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FDA Bans Three Chemicals Linked to Cancer From Food Packaging January 10, 2016

Posted by Dreamhealer in Cancer, Chemicals, Government, Naturopathic Medicine, nutrition.
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cancer causing foods

Under pressure from the Environmental Working Group (EWG) and other environmental and health groups, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is banning three grease-resistant chemical substances linked to cancer and birth defects from use in pizza boxes, microwave popcorn bags, sandwich wrappers and other food packaging.

The FDA’s belated action comes more than a decade after EWG and other advocates sounded alarms and five years after U.S. chemical companies stopped making the chemicals. It does nothing to prevent food processors and packagers from using almost 100 related chemicals that may also be hazardous.

“Industrial chemicals that pollute people’s blood clearly have no place in food packaging,” EWG President Ken Cook said. “But it’s taken the FDA more than 10 years to figure that out and it’s banning only three chemicals that aren’t even made any more.

“This is another egregious example of how, all too often, regulatory actions under the nation’s broken chemical laws are too little and too late to protect Americans’ health. Congress needs to ensure that chemicals that make their way into food, either as deliberate additives or as contaminants from packaging and other outside sources, are thoroughly investigated.”

The packaging substances banned by FDA, in an order that takes effect Feb. 1, are perfluorinated compounds or PFCs, a class that includes the chemicals used to make DuPont’s Teflon and 3M’s Scotchgard. Through their use in thousands of consumer products, PFCs have polluted the blood of virtually all Americans. They can be passed through the umbilical cord to the fetus. They contaminate drinking water for more than 6.5 million people in 27 states, according to water tests conducted by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

In 2005, former DuPont engineer Glen Evers revealed that for decades, DuPont had hidden its use of a PFC-based coating in paper food packaging, despite evidence that PFCs were harmful to human health. Following Evers’ disclosures, EWG wrote to the leaders of numerous fast-food companies, asking them to disclose whether their companies used PFCs in food wrappers. Burger King and some other companies said they would stop using wrappers with certain PFCs. In 2008, the California Legislature approved an EWG-backed bill to ban some PFCs in food packaging, but it was vetoed by then-Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger.

Meanwhile, in 2005, the EPA made voluntary agreements with DuPont, 3M and other chemical companies to phase out production and use of some PFCs. But because the EPA regulates chemicals in consumer products while the FDA has authority over chemicals in food, the EPA phaseout did not remove the compounds from the FDA’s list of substances approved for contact with food.

Although the three chemicals were no longer made in the U.S. as of 2011, the possibility remained that food packaging with those chemicals made in other countries could be imported to America. In October 2014, EWG and eight other groups petitioned the FDA to bar them from its list of approved food-contact materials.

Over the past decade, chemical companies have introduced dozens of chemicals similar to those phased out under the EPA-led deal. The FDA has approved almost 100 other PFC compounds for use in food packaging.

In 2008, EWG investigated FDA safety assessments and approvals for those next-generation PFCs and concluded that the agency failed to give adequate attention to the long-term health consequences of exposure to those substances. Since then, FDA has approved 20 more PFC chemicals for use in food wrappers. Public information on the safety of these substances is largely nonexistent.

“We know very little about the safety of these next-generation PFCs in food wrappers,” EWG Senior Scientist David Andrews said, who analyzed the more recent FDA approvals. “But their chemical structure is very similar to the ones that have been phased out and the very limited safety testing that has been done suggests they may have some of the same health hazards. To protect Americans’ health, the FDA and EPA should require that chemicals be proved safe before they are allowed on the marketplace.”

The FDA ban comes in response to a petition filed by the Natural Resources Defense Council, Center for Food Safety, Breast Cancer Fund, Center for Environmental Health, Clean Water Action, Center for Science in the Public Interest, Children’s Environmental Health Network, Improving Kids’ Environment and EWG.

Article retrieved from: http://ecowatch.com/2016/01/05/ban-chemicals-food-packaging/

For more article on the latest cancer research visit: http://yaletownnaturopathic.com/blog/

Seasonal Affective Disorder February 4, 2016

Posted by Dreamhealer in best vancouver naturopath, Healing.
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Seasonal Affective Disorder or SAD for short is not just a pseudoscientific way for saying you don’t like the winter. It is a recognized mental illness characterized by recurring episodes of depression during fall and winter months. The prevalence of SAD over all is about 5%. The incidence increases in distance from the equator to approximately 10% in more northern latitudes where risk factors are increased (longer, more severe winters and less daylight hours in winter). One study carried out in New York City showed up to 25% of the population were suffering from the condition. The prevalence in women Vs men is about 4:1 during childbearing years. In later life this evens out and it affects older people equally in both sexes. As with almost any mental illness SAD can also affect children. January and February have been shown to be the most difficult months for patients suffering with this condition.

SAD presents with similar symptoms to other forms of depression however this form is seasonal in nature occurring primarily during the fall and winter months. Common symptoms include sadness, anxiety, irritability, premenstrual difficulties, decreased energy, activity and libido. In order to receive a diagnosis of seasonal affective disorder a person must fall under the following diagnostic criteria as outlined in the DSM-V which is the American Psychiatric Association’s diagnostic manual containing criteria for all mental disorders.

  • A regular recurrence of a major depressive episode at a particular time of year
  • Full remission or a change from major depression to mania or hypomania must also occur at particular time of year.
  • To demonstrate the seasonal relationship two major depressive episodes must have occurred in the past two years.
  • Nonseasonal major depressive episodes must not have occurred during the same period of time.
  • Seasonally related depressive episode must outnumber non seasonal major depressive episodes that may have occurred over a person’s lifetime.

Another symptom that often appears in cases of seasonal affective disorder is increased food intake (particularly craving for carbohydrates) and resulting weight gain as well as hypersomnia (increased sleeping) and reduced social and professional function.  It is important to rule out other illnesses before making a diagnosis of seasonal affective disorders. Other illnesses with similar presentation include -chronic fatigue, hypothyroidism, depression and mood disorders, bipolar and premenstrual dysphoric disorder.

SAD is a complex disorder resulting from multiple factors. Theories abound on the exact causes for this disorder but what the research does show is a clear link between reduced sunlight and seasonal depression. Disruption to the body’s circadian rhythm (body clock) caused by inadequate light exposure may be exacerbated in some people by genetic factors. Retinal sensitivity to light, neurotransmitter dysfunction and changes to brain chemistry in winter months. Other risk factors include susceptibility to stress, predisposition to depression e.g. family history and as previously mentioned, older age. It is also arguable that in winter months there is less social interaction and stimulation as people are confined indoors leading to more increasing feelings of boredom, loneliness and ultimately depression. There is an interesting link here to depression in older people. Depression has long been seen as a common, unavoidable symptom of old age for some people. As people age they are more at risk of becoming confined indoors (without sunlight) due to poor mobility, poor health or institutionalization. This can also lead them to become socially isolated. It seems there are at least some risk factors which are the same for depression in older people as seasonal affective disorder.

There are several treatments which have been shown to be effective in treating SAD. These include pharmacotherapy (medication), cognitive behavioural therapy and light therapy. Pharmacotherapy involves the use of SSRI drugs such as fluoxetine. Fluoxetine is a widely used medication. You may know it by it’s brand name Prozac. It has been shown to be useful in treating a number of different disorders including SAD, depression, anxiety disorders, OCD and eating disorders. This drug does come with side effects. In some cases it can make depressive symptoms worse. Anxiety, fatigue, nausea,  drowsiness, trouble sleeping, seizures, fainting and skin reactions are some of the potential side effects you will find on the warning label. Side effects may be one reason why up to 30% of patients who commence treatment on SSRI drugs discontinue use within 6 weeks. While not all patients may suffer these effects, studies have shown comparable result for the treatment of SAD between pharmacotherapy and light therapy. In fact, light therapy patients showed a faster response with less adverse effects then patients using medication to guide their treatment.

What is Light Therapy?

This simple non-pharmacologic intervention involves the administration of artificial light usually in the patient’s home. Recommendations vary from 2500-lux intensity to 10,000-lux and length of exposure has also been examined from 30 mins – 6 hours. Patents have seen improvements with just 30 minute treatments at a higher intensity light but most studies recommend 2 hours. Treatment is most effective when carried out once a day in the early morning. The use of different types of light have produced varying results. The most effective being full spectrum fluorescent light at a distance of 1 meter at eye level. This mimics the kind of light seen outdoors. Patients do not have to look directly at the light and they can be doing other things while receiving the treatment. They must have their eyes open and be awake for treatment to be effective. The positive anti-depressant effects of this intervention are often seen within 3-4 days and there is statistically measurable improvement within 1-2 weeks. Many patients experience a full relief of symptoms with light therapy. Some studies have shown that the beneficial effects can continue for weeks after treatment but many patients will relapse without therapy during the winter months and it is advised that they continue to receive light therapy throughout winter. It may also be beneficial to commence treatment in the early fall before the onset of winter to preempt the depressive symptoms.

