Suffering from Seasonal Allergies?

woman with successful treatment for seasonal allergies

Seasonal Allergies

Seasonal allergies are not just due to an immune system response to pollen, your immune system should not consider pollen to be a foreign invader that requires an immune system attack.  Allergies are a sign of inflamed and irritated tissue in the respiratory tract that has become super sensitive to particulate matter that should not normally trigger an immune response.  There are a number of factors that can contribute to this irritated tissue:

  1. Underlying food allergies or sensitivities.  Almost everyone has sensitivities to certain foods.  The most common ones are dairy, eggs, gluten, pineapple, almonds and beans like kidney beans and green beans.  Consuming these foods provokes the production of antibodies that lead to systemic inflammation that can leave nasal tissue easily irritated by fumes, chemicals, dust, pollen or mold spores. Our naturopathic doctors can help guide you through an elimination diet or order blood testing for food allergies or sensitivities.
  2. Toxin overload.  If your liver is not efficiently clearing waste and pollution from your body, then these chemicals accumulate and can irritate tissue, leaving it sensitive to pollen.  Facilitating phase I and phase II liver detoxification through supportive nutrients like n-acetyl cysteine, vitamin B6, L-5MTHF, calcium-d-glucarate and indole-3-carbinol can help your liver to more easily package toxins for excretion.
  3. Lack of vitamin C and vitamin B6.  Vitamin C and B6 are both natural anti-histamines.  Both are necessary in greater quantities when you are under stress.  In some cases of seasonal allergies, all I’ve helped my patient to do is to replenish both vitamins and long term allergies have subsided.
  4. Lack of vitamin A.  Vitamin A is a fat soluble vitamin that is crucial to the health of mucous membranes.  Mucous membranes are what line the whole respiratory tract, so a lack of vitamin A leaves that tissue unhealthy and more susceptible to irritation. One of the only foods that supplies pre-formed vitamin A is liver.  Otherwise, we acquire beta carotene from foods like carrots, Swiss chard, kale and spinach and our liver has to convert that to vitamin A.  Vitamin A accumulates in your body so long term supplementation is not recommended and vitamin A supplements should be avoided in women who are pregnant, breast feeding and in children. A vitamin A derivative has been shown to have anti-allergic effects in an allergic rhinitis model in mice, and its underlying mechanisms mainly include the induction of regulatory T cells and the inhibition of Th2 responses.
  5. Overgrowth of harmful bacteria/yeast in the digestive tract and a lack of probiotic bacteria.  Good bacteria help keep the immune system functioning normally by moderating immune system activity.  Antibiotic use wipes out good bacteria and allows overgrowth of unhealthy organisms that can push the immune system into overdrive. Killing off gut bacteria excess and restoring healthy beneficial flora can help settle down an overly active immune system.  A recent Italian study found that Bifidobacteria mixture was capable of significantly improving allergic rhinitis symptoms and quality of life in children with pollen-induced allergic rhinitis and intermittent asthma.  Another found a combination probiotic of Lactobacillus gasseri and two strains of Bifidobacter improved rhinoconjunctivitis-specific quality of life during allergy season for otherwise healthy individuals with self-reported seasonal allergies.

Our naturopathic doctors can help provide natural treatment for allergies.  Book an appointment now.

Natural Allergy Treatment Research

Miraglia Del Giudice M, Indolfi C, Capasso M, Maiello N, Decimo F, Ciprandi G. Bifidobacterium mixture (B longum BB536, B infantis M-63, B breve M-16V) treatment in children with seasonal allergic rhinitis and intermittent asthma.
Ital J Pediatr. 2017 Mar 7;43(1):25. doi: 10.1186/s13052-017-0340-5. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/28270216

Dennis-Wall JC, Culpepper T, Nieves C Jr, Rowe CC, Burns AM, Rusch CT, Federico A, Ukhanova M, Waugh S, Mai V, Christman MC, Langkamp-Henken B. Probiotics (Lactobacillus gasseri KS-13, Bifidobacterium bifidum G9-1, and Bifidobacterium longum MM-2) improve rhinoconjunctivitis-specific quality of life in individuals with seasonal allergies: a double-blind, placebo-controlled, randomized trial.
Am J Clin Nutr. 2017 Mar;105(3):758-767. doi: 10.3945/ajcn.116.140012. Epub 2017 Feb 22. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/28228426

