Wednesday, November 2, 2016

Help for Heartburn!

Digestive complaints are something that I see VERY often in the office and am happy to report that I often see much success and improvement in my patients presenting with any type of digestive upset including IBS, IBD, diarrhea, constipation, bloating, gas, bad breath, abdominal pain and cramping, indigestion, and heartburn.  If you are experiencing any of the above, there is much that Naturopathic Medicine has to offer.

Recently I read this blog post from Dr. Tori Hudson ND and she has some fantastic suggestions for those of you suffering with heartburn.

I'll share her post here:

599254720Heartburn, often called acid indigestion is when there is a burning/acidic sensation in the chest. It is caused by a back up of acid from the stomach into the esophagus and throat. Classic symptoms are those burning sensation behind the sternum and/or in the throat, but can also be accompanied by nausea, belching, bloating. When we have one or more of these symptoms, it may not be a simply case of heartburn, which is a symptom, but rather gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), which is a disease that involves chronic acid regurgitation that can damage the lining of the esophagus. If one has at least two episodes of heartburn per week, that is when we need medical advice and perhaps an evaluation for GERD. GERD can also exist without any heartburn/acidic sensation at all…but perhaps a nagging cough, hoarseness, laryngitis, wheezing, postnasal drip, sinusitis, chest/ear or jaw pain, painful swallowing or a sensation in the throat.
There are natural medicine supplements, over the counter pharmaceuticals and prescription medications for heartburn and GERD. What I want to focus on here though, are the basic lifestyle changes that are fundamental to any pill, no matter the nature of the pill.
· WEIGHT-Weight management- excess weight, especially abdominal fat can contribute to heartburn or GER by putting pressure on the stomach which then pushes the contents up into the stomach. Even a gain of 10 # in women can increase the risk by 40%. Once a woman is in the category of overweight or obese, the risk of GERD symptoms doubles or triples. Losing weight can decrease symptoms.
· TIMING OF EATING-Avoid eating for 2-3 hours before bedtime. This allows time for the stomach to empty. Even before going to bed, avoid lying down after eating and avoid exercising right after eating.
· SMALLER MEALS; REDUCE FLUIDS WITH MEALS-Larger meals puts greater pressure on the lower sphincter of the stomach which then leads to a greater likelihood of back up into the esophagus.
· STOP SMOKING- Smokers have an increased risk for acid reflux due to possible relaxing effects of the smoking on the sphincter. Smoking also decreases salivary production and with less saliva, we miss out on some neutralization of acid in the stomach.
· AVOID SELECT FOODS and BEVERAGES- Spicy, fatty foods, fried foods, citrus fruits and beverages, alcohol, chocolate, milk, peppermint, coffee, tea, carbonated beverages and milk. Some relax the sphincter, some are acidic and some actually promote acid production.
· ELEVATE THE HEAD OF YOUR BED-for those who have symptoms at night or early in the morning, putting wooden blocks under the headboard to raise it 4-8 inches can help to prevent reflux. Another option is to use a foam bed wedge which elevates the upper part of the body. 
· SLEEP ON LEFT SIDE- believe it or not… this could help… Our stomach bends to the left… so when you lie on the left side, a portion of the stomach is lower than the esophagus… which may help to reduce backup of food and acid into the esophagus. Every little bit can help.
· SUGARLESS GUM-chewing gum after meals can stimulate saliva production which then helps to neutralize stomach acid and soothe the lining of the esophagus. I would also mention here to choose gum wisely in terms of healthier choices for the gums and teeth. One example includes those made with xylitol.
· CHECK MEDICATIONS-some medications can actually cause or contribute to heartburn or acid reflux. Your doctor and pharmacist can be very helpful here. Possible suspects include bisphosphonates, aspirin, ibuprofen, benzodiazepines, opioid narcotics, calcium channel blockers, potassium, progestins, certain antihistamines and antispasmodics, and even peppermint based herbal products. 
· AVOID TIGHT CLOTHES-tight pants at the waist, tight girdles and belts can put pressure on the stomach and can worsen reflux.
· BEND AT THE KNEES- there are many reasons to bend at the knees when lifting or picking up items from the floor due to low back care in particular… but for those individuals who may do this repetitively due to their job or activities of daily living… this may also put pressure on the stomach.
That’s it for now, in terms of lifestyle changes that serve as the basic foundation upon which to add select nutritional/botanical supplements that address both cause and provide symptom relief or over the counter or prescription medications if needed.
For regular updates on natural solutions for your health concerns, you can subscribe to Dr. Hudson's blog here.

