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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

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 cancer care. 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.

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