Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Swine Flu: How to protect yourself

Surprising to some, swine flu infects people every year and is found typically in people who have been in contact with pigs, although there have been cases of person-to-person transmission. 

There is no research that can predict who is at risk and who is not. What the history of  previous Influenza pandemics has indicated is that patients who had the greatest mortality were those whose immune system over-reacted after the initial Influenza virus infection. 

Signs and Symptoms: 

 - fever*, cough, shortness of breath, sore throat, disorientation, chills and fatigue (*Please note: some people such as the elderly and people who are immune compromised may not develop a fever). 

 - Some people have reported stiffness of the joints, diarrhea and vomiting. 

 - In severe cases it can result in loss of consciousness that can end in death. 


How does swine flu spread?  

 - Spread of swine influenza A (H1N1) happens from person-to-person in the same way that seasonal flu spreads (through coughing or sneezing)

 - Swine flu is contagious 1 day before symptoms develop and up to 7+ days after becoming sick.  

Naturopathic Approaches are valuable in both prevention and treatment 

1) Hygiene  

 - Cover nose and mouth with a tissue when coughing or sneezing 

 - Cough or sneeze into sleeve or jacket of bent arm rather than into closed fist or open hand (be courteous of others around you, especially on public transit!)

 - Wash hands often with soap and water, especially after a cough or sneeze 

 - Avoid close contact with sick people  


2) Lifestyle 

 - Ensure adequate rest 

 - Wash hands with soap frequently during the day 

 - Walk and do stretching exercises to boost the immune system 

 - Dry skin brushing and hot/cold showers (ending your daily showers with a blast of cold water) can be useful to support optimal lymphatic system function

 - Remember that ‘emotional’ stress, fear and worry can depress the immune system. Try yoga, stretching and breathing exercises

 - Allow a mild to moderate fever (you read that right!) A fever of 1-3 degrees above normal 37.5 C has a profound effect on immune modulation and optimizes health

3) Naturopathic Treatment Recommendations 

The Influenza virus must cross mucosal membrane barriers (the nose, the mouth, the eyes...) to cause disease. The integrity and therefore, protective quality of these barriers can be enhanced through the use of the following:  

 - Avoid foods that stress the gastrointestinal system. This would include reducing: sugar, refined foods, food additives, fried foods and trans-fatty acids. 

 - Maximize dietary choices that help build the gastrointestinal tract and enhance the 

integrity of the mucosal membrane. For example: proteins

 - Fruits and veggies provide vitamins and minerals needed for immune system function 

 - Water - Ensure a minimum of 8 glasses of pure water a day 

Other Naturopathic Modalities that are helpful include: Nutraceuticals, Botanicals, Acupuncture and Homeopathy. Your ND can advise the best way to keep your body and immune system healthy and whole. 

It is the body's terrain, not the pathogen itself that causes disease to manifest. 

*information modified from CAND newsletter and its contributors*

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Historic Moment for ND's in Canada!

New B.C. Regulations Mark Historic Moment for Naturopathic Profession in Canada

Under regulations approved April 9th, 2009 by Health Minister George Abbott, Naturopathic Physicians in British Columbia become the first in Canada to be granted prescribing authority.

As CAND Chair, Dr. Jason Boxtart, ND stated upon hearing the news, "The face of Medicine in Canada has now changed."

Links to the Minister's announcement and the BCNA press release appear below:

This is such an exciting time for Naturopathic Doctors in Canada. 
Here's to hoping Ontario will follow suit!

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Warming Socks to help ease your head colds...

The 'Warming Sock' treatment is a bit of a misnomer. 
Indeed the aim is to warm the body - but it is through the use of cold rather than warmth.
Sound strange...? Read on! 

Hydrotherapy is an ancient form of therapy where water is used to treat a multitude of ailments.
Gentle AND effective. 
There are a variety of different forms that hydrotherapy can take - saunas, peat baths, formentations, poultices, compresses, sitz baths...

Water in its many forms aids in circulation through the body - pulling the congestion and inflammation from, say, the sinuses and head (as in a typical cold) down to the feet (ok - not literally!)
The congestion doesn't literally pool down at your feet - but rather the increase in circulation helps move that inflammation from collecting up in your head, which is what creates that 'stuffy' sensation.

Don't believe it? You don't have to - try it, you'll see! 

Here's what you need: 
2 pairs of socks - 1 wool, 1 cotton
Thoroughly soak the cotton pair in cold *as cold as you can* water. 
Ring out the excess water *you don't want them dripping* and put them on your feet
Put the dry wool socks over top.
Go directly to bed and stay warm. 
If you sweat through your pj's (and you might) make sure you have a dry pair to change into in the night, but leave the dry/wet socks on.
In the morning, you will have warmed the cotton socks and have dried them through while in addition, your congestion will be eased! 

Want to read more? 
Check out:


Chionanthus virginicus

Fringetree (bark) is a perhaps lesser known to some, however it is quite prevalent in North America. 
It is actually a tree and is also goes by the name of 'Old Man's Beard'.  I suppose it kind of looks like one! 
It is actually quite a small tree, while in the Summer it has green leaves, in the Spring it blooms with fragrant white flowers which appear in long panicles that look like cotton.

It is the bark of the tree that has therapeutic properties, specifically valuable for liver problems, especially when there is jaundice.
It is specific for the treatment of gallbladder inflammation and gallstones as it stimulates the bile.

It is quite safe for use as there haven't been any side effects or drug interactions reported. (Hoffman)
It would be best taken as a tincture or the bark boiled into a tea and infused for 10 - 15 minutes.

Friday, April 3, 2009

HPV and its rising prevalence

The importance of regular PAPs cannot be under-rated. 
(As unpleasant as they can be!)
It is an important screening tool in the early detection of 'cervical dysplasia'. 
Dysplasia from the Greek simply means: 'bad formation' - it is a process that occurs when cells come together improperly.
These improper cells, if caught early, can be treated and eliminated. 
This is why early detection is so very important. 
It is when the dysplastic cells go untreated, or you have a very virulent strain, that they can accumulate and lead to Cancer.

I can't comment on why it is that there is such a rising prevalence of this virus, as I am not an epidemiologist. However, it is indisputable that it is indeed the case. 
The Human Papilloma Virus is controllable, but not possible to eliminate completely. That is why prevention is key. Practice safe sex and stop smoking. The carcinogens in cigarette smoke are toxic to the reproductive system.

Here are some naturopathic tools available to help in both prevention and treatment:

1) Improve nutrition - eat salads and colourful vegetables daily, eat foods high in folic acid (such a lentils and kidney beans), eat cooked tomatoes for their lycopene content, drink organic green tea.
2) Nutraceuticals to consider - folic acid, vitamin C, vitamin B6 and B12, Selenium, Fish oils...
3) Appropriately detox - the liver is the body's garbage disposal. Start there! Homeopathic drainage remedies such as the UNDA's or Reckeweg remedies can be quite useful.
4) Connect body and mind - Expression and communication with self and partner can be healing both inside and out.

In memory of my dear friend, Annie Poczyniak