The mechanism of action for light therapy is poorly understood for several reasons. It is difficult to carry out a controlled study as there is not placebo that researchers can use instead of light. Also many of the existing studies have small sample sizes and results don’t corroborate one another. This has made it difficult for researchers to gain an insight into how light therapy works why some people experience seasonal depression while others don’t. What the studies are in agreements about is the positive anti-depressant effects of light therapy with fewer side effects than medication.

One other way you can help your body to overcome seasonal depression is with what you put in it. Omega-3 fatty acids found in fish plays a huge role in the health of the nervous system and brain health. There is a growing body of evidence to support the idea that the increasing incidence of depression is linked to the decreasing amount of omega-3 in our diet. Several studies in different parts of the world have identified a link between high intake of fish which is rich in omega-3 and lower incidence of different forms of depression. Another important nutrient in terms of mental heath is vitamin D. Vitamin D is involved in brain development and maintenance.  Several studies have shown a link between low levels of vitamin D and a higher incidence of all kinds of depression including SAD. It binds to receptors in the hippocampus and cingulate which are parts of the brain known to be involved in the pathophysiology of depression. This would support the theory that vitamin D may be associated with depression and could have a role in it’s treatment. Much of our vitamin D comes from sunlight so this is particularly relevant in the case of seasonal affective disorder. Similarly, magnesium has been shown to be effective as an adjunctive therapy for depression and multiple studies show that people with an increased intake of magnesium are less likely to have depression. What much of the research does stress is the need for more controlled trials and research into the use of these simple and cost effective therapies for depression.

If you feel that you may be experiencing depression, seasonal or otherwise, talking to yournaturopathic doctor might be helpful. Naturopathic doctors can bring together a wide range of tools and knowledge including nutritional guidance, supplementation, botanical and herbal medicine,  counselling, acupuncture and pharmacologic interventions to create a tailored plan for you. The practitioners at Yaletown Naturopathic Clinic are experienced in offering effective support to optimize your mental and physical wellbeing. 


1.Bright Light Treatment Decreases Depression in Institutionalized Older Adults: A Placebo-Controlled Crossover Study. Samaya I.C.,Rienzi B.M., Deegan J.F. and Moss D.E. 2001Journal of Gerontology.

2. Seasonal Affective Disorder, Kurlansik S. and Ibay A.D. 2013. Indian Journal of Clinical Practice.

3. Neurobehavioral Aspects ofOmega-3 Fatty Acids:Possible Mechanisms and Therapeutic Value in Major Depression. Logan A.C. 2003. Alternative Medicine Review.

4. Light Therapy for Seasonal Affective Disorder. A Review of Efficacy. Terman M., Terman J.S., Quitkin F.M., McGrath P.J., Stewart, J.W., Rafferty B. 1989. Neuropsychopharmacology.

5. Vitamin D deficiency and depression in adults: systematic review and meta-analysis

Rebecca E. S. Anglin, Zainab Samaan, Stephen D. Walter and Sarah D. McDonald. 2013. The British Journal of Psychiatry.

6. Magnesium and depression: a systematic review. Marie-Laure Derom1, Carmen Sayón-Orea1, José María Martínez-Ortega2, Miguel A. Martínez-González1.2013. Nutritional Neuroscience.

So You’ve Decided to Quit Smoking (Again!) February 1, 2016

Posted by Dreamhealer in addiction, best vancouver naturopath, cigarettes, Healing, Smoking.
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Written by: Dr. Reuben Dinsmore

One of the most common New Year’s resolutions that people make is that they will finally quit smoking.

Whatever your reasons for doing so (for your health, financial reasons, providing a good example for your kids, no longer wanting to go around smelling like an ashtray), they are your reasons, and they’re crucial to your success. Unless you truly want to quit, you probably won’t be successful. Even IF you truly want to quit, you might not make it. But the single more important contributing factor to your success? Turns out it’s the number of times you try! If at first you don’t succeed…

Now, if this is your first time trying to quit, good luck! If you’ve tried before, but it didn’t stick – try again! But first – think back on that last time you tried, and see if you can figure out what it was that made you start smoking again – and this time, do what you can to prevent that from happening again.

If you need a little encouragement, consider these facts about your body’s amazing ability for healing:

  • 20 minutes (after the last cigarette of your life): your heart and blood pressure drop
  • 12 hours: the carbon monoxide in your blood returns to normal
  • 48 hours: nerve endings start to regenerate, allowing you to taste and smell more clearly
  • 2-12 weeks: circulation and lung function improve
  • 1-9 months: cilia (protective “hairs” in the airways) regrow, helping reduce chance of infection
  • 1+ years: steadily decreasing risk of stroke, coronary heart disease, lung and other smoking-related cancers

So how are you going to make this happen?

The Smoking Cessation Program (aka “Quit Now, Quit Forever” or “Ditch the Nic”) here at Yaletown Naturopathic Clinic is a multi-faceted 6-week program designed to gently wean you off nicotine, curb the cravings and break the behavioural aspect of your smoking habit, as well as providing general health support to get you back to optimal health as quickly as possible. We’ll use a combination of acupuncture and behavioural modification, along with supplements that support the body’s natural detoxification pathways and help your body start getting back to its healthy pre-tobacco state.

As of January 1, 2016, the BC government introduced a new programthat covers part or all of the cost of either nicotine replacement therapy (NRT) or prescription smoking cessation medications.

Nicotine replacement therapy is just what it says – a way to get nicotine into the body that doesn’t involve smoking (or vaporizing) it. They provide a tailored approach starting with the amount you currently smoke, which is then gradually decreased over a period of weeks to months. If followed correctly, this can be very effective. It provides nicotine to the body, which helps to prevent cravings when you stop getting the drug through smoking. Over time, the mental attachment to the act of smoking gradually diminishes as you no longer perform that action.

Prescription medications to help quit smoking are another option. Bupropion (brand name Wellbutrin or Zyban) acts on the nicotine receptors to make them less receptive to the actions of nicotine, as well as moderating the dopamine and norepinephrine systems. Varenicline (brand name Champix) similarly partially blocks the action of nicotine, as well as decreasing the pleasure perceived from smoking by its actions on the dopamine system. How effective are they? Compared to a placebo, taking either of these medications (based on a 12-week treatment period) increases one’s chances of remaining smoke-free by at least 50%, measured at the one-year mark. Some official side effects reported were nausea and sleep disturbances. However, varenicline has also been suspected in contributing to deaths of 44 people in Canada since it was approved in Canada in 2007, 30 of which were by suicide. “Increased depression and suicidal ideation” has been much more common, reported by over 1300 patients. So if you have ever suffered from even a mild mood disorder, you should consider carefully before choosing this option. Ensure you have substantial personal support in the form of friends and family who can be on the lookout for any behavioural changes while on this medication.

Your last option for quitting: going cold turkey. Some people can do it. Many people have done it. Can you? Well, that’s up to you.

Whatever option you choose, I wish you all the best. There is almost nothing else you can do for your health that provides a bigger potential benefit than quitting smoking. And you deserve it.

All the physicians at Yaletown Naturopathic Clinic have their Prescription Rights and are able to prescribe and implement all of the protocols mentioned in the article.

To book your appointment to help yourself quit smoking today call 604-235-8068 or email us at info@yaletownnaturopathic.com for more information.

Is Your Gut Friend or Foe? January 28, 2016

Posted by Dreamhealer in Healing, Health, immunity, Integrative Medicine, Naturopathic Doctor, Naturopathic Medicine, nutrition.
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Written by: Dr. Natalie Rahr, BSc, ND

Reprinted by permission from the Gastrointestinal Society. Originally published in the Inside Tract® newsletter, Issue 193, 2015. ©Gastrointestinal Society

All disease begins in the gut

Hippocrates made this statement more than 2,000 years ago. Since then, much has changed in medicine. However, this theory remains of great interest in the medical community, especially when considering the terrain of the individual, how robust their immune system may or may not be, and determining ways to treat our modern day chronic illnesses.

