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Do Multivitamins Reduce Cancer Risk?

There is ongoing controversy in the medical world about the relationship between vitamins and chronic disease. Some studies show long-term health benefits, such as a decrease in cancer risks for vitamin users, while other research indicates the opposite. What’s the truth of the matter, and what does it mean for people interested in actively protecting their longevity and health?

To a naturopathic doctor, it’s only common sense that vitamins play a role in the prevention and reduction of disease, so it’s gratifying to see that theory validated in a recent study on cancer and multivitamins.

Multivitamins in the Prevention of Cancer in Men

The study, titled “Multivitamins in the Prevention of Cancer in Men,” is a long-term human trial. That makes it one of the rare studies that paints a comprehensive picture of the impact vitamins really have on our health – as opposed to animal trials which can’t always be generalized to humans, or short-term trials that don’t tell you what happens years down the road.

Over the course of this 14-year study, nearly 15,000 male physicians over the age of 50 were given a daily dose of either a multivitamin supplement or a placebo. At the end of the study, in June 2011, researchers went to work on the results. Once all the data had been processed and the numbers crunched, they came to the unsurprising conclusion that vitamins do play a role in lowering cancer rates.

Although there was no difference in the rate of prostate cancer between the two test groups, the multivitamin group had 12% fewer cases of all other cancers compared to the placebo group. The number you’ve probably seen reported in the news is an 8% reduction in the total cancer rate, which includes prostate cancer. It’s not a huge number, but it is significant, especially given the large size and scope of the study.

Should I take a multivitamin if I’m worried about cancer?

What does this mean in terms of preventive care? Although multivitamins obviously aren’t a panacea in cancer prevention, this research does show that taking vitamins is a good idea for cancer prevention – as part of a comprehensive approach. If you already eat healthily, exercise a few times a week, and you don’t smoke, then taking a multivitamin is one more thing that you can do to improve your well-being and lower your cancer risk. If you have other major risk factors to work on, though, a multivitamin probably shouldn’t be your top priority.

This study is also good news for those of us who already take vitamins or multivitamins – it means that we’re cutting our cancer risk just by taking supplements for other reasons.

Bear in mind that this research was conducted only on 50-plus-year-old men, all of whom already met baseline health and fitness criteria to be included in the study. There’s still more research that needs to be done before we can be sure how multivitamins affect cancer rates in women, children, and younger adults.

For more information, read the study itself in the Journal of the American Medical Association: Multivitamins in the Prevention of Cancer in Men.

Need more help with prevention of illness? Get in touch!

 

Posted: 2013 January 28

Foods for Depression

Smart, health-conscious consumers know that the food we eat affects our health. What you put into your body has a direct impact on strength, fitness, and stamina, but what about its effect on emotional well-being? The science is in: Food can have a remarkable impact on your mood, energy levels, and even mental health.

Whether you’re clinically depressed or just suffering from a day of winter blues, there’s plenty that you can do to improve your mental health with some judicious meal and snacking choices. Here are our dietary recommendations, based on the latest research in food findings.

Foods That Support Mental and Emotional Health

First and foremost, a big thumbs up to diets rich in unprocessed fruits, vegetables, grains, nuts and the healthy unsaturated fats found in olives, avocado, and other unrefined oils. The so-called “Mediterranean Diet” has been shown to lessen the risk of cognitive impairment and reduce your depression risk by 30%. The same 30% improvement rate in depression and anxiety is seen by people who focus on “whole” foods, even when their diet includes meat.

Fats are one of the biggest contenders in the long-term depression equation. Trans-fats have a clear relationship with depression, so it’s best to stop eating processed foods as much as possible to avoid these unhealthy fats.

Monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fatty acids, on the other hand, are great mood boosters and they support mental health. You can get these healthy fats from nuts, seeds, avocado, olive oil and leafy greens. You’ll find especially potent benefits in fish. In fact, the omega-3 fats in fish oils can fend off psychosis and post-partum depression. They’re also great for your hair, nails, and skin.

Last but not least, berries have been shown to improve long-term memory and to reduce the risk of age-related memory loss thanks to their dark pigments, which protect the brain from oxidative stress and damage.

