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Holiday Book Sale! December 20, 2017

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We are having a holiday book and DVD sale! For a limited time only the DVD’s, Intention Heals and Integrative Oncology book will be over 15% off on the online bookstore only!

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

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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

Why Do We Get Sick When We are Stressed? July 4, 2016

Posted by Dreamhealer in Alternative medicine, best vancouver naturopath, best vancouver nutritionist, Healing, immune system, immunity, stress.
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Your Body & Stress: A Three Part Series (1 of 3)

Written by: Dr. Kaleigh Coolsaet

Everyday in my practice I ask my patients about their stress; what are their particular stressors and how are they coping? I’m interested in knowing how they perceive stress and spend time educating them on how it can negatively impact their health. This allows me to help them create a plan to support their body through stressful times and improve their health and well being.

Stress comes in all kinds of situations in our lives, from an acutely stressful situation (losing a job, losing a loved one, a car accident, etc.) to chronic low-grade stressors like sitting in traffic while you’re late for work, constantly performing to meet deadlines. On top of these external stressors we also need to account that our lifestyle can be stressful for our bodies too: not getting adequate quality sleep, eating on the run or not eating the right foods for our bodies.

When we add up all these little stressors over time, it builds up and can be detrimental to our health. Our stress response is how our body adapts to stress. It’s actually a good thing and our stress response saves our lives and helps us perform better and change to stressors. It’s when we are constantly challenging and pushing our stress response that it can negatively impact our health.

Over the next three blogs I’m going to discuss stress and how it relates to a specific body system (Immune System, Digestive System & Endocrine [Hormone] System). Understanding how it can negatively affect our health can be helpful in implementing simple lifestyle changes to help better manage our stress response and take better care of our bodies. Today we will start with the Immune System.

Do you ever notice that you or the ones around you seem to always catch a bug during periods of higher stress or right after? As we are in our busiest season, when it’s least convenient or right before your vacation the second you give your body a chance to recover, we succumb to the virus that’s been floating around. This is because chronic stress has been demonstrated to exert a significant suppressive effect on immune function (Hu, D. et al). As we move through our busy lives and encounter stressor after stressor, our bodies release cortisol. Cortisol is essential to life and we need it, but if it’s released too much or for too long, it suppresses our immune system and these can leave us vulnerable to acquiring the common cold or flu.

So what can you do to help your immune system during times of high or prolonged stress?

3 Tips You Can Do Today To Help Your Immune System:

  • Get adequate sleep
    • Proper sleeps allows our bodies to repair and regenerate
    • Aim for 8-10 hours per night
    • Ensure your sleeping in a dark room
  • Eliminate Sugar from your diet
    • Sugar suppresses our immune system, leaving you more vulnerable to catching the common cold or flu
    • Sugar decreases our immune response
    • Can cause energy spikes and crashes, leaving you feeling more tired and stressed.
  • Find time for Exercise
    • Helps to boost your immune system
    • Acts as a natural stress reducer

Try and implement one of these tips each week to support your immune system and to help increase your bodies own positive stress response. If you want more stress busting tips stay tuned for the next two blogs exploring how stress affects our digestive tract and hormones. Both will include more tips on how you can support your body through periods of stress.

Best in Health,

Dr. Kaleigh

Positive Period. April 21, 2016

Posted by Dreamhealer in Alternative medicine, best vancouver naturopath, best vancouver nutritionist, Emotion, exercise, Healing, Health.
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“Women complain about premenstrual syndrome (PMS), but I think of it as the only time of the month that I can be myself.”
Roseanne Barr

The Monthlies, Aunt Flo, TOM, The Crimson Curse, Shark Week! We all have our own euphemism for our “monthly visitor”. I won’t bore you or insult your intelligence by explaining what happens in your body to bring about your monthly friend (though if you are interested here is a link to short informative video http://ed.ted.com/lessons/how-menstruation-works-emma-bryce). Instead, my intention is to maybe tell you some interesting and hopefully useful facts that you may not already know and hopefully open up a dialogue about this topic that takes up so much of our lives but that we are still a little shy about. For instance did you know that humans, monkeys, apes and bats are almost the only species known to go through a menstrual cycle like ours? Or that during the three to seven days you have your period, you lose about 30-40mLs of blood? This is only about 2-3 tablespoons, although up to 80mLs (5.4 tablespoons) is still considered normal. A lot less then you thought right? Well, we actually loose four to six tablespoons of menstrual fluid but only some of this is blood. The rest is made up of cervical mucus, vaginal secretions and flora and endometrial tissue and uterine lining- sorry if you find that gross but that’s the human body for you!

