Guest post by Jacob Schor, ND, FABNO
The recent publication of Riso et al’s results in the June issue of the European Journal of Nutrition has left me ruminating on the impact geography plays into our choice of “medicinal foods.”
This study measured the impact of blueberries on a series of biomarkers of oxidative stress. It was a textbook perfect randomized placebo controlled trial with crossover. Eighteen middleaged males (mean age 48 years) drank a smoothie made from freeze-dried wild blueberry powder twice a day for 6 weeks. The drink contained 375 mg of blueberry anthocyanins, equal to about a cup of blueberries. While a long list of biomarkers were evaluated in the participants blood, most did not change significantly. There were two significant changes. Drinking wild blueberry smoothies significantly reduced the levels of endogenously oxidized DNA bases (from 12.5 to 9.6 p ≤ 0.01) and the levels of H(2)O(2)-induced DNA damage (from 45.8 to 37.2 p ≤ 0.01). No effect was found after the placebo drink.
This is interesting to some people. It adds additional weight to the evidence that blueberries are exceptionally healthy foods to eat. We knew this already.
What I’m finding interesting is where this research was done. The lead author, Patrizia Riso and colleagues are from the Department of Food, Environmental and Nutritional Sciences, Università degli Studi di Milano, in Milan, Italy. 
Pardon me if I sound politically incorrect, but what are Italians doing studying wild blueberries?
Blueberries are native to North America. Italy has a grand total of only 680 acres of blueberries planted as of 2010.
So what’s going on? It appears that blueberries are suddenly a desirable commodity worldwide. From 2005 to 2010, blueberry the acreage planted in blueberries has increased by 83%. Acreage in North America has increased by 53% and in South America has more than doubled. The western hemisphere, North and South America account for 81% of blueberry acreage. During this period North American acreage has increased by an estimated +53% and South American acreage has more than doubled. As of 2010, North and South America account for 86% of the world’s blueberry acreage producing 491 million and 153 million pounds respectively. The entire Mediterranean and African regions produce a total of only five million pounds. 
Perhaps this explains why Riso et al gave their study participants blueberry powder. Fresh blueberries may have been too hard to find. Certainly it would be hard to find real wild blueberries of the sort one collects in mountain meadows in direct competition with hungry bears.
Wondering about these Italian blueberries prompts me to look at the other randomized clinical trials using blueberries.
There is the Wilms’ study published back in August 2007. In that study, 168 volunteers drank a daily glass of blueberry/apple juice for a month. The researchers found that plasma quercetin, ascorbic acid and trolox equivalent antioxidant capacity (TEAC) were all significantly increased. The researchers also reported a 20% protection (P < 0.01) against ex vivo hydrogen peroxide-provoked oxidative DNA damage.
Where was this research done? Maastricht University, The Netherlands. 
In 2010 there were just 1,180 acres of blueberries growing in the Netherlands.
An October 2010 paper written by Stull et al and published in Nutrition Journal reported that chemicals in blueberries improve insulin sensitivity in obese, insulin-resistant men and women. In this double-blinded randomized controlled trial, fifteen obese volunteers drank smoothies twice a day, each of which contained 22.5 grams of blueberry “bioactives,” while a control group consumed similar smoothies but without the blueberries. Insulin sensitivity improved more in the blueberry group than in the placebo group. The daily dose of “bioactives” consumed by these study participants contained 668 mg of anthocyanins, and was equivalent to approximately ~2 cups of fresh whole blueberries. These researchers were from Baton Rouge, Louisiana. 
The entire state of Louisiana has 466 acres of land planted with commercial blueberries. 
An April 2010 study done by researchers from the University of Cincinnati reported that nine older adults who drank a daily serving of wild blueberry juice had significant improvements in cognitive function including paired associate learning and word list recall. They also tended toward a reduction in depressive symptoms.  Ohio grows even fewer blueberries than Louisiana, only 378 acres. 
A December 2011 published study reported that regular consumption of a blueberry drink improved intestinal flora. After six weeks Bifidobacterium spp. significantly increased.  This study was also conducted by Italians. Remember just 680 acres.
A December 2011 paper was written McAnulty et al from Appalachian State University.
This is the research group that specializes in measuring the oxidative impact of strenuous exercise. We’ve written about them in the past. They did the quercetin and bicycle racing studies. In this study they examined the impact of eating 250 gram of blueberries per day for 6 week and then eating a larger dose, 375 grams, an hour before a long hard run (2.5 hours at 72% maximal oxygen consumption). Twenty-five well-trained athletes took part in the study. Compared to a control group who went through the run, the blueberry group had increased natural killer NK counts. Even a single dose of blueberries eaten just before the run, reduces oxidative stress and increases anti-inflammatory cytokines. 
North Carolina, finally a state that produces blueberries. They produce almost 12% of the US annual blueberry crop and average about 6,000 acres planted in blueberries each year.  Notice that this study used real blueberries.
Given the number and variety of benefits seen in these studies, not to mention the numerous studies done in animals, there seems to be little doubt that blueberries are good for us.
What I find confusing is why the research on blueberries isn’t coming from the state universities in regions known for their blueberries, in particular Maine, Michigan, New Jersey?
This year’s wild blueberry crop in Maine is predicted to be the largest in history. Maine has over 60,000 acres of wild blueberries that are managed for picking. [11,12]
I can’t help but think that scientists fall prey to the same sort of attraction to novelty as the rest of us. Americans now purchase anything that claims to contain Acai berry. Marketers find a willing audience when they sell exotic fruit juices from Hawaii or Thailand, juices that taste horrible but are still consumed for their health benefits. Is it any wonder that the Italians and Dutch are fascinated with blueberries?
- Riso P, Klimis-Zacas D, Del Bo' C, Martini D, Campolo J, Vendrame S, Møller P, Loft S, De Maria R, Porrini M. Effect of a wild blueberry (Vaccinium angustifolium) drink intervention on markers of oxidative stress, inflammation and endothelial function in humans with cardiovascular risk factors. Eur J Nutr. 2012 Jun 26.
- Wilms LC, Boots AW, de Boer VC, Maas LM, Pachen DM, Gottschalk RW, et al. Impact of multiple genetic polymorphisms on effects of a 4-week blueberry juice intervention on ex vivo induced lymphocytic DNA damage in human volunteers. Carcinogenesis. 2007 Aug;28(8):1800-6.
- Stull AJ, Cash KC, Johnson WD, Champagne CM, Cefalu WT. Bioactives in blueberries improve insulin sensitivity in obese, insulin-resistant men and women. J Nutr. 2010 Oct;140(10):1764-8.
- Krikorian R, Shidler MD, Nash TA, Kalt W, Vinqvist-Tymchuk MR, Shukitt-Hale B, Joseph JA. Blueberry supplementation improves memory in older adults. J Agric Food Chem. 2010 Apr 14;58(7):3996-4000.
- Vendrame S, Guglielmetti S, Riso P, Arioli S, Klimis-Zacas D, Porrini M. Six-week consumption of a wild blueberry powder drink increases bifidobacteria in the human gut. J Agric Food Chem. 2011 Dec 28;59(24):12815-20.
- McAnulty LS, Nieman DC, Dumke CL, Shooter LA, Henson DA, Utter AC, et al. Effect of blueberry ingestion on natural killer cell counts, oxidative stress, and inflammation prior to and after 2.5 h of running. Appl Physiol Nutr Metab. 2011 Dec;36(6):976-84.
- North Carolina, finally a state that produces blueberries. They produce almost 12 % of the US annual blueberry crop.