Foods to Avoid for Better Mental Health

When it comes to depression, the worst offenders are packaged and fast food, especially when they contain saturated fats or refined carbohydrates like sugar (and all of its alphabet soup derivatives like glucose, fructose, dextrose and high fructose corn syrup). Aside from eliminating processed foods from your diet, moderation is key – especially when it comes to alcohol and caffeine.

Studies have found that low to moderate alcohol intake reduces risk of dementia and cerebrovascular disease, but that the health risks of heavy alcohol use far outweigh its potential benefits. The same is true of coffee, which can lower depression risks by 15% for those who drink 2 or 3 cups daily, but which, in excess, contributes to health problems like high blood pressure.

Although chocolate is well known as a chemical mood booster, its long-term effect turns out to be just the opposite. A 2006 review of the literature on chocolate and emotional health indicates that eating chocolate to boost your mood is actually linked to long-term cycles of depression.

As with anything, moderation and balance are crucial. If you’re concerned about your diet’s impact on your mental health, or if you’d like to speak with a naturopathic doctor about foods that may improve your emotional well-being, contact us today.

 

 

Posted: 2013 January 28

Four Approaches to Cleansing

We’ve mentioned already that there’s more than one way to cleanse. In fact, there are dozens, if not hundreds, of different ways to pull toxins out of your body to restore good health. Want to know more?

We’ve broken cleansing down into four general approaches. If you’ve ever wondered how different types of detox diets work, or which type of cleansing might be right for you, here’s a quick and dirty guide to the essentials!

Fasting

Fasting usually means no food at all, but the term is sometimes also used on juice cleanses and programs that involve a liquid detox diet.

Fasting is as tried-and-true as the world’s oldest religions, but tradition doesn’t necessarily make it the best choice for modern lives. The idea behind a fasting diet is to have your body burn fat for fuel, releasing toxins stored in body-fat, and in general, let your digestive system rest from all the work it normally does, and focus your body’s energies on eliminating toxins instead. If you fast for more than a few days, though, it can be very stressful for your body and starving your body of nutrients it uses to detoxify may actually slow down the detoxification process as your metabolism grinds to a halt.

Fasting can also bring on serious “cleansing crisis” symptoms like headaches, stomach aches, nausea, exhaustion, rashes, and disorientation, or it can worsen these problems if you’re already experiencing them.

So although fasting has some upsides, we don’t recommend it unless you really like doing things the hard way.

Dietary Cleanses

Dietary cleanses are usually based on three steps: eliminating processed foods and other sources of toxins; increasing your intake of fruits, vegetables and clean water to increase excretion of wastes from the body; and at the same time building up your body with nutrient-dense whole foods. A Candida cleanse, which eliminates refined sugars and carbs, is a good example in this category.

Like fasting, you’ll find that most dietary cleanses involve restrictions on the amount of fat and protein you’re eating, which can cause more stress on your organs and contribute to “crisis” symptoms like headaches, fatigue and skin breakouts. While dietary cleanses can be very effective, it’s important to ensure that you’re getting enough calories and a healthy balance of carbohydrates, fats, and protein.

Supplement Cleanses

The easiest type of cleanse uses herbal medicines, homeopathic medicines and other natural remedies to support the liver and pull toxins out of your organs. Supplement cleanses are easy to find in any health food store, but they aren’t all created equal. Some are very effective, while others are a complete waste of money. Some include ingredients that may be dangerous.

If you choose to use supplements, make sure that your cleanse includes something to support and cleanse the liver, as well as ingredients to keep your bowels moving and prevent constipation.

It’s important to see that both of these areas are addressed to prevent problems.

Combination Cleanses

As you might imagine, dietary cleanses (if done safely) are slower than supplement cleanses and will be less effective at purging deep toxicity like heavy metals. On the other hand, supplement cleanses are often hindered by what people are eating while they cleanse – processed food, sugar and caffeine will only get in the way of a cleanse. Naturally, then, the best solution is going to be a combination of these two approaches.

The cleanses that we recommend to clients usually involve small changes to their diet to include more whole grains, fruits, and veggies; while avoiding processed foods. We also recommend regular exercise, as well as supplements that support the liver and help clear toxins out of the colon as you cleanse. And we monitor your progress to ensure that you’re cleansing at a safe, moderate rate that’s good for your body.

If you’re interested in learning more or doing a cleanse, visit our Metabolic Detoxification page, or contact us at info@tcnm.com or by telephone to schedule an appointment. Stay tuned for next week’s blog about what to expect during your first cleanse.

