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Haida Gwaii Satellite Clinic 2019 May 8, 2019

Posted by Adam McLeod, former Naturopathic Doctor, BSc (Hons) in best vancouver naturopath, haida gwaii, Healing, naturopath, naturopathic, Naturopathic Doctor, Naturopathic Medicine, Naturopathy.
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vancouver naturopath haida gwaii nonprofit health careVery excited to announce that Naturopathic Outreach Society has organized another satellite clinic up to Haida Gwaii for the summer of 2019 to provide remote first nations communities with Naturopathic care.

For more information about their nonprofit work please visit their website: https://www.naturopathicoutreach.com/

Green Tea and Cancer September 5, 2018

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

Green tea is a common beverage that can be found at any cafe yet it also has important therapeutic properties.

Epigallocatechin gallate (EGCG) is an extract from green tea that has shown great promise as an integrative cancer therapy. The mechanism of action is complicated because it interacts with multiple molecular pathways to inhibit the growth of cancerous cells. When cancer cells are exposed to EGCG, it triggers cell death by a variety of mechanisms1,2,3,4. Not only does it inhibit the growth of cancerous cells, but it also slows down the rate of metastasis.

Although there is a wide range of EGCG content in green tea, a strong tea has about 70mg per tea bag. The therapeutic doses for EGCG (particularly in the context of cancer) is a minimum of 1500mg per day. Which means you would have to have approximately 20 green teas per day to reach this dose. Obviously this is not practical as a long term treatment plan so the best way to get the appropriate doses is through pill form. If you enjoy having green tea then you can certainly continue to do so but you will not be significantly contributing to the therapeutic effect of the EGCG.

One important characteristic of EGCG is that it acts as an anti-angiogenic substance. Angiogenesis is the growth of new blood vessels into a developing tumour. This process is necessary when cancer cells are spreading because the smaller growths need a blood supply to sustain their rapid growth. Cancer cells will often secrete chemicals that trick the human body into growing blood vessels into the tumour. EGCG helps to inhibit this process by inhibiting the viability of capillary tube formation and migration. This effect seems to be greatly enhanced by a new class of drugs called ERK inhibitors2.

Tumour samples of mice treated with EGCG clearly show that the cancerous cells have reduced ERK activity while having enhanced p38 and JNK activity. In other words, the pathways that promote growth are down-regulated and the pathways that inhibit growth are up-regulated. The net effect is that the cancer does not grow or spread as quickly. Every molecular marker that was tested indicated that the cancer was less aggressive and more prone to cell death. If you perform a quick Google scholar search, you will see hundreds of well-controlled studies that consistently demonstrate this anti-cancer effect.

When EGCG is combined with curcumin at high doses, it helps to stabilize leukemias and lymphomas. There are many well-documented cases of patients with multiple myeloma who have had long-term disease stabilization by simply taking high doses of EGCG and curcumin. These natural compounds work synergistically to reduce inflammation and promote cell death in cancerous cells. The effectiveness of EGCG in multiple myeloma is undeniable, and this has resulted in a resurgence of research into its use as an adjunctive cancer therapy6.

There are a handful of chemotherapy drugs where the use of EGCG is contraindicated such as bortezomib (Velcade). There is contradictory information about the significance of this interaction, but it is still best to avoid combining EGCG with velcade15. Some doctors focus on this one interaction while ignoring the overwhelming evidence that EGCG often acts synergistically with other forms of chemotherapy. It is difficult to argue against the use of EGCG if you take the time to actually look at the evidence. When EGCG is combined with cisplatin, it not only significantly increases the effectiveness of the drug, it also dramatically reduces the side effect profile7,8,9.

Recently in the media, concerns have been raised about the connection between EGCG and liver toxicity. These liver toxicity reactions that are potentially related to EGCG are exceptionally rare considering how regularly EGCG is consumed in the general population. There have been several documented case studies of liver toxicity that have been connected to use of EGCG. It appears that there may be a genetic predisposition to these rare reactions12. At this point in the time mechanism of action for these reactions is unclear, however, it is in many cases likely due to a immune-allergic mechanism. In other words, it could be that some of these patients were just simply allergic to EGCG.