Son HL, Park HR, Park YJ, Kim SW. Effect of Retinoic Acid in a Mouse Model of Allergic Rhinitis. Allergy Asthma Immunol Res. 2015 Nov;7(6):590-8. doi: 10.4168/aair.2015.7.6.590. Epub 2015 Jun 2.
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/26333706

Thornhill SM, Kelly AM. Natural treatment of perennial allergic rhinitis. Altern Med Rev. 2000 Oct;5(5):448-54. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/11056414

Ipci K, Altıntoprak N, Muluk NB, Senturk M, Cingi C. The possible mechanisms of the human microbiome in allergic diseases. Eur Arch Otorhinolaryngol. 2017 Feb;274(2):617-626. doi: 10.1007/s00405-016-4058-6. Epub 2016 Apr 26.
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/27115907

Glutathione

glutathione molecule

What is Glutathione? 

By Dr. Pamela Frank, BSc(Hons), ND

It is a substance produced naturally in your liver and is a powerful antioxidant, considered to be the mother of all antioxidants (antioxidants help prevent oxidation and aging).  It is made from three amino acids: glutamic acid, cysteine and glycine.  One of the primary functions of glutathione is cellular detoxification.

Why is glutathione important?

Healthy blood levels are important for protection from heart disease, dementia, Alzheimer’s and aging in general.  Reduced levels occur with aging and are associated with increased oxidative damage.

How do I get glutathione?

Foods contain it and there are glutathione supplements, however, most of what is orally ingested gets broken down in the digestive tract and so it doesn’t have an impact on increasing your blood levels.  For this reason, taking supplements is likely a waste of money, even liposomal glutathione. Consuming the above amino acids may assist your liver in producing more if you need it. Food sources of glutathione include: spinach, asparagus, avocado, squash, okra, cauliflower, broccoli, walnuts, garlic and tomatoes.

How else can I raise my blood level?

There are a number of supplements that have been shown to help raise levels in the blood, including:
  • Alpha Lipoic Acid
  • Milk Thistle
  • MSM
  • Melatonin
  • Curcumin

Your body can also recycle existing glutathione with the help of following vitamins and minerals:

  • Vitamins: C, E, B vitamins, active folic acid (L-5MTHF)
  • Minerals: selenium, zinc, vanadium, magnesium

Too Much of a Good Thing?

There is some research that has found higher levels of glutathione in cancer cells.  It may be that the cells have increased their own level as a means of protecting themselves from damage by chemotherapeutic agents or it may be that cancer cells are trying to keep themselves from undergoing normal cell demise known as apoptosis.

Should you supplement with glutathione?

I would say no, for the reasons I have already mentioned: it’s poorly absorbed and broken down in the gut and until we fully understand why glutathione is higher in cancer cells, it may be best to avoid artificially increasing it.  Use of some of the above supplements that help support healthy internal production or recycling seems like safer options.

References:

Yilin Liu, Annastasia S. Hyde, Melanie A. Simpson, and Joseph J. Barycki. Emerging regulatory paradigms in glutathione metabolism. Adv Cancer Res. 2014; 122: 69–101.

Matthew Butawan, Rodney L. Benjamin, and Richard J. Bloomer. Methylsulfonylmethane: Applications and Safety of a Novel Dietary Supplement. Nutrients. 2017 Mar; 9(3): 290.

Antonio Carrillo-Vico, Patricia J. Lardone, Nuria Álvarez-Sánchez, Ana Rodríguez-Rodríguez, and Juan M. Guerrero. Melatonin: Buffering the Immune System. Int J Mol Sci. 2013 Apr; 14(4): 8638–8683.

Jianguo Lin, Youcai Tang, Qiaohua Kang, Yunfeng Feng, and Anping Chen. Curcumin inhibits gene expression of receptor for advanced glycation end-products (RAGE) in hepatic stellate cells in vitro by elevating PPARγ activity and attenuating oxidative stress. Br J Pharmacol. 2012 Aug; 166(8): 2212–2227.