Let’s get serious for a second now though. Worldwide up to 90% of women use a homemade device in the place of a sanitary pad or tampon because they are too expensive to buy every month. In parts of the world girls miss 20% of school days (4.5 days per month) due to their periods. This is not simply crying off school due to PMS, but because schools lack the basic hygiene facilities for a girl to keep herself clean during her period. Another reason is the stigma and taboo that surround menstruation. In different cultures around the globe women are segregated from their own society during this time. In some cultures they are not allowed to even drink from the same water source as the rest of their village. Apart from being oppressive this practice of isolating women from society during their period (which incidentally makes up about 7% of your life) is damaging to women psychologically and to society as a whole. When women are isolated like this they cannot contribute to society in the ways they normally would through work etc. “Well that’s a shame but it doesn’t effect me” you might be saying to yourself. Well actually, it does. The stigma surrounding menstruation is not confined to developing countries. Naturally those of us lucky enough to live in the Western world enjoy a whole lot more privilege than our counterparts in different parts of the globe, but how many times have you lowered your voice when talking about your cycle? Or hidden your sanitary pad or tampon in your pocket when going out  to the washroom? We are taught from a young age that periods are shameful and we share a learned embarrassment about periods with women everywhere. So what can we do to counteract this? Of course education is key. Educating both boys and girls about menstruation from an early age is the first step in removing the misconceptions and stigma surrounding the topic. We can also contribute in our attitude towards the issue. Try to change your thinking and do not shy away from talking openly about your period. Perhaps use less of the hushed tones and circumlocution around the subject- although I will admit, some of those euphemisms are pretty funny.

The menstrual cycle which gives rise to your period is 28-35 days for most women. It begins for most women around 12-14 years of age and ends somewhere between the ages of 48-55. The average woman has about 450 periods in her lifetime and there are about 300 million women having theirs right now. One key thing to note about your period is that it does not just affect you the week you are menstruating. It’s not even just the week before when your suffering from the dreaded PMS. Your menstrual cycle, or rather the organs and hormones that control it, are at work constantly throughout the month to create the correct conditions within the body for follicular development, ovulation, implantation or menstruation. That is not to say that between the ages of 12 and 55 all women are on a hormonal rollercoaster that they have no control of. Looking at it in a different way we can see the positives associated with each phase of our cycle. At different times throughout the month our body is doing everything it can to get us in the perfect state for pregnancy- and this affects our brain too. Rather than surrendering to the unstoppable force that is nature/evolution/your own body there is no reason why we can’t ride the wave (so to speak) and harness all this power.

Follicular Phase- This is when the Follicle Stimulating Hormone (FSH) and Luteinizing Hormone (LH) are secreted by the pituitary gland in the brain. Neurochemically this is the time of the month that women have the most access to creative energy. It’s the perfect time to begin new projects. So as your body begins it’s new phase, so can you!

Ovulatory Phase- This is when when we have the most energy and highest communication skills. Try channeling this by having important talks with loved ones or professional colleagues during this time.

Leutial Phase- This is when the lining of your uterus is thickening. This is the time when our minds become most detail orientated. Use this time to organize! Your desk, your house, your mind, your life.

Menstruation- This is when there is the most communication between the right and left side of your brain. It’s a time to evaluate. Rather than harbour negative feeling about this time I like to use my period as my time to hibernate and give myself some TLC. This can be different for everyone. To some it might be slobbing it on the couch in PJs, to others its the time when they allow themselves those treats that they avoid the rest of the month. I like to think of it as my body physically reminding me that it’s there and it needs to be taken care of. It’s a good time to check in with yourself, in every sense. Here are some ways that I found helpful to “check in” with myself during my period (or anytime).