There is contradictory information regarding the impact of EGCG on liver as several animal studies indicate that it actually has a strong protective effect on the liver and kidneys10. I can tell you from experience that I have literally prescribed EGCG thousands of times and I have never seen even a hint of such reaction. EGCG is a exceptionally safe supplement when used appropriately and patients should not be fearful of using it due to a handful of exceptionally rare cases of liver toxicity.

EGCG is an example of a supplement where the quality makes a significant difference. In order to obtain the desired anti-cancer effect, you must take high doses of quality EGCG. Drinking green tea may be helpful in the context of cancer prevention, but when it comes to cancer treatment, you need much higher doses. Some physicians recommend that patients get EGCG administered by intravenous therapy to get the doses as high as possible. The doses required to enhance chemotherapy and promote cell death in cancerous cells are quite high, but they are obtainable by consuming EGCG orally. It is also important to point out that this treatment is cost effective and generally well tolerated by patients.

Adam McLeod is a former Naturopathic Doctor (ND), BSc. (Hon) Molecular biology, Motivational Speaker and International Best Selling Author. He previously practiced at his clinic in Vancouver, British Columbia where he focused on integrative cancer care http://www.yaletownnaturopathic.com


1) Ahmad, Nihal, Sanjay Gupta, and Hasan Mukhtar. “Green tea polyphenol epigallocatechin-3-gallate differentially modulates nuclear factor κB in cancer cells versus normal cells.” Archives of biochemistry and biophysics 376.2 (2000): 338-346.

2) Shankar, Sharmila, et al. “EGCG inhibits growth, invasion, angiogenesis and metastasis of pancreatic cancer.” Frontiers in bioscience: a journal and virtual library 13 (2007): 440-452.

3) Hwang, Jin-Taek, et al. “Apoptotic effect of EGCG in HT-29 colon cancer cells via AMPK signal pathway.” Cancer letters 247.1 (2007): 115-121.

4) Shimizu, Masahito, et al. “EGCG inhibits activation of HER3 and expression of cyclooxygenase-2 in human colon cancer cells.” Journal of experimental therapeutics & oncology 5.1 (2004): 69-78.

5) Shah, Jatin J., Deborah J. Kuhn, and Robert Z. Orlowski. “Bortezomib and EGCG: no green tea for you?.” Blood 113.23 (2009): 5695-5696.

6) Shammas, Masood A., et al. “Specific killing of multiple myeloma cells by (-)-epigallocatechin-3-gallate extracted from green tea: biologic activity and therapeutic implications.” Blood 108.8 (2006): 2804-2810.

7) El-Mowafy, A. M., et al. “Novel chemotherapeutic and renal protective effects for the green tea (EGCG): role of oxidative stress and inflammatory-cytokine signaling.” Phytomedicine 17.14 (2010): 1067-1075.

8) Davenport, Andrew, et al. “Celastrol and an EGCG pro-drug exhibit potent chemosensitizing activity in human leukemia cells.” International journal of molecular medicine 25.3 (2010): 465-470.

9) Sarkar, Fazlul H., and Yiwei Li. “Using chemopreventive agents to enhance the efficacy of cancer therapy.” Cancer Research 66.7 (2006): 3347-3350.

10) Niu, Yucun, et al. “The phytochemical, EGCG, extends lifespan by reducing liver and kidney function damage and improving age‐associated inflammation and oxidative stress in healthy rats.” Aging Cell 12.6 (2013): 1041-1049.

11) Chen, Ju-Hua, et al. “Green tea polyphenols prevent toxin-induced hepatotoxicity in mice by down-regulating inducible nitric oxide–derived prooxidants.” The American journal of clinical nutrition 80.3 (2004): 742-751.

12) Church, Rachel J., et al. “Sensitivity to hepatotoxicity due to epigallocatechin gallate is affected by genetic background in diversity outbred mice.” Food and Chemical Toxicology 76 (2015): 19-26.

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

Posted by Adam McLeod, former Naturopathic Doctor, BSc (Hons) 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.

Positive Period. April 21, 2016

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Step 1. Exercise!

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

Step 2. Alone time

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

Step 3. Eating

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

Step 4. Think positive!