Chiropractic for Children

Boy laughing with quote about chiropractic for children

Is Chiropractic Safe for Children?

Chiropractic care addresses children’s health conditions associated with the nervous and musculoskeletal systems.  Spinal adjustments for infants and children are not the same as those used on adults. They are tailored to the size of the child and the stage of development of the child’s musculoskeletal system.

Why Do Children Need Chiropractic Treatment?

During the first few years of life we grow and change at an astonishing rate. Traumas, sprains and strains incurred, and/or poor postural habits formed during these years have the potential to affect us later on in life. Within the first 12 months of life approximately 50% of babies will have had at least one fall onto their heads from a high place. As babies learn to walk they will suffer from hundreds of falls onto their bottoms. As children get older they may start participating in sports. It is estimated that 3.5 million children under the age of 14 receive medical treatment for sports injuries every year. The Centre for Disease Control and prevention did a study which showed chiropractic and osteopath manipulation were the most common form of doctor directed complementary or alternative medicine used by children. The percentage of chiropractic patients under the age of 17 has increased at least 8.5% since 1991.

Does Research Support the Safety of Chiropractic Treatment for Kids?

Recent research by the International Chiropractic Pediatric Association (ICPA) found spinal manipulative therapy to be safe and effective in treating children of all ages.

What are the Benefits of Seeing a Chiropractor for Children?

Dr Hewitt , past president of the American Chiropractic Associationʼs (ACA) Pediatrics Council states that the majority of patients report that their children enjoy their chiropractic adjustments and look forward to subsequent visits. They also report that their children experience a greater level of health while under regular chiropractic care. Parents surveyed by the ICPA reported behavioural improvements for kids who saw a chiropractor, as well as improved sleep and stronger immune systems. Scientific evidence in these areas is still inconclusive, however, the large increase in the number of children under chiropractic care appears to be a positive endorsement of its benefits.

What is a Chiropractic Adjustment?

A chiropractic adjustment is the application of a specific force through a restricted joint. The adjustment restores normal joint movement, reduces muscle tension and allows your nervous system to function properly again. The results are a decrease in your pain, increased mobility and flexibility, restored function and a renewed sense of vitality.

Improved health and a better quality of life for your children is just around the corner.

By Dr Kimberley Macanuel, BSc(Hons), DC

Massage Therapy & Parkinson’s Disease

massage for Parkinson's disease by a registered massage therapist or RMT

Parkinson’s Disease and Massage Therapy

Parkinson’s Disease is a central nervous system disorder which affects the body’s motor function. This dysfunction is due to a lack of dopamine which is a brain chemical or neurotransmitter produced in the brain. Dopamine enables motor function (or muscle movement). Parkinson’s will often result in symptoms including rigidity in the muscles and joints, uncontrolled movements, and tremors. Difficulty with slow controlled movements such as holding a glass of water is common, as well as difficulty walking.

Massage in general plays a great role in reducing muscle soreness, and improving range of motion, so in the case of those suffering from Parkinson’s where severe muscle tightness and restriction in movements are an everyday issue, regular massage is very beneficial. Massage also decreases sympathetic nervous system firing, which is essential to reducing high tone in muscles.  Massage therapy has also been shown to be beneficial for constipation in people with Parkinson’s.

If massage therapy can help such extreme muscle rigidity and stiffness, imagine how it can also help those with everyday muscle tension. Our skilled registered massage therapists are usually covered by your insurance and can help relieve symptoms of Parkinson’s disease such as muscle stiffness and constipation.

Sources:

McClurg D, Walker K, Aitchison P, Jamieson K, Dickinson L, Paul L, Hagen S, Cunnington AL. Abdominal Massage for the Relief of Constipation in People with Parkinson’s: A Qualitative Study. Parkinsons Dis. 2016;2016:4842090. doi: 10.1155/2016/4842090. Epub 2016 Dec 8.

Casciaro Y. Massage Therapy Treatment and Outcomes for a Patient with Parkinson’s Disease: a Case Report. Int J Ther Massage Bodywork. 2016 Mar 4;9(1):11-8. eCollection 2016.

