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

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

Written By Dr. Kaleigh Coolsaet, ND

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

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

Six Steps to Enhancing your Immune System

1. Eat a balanced diet with reduced sugar intake

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

2. Reduce and Manage Stress

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

3. Obtain sufficient sleep

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

4. Regular Exercise

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

5. Immune Support Naturally

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

6. IV Therapy and Immune Boosting Injections

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

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

Best in Health,

Dr. Kaleigh

Suicide Prevention and Awareness September 19, 2016

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Breakthrough in Early Cancer Detection July 11, 2016

Posted by Dreamhealer in best vancouver naturopath, Cancer, cancer prevention, cancer therapy, Cancer Treatment, Healing, immune system, immunity, integrative cancer care.
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There is no question that the future of oncology will be focused around early detection of cancer cells. If we can detect these cells at an extremely early stage then it will be possible to cure the cancer before it manifests as a clinical disease. At this point in time there is no single test that is guaranteed to detect cancer at these early stages but there are several tests that are showing great promise.

One such test is known as the Oncoblot test which has been demonstrated as a reliable detector of early stage cancer in several studies1,2. This test analyzes the blood for the presence of ENOX2 which is a protein often released into the blood stream via cancerous cells. These proteins are detectable before any scan would be able to identify an abnormal mass. A mass of several millions of cancer cells would be far too small for any scan to detect but these cells would be releasing significant levels of this protein which this test could potentially identify.

Not only does this test identify the presence of cancer in these early stages, it can often identify the tissue of origin based off of variations in the protein. In other words, the test also identifies the most likely area where these abnormal cells are growing. It is clear that in the near future oncology will rely heavily on these types of tests to proactively treat cancer.

It is important to point out that no test is 100% and tests such as the Oncoblot are not intended to be used in patients as a replacement for conventional screening. It should be used together with conventional screening. This test is often used several months post surgery to assess for the presence of residual cancer cells. For example, following the removal of a cancer and when given the all clear diagnosis, patients are often left with the constant fear of recurrence. Conventional screening will only be able to detect a mass when it has grown to a clinically significant size. This test can help to detect the presence of cancerous cells far earlier and can help to justify a more aggressive treatment plan. Another test which can be helpful in these circumstances is the circulating tumour cells test, which directly detects cancerous cells in the blood stream following a surgery3.

In patients with a family history of cancer, these tests provide an additional way to test for the early development of cancer. This can potentially identify the cancer far sooner than any CT scan or MRI. The controversy about this test is not about the reliability, it is about what to do with this information. The vast majority of clinical trials look at how chemotherapy and radiation impact masses that are detectable on scans. These protocols are generally not designed to work with cancer that is only detectable in the blood via these markers. As a consequence it is difficult to assess the effectiveness of a conventional therapy if we cannot “see” what we are fighting. This is the reason why these tests are not covered by MSP.

There is a growing interest in the mainstream oncology community to use these tests and proactively treat cancer before it has the opportunity to progress. Once the cancer is identified we can also support the immune system using natural tools so that your body is more likely to identify and engage these cells. A truly integrative plan can help to get all the necessary information and develop the most effective treatment plan possible.

These tests are regularly run at Yaletown Naturopathic Clinic in Vancouver, BC and they can provide patients with the critical information necessary to make informed decisions about their integrative cancer plan.

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. Morré, D. James, et al. “ENOX2-based early detection (ONCOblot) of asbestos-induced malignant mesothelioma 4–10 years in advance of clinical symptoms.” Clinical Proteomics 13.1 (2016): 1.
  2. Morré, D. James, and David J. Taggart. “ONCOblot consistently detects State 0 and Stage 1 cancers and correctly identifies the tissue of origin.” ONCOblot Reports 1.4 (2015): 1-2.
  3. Zhang, Liling, et al. “Meta-analysis of the prognostic value of circulating tumor cells in breast cancer.” Clinical Cancer Research18.20 (2012): 5701-5710.

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

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

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

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

Consume more Fermented Foods

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

Eat your Antioxidants

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

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

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

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

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

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

Are Electromagnetic Fields Dangerous? January 11, 2016

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

References:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

What is pain?

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

What is Neural Prolotherapy (NPT)?

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

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

How does Neural Prolotherapy cure pain?

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

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

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

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

 

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.

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