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

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Your Body & Stress: A Three Part Series (2 of 3)

Written by: Dr. Kaleigh Coolsaet, ND

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Three Simple Steps To Improve Digestion:

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

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

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

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

Best in Health,

Dr. Kaleigh

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

IBS – But What CAN I Eat? May 12, 2016

Posted by Dreamhealer in best vancouver naturopath, best vancouver nutritionist, Diet, Healing, Naturopathic Doctor, Naturopathic Medicine, naturpathic medicine, stress.
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Written by: Breanne Dunlop, RHN

Suffering from abdominal pain, cramps, bloating, and gas? You’ve likely been told it could be IBS. Irritable bowel syndrome is the diagnosis often given to people who suffer from uncomfortable symptoms regarding the gut and bowels, and is distinct from Irritable Bowel Disease as the cause of irritation is unknown. IBS as you can imagine is extremely uncomfortable for those who suffer from it. Symptoms can be chronic or sporadic but are typically triggered by certain foods or during periods of stress. Some individuals are more prone to constipation while others may experience diarrhea. Whether you are chronically dealing with gut pain or have anxiety about being out in public during a flare up, IBS can be very crippling for many of its sufferers.

Since the cause of irritation is unknown and is likely different for everyone, the remedies to help provide some relief will be different too. The only sure way to know what may help you is through trial and error. Food is meant to be therapeutic and nourishing but for IBS sufferers it can be a nightmare trying to figure out what you can tolerate and what brings you agony. Right now there are three diets recognized to help with IBS: SCD, FODMAP or GAPS.

Specific Carbohydrate Diet (SCD) is a whole foods diet that avoids processed foods, sugars, starches and grains. The belief here is that complex carbohydrates are slow to digest and the pathogens bad little critters in our gut feed off of them. Only monosaccharides (simple sugars) are permitted on this diet as they are easier on the digestive tract. When food is properly digested and absorbed, there is nothing left in the gut for the bad little critters to feed on.

FODMAPs stands for Fermentable Oligosaccharides Disaccharides Monosaccharides and Polyols and aims to starve the bad bacteria by limiting foods that are poorly absorbed in the small intestine. FODMAPS has been further researched since SCD was introduced and therefore limits more foods (including monosaccharides) that are now known to be troublesome for an irritated gut. Foods are rated as low, medium or high FODMAP and the goal is to limit as much as possible high FODMAP foods because when eaten in excess these foods feed pathogens in the gut.

Gut And Psychology Syndrome (GAPS) is more restrictive than the previously mentioned diets, especially in the introductory phase. GAPS has more of a therapeutic approach to heal the gut versus just eliminating foods that are causing damage. The introductory phase, which lasts three to six weeks, consists entirely of homemade meat stock and vegetables with added probiotic rich foods such as sauerkraut – so hopefully you love soup!

Tired of suffering with your IBS? A holistic nutritionist can provide guidance on how to successfully eliminate trigger foods and incorporate foods and supplements that will help repair and nourish your gut. No more gut pain = a healthier and happier you. Book an appointment with Breanne today for assistance on how to implement one of the above diets into your lifestyle.

Spring Cleaning Starts with the Liver April 25, 2016

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Spring has sprung. As you clear through old clothing and items in the attic or garage, shaking off the general heaviness of winter, it’s also the perfect time to move any stagnation of energy in the liver. According to Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), spring is liver time and it’s the perfect time to support its many complex functions.

What to expect if we support the liver well?

  • Allergies improve
  • Sleep better and through the night
  • Clearer skin
  • Smooth digestion
  • Energy and mood improves
  • Hormones are in better balance

Here are some of my favourite ways to support liver function:

Avoid over-consumption of alcohol

The liver is a detoxing organ. Alcohol increases the demand on the liver and can slow its function, especially in large amounts. If you’ve avoided that hangover, your liver is free to do other things for you!

Castor oil

This is Grandma’s oldest remedy! And I’m not talking about taking it internally. Castor oil is a fantastic way to improve circulation when used topically over joints, muscles AND over the liver. An easy way to do this is rub a thick layer of castor oil over the lower ribs on the right side (where the liver is), cover with an old towel and apply a hot water bottle for about 20-30 minutes a few times per week. This draws circulation to the area and flushes the liver, improving digestion and detoxing the body of anything that is in excess.

Lemon water

Generally this is a great way to start the day, particularly hot water and lemon because this allows priming of the digestive tract for the day. I love it also before EVERY meal because this sends a signal to the gut and the brain that digestion is needed and liver function is best when the gut is not backed up, but flowing freely.

Organic fresh fruits and veggies, particularly cruciferous

Eat your broccoli, eat your cabbage, eat your kale, eat your cauliflower, eat your brussel sprouts, eat your bok choy, etc. Cruciferous vegetables provide the liver detox pathways with essential phytochemicals to help clear waste from the body. Organic is important because, like alcohol and some medications, pesticides and herbicides wreak havoc on the gut and burden the kidneys and the liver, because they need these organs to show them the way out.

