility Acupuncturist September 1, 2016

Posted by Dreamhealer in Acupuncture, fertility, Healing, Health.
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Written by Heidi BrockMyer

Just like nature cycles through four seasons during the course of the year, your body cycles through four phases during each menstrual cycle. As you tune into the changing seasons of the year, you eat different foods and switch clothing to support your body as it adjusts to the environmental changes. 

These adjustments are intuitive. You instinctively know to eat in-season produce, drink warm teas during the winter, and eat refreshing watermelon to stay hydrated during hot summer months. However you may not be as in tune with the needs of your body during each phase of your menstrual cycle. Supporting each phase helps you to maintain a regular healthy menstrual cycle, balance your hormones and sustain the health of your eggs and uterine lining.

In our culture, we aren’t taught much about our reproductive systems, let alone about the phases of our menstrual cycle. Many women don’t know what fertile cervical mucus is until they start learning to chart their cycles.

Most of us don’t know that a healthier cycle is the prerequisite for improving fertility and creating a healthy pregnancy. I compare it to tilling the soils to prepare for an abundant harvest. By gaining insight into the rhythms of your cycle, you can influence the health of your cycle and your fertility, which is where the wisdom of Chinese medicine has so much to offer.



Each phase typically lasts about seven days if you maintain a regular 28 day cycle. The first phase of your cycle begins with the first day of your period. Although you may only have flow for one to three days, this first week is considered the first phase.

The primary goal during this phase is to completely shed your uterine lining. Energy needs to be flowing in the right direction, which is down and out of your body. This is a delicate phase.  A lot of movement is taking place and so your body should rest and be allowed to do it’s thing.

It takes energy for the body to release the lining. If energy flow is weakened or disrupted, you may not fully shed the lining. Old stagnant blood can stick around and cause clots.

Acupuncturist’s Tip: Stay hydrated and drink additional electrolytes. If you crave red meat, you likely need the iron. Otherwise avoid eating heavy and greasy foods.

During your period, avoid exercising. Gentle stretching and light walking are acceptable.



Phase two begins around one week after your period starts and lasts until ovulation.

The primary goal during the second phase is to rebuild blood and nutrients to nourish a healthy uterine lining and support the maturation of a healthy egg for ovulation.  As soon as your flow stops, you can begin nourishing your body to build up blood and fluids again.  

This is considered the yin phase (versus yang) of your menstrual cycle. Yin is the substance and fluid material of your body, while yang is energy that fuels movement and function.

Although it’s important during all four phases of your cycle to get a good night’s sleep, your body especially needs it during this time. By missing out on quality sleep, you may not replenish your blood supply adequately, which can affect the health of your lining and eggs, especially if this is a chronic habit.

Acupuncturist’s Tip: : During this phase, eat plenty of nourishing foods, like soups and stews, iron-rich cooked vegetables and organic animal protein to rebuild your blood supply and mature an egg for ovulation.

Avoid excessively sweating and overly vigorous exercise during this time. Get plenty of sleep.



Phase three begins with ovulation and lasts for one week following ovulation.  This phase begins when the “yin” (blood and fluids) comes to a climax and transforms into yang as the body signals that it’s ready for ovulation.  

The yang phase embodies warmth and movement. This is why your basal body temperature should rise immediately after ovulating. The hormones released during this phase of your cycle warm up the body to promote the release of the egg-containing follicle.

The warmth encourages dilation and blood flow so that the egg can be released from the follicle and travel unobstructed down the open fallopian tubes. Yangenergy catalyzes the follicular shell to transform into the corpus luteum.

 Acupuncturist’s Tip:During this phase, keep your feet, lower back and abdomen warm.  Stretching the hips, lower back, and pelvic area can help increase blood flow and movement in the reproductive organs while relieving congestion.

Avoid cold foods, raw vegetables, and phlegm producing foods, like sugar and dairy during this phase as these can cause congestion and fluid buildup in your tubes and uterus. Congestion makes it difficult for the sperm to reach the eggs and for an embryo to make the journey down the tubes.



This phase begins about one week after ovulation and ends the day you get your period or a confirmed pregnancy with the first day of your late period.