We live in an age when having a diagnosis of some kind is almost as common as having a job. We hear the terms IBS, IBD, autoimmune disease, hormone imbalance, arthritis, allergies, migraines, MS, asthma, neurodegenerative disease, eczema, depression, obesity, and so on.

Having a definitive diagnosis can certainly be beneficial for us to have an understanding of what is going on in the body and how it might be causing symptoms, but none of these diagnoses actually tell us why.

What if understanding the gut is the key to understanding why disease occurs? What if Hippocrates was right? This would mean that for almost all diseases and diagnoses out there, the root cause is in the gut, that what is going on in the gut has ripple effects in the body and that the gut is always a factor in determining disease or health, either partially or completely.

In my practice as a naturopathic doctor, I see a wide variety of health conditions, and more often than not, when we treat the gut, along with making sure all other ‘pillars of health’ are in place, such as sleep, nutrition, exercise, stress management, etc., the symptoms of disease diminish and often go away altogether.

How can that be? What does your gut have to do with your headache or your skin rash or your joint pain?

The Importance of Having Guts: A Genetic Potluck

Not only is the gut our second brain (and some would argue it to be our first), due to the multitude of neurons in the enteric nervous system and the amount of neurotransmitter production that takes place in the gut,[1] it contains the majority of the microbial DNA that dictates our complex functioning as humans. That delicate balance of the good and bad bacteria in the gut, also known as the microbiome, plays a large role in the health of the whole person. We are even more aware of this since scientists mapped out the human genome early this century. Researchers were amazed at the unexpectedly small size of the human genome, which is roughly equivalent to that of a dragonfly. As it turns out, later research has shown that only 1 in 10 cells in the body are human. The other 9 (or 90%) are microbial. This 90% contains the DNA from the microbes that live in and on the body and provides essential functions for the human as a whole.

The Good, the Bad, and the Commensal

When talking about the balance of good (beneficial) and bad (pathogenic) bacteria in the gut flora, there is one more category of microbe to be aware of when thinking about the gut’s influence on the rest of the body and, prior to that, the influence of the environment on the gut. Commensal bacteria are those bacteria that can go either way; they are neither fully beneficial nor are they pathogenic, they act neutrally. This is where much of our own lifestyle influences come into play in the development of health or disease. If we eat a clean and healthy diet, manage stress well, get lots of sleep, fresh air and activity, these commensal bacteria are inclined to go over to the good side. If the opposite is true, then they can turn bad. The stronger one side is over the other, the more influence it has over these commensal microbes, just like a game of red-rover, the side with the strongest hold grows and wins.

To add complexity, we require all these types of microbes in the right amounts to benefit the body. The beneficial bacteria provide the body with nutrients and help remove waste. The pathogenic bacteria, in a balanced amount, train the immune system. When the pathogenic bacteria overtake and overwhelm the beneficial bacteria things can go awry in the body. Dysbiosis, or an imbalance in the microbiome, has effects on the gut such as increasing permeability and integrity of the gut lining, leaving the body more susceptible to autoimmunity and inflammatory disorders.[2]

In short, our microbiome influences our health, and we influence the health of our microbiome.1

From the Gut to Disease

So if something is going wrong or is out of balance in the gastrointestinal tract, how does this translate to symptoms in areas of the body that, seemingly, have nothing to do with the gut?

The common analogy I use to illustrate for patients how some health care professionals believe gut health affects health of the entire body is that of a clogged kitchen sink. Imagine the things that end up in your kitchen sink every day, and imagine it all building up. That drain eventually clogs.

In the body, the main drain is analogous to the gut and your liver, your main detox pathways and means for waste elimination. Should their function become impaired to some degree due to being overwhelmed with the quantity or quality of what it is trying to eliminate, the rate at which your body (the sink) can eliminate potentially toxic by-products of metabolism slows.

Now imagine this continues for years. The level in that clogged kitchen sink begins to rise, eventually reaching the point of spilling over. Each individual exhibits unique symptoms when this spillover occurs. Early research suggests that these symptoms of spillover can be anywhere from fatigue, mood disorders, developmental disorders, skin rashes, allergies, asthma, to serious complications such asmultiple sclerosis (MS) or other severe immune dysregulation or autoimmunity.

This seems to depend on the degree of impairment in function of the drain, the quality of what is accumulating in the kitchen sink (what we put in and what we are exposed to, whether it be the food we eat, the medications we take, the environmental toxins we take in, or other factors), and what tools we use to assist the drain with the elimination of waste and toxicity.

Essentially, the integrity of the gut is analogous to the integrity of a drain, responsible for allowing everything to flow through the body with ease.

The Gut, the Brain, and the Gut-Brain Axis

Do you ever get a gut feeling: something you know in your gut even before your brain can explain it? What about butterflies in your stomach when you’re anticipating something? Perhaps when you experience stress you feel it in your gut without necessarily thinking about it.

Research continues to show us the strong links between the brain and the gut. For example, some small studies show that a leaky gut could imply a leaky brain. ‘Leakiness’, or hyperpermeability, in the gut, in part due to an imbalance in the flora, creates a playground for inflammation that cascades systemically throughout the body. Inflammation occurring in the gut might lead to inflammatory processes in the brain.[3] By the same token, what is occurring in the brain could affect the gut via the vagus nerve,[4] altering motility, function, and secretions.

In neurodegenerative diseases such as MS, one study identified hyperpermeability in the blood-brain barrier (BBB), as well as in the tight junctions of the intestinal wall.3 Another study linked this similar leakiness to the autoimmune response in the myelin sheath, or protective fatty layer wrapped around the nerves, causing a breakdown in function.[5]

The gut can also exhibit localized symptoms such as gas, bloating, diarrhea, and constipation among others, which can be transient and benign, or involve disease processes that penetrate deeper into the gut wall. “The clearest correlation between dysbiosis and disease has been found with inflammatory bowel diseases (IBD)…”,7 including Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis, in which strictures[6] and obstructions are among some of the serious complications.[7]

Effects on the gut-brain axis can cause changes to gut flora in conditions such as irritable bowel syndrome (IBS).[8] Recent research also links depression and anxiety to an inflammatory reaction in the gut.8,[9]

Individuals with obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), pediatric acute-onset neuropsychiatric disorder associated with streptococcal infections (PANDAS),[10] and neurodevelopmental disorders such as autism and attention deficit hyperactive disorder (ADHD) have all shown alterations in gut flora.1,[11]

Understanding the gut’s influence on the brain as well as the brain’s influence on the gut is a fascinating step toward treating the person as a whole, and not exclusively by symptoms.

The Gut, Allergies, and Atopic Disease

While an obvious allergic reaction or anaphylaxis clearly allows you to identify its cause, the increasingly more common delayed food sensitivities can cause an array of symptoms anywhere from local abdominal pain and bloating to migraines, body pain, skin issues like rashes or acne, and so on.[12] These symptoms may not show up for hours or even days, making it tricky to figure out what is causing the reaction.

In practice it is quite common to have patients test positive for a few-to-many food allergens, when testing for serum immunoglobulins, only to have them eliminate those foods and find that 3 to 6 months later, they now test sensitive to foods they did not initially test sensitive to. This leads some practitioners to suspect that intestinal hyperpermeability (leaky gut) is a factor and may play a role in developing food sensitivities.[13]

Dysbiosis might also be a contributing factor. In infants, the development of food allergies and sensitivities could be related to an overabundance of certain types of pathogenic bacteria, such asClostridiae along with fewer good bacteria.[14]

One study found that in atopic disease such as atopic dermatitis (eczema), the skin microbiome, which the balance of the gut microbiome indirectly alters, is very different from that of healthy skin. The study found the same to be true for psoriasis.[15]

Other symptoms of atopic disease, such as asthma, also relate to gut health. Functional and structural abnormalities, specifically in asthma, relate to persisting inflammation in the lungs and link to altered gut flora. This predisposes an immune response to occur when allergens are present, causing sensitization to these allergens and subsequent symptoms of asthma.[16]

The Gut and Joint Pain

Dysbiosis and intestinal hyperpermeability might play a role in joint inflammation. When an antigen, such as an offending food or toxin enters the blood stream from the gut, the immune system kicks in. An antibody, plus its target antigen, bind together to form a ‘complex’. This complex circulates, causing other cascades of inflammation as it goes, finally depositing in places like the joints. The joints are particularly susceptible because there is low blood circulation to flush the inflammatory complexes out.