Stress reduction

This is always a good idea. According to TCM, stress, anger and frustration cause and are a sign of Liver Qi (energy) stagnation, which in turn contributes to irritability, muscle tension, hormone imbalances and other health concerns. Think of a traffic jam in the city. We want the energy flowing freely through the whole body and not stuck unhappily in one place.

Get the blood flowing

Getting the blood flowing through the whole body gets it moving through the liver. Get a good sweat going everyday to prevent stagnation of energy and help things flow. Things like yoga, tai chi and Qigong can help move the Liver Qi gently and powerfully.

Liver supportive herbs such as turmeric, milk thistle and dandelion root

Talk to your naturopathic or herbal healthcare practitioner about some of my favourite herbs, and others that may be right for you. Herbs such as these support the liver detox pathways in regulating inflammation and clearing toxins from the body.

TLC

Always my favourite prescription!

Particularly for supporting the liver, here are a few ideas to give your liver some tender loving care:

  • Abdominal massage can be very powerful because it can help move waste out of the body more effectively and help bring essential circulation to the organs
  • Acupuncture is very effective for moving Liver Qi
  • Meditation (remember in “Eat, Pray Love”, when she’s told by the guru to meditate and smile to her liver :). Do that.
  • Laughter and joyful activities

A joyful spring to you and your families, and lots of smiles to your liver!

 

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

References:

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.

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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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:

DON’T OVERPLAN

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.

SLEEP AND PLAY

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”.

GO OUTSIDE

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.

SNEAK AWAY TO TREAT YOURSELF!

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.

SCHEDULE RECOVERY DAYS

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.

DON’T SHOW UP HUNGRY

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.

JUST MAKE SURE YOU EAT A VEGETABLE

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!

To book an appointment contact info@yaletownnaturopathic.com

How to Make Your Holidays Stress-Free! December 21, 2015

Posted by Dreamhealer in best vancouver naturopath, Healing, Health, stress.
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Just kidding! There’s no way to completely eliminate stress from a busy life, especially around the holiday season. But there are ways to reduce stress and lots of tricks for helping you manage the unavoidable.

1. Start a daily meditation. If your first thought is “I don’t have time for that”, then that’s enough reason in itself. If your life is so hectic that you actually don’t have 7 minutes a day to give your mind a break, then maybe it’s time to take a serious look at what is really important to you. Getting into a meditation practice shouldn’t be complicated. At its most basic, meditation is simply taking a mental break. When you’re feeling physically tired, you might rest for a few minutes. Doing the same for your mind helps you glide through your busy days with ease. My favourite guided meditation app is called “Buddhify” ($2.99 for Apple or Android). It provides more than a dozen situations (ie “Work Break”, “Feeling Stressed”, “At Home”) each of which has multiple guided meditations of various lengths. There are lots of free ones available, too. But for the price of a cup of coffee, you can start down the path to a peaceful mind.

2. Keep to your routines. The holiday season is when routine can go right out the window. Work schedules change, you might be traveling to visit family (or having family travel to visit you), holiday get-togethers have you out later than you might be used to. But having routines can help you stay anchored despite all the other changes. In particular, your new daily meditation – this can be done while traveling, in your parked car in between holiday shopping, almost anywhere. As much as possible, stick to your regular sleep habits. Make time to get to your usual exercise class or training session. You feel more grounded if you can keep your familiar routines.

3. Plan ahead, and be sure to leave time to accomplish everything. Stores are busy, traffic can be unpredictable, and you have more on your to-do list than usual. Don’t expect to fly through that list as you might at another time of the year, and above all – don’t blame yourself if outside circumstances derail your carefully-made plans. You’re doing the best you can, and you have a lot to do. That said…

4. Keep it simple, sweetheart. Be realistic about what is actually necessary. Step back and look at the big picture. Bigger is not always better, and the little details you’re stressing about now are quite likely things you won’t even notice once the holiday events are underway. The perfect napkins, the cute holiday craft you saw on Pinterest, the hard-to-find wine that was recommended to accompany your seafood charcuterie appetizer platter. Assess the ratio of “how much work something is” to “how much lasting joy it will provide”, and choose accordingly

5. Finally – gifts. Refer to #4 and KEEP IT SIMPLE. Everyone has a few close family and friends who warrant putting some time and thought into finding that perfect gift. But for the vast majority of people on your list, gift cards are the way to go. If your immediate reaction is that they’re too impersonal, think again. People like getting gift cards. They get to choose exactly what they want, which they can always do better than you can (sorry!) You can buy them all in one place (like the supermarket) or online. No wrapping involved, cut down on shipping costs if you’re mailing presents, no need to lug an extra bag of presents home across the city (or even the country) after spending holidays with family. However, if you’re absolutely set on coming up with a personalized gift, choose an experience over an object. Give something that you and your friend or family member will do together sometime after the holidays are over – tickets to a show, a cheese-making workshop, day at the spa – connection is built on shared experiences, and memories last longer than sweaters.