This phase sustains the warmth and movement of energy or “qi”. Your temperatures should continue to stay high during this phase and typically drop off right before you begin your period. If implantation took place (usually between 7-10 days after ovulation), then warmth and blood flow will continue to be the main priority as you nourish a growing embryo.

If you are not pregnant, the yang energy gathers to a peak then transforms back into yin with the onset of your period. Your hormones adjust before you start shedding the uterine lining. When this energy bottlenecks, it may result in a variety of PMS symptoms like moodiness, bloating, and headaches.

Acupuncturist’s Tip: During this phase to minimize stress, as it disrupts the flow of qi and can worsen the symptoms. Caffeine and alcohol should also be avoided, while exercise and stretching helps regulate the flow ofqi.  

Your body performs infinite miracles every moment of every day in every cell. The better you understand your body, the better you can support it. The more in tune you are with your cycle, the more you can till the soils of your fertility.

To book your appointment contact us today at 604-235-8068 or email info@yaletownnaturopathic.com for more information on how we can help you on your path to wellness.

Article Retrieved from: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/how-to-balance-the-phases-of-your-menstrual-cycle-to_us

What’s the Hype About the Paleo Diet? July 28, 2016

Posted by Dreamhealer in best vancouver naturopath, best vancouver nutritionist, Diet, Healing, Health, Naturopathic Doctor, Naturopathic Medicine.
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Written by: Dr. Kaleigh Coolsaet

The Paleolithic diet, shortened to the ‘Paleo’ Diet, is becoming more popular and more people are starting to adapt it into their healthy lifestyle. Most patients come in asking what exactly is a paleo diet, is it healthy, and is it right for me?

The paleo diet is a nutrient dense way of eating based on eating a variety of quality meats, seafood, vegetables, fruits, eggs, nuts and seeds. It focuses on eating whole foods that have not been processed, while avoiding nutrient poor processed and refined foods.

When eating a paleo diet, and focusing on nutrient rich foods this in turns improves our health by helping improve digestion through healing our digestive tract and feeding the healthy bacteria. It also has other benefits for our bodies as it can improve our immune function, improve our ability to regulate hormones and boost our metabolism.

The foods that are avoided in the paleo diet including grains, legumes, dairy, alcohol, sugar. These foods are pro-inflammatory to our system. These foods tend to be calorie rich, and nutrient poor; what we call “empty calories”. They can also cause irritation to our digestive tract. So by eliminating these foods from our diet, we are able to focus on more nutrient dense, and healing foods to help us improve energy and nourish our bodies.

Foods to Include Foods to Avoid
Vegetables Grains
Fruits Dairy
Lean meats Legumes
Poultry Starches & Sugars
Seafood Processed Foods
Nuts & Seeds Alcohol
Healthy fats Highly refined & processed fats

On a metabolic level the paleo diet helps improve lean muscle mass, reduce excess body fat and maintaining stable blood sugar levels. It provides your body with all the nutrients for maintaining stable energy levelsthroughout the day and can help improve your sleep quality.

In summary, the paleo diet is a nutrient dense and anti-inflammatory diet, which can help improve many conditions including: Allergies, IBS, Diabetes, Skin conditions (ex. Eczema, Psoriasis), Depression, Cancer, Obesity, Infertility and more.

Is the paleo diet right for you? Before starting any dietary changes it is always recommended to speak to your healthcare practitioner to make sure you are eating and maintaining a balanced diet.

Best in Health,

Dr. Kaleigh

Dr. Kaleigh Coolsaet practices at Yaletown Naturopathic Clinic, contact us today to book you appointment at 604-235-8068 or by email info@yaletownnaturopathic.com. Get well, stay well.

Staying Hydrated! July 25, 2016

Posted by Dreamhealer in best vancouver naturopath, best vancouver nutritionist, Healing, Health.
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Written by: Dr. Kaleigh Coolsaet

Now that summer is fast approaching its time to think water! During the summer months, we tend to be more active. Add that with warmer temperatures and we sweat a lot more. Keeping properly hydrated is important for optimal health as well as preventing heat stroke and dehydration.

Easy ways to incorporate more water into your days is to prepare fruit or herbal tea infused water. Try carrying around a water bottle with you to all your summer activities to remind you to drink plenty of water while on the go.