Step 1. Exercise!

Don’t get me wrong I’m the least motivated person in the world when it comes to getting myself to the gym. But if you can muster the willpower you know it will feel great. It doesn’t have to be a 10k run or a power turbo max blast crossfit workout (that’s not a real thing but you get my drift). Do a relaxed restorative yoga class -or youtube video if you don’t feel like leaving the house.  Take an evening stroll in the park. When have you ever exercised and thought afterwards “Well I would have been so much better off sitting at home eating a cookie”?. That’s right, never. And you can still have the cookie after if you really want it. You are on your period after all.

Step 2. Alone time

There is so much to be said for, closing your door and just being with your own thoughts and feelings. Hibernate. For some people this can be meditation or prayer. Some people like to go for a walk. Some like to light some candles and have a bath. Personally I like to listen to my favourite music and clean the house, because cleaning the house helps me to clear my mind too (but that’s just me). Whatever it is you like to do when you are totally by yourself- make some time and do that. And yes, you do have to switch your phone off for this one.

Step 3. Eating

You betcha! Every girl’s all time favourite thing to do when the reds are playing downtown. In keeping with the theme of self care during my period it’s a good time to try out some new healthy recipes that are also gonna be delicious. Taking the time to cook something yummy for yourself is a great way to be kind to you. If you’re not into that- get someone else to do it for you. Remember, red letter days are our excuse to make the rest of the world pick up the slack! Just try to give your body some wholesome, nutritious fuel during this time. No one is saying you can’t have chocolate AND kale.

Step 4. Think positive!

If you dread your period it’s going to be dreadful. Try and change any negative feelings you have around your period and think of it as your body’s automatic reset. Out with the old and in with the new! Consider this your time to reconnect, reevaluate and reassess. Of course not everyone has the best time during their period and there are physical and emotional hurdles to be overcome. You might feel like your body is your enemy during this time but it’s not, it’s the closest friend you’ll ever have – awh! So if you’re not feeling the best during this time find something that always cheers you up and make some time for that. Maybe catching up with friends you haven’t seen in a while or seeing that movie you wanted to watch. If you really can’t face being social then at least make plans to do something nice next week so you can feel happy about that.

References

https://www.ted.com/talks/robyn_stein_deluca_the_good_news_about_pms?language=en#t-120387

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9vKRj9yV8pI

To learn more on how to balance hormone or treat yourself with natural remedies contact us today at info@yaletownnaturopathic.com.

Turning up the Heat on Colorectal Cancer March 17, 2016

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

Loco-regional hyperthermia is an advanced adjunctive cancer therapy which involves heating the tumour immediately after chemotherapy or radiation. Hyperthermia is characterized as the fourth pillar in treating cancer, including surgery, chemotherapy and radiation. This therapy is commonly used in hospitals and clinics across Europe and Asia but it is oddly not used regularly in North America. There are only a few advanced devices which actually have the capacity to significantly heat a tumour located deep within the body1,2. Recently there has been exciting research on a device called Celsius TCS and its use in colorectal cancer.

A recent clinical study in Greece investigated hyperthermia in patients with metastatic colorectal cancer when used in combination with chemotherapy1. In this clinical trial 32 patients diagnosed with colorectal cancer were divided into a control group who just received chemotherapy and the treatment group who received hyperthermia immediately following their chemotherapy infusion. When compared to the control group, the hyperthermia group showed a shrinkage of metastatic spots derived from colon cancer. This is in contrast to the control group which on average showed an increase of size during this time interval. The conclusion of the study was “the beneficial effects of hyperthermia are undeniable. The consolidation of the application of hyperthermia cancer treatment, is now a matter of time.”

I have personally observed the positive benefits of loco-regional hyperthermia many times in my practice with colorectal cancer. In some of these cases the cancer was progressing everywhere except for the specific masses that were being targeted by the hyperthermia. Upon shifting the treatment focus to a different metastasis, these new masses then started to also respond to the therapy as well. The heat that is applied to the tumour adds additional stress to the tumour cells when they are being treated with chemotherapy or radiation.

