Heart Disease and Statins, Be Informed.

January 14, 2014

pillsLifestyle changes are a critical component of reducing heart disease risk. That means following a heart-healthy diet  (light on red meat, heavy on veggies, nuts, fish and olive oil) and getting regular physical activity.  As little as an apple a day, according to Oxford University, will prevent 8500 deaths from heart disease each year year.

Many people in the US and Canada, including children, are now being prescribed statin drugs to prevent heart disease. According to Consumer Reports “.. in 2009, paediatricians wrote children in the U.S. at least 2.8 million prescriptions for drugs to lower cholesterol; nearly 2.3 million of them were for statins. ”

The wisdom of this has come into question, according to an excellent article and news story by CBC Canada posted here.  A study published in January 2013 in JAMA Internal Medicine suggested statins may be associated with an increase in musculoskeletal conditions and pain, especially in physically active individuals. The New England Journal of Medicine shines a light on our hesitation to institute public health measures to prevent disease in favour of a rush to prescription drugs.

Before taking drugs for a medical condition or prevention of a medical condition, it is important to do your research so that you can make an informed decision on what your best options are for the outcomes that you are trying to achieve. Consult an healthcare practitioner. Homeopaths are schooled in alternatives to the potential dangers of conventional medicine and are happy to discuss the best options for you.

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Vitamin N, Being in Nature is Good for Your Health

August 2, 2013

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I have long believed that spending time in Nature has had great benefits for my health.  I have hiked, biked, kayaked and camped all my life. I walk every day. It brings me rejuvenation, restoration and peace to be where things are green and natural. This recent Chatelaine article goes into great detail as to why.

Lumps, Bumps and Bruises: Homeopathy and First Aid: Arnica

June 15, 2013

ImageMy first introduction to homeopathy was in conjunction with first aid. I was reading a book by Robert S. Wood about hiking [Dayhiker : walking for fitness, fun, and adventure], in which he mentions that he carries a homeopathic first aid kit on his hikes and walks because of its versatility and effectiveness. Intrigued by this new bit of gear that I had never heard of before, I set out to find out more about homeopathy. Reading about homeopathy was intriguing, but it was not until I made up my own first aid kit and used it that could truly believe in the power and usefulness of these little white pills. Here was something that I could use in situations of injury and trauma that offered more than conventional first aid methods, which rely on support and stabilization techniques, and painkillers.

Homeopathy and first aid go well together, in that first aid situations usually present with clear and definite symptoms that respond rapidly and definitively to a well chosen remedy. This is good both for the person taking the remedy, and the person prescribing the remedy. First aid remedies are relatively few and easy to learn to use correctly. A few basic remedies in a kit can serve for a wide range of situations, whether it is for getting you back to the car after a mishap on the trail, or dealing with a bout of food poisoning at home or on your travels abroad.

One of the first remedies to add to a homeopathic first aid kit should be Arnica Montana. Arnica is so versatile in physical trauma situations that it should almost be taken first before you prescribe anything else.

Arnica acts on the emotional as well as the physical level. Immediately after taking it for an injury, the pain goes down, along with the shakiness and mental fog that can accompany a physical trauma. One feels a sense of relief, clear headed, calm, and “grounded”. The quality of the pain relief is different from that of conventional painkillers. It naturally fades away, and does not feel suppressed or numbed down in any way.

On the physical level, arnica promotes fast healing, prevents bruising, minimizes inflammation, and helps stop bleeding. Injuries that would normally bruise either do not, or only bruise minimally. Injuries that involve a break in the skin stop bleeding right away, and the resulting scabs fall off in a few days.

Arnica can also help in overexertion remedies to prevent muscle soreness the next day.

What is interesting is that arnica can also help in cases of purely mental shock or injury. I had a patient who suffered an emotional shock and became withdrawn and unresponsive to his family. All he wanted to do was lie in bed and sleep, refusing food. He would wake up enough to answer questions, and then fall back asleep. After a day of this, the family became very worried. A dose of arnica had him joining them at the dinner table 15 minutes later and getting back to his regular activities the next day.