A toxemic theory, proposed at the turn of the 20th century, alluded to a build-up of this toxicity in the body from infectious agents ultimately promoting joint inflammation.[17] In a recent study, researchers have correlated an overgrowth ofPrevotella copri to an increased susceptibility to rheumatoid arthritis.[18]

The Gut and Obesity

Alterations in the gut flora may play a part in the development of obesity.[19] (See the Inside Tract® issue 192.) Reduced bacterial diversity is common in obese individuals, which researchers believe may be interfering with metabolic pathways, since the gut harbours many microbes responsible for regulating metabolism and extracting energy from otherwise indigestible elements of the diet. One study reviewing the microbiome diversity of obese and lean mice suggests that microbes play a role in the efficiency of calorie use and calorie storage in the body.[20]

The Gut and the Immune System

Have you ever been the only person in your household who doesn’t get sick, or are you the first to get sick?

The gut is our main route of contact with the external world; 70% of the immune system is located in the gut. This is mediated through the gut-associated lymphoid tissue (GALT), which is responsible for orienting immune response to contents in the gut and for the production of 80% or our main first immune response, that of Immunoglobulin A (IgA) in the mucous layer.

In a study on the effect of the gut microbiome on the flu virus infection, the immune modulating effects stretch far beyond the gut to the respiratory mucosa, acting protectively.[21]

Increasingly, some health care professionals recognize that disruptions in the commensal microflora may lead to immune dysfunction and autoimmunity.[22]

So Is Your Gut Friend or Foe?

It’s your friend!

If the gut is the root of all disease, as Hippocrates suggested, then, it could also be the root of all wellness.

In other words, if it is true that disease does begin, or has something to do with some amount of disruption, in the gut environment, then this could mean that the root of all health also lies in the gut and in healing the diversity of this environment.

What to Do?

Thus begins your journey of healing the gut.

First, when looking to protect and nourish a healthy gut, think basics: think slow food, single ingredient, whole food, colourful food, and think fresh, unprocessed, and seasonal food, live and fermented foods, and nutrient-dense foods.

As for what to minimize or avoid as much as you can, think medications such as antibiotics, oral birth control, NSAIDs, caffeine, alcohol, processed and genetically modified foods, processed sugar, foods you are sensitive or allergic to, food dyes, packaged, and pasteurized foods.

There is also much talk around seeding the microbiome of a baby’s gut before, during, and after birth. This promotes the development of a healthy immune system, through prenatal health care and preparation of the mother and father, natural vaginal birth, and breastfeeding, along with ongoing exposures to the environment through childhood to train the immune system and increase the diversity of the child’s microbiome.[23]

These basic things are a great start to help the gut move to a state of greater health, and therefore help the whole person establish or maintain health.

Keep in mind that once a disease state is already in process, testing and stronger treatments are required. These might include high dose nutrient supplementation, medications, or natural methods of assisting the body with eliminating accumulated toxins. Naturopathic doctors and functional medicine doctors are the experts in holistic care to help get you on track, deal with the root cause of illness, and address your individual needs. We work closely with your conventional medicine team to ensure a smooth, effective treatment plan.

Dr. Natalie Rahr practices at the Yaletown Naturopathic Clinic in Vancouver, British Columbia. To book an appointment please contact Yaletown Naturopathic clinic at 604-235-8068 or by email at info@yaletownnaturopathic.com.


[1]       Hadhazy, A. Think Twice: How the Gut’s “Second Brain” Influences Mood and Well-Being. The emerging and surprising view of how the enteric nervous system in our bellies goes far beyond just processing the food we eat. Scientific American. February 12, 2010.

[2]       Cho I et al. The human microbiome: at the interface of health and disease. Nature Reviews Genetics. 2012;13:260-70.

[3]       Deretzi G et al. Gastrointestinal immune system and brain dialogue implicated in neuroinflammatory and neurodegenerative diseases. Current Molecular Medicine. 2011;11(8):696-707.

[4]       Fasano A. Leaky Gut and Autoimmune diseases. Clinic Rev Allerg Immunol. 2012; 42:71-8.

[5]       Nouri M et al. Intestinal Barrier Dysfunction Develops at the Onset of Experimental Autoimmune Encephalomyelitis, and Can Be Induced by Adoptive Transfer of Auto-Reactive T Cells. PLoS ONE. 2014;9(9):e106335.

[6]       Gumaste V et al. Benign and malignant colorectal strictures in ulcerative colitis. Gut. 1992;33(7):938-41.

[7]       Martin R et al. Role of commensal and probiotic bacteria in human health: a focus on inflammatory bowel disease.Microbial Cell Factories. 2013;12:71.

[8]       O’Mahonya S et al. Early Life Stress Alters Behavior, Immunity, and Microbiota in Rats: Implications for Irritable Bowel Syndrome and Psychiatric Illnesses. Biological Psychiatry. 2009;65(3):263-7.

[9]       Dinan T et al. Melancholic microbes: a link between gut microbiota and depression? Neurogastroenterology & Motility. 2013; 25(9):713-9.

[10]     Rees JC. Obsessive–compulsive disorder and gut microbiota dysregulation. Medical Hypotheses. 2014;82(2):163-166.

[11]     Gilbert JA et al. Toward Effective Probiotics for Autism and Other Neurodevelopmental Disorders. Cell. 2013;155(7):1446-8.

[12]     Gaby AR. The role of hidden food allergy/intolerance in chronic disease. Alternative Medicine Review. 1998;3(2):90-100.

[13]     Liu Z et al. Tight junctions, leaky intestines, and pediatric diseases. Acta Paediatrica. 2005;94:386–93.

[14]     Ling Z et al. Altered Fecal Microbiota Composition Associated with Food Allergy in Infants. Applied and Environmental Microbiology. 2014; 80(8):2546-54.

[15]     Zeeuwen P et al. Microbiome and skin diseases. Current Opinion in Allergy & Clinical Immunology. 2013;13(5):514-520.

[16]     Huang YJ et al. The microbiome and asthma. Ann Am Thorac Soc. 2014;11(1):48-51.

[17]     Brusca S et al. Microbiome and mucosal inflammation as extra-articular triggers for rheumatoid arthritis and autoimmunity. Curr Opin Rheumatol. 2014;26(1):101-7.

[18]     Scher J et al. Expansion of intestinal Prevotella copri correlates with enhanced susceptibility to arthritis. eLife Sciences, November 5, 2013.

[19]     Tsai F et al. The microbiome and obesity: Is obesity linked to our gut flora? Current Gastroenterology Reports. 2009;11(4):307-13.

[20]     Turnbaugh P et al. A core gut microbiome in obese and lean twins. Nature. 2009;457:480-4.

[21]     Ichinohea T et al. Microbiota regulates immune defense against respiratory tract influenza A virus infection. PNAS. 2011;108(13):5354-9.

[22]     Fung I et al. Do Bugs Control Our Fate? The Influence of the Microbiome on Autoimmunity. Current Allergy and Asthma Reports. 2012;12(6):511-9.

[23]     Torrazza R et al. The developing intestinal microbiome and its relationship to health and disease in the neonate.Journal of Perinatology. 2011;31:S29-S34.

Is the Antioxidant Melatonin Dangerous during Chemotherapy and Radiation? January 25, 2016

Posted by Dreamhealer in best vancouver naturopath, Chemotherapy, Healing, Integrative Medicine, Naturopathic Doctor, Naturopathic Medicine, stress.
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Written By: Dr. Adam McLeod, ND, BSc (Hons)

It is not unusual for patients to be intimidated by their medical oncologists to fear all natural therapies. They are told to specifically avoid all antioxidants because they will neutralize the effects of chemotherapy and radiation. This broad generalization that all antioxidants should be avoided is simply not supported by scientific evidence. On an intuitive level, it makes sense that if chemotherapy is creating oxidative damage as its mechanism of action then providing the body with antioxidants would theoretically neutralize this mechanism. There are legitimate concerns with specific chemotherapies and high doses of synthetic antioxidants. However, there are many double blind human trials which demonstrate that antioxidant supplementation at moderate doses decreases side effects without interfering with the effects of the chemotherapy12,13,14. There is also no debating that patients who consume natural sources of antioxidants respond better to chemotherapy and radiation with less side effects33,7. If antioxidants are to be feared, then why do patients with better antioxidant capacity in their blood respond better to these conventional therapies?