 

 

Posted: 2013 May 9

Triggering Your Relaxation Response and Reducing Your Stress

We continue this month’s focus on anxiety with another powerful way to reduce stress: by initiating the body’s own, natural relaxation response. You’ve heard of the “fight or flight” response, where adrenalin rushes through your body and encourages you to either fight back against a threat or run away as fast as you can. The “relaxation response” is the opposite of the fight or flight response, relying on deep breathing and repetition of a calming word or phrase to activate the systems in the body that counter stress and create deep relaxation.

If you’ve tried meditation or breathing exercises before, TCNM’s approach to the relaxation response is a simpler but equally powerful way to counter the toxic effects of stress and invite greater peace, confidence, calm, and wellness into your life.

Why Use the Relaxation Response?

Chronic stressful situations and thoughts are the most common causes of anxiety that we come across in our practice, and there are plenty of ways to address this type of stress: yoga, tai chi, meditation, energy work and dozens of others.

One of the problems that many people face as they struggle to lessen their anxiety, though, is the dizzying array of options that promise to bring them inner peace and stress relief. With so many types of meditation and inner work available, trying to choose one to pursue can seem like just another source of stress.

The relaxation response is simple, takes no more than ten to twenty minutes a day, and anyone at any age or fitness level can learn it.

If you need another reason to try it, consider the science. According to Herbert Benson, MD (a cardiologist and the man credited with bringing meditation into the mainstream in the West), research has shown that although breathing rate goes down during meditation or deep relaxation, the oxygen level in the bloodstream stays constant or even increases. After relaxation, the blood oxygen content rises sharply, providing body and mind with greater energy and clarity.

Meanwhile, blood lactate levels – a stress marker – decrease during relaxation and stay lower afterward. In the long run, studies have shown that hypertension, chronic pain, insomnia and premenstrual syndrome (PMS) all respond favourably to relaxation and meditation.

How to Enact the Relaxation Response

The average person is triggered into fight or flight responses several times a day – enraged by a difficult customer at work, stuck in traffic or upset by financial worries. Most of these issues are frustrating but not life-threatening, yet they trigger that primitive response all the same.

In contrast, the relaxation response only happens with deliberate intention, but it doesn’t have to take hours of meditation or weeks of spiritual retreat to get there. All that’s required is conscious, regular breathing, and focusing on a single uplifting word, phrase, or thought for a few minutes at a time.

In our practice, we guide clients to try the relaxation response for ten to twenty minutes at a time, once daily. It usually takes one to two months to see the effects of relaxation on your blood pressure, muscle tension, pain, digestion, and more but once it starts to work, the changes can be dramatic.

Contact us at info@tcnm.com or call our offices today if you’re interested in learning more about the relaxation response or how to alleviate everyday stress and develop better stress management in your life.

 

 

Posted: 2013 March 11

Myths About Cleansing and Detox

Over the course of May, we plan to give you a more thorough look at how to eliminate toxins and develop better health, beginning with this week’s blog post on the myths and facts about cleansing. Here are some of the most common myths we hear about cleansing, debunked by our naturopathic doctors:

Myth #1: Your body cleanses all on its own, no help necessary.

In a perfect world, this would be true – but we don’t live in a perfect world. Our digestive tracts aren’t designed to handle “foods” like bleached white flour, “processed cheese product”, artificial flavours and preservatives. Our lungs can’t easily filter out airborne chemicals like road tar, lawn pesticides and car exhaust fumes. We throw toxins at our bodies all day and they do an amazing job of coping, but in a modern environment they need a helping hand.

Myth #2: During a cleanse, you should expect to feel exhausted, sick, and angry.

You might also hear the related myth, cleansing is bad for you.

False! While it’s true that some cleanses will leave you feeling tired or grumpy at first – especially if you’re used to relying on coffee or sugar to keep your mood and energy levels high – the long-term benefits of cleansing include greater energy, more mental clarity, consistently better moods and fewer headaches. On the other hand, some types of cleanses and detox diets are genuinely bad for you, which is why it’s always best to do a cleanse under a naturopathic doctor’s supervision.

Myth #3: You’ll be running to the bathroom all the time while you cleanse.

This is absolutely not the case! If you’ve had this experience before or heard about it from someone who has, we’d love to know what kind of cleanse you or they were on – because it wasn’t a healthy one.