For support for your digestive complaints, please reach out to us! We're here to help you enhance your health. 

Tuesday, November 3, 2015

My Best Cold and Flu Tip: Warming Socks

Warming socks are an excellent hydrotherapy treatment for congestion from cold and flu. Hydrotherapy is a fantastic way to stimulate circulation of the lymphatic system and to improve immune system function. This is the very first thing I do when I feel the symptoms of a cold or flu coming on.

Warming socks will improve symptoms such as nasal and sinus congestion, headache, fullness in the ears or head, runny nose and other common symptoms of illness. Many patients also report a better nights rest, which we know is important for proper immune system function.

To do a warming socks treatment:

1. Soak a pair of socks in cold water. Use thin cotton socks if possible, or cotton sports socks. Wring out all excess water.
2. Pull wet socks onto feet. (This is only uncomfortable for a minute or so)
3. Cover with a pair of wool socks (you need to use a sock made of breathable material)
4. Sleep overnight with socks on.

In the morning, you will find that the socks are dry. Throughout the night, your body has worked to heat and dry the socks which has improved your circulation and has also helped to relieve some of the congestion from the head.

Try this treatment for three consecutive nights to reduce the length and severity of your cold or flu.

Note: this is also an excellent treatment for improving blood flow to the lower limbs which is helpful for healing after surgery, varicose veins and complications of diabetes.

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

How about a side of probiotics with those antibiotics?

Every now and again there comes along an infection that's just so stubborn that we need to turn to antibiotics for help. Now most of you know that I'm not against pharmaceuticals, but I do think it's important to reserve antibiotics for occasional use. There are many natural ways to support the immune system so that antibiotics are rarely required. There are also many effective natural remedies to be used in place of antibiotics and especially in the case of viral infections for which antibiotics are not indicated. Stay tuned for a post on how to avoid antibiotic overuse, and why it's important.

Now, if there comes a point and time (and these will become few and far between once you start working with your Naturopathic Doctor) where you just need to take an antibiotic, you MUST also take probiotics.

Now this is where the confusion comes in. Since antibiotics work by killing off bacteria many assume that taking probiotics is a waste since they'll just be wiped out by the antibiotics. This is not true!

I'm going to borrow an analogy from Dr. Jason Hawrelak, a practicing ND who does extensive research into the area of probiotics. Think of your digestive tract as a parking lot. Occupying each parking space is beneficial bacteria. We want to have each space occupied with the good bacteria so that no space is left open for the pathogenic "bad" bacteria to park. With each dose of the antibiotic, some good bacteria is wiped out from their space. We want to make sure to continuously re-fill these spaces with the good probiotics so we can keep the parking lot full.

Research continuously shows that probiotics given during the course of antibiotics reduces antibiotic related side effects (think digestive upset and yeast infections to name a couple) and reduces the damage done to the balance of gut bacteria. The benefit of giving probiotics alongside antibiotics is far superior than giving probiotics after the course of antibiotics is finished.

Probiotics should be taken along with antibiotics, but the timing should be separated as much as possible. That is, take the probiotic as far away as possible from the antibiotic.

Keep in mind that not all probiotics are created equal. Be sure to purchase a quality probiotic from your Naturopathic Doctor or from a reputable company that is ensuring the appropriate strain in the appropriate amount is present.

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Getting Organized: Meal Planning!!

With our busy lives it can sometimes be difficult to eat as well and we’d like to and recently, I’ve found myself telling a lot of my patients about one of the best organizational things we’ve done in our house, meal planning! I am continuously commenting about how much I LOVE our meal plan and the many ways it saves us time and money.