There are several naturopathic therapies which can be used to potentially help enhance the effectiveness of hyperthermia. Quercetin is a bioflavonoid that is safe to use in conjunction with some chemotherapies. This commonly used remedy is not safe with all chemotherapies and you must have professional guidance before using it. Quercetin has been shown to be a potent inhibitor of heat shock proteins. In other words, it inhibits the proteins that cancer cells use to resist the effects of the heat and thus makes colon cancer cells more vulnerable to hyperthermia3. There is also research to suggest that the diabetes medication metformin may be helpful to enhance the effects of hyperthermia by killing cancer stem cells4. These are just a few of many natural therapies which as starting to show promise as useful adjuncts to hyperthermia.

It is important to point out that hyperthermia is very different from an infrared sauna or the application of a heat pack. A loco-regional hyperthermia device is an advanced medical device that significantly heats the tissues surrounding a tumour2. You will not heat any tumour effectively without these advanced devices, especially if it is a deeper tumour. These are state of the art devices where the patient must be medically monitored during the procedure.

When looking at the evidence there is a clear and consistent trend. Localized hyperthermia has significant potential as an adjunctive cancer therapy. The application of heat using these advanced medical devices increases the effectiveness or chemotherapy and radiation. Hyperthermia reduces the risk of the cancer developing resistance to chemotherapy or radiation5,6,7. At the end of the day the goal is to use every tool at our disposal to increase the effectiveness of conventional therapies and destroy the cancerous cells. Hyperthermia is a potent adjunctive therapy that can help to accomplish that goal.

References:

1) Mandraveli, E., et al. “The action of hyperthermia in metastatic colorectal cancer in combination with chemotherapy.” Progress in Health Sciences 5.1 (2015): 69.

2) Noh, Jae Myoung, et al. “In vivo verification of regional hyperthermia in the liver.” Radiation oncology journal 32.4 (2014): 256-261.

3) Koishi, Mototsugu, et al. “Quercetin, an inhibitor of heat shock protein synthesis, inhibits the acquisition of thermotolerance in a human colon carcinoma cell line.” Japanese journal of cancer research83.11 (1992): 1216-1222.

4) Lee, Hyemi, et al. “Response of breast cancer cells and cancer stem cells to metformin and hyperthermia alone or combined.” PLoS One9.2 (2014): e87979.

5) Group, International Collaborative Hyperthermia, et al. “Radiotherapy with or without hyperthermia in the treatment of superficial localized breast cancer: Results from five randomized controlled trials.” International Journal of Radiation Oncology* Biology* Physics35.4 (1996): 731-744.

6) Uckun, Fatih M., et al. “Radiation and heat sensitivity of human T-lineage acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL) and acute myeloblastic leukemia (AML) clones displaying multiple drug resistance (MDR).”International Journal of Radiation Oncology* Biology* Physics23.1 (1992): 115-125.

7) Souslova, Tatiana, and Diana A. Averill-Bates. “Multidrug-resistant hela cells overexpressing MRP1 exhibit sensitivity to cell killing by hyperthermia: interactions with etoposide.”International Journal of Radiation Oncology* Biology* Physics 60.5 (2004): 1538-1551.

The Connection between Childhood Abuse and Cancer October 17, 2015

Posted by Dreamhealer in Alternative medicine, Cancer, Healthcare, integrative cancer care, Naturopathic Doctor, Naturopathic Medicine, oncology, Research.
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best vancouver naturopath dr adam mcleodWritten By: Dr. Adam McLeod, ND, BSc (Hons)

It is not unusual for patients to feel a connection between past emotional traumas and the formation of their cancer. In recent years the mainstream scientific community has started to seriously research this connection. It turns out that these patients are indeed correct and there are large studies to support this connection. Childhood abuse increases the risk of developing cancer in adulthood1,5.

A recent study in journal Cancer demonstrated that adults who reported physical abuse as children were 47% more likely to develop cancer1. There are many well documented physiological changes that occur with this type of abuse2,3. More patients need to recognize that there are clear psychological and physical changes that occur from abuse which make it more likely to develop cancer4. This is not an imaginary connection, it is a very real connection that is supported by large scale studies.