Guest post originally published by Negin Misaghi, ND
I had a supervisor during my clinical rotation who challenged my recommendations of eating 5 meals a day to a patient. This was and still is such a deeply held belief in medicine that I seriously thought he was either just challenging me for the fun of it and for lack of anything else to pick on or he really didn’t know what he was talking about! I thank him now as that seed he planted in my mind is now taking root as more and more evidence emerges supporting this notion of eating one meal a day (termed intermittent fasting) as opposed to the conventional recommendation of regular eating.
As this is a slightly vague term, followers of this regimen may choose to skip a certain meal in the day, fully fast every other day or every other week, and/or … a myriad variations in eating may be considered “intermittent fasting.”
But isn’t fasting bad for you? And which plan should you follow?
For some of us, the first step might be to try to
experience what hunger feels like again…
Let’s look at the science: Note that there are cases that may prohibit long-term fasting, such as with young children, type I diabetics (on insulin medication), or in cases of clinical myopathy (muscle wasting).
So, how can fasting benefit you?
Scientists acknowledged three major mechanisms by which fasting benefits your body, as it extends lifespan and protects against disease:
- Reduced oxidative stress – Fasting decreases the accumulation of oxidative radicals in the cell, and thereby prevents oxidative damage to cellular proteins, lipids, and nucleic acids associated with aging and disease.
- Increased insulin sensitivity and mitochondrial energy efficiency – Fasting increases insulin sensitivity along with mitochondrial energy efficiency, and thereby retards aging and disease, which are typically associated with loss of insulin sensitivity and declined mitochondrial energy.
- Increased capacity to resist stress, disease and aging – Fasting induces a cellular stress response (similar to that induced by exercise) in which cells up-regulate the expression of genes that increase the capacity to cope with stress and resist disease and aging.
Operating around your system’s circadian clock:
All your activities, including your feeding, are controlled by your autonomic nervous system which operates around the circadian clock. During the day, your sympathetic nervous system (SNS) puts your body in an energy spending active mode, whereas during the night your parasympathetic nervous system (PSNS) puts your body in an energy replenishing relaxed and sleepy mode.
These two parts of your autonomic nervous system complement each other like yin and yang. Your SNS, which is stimulated by fasting and exercise, keeps you alert and active with an increased capacity to resist stress and hunger throughout the day. And your PSNS, which is stimulated by your nightly feeding, makes you relaxed and sleepy, with a better capacity to digest and replenish nutrients throughout the night. This is how your autonomic nervous system operates under normal conditions.
With the circadian rhythm in mind, through simple deductive reasoning then, it is clear that the best time to eat is at night!
What about breakfast, you say?
The meal commonly believed to be “the most important meal of the day”! But what does breakfast mean exactly? To most, it’s the first foods we stuff ourselves with. Be it a fast food purchased on our way to work or a nice hearty meal of toast, dairy, jams, and cereals. But let’s approach “breakfast” from a historical and scientific perspective.
Breakfast literally is understood to be a breaking of a fast. Now, a fast is generally understood to be a minimum of 12 hours of no food consumption while it typically takes your body between 6-8 hours to fully digest a hearty evening meal (depending on your meal density – content of protein and fat, etc). If, for example you start your evening meal at 7pm and finish eating at 8-9pm, your body will shift into a fasting state by the early morning hours (about 4-5am). Hence, your body will not be in a fasting state for most of the night and breaking your fast at about 7-9 am only gives your body about 3-5 hours of “fasting”.
Scientifically, there is growing evidence that the typical breakfast can be harmful. A study by the Human Nutrition Research France indicated that the typical high energy breakfast caused major adverse effects including a strong inhibition of fat burning throughout the day, increase in serum triglycerides and a decrease in HDL (good cholesterol). The researchers concluded that high-energy breakfast does not appear to be favourable to health; they also indicated that the study’s results do not support the current advice to consume more energy at breakfast. Moreover, reports coming from epidemiological surveys have been indicating that the consumption of a high energy breakfast leads to a significant higher energy consumption for the whole day. Furthermore, a big breakfast has shown to yield only a limited satiety effect which lasts merely 2 hours after breakfast.
Therefore, if we are to break fast in the morning, it is wise to ensure that we are indeed breaking a fast and to do so with nothing more than a light snack and only if we are truly hungry!
So what could one eat while fasting?
This is not meant to be a harsh starvation diet and although most foods negate the effects of fasting, there are foods that can be safely eaten without compromising your fast. These include fast assimilating nutrient-dense foods such as quality vegetable proteins, green vegetables, and berries. It is also just as important to know how much to consume and how often.
Small servings (~100Kcal) of vegetable proteins (nuts, seeds & legumes), green vegetables and berries can be eaten very 3-6 hours depending on your level of physical activity when hungry. According to one advocate of such a diet Ori Hofmekler (the author of The Warrior Diet), one to two servings of whey protein should also be supplemented in the diet during the fast. I’d highly recommend this to those who have a difficulty in incorporating a fast assimilating (non-meat) complete protein throughout the day.
Note, although this diet is beneficial to the majority of us, there are those who may require alterations depending on their current state of health and their nutritional needs due to their occupation, hobby, or stage of life (i.e. athletes with high nutritional needs, pregnancy/breastfeeding, etc.). As always, please consult your health care provider before embarking on this therapeutic health program if you’ve got any health concerns.
1. British Journal of Nutrition 2000 Sep;84(3):337-44
Guest post originally published by Erica Cowan, ND
Ever wake up congested? You are not alone! It may be common but it is not ideal. For those of you with chronic mucus build up, you don’t have to live this way forever and there are ways to rid yourself of this sticky buildup in your body.
What is mucus and what are the symptoms of excess mucus?
Most membranes of the body produce mucus of some form or another. Mucus is a general term for a mucilaginous, slimy, slightly sticky substances produced by the membranes in your body. You are probably most familiar with mucus in the form that drips from your nasal passages when you become sick with an upper respiratory infection. Our mucus membranes are found in most places where the outside world meets the inside world of the body including the eyes, nose, sinuses, lungs and colon to name a few. Mucus has an important protective function and prevents the absorption of potentially pathogenic things such as dust, chemicals, bacteria or other various toxins that we inspire or ingest from the outside world. Mucus serves an important function when we are sick as well; we sometimes produce more mucus in the branches of the lungs in times of sickness so that we can better expectorate and cough up the remnants of dead white blood cells and excess materials produced during our sickness. Sometimes, when we eat foods that we are sensitive to, or ingest substances that irritate the lining of the gut such as stimulating laxatives, we produce mucus to protect the lining of the gut from these irritating and potentially harmful substances. When the body produces mucus, there is a reason and purpose for its existence.
If mucus performs an important functions, then what’s the problem?
The problem with mucus, however, is that while it prevents the absorption of toxins, too much mucus can also prevents the absorption of non toxic nutrients, proteins, minerals, fats and vitamins. It prevents the absorption of vital elements such as oxygen. Try breathing through your nose with a case of chronic sinusitis, and you quickly realize the difficulty. For those who have asthma, the irritated and constricted bronchioles in the lungs produce mucus in response to the stimulus (smoke, cats, dust, bee sting protein…) and quickly it becomes difficult to breathe. For those individuals with food sensitivities, or celiac disease, often the lining of the gut is so full of mucus that if left untreated, leads to severe nutrient deficiencies. The truth is, mucus is important and functional in acute conditions, but in chronic conditions, and in excess, mucus becomes a chronic barrier standing between you and the vital substances you need from the outside world. Chronic mucus, waking up with nasal congestion, coughing up balls of mucus, or constantly seeing mucus in your stools for over a period of a couple weeks is an indication that something is wrong, and changes need to be made.