We started by making a list of all of our usual dinner meals (chili, lasagna, meatloaf, tacos, etc.) and after a couple of days of thinking about it, we came up with around 30 different meal ideas. Some were fairly generic like “quinoa dish”, “squash dish”, “chicken” and “rice dish” which allows for some different recipes to be inserted depending on what we feel like that week but everything else was pretty well one of our regulars.

Cooking 4 times/week works for us. On the other nights we eat leftovers, we eat outside the home, we may just have a large salad or it might be a breakfast for dinner kind of night. Those nights are often when we try out new recipes as well.

So from there, I created a table. 30 meals, with 4 meals/week works out to be an 8 week meal plan!  Now this table became a bit of a puzzle where I filled in the squares and spread around the different dishes so that we weren’t eating the same types of foods all in one week, so that each week has 2 meat dishes (yes, I eat meat) and 2 vegetarian dishes and so that my husband has two meals that he prepares and I have 2 meals that I prepare. The “meat” leftovers are for my husband and the veggie leftovers are for me. This takes care of my lunches for the week as well!

We keep this posted on the fridge and each weekend we have a look at what’s planned for the next week and we grocery shop accordingly and decide who’s cooking and on what night.

We recycle this winter meal plan 3-4 times throughout the winter. For the summer months, the meal list was modified to include grilled dishes and more seasonal foods replaced the root vegetables and warming foods.  Our summer meal plan is 6 weeks and so we recycle that one 3-4 times through the summer months. Since we’re only eating the same dish every 6-8 weeks, we never get tired of a particular meal.

I can’t begin to tell you how much this helps us to eat healthier, more balanced meals! It makes grocery shopping so much more efficient and we rarely throw food away. Food prep becomes much easier since we’re organized and we don’t have to think up a dinner idea each night.  This is my best tip for busy families wanting to make healthy choices!

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Poor Air Quality is Linked to Breast Cancer

This article is posted from Air Quality News from IQAir, the world leader in air purifiers 
This year, more than 232,000 women in the United States will learn they have invasive breast cancer. Another 64,000 women will be diagnosed with non-invasive breast cancer, the earliest and most treatable form of the disease. Breast cancer is the second leading cause of cancer death in women, after lung cancer, according to the American Cancer Society. The disease will claim the lives of 40,000 American women this year alone.