The immune system is constantly patrolling the body looking for any abnormal cells and engages them before it manifests into a clinical disease. During periods of acute stress the immune system is significantly weaker. The immune system will therefore be less likely to recognize these cancerous cells and it will be less effective at preventing the development of cancer.

The stress from childhood abuse continues well after the abuse has stopped. Many patients are permanently scarred emotionally and these emotional stressors will continue weaken the immune system. Many people develop post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) following childhood abuse. Abuse victims often remain silent about their experience and as a result have no outlet to deal with the PTSD. Many of these patients feel that it is in their best interest to never bring it up and move on with their lives as if nothing happened. What they do not know is that these past traumas are effecting them in a very physical way. In some patients, one could argue that the true root cause of their cancer was the abuse that they endured as a child.

Some of the most profound healings that I have witnessed resulted from a powerful shift in the patients emotional energy. Sometimes a simple acupuncture treatment or a counselling session can bring these deeply rooted emotions to the surface. To optimize the patients immune system and promote healing it is critical that the emotional root cause of the problem is addressed. At the end of the day we want to look at every possible factor that is impacting the patient. The emotional components of healing cannot be ignored and they can make a big difference when battling something serious such as cancer.

A Naturopathic Doctor can help you to develop a safe and effective treatment plan to battle cancer on the physical and emotional levels. 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 cancer care. http://www.yaletownnaturopathic.com

 

References:

1) Fuller‐Thomson, Esme, and Sarah Brennenstuhl. “Making a link between childhood physical abuse and cancer.” Cancer 115.14 (2009): 3341-3350.

2) Heim, C., et al. “Lower CSF oxytocin concentrations in women with a history of childhood abuse.” Molecular psychiatry 14.10 (2009): 954-958.

3) McGowan, Patrick O., et al. “Epigenetic regulation of the glucocorticoid receptor in human brain associates with childhood abuse.” Nature neuroscience 12.3 (2009): 342-348.

4) Kendall-Tackett, Kathleen. “The health effects of childhood abuse: four pathways by which abuse can influence health.” Child abuse & neglect 26.6 (2002): 715-729.

5) Brown, David W., et al. “Adverse childhood experiences are associated with the risk of lung cancer: a prospective cohort study.” BMC Public Health 10.1 (2010): 20.

Neural Prolotherapy – Treatment for Chronic Neurogenic Pain October 6, 2015

Posted by Dreamhealer in Alternative medicine, prolotherapy.
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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.

Written by Dr. Reuben Dinsmore, ND

The Dangers of DHEA June 15, 2015

Posted by Dreamhealer in Alternative medicine, Breast Cancer, Cancer, Cancer Treatment.
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DHEA Cancer

Written by: Dr. Adam McLeod, ND, BSc (Hons)

DHEA (Dehydroepiandrosterone) is often described as a wonder drug that is used by patients interested in its anti-aging effects. As we age the levels of DHEA in the blood start to decrease so the logic was that if patients were given this hormone then they would be able to partially reverse the aging process. There is evidence to suggest that indeed it improves many of the characteristics that we associate with aging.

Supplementation with DHEA is not safe for everyone as it is strongly associated with an increased risk of developing breast cancer1,2. In response to this risk, supplement companies began to produce a molecule called 7-keto DHEA, which is a metabolite of DHEA. This was considered a safer alternative to DHEA because it does not break down into estrogen or testosterone4. It is true that when patients take 7-keto DHEA there is no statistically significant increase in hormone levels but this does not make it safe to use with breast cancer.

I have personally seen several patients with active estrogen positive breast cancer who were prescribed 7-keto DHEA by a medical doctor. This is a dangerous combination and it is reckless to prescribe this medication in this clinical situation. 7-keto DHEA is not safe for any patient with estrogen positive breast cancer. There are a number of obvious biochemical reasons for this contraindication. First of all there are absolutely no studies which indicate that this is safe with estrogen positive breast cancer. Secondly, just because the estrogen levels are not elevated does not mean that the estrogen receptor is not being stimulated.