Arnica tends to work well in higher potencies. This means either 200C or 1M. In an emergency situation it can be dispensed dry under the tongue (2 pellets), but if it needs to be repeated, it is better to dissolve the pellets in water and to take a teaspoon each time as necessary, stirring vigorously before each dose. This can be done in a glass or in a water bottle. How often to repeat the dose depends on the individual and the severity of the situation. This can range from every 15 minutes to once a day. A good guide is to hold off until one feels the pain come back, and then to take the next dose

Travelling? Here’s an Excellent Resource for the World Traveller

May 9, 2013

ImageIf you are considering travel to destinations in tropical and less developed countries, you have many things to check off your to-do list. Along with the usual trip planning, there is the added complication of informing yourself on diseases very different from the ones to be found at home. There are many, and some of them can be very serious.

The World Travellers’ Manual of Homeopathy By Dr. Colin B. LESSELL, (available at Whole Health Now: http://www.wholehealthnow.com/books/travellers-manual.html) is an excellent resource for this preparatory stage. It covers a range of conditions that the traveler can be subjected to, from the usual travel sickness, jet-lag and accidents, to infections from bacteria, viruses, parasites, bites, stings, poisonings, etc. There is a special section for women, which includes advice for the pregnant traveler, and even a section at the end of the book that evaluates the quality of water in various regions of the world.

Dr. Lessell spent 5 years preparing this book and the result is a manual that is almost encyclopedic in its scope. It tries to be comprehensive in the multitude of ways in which you could get stung, poisoned, parasitized, bitten, injured, envenomed, infected and infested in the course of travels around the globe. For example, in his chapter on diseases of the skin, he covers windburn, boils, carbuncles, cold sores, impetigo, intertrigo, Dhobi’s itch, ringworm, scalp ringworm, Pityriasis versicolor, surfer’s ear, scabies, louse infestation, human maggot infestation, sandworm infestation, swimmer’s itch, blister beetles, shellfish urticaria, poison ivy rash, stinging tree rash, nettle stings, algae dermatitis, and tropical wood dermatitis.

Aside from vivid descriptions of the conditions you need to be concerned about, he includes commonsense advice on how to avoid getting ill, supportive treatment, when to seek medical advice, and suggestions on homeopathic treatment. This book is an eye opener for the layperson who may have no idea of the myriad things that can befall an unwary traveler when traveling abroad, and a useful reference for the practitioner. It is well worth the time to read up on the areas to which you will be traveling, and to assemble a homeopathic kit specific to the conditions to be found there, as an addition to your regular travel kit.

Our Bacteria, Ourselves

April 14, 2013

bacteria_in_waterWe worry about bacteria, we wash and scrub and avoid the occasion of bacteria, but bacteria are a necessary part of keeping us healthy. We need bacteria for balance in our body. We can’t thrive or even survive without them.

Scientists from the Human Microbiome Project  have nearly finished cataloguing the 10,000 microbial species that live in healthy humans. This data will hopefully help in future research to understand how health and disease are correlated with changes in our bacterial makeup. For instance, it is known that illnesses such as Crohn’s disease and irritable bowel syndrome appear to be microbiome-related.

Matt Kwong says in his article for CBC News, Scientists Map Bacteria Living Inside Us:  “For a bit of perspective, there are so many non-human microbial cells residing in our two-legged ecosystems that they outnumber our human cells 10 to one. If one were to mass together all the bacteria populating a 150-pound adult, it would weigh about 4.5 pounds.”

We depend on our good bacteria for health and nutrition – it is the bacteria in our gut that helps digest our food to make the nutrients available for us to absorb, and it is the presence and proper density of good bacteria on our skin, in our respiratory, digestive, and urinary mucosa that crowds out pathogenic bacteria and fungi. This is why, when these colonies of healthy bacteria are disturbed by toxins like antibiotics which kill off healthy bacteria in the gut and on the mucus membranes, there can follow many repeating cycles of digestive upset and fungal infections such as candida and pathogenic bacterial infections such as C. difficile.