There are lots of tips out there for keeping yourself physically healthy over the holidays. As important as that is, supporting your mental health and well-being is even more important. A happy and grounded you means being able to enjoy the holidays to their fullest.

I wish everyone a safe, happy and healthy holiday season.

Boost the Odds After Cancer by Reducing Stress and Focusing on Healing December 17, 2015

Posted by Dreamhealer in Cancer, cancer therapy, Cancer Treatment, Healing, integrative cancer care, stress.
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Reducing stress and making lifestyle changes can yield remarkable results.

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

The diagnosis of cancer is a scary experience. Patients are often immediately thrust into aggressive conventional therapies without fully understanding how the therapy works or why it is necessary. We live in a culture where we put the responsibility of our health into someone else’s hands. We are told to trust that they know what is best and patients are often discouraged from doing their own research. Patients often feel that from the first day of diagnosis they are put on a conveyor belt and shuffled from one appointment to the next with no other options available. Once the treatments are complete and the patient is declared cancer free, they are abruptly discharged from the cancer agency and it is expected that they continue on with their life as if nothing had happened.

The reality is that this experience is so stressful for patients that it often leaves them traumatized emotionally and physically. Treatment does not end the moment that someone is given the “all-clear”. That is the time to focus on keeping your immune system strong and changing factors in your lifestyle to reduce the risk of recurrence. Patients need guidance to make these physical and emotional changes to reduce the chances of the cancer coming back. The good news is that there is a lot that can be done and there is substantial research to back these therapies.

You can help your body fight cancer by reducing stress and focusing your intentions on healing. One of the most comprehensive intervention studies in cancer research evaluated the effects of stress management techniques, such as relaxation on cancer recurrence following removal of malignant melanoma2. Not only did the relaxed group experience reduced psychological distress, they also had more active immune systems than the control group not practicing relaxation. A six-year follow up of these patients showed a trend toward greater recurrence and higher mortality rates in the control group, compared to the relaxed group1. The bottom line is that patients who focus on reducing stress and focus their minds on healing not only have a better prognosis, they also have lower rates of developing cancer in the first place. Given what we know about the connection between immune function and stress, this conclusion is not surprising.

The aggressive conventional therapies that patients go through often do a good job of killing cancerous cells. The problem is that these same therapies also leave the immune system severely weakened at a time when you need the immune system to be strong. You must have a functioning immune system to patrol your tissues and identify abnormal cells before they have an opportunity to manifest as a clinical disease. The first year after being given the “all-clear” diagnosis is the most important time to support your immune system. There are many natural therapies and lifestyle changes that can be done to help support your immune system at this critical time period.

Mistletoe therapy is just one example of a therapy that can be used to effectively stimulate the immune system. Mistletoe has been shown to stimulate increases in the number and the activity of several types of white blood cells3. Immune-system-enhancing cytokines, such as interleukin-1, interleukin-6, and tumour necrosis factor alpha are released by white blood cells after exposure to mistletoe extracts4,5. It is also possible to make simple dietary changes that can significantly reduce inflammation and further support immune function.

Patients want and need continued support after they are treated for cancer. They need to be supported mentally and physically in order to help further reduce the risk of recurrence. Naturopathic doctors excel at providing this much needed support to patients and help them get back on the path to wellness.

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

This article was also published in the Georgia Straight Vancouver.

References:
1) Bovbjerg, Dana H. “Psychoneuroimmunology. Implications for oncology?.” Cancer 67.S3 (1991): 828-832.

2) Fawzy, Fawzy I., et al. “Malignant melanoma: effects of an early structured psychiatric intervention, coping, and affective state on recurrence and survival 6 years later.” Archives of General Psychiatry 50.9 (1993): 681-689.

3) Büssing, A., A. Regnery, and K. Schweizer. “Effects of Viscum album L. on cyclophosphamide-treated peripheral blood mononuclear cells in vitro: sister chromatid exchanges and activation/proliferation marker expression.” Cancer letters 94.2 (1995): 199-205.

4) Hajto, Tibor. “Immunomodulatory effects of Iscador: a Viscum album preparation.” Oncology 43.Suppl. 1 (1986): 51-65.

5) Hajto T, Hostanska K, Frei K, et al.: Increased secretion of tumor necrosis factors alpha, interleukin 1, and interleukin 6 by human mononuclear cells exposed to beta-galactoside-specific lectin from clinically applied mistletoe extract. Cancer Res 50 (11): 3322-6, 1990.