There are several things which must be considered. First of all this simplistic view that all antioxidants are bad has long been debunked and this is not supported in the scientific literature31. Secondly, not all chemotherapies work by creating oxidative damage so the argument against antioxidants in these cases is nonsense. Another important point is that antioxidants can help your healthy cells to recover from the residual toxic effects of chemotherapy28,29,30. To add to the hypocrisy of the “avoid all antioxidant stance”, it is not unusual for oncologists to administer powerful pharmaceutical antioxidants such as theophylline to reduce side effects from chemotherapy34.

The antioxidant capacity of your blood is a measure of how effectively your blood is capable of neutralizing free radicals. The consumption of antioxidant rich foods dramatically increases the concentration of antioxidants in the blood which consequently increases antioxidant capacity3. It is well known that patients who have lower antioxidant capacity in their blood have greater side effects to chemotherapy32.

The notion that all medical oncologists share this view of fearing antioxidants is simply not true. There are major integrative cancer centres in the US where naturopathic doctors work along-side medical oncologists and things like melatonin and Vitamin C are given as standard therapies to patients undergoing chemotherapy or radiation. Of course there are specific interactions that must be avoided and a Naturopathic Doctor who is skilled in oncology will be able to guide you to develop a safe and effective plan. You must have professional guidance when developing a treatment plan in the complicated clinical context of cancer.

One of the most common natural therapies given to patients undergoing chemotherapy is melatonin. I have heard on numerous occasions from patients who were warned from the cancer agency pharmacist that melatonin is contraindicated during chemotherapy and radiation because it is an antioxidant. What I find so bizarre about this statement is that virtually all of the available scientific literature literally says the opposite and strongly supports the use of melatonin with chemotherapy and radiation. The position of scaring patients about melatonin is not grounded in scientific evidence, they take this position because from a legal perspective it is easier to say avoid any and all antioxidants.

What does the research say about melatonin used in combination with chemotherapy? Several randomized double blind trials have tested patients with lung cancer who were treated with chemotherapy alone or chemotherapy in combination with melatonin. The melatonin group not only lived longer they also had significantly better quality of life when compared to the group not given melatonin15,16,17. Melatonin has been consistently shown to enhance the effects of chemotherapy while reducing side effects18,19,20,25. It is however important to point out that not all cancers are the same and melatonin is not indicated for all cancers. In fact, it is contraindicated with many blood cancers such as leukemia.

What does the scientific literature actually say about combining melatonin with radiation therapy? Patients who concurrently take melatonin during radiation therapy for glioblastoma live significantly longer than those who just received radiation therapy21. Melatonin helps to protect damage to the immune system during radiation22,23,24. Although melatonin is a well documented antioxidant, there are numerous studies which demonstrate that melatonin actually makes cancer cells more sensitive to the effects of radiation26,27.

When used appropriately certain antioxidants such as melatonin can reduce side effects from conventional cancer therapies without interfering with their effectiveness. Healthy cells need antioxidants too and when you consume natural sources of antioxidants the net effect is that it protects healthy cells much more than cancer cells. Ultimately this makes the drugs work just as well and the healthy cells are less damaged from the drug. When you consume a diet rich in antioxidants, the antioxidant capacity of your blood increases dramatically and the research clearly demonstrates that this is a good thing during chemotherapy and radiation.

Lets take a moment to look at the data about melatonin and its activity as an antioxidant. After consuming 80mg of melatonin the serum levels peak at approximately 100,000 pg/mL before rapidly dropping by the end of the day2. The standard dose of melatonin given during chemotherapy or radiation is 20mg. Based on this number it is fair to assume that the amount of melatonin in the blood would be approximately 25,000 pg/mL. At first glance this seems like a shockingly high number. It is well documented that when patients eat a diet high in antioxidant rich foods, that the antioxidant capacity of their blood increases and some of this is due to the melatonin in the food3. In one well controlled study after consuming approximately 1L of orange juice the participants had serum melatonin levels rise from 40 to 150 pg/mL1. This is still 150 times less than values that would be expected after consuming 20mg of melatonin.

The data must be taken into the proper context. True antioxidant capacity in the blood is never determined by one single molecule. It is the entire antioxidant network that gives the blood the capacity to neutralize free radicals. There is a potent synergy between hundreds of different antioxidants which counteracts oxidative damage in a balanced way. Each molecule on its own is only one small piece of the complicated antioxidant network. The mechanism by which melatonin neutralizes free radicals is very different from that of Vitamin C and Vitamin E5. Melatonin is often described in the literature as a terminal antioxidant which distinguishes itself from so called opportunistic antioxidants. The bottom line is that the addition of a single antioxidant does not necessarily impact the entire antioxidant capacity of the blood in a linear fashion.

This next section is a bit heavy in math but I feel that it is important to break down these details. Melatonin is approximately 2.04 times more potent of an antioxidant than a molecule called Trolox. This molecule Trolox is often used as a standard to measure the antioxidant capacity in the blood. Blueberries, which are best known for their antioxidant capacity have an ORAC value of 6552. This means that 100g of blueberries will have the same antioxidant capacity as 6552 micromoles of Trolox. Based on this information it is easy to calculate that 15.26mg of blueberries is the equivalent antioxidant capacity of 1 micromol of Trolox. If you convert these values to make it relevant to melatonin, each mg of melatonin is equivalent to 31.13g of blueberries. The standard dose of 20mg of melatonin during chemotherapy is the equivalent of a patient eating 622.71g of blueberries. In other words, if you eat a little over 1 pound of blueberries this should have the equivalent antioxidant effect as 20mg of melatonin.

There is no evidence to suggest that antioxidants from natural sources are dangerous during chemotherapy or radiation. In fact, virtually all of the literature clearly states that it is beneficial to get antioxidants from natural sources. By consuming antioxidant rich foods, patients have fewer side effects during conventional cancer treatments. Many studies have also clearly demonstrated that these foods do not interfere with the effectiveness of these therapies6,7,8,9,10,11. The debate is around synthetic supplementation with high doses of antioxidants during chemotherapy and radiation. Natural sources are well established as beneficial in these cases, as they protect healthy cells without interfering with the effects of conventional therapies9.

Blueberries are a great source of nutrients and they provide a balanced antioxidant support that is synergistic with chemotherapy and radiation. What is particularly interesting is that wild blueberries are much more effective at neutralizing free radicals than cultivated blueberries. Depending on which measurements you use, in some cases the wild blueberries have almost double the antioxidant capacity. So make sure you eat your blueberries and give your cells the nutrients they need!

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


1) Sae‐Teaw, Manit, et al. “Serum melatonin levels and antioxidant capacities after consumption of pineapple, orange, or banana by healthy male volunteers.” Journal of pineal research 55.1 (2013): 58-64.

2) Waldhauser, Franz, et al. “Bioavailability of oral melatonin in humans.” Neuroendocrinology 39.4 (1984): 307-313.

3) Cao, Guohua, et al. “Increases in human plasma antioxidant capacity after consumption of controlled diets high in fruit and vegetables.” The American journal of clinical nutrition 68.5 (1998): 1081-1087.

4) Pieri, Carlo, et al. “Melatonin: a peroxyl radical scavenger more effective than vitamin E.” Life sciences 55.15 (1994): PL271-PL276.

5) Tan, D-X., et al. “Significance of melatonin in antioxidative defense system: reactions and products.” Neurosignals 9.3-4 (2000): 137-159.

6) Moss, Ralph W. “Should patients undergoing chemotherapy and radiotherapy be prescribed antioxidants?.” Integrative cancer therapies 5.1 (2006): 63-82.

7) Simone, Charles B., et al. “Antioxidants and other nutrients do not interfere with chemotherapy or radiation therapy and can increase kill and increase survival, part 1.”Alternative therapies in health and medicine 13.1 (2007): 22.

8) Drisko, Jeanne A., Julia Chapman, and Verda J. Hunter. “The use of antioxidant therapies during chemotherapy.” Gynecologic oncology 88.3 (2003): 434-439.

9) Moss, Ralph W. “Do antioxidants interfere with radiation therapy for cancer?.” Integrative cancer therapies 6.3 (2007): 281-292.

10) Conklin, Kenneth A. “Cancer chemotherapy and antioxidants.” The Journal of nutrition134.11 (2004): 3201S-3204S.

11) Block, Keith I., et al. “Impact of antioxidant supplementation on chemotherapeutic toxicity: a systematic review of the evidence from randomized controlled trials.” International Journal of Cancer 123.6 (2008): 1227-1239.