Most bacteria residing on and in our bodies do not help or harm us. The concern is over the few bacteria that are harmful pathogenic parasites, which cause disease by resisting our bodies’ defences and growing at the expense of the body. These bacteria produce poisonous substances called endotoxins and exotoxins which are responsible for the symptoms that occur with an illness. These harmful bacteria are the targets of advertising campaigns promoting antibacterial cleaning solutions. A much healthier way of cleaning is a good scrubbing with plain soap and water for hands, and a vinegar solution for surfaces.

Holistically though, bacteria are more helpful to us than harmful and we need to allow them their place, even encourage the right ones. For instance, Lactobacillus and Bifidobacterium genera aid your body in digestion. “Good” bacteria, are known as probiotics. This is why your natural health practitioner may recommend that you supplement your diet with some. They are found in fermented foods such as yogurt, kefir, sauerkraut, miso, and natto as well as in capsules that you can buy.

Read more about digestion and probiotics here: http://www.livestrong.com/article/532256-good-bacteria-to-aid-digestion/#ixzz2Pdq8piBZ.

Furthermore, healthy bacteria in the vagina keep away infections and can be encouraged by a diet which includes acidophilous.

Though “good” bacteria are to be encouraged, we need to remember that normal flora bacteria can act as opportunistic pathogens at times of lowered immunity. It is important to take care of yourself, eat well, rest, and exercise in order to maintain a strong immune system and a balanced bacterial environment.

Natural remedies and a homeopathic constitutional treatment can help your system cope with stress and encourage a healthy immune system. And, regular follow-ups with your homeopath can help maintain you in a strong and healthy state.

Are You Sad?

February 9, 2013

This time of year many of us find ourselves craving; craving light craving food, craving comfort.  Some of us suffer from insomnia and some cannot get out of bed without a struggle.

With the low light and the short days we lose energy and can’t concentrate as well. Our work can feel tedious and dragging and our movements like moving in slow motion some of the time or often. We just want to hide and at the same time feel unhappy about our isolation and irritability.

Most of us know that if we are feeling like this we may be having a mild response to the changing seasons or serious episode of SAD, Seasonal Affective Disorder.  Our health care provider can make a diagnosis by asking about the history of our symptoms. Our health care provider may also perform a physical exam and blood tests to rule out other disorders that are similar to SAD.

There are many ways to cope with the seasonal changes in energy and sense of well-being that is brought on by lower winter light conditions.  One way is to use a special SAD light in the mornings in conjunction with the dimming of lights and computer screens in the evening to stimulate the proper circadian melatonin cycle.  This helps with both mood and sleep regulation as well.

Sufficient supplementation of vitamin D through the winter months also helps mood and overall immune status.  Other vitamins and probiotics can help optimize your resistance to seasonal illnesses as well.

A daily walk or other outdoor exercise in the morning accomplishes the goals of melatonin regulation and stimulating serotonin production, both of which will affect mood in a positive way.

A constitutional homeopathic treatment can also help with our core feelings of well being and boost our ability to approach life with energy and a sense of joy in life.  Many of my homeopathic patients report that seasonal swings diminish greatly with homeopathic treatment.

Once you have seen your health care provider a consultation with a homeopath may help you bring the light back to your days.

Relatively Speaking: What is the Risk?

September 25, 2012

We often feel we must address any risk of illness without looking at all the factors involved.  Assessing relative risk before taking medication is important.  For instance, if you are traveling, do some research into the risks associated with various immunizations and prophylactic medications.  For instance read this article on the relative risk of getting malaria on your particular trip vs. some of the dangerous side effects of malaria drugs.