Normally the receptors on the surface of a cell are only stimulated by a few specific molecules. The estrogen receptors are notoriously promiscuous. What this means is that they are stimulated by many different molecules as well as estrogen. One of those molecules is 7-keto DHEA. In other words, even though patients do not have elevations in estrogen levels the estrogen receptors are being directly stimulated by the 7-keto DHEA3. As far as the cancer cells are concerned, they will act as if they are being stimulated by estrogen even though the actual levels of estrogen remain unchanged.

In one study it was conclusively shown that 7-keto DHEA (aka 7-oxo DHEA) is a low affinity ligand activator of estrogen receptors. The estrogen activity in these cancer cell lines were significantly elevated compared to the controls. In this same study, the cancer cells (MCF-7 breast cancer cells) that were treated with 7-keto DHEA grew much faster than the controls. This simple study certainly raises concern about the use of this supplement in cancer patients. It is clearly misleading to state that 7-keto DHEA has all the positive effects of DHEA without any of the negative effects. This is simply not how our cells operate on the biochemical level.

Another obvious concern is that 7-keto DHEA is essentially structurally identical to DHEA. This means that its overall shape is so similar that it will stimulate estrogen receptors the same as if it was DHEA. The estrogen receptors on cancer cells cannot tell the difference between 7-keto DHEA and DHEA. As far as the cancer is concerned it is the same thing. Of course the DHEA will not stimulate these receptors as strongly as estrogen but they still increase the activity which is the complete opposite of what you want to do with estrogen positive breast cancer. Conventional cancer therapies work very hard to reduce estrogen activity as much as possible because this activity acts as a signal for these cancer cells to grow5.

It is important that more patients become aware of this serious concern because it is difficult to sift through the mountains of information on the web. Unfortunately, there are still doctors that are prescribing this medication to estrogen positive breast cancer patients. The simple explanation that estrogen levels are unaffected does not mean that it is safe. Biology is much more complex than simply monitoring the level of a few arbitrary hormones in the blood. There is significant cross talk between these different pathways in cells and this well understood biological concept also applies to the clinical setting.

Dr. Adam McLeod is a Naturopathic Doctor (ND), BSc. (Hon) Molecular biology, First Nations Healer, Motivational Speaker and International Best Selling Author.
He currently practices at his clinic, Yaletown Naturopathic Clinic, in Vancouver, BC where he focuses on integrative oncology.

References:
1) Tworoger, S. S.; Missmer, S. A.; Eliassen, A. H. et al. (2006). “The association of plasma DHEA and DHEA sulfate with breast cancer risk in predominantly premenopausal women”. Cancer Epidemiol. Biomarkers Prev. 15 (5): 967–71.

2) Key, T.; Appleby, P.; Barnes, I.; Reeves, G. (2002). “Endogenous sex hormones and breast cancer in postmenopausal women: reanalysis of nine prospective studies”. J. Natl. Cancer Inst. 94 (8): 606–16.

3) Michael Miller, Kristy K., et al. “DHEA metabolites activate estrogen receptors alpha and beta.” Steroids 78.1 (2013): 15-25.

4) Lardy, H; Kneer N, Wei Y, Partridge B, Marwah P (1998). “Ergosteroids II: Biologically Active Metabolites and Synthetic Derivatives of Dehydroepiandrosterone”. Steroids 63 (3): 158–165.

5) Janni W, Hepp P. Adjuvant aromatase inhibitor therapy: Outcomes and safety. Cancer Treat Rev. 2010; 36:249–261.

Iron and Anemia in Cancer Patients June 9, 2015

Posted by Dreamhealer in Alternative medicine, Anemia, Cancer, iron deficiency.
Tags: , ,
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iron anemia cancer
Written by: Dr. Adam McLeod, ND, BSc (Hons)

Everyone has seen someone with cancer who looks pale and depleted with energy. This is often due to anemia which means that there are less red blood cells to transport oxygen to tissues in the body. There are a number of different potential causes for this and one of the most common causes is low iron. When a doctor looks at blood work that clearly says “low iron” there is often an immediate response to supplement the patient with iron. However, we should not be so quick to prescribe iron to every cancer patient that is showing signs of anemia.