12) Weijl, N. I., et al. “Supplementation with antioxidant micronutrients and chemotherapy-induced toxicity in cancer patients treated with cisplatin-based chemotherapy: a randomised, double-blind, placebo-controlled study.” European Journal of Cancer 40.11 (2004): 1713-1723.

13) Drisko, Jeanne A., Julia Chapman, and Verda J. Hunter. “The use of antioxidant therapies during chemotherapy.” Gynecologic oncology 88.3 (2003): 434-439.

14) Conklin, Kenneth A. “Dietary antioxidants during cancer chemotherapy: impact on chemotherapeutic effectiveness and development of side effects.” Nutrition and cancer 37.1 (2000): 1-18.

15) Lissoni, P., et al. “Five years survival in metastatic non‐small cell lung cancer patients treated with chemotherapy alone or chemotherapy and melatonin: a randomized trial.” Journal of pineal research 35.1 (2003): 12-15.

16) Lissoni, P., et al. “A randomized study of immunotherapy with low-dose subcutaneous interleukin-2 plus melatonin vs chemotherapy with cisplatin and etoposide as first-line therapy for advanced non-small cell lung cancer.” Tumori 80.6 (1994): 464-467.

17) Lissoni, P., et al. “Randomized study with the pineal hormone melatonin versus supportive care alone in advanced nonsmall cell lung cancer resistant to a first-line chemotherapy containing cisplatin.” Oncology 49.5 (1992): 336-339.

18) Govender, Jenelle, Ben Loos, and Anna-Mart Engelbrecht. “Melatonin: a protective role against doxorubicin-induced cardiotoxicity.” Future Oncology 11.14 (2015): 2003-2006.

19) Tavakoli, Maryam. “Kidney protective effects of melatonin.” Journal of Nephropharmacology3.1 (2015).

20) Mills, Edward, et al. “Melatonin in the treatment of cancer: a systematic review of randomized controlled trials and meta‐analysis.” Journal of pineal research 39.4 (2005): 360-366.

21) Lissoni, P., et al. “Increased survival time in brain glioblastomas by a radioneuroendocrine strategy with radiotherapy plus melatonin compared to radiotherapy alone.” Oncology 53.1 (1996): 43-46.

22) Thomas, Charles R., Russel J. Reiter, and Terence S. Herman. “Melatonin: from basic research to cancer treatment clinics.” Journal of Clinical Oncology 20.10 (2002): 2575-2601.

23) Srinivasan, Venkataramanujan, et al. “Therapeutic actions of melatonin in cancer: possible mechanisms.” Integrative Cancer Therapies 7.3 (2008): 189-203.

24) Blask, David E., Leonard A. Sauer, and Robert T. Dauchy. “Melatonin as a chronobiotic/anticancer agent: cellular, biochemical, and molecular mechanisms of action and their implications for circadian-based cancer therapy.” Current topics in medicinal chemistry 2.2 (2002): 113-132.

25) Conti, Ario, and Georges JM Maestroni. “The clinical neuroimmunotherapeutic role of melatonin in oncology.” Journal of pineal research 19.3 (1995): 103-110.

26) Alonso‐González, Carolina, et al. “Melatonin sensitizes human breast cancer cells to ionizing radiation by downregulating proteins involved in double‐strand DNA break repair.”Journal of pineal research 58.2 (2015): 189-197.

27) Alonso-González, Carolina, et al. “Melatonin enhancement of the radiosensitivity of human breast cancer cells is associated with the modulation of proteins involved in estrogen biosynthesis.” Cancer letters 370.1 (2016): 145-152.

28) Ladas, Elena J., et al. “Antioxidants and cancer therapy: a systematic review.” Journal of clinical oncology 22.3 (2004): 517-528.

29) Kasapović, Jelena, et al. “Antioxidant status and lipid peroxidation in the blood of breast cancer patients of different ages after chemotherapy with 5-fluorouracil, doxorubicin and cyclophosphamide.” Clinical biochemistry 43.16 (2010): 1287-1293.

30) Chen, Yumin, et al. “Collateral damage in cancer chemotherapy: oxidative stress in nontargeted tissues.” Molecular interventions 7.3 (2007): 147.

31) Moss, Ralph W. “Should patients undergoing chemotherapy and radiotherapy be prescribed antioxidants?.” Integrative cancer therapies 5.1 (2006): 63-82.

32) Kennedy, Deborah D., et al. “Low antioxidant vitamin intakes are associated with increases in adverse effects of chemotherapy in children with acute lymphoblastic leukemia.” The American journal of clinical nutrition 79.6 (2004): 1029-1036.

33) Russo, Gian Luigi. “Ins and outs of dietary phytochemicals in cancer chemoprevention.”Biochemical Pharmacology 74.4 (2007): 533-544.

34) Benoehr, Peter, et al. “Nephroprotection by theophylline in patients with cisplatin chemotherapy: a randomized, single-blinded, placebo-controlled trial.” Journal of the American Society of Nephrology 16.2 (2005): 452-458.

Prepare for Flu Season with these Immune Boosting Foods January 21, 2016

Posted by Dreamhealer in best vancouver naturopath, Healing, Health, immunity.
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Written by: Breanne Dunlop

Once again, it’s almost time to kiss the sunblock goodbye and pack away the bikinis for another year. As the cold weather sets in, our immune systems begin to struggle, providing opportunity for bugs and bacteria to take over. For this reason, it is important to give our immune systems some extra TLC; one way to do this is through our diet.

It’s pretty amazing to think that 80% of our immunity lies in our gut, and so it makes perfect sense that in order to build our immune systems, we must protect and bring into balance the healthy bacteria in our gut. Supplementing with a high quality probiotic is always a good idea and there are also certain foods that can be added to our diet to give our immune systems a boost.

Consume more Fermented Foods

One area of focus should be on incorporating fermented foods. Our ancestors traditionally enjoyed fermented foods in abundance as it was and is a great way to preserve food. The real benefit, and why these foods are so encouraged, is that fermentation results in food that is alive with enzymes, B-vitamins and even strains of probiotics! Examples of fermented foods include sauerkraut, kefir, kimchi, kombucha, tempeh, miso, apple cider vinegar and yogurt (preferably a high quality organic and grass-fed).

Eat your Antioxidants

Antioxidants are also important for strengthening our immune systems. Antioxidant nutrients include vitamins A, C, E, Selenium and Zinc. Foods high in these nutrients include your dark leafy greens, orange fruits and vegetables, citrus fruits, nuts and seeds.

Next time you go to the grocery store be sure to pick up some of these immune supporting foods:

  • Fruits – papaya and strawberries
  • Vegetables – red bell pepper, broccoli, brussels, tomatoes, sweet potato, carrots
  • Butternut squash
  • Dark leafy greens – swiss chard, spinach and kale
  • Seeds and nuts: sunflower, pumpkin, almonds and cashews
  • Mushrooms (shiitake, maitake and reishi are the most potent!)
  • Spices: cinnamon, cloves, rosemary, sage, oregano, thyme and turmeric
  • Onion and garlic
  • Ginger
  • Honey

Here’s how to work some immune boosting foods into your daily regime!

  • For breakfast try adding organic berries, yogurt, honey and cinnamon to your favourite smoothie or on top of your oatmeal.
  • Swap a glass of kombucha for your mid-morning coffee.
  • Add a spoon of sauerkraut or kimchi to your salad or with your protein.
  • Replace white vinegar with apple cider vinegar in homemade salad dressings.
  • Use honey to sweeten tea rather than table sugar or stevia.
  • Enhance casseroles or rice/quinoa dishes with miso instead of salt.
  • End your day with a comforting cup of tea that will not only give your immune system some TLC, but will also promote a deep and restful night’s sleep.

For more information on how to boost your immune system or book an appointment to prepare for fall and flu season contact Yaletown Naturopathic Clinic at 604-235-8068 or by email at info@yaletownnaturopathic.com.

Are Electromagnetic Fields Dangerous? January 11, 2016

Posted by Dreamhealer in Cancer, Cell Phones, Healing, Health, oncology.
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Written By: Dr. Adam McLeod, ND, BSc (Hons)

For those of us who live in the city, we are constantly surrounded by electromagnetic fields. This is simply unavoidable in modern society yet this is a recent change. We are exposed to substantially more electromagnetic radiation than our ancestors. In fact, most of us are completely surrounded by these electromagnetic fields 24 hours a day, seven days a week. The obvious question is, are these electromagnetic fields safe to be around?