Myth #4: Cleansing is a quick fix for weight loss.

False. Some people do lose weight on a cleanse, but it should never happen suddenly. Cleansing is absolutely not a “quick fix” to any sort of symptoms or body issues.

We discourage our clients from cleansing primarily to lose weight, because weight loss during detoxification is unpredictable. Pulling toxins out of your body may result in weight loss, or it might not. The types of cleanses that guarantee weight loss usually do so by sharply reducing caloric intake, which results in people losing water weight and muscle, not fat. That’s not the kind of cleanse we promote or provide for our patients.

Myth #5: You have to stop eating everything and go on a fast/juice cleanse/lemonade diet to cleanse properly.

Not so. There are dozens of different ways to approach cleansing and many of them are more effective than fasting. While fasts and juice cleanses are well known, they’re very difficult on both will-power and your body. We prefer to guide clients toward a gradual cleanse that incorporates most of your regular diet, editing out only foods that challenge the body’s detoxification organs and adding botanical medicines and other natural supplements that support the liver and colon.

The flip side of this myth, of course, is …

Myth #6: All you have to do is take this over the counter, one-size-fits-all supplement and you’re set. Cleansing is easy!

Whoa, partner. If you’re going to cleanse properly, it’s never that simple. One-size-fits-all supplements are a bad idea as a general rule, and cleansing really needs to be customized to fit your goals and your current health needs. That’s why it’s so important to speak with a naturopathic doctor before you cleanse—you’ll avoid most of the pitfalls and get a cleansing protocol that’s tailored to fit your body and your lifestyle.

If you’re interested in learning more or doing a cleanse, visit our Metabolic Detoxification page, or contact us at info@tcnm.com or by telephone to schedule an appointment. And stay tuned for more information on different approaches to cleansing in the next few blog posts!

 

 

Posted: 2013 May 9

Reflexology for Stress Relief: The Answer is Right Under Your Feet

Welcome to the third and final installment in our March series on anxiety.

This week, we’re discussing an old-but-new therapy that’s making a comeback as one of the easiest and surprisingly effective treatments for stress: reflexology.

How Reflexology Works

Based on the same principles as acupuncture, reflexology is foot massage taken to a scientific level of precision. The idea is that certain areas of the feet correspond to particular organs and systems of the body. By applying pressure to those key areas, it’s possible to stimulate flagging health and correct imbalances.

The reflexology points for the eyes, ears, nose and throat are on the toes; the heart and lungs are represented near the ball of the foot; the reproductive organs on the ankles. Other points correlate to specific emotional states and other parts of the body.

During treatment, a reflexologist uses varying pressure to massage part or all of the foot. Areas that are sensitive often correlate to health issues that need attention. Even if nothing is sensitive, though, reflexology can be relaxing and therapeutic, especially for people who are depressed, anxious or who have chronic pain or stress.

Research Studies on Reflexology and Anxiety Show Significant Results

Several reflexology studies have shown improvements in pain and anxiety among cancer patients and chronic pain sufferers. In one study, pain and anxiety decreased during reflexology treatments, while another study showed these benefits were long-term improvements.

Compared with a control group, hospitalized cancer patients who received reflexology had almost ten times the improvement in their anxiety as that of the group that received special attention but no reflexology. (The reflexology group’s anxiety dropped an average of 7.9 points on the test scale, while the control group dropped only 0.8 points on average).

What’s more, physical results after reflexology show that it’s not just a question of a soothing effect. A double-blind study published in 2012 found that healthy volunteers experienced a drop in their cardiac index, a major indicator of heart function used in intensive care. It’s also used as a physical measurement of anxiety and stress, so a modest drop like the one observed is generally a good indication of lessened stress.

Reflexology for Anxiety

Like many mental health issues and stress-related concerns, anxiety is a problem that can creep up on you and that can be difficult to treat. There are so many options and the choice of a practitioner – not to mention, the first visit to that practitioner – can be overwhelming. At TCNM, we know that there is no one perfect treatment that fits the bill for everyone. It’s important to find the right doctor and the right approach for you.

Are you interested in trying out reflexology or another anxiety treatment for yourself? Learn more about reflexology at our reflexology page, or  give us a call or e-mail us at info@tcnm.com to book a session with Melissa or Melanie, our resident RMTs and reflexology experts.