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




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

Presentation at BC Therapeutic Touch Retreat 2016 March 15, 2016

Posted by Adam McLeod, former Naturopathic Doctor, BSc (Hons) in Dreamhealer, Energy Healing, Healing.
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I am very excited to announce I will be presenting at the BC Therapeutic Touch Retreat 2016 on Saturday, April 23, 2016 in Springbrooke Retreat & Conference Centre located at 22778 72nd Avenue in Langley, British Columbia.

At this presentation I will provide information on practical tools that can be used to enhance daily self-care and how you can incorporate your intuition into your healing practice. I will also share some of my healing experiences and how plans can be customized for individual patients.

There is no group healing session at this presentation.

Please note, this event is not organized by Dreamhealer. To register for the event or if you have any questions about the event please contact Susan Rutherford at srutherf@gmail.com or 604-218-7707.

Click here to register.

See you all there!

Fresh Start…? February 11, 2016

Posted by Adam McLeod, former Naturopathic Doctor, BSc (Hons) in best vancouver naturopath, Healing, Naturopathic Doctor, Naturopathic Medicine.
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Somehow January is over. Have you gotten going on your 2016 new years’ resolutions? Are you feeling successful? Is the momentum petering out?

It’s easy to feel inspired at least for a little while by all the hype around a resolution at this time of year. It’s also easy to feel bombarded by pressure to be successful at this goal you set. Here are a few ideas to get you through the pressure and maybe even help you drop the resolution altogether!

  1. Intention is more powerful than resolution. 
    A resolution tends to carry power in the pressure department. Some people do well at them for a time because they feel the world is watching, holding them accountable and that’s exactly what they need. This may not resonate with everyone.

An intention comes from inside and acts more like scaffolding, helping to raise the structure of the things you want to bring into your life. It’s longer acting and gentle enough that you can revisit them easily if you find you have strayed.

  1. Winter is time for hibernation.
    I believe that one of the reasons resolutions set some up for failure is because some resolutions involve great action. Typical ones would be to exercise regularly, run more, eat less, eat better, etc.

If you are someone who needs a bit more meaning or connection to your goals, you’ll be interested to know that in the Shamanic world, winter is a time of stillness. It’s a time to go inside, hibernate, let go and clear space, letting the old stuff die and be removed to make room for the upcoming spring and return to life.

I find it’s the best time to take time and listen. To go with the natural tendency towards stillness. To allow in what is meant to come and to form intentions for the rest of the year from this place of quiet connection.

  1. Get clear and ask for help.
    What I love most about the idea of a fresh start with a new year is that it’s an opportunity to get really clear in what you want to call in this year. And sometimes that means simply asking and then letting go of the question.

If you have a resolution you already feel good about then re-examining what the intention behind it might help bolster you forward or tweak it to fit the big picture. Is losing that extra 10 pounds really about the exercise and food? Or can you also bring in the intention to work a bit less and give yourself more stress-free time for joy and sleep, removing a big obstacle to losing that weight.

If you’re at a loss, might I suggest making time for more TLC? It’s my favourite prescription, be it a massage, acupuncture, tea and a good book or a walk in the woods. TLC can also take on the form of asking for help more, giving yourself a break and recognizing that you don’t have to do it all.

Whatever you resolve to do or intend to bring in, remember to check in and to take yourself into account along the way.

A gentle and strong fresh start to you!

Seasonal Affective Disorder February 4, 2016

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

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

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

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

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

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

What is Light Therapy?

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Posted by Adam McLeod, former Naturopathic Doctor, BSc (Hons) in Cancer, Chemicals, Government, Naturopathic Medicine, nutrition.
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cancer causing foods

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Posted by Adam McLeod, former Naturopathic Doctor, BSc (Hons) in Detox, Diet, Healing, Health, Nutritionist.
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Written by: Breanne Dunlop, RHN

Why we Need Sugar

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

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

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

Different Types of Sugar: Simple vs. Complex 

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

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

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

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

Blood Sugar Balancing at a Glance

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

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

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

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

What Every Patient Should Know Before Surgery May 27, 2015

Posted by Adam McLeod, former Naturopathic Doctor, BSc (Hons) in Healing, Surgery, Vitamin C.
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surgery vancouver naturopath
By: Dr. Adam McLeod, ND, BSc (Hons)

Surgery is sometimes necessary and depending on the procedure it can take quite some time for patients to heal. It is important for every patient to know that there are therapies available that help to promote wound healing post surgery. Every surgical procedure is stressful on the body and this stress changes the metabolic requirements in your cells. As the body puts energy into wound healing several nutrients suddenly become in high demand. For optimal wound healing it is essential that these nutrients are supplied.