Traditional Chinese Medicine perspective on mucus
In traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) theory, mucus can also be considered in terms of “phlegm” and “dampness.” In TCM theory, there are pathologies such as “phlegm misting the mind,” or “phlegm disturbing the heart.” This is an interesting interpretation of mucus’s affect on the body, because taken a step further than your physiology text book, it implies that chronic phlegm and mucus accumulations can affect the functions of the mind as well. The absorption of information from the outside world and assimilation of mental stimuli are impeded in the brain the same way that mucus might interfere with the absorption and assimilation of foods in the gut. This is one example of how TCM theory brilliantly broadens our understanding of mind body health.
What to do?
If you feel you have chronic mucus, phlegm or dampness accumulating in the body, try thinking about what might be causing this accumulation. Perhaps the culprits are obvious such as smoking or cat allergies. You could consider eliminating the cause! You may want assistance with this process, or you may not need it. Awareness of the problem is often enough to remedy it. Sometimes the problems are a little more hidden. Celiac disease, food sensitivities and heavy metal toxicity, for example, often produce an array of symptoms that can be challenging to work through without the help of a naturopath or similar form of practitioner. There are many herbs, teas, tinctures, foods, homeopathic and lifestyle factors that can help eliminate this sticky substance from your life when you find it’s no longer helping you.
Guest post by Rubina Tahir, DC
Perhaps one day you noticed a twinge occurs with a specific movement? Or an exercise session at the gym suddenly makes your shoulder, neck and arm feel stiff. Maybe you woke up one morning with your head in an odd position. Perhaps the simple task of brushing your hair caused pain. Does this sound like you? This description is more common than you think. In many cases the causes of these symptoms reside in the neck and upper back regions along with the surrounding shoulder muscles. When we ignore our symptoms thinking they will get better on their own, the irritation and inflammation continues to grow, causing the pain to become worse. And, as the pain becomes worse, the arm and shoulder motion becomes less and less. What should you do to help this injury heal? The most effective treatments will focus on alleviating pain in the joint, muscles and tendons. A shoulder exam will help the practitioner identify specifically which muscles have been irritated. Your individual treatment plan will focus on these areas. You will be given range of motion exercises in the first part of your rehabilitation. These are important to do daily to maintain full range of movement of the shoulder joint. Icing at home for 15min helps to control inflammation. Chiropractic soft tissue therapy helps to calm the irritated muscles and break up trigger points or “knots” in the muscles which cause pain and limit our movements. Finally shoulder, mid back and neck adjustments will correct mis-alignments and joint restrictions. What exactly is an adjustment? An adjustment involves the use of the chiropractor’s hands to apply a force to a specific joint of the spine or extremities. This adjustment helps to restore proper motion to the joint and to optimize function. This helps to eliminate nerve irritation and the body will be better able to heal itself.
You don’t have to live with pain! Treatment plans can keep you pain free and active.
Guest post originally published by Shelly Reitkop, ND
The simple truth
Lets start from the beginning. Milk IS good – that is, BREAST MILK. When a baby is born, a mother produces enough milk to help her infant grow from an 8-pound newborn into a 24-pound toddler. Milk accommodates for a 300% weight gain over the first year of life. When the child is anywhere between 12-24 months, a mother’s milk dries up and she stops breast-feeding. It is at this point of life where humans lose 95% of the digestive enzyme lactase, a substance necessary to break down lactose, the sugar in milk. The human body is not meant to digest dairy once the breast-feeding period is over.
Let’s be honest. Most babies DO consume milk after foods have been introduced. Most people consume dairy products throughout their entire lives. The difference between cows’ milk and human milk is that cows’ milk, by design, is meant to grow a 90lb calf into a 2,000lb cow over 2 years. By the laws of deduction, if you want to lose weight, eliminating dairy is a must.
It’s not only about weight management. The sad truth is, dairy is one of the most common culprits of gastrointestinal inflammation. It quickly triggers the immune system to produce inflammatory molecules resulting in a variety of conditions such as Inflammatory Bowel Diseases and dermatological conditions, as well as autoimmune conditions such as rheumatoid arthritis. The reason? We aren’t supposed to be consuming dairy!
Got Milk? Marketing misconceptions & the truth about calcium
Having calcium leech from the bones isn’t the worst part about the dairy dilemma: acidic foods affect the body’s functioning, right down to the cellular level. Acidic blood is a reflection of significant free radical damage and low antioxidant levels. Acidic blood levels are associated with chronic diseases such as diabetes, elevated cholesterol and cancer.
Your heart does NOT love dairy
Your taste buds may LOVE the taste of cheese and dairy products but I can assure you, your heart does not feel the same. Many dairy products are high in saturated fat and high saturated fat intake is associated with heart disease. Eggs, which are classified as dairy products, are widely known to elevate cholesterol and increase cardiovascular risk.
Hormonal havoc: the dairy dilemma continued
One major concern about dairy products is the exposure to hormone disrupting antibiotics, chemicals and growth hormones. Hormonal imbalances are implicated in certain types of cancers such as breast, uterine, ovarian and prostate cancer. According to some Harvard researchers, the hormone composition of milk may increase the risk of ovarian and other hormone-related cancers.
Recent studies have found that male athletes who consumed high doses of calcium (2000mg+) were almost twice as likely to develop prostate cancer compared with men who consumed 500mg per day. Something worth thinking about.
Another study found that elevated levels of galactose, a sugar byproduct that is released when we digest dairy products, may be linked to the development of ovarian cancer. Researchers conclude that high dairy consumption is not necessarily safe.
The bottom line
To learn about substitutions for dairy products, stay tuned for my upcoming blog: Simple Solutions to the Dairy Dilemma. If you have specific questions you would like me to address, please comment and I will be sure to respond!
Guest post originally published by Maura Henninger, ND
What’s a list of New Year’s resolutions without the requisite ‘lose weight’ among the top five? For some, it’s not as much about losing weight as it is about adopting healthier habits and those can encompass eating better, exercising more, sleeping more soundly, reducing stress and a whole host of other wellness goals. According to research, more than half of people who make New Year’s resolutions will drop them by mid-year. Nevertheless, the same research also shows that just the act of making a resolution and sticking to it for even an abbreviated length of time lays the foundation for future positive change. The media overflows this time of year with advice on sticking to our resolve to introduce positive change. The best one, in my opinion? Buddy up. Find a friend who is also committed to make the change you seek. Research out of the University of Leeds shows that if you and a partner work together, better eating and exercise habits are bound to stick. So, grab your spouse, mom, sister, brother, best friend, or child who’s interested in eating and exercising according to Blood Type this year. Here are some tips to begin:
- At big meals, focus on proteins like red meat, turkey and fish
- To boost your metabolism, add green leafy vegetables like kale and spinach
- Avoid wheat completely, as well as most cow milk dairy
- To side-step weight gain, slash kidney beans, lentil and corn from your diet
- Engage in vigorous, sweat-enducing exercise at least four times per week
- Red meats are best avoided, but turkey is fine
- Soy is a good replacement protein metabolized quickly by Type As
- Load your plate with winter vegetables, particularly pumpkin, turnip and parnsip
- Pineapple will increase calorie utilization and aid in digestion
- Calming, restorative exercises like yoga and tai-chi will head off stress, which can exacerbate weight gain
- The biggest weight-gain offenders are chicken, corn and peanuts
- Like Type O’s, Type B’s should avoid the harmful lectins in wheat
- Load up on dairy and eggs to supercharge the metabolism
- Add licorice tea at the end of meals to balance blood sugar
- Try alternating days of physically rigorous exercise (3 days a week) with relaxing workouts (two days a week)
- Seafood is the protein of choice but turkey is also metabolically favorable
- Common winter fruits like figs, cranberries and plums are excellent for AB’s
- Make tofu a regular part of your diet
- A power juice for AB’s: one apple, a few stalks of celery, 2 carrots and a few leaves of cabbage
- AB’s have a similar stress profile to Type As, so heavy exercise will only deplete the nervous system. Try yoga and low-impact martial arts, walking and dance.