McClurg D, Hagen S, Jamieson K, Dickinson L, Paul L, Cunnington A. Abdominal massage for the alleviation of symptoms of constipation in people with Parkinson’s: a randomised controlled pilot study. Age Ageing. 2016 Mar;45(2):299-303. doi: 10.1093/ageing/afw005. Epub 2016 Jan 29.

Keep New Year’s Resolutions

 

woman thinking about fitness resolutions

7 Tips to Keep Your Fitness Resolutions in 2017

New Year’s resolutions date back to ancient Rome and the mythical King Janus, from whose name January derives. Janus became a symbol for resolutions because he had two faces and could look simultaneously back on the past and look forward to the future.  This January, look back on the past to see what you could do better, then look forward to a new and improved future.

Here are some pointers to help you keep your fitness resolutions in 2017:

  1. Set attainable goals and have realistic expectations.  If you’re new to exercise, planning to run a marathon may be a bit too ambitious.
  2. Find the sweet spot of balance between too much exercise and too little.  What that means is that you want to find the balance between where you get the benefits of exercise without overdoing and winding up injured or burning yourself out.
  3. Make a resolution along with a friend or spouse. Research shows that having someone you’re accountable to can almost triple your likelihood of sticking with exercise.
  4. One study showed that motivation to be physically active was higher when sports – instead of just exercise – were involved.  Sports can make exercise less like drudgery and more like fun. Plus there’s an added social benefit to team sports.
  5. Having a goal in mind helps.  For example, register for a 5 km run then train to achieve it or keep working on achieving your next belt in martial arts.
  6. Get the resources you need to achieve your goals, whether it’s a day planner, gym membership, group classes, fitness tracker app or a personal trainer to keep you in line.
  7. Establish a routine that you enjoy and stick to it.  Consistency is key with exercise.  If your work requires you to travel, do some kind of exercise that is portable like walking, running or stay in hotels that have a fitness room.

Massage Therapy Fitness

man having massage therapy for fitness

Massage Therapy for Improving Fitness

By Helen Harris-Bhavnani, RMT

Massage Improves Circulation

One of massage therapy’s many benefits is an increase in the body’s circulation. This occurs simply due to the mechanical massaging of muscles, blood and lymphatic vessels.  The blood gets “pushed” through the muscles and tissues and directed back toward the heart.  The lymphatic vessels help your muscles to repair and help to heal injuries.

It also helps (through this increased circulation) to maintain proper nutrition of your muscles. Your blood and lymphatic circulation helps to deliver nutrients, white blood cells and oxygen to your muscles. After exercising, your muscles need those nutrients and white blood cells in order to repair and grow as well as to maintain their health. Manual therapies are a great way to increase blood flow, which in turn delivers the nutrients and oxygen your body needs to help repair itself.

Massage Helps Post Workout Recovery

Your RMT can also help you to relax and rejuvenate after a work-out. Muscles that are well nourished and relaxed grow better, function better and are less prone to injuries that may threaten to derail your fitness regimen.  A 2016 study found that massage therapy was significantly more effective than no intervention on the post-race recovery from pain and perceived fatigue in long-distance triathlon athletes.  If it helps triathletes recover, it can help you too.

So get out there, get your body moving, and take care of yourself by seeing your RMT afterward.

Massage Research Sources:

Kojidi MM, Okhovatian F, Rahimi A, Baghban AA, Azimi H. Comparison Between the Effects of Passive and Active Soft Tissue Therapies on Latent Trigger Points of Upper Trapezius Muscle in Women: Single-Blind, Randomized Clinical Trial. J Chiropr Med. 2016 Dec;15(4):235-242. Epub 2016 Oct 11.

Emtiazy M, Abrishamkar M. The Effect of Massage Therapy on Children’s Learning Process: A Review. Iran J Med Sci. 2016 May;41(3 Suppl):S64.

Nunes GS, Bender PU, de Menezes FS, Yamashitafuji I, Vargas VZ, Wageck B. Massage therapy decreases pain and perceived fatigue after long-distance Ironman triathlon: a randomised trial. J Physiother. 2016 Apr;62(2):83-7. doi: 10.1016/j.jphys.2016.02.009. Epub 2016 Mar 23.

Do you have these Common Symptoms?

man wondering if symptoms are common or normal

Symptoms: Are You Common or Normal?