Collagen is a key component of the wound healing process. Vitamin C is essential post surgery as it is required for proper collagen formation1,2. The enzymes that produce and stabilize collagen require significant amounts of Vitamin C. It is well established that patients who smoke are very slow to heal from surgery. This is because cigarette smoke is very oxidative which results in a rapid depletion of Vitamin C in the tissues3. With inadequate supplies of this essential nutrient the collagen is slow to form and the collagen that does form tends to be weak. As a consequence wounds are more likely to break open after the surgery due to their inability to heal. It has been known for decades that when patients are supplemented with Vitamin C they heal faster after surgery4.

Another nutrient that is very important with regards to wound healing in zinc. Many of the enzymes that are directly required for wound healing are dependent on a sufficient supply of zinc. Patients with a genetic predisposition to zinc deficiency have significantly impaired wound healing capabilities5. After a traumatic event such as a surgery the requirements for zinc in the body are significantly higher. When patients are supplemented with zinc they heal faster as they are able to meet this obvious metabolic requirement5.

Vitamin A is another nutrient that must be supplied in adequate amounts for proper wound healing to occur. Patients with a deficiency in Vitamin A are very poor at healing wounds6. The role of Vitamin A in wound healing is different than that of zinc and Vitamin C. It is likely that the wound healing properties of Vitamin A are due to its ability to regulate the immune system locally in a way that is conducive to tissue repair.

Not only should patients be supplemented with these basic nutrients, their diet should be altered to help promote tissue healing as well. The patient must significantly increase their protein intake while avoiding inflammatory foods. All of these simple changes make a profound difference in the healing process. These natural approaches are well supported by scientific evidence but they are not commonly encouraged by surgeons. This is very often due to their lack of training in nutrition.

If you have an upcoming surgery make sure that you contact a Naturopathic doctor to help you develop a plan that will accelerate the healing after the surgery is complete. It is very important to have professional guidance from a Naturopathic physician when you are preparing for a surgery. The dose and the quality of the supplements makes a huge difference. Some of the recommended approaches are contraindicated in certain conditions and it takes an expert to develop a plan that is both safe and effective. Contact Yaletown Naturopathic Clinic to see if this is the right therapy for you.

Adam McLeod is a former Naturopathic Doctor (ND), BSc. (Hon) Molecular biology, Motivational Speaker and International Best Selling Author. He previously practiced at his clinic in Vancouver, British Columbia where he focused on integrative cancer care http://www.yaletownnaturopathic.com


1) MacKay, Douglas, and Alan L. Miller. “Nutritional support for wound healing.” Alternative medicine review: a journal of clinical therapeutic 8.4 (2003): 359-377.

2) Boyera, N., I. Galey, and B. A. Bernard. “Effect of vitamin C and its derivatives on collagen synthesis and cross‐linking by normal human fibroblasts.” International Journal of Cosmetic Science 20.3 (1998): 151-158.

3) Schectman, Gordon, James C. Byrd, and Harvey W. Gruchow. “The influence of smoking on vitamin C status in adults.”American Journal of Public Health 79.2 (1989): 158-162.

4) Bartlett, Marshall K., Chester M. Jones, and Anna E. Ryan. “Vitamin C and wound healing: II. Ascorbic acid content and tensile strength of healing wounds in human beings.” New England Journal of Medicine 226.12 (1942): 474-481.

5) Lansdown, Alan BG, et al. “Zinc in wound healing: theoretical, experimental, and clinical aspects.” Wound Repair and Regeneration 15.1 (2007): 2-16.

6) Hunt, Thomas K. “Vitamin A and wound healing.” Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology 15.4 (1986): 817-821.

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