Resolved to eat better this year and follow your Blood Type Diet more closely? Send me an email or comment on this post. I’d love to hear your plans. Maura@dadamonutrition.com.
Guest post originally published by Negin Misaghi, ND
I’m not much into miracles especially where medicine is concerned. Fish oils however, are without question today’s miracle medicine! I should clarify however that fish oil is a miracle in the sense that it’s a very potent healer, and not a miracle as far as the definition of this word is concerned - with regards to it being supernatural or incomprehensible. Far from it! In fact, the mechanism of action of fish oils with regards to its therapeutic effects are very well understood.
Everything in our lifestyle from our standard diet to our hectic stress-filled day-to-day living, to our sedentary city life of drive-through’s and desk jobs, and machines of all functionalities has made us ‘inflammatory’ – in every sense of the word!
From a Traditional Chinese Medicine perspective, our inflammatory and stress-filled lifestyle causes damage to the liver. Once the liver has reached its capacity, damages begin to affect the heart and kidneys also. Chinese Medicine among many traditional medical beliefs (like Ayurveda and others) links each organ system to an emotion. The liver when pathological causes feelings of anger - hence, inflammation in every sense of the word! When damages reach the heart, depression and anxiety set in, and once the kidneys begin to take the grunt of the insult and are damaged, fears and insecurities begin to surface (just to show how entwined our body systems are where an imbalance of one system puts pressure on others and if chronic, can upset the harmony of the whole body).
This is where fish oils can have a great impact on the health of an individual both physically as well as mentally and emotionally. Fish oils have demonstrated strong anti-inflammatory properties for conditions that are inflammatory in nature (arthritis, heart disease, metabolic syndrome and insulin insensitivity (diabetes)). As well, fish oils have been found to be effective for the treatment of depression (recent research has linked depression to chronic inflammation).
Although fish oils benefit almost every health condition of today as most result from chronic inflammation, it should also be noted that if there’s still gas feeding the fire of inflammation (i.e. the root cause of inflammation has not been removed), fish oils would only be a band-aid solution. To learn more about how inflammation can be controlled at its root, seek the advice of a licensed naturopathic doctor. In the meantime, consider supplementation with fish oils to keep inflammation in check!
I should also mention that the EPA component of fish oil is responsible for its anti-inflammatory properties and NO vegetarian source of Omega 3’s contains EPA.
To be discussed in a later post: Why animal sources of omega 3′s are superior to vegetarian sources, why dietary sources of fish oils are not sufficient for some, and best(safe) fish to consume for their omega 3 content!
Guest post originally published by Crystal Chanderbhan, ND
A Guide to Pelvic Floor Exercises
Pelvic floor exercises, sometimes known as “Kegels” can be performed to improve your overall health. These exercises strengthen the muscles of your pelvic floor and can be performed for childbirth preparation, control involuntary loss of urine and improve your sex life.
- Improve the tone of the perineal muscles and pelvic organ support
- Promote post-partum healing and comfort
- Prevent urinary incontinence or regain bladder control
How to perform Pelvic Floor Exercises
- Tightly contract muscles surrounding the vagina with an internal “pulling up”
- Release muscles and take notice of the relaxation
- Contact tightly again, hold, then release
If it is difficult to get the feeling of this exercise, try stopping and starting the flow of urine while urinating. Do not do this on an ongoing basis. Another way is to tighten your bottom as if trying to hold back gas.
Variation: “The Elevator”
This variation can be done to gain full control of the perineal floor muscles, in addition to increasing flexibility and develop awareness of tension/relaxation, which can be helpful for delivery. This exercise can be done in any position, however, lying down is typically easier.
How to perform “The Elevator”
Imagine you are riding in an elevator. As you ascend each floor, try to draw up the perineal muscles a little more until you reach complete tension. When you reach your limit, don’t let go:
- Now, descend, floor-by-floor, gradually relaxing the muscle. When you arrive at the ground floor (no tension), take the muscle group to the basement with a gentle blowing out breath through pursed lips. This should feel as if the perineum is bulging
- Complete the exercise by lifting up the muscle back to the ground floor level
- Repeat the entire exercise and remember to breathe normally as you tighten the pelvic floor muscles
Everywhere and anywhere! These exercises can be performed without anyone being aware of what you are doing. Here are some ideas:
- At red traffic lights
- While cooking
- During commercial breaks on TV
- During sexual intercourse
- While waiting at the grocery store
- While brushing your teeth
Initially, perform 5 in a row, holding each muscle contraction for 5 seconds, then releasing. The goal is to 50 contractions a day for the rest of your life.
- Perform the pelvic floor exercises as often as you can. The more you perform them, the faster you will feel and notice the results.
- Select an activity you do often as a reminder. During commercial breaks while watching TV is an easy way to attain a goal of 50 sets daily (i.e. 2 sets of 5 contractions done at each commercial break). Find a behavioural cue to use as a regular reminder.
Guest post originally published by Shelly Reitkop, ND
How many people think about the benefits of sex before they jump into the sack? Chances are, you don’t. Believe it or not, sex does more than just satisfy; it boosts your immune system, facilitates weight loss and even protects against cancer. I can easily give you 10 good reasons why you should maintain a healthy sex life.
1. Sex reduces stress
Sexual intercourse leads to the release of “happy hormones” called endorphins and a reduction in cortisol levels, the hormone released in response to stress. Prolonged elevation in cortisol levels lead to high blood pressure, suppressed thyroid function, impaired cognitive performance, increased abdominal fat and lowered immune function. Sex enhance the release of endorphins, the body’s natural “happy hormone.” Endorphins act as opiods and work to reduce pain, improve mood and aid with sleep.
2. Sex supports immune functioning
Yup, you heard me! Sex helps to prevent cold’s and flu’s by increasing the production of IgA, an antibody known to fight off infections. Don’t get too excited though, studies found that the optimal number of times a couple should engage in sexual intercourse is 1-2x/week. Sex also increases body temperature creating a suboptimal environment for bacteria and viruses to survive and propagate. Yay to free natural treatments to preventing cold’s and flu’s!
3. Sex can be slimming
Did you know that 35 minutes of sex burns an average of 85 calories? Sex is also one form of exercise that can include both cardiovascular and strength training! Physical activity, especially endurance training, increases Basal Metabolic Rate (BMR) – the amount of calories your body burns at rest. It is an extra form of physical activity you can incorporate into your weight wellness program.
4. Sex saves the heart!
Being a form of physical activity, sex helps to increase blood and lymphatic circulation throughout the body. It helps to exercise the heart muscle. Researchers found that engaging in sexual intercourse 2x +/week reduced the risk of fatal heart attack by 50% for men.
5. Sex increases self-esteem
According to sex therapists, one of the reasons people have sex is to improve their self-esteem. One therapist found that people who already have a healthy self-esteem feel even better when engaging in regular sex with their partner. Great sex begins with self-esteem; if the sex is genuine, loving and with someone you feel connected with, a persons’ self-esteem will be further enhanced.
6. Sex enhances intimacy
The act of sex causes the release of a hormone called oxytocin. This naturally occurring chemical has been notoriously called “the love hormone” because it helps a person bond and build trust (it’s true – there are studies that prove this!!). The more physical contact a person has with another individual, the greater the level of oxytocin.