Those staggering statistics place the United States among a handful of countries worldwide with the highest rates of breast cancer. The others include Canada, Belgium, Denmark, France, Uruguay, Israel, Australia and New Zealand. The incidence of breast cancer among women in North America is 86.3 per 100,000, the highest rate worldwide. In Central Africa, the incidence rate drops to 13.64 per 100,000, and in China, to 11.77 per 100,000 – the lowest rate in the world. These data are adjusted for differences in longevity.*
More than 90% of all cases of breast cancer are linked to environmental factors. Alcohol use, body weight, exposure to radiation and exposure to air pollution are among the leading environmental risks. New research has identified exposure to nitrogen oxides, particulates and chemicals in the air as the primary air pollution concerns.
Air pollution and breast cancer
Air pollution contains at least 35 chemicals associated with increases in the development of tumors in animals, according to the Breast Cancer Fund (BCF). And these same chemicals surround us indoors and outdoors. “There is widespread exposure to many of these chemicals in the air we breathe outside,” reports BCF, “as well as in our offices, homes, restaurants and schools.”
Pollution associated with traffic is the primary concern. Researchers at Mercer University School of Medicine in Macon, Ga., last year established a statistically significant link between emissions of nitrogen oxides, carbon monoxide, sulfur dioxide and volatile organic compounds (VOCs) and an increase in the incidence of breast cancer. A study by many of the same researchers the previous year established a correlation between traffic-related pollution and the development of breast cancer.
Nitrogen oxide, particle pollution
Meanwhile, researchers at McGill University in Montreal, Quebec, have identified an association between postmenopausal breast cancer and exposure to nitrogen dioxide – a common component of traffic-related pollution. The risk increased 25% for every increase in exposure of 5 ppb in ambient air.
Poor air quality doesn’t increase only the risk of developing cancer. It also plays a role in survival after treatment. Women who survive breast cancer face an elevated risk of dying from breast cancer as a result of exposure to air pollution. Researchers from the University of Florida, Gettysburg (Pa.) College and Fudan University in Shanghai, China, collaborated in a report that found an 86% increased risk of dying from breast cancer among breast cancer survivors living in areas with elevated levels of particulate pollution.
The month of October is National Breast Cancer Awareness Month, and health agencies emphasize the importance of screening and the early detection of breast cancer in improving breast cancer survival rates. But it’s also a good time to consider the positive steps a woman can takes to help control many of the environmental and lifestyle risks associated with the disease.
Steps to help control breast cancer risk
The Mayo Clinic staff offers a short list of steps women can take to reduce their risk of developing breast cancer:
1. Limit alcohol. There is clear evidence that drinking alcohol increases the levels of estrogen and other hormones associated with breast cancer. And the risk goes up substantially for every drink per day consumed.
2. Don’t smoke. The relationship between smoking and cancer is clear. And the American Cancer Society has found an increased risk of developing cancer among women who smoke, especially those who started smoking before having their first child.
3. Control your weight. Fat tissue is the major source of estrogen for postmenopausal women, and elevated estrogen levels are associated with breast cancer, says the American Cancer Society.
4. Be physically active. Studies show that even brisk walking for 75-150 minutes a week reduces breast cancer risk.
5. Breast feed. Breast-feeding protects against cancer, according to Susan G. Komen for the Cure.
6. Limit doses and duration of hormone therapy. Hormones prescribed as therapy for menopause symptoms may increase the risk of developing breast cancer.
7. Avoid exposure to radiation and environmental pollution. Medical imaging that involves high doses of radiation is linked to breast cancer risk. Likewise, studies such as those cited in this article provide evidence that breathing contaminated air is associated with developing breast cancer and even surviving breast cancer.
A high-performance air purifier such as the IQAir HealthPro Plus can help control contaminants in the air. The HealthPro Plus provides medical-grade air quality and is effective against a full spectrum of particles, chemicals and gases that are associated with breast cancer risk.

This publication is brought to you by IQAir North America, Inc., a member of the Swiss-based IQAir Group that develops, manufactures and markets innovative air purifiers and air quality products for indoor environments around the globe. IQAir is the exclusive educational partner of the American Lung Association for the air purifier industry.

Sunday, May 5, 2013

Seasonal Allergy Elimination Program

Spring is finally here! But for many of you this also means that your seasonal allergies are acting up and you are likely already suffering runny noses, itchy eyes, postnasal drip, sinus congestion, headaches, hives and other pesky allergy symptoms.

While over the counter allergy medicines do provide relief, many of our patients are looking for more natural ways to manage their symptoms or are seeking a more permanent solution to reduce or eliminate their allergies all together.

This is where Naturopathic Medicine can help! It's amazing to see patients managing their symptoms naturally and reducing their need for allergy medications, but it's even more amazing to see allergy symptoms reduce or eliminate all together!

A Naturopathic Allergy Elimination Program is comprised of 3 basic steps and encompasses many different therapies tailored to each individual and their commitment level.

     Step 1: Managing your allergy symptoms
     Step 2: A Commitment to a Healthy Diet and Home
     Step 3: Healing the Digestive and Immune system

Step 1: Managing Your Allergy Symptoms

The first step to a Naturopathic Program is to reduce your symptoms and get you feeling better asap! Following an initial visit, natural supplements are suggested for allergy symptom relief and an acupuncture series may be started at this time. An acupuncture series is optional and typically consists of weekly treatments for approximately 4-5 weeks at which time treatments can be spaced out to an appropriate maintenance program.

Step 2: A Commitment to a Healthy Diet and a Healthy Home

Now come the big changes, and those that require quite a commitment. But, this is what Naturopathic Medicine is all about! Getting to the root cause of the problem and promoting health in general. Not only will these changes reduce your allergy symptoms, they will also reduce your risk of every chronic disease out there! (and will likely clear up any other health concerns you presently have) Don't worry, these changes can be made through baby steps and we're here to support you!