There is a common belief in the general population that powerful magnetic fields do not affect living organisms. Perhaps this originates from movies such as Terminator where robots shut down in the presence of these fields while humans seem unaffected. Although the effects may not be as dramatic as a machine interacting with these fields, living organisms are most certainly effected by electromagnetic fields. When you take the time to break down what electromagnetic fields are and how cells interact with them, the reasons are obvious.

What is an electromagnetic field? An electromagnetic field is a physical field produced by electrically charged objects. It extends indefinitely through space and affects the behaviour of charged objects in the vicinity of the field. The chemistry that drives life is dependent on subtle interactions between charged particles. For example, it is the distribution of charged amino acids in a protein that ultimately determine the structure and function of that protein. Your brain functions by creating a distinct yet delicate distribution of charged ions. This is how a nerve impulse moves through your body. These subtle interactions are critical for all living organisms.

It is clear that these fields will influence the biochemistry of any living organism but the implications of this interaction are poorly understood. There is some evidence to suggest that electromagnetic fields are dangerous. In one large Norwegian study, electrical workers with 10 or more years of working experience were 41% more likely to develop leukemia and brain tumours1. A different study indicated that there is a connection between exposure to electromagnetic fields and the development of male breast cancer2. Although numerous studies indicate a connection between cancer and electromagnetic fields, there is still some controversy about how significant this interaction is3.

When I was a teenager my mother was diagnosed with a brain tumour. Thankfully it was successfully removed surgically with no major complications. After the surgery my mother always proclaimed that there was a connection between cell phone use and her tumour. She was suddenly more sensitive to the radiation from a cell phone and she could not even talk on a cell phone unless she put it on speaker phone. At the time there was no evidence to support this connection, but there is now an abundance of evidence that supports a connection between regular cell phone use and the development of brain tumours4,5,6,7. Perhaps what is most convincing about this data is that there is a consistent pattern of association between mobile phone use and ipsilateral glioma and acoustic neuroma. In other words, these people are consistently developing tumours on the same side of their head that they hold their cell phone.

As I was writing this it forced me to look at my own habits and reassess my own exposure to electromagnetic fields. I am constantly surrounded by computers, laptops and cell phones. This is unavoidable for those of us who work in the city and the reality is that I am not prepared to eliminate these items from my life, not yet at least. I have however made several small changes in my life when it comes to electronic devices. Whenever I sit down at a table I will always take my phone out of my pocket and put it on the table. I also make en effort to put my phone on airplane mode whenever possible. When sleeping I always make sure that my phone is as far away from me as possible (ie on the other side of the room rather than beside my bed). These are small changes but I believe that they will significantly reduce my exposure to electromagnetic fields.

The purpose of this article was not to scare people about every electronic device or encourage people to hide from cities. It is important that as a society we become aware that we do not fully understand the significance of how these fields influence our health and that they may be dangerous. Perhaps by recognizing this interaction we can one day make changes as a society to reduce our exposure to these fields.

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


1) Tynes, Tore, Aage Andersen, and FrØydis Langmark. “Incidence of cancer in Norwegian workers potentially exposed to electromagnetic fields.” American Journal of Epidemiology 136.1 (1992): 81-88.

2) Demers, Paul A., et al. “Occupational exposure to electromagnetic fields and breast cancer in men.” American Journal of Epidemiology 134.4 (1991): 340-347.

3) Heynick, Louis N., Sheila A. Johnston, and Patrick A. Mason. “Radio frequency electromagnetic fields: cancer, mutagenesis, and genotoxicity.” Bioelectromagnetics 24.S6 (2003): S74-S100.

4) Khurana, Vini G., et al. “Cell phones and brain tumors: a review including the long-term epidemiologic data.” Surgical neurology 72.3 (2009): 205-214.

5) Hardell, Lennart, et al. “Long-term use of cellular phones and brain tumours: increased risk associated with use for⩾ 10 years.” Occupational and Environmental Medicine 64.9 (2007): 626-632.

6) Hardell, Lennart, et al. “Cellular and cordless telephones and the risk for brain tumours.” European Journal of Cancer Prevention 11.4 (2002): 377-386.

7) Hardell, Lennart, et al. “Meta-analysis of long-term mobile phone use and the association with brain tumours.”International journal of oncology 32.5 (2008): 1097-1103.

The Scoop on Sugar: Is it Always Bad? January 7, 2016

Posted by Dreamhealer in Detox, Diet, Healing, Health, Nutritionist.
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Written by: Breanne Dunlop, RHN

Why we Need Sugar

Many people have become conditioned to fear sugar like it’s the plague. In reality, our body needs sugar. At the cellular level, glucose is utilized by our body to produce adenosine triphosphate (ATP) which provides a direct source of energy for various cellular functions. Though a rather small molecule itself, ATP is utilized to make larger molecules such as hormones. Our brains sole fuel source is glucose. In essence, we need sugar for our body to function, the trick is knowing what kinds of sugar to eat – refined versus complex, and when throughout the day our body uses sugar the most.

Though our body does need sugar to function, it is important to bear in mind both the type of sugar as well as the quantity we consume. Continuously having high amounts of sugar in our diet puts us at risk for many diseases and unwanted health conditions such as diabetes, obesity, hyperglycemia, heart disease, and various nutrient deficiencies.

Though sugar is an energy source for our body, it also fuels pathogens in our body that we don’t want to feed, such as Candida and parasites. An overgrowth of pathogens can further hinder our energy levels, as well as our mood, stamina and cognitive functioning, all while increasing the need to supplement with a high-quality probiotic to help rebalance the flora in our gut. Finally, there is outstanding evidence to show that sugar plays an integral role in feeding cancer cells in oncology patients. The intention of this message isn’t to cause alarm but rather to make one aware that the effect of sugar on our body is far more serious than simply adding a few inches to our waistline.

Different Types of Sugar: Simple vs. Complex 

Often we hear people say, “I’m avoiding all carbohydrates because they’re full of sugar”. Yes, it’s true that all carbohydrates will breakdown to sugar in the body, but as mentioned, our body needs this energy for human metabolism and cellular function. The real concern is the rate at which the sugar is broken down and how fast this sugar is absorbed into our bloodstream. Simple sugars are mostly isolated from other macronutrients – protein, fat and fiber – that help to slow down the rate at which the sugar is broken down and absorbed. Simple sugars spike blood glucose levels immediately, and though this ‘sugar high’ may be initially pleasant and even euphoric for many, it is typically followed by a crash in energy and mood.

When you think of simple sugars think of processed foods like candy bars, ice cream, baked goods, pasta, and white bread. More often than not these foods have little to no nutritional value. One exception is honey – it is classified as a simple sugar as it still spikes our blood sugar, however, it has health benefits when enjoyed raw and unpasteurized.

A helpful guide to follow is the glycemic load. The glycemic load is a measure that roughly estimates how much your blood sugar rises after eating particular foods. Complex carbohydrates tend to have lower glycemic loads and therefore less of an impact on blood glucose levels.

Complex sugars are also referred to as unrefined carbohydrates as they have not been stripped of other nutrients that help to slow down the rate at which the sugar is broken down and enter the bloodstream. Some great sources of complex carbohydrates come from starchy vegetables, squash, beets, legumes, lentils, nuts, seeds and whole grains such as brown rice, quinoa or rolled oats. These foods have fibre, fat and protein to help slow down the rate at which our body breaks down the food, allowing for a gradual release of sugar into the bloodstream. This is why having a breakfast and lunch with complex carbohydrates helps us to sustain energy throughout the day and avoid the afternoon energy lull. This also promotes mental clarity by helping to avoid the brain fog we experience when our blood sugar is low.

Blood Sugar Balancing at a Glance

The notion that breakfast is the most important meal of the day isn’t an old wives tale. Even while we sleep we are still expending energy to repair our bodies as this is when our body repairs. Breakfast is the first opportunity we get to refuel our bodies and energize us for the day. Because we are in a fasting state and have likely not eaten anything since dinner time – as much as 10-12+ hours prior, the choices we make at breakfast time can really impact how we feel for the rest of the day. Sadly, breakfast is the meal that often gets neglected as people either choose to eat sugar ladened processed cereals or opt to skip it altogether. It is no surprise that when people clean up their eating habits and start their day with a nutritious and balanced meal that they experience an improvement in energy levels and mood and even have a tendency to see weight loss (should the body need it).

‘Breaking the fast’ with complex carbohydrates coupled with some protein and healthy fat helps to keep you satiated and energized. Some healthy breakfast ideas are a warming bowl of large flake or steel cut oats with a tablespoon of coconut oil or nut butter and sprinkle of cinnamon and hemp hearts or two poached eggs with sautéed greens or avocado on sprouted grain toast.