Refreshing Fruit Water:

  • 2-3 Litres of water (depending on the size of your water jug)
  • 2 Lemons
  • ½ cucumber
  • 10-12 mint leaves

Add all ingredients into your water jug and place in the fridge or add ice


Stay hydrated everyday with drinking a minimum of two litres of water per day. Increase that amount of water on the days you exercise to replenish the water lost from sweat. Drinking an electrolyte solution is also important to replenish salts lost and helps to keep your cells hydrated.

Electrolyte replacement beverages:

Coconut water is a refreshing source of naturally occurring electrolytes.

Homemade electrolyte drink:

  • 1 litre of water
  • Juice of one citrus fruit (lemon, lime, or orange)
  • 3 Tbp honey
  • 1/2 tsp sea salt
  • 1/4 tsp baking soda

Note: Most commercial brand electrolyte drinks contain artificial colours and/or sweeteners which can have negative health effects. Look for products that are naturally sweetened with glucose, fructose, sucrose and don’t contain artificial colours.

Best in Health,

Dr. Kaleigh

3 Steps to Reduce Stress and Improve Digestion July 21, 2016

Posted by Dreamhealer in best vancouver naturopath, best vancouver nutritionist, Diet, digestion, Healing, stress.
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Your Body & Stress: A Three Part Series (2 of 3)

Written by: Dr. Kaleigh Coolsaet, ND

Welcome back! In the previous series on your body and stress we discussed the general affects of stress on our bodies and mores specifically our immune system. Read here if you missed it. In this second part we are going to focus on how stress can disrupt our digestive system leading to unwanted symptoms such as bloating, cramping, and heartburn.

First, when talking about stress and our nervous system we have two programs that have allowed us to survive: ‘Fight or Flight’ and ‘Rest and Digest’. These two systems are essential to our survival, and are still present in our bodies today.

Fight or flight is geared towards adapting to a current stressor. We divert blood away from our digestive system and send blood to our muscles so we can run away from that bear or to catch our next meal. We also increase our heart and respiration rates, and our vision becomes more precise. Our senses are heightened so we can survive. Our ability to sense stress and adapt has lead to our survival.

At the other end of the spectrum is rest and digest mode. When we are safe, and recovering from our adventures, we can now send blood to our digestive system so we can properly digest our meals. We also decrease our heart and respiration rate to conserve energy. We don’t need to be on full alert, and our bodies are more focused on repair and regeneration.

So how do these two systems affect our lives today? Its true we aren’t hunter-gatherers focused on catching prey to survive, or running away from bears anymore. Our stressors have changed over time, but we are still constantly bombarded with stress everyday, which leads us to live most of our daily lives in ‘Fight or Flight’. Stress can come in many forms including: social pressures, work, technology, noise, lights, news, etc. From the time we wake to when we go to bed, we are constantly on the go, focused on performance and taking care of others.

So how does this relate to our digestive system? A typical day may include eating on the go, multi tasking while taking your lunch break or skipping meals all together. As I mentioned, when we are in flight or fight mode (working, multitasking, etc.) we divert blood away from our digestive system. This shuts down our digestive capacity, and leads to decreased secretion of stomach acid, and enzymes that are required for proper digestion. When we can’t digest our food properly, it leaves us with those nagging symptoms of heartburn, bloating and cramping.

So to help improve our digestion we need to switch gears and get into ‘rest and digest’ mode. The more time we can spend in rest and digest mode, the more time our body properly digest our meals, repair and regenerate.

Three Simple Steps To Improve Digestion:

  • Lemon water or bitters.
    The bitter taste from lemons and digestive bitters stimulates our bodies to prime itself for digestion. You need to actually taste the bitterness, so no capsules or added sugar. Simply incorporate one of these 10-15 minutes before your meals.
  • Breathing
    Taking time before each meal to sit quietly and breathe deeply for 1-2 minutes before meals. This stimulates our vagus nerve, which controls the digestive system. It helps our bodies start to secrete the necessary acid and enzymes for proper digestion.
  • Chew Properly
    Chewing is our first step in digestion. Taking time to chew not only breaks down our food into small pieces for easy digestion, but also sends signals to our nervous system that it is time to start up the rest of the digestive processes in our stomach and intestines.