7. Sex subsides pain
Oxytocin is not the only chemical released during sex; intercourse results in the release of another substance: endorphins (refer to point 1!). Recall: Endorphins work to reduce pain while simultaneously improving mood.
8. Sex reduces prostate cancer risk
Frequent ejaculation (5+/week) during a male’s mid-20′s has been correlated with a reduced risk of developing hormone-related cancers such as prostate cancer. Who would have known, right?
9. Sex strengthens the pelvic floor
Many women have heard or even tried Kegel exercises to strengthen their pelvic floor muscles as a way to improve the sensations experienced during sex; however, if you exercise your pelvic floor muscles DURING sex you’ll both notice a difference. Strong pelvic floor muscles are important to prevent conditions such as incontinence in later years.
Don’t know what a kegal exercise is?!? TRY THIS: tighten the muscles of your pelvic floor as though you are trying to stop the flow of urine. Count to 3 and release.
10. Sex helps you sleep
Remember our friend oxytocin? I forgot to mention that rising oxytocin levels also promote sleep, according to the latest research. The body requires a minimum of 8 hours sleep per night and good quality sleep is known to also result in healthier food choices, healthier body weight and a reduced incidence of chronic conditions such as high blood pressure.
If you aren’t sold on the benefits of sex and are in a committed relationship, my best piece of advice is this: The proof is in the pudding – try it for yourself!
Do you ever feel confused about the difference between food sensitivity, food allergy and food intolerance? The differences are actually pretty simple to understand and will help you understand how food affects you. First, some basic definitions:
Antibody: A large Y-shaped protein produced by the immune system. Its job is to recognize foreign proteins and neutralize them. It’s what happens when you get a cold, the bacteria or virus is recognized and then neutralized by antibodies.
Enzyme: In simple terms enzymes help breakdown things. Enzymes are very specific for what they break down. Therefore, your body has thousands of different enzymes to break down very specific compounds. Without enzymes the process may not occur at all or at a very reduced rate. In the digestive system, enzymes help break down food into smaller units for absorption.
Both food allergy and food sensitivity are antibody-mediated reactions to food. The antibody recognizes a food protein as harmful and tries to neutralize it. If this is similar then what is different? We have different types of antibodies in our body. Different types of antibodies react differently and cause different symptoms.
Food allergy is mediated by an antibody called IgE. When this type of antibody reacts with a foreign protein it immediately elicits typical reactions ranging from uncomfortable to life threatening. Skin irritation, redness, and swelling are common. Difficulty breathing is more disturbing as it represents tightening of the airway. Other symptoms such as hoarseness of voice, stuffy and runny nose, itchy and red eyes as well as nausea and vomiting can are also seen with food allergies.
With food allergy, as soon as the offending food is ingested, IgE levels rise and react quickly. The allergic symptom threshold is always reached. Avoidance of this offending food is necessary as it can be life threatening. The levels of IgE will also drop relatively quickly and within 5-7 days you typically no longer have symptoms.
Food sensitivity is mediated by an antibody called IgG. IgG antibodies react very differently from IgE. When IgG antibodies react with foreign proteins, they elicit a milder, slower, and non-typical reaction. Symptoms can vary from migraines, to increased behavioural difficulties in children with ADHD, to chronic digestive concerns (constipation, diarrhea, IBS, IBD), decreases in energy, skin issues (acne, eczema), and other vague symptoms. Here’s the problem - unlike food allergies, food sensitivities are very hard to diagnose. This is because their impacts can be seen 24 to 48 hours after the ingestion of the offending food. There are two ways that can help identify food sensitivities: the first is a strategic elimination/hypoallergenic diet, which works as both a diagnostic tool (to identify offending foods) and treatment (avoidance of offending foods as a first step towards long-term healing). The other is an IgG food sensitivity blood test - I offer this testing via either Immunolabs or Rocky Mountain Analytical. This tests how reactive your IgG antibodies are against various foods. The higher the reactivity the higher likelihood a food sensitivity might be present. This test can be a good starting point in assessing potential food sensitivity.
With food sensitivity, the offending food is ingested and the IgG antibody levels rise slowly and linger for up to 3 weeks. This is what makes a food sensitivity so hard to diagnose. You first ingest the offending food sensitivity and you are symptom-free. This is because you are still far from your symptomatic threshold. In a few days you ingest this same food item and again no symptoms. What you don’t know is that your IgG antibody levels have accumulated with those of your last exposure. Third time is a charm, you ingest the food and this time you get symptoms, such as migraine, constipation, weight gain, water retention, skin breakouts, fatigue, etc. Please note in this example I used 3 days but this is for illustrative purposes and is not literal. It can be confusing! Symptoms don’t appear immediately, so it is hard to link exposure to symptoms and you are left guessing at which foods is causing symptoms. Unlike an IgE food allergy were every single exposure is followed by symptoms, IgG food sensitivities depends on frequency and dose of the exposure.
I work with many patients to address food sensitivities. The goal is not to eliminate a food for the rest of your life although avoidance for a period of time is sometimes necessary while we improve the integrity of the gut lining so that you can once again tolerate the offending food. When you figure out which foods you are sensitive to and understand the symptoms, you are empowered to take charge of your health!
Guest post by Annie Salsberg, ND
There has been a lot of talk about coconut oil lately. Everywhere I turn people are sharing their favourite uses, best recipes, and the oil’s health promoting effects. The poor coconut was overlooked for a long time. And when not ignored, it was flat out maligned for its saturated fat content. Finally, the coconut is enjoying some well-deserved time in the spotlight.
Coconut oil has a variety of applications. Many already enjoy it for cooking and as a cosmetic agent. However, we are seeing increasing evidence of therapeutic applications, notably in the areas of obesity/weight management, heart disease, seizure disorders, Alzheimer’s disease, and athletic performance
Coconut oil is very stable. This means that it is resistant to rancidity and is a wonderful heat-resilient frying oil. It is a delicious butter substitute and far superior to hydrogenated vegetable shortening (which contains trans fats). It can be used in baking, as a spread or to fry.
Coconut oil is a source of medium chain fatty acids, as well as polyphenols and vitamin E. Medium Chain Fatty Acids (MCFAs) have a number of important, health-promoting effects in the body. They are more easily digested than longer fatty acids and are a preferred source of energy at the cellular level. This makes them a wonderful fuel for athletes. Coconut oil may boost energy and enhance capacity for endurance
Furthermore, coconut oil has been shown to increase metabolism after meals and even inhibit fat-generating genes. Coconut oil is a great adjunct to a healthy weight management program.
Unlike some other saturated fats, coconut oil will not increase triglycerides after a meal. Rather, HDL (the “good” cholesterol) increases, while total cholesterol and LDL (the “bad” cholesterol) decrease. Coconut oil also seems to increase insulin sensitivity, helping the body to better manage sugar. Maintaining healthy cholesterol levels and stable blood sugar are an essential part of a heart disease prevention strategy.
Evidence also seems to support the use of coconut oil in seizure prevention. It increases ketones in the plasma; ketogenic diets have been shown to decrease seizure activity in some individuals.
This list could go on and on…. and, we are making new discoveries about coconut oil and Medium Chain Fatty Acids all the time. There are many great reasons to embrace coconut oil - I just hope that the coconut bandwagon is sticking around for a good long while!
Guest post by Christine Matheson, ND
This is an actual question that a senior patient of mine asked me several years ago. We all know Snuffaluffagus as a character on the famous children’s television show Sesame Street. It took me a second to grasp what my patient meant but as I reviewed her file I quickly realized she was referring to the probiotic supplement I had prescribed for her containing the “friendly” bacteria called Acidophilus and Bifidus! We both had a good laugh but I have never forgotten it because upon deeper thought it became a useful way to teach my patients (especially pediatric) about the benefits of these “friendly” bacteria.