 

 

Posted: 2013 March 18

Return to Stillness: A Natural Approach to Parkinson’s and Degenerative Disease

Although Parkinson’s disease has been recognized since early in the 19th Century, its cure remains beyond the reach of mainstream medicine. Holistic care offers options outside the medical approach, but even naturopathic doctors struggle to make headway against the ravages of this progressive, degenerative disease.

One of the new approaches to Parkinson that has yielded remarkable results is a new treatment approach called “Return to Stillness,” created by Australian naturopathic doctor John Coleman, who was diagnosed with Parkinson’s in 1995. Midway through a naturopathic degree at the time, he became determined to pursue a new course of healing and to take responsibility for his own recovery.

By 1998, completely symptom-free, Coleman completed his naturopathic degree and set out to share his recovery process with the world. He has since developed Return to Stillness as a guide for other patients and practitioners whose lives have been touched by degenerative disease.

In the course of developing his Parkinson’s treatment, Coleman used a variety of approaches that included dietary changes, homeopathic remedies, Bowen therapy, craniosacral therapy, massage, Reiki, meditation, herbs and counselling. Today, he teaches the most important parts of his own recovery process to other Parkinson’s patients.

Return to Stillness has three major components:

Bowen Therapy

A form of body work that supports your body in recovering its own sense of balance and drawing on the natural, innate capacity to heal yourself.

Aqua Hydration Formulae

“Compounded aqueous homeopathic remedies” designed to improve the uptake of water into the cells. This is the most controversial part of the Return to Stillness, but Coleman is certain that these remedies were a major component of his recovery.

Counselling

Everything from psychotherapy to nutritional counselling falls under this part of the program. Regular assessment by a naturopathic doctor is vital in the process of recovering from any serious illness. It enables patients to track their recovery and to better manage the supplements, dietary changes, meditation, and other tools involved in their long-term healing process.

Coleman mentions on his website that although the practices in Return to Stillness are meant to target Parkinson’s, they may also be helpful to anyone with other neurodegenerative or autoimmune disorders such as multiple sclerosis, lupus, chronic fatigue, muscular dystrophy and more.

Although Return to Stillness remains controversial, we’ve begun to use elements of this technique with our clients, with encouraging results. Dr. Coleman’s research offers hope to patients with Parkinson’s disease for whom crude symptom management used to be the only option.

Interested in learning more about Return to Stillness and other innovative solutions for Parkinson’s disease? Get in touch!

 

 

Posted: 2013 January 28

 

Spring Cleansing at the Toronto Centre for Naturopathic Medicine

Everyone has their own annual traditions, but did you know that your body also has its own habits that are closely linked to the seasons? Spring is a natural time for your body to shed toxins and that makes it a smart time to do cleansing.

Detoxification is part of virtually every holistic health tradition, from Ayurveda to naturopathic medicine, and it can yield significant benefits whether you’re healthy, fighting off a series of flu bugs, or pursuing a cure for a chronic condition.

Why Cleansing and Detoxification is Important for Lasting Health

What you eat plays a role in your health – but the air you breathe, the water that comes out of your tap (or bottle, or well), and the ingredients in your personal care products are also important factors. All of these can contain toxins that affect health, either in the long run or the short-term.

Short-term toxins are more well-known and better recognized. If something causes immediate vomiting or is life-threatening if swallowed, then it has to be taken seriously. But long-term toxins like petrochemicals and artificial additives are just as serious a concern in the long run, although they may take years or decades to make you sick.

Examples of long-term toxins in our everyday lives include:

  • Estrogen-mimicking compounds that leach out of plastic water bottles
  • Carcinogenic chemicals in shampoo, body wash or deodorant
  • Pesticide residues on fruits and vegetables
  • Airborne toxins from gasoline, paint, plastic or floor varnish

The Body’s Own Cleansing Mechanisms

Mainstream medicine tends to take the position that the human body is capable of cleansing and detoxifying on its own. To a certain extent, that’s true. Your liver, colon, kidneys, and lymphatic system are all designed to pull wastes out of your body and eliminate them before they can do any harm. Your lungs and skin play a major role in this process, too, and even fat tissue helps to segregate toxins where they can’t hurt you.

