Sunday, May 23, 2010

TCM - the quick and dirty

Chinese Medicine is a holistic system of medicine that has been around for over 5000 years.
It is an energetic form of Medicine that recognizes that health is based on the the balance of specific organs within a person and specific substances throughout the body; such as: Chi and Blood, Hot and Cold, Yin and Yang.

Acupuncture is a part of Chinese Medicine, and is specifically used for the treatment of disease. It is where fine needles are inserted into points along energetic channels that run through the body called meridians. It was hypothesized that energy circulated through these meridians, and if that energy wasn't able to circulate properly, disease would result.

Naturopathic Doctors are trained in Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) and Acupuncture and will look at your tongue and take your pulses to determine what Chinese Medical diagnosis you may have.
For example - perhaps you have Liver Fire, or Kidney Yin Deficiency.
This is assessed via your presenting symptoms, and the above mentioned diagnostic tools.

The tongue diagnosis, is based on the premise that the tongue is mapped out where particular areas on the tongue correspond to specific organs in the body.
For example: the back of the tongue corresponds to the Urinary Bladder and Kidneys, the tip of the tongue represents the Heart, etc.
It is then that those areas are looked at with respect to: colour, tongue coat or the absence of coat, the colour or texture of the coat, and whether the tongue is cracked or smooth. All of these aspects point to a particular TCM Diagnosis.
There are 6 pulses, 3 on each wrist and each have 3 different levels: superficial, middle and deep. Each pulse also corresponds to a particular organ in the body and thus this is used as a diagnostic tool as well.

Here's a great article I came across about the use of TCM and the ear.
Check out:

In good health,

Dr. Stacey Welton, ND

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Stress and the Mind-Body Connection

"The only difference between a diamond and a lump of coal is that the diamond had a little more pressure put on it." anonymous

Stress is defined as a nonspecific response of the body to any demand. This can be positive (like the birth of a baby) or negative (like the death of a loved one).
Stress isn't limited to what goes on externally, but what occurs internally in our bodies as well. Stress is an actual biological process that begins in the brain and that spreads through the nervous system causing hormone release and eventually exerting an effect on the immune system.
Stress can actually make us sick!

Researchers have found that, just as various factors lead to stress, various factors enable people to cope better with it. Basic factors that reduce the ability to cope include: genetic susceptibility to depression, insomnia, poor diet, obesity, unrealistic goal setting, smoking, finances....
So how can we protect our bodies from the negative impacts of stress? We certainly can't change our genes!
The first thing we can do is to face the stress head-on. Recognize it, and get ready to deal with it.
Here are a few other ideas from cardiologist Robert S. Eliot and others on how you can protect yourself from stress:
1) Be kind to yourself. Do something nice for yourself everyday. Take the time to soak in a warm bath, take a walk, call an old friend