Like Snuffaluffagus, who used to be a secret but special friend of Big Bird’s (although in modern Sesame Street series is no longer a secret), the “friendly” bacteria in our bodies could be considered an invisible superfriend that plays an extremely valuable role in keeping us well. Our bodies naturally produce strains of bacteria that are “friendly” because they help us absorb nutrients, inhibit allergies and inflammation and protect us from infections. This “friendly” bacteria coats the internal lining of the mucous membranes of our bodies, particularly the digestive system, and are critical for our digestive and immune systems to function optimally.
Infants form a type of “friendly” bacteria that is different than adults. As a child grows and their digestive system develops this “friendly” bacteria eventually consists of the adult type of “friendly” bacteria. Since a child’s immune and digestive systems take years to develop fully, children’s digestive systems are more fragile and can therefore benefit greatly from natural strategies to improve their levels of “friendly” bacteria. In addition, “friendly” bacteria levels are adversely affected by antibiotics and many other medications as well as poor dietary habits.
Though it is usually unnecessary to consider prescribing many natural supplements for young children, the one exception that many naturopathic doctors advise parents to consider is a probiotic supplement because it is a source of “friendly” bacteria. Since our bodies produce a variety of strains of “friendly” bacteria each in specific areas of the mucosal lining, higher quality probiotic supplements usually provide a variety of strains for greater benefit. For instance, acidophilus largely populates the upper digestive system while Bifidus populates the lower digestive tract.
A naturopathic doctor can advise you on age-specific formulas and accurate dosage based on your child’s needs, in addition to helping you navigate the range of brands available. For example, some probiotics contain dairy but dairy-free sources are also widely available. It is particularly important to consider rebalancing “friendly” bacteria levels with a probiotic supplement post antibiotic use. The good news for parents is most probiotic supplements taste pretty yummy therefore most kids are happy to take it and powder forms are easy to mix into foods.
While kids can certainly benefit from taking probiotic supplements, there is no doubt that most adults can benefit too. Every parent of young children certainly needs that extra layer of protection to give their immune systems support while they are exposed to the many coughs, colds and stomach flus their children come home with from school. It is also important to note that a range of medications beyond antibiotics, including for instance oral contraceptives, can disrupt the fine balance of “friendly” bacteria.
So the secret may now be out that Snuffaluffagus is Big Bird’s friend but there is certainly no secret that befriending probiotics in combination with a healthy diet could be an essential strategy to keep your family well!
Guest post by Annie Salsberg, ND
Even before I became a Naturopath, I was concerned about chemicals in our environment. I remember borrowing some skin cream from a friend while in university and seeing the ingredient list full of words that I had never heard and with names that I could not pronounce. It did not seem right that we should smear gobs of chemical-laden product onto our skin. People seem to get very uptight and concerned when we talk about ingesting (eating) or inhaling (breathing) toxic compounds, but many don’t even seem to bat an eye when we mention the risks associated with trans-dermal (through the skin) absorption of toxins.
With the weather on an up swing, most are (hopefully) reaching for their sunscreen. I thought it might be a great time to review the good, bad and ugly sides of sunscreens!
There are currently two major ‘types’ of sunscreens on the market: 1) chemical sunscreens and 2) mineral sunscreens. Chemical sunscreens penetrate the skin while the latter act as a block to UV rays; mineral sunscreens most commonly contain zinc and/or titanium.
Over the last few years, there has been increasing concern over some of the ingredients included in some chemical sunscreens. Oxybenzone and vitamin A derivatives are two ingredients generating the greatest amount of buzz. Oxybenzone (not to be confused with the safer avobenzone) is an ingredient found in almost half of the chemical sunscreens on the market. It is a synthetic estrogen and is absorbed through the skin; as such, it may disrupt hormones. Some scientists have even called for parents to stop using products containing oxybenzone on children due to concerns around toxicity. Vitamin A derivatives, such as retinyl palmitate or retinol, are also quite common in chemical sunscreens. While vitamin A may have some beneficial anti-oxidant properties when used internally or in some night creams/lotions, recent data seems to suggest that it may be photocarcinogenic. That is, it may actually increase the risk of skin cancer on skin when exposed to sunlight!
While the jury may still be out as to an absolute and final verdict on the safety profile of chemical sunscreens, many are already shying away from creams that penetrate. Furthermore, many international agencies have been recommending clothing, hats and shade as primary protection against sunburns and skin cancer, NOT sunscreen.
Currently, it appears as thought mineral sunscreens offer the best safety profile of products on the market. Mineral sunscreens are stable in sunlight and do not appear to penetrate the skin. The Environmental Working Group (www.ewg.org), is a great resource to learn more about the safety profile of many sunscreens. They have recently released their 2011 guide. They also offer a comprehensive database with valuable information on many body care products, including those intended for babies and young children. All of their information is free and easily accessible online.
Stay cool and keep shaded but be sure to enjoy the summer and the sun!
Guest post originally published by Negin Misaghi, ND
In a recent article in Well, a health blog on The New York Times website, Tara Parker-Pope writes that “research suggests that giving ourselves a break and accepting our imperfections may be the first step toward better health. People who score high on tests of self-compassion have less depression and anxiety, and tend to be happier and more optimistic.”
Article is well worth the read! May I suggest you not just browse through it, but really try to understand it with an open mind and heart and see where and how you might need to apply this in your own life.
Here’s an excerpt from one of the researchers Dr. Neff, an associate professor of human development at the University of Texas at Austin: “[people] believe self-criticism is what keeps them in line. Most people have gotten it wrong because our culture says being hard on yourself is the way to be.’”
If you suffer from the detrimental effects of self-criticism practice being more compassionate towards yourself. Self-compassion entails being warm and understanding toward ourselves when we suffer, fail, or feel inadequate, rather than ignoring our pain or bombarding ourselves with self-criticism. Self-compassion also means holding our difficulties in mindful awareness and feeling connected to others while we suffer.
For various reasons (learnt responses and cultural norms) we have learnt to have compassion for others without realizing our unique ability as human beings to comfort ourselves. Alex Lickerman, MD in his blog “How to Comfort Yourself” describes what we know and describe as ‘self’ as being made up of a smaller self and a larger self: “The smaller self sometimes refers to the small-minded ego whose only concerns are selfish and at other times to the seemingly endless capacity we all have to believe wholeheartedly the various delusions that populate our thinking. The larger self, in contrast, is considered to be our best self, our most selfless self—our enlightened self.” He believes that our larger self is capable of giving the smaller self compassion.
Remember that the art of self-compassion is a learnt response, which can overtime become your only response through conscious practice.
How have you met your needs for self-compassion today? Why not practice directing some of that compassion which comes so naturally to us to our selves?
Guest post by Marisol Teijeiro, ND
Marisol is the creator of the president of Ecoqol and the creator of the OJA Compress that can be used for castor oil packs. She is also an expert in the properties of castor oil and its use for naturopathic treatment of inflammation, constipation, immune modulation, and detoxification.
The practice of detoxification
Toxins can be found everywhere in our environment and are a threat to our health. We are surrounded by thousands of man-made chemicals in our food, water and the air. Our bodies work continuously removing these toxins from our system. Over time, they become overwhelmed and are unable to keep up. The overload of toxin build up in our system is either stored in fat cells or travels throughout our system disrupting various functions. This can lead to symptoms such as chronic fatigue, headaches, bloating, constipation, bad breath, and other health issues. Toxins are harmful to our health.