The interactions between iron and cancer are very complex and altered iron metabolism is considered a key metabolic “hallmark of cancer”1. It is clear that iron has roles in all aspects of cancer development, including the tumour microenvironment and metastasis. As evidenced by the expression pattern of ‘iron genes’ in malignant tumours, it is not simply associated with cancer, but also is indicative of a patient’s chances of survival2.

Our bodies have evolved to tightly partition and limit the amount of available iron. The iron deficiency anemia that is observed in cancer patients may actually be the bodies response to the presence of cancer. By limiting the availability of iron in circulation, there is less available for the cancer to utilize. If the patient is given iron then you are essentially fighting against the bodies effort to lower the iron levels.

There are a number of different studies that clearly show a strong connection between low iron levels and decreased cancer risk. It is well documented that people who regularly donate blood have lower rates of developing cancer3. This is likely connected to decreased iron levels following donation of blood. A popular natural cancer therapy called curcumin, acts as a potent natural chelator of iron5. It is thought that some of the observed anti-cancer properties might be due to the fact that it powerfully sequesters iron away from cancer cells6.

Recent research indicates that tumours create their own iron-rich micro-environment to evade constraints that are imposed by limited systemic iron availability. Cancer cells will sequester iron and it is possible that this allows the cancer cells to mutate more quickly. Iron reacts with oxygen to produce free radicals that damage DNA. Normally this is not desirable, however, this allows cancer cells to adapt more quickly to different conditions when the DNA is being constantly damaged on a low level. This consistent damage from excess iron is thought to increase the mutation rate of the DNA within the cancer cells. This recent evidence for regulation of iron in the tumour micro-environment represents a new paradigm in iron biology4.

Of course there are some situations where iron must be prescribed but it should not be done unnecessarily. Many effective cancer therapies work by actually decreasing the level of iron in the blood. If the red blood cells are reduced in number and smaller than normal (low MCV) then you very likely have iron deficiency anemia. It is very important to also check the level of ferritin to check on your bodies ability to transport iron.

A Naturopathic doctor that works with oncology will take the time to look at your case and will write you a prescription for iron if it is truly indicated. Contact Yaletown Naturopathic Clinic to see if this is the right therapy for you.

Dr. Adam McLeod is a Naturopathic Doctor (ND), BSc. (Hon) Molecular biology, First Nations Healer, Motivational Speaker and International Best Selling Author.
He currently practices at his clinic, Yaletown Naturopathic Clinic, in Vancouver, BC where he focuses on integrative oncology.

References:
1) Hanahan D, Weinberg RA. Hallmarks of cancer: the next generation. Cell. 2011;144:646–674. [PubMed]

2) Miller LD, et al. An iron regulatory gene signature predicts outcome in breast cancer. Cancer Res. 2011;71:6728–6737. [PMC free article]

3) Edgren G, et al. Donation frequency, iron loss, and risk of cancer among blood donors. J. Natl Cancer Inst. 2008;100:572–579. [PubMed]

4) Torti, Suzy V., and Frank M. Torti. “Iron and cancer: more ore to be mined.” Nature Reviews Cancer 13.5 (2013): 342-355.

5) Jiao Y, et al. Iron chelation in the biological activity of curcumin. Free Radic. Biol. Med. 2006;40:1152–1160. [PubMed]

6) Jiao Y, et al. Curcumin, a cancer chemopreventive and chemotherapeutic agent, is a biologically active iron chelator. Blood. 2009;113:462–469. [PMC free article]

“My Doctor told me to avoid Blueberries? But Chocolate is ok!” April 28, 2015

Posted by Dreamhealer in Alternative medicine, Cancer, Integrative Medicine.
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3 comments

blueberries_and_cancer-diet

Written by: Dr. Adam McLeod, ND, BSc(Hons)

I frequently hear from patients that their Medical Doctor bluntly told them to forget changing their diet because it does not make a difference, even though this is not accurate based on a large body of scientific evidence. I was very surprised to hear a patient tell me that their doctor told them to specifically avoid blueberries. This was the only dietary recommendation that they were given.