By Dr. Pamela Frank, BSc(Hons), Naturopathic Doctor

First some definitions:
Common: Occurring or happening regularly or frequently.
Normal: Healthy, not sick or ill.

Here’s why I’m making this distinction. I often have patients comment that “oh, I have to take Advil the first two days of my period every month, but that’s normal”. Or “I have a bowel movement every day or two, but that’s normal”. I would like to point out that, neither of the above is normal, common yes, but not normal. We commonly make assumptions about something that we’ve been living with for a long time or have always had, or our mothers always had, or our best friend has too, is “normal”. Sometimes we need to examine these assumptions in order to move forward and achieve better health. Here’s a brief list of some things that I find are common symptoms but not at all normal:

Common Symptoms
Constipation i.e. bowel movements less than 1-3 times per day
Headaches with change in weather, stress, PMS
Menstrual cramping
PMS
Hot flashes, night sweats, depression at menopause
Heartburn or the need to take antacids
Exhaustion when you get home from work
Cravings for salt and/or sugar
Up 1-3 times per night to the washroom
Back pain on waking

Normal
Bowel movements 1-3 times per day, every day, typically after eating
No headaches or excess muscle tension
Pain-free periods
Other than the date, no sign that your period is due
At menopause your periods just stop
No heartburn or antacids
Energy to be active in the evening until at least 8 p.m.
No food cravings
No night waking or need to urinate at night
Free and easy movement any time of day

I could go on, but you get the picture. As a society we make assumptions about what is normal based on what everyone has or does, but true health requires ongoing assessment of where we are at and where we would like to be and then making use of all the tools at our disposal to get there.

Supplement Quality: What’s Really in Your Supplements?

smiling woman holding pill of high supplement quality

Supplement Quality: Do You Know What you are Taking?

At Forces of Nature we take the greatest care to source out only the purest, best and highest quality supplements to recommend to our patients.  Did you know that supplement companies are not required to test for aflatoxins (mold residue), heavy metals, pesticides or solvents? Few companies do and even fewer use quality labs or have the expertise to properly do this kind of testing with their in-house labs.

Did you know that as long as they don’t use the words “expiration date” on the label, a company is not required to make sure their product is stable until the “best by” date? Most companies simply make this date up. Almost no one actually does the testing and so many products won’t actually say “expiration date”.

Another problem is that companies are only required to test 1-4 components of a multi-ingredient product – which means that in a product with 15 ingredients, you are really only assured that 1-4 of them are actually there.

Supplement Quality According to Health Canada

In Canada, Health Canada requires natural health products (NHP’s) to have a natural product number (NPN).  The application process is lengthy, but the main information the manufacturer has to provide is:

  1. For each medicinal ingredient of the natural health product:

(i) its proper name and its common name,

(ii) its quantity per dosage unit,

(iii) its potency, if a representation relating to its potency is to be shown on any label of the natural health product,

(iv) a description of its source material, and

(v) a statement indicating whether it is synthetically manufactured;

2.  a qualitative list of the non-medicinal ingredients that are proposed for the natural health product and for each ingredient listed, a statement that indicates the purpose of the ingredient

3.  each brand name under which the natural health product is proposed to be sold;

4.  the recommended conditions of use for the natural health product;

5.  information that supports the safety and efficacy of the natural health product when it is used in accordance with the recommended conditions of use;

6.  the text of each label that is proposed to be used in conjunction with the natural health product;

7.  a copy of the specifications to which the natural health product will comply

None of these requires testing for  aflatoxins (mold residue), heavy metals, pesticides or solvents.

Does your supplement brand test their herbs for heavy metals, pesticides, solvent residues or active ingredients at the expiration date?  Our naturopathic doctors are supplement quality experts and only recommend brands that meet the highest standards for purity, freshness, efficacy, and potency.

Sources:
Shim WB, Kim K, Ofori JA, Chung YC, Chung DH. Occurrence of aflatoxins in herbal medicine distributed in South Korea. J Food Prot. 2012 Nov;75(11):1991-9. doi: 10.4315/0362-028X.JFP-12-190.