Toxins cause both stress and systemic inflammation to our system that disrupts the delicate balance of our body. To make matters worse the more stressed we are the less our body detoxifies as the energy required for these processes are shunted towards the physiological stress response. Detoxification is a natural therapeutic intervention that is used to rid the body of toxins as it can be the root of our many health issues. Many people think of detoxification as either fasting or living purely on liquids or drinking green gooey juice for a specific period of time. Although some people swear by these detox methods, a variety of other different methods do exist. A person simply needs to find a few practices that resonate with them and fit them into their daily schedule. It is no longer a matter of whether we need to detox, everyone should follow some sort of regular detoxification practice. Many detoxification programs do not address this very important physiological truth - that toxins continuously cause stress and disrupt our system and we should be incorporating a regular detoxification practice on a daily basis.
The first step in adopting detoxification practices in our daily schedule is to select and consume only organic foods. Most people require a minimum of 2-3L of water and/or herbal teas per day to naturally flush toxins from the body. Wherever possible avoid the use of plastic containers; this will decrease your overall toxic load. Stainless steel or glass containers are preferable.
The second step is a regular detoxification practice such as a Castor Oil Pack that consists of organic castor oil and an organic cotton flannel compress applied topically to the liver. This castor oil pack is frequently recommended by naturopathic doctors as a well known health promoting therapy that works on a variety of different levels, such as an anti-inflammatory (1), a balancer of the immune system (2), inducing relaxation, reducing stress, enhancing liver function, and improving bowel movements (3); therefore providing a holistic detox therapy.
An effective detoxification practice should take an approach that balances the entire body’s system; the nervous system - the reduction of stress, the Immune/Lymphatic system - the reduction of inflammation and finally the organs responsible for processing and elimination of toxins: the liver, kidney, gut, lungs and skin. The above strategy will help to bring back the quality of life we deserve and this spring is the best time to start!
1. Vieira C et al. .Effect of ricinoleic acid in acute and subchronic experimental models of inflammation. Mediators Inflamm. 2000;9(5):223-8.
2. Grady H. Immunomodulation through castor oil packs. The Journal of Naturopathic Medicine. Volume 7 Jan 1 1998; 7(1): 84-9
3. An examination of the effect of castor oil packs on constipation in the elderly. Arslan GG, Eşer I.Complement Ther Clin Pract. 2011 Feb;17(1):58-62. Epub 2010 May 18.
Guest post by Helena Ovens, ND, FCAH, CCH, CBT
My name is Helena Ovens and I am a registered Doctor of Naturopathy (since 1992) in the Province of Ontario, and a Homeopathic Specialist (graduate of the Canadian Academy of Homeopathy, 1995). I received the award for Excellence in Clinical Nutrition upon my graduation from the College. I first entered the Alternative Field in 1975 when I went to work (for 2-1/2 years) with severely emotionally disturbed children in a residential setting. Since 1978, I have personally explored numerous alternative methods of healing. I became a Shiatsu Therapist, Reflexologist and Iridologist. I also studied Clinical Nutrition, numerous detoxification protocols, Western Botanical Medicine, Trager, Esalen Massage, Bach Flower Remedies and finally, Homeopathy, which eventually became my specialty. I am also a Certified Bowen Health Therapist.
I have been teaching Homeopathic First Aid & Acute Prescribing for over 15 years... It’s a 30 hour course designed to educate alternative practitioners and the general public on what Homeopathy can do. My students, who previously have had very little or no knowledge of Homeopathy, are better educated than the “so-called” experts who are currently trying desperately to discredit Homeopathy by attempting to take an overdose of the medicine as they sit patiently waiting outside the Emergency Ward at their local Hospital. “It does nothing”, they exclaim. My response? Taking 1 pill or 100 pills at one time is only taking 1 dose of the medicine. Taking 1 pill at 100 different times is taking 100 doses.
Homeopathic Medicine originated just over 200 years ago. Dr. Samuel Hahnemann, a German Physician, refused to practice the medicine of his time; namely, bloodletting and mercury (or arsenic) poisoning. At that time in Europe, malaria was a major killer. The Doctors were using the bark of the Cinchona Tree to treat malaria, which has a series of recurring symptoms; namely, first you get a chill, then a fever, then you break into a sweat, then you are exhausted, then you get a chill, then a fever, break out into a sweat, etc. These four symptoms happen again and again.
Dr. Hahnemann asked over and over again, WHY did this medicine seem to help the symptoms of this disease? No one could answer him, so being the SCIENTIST that he was, he decided to take a dose of the medicine to see what would happen. And shortly after taking the medicine in “overdose” (i.e., more than would be recommended for general treatment), he got a chill, then a fever, then broke out into a sweat, then was exhausted.
THUS, we have the very FIRST PROVING in Homeopathy. The definition of proving: The procedure of giving doses of a substance to healthy subjects in order to find what it causes in overdose and thus what it has the capacity to cure when given to ill people in potentized dose. (Potentized means made into a Homeopathic Remedy … see below).
Principles of Homeopathy
Hahnemann wrote an instruction book for Homeopathy called the Organon. The major Principles of Homeopathy are as follows;
- Similia Similubus Curantur. The first principle of Homeopathy is “Like cures Like” as outlined in the first proving. The cure of the sick is most easily, mildly and permanently affected by medicines that are themselves capable of producing in a healthy person, morbid symptoms similar to those of the sick. If you bypass the law, there is no response - the law demands that you have a high degree of similarity.
- The fundamental intrinsic cause of real disease is the untunement of the Vital Force. Vital Force is the source of life, that which differentiates a corpse from a living being. Real Chronic Disease is related to influences that we do not have direct control over regardless of lifestyle. Once we have the condition, changing lifestyle will only have minimal effect, and the disease will progress.
- The change and morbid conditions and function of tissues and organs in real disease are the result of a dynamic disturbance and not the cause of disease. Symptoms associated with a particular disease are actually an attempt by the body to return to a state of health, not the cause of the disease. When the body experiences too much stress, the “dis-ease” may manifest emotionally, mentally or physically. The “stress” that caused the problem to arise, actually disturbed the normal balance which we call “good health”. Harmony on all levels (i.e., mental, emotional, physical and spiritual) will confer good health.
- The totality of the symptoms, subjective and objective, as well as the etiological factors and characteristic aspects of the person are the sole indication for the choice of the remedy. All symptoms are important; what the patient reports, what the practitioner sees, what happened to “push” the person into pathology, and how the person presents as an individual guides the practitioner to the correct remedy.
- By constant individualization, we treat the person, not the disease. We use the symptoms of the person (objective and subjective) as a language in order to find the remedy. There is no one remedy for cancer because every person is a unique individual. In the 1800s, the Homeopathic Physicians were curing cancer successfully, one patient at a time. The Surgeons at that time rarely did surgery because Homeopathy worked so well.
- In order to secure the best practical results, medicines must be administered singly. Introducing more than one influence means that you do not know what is happening with the patient, nor how they interact. Give the best indicated remedy first, wait, observe and confirm.
- The only remedy meriting preference is always the one that is most similar to the totality of the characteristic symptoms of the disease being treated. This particular remedy is called the Similimum (aka, the correct remedy).
- The single remedy will be prescribed for its dynamic property in an optimal posology. Dynamic property refers to the healing capacity (i.e., the proving and posology means strength).
- To ascertain the sick-making properties of medicines, they must first be proven in the healthy, and secondly, confirmed through curing the sick. (Proving again).
- Like prevents Like, the same way that Like cures Like. Finding the “genius” of an epidemic and giving the correct remedy to those affected and curing their disease, can then be given to those that may become affected in the future in order to prevent the disease. Statistics of the Spanish Flu Epidemic of 1918/19 who that those treated allopathically had a 25% mortality rate. Those treated with Homeopathy had a 5% mortality rate.