The above-mentioned tips are simple ways to help switch your body from fight or flight into rest and digest mode. These tools are best used consistently and in conjunction with sitting down to eat your meals, while focusing on the food you are consuming. No TV, no cell phones, no work while eating. This can be a difficult habit to create, but will help you reduce any unwanted and unnecessary digestive symptoms.

If you have tried these tips consistently with no success, it may be time to consult a naturopathic physician to assess your digestive concerns to determine the root cause and prescribe an appropriate treatment plan.

In our next part of the series we will discuss how stress affects our hormones, and more tips on how to combat stress and improve you health.

Best in Health,

Dr. Kaleigh

To read more about Dr. Coolsaet visit her website.


Naturopathic Medicine Should be a First Resort, Not a Last Resort July 14, 2016

Posted by Dreamhealer in best vancouver naturopath, Cancer, cancer therapy, Cancer Treatment, Healing, integrative cancer care, Naturopathic Doctor, Naturopathic Medicine.
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Written By: Dr. Adam McLeod, ND, BSc (Hons)

With any treatment plan the goal is to always use the least invasive therapy first before considering more aggressive invasive therapy. This makes it more likely that the health concern can be effectively treated without harming the patient. If someone has a mild infection that can be easily treated with a well tolerated low dose oral antibiotic then it makes sense to use this prior to trying high dose intravenous antibiotics that are more likely to cause complications. This rationale is common sense.

When faced with a diagnosis of cancer, patients are often overwhelmed with information and this can scare them into immediately resorting to the most aggressive treatment plan possible and in the process natural therapies are dismissed out of fear. In many cases, only after all conventional options have been exhausted do they seek integrative care. This is not the ideal time to integrate natural therapies into the plan as the bodies immune system is often severely weakened at this point in time. Naturopathic medicine should be integrated into the plan from the first day of diagnosis.

I am not in any way suggesting that patients should be avoiding conventional care. The evidence is clear, patients do better when they have an integrative health care team. This means that conventional and natural therapies are used together in a synergistic manner. After consulting with their oncologist, some patients are left with the impression that there is no evidence to support any therapy beyond what is being recommended. This could not be further from the truth. These therapies have hundreds of peer reviewed studies and depending on where you are in the world they can be the standard of care. In many major cancer centres in the USA, naturopathic doctors are now working in hospitals along side medical oncologists and patients are doing better as a result.

Naturopathic medicine can be very effective at supporting the immune system and reducing side effects during conventional cancer therapies. You can do all the chemotherapy in the world but if you do not have a functioning immune system to clean up the metabolic mess then it will not be a successful plan. This is where naturopathic medicine excels and it should be used from day one. It is not unusual for me to have patients at my office using the strongest and most toxic chemotherapy that medicine has to offer, and they breeze through it with minimal side effects.

It is critical to recognize that you must have professional guidance when developing an integrative treatment plan. Do not take advice from friends or the internet and start taking a supplement because you heard it was good for cancer. Not all cancers are the same and there are legitimate interactions that you must be aware of. Only a naturopathic doctor who works with oncology will be able to help you develop a targeted and effective treatment plan that is indicated for your unique health circumstances. Working with a naturopathic doctor also makes it possible to have true integrative care where multiple health care practitioners are working collaboratively on your case.

You do not have to take these supplements in secret. If you desire an integrative treatment plan then your naturopathic doctor should be making an effort to reach out to your oncologist to inform them about what you are taking. When oncologists are provided with information about what you are taking and why, they are often happy to work collaboratively. Both naturopathic medicine and conventional medicine have a lot that they can offer patients. The ideal treatment plan does not have to be one extreme where the other healthcare practitioners are completely disregarded. The most effective plan is a collaborative integrative plan that is developed based on the best available scientific evidence. Integrating naturopathic medicine with conventional medicine should be every patients first resort, not their last.

Dr. Adam McLeod is a Naturopathic Doctor (ND), BSc. (Hon) Molecular biology, Motivational Speaker and International Best Selling Author. He currently practices at his clinic in Vancouver, British Columbia where he focuses on integrative oncology. http://www.yaletownnaturopathic.com

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