But that’s not the end of the story. In a world where chemicals are everywhere, where it’s hard to buy a meal without ingesting a dozen different preservatives and artificial flavours, our bodies are subjected to more toxins and environmental stress than they were a century or even a decade ago. Sometimes that toxin load is more than your body can handle, and that’s where detoxification comes in, to ease some of that chemical burden and improve health on all levels.

Research Supports the Health Benefits of Cleansing

The science bears this theory out. In one study, chronically ill patients who underwent ten weeks of cleansing decreased their symptoms by an average of 52%. Participants in another clinical trial who cleansed using dietary changes and a detoxification supplement improved their metabolic function in only a week. They also were found to process chemical markers through the liver (including caffeine and sodium benzoate) faster that they had only a week earlier, before cleansing. (Macintosh A., Ball K. The effects of a short program of detoxification in disease-free individuals. Alternative Therapies. 2000 Jul; 6(4):70-6.)

In our practice at TCNM, we’ve found that the benefits of cleansing can be transformative. Our clients report more energy, clearer thinking, less pain, and lessening of other chronic problems and symptoms – sometimes even symptoms that didn’t respond to other treatments.

Don’t Try This at Home

Of course, it’s important to cleanse with care. Cleansing too quickly can lead to headaches, skin breakouts, and other irritating symptoms, and a lot of the information out there in the media is just plain wrong. That’s why it’s vital to cleanse under supervision of a naturopathic doctor who can provide you with the guidance and support to find the right detoxification plan for you.

If you’re interested in learning more or in starting a cleanse this spring, contact us at info@tcnm.com or by telephone to schedule an appointment.

 

 

Posted: 2013 March 25

St. John’s Wort: A Balm for Anxiety

St. John’s Wort is well known for its effectiveness against depression, but what many of our clients don’t realize is that this herb is also a powerful tool in fighting stress-related anxiety. According to the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine, St. John’s Wort is as effective as antidepressant drugs in treating mild to severe cases of depression. One study even found it more effective than Prozac.

Known by its scientific name, Hypericum perforatum, St. John’s Wort is widely prescribed for depression in Europe for a simple reason: it works. But depression isn’t its only use in herbal medicine.

St. John’s Wort and Anxiety

Most of the research on St. John’s Wort in the past two decades has focused on depression, and as a result we’ve found that family doctors and psychiatrists tend to dismiss the other benefits of St. John’s Wort in favour of the tried and true – depression. Even natural health experts and knowledgeable health food store staff won’t necessarily know that St. John’s Wort can do a lot more than relieve depression, and that one of its greatest benefits is the ability to combat anxiety.

Although St. John’s Wort has little impact on acute anxiety caused by trauma, it does have an effect on slow-building stress that leads to chronic anxiety. The “Bible” of eclectic herbalism, King’s American Dispensary (Felter & Lloyd, 1898), recommends St. John’s Wort for “nervous affectations.” Anxiety connected with stress or depression is exactly the sort of case indicated.

Prolonged stress is an increasingly common concern among our clients at TCNM. Whether it’s due to work stress, family obligations, or financial worries, ongoing stress is exhausting and we know it can eventually lead to loss of interest in life, mild depression, withdrawal from key relationships and painful anxiety. St. John’s Wort has come to be one of the first treatments we consider in cases of stress-related anxiety and depression.

Bear in Mind – The Importance of a Medical Opinion

As with any other health condition, the bottom line, of course, is to speak with a health care professional before you attempt to treat or diagnose the problem yourself. Punch “anxiety” into any search engine and you’ll get millions of results, but very little practical information. Finding the right solution for your particular mind and body is a puzzle that takes training and medical experience to solve.

Even natural remedies like St. John’s Wort can have side effects and interactions with other supplements or medication you might be taking. That’s why it’s so important to consult a medical or naturopathic doctor before you start taking any treatment for anxiety. Our naturopaths might spot a crucial piece of information in your medical history or symptomology that’s easy to overlook if you’re too close to the problem, and save you months or years of trouble.

Interested in learning more about the benefits of St. John’s Wort? Looking for a natural solution for anxiety and depression in Toronto? Please contact us at info@tcnm.ca or give us a call.

 

 

Posted: 2013 March 1

The Best Approach to Cleansing for Health, Mental Clarity, and Longevity

We’ve talked about the myths, several different approaches to cleansing, and what you should expect during your first cleanse. Now we’d like to dive into the TCNM approach to safe, natural, holistic detoxification.