Lunch is another time to enjoy complex carbohydrates. For fall try homemade bean chili and brown rice or a medley of roasted root vegetables (beets, carrots and onions) on a bed of greens.

Dinner is a time when you may choose to have fewer carbohydrates. This makes sense not only for your waistline but this is also typically the time when you are winding down for the day and require less energy. Consuming sugar in the evening time, even if it’s converted from grains, can potentially interfere with a deep and restful sleep. For dinner try having a source or protein with non-starchy vegetables such as wild salmon and arugula salad or curried chickpeas and cauliflower.

Breanne Dunlop is a Registered Holistic Nutritionist (R.H.N.) practicing at Yaletown Naturopathic Clinic. Book in your first appointment with Breanne to learn how to properly fuel your body with the right kind of carbohydrates. To book an appointment, please contact the clinic at 604-235-8068 or send an email to appointments@yaletownnaturopathic.com. We hope to hear from you soon.

Neural Prolotherapy – Treatment for Chronic Neurogenic Pain December 30, 2015

Posted by Dreamhealer in best vancouver naturopath, Chronic Pain, Healing, Naturopathic Doctor, Naturopathic Medicine, prolotherapy.
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Written by Dr. Reuben Dinsmore, ND

There’s a very good chance that you or someone you know suffers from chronic pain. It is one of the most common complaints that cause people to seek treatment. Almost one in five adult Canadians report having a chronic pain condition; prevalence increases with age, and is more common in women than men. Treatment may be in the form of massage therapy, physiotherapy, acupuncture, chiropractic, over-the-counter painkillers, prescription-strength analgesics, or various other treatment modalities. Depending on the root cause of the pain, these treatment methods can bring varying degrees of relief.

What is pain?

At the most basic, pain is simply an unpleasant sensation carried by specific nerve fibers to the central nervous system, where it is registered as what we all understand as pain. The source of the pain may be a muscle or other soft tissue, internal organ, or from the nerve itself. Large nerves are themselves innervated by small nerve fibers that carry sensory signals that relate to the stimuli affecting those nerves.

What is Neural Prolotherapy (NPT)?

I recently had the opportunity to study with Dr. John Lyftogt, a medical doctor from New Zealand who is pioneering neural prolotherapy (NPT), a novel treatment in chronic neurogenic pain – that is, pain that originates in the nerves themselves (as opposed to pain that originates in another tissue which is then simply carried by nerves). This neurogenic pain has various causes – nerves can be constricted as they pass through, under or over muscles, fascia or other soft tissues, or as they pass over bony prominences (a well-known example of this is when you hit your “funny bone”, which is actually pressure on the ulnar nerve as it crosses the elbow). These constrictions can cause the nerves to become inflamed and swollen, thus exacerbating the original constriction.

Short-term relief for neurogenic pain can be obtained through the use of nerve blocks – an injection of a local anaesthetic that temporarily changes physiology of the nerve, and therefore the way the nerve conducts its signals. In very general terms, this means affecting the sodium and potassium channels that are at the heart of every signal carried by our nervous system. But when the anaesthetic wears off, the pain returns as before.

How does Neural Prolotherapy cure pain?

NPT involves injections of a dextrose solution just under the skin, along the path of affected nerves. It is proposed that this sugar solution acts in a similar way to an anaesthetic nerve block – it prevents the nerve from undergoing “repolarization”, which is necessary for generating the pain signal. Furthermore, it actually has a direct effect on the inflammation seen in the nerves, allowing them to return to a healthy state. The treatment itself is quite well-tolerated; a very small needle is used to inject small amounts of fluid just under the skin. A whole treatment session may involve anywhere from a few to twenty or more of these injections, and can take from 10 minutes up to 30 minutes.

Patients feel immediate relief from pain – within seconds. Prior to treatment, points on the skin would elicit pain from the slightest pressure. In less than a minute following treatment, often patients aren’t even able to localize where the pain used to be.

How long this relief from pain lasts is variable – from a few days to even a week or two. Almost always, the pain returns – but typically it is less severe. After another treatment, the same relief is felt, which then lasts a bit longer than following the first treatment. After a course of treatment, many patients have been able to be completely pain-free after years of living with debilitating pain.

If this description of chronic pain sounds like what is experienced by you or someone you know, consider looking into NPT. It may turn out to be the treatment modality that ends your suffering and allows you to return to your active lifestyle, pain-free.

Dr. Reuben Dinsmore is a Naturopathic Doctor (ND) trained in Neural Prolotherapy practicing out of Yaletown Naturopathic Clinic. To book an appointment please contact the clinic at 604-235-8068 or by email at info@yaletownnaturopathic.com. Start your journey to wellness today.

Just Make Sure You Eat A Vegetable: A Holiday Survival Guide December 24, 2015

Posted by Dreamhealer in Healing, Health, holidays, Naturopathic Doctor, Naturopathic Medicine, stress.
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Written by: Dr. Natalie Rahr

Many of my patients have recently been telling me they know their progress will go out the window, now that the holidays are coming. For some of them, they’re excited to give themselves permission to indulge. For the others, they strongly judge themselves for being “weak” and they worry about the consequences.

And their worries are not just about the food! They also worry about the stress. House guests, parties, dinners to plan and prep for, travel, traffic, shopping, late nights and little sleep, responsibilities, keeping everyone happy, getting all the right gifts, and, most importantly, not getting any time for themselves.

Here’s my simple guide to treating yourself well during this season:


It can be tempting to say yes to every invitation that comes along. If you thrive on this, great! If you’re like me, you love the idea of getting cozy at home and staying there. Be aware of what the right amount of planning is ok for you, and what amount is too much. Maybe you pick your top 1,2 or 3 events to attend (again, how many is the right number for you?). Maybe you do say yes to every invitation, but only commit to staying for a short time. Maybe you plan your own event that allows all your loved ones to come to you. Whatever you decide, be ready to say a wholehearted yes or no and keep the overwhelm off the table.


The best medicine. This probably goes hand in hand with not over-planning. Take the opportunity to sleep in, laze around in bed, snuggle with the kids for long mornings, have leisurely breakfasts and coffee that take you well into the afternoon. There’s no need to be productive. Put that urgency down and pull out the board games, the Wii, run through the park, play in the snow (or rain, that is, if you live in Vancouver), laugh lots, catch up on movies, dance just because the family is all in their pj’s and the music is on loud. Shake off the end of this year, shake off work and shake off the “shoulds”.


Rain or shine or snow or sleet. Get out into the fresh air every day. Get in some long or short walks and keep the blood flowing. You may not be able to honour your regular gym or yoga class schedule, but that’s ok. Work in a brisk walk to the store, take a detour into the mountains and woods if you can, or just wander through your neighbourhood with a hot chocolate and your loved ones. Then get right back to the wintry festivities once refreshed.


This could entail a number of things. My favourite thing to do is finally schedule that much needed massage or sauna session. Take the opportunity to use up your extended medical benefits if you have them! This means paying your naturopathic doc a needed check in for acupuncture, a nutrient IV (we may have something for that hangover) or a plan for the new year. Give yourself a gift or two by getting some TLC. You’ve taken care of so many and so much all year, it’s your turn too.


This is planning at its best. For those with food restrictions, it’s probably inevitable that you’ll get gluten-ed or dairy-ed or sugar-ed… or all of the above. A recovery day for this kind of offence can involve doubling those probiotics and digestive enzymes, keeping meals light and easy to digest, like broths and smoothies.  For recovery from everything else, sleep, rest, play and do all the other things you need.


If you’re worried about packing on those holiday pounds, showing up famished will likely work against you. Have a smaller meal before you show up to that dinner party so that you can still enjoy the treats without overdoing it.


If all else fails, let go and enjoy fully what you have in front of you. Just make sure you also do some of the things that help your body feel good and recover well, like eating as many vegetables as you can. Make sure that plate of turkey and potatoes slathered in gravy also includes many colors of the rainbow, particularly green.

Warm Holidays to you!

Dr. Natalie Rahr practices at the Yaletown Naturopathic Clinic in Vancouver, BC and has a strong focus on complex pediatric conditions such as Autism, Women’s Health, Autoimmunity and Gut-Brain Health, as well as Integrative Mental Health.

To book an appointment contact 604-235-8068 or appointments@yaletownnaturopathic.com


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