Stress causes Cancer November 28, 2014

Posted by Dreamhealer in Alternative medicine, Cancer, Naturopathic Medicine, stress.
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By: Dr. Adam McLeod , ND

Everyday in my practice I see cancer patients who feel that there is a very strong emotional source to their cancer. Patients will often be able to directly connect the formation of their cancer with a stressful event in their life. This is not an imaginary connection, there are biological reasons why emotional stress can trigger the formation of cancer.

Stress can cause cancer. It is important to point out that this is not a hypothetical concept. This is a statement that is well supported by scientific evidence1,2,3. The link between cancer and stress is well established and is not debated by the scientific community. Many people are not aware how significant this connection is and often this connection is disregarded by medical doctors, despite the body of evidence.

There are a number of different biological reasons why stress inhibits the immune system in its fight against cancer. Natural Killer cells are essential in resisting the progression and metastatic spread of tumours once they have developed4. It is well documented that the activity of these crucial cells decreases significantly with stress5. In other words, the cells that patrol your body looking for abnormal cells are less active when you are under stress.

A key component to the development of cancer is mutations in the DNA. A number of well controlled studies have shown that cells are less efficient at repairing DNA damage when a patient is stressed. Patients who are more depressed show significantly poorer repair of damaged DNA compared to their less depressed counterparts6. This is significant because the mutations that drive the initiation and development of cancer are not repaired as effectively in a patient under stressful conditions.

In addition to the effects of stress on DNA repair, additional research has shown that apoptosis is inhibited by stress7. When a cell begins to turn cancerous, the cell will undergo what is called programmed cell death (also known as apoptosis). In other words, when a cell begins to get too abnormal it will commit suicide. This is one of the most fundamental defense mechanisms that our body has to fight the development of cancer. When this process is inhibited, clearly the risk for developing cancer is higher.

The good news is that you can help your body fight cancer by reducing stress and focusing your intentions on healing. One of the most comprehensive intervention studies in cancer research evaluated the effects of stress management techniques, such as relaxation on cancer recurrence following removal of malignant melanoma9. Not only did the relaxed group experience reduced psychological distress, they also had more active immune systems. A 6-year follow up of these patients showed a trend toward greater recurrence and higher mortality rates in the control group, compared to the relaxed group8. The bottom line is that patients who focus on reducing stress and focusing their minds on healing not only have a better prognosis, they also have lower rates of developing cancer in the first place. Given what we know about the connection between immune function and stress, this conclusion should not be surprising.

When fighting cancer it is important to use every tool at your disposal to increase the chances of a successful recovery. The immune system must be strong to fight off any serious disease. Our minds can dramatically influence how our cells respond to stress and this is intimately connected to the function of the immune system. We all need to take control of our health and use this connection to our advantage. By reducing stress and focusing our minds on healing we will live longer and happier lives10. This is a powerful tool that we can all use to our advantage.

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 in Vancouver, British Columbia where he focuses on integrative oncology.http://www.yaletownnaturopathic.com

References:

1)    Bovberj DH. Physchoneuroimmunology: Implications for oncology? Cancer 1991; 67: 828-832.

2)    Spiegel D, Kato PM. Psychosocial influences on cancer incidence and progression. Harvard Rev Psychiatry 1996; 4: 10-26.

3)    Andersen BL, Farrar WB, Golden-Kreutz D et al. Stress and immune responses after surgical treatment for regional breast cancer. J Natl Cancer Inst 1998; 90: 30-36.

4)    Herberman RB. Immunotherapy. In Lenhard RE Jr, Osteen RT, Gansler T (eds): Clinical Oncology. Atlanta, GA: American Cancer Society 2001; 215-223.

5)    Zorrilla EP, Luborsky L, MacKay JR et al. The relationship of depression and stressors to immunological assays: A meta-analytic review. Brain Behav Immun 2001; 15: 199-226.

6)    Kiecolt-Glaser JK, Stephen RE, Lipetz PD et al. Distress and DNA repair in human lymphocytes. J Behav Med 1985; 8: 311-320.

7)    Tomei LD, Kiecolt-Glaser JK, Kennedy S, Glaser R. Psychological stress and phorbol ester inhibition of radiation-induced apoptosis in human PBLs. Psychiatry Res 1990; 33: 59-71.

8)    Fawzy IF, Fawzy NW, Hyun CS et al. Malignant melanoma: effects of an early structured psychiatric intervention, coping and affective state on recurrence and survival 6 years later. Arch Gen Psychiatry 1993; 50: 681-689.

9)    Fawnzy IF, Kemeny ME, Fawzy NW et al. A structured psychiatric intervention for cancer patients. Arch Gen Psychiatry 1990; 47: 729-735.

10)  Veenhoven et al. Healthy happiness: effects of happiness on physical health and the consequences for preventative health care. Journal of Happiness Studies, 2008; 9(3): 449.

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