When I asked why the doctor prescribed such a bizarre dietary change the patient replied that the antioxidants from blueberries can interfere with the chemotherapy and radiation. Although I was happy to hear that this doctor was offering dietary advice, unfortunately this advice is not accurate. 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 the opposite which is that it is very beneficial to get antioxidants from natural sources. By consuming antioxidant rich foods patients have less side effects during chemotherapy and radiation. Many studies have also clearly demonstrated that these foods do not interfere with the effectiveness of these conventional therapies2,3,4,5,6,7.

It is interesting to note that of all the foods in the world this doctor only picked one item: blueberries. I am not sure of the rationale with this recommendation because there are countless foods that have antioxidant properties. Although blueberries are commonly associated with being antioxidants they are not very potent antioxidants when compared to other common foods. The antioxidant capacity of a food is measured by a lab test which determines the ability of that food to neutralize free radicals. This is commonly known as the Oxygen Radical Absorbance Capacity (ORAC) and a quick google search will clearly demonstrate that blueberries do not even make the top 50 for antioxidant capacity. These values are based on biological samples in vitro and it is not clear how significant these values are in the human body. What is clear, is that these values are a measure of the antioxidant capacity of these foods.

Depending on which source you look at blueberries have a ORAC value of approximately 6,500 which is not particularly high when compared to cinnamon which has an ORAC value of 265,000. In other words cinnamon is approximately 40 times stronger of an antioxidant compared to blueberries. Of course one could argue that you do not have as much cinnamon as blueberries, which is indeed true. However there are other foods consumed in comparable amounts to blueberries which have a significantly higher antioxidant capacity. Unsweetened cocoa powder has an ORAC value of 81,000 and baking chocolate has an ORAC value of 50,000. If you are having a food rich in chocolate then chances are you are consuming more antioxidants than if you are having blueberries1,8.

I am not suggesting that chocolate should be a primary source of antioxidants. I would certainly prefer that my patients get their antioxidants from blueberries rather than chocolate. There are many bioflavonoids in blueberries that are helpful in the context of cancer and the elevations in blood sugar from excessive chocolate consumption is not desirable in cancer patients. The point is that it is silly to single out one food as a antioxidant concern. The reality is that if you really want to cut antioxidants out of your diet it would involve much more than the elimination of blueberries. The advice of avoiding blueberries is confusing and it is simply not an evidence based dietary plan.

The bottom line is that these natural sources of antioxidants are very helpful in the context of cancer and there is no debate about this in the scientific community. The debate is around synthetic supplementation with high doses of antioxidants during chemotherapy and radiation. Natural sources are well established to be beneficial in these cases as they protect healthy cells without interfering with the effects of these conventional therapies5. So make sure you eat your blueberries and give your cells the nutrients that they need!

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 when compared to cultivated blueberries. Depending on which measurements you use, in some cases the wild blueberries have almost double the antioxidant capacity!

If you are undergoing chemotherapy or radiation make sure that you contact a Naturopathic Doctor to develop an evidence based treatment plan that can support you through these therapies. During chemotherapy or radiation your cells are under a significant amount of stress and it is essential that you adequately supply your cells with the necessary nutrients. Diet is an important component of any integrative cancer therapy.

Dr. Adam McLeod is a Naturopathic Doctor (ND), BSc. (Hons) Molecular biology, First Nations Healer, Motivational Speaker and International Best Selling Authorhttp://www.dreamhealer.com

His clinical focus is Naturopathic Oncology and he currently practices as at Yaletown Naturopathic Clinic in Vancouver, BC. http://www.yaletownnaturopathic.com

References:

1) Haytowitz, David B., and Seema Bhagwat. “USDA database for the oxygen radical absorbance capacity (ORAC) of selected foods, Release 2.” US Department of Agriculture(2010).

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

3) 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.

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

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

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

7) 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.

8) Vertuani, Silvia, et al. “Evaluation of Antiradical Activity of Different Cocoa and Chocolate Products: Relation with Lipid and Protein Composition.” Journal of medicinal food 17.4 (2014): 512-516.

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