Genuis SJ, Schwalfenberg G, Siy AK, Rodushkin I. Toxic element contamination of natural health products and pharmaceutical preparations. PLoS One. 2012;7(11):e49676. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0049676.

Want to read more?  There’s a great graphic on the Thorne Research website here.

It’s Cranberry Time!

cranberry in the shape of a heart

The Health Benefits of Cranberries

It’s the time of year that you can find cranberries easily in the grocery store. They aren’t readily available year round and they freeze well so it’s a good time to pick up a few bags and throw them in the freezer for future use. Here are some of the amazing health benefits of cranberries:

  • Prevention of Urinary Tract Infections

The proanthocyanidins found in cranberry appear to block E. coli bacteria from sticking to the cell walls of your uterus and bladder.  Most of us are aware of this by now.  The most effective way to get the benefits of the proanthocyanidins for this is through cranberry capsules.  Drinking copious amounts of cranberry juice to fend off a bladder infection may be counter productive, even if it is unsweetened, because cranberries although tart in taste do contain sugar.

  • Reduction of Dental Plaque

It is believed that the juice from eating cranberries can inhibit the aggregation of bacteria in your mouth that cause dental plaque.

  • Anti-Cancer Activity

The same proanthocyanidin compounds that help prevent bladder infections, may have some cancer fighting (anti-carcinogenic) activity.

  • Heart Disease

Cranberry extract has been shown to inhibit low density lipoprotein oxidation thereby reducing your risk of heart disease.

  • Kidney stones

Quinic acid, which is abundant in cranberries, may help to prevent the development of kidney stones.

Want to prevent bladder infections, keep gums and teeth healthier, reduce your risk of cancer, heart disease and kidney stones?  Try these recipes:

Mulled Apple Cranberry Cider

Gluten-Free Apple Cranberry Cake

Mango Lime Salsa

Grain Free Granola

Cupping

woman having cupping treatment

Cupping or What are Those Bruises on Olympian Michael Phelps?

By Joy Walraven, TCMP, acupuncturist, craniosacral therapist

If you watched the Olympics you noticed circular marks that looked like bruises on US swimmer, Michael Phelps.  No one beat him with a circular object, those marks are the effect of a Chinese medicine technique known as cupping.

What is cupping and what are the benefits?

It is an ancient technique that improves and restores blood circulation, diminishes swelling, and pulls toxins from body tissues.  It allows for fresh, oxygenated blood to circulate through tight muscles, stubborn knots and irritated fascia.

How is cupping done?

For this technique, a flaming cotton ball is placed into a special glass cup, and the cup is then quickly placed on the skin. This causes the underlying tissue to be raised partway into the cup. In some cases, such as acute injury, the cups are simply left in place for 15 minutes. For other conditions such as colds or allergies they might be placed on an area for just a few moments, and then moved to another site of stagnation. For more chronic pain the practitioner may apply an oil to the skin, and then slide the cups over an affected area.

Does cupping hurt?

It does not have to hurt. The amount of suction can easily be adjusted to the tolerance of the individual. In fact, people report that the tightening sensation in the area of the cups often feels very good on tense, aching muscles.

What conditions would cupping help?

It is used to treat pain in the back, neck and shoulders, legs (quads, IT band, calves) as well as colds, flu, allergies, asthma, and even cellulite.

Why does Michael Phelps have bruises from cupping?

The technique can cause the skin to turn red, blue or purple if there is a blockage of energy or blood stagnation under the cups.  In the case of Michael Phelps, for example, these blockages are due to the strenuous exercise and training he does to prepare for the Olympics.

How long does a cupping treatment take?

A cupping treatment generally takes 30 minutes, including assessment.

How long does it take for the marks to go away?

The skin discoloration may last anywhere from a few days up to two weeks.

How does cupping help?

Think of this treatment as an inverted massage. Instead of pressing down on sore, aching muscles, cupping pulls the skin, fascia, and muscles upward. This movement breaks up stagnation and also draws fresh blood to the area, which allows the tissues to soften and relax. It also helps with lymphatic drainage.

Want cupping just like Michael Phelps and Prime Minister Justin Trudeau?

Book an appointment with Joy Walraven  or CJ Paterson or by calling 416-481-0222 or book now online.