Your TCNM Cleanse

At TCNM, we believe that cleansing needs to be balanced so you can achieve the greatest health benefits with the least discomfort or inconvenience. That means taking things one step at a time, following your body’s cues, and planning ahead.

The first step in a good cleanse is to ensure regular bowel movements. Flushing toxins from the liver and other body tissues won’t do you any good unless these poisons can exit the body smoothly and easily. In fact, if you’re constipated, cleansing can actually make matters worse, so we begin by ensuring any issues around constipation are resolved, and by increasing your water intake.

At the same time, it’s important to lessen your everyday toxin load. The fewer toxins you’re exposed to, the easier it will be for your body to flush out the ones it’s already stored. That means eliminating processed foods and avoiding things like fresh paint, cleaning chemicals, synthetic perfumes and beauty products. We believe that eating a diet that is organic, allergen-free and intolerance-free is a much better option than fasting, because it supports your body through your cleanse with high quality nutrition.

Once you’re eliminating regularly and your toxin load has come down, the next step is to mobilize stored toxins using herbal medicines that support the liver. The liver is one of the major detoxification organs of the human body, and it’s where the bulk of built-up toxins are metabolized. Enzymatic liver detox needs to be done gradually, to ensure that toxins leave the body safely.

We also recommend aerobic exercise to release toxins stored in fat cells (as your body “burns” fat cells for energy) and increase the movement of blood and lymph. These benefits combine to speed toxins from your body stores to your elimination organs and move them out of your body.

Who Should Do a Cleanse?

Even if you do everything else right for your health, it’s a good idea to do a cleanse once a year to flush toxins that you may have picked up from air pollution, city water, personal care products or the occasional takeout meal. Cleansing is an especially good idea if you suffer from:

  • Headaches
  • Food allergies or intolerances
  • Depression
  • Poor mental clarity
  • Constipation
  • Eczema or other skin problems
  • Fibromyalgia
  • Chronic Fatigue Syndome
  • Candidasis
  • Parasites

Who Should Never Cleanse?

Although we are big proponents of cleansing at TCNM, there are some cases where detoxification is not a good idea. These include:

  • During pregnancy
  • While fighting off a cold or flu
  • If you have an eating disorder, or a health history of having had an eating disorder
  • Very young children or elderly patients
  • If you take pharmaceutical drugs that could be life-threatening to discontinue, or have a narrow therapeutic index (i.e., have a very small difference between the effective dose, and an ineffective dose or a dose potentially having side effects)

Even if none of these situations describe you, it’s always best to consult a naturopathic doctor before beginning a cleanse to ensure that it’s safe for you.

What Makes the TCNM Approach to Cleansing Unique?

Cleansing is something that can change your life by improving your health, vitality, mental fitness, and more, but it doesn’t have to take over your entire life. We believe cleansing can be as simple and as powerful as you make it. With the guidance of a naturopathic doctor and a little bit of smart planning at home, it’s possible to continue all of your usual activities, including work, social life, fitness, and anything else on your plate, all while you do your body a big favour in the long run.

Interested in learning more about the TCNM approach to cleansing, or in doing a cleanse? Visit or Metabolic Detoxification page, or contact us in Toronto at info@tcnm.com or by telephone to schedule an appointment.

 

 

Posted: 2013 May 9

What is a Doula?

Pregnancy is a period of big changes in a new mother’s life, a time filled with beautiful moments and serious challenges. As your baby grows, it’s normal to want comfort, reassurance and support from the people around you – both loved ones and medical professionals.

A birth doula can provide you with all of these things and more during your pregnancy and labour.

What does a doula’s work involve?

A doula is a close caregiver who gets to know the expectant family, especially mom, and who helps with every step along the way as you design and carry out your birth plan. If you choose to consult a Toronto Centre for Naturopathic Medicine (TCNM) doula, you’ll receive:

  • Assistance in choosing the birth plan that is the best fit for you
  • Naturopathic care during your pregnancy and labour
  • Calm support in arranging the type of birth you want and need
  • A caring friend on call to ease your fears and help you during labour
  • A professional birthing expert with years of training and experience

How is a TCNM doula different from other doulas or midwifes?

Fifty years ago, the care options available to expectant mothers in Canada were slim pickings. Today, doulas and midwives are everywhere in Toronto, each offering their own unique brand of pregnancy and labour care.