How homeopathic remedies are made
- First, imagine 6 test tubes, each of which is filled with 99 drops of water.
- Now, imagine a botanical remedy in tincture form (e.g., Chamomilla). A botanical tincture is made by taking Chamomilla flowers, crushing them, putting them in an alcohol-based solution, letting the flowers sit in the alcohol in a dark room, and periodically shaking them, and then straining off the flowers after a few weeks. The active medicine ingredient is now in the alcohol (and this is called a tincture).
- We now take 1 drop of the botanical tincture of Chamomilla and put it in test tube #1 and shake it a number of times. 99 drops + 1 drop = 100. The symbol for 100 is “C”. This is the method that Hahnemann used to make Homeopathic Remedies. So, after putting 1 drop of the tincture into test tube #1 and SHAKING IT, we now have a “1CH” potency (potency meaning strength) of the Homeopathic Remedy Chamomilla. ( CH standing for Centessimal Hahnemann).
- THEN, we take 1 drop of Chamomilla 1CH and put it into 99 drops of water (test tube #2), SHAKE IT, and we have a “2CH” potency of the Homeopathic Remedy Chamomilla. Then one drop from test tube #2 into test tube #3, SHAKE, and VOILA, we have made 3CH potency of the Homeopathic Remedy Chamomilla, etc.
- After 12 dilutions, we have passed Avagadro’s number and there is no longer “anything discernible” in the 12th test tube. It is at this point that Allopathic Medical Doctors claim that Homeopathy is nothing more than a placebo. BUT, if we know how a remedy is made, we KNOW that a microscopic amount of Chamomilla went into each and every test tube.
- Think of Chamomila as a botanical remedy (or a lovely tea before bed). It calms the mind, soothes an upset stomach, and predisposes one for restful sleep. The PROVING of Chamomilla is quite another picture. We often use it for children who are in pain (be it from teething or ear infections). The quality of the pain associated with the proving is extreme, and the child wakes in the middle of the night screaming, is inconsolable and will only quiet when the parent picks up the child, and walks (and walks and walks).
Although we do NOT know the mechanism by which a Homeopathic Medicine works, there are numerous drugs where the mechanism is also unknown, and only by doing a series of CLINICAL TRIALS do we come to understand both the positive and negative symptoms and side-effects associated with such allopathic drugs.
HOMEOPATHIC MEDICINE IS SAFE, relatively inexpensive and there are minimal to no side-effects. All the remedies have been proven on HUMANS, and confirmed through many years of Clinical experience.
And FINALLY, I have my own story to tell.
In December, 1992, just after I graduated from Naturopathic School, my Optometrist discovered that I had the first stage of Macular Degeneration. I had the pathology associated with the disease (i.e., drusen bodies which manifest as a discharge at the bad of the eye). I went for a second opinion, and this was confirmed by Ophthalmologist, Dr. Hans Hausler. Yes, I had the first stages of Macular Degeneration, and I also had 20/20 vision at that time. Macular Degeneration runs in my family. I had an Uncle and Aunt diagnosed with the disease, both became legally blind from the disease and I have a nephew who has Retinitis Pigmentosa, who is also legally blind. Being the Naturopath that I was, and after being told that there was NO CURE, and that the best that I could hope for was that the disease would not progress, I decided to go to my teacher for monthly constitutional homeopathic prescribing in May, 1993.
My Optometrist wanted to see me every six months to follow the progression of the disease. I went back to him in September, 1993, and my condition was stable (i.e., had not progressed). The following March, 1994, I went to another Ophthalmologist who had originally been recommended by my Optometrist. He didn’t see Macular Degeneration, he saw blepharitis, and I dismissed him because this disease had already been diagnosed twice. I continued to receive Homeopathic care. The following September (1994), I went back to my Optometrist and he looked in my eyes and said, “It’s gone. Whatever you’ve been doing, just keep doing it”.
This is a disease for which there is no cure and no treatment which will do more than stabilize the condition. When discussing this with my teacher, Dr. Andre Saine, he stated that the Homeopathic Physicians of the 1800s regularly cured Macular Degeneration.
And so I have come to know on a personal level, that if you catch something in the first stage (inflammatory stage), most diseases that are “untreatable’ can be cured.
What is cure?
The definition of CURE is important. It is not simply removing (either through drug or surgical intervention) the symptom. CURE means the recovery of health with a normalization in the abnormal level of SUSCEPTIBILITY whether it is acquired or inherited. When susceptibility is normalized, recovery is quick and the imbalance is corrected. Removing susceptibility to a disease means NEVER having it again. Cure is more than just symptom removal. Cure is permanent.
This is not the first time that Homeopathy has been threatened (by people who are threatened by its success and potential for healing). The Flexnor Report in the early 1900s stated that the future of medicine lay in biomedical researched based on the Germ Theory as proposed by Louis Pasteur; i.e., kill the bug, eradicate the disease. If this theory is correct, and an infected person walks through a room of 100 people and gives each one equal exposure to the virus, then all 100 people should get the disease. But as we know, maybe 5% to 10% will become ill and the rest will not. So in actuality, it is the “terrain” or to put it in more modern terms, the strength of the immune system and the overall health of the individual (mental, emotional, physical and spiritual) which allows a pathogen to enter and causes a “dis-ease”. So much for the Germ Theory. And I do believe that Louis Pasteur recanted on his deathbed and said it was in fact the terrain that was the most important factor with respect to the maintenance of good health. Again, terrain being the inner state of health of the individual.
Principles of naturopathic medicine
And finally, although I work every day and have for the past 19 years utilizing Classical Homeopathy, I apply the Principles of Naturopathic Medicine with each and every patient that I see. These are the principles that rule my practice, and these are the principles that every medical professional should follow in my personal opinion.
- Primum non noncore – FIRST DO NO HARM
- Tolle Causum – FIND AND TREAT THE CAUSE (i.e., don’t just take away the symptoms, fix the hole in the bottom of the rowboat and then you can stop bailing!!)
- Vis Medicatrix Naturae – USE THE HEALING POWER OF NATURE (i.e., stimulate and support the body’s inherent self-healing wisdom)
- Docere – DOCTOR AS TEACHER (this is one of my favourite ones, although actually, they are all my favourites)
- Holism – THE IDEA THAT EVERYTHING SURROUNDING YOU AFFECTS YOUR HEALTH (either positively or negatively)
- Prevention – THE MOST IMPORTANT PRINCIPLE IS PREVENTION, always has been, always will be.
Guest post originally published by Chris Habib, ND
The first line therapy for Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) is diet modification. Most IBS patients have specific food triggers and their symptoms can improve significantly by identifying and removing the offending foods from their diet. A hypo-allergenic diet is recommended with gradual re-introduction of foods to identify any specific triggers.
Probiotic supplementation has been shown to be helpful in IBS. Intestinal bacterial overgrowth and an alteration in normal intestinal flora may be one contributing cause or mediator of IBS. Lactobacillus and bifidobacteria are two species that have been identified as being particularly helpful to combat this. Aside from renormalizing the flora, probiotics have also been shown to significantly improve global IBS symptoms and decrease abdominal pain. Peppermint oil has also been shown to be effective in treating IBS symptoms. Peppermint oil relaxes the tone of the gastrointestinal tract and thus may help address dysfunction in smooth muscle contraction, which may be particularly helpful in regulating bowel function. Finally, several studies have shown a link between IBS and an impairment of serotonin receptors. 5-HTP is a serotonin precursor whose supplementation increases serotonin in the body may be helpful in managing this impairment. A combination of these recommendations generally results in safe and effective management of IBS.