To truly reduce or eliminate your seasonal allergies we need to get the immune system back in balance.  It is important to address the root cause of the immune system reactivity and start there. First, we'll look at the gut. Since the digestive system and immune system are intimately related we will need to determine and eliminate the foods that are causing an inflammatory response in the digestive system and a subsequent hyper-reactivity in the immune system.

Second, we need to address the other common trigger for immune system imbalance - our environmental exposures. We are each exposed to hundreds of chemicals on a daily basis and these chemicals are common disruptors of immune system function. Now I'm not talking about living in a bubble, but I am talking about taking steps towards living more clean. This means reducing your exposures to everyday chemicals found in your food, water and indoor air. Initially this can seem an overwhelming task but avoidance is prudent for your overall health, and specifically that of the immune system. 

Again, don't worry, these changes can be made through baby steps and we're here to support you!

Step 3: Healing the Gut and Immune System

Now that you've eliminated the foods that cause inflammation and immune system reactivity and are working towards a healthy home, we can start to repair the gut and encourage the immune system to find balance again. This is where nutritional supplementation is used to soothe inflammation, heal the intestinal lining and to teach the immune system tolerance.

Within a few weeks you should be experiencing a reduction in your symptoms however, the program should be continued for approximately 4-6 months for best results. At this point a maintenance regime with the acupuncture and nutritional supplements can be determined. Even after all of this, you'll need to keep your diet and home as healthy as possible for the immune system to remain in balance, but also for general health promotion and disease prevention.

A typical appointment series in a Naturopathic Allergy Elimination Program:

     Initial Visit: Complete health intake and supplement recommendations

     Second Visit: Acupuncture (optional) and planning for food elimination

     Third Visit: Acupuncture (optional), dietary support and healthy home counseling

     Fourth Visit: Acupuncture (optional), dietary and lifestyle counseling

     Fifth Visit: Acupuncture (optional), dietary and lifestyle counseling, supplementation

At this point, and depending on your results, the frequency of acupuncture can be spaced out and a maintenance plan can be determined. 

*This program outline is a recommendation only and may be modified to suit each individual's specific health concerns*

If you have any additional questions, or would like to book an appointment, please phone the office.



Monday, April 29, 2013

Love It Body - INTENSE!

Join me at Love It Yoga for Love It Body INTENSE, our Spring Detox Program - a 21 day clean eating and exercise challenge.

This program is a spin off of our 8 Week Love It Body Program and is designed to kick start you into a clean eating and exercise regime. The program runs for 3 weeks and includes weekly information sessions to help keep you on track and a one month unlimited yoga membership at Love It Yoga.

Love It Body INTENSE is a diet and exercise challenge and so participants are encouraged to challenge themselves to as many or as few of the guidelines as possible. Participants are provided with dietary guidelines to follow as well as recipes and meal planning recommendations.

The benefits of this program are far reaching and will be unique to each individual and their health concerns as well as their commitment to the program. In previous programs participants have experienced weight loss, energy increases, fewer digestive complaints, reduced pain, lowered blood pressure and many other improvements to their health.

For more details please join us Wednesday May 1st at 8:30pm at Love It Yoga in Amherstburg for a free information session. The program will begin on May 4th (however, this date is flexible) and weekly meetings will be on Wednesdays at 8:30pm beginning Monday May 6th. The cost of the program is $120 (plus hst) and may be partially reimbursed by your extended health care provider. You may also phone the studio 519-736-4500 or email us for more information: or

Individualized cleanse programs are also available through the office, during your naturopathic visit. For patients, additional liver cleanse supplementation is optional. Just give us a call!

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Exercise - it's not optional!

It's Time to Get Moving!

Exercise is not optional. If you’re interested in being healthy, you have to be physically active. If you’re not already exercising regularly then it's time to incorporate some movement into your routine.

Now lets get you started:

Step 1: Make a Commitment to becoming healthier

Write down your needs for adopting a healthier lifestyle and an exercise program. There are lots of them, and I’m sure you have at least one. Here are some examples: to lose weight, increase strength, improve flexibility, be a role model for my kids, naturally maintain blood sugar levels, eliminate medications, increase life expectancy, to age well, play sports again, etc. etc. etc.