At TCNM, all of our birth doulas have completed four years of training in naturopathic medicine as well as the schooling to become a doula, making them a breed apart. We provide not only the educational and support services of a doula, but the knowledge and skill set of a naturopathic doctor. What that means is that in addition to education about your options and support in creating your birth experience, we also offer acupuncture, homeopathy and herbal medicines that can make your pregnancy more enjoyable and ease your labour.

If you’re worried about birth or you’re experiencing any kind of discomfort, herbs and homeopathic remedies can help you to prepare. Acupuncture is often useful during the birth process to help babies get into the right position and to relieve mom’s labour pain.

Your doula is on call and will be at your side to assist you throughout your baby’s birth.

Why use a doula?

There are many good reasons to choose a doula. Research has proven that doula-assisted labours are shorter, with less need for epidurals, c-section deliveries or other medical intervention. Mothers who rely on a doula’s support are happier with their birthing experience. Last, but certainly not least, many women say that working with a doula leads to a more relaxed labour and better early bonding with their newborn.

A doula offers the warmth, caring, and support of a loving friend, along with the training and experience of a seasoned labour professional. For families seeking a little bit of extra care and assistance in making the right decisions for them, a doula offers reassurance, guidance and support. A doula who is also a naturopathic doctor provides a wealth of knowledge and practical medical care before and during your baby’s birth.

Interested in learning more about a doula’s work, visit our Naturopathic Birth Doula page? Looking for a naturopathic doctor to help with your pregnancy and birth? Get in touch!

 

 

Posted: 2013 January 28

What to Expect During a Cleanse

There are a lot of myths about cleansing floating around, many of which we’ve already debunked in an earlier blog post. But if you won’t feel tired and cranky or be running to the bathroom all day, what should you expect during your first cleanse?

Read on for the answer!

Welcome to Cleansing

Although every person will experience a cleanse slightly differently, there are some common features. For many people, cleansing will happen so gradually that the changes are all but invisible. One day you’re going about your life as normal. The next day you’re cleansing, but nothing much feels different.

Changes Can Happen as You Cleanse

Most people will notice a gradual series of changes once they’re one week or several weeks into a cleanse – less fatigue after a long day at work, fewer aches and pains or the realization that your occasional headaches haven’t come around in a while. You may start to have more energy when you exercise. You might notice that you’re using less makeup to cover up blemishes, or that irritating twinge you’ve had in your back for years might suddenly vanish.

For other people, cleansing can cause dramatic changes right from the start. Patients who live with chronic pain will often notice improvements more quickly, as will people with severe allergies. If you’ve been living with digestive problems or Irritable Bowel Syndrome, you’re likely to notice quick improvements.

If you’re the sort of person who relies on coffee first thing in the morning or a sugar rush to get you through stressful parts of your day, you may have a rough transition as you begin your cleanse. That’s not really due to the cleanse – it’s your addiction to caffeine or sugar making itself known. These first few days will be a lot easier if you can wean yourself off of coffee, sugar and other vices gradually in the weeks before you start your cleanse.

Planning for Your First Cleanse

There are a few things you can do to make your first cleanse easier and more pleasant:

  • Plan your cleanse at a time when you’ll be able to prepare your own meals
  • Prepare a list of tasty food alternatives for the things you’re avoiding
  • Plan a grocery list and meal ideas
  • Wean yourself off of caffeine, sugar, alcohol and other “toxins”
  • Ensure that you’re having regular, daily bowel movements before you start to cleanse
  • Do what you can to decrease your toxin load by avoiding paint fumes, cleaning products, nail polish, perfumes, hair dyes and other chemicals
  • Make sure to stay hydrated by keeping a water bottle with you at all times
  • Keep healthy snacks in your desk, purse/backpack, fridge, etc.
  • Prepare to slip up occasionally, and try not to feel guilty when you do
  • Prepare yourself with the knowledge that cleansing isn’t always easy. You may notice some discomfort, especially in the first two weeks of your cleanse. If you experience headache, nausea, irritability, body odor or any other issues as you start your cleanse, don’t give up! Stay on target and inform your naturopathic doctor of all the details so they can adjust your cleanse as needed.

Interested in learning more about detoxification? Visit our Metabolic Detoxification page, or contact us in Toronto at info@tcnm.com to schedule an appointment to start your spring cleanse.

 

 

Posted: 2013 May 9

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