We need to pay attention to risk of illness vs. risk of, and severity of, side effects from medications.  As a society we fear some things all out of proportion to the relative risk of injury or illness.  For instance there is a much higher fear of flying, a relatively safe method of travel,  than there is of driving a vehicle, a much higher risk activity.  I, for instance, like to hike and camp.  Often my family and friends indicate I should be careful of wild animals.  If I take a walk in my neigbourhood in the city there is less concern, but probably a higher risk of injury from vehicles, or criminals.  I also bike, recently there is concern that bike helmet laws prevent more active participation in commuting by bike. There is risk of injury on a bike and risk of attack by wild animals while hiking, camping etc. And, the risk of sitting on the couch and not exercising is the highest risk of all.

When it comes to treating illness, if you are considering taking medication for high blood pressure, hot flashes, a gastrointestinal disorder, or regularly have dental or other Xrays or other radiation involved tests, for example, look into the side effects or the risks involved long term. Assess the danger.  Think about how you might prevent, lower risk or heal through modifying your behavior or by finding a less intrusive way to treat what ails you.  There is a lot of information out there.  Some reliable, some not so much so.  It is important to do your research carefully.

Assess the risks, make an informed decision.  It is your health and your body. Take charge.

Antibiotics and your Health

July 3, 2012

ImageAntibiotic resistance is the ability of a microorganism to withstand the effects of an antibiotic.  Multiresistant strains become  superbugs. Science Daily outlines the many ways that antibiotic resistance has grown to be the threat it is to our health today.

Overuse of broad-spectrum antibiotics, unnecessary prescriptions, improper use of antibiotics by patients, and the introduction of antibiotics  into our food through livestock have all hastened the resistance to antibiotics of infections that can kill.

In order to effect change in this cycle of antibiotic abuse we can eat organic meat, rest when we do become ill, resist the temptation to take a pill for every cough and cold, exercise and support our constitution with homeopathic and natural health care.

Food Safety and Your Health

June 14, 2012

“The resin linings of tin cans contain Bisphenol-A, corn-fed cows are more susceptible to E-Coli colonization in their stomachs, perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA), in the lining of microwave popcorn bags are part of a class of compounds that may be linked to infertility in humans, root vegetables absorb herbicides, pesticides, and fungicides”.  These are just some of the problems in our food supply discussed by Ecokaren and Liz Vaccariello at Prevention Magazine.

The solution to food supply problems is to be careful, careful to eat as much organically grown food as possible, watch the containers your food comes in, buy food preserved and bottled in glass, research where food comes from, grow your own if you can.  Pop your own organically grown pop corn.

If you’re are trying to be careful about where you spend your organic dollars, buy organic animal products (meat and dairy) as they concentrate toxins and pesticides in their tissues and especially in their fats.  As well factory raised animals are fed a steady diet of antibiotics, a main source of antibiotic resistant strains of superbugs and other health complications.  If we live healthy, the time we put in adds time and quality to our lives.  A good nutritional foundation is one of the best supports you can have for your homeopathic treatment.

Sugar and Your Health

April 2, 2012

In order to maintain optimal health, we all know the importance of eating well. Recently I listened to an interview on CBC Radio with Raj Patel who keeps a blog here where he discusses his book about the deadly effects of sugar, in particular fructose, on health.  He says “it is unavoidable, toxic, has the potential for abuse, and has a negative impact on society”. Which is why, in a paper in the latest issue of Nature,  Robert Lustig, Laura Schmidt, and Claire Brindis  suggest restrictions on advertising of sugary processed foods.

Given the research we need to take seriously the amount of sugar we consume in processed foods.  Most people who care for their health with homeopathy take diet and nutrition seriously, all the same, sugar is a powerful substance and we all can fall prey to it’s alluring charms, not to mention ever presence in processed foods.

In order to reduce our risk for major health concerns such as diabetes, heart disease, metabolic syndrome, even malnutrition and, some studies suggest, cancer we need, if it is at all possible, to eat fresh, eat organic, eat wild. In other words eat well.