Step 2: Work Out a Schedule

Get organized and work out a routine. Take a look at your schedule each week and block off 3 hours of time to be physically active. Decide whether weekday mornings or evenings work best, or if weekends are an option. Be realistic, don’t plan to get up at 5am each morning if you’re not generally a morning person.

Step 3: Just Do It!

Nike says it best – figure out what kind of physical activity you’d like to do and go for it.

Step 4: Work past Obstacles

At some point, most people look for reasons not to follow through with their commitment to exercise. Address these reasons as they come up – and review your needs. If you’ve fallen off track, don’t worry about it and don’t give up! Just start over again – there’s no such thing as failure.

Here are a few common arguments against exercising:

“I don’t have the time” – Really? There are 168 hours in a week – you can find 3 hrs to exercise. How much time are you spending on the computer or watching TV? No matter how little time you think you have, there is someone busier than you finding the time to exercise. Make it a priority.

“I can’t afford it” There are lots of free activities that you can do – walking, push-ups, stair climbing, and stretching are free.

“I don’t really care” Well, you need to. If you have a family, you owe it to them to take care of yourself. And if you have kids, you owe it to them to set a good example.  If you want your kids to be healthy, you have to model it for them.

“I don’t like exercise” Try to find some activity that you do like, or at least make it a social event by exercising with friends. And if you still don’t like it well, too bad. You need to exercise to be healthy.

“I’m a lost cause” Never. No matter what stage you’re at, exercise can benefit you in so many ways. If there was a pill that could do all that exercise can, it would be called a miracle drug.

Do your best! Even a small amount of physical activity on a regular basis is beneficial. Health Canada recommends 2.5 hrs of moderate intensity activity each week. So get moving!

Sunday, September 4, 2011

Oatmeal Baths

Oatmeal baths are a natural way to improve skin conditions. They work very well for rashes, eczema, itchy skin and dry skin and are a great example of how you can use food as your medicine.

Here's how:

Take 1 cup of oatmeal and blend or process the oats with a blender, food processor or coffee grinder. For babies, you'll only need about 1/3 cup per bath. You can use instant oatmeal (unflavored), quick oats or slow cooking oats.

Blend or process the oats until you have a very fine, consistent powder. To check to see if the oats are the right consistency, stir 1 tablespoon of the ground oats into a glass of warm water. If the oats readily absorb the water and give it a milky look and a silky feel, you've blended long enough.

Giving the bath:

Sprinkle the oatmeal into a tub of running water and stir the water with your hand several times to ensure even distribution. Feel along the bottom of the tub for clumps and break up any you find.

Be cautious getting in and out of the tub, as the oatmeal will make the tub even more slippery than usual.

Soak in the tub for 15-20 minutes and pat dry with a soft towel rather than rubbing.  Do not rinse your skin.

This bath can be done 1-2 times per day or as needed.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Routine Health Exams

Routine health exams are an essential component of preventative health. They can often help to identify health issues before symptoms arise and can help us to take a proactive approach towards maintaining good health.

Here’s a list of the routine exams you should consider:


PAP tests and Pelvic exams: should be routinely done from age 21 (or earlier if sexually active). PAP tests are now recommended every 3 years, but you can request to have one done more regularly. 

Colonoscopy: should be done at age 50, or for those with a first degree relative with colon cancer screening should begin 10 years prior to the age of diagnosis of that relative.

Breast Screening: Self examination should be done at home on a monthly basis. A clinical breast examination done by a health care practitioner is recommended each year. Mammograms are typically done every 2 years beginning at age 50. 

Bone Density Testing: should begin at approximately age 50 or at the time of menopause. Earlier screening should be done for those with any additional risk factors for bone loss.


Prostate screening: Discussions with your doctor regarding PSA tests and prostate exams should begin at age 40.

Colonoscopy: should be done at age 50, or for those with a first degree relative with colon cancer screening should begin 10 years prior to the age of diagnosis of that relative.

Abnormalities on routine exams can often be resolved if found early. Early detection means earlier intervention and usually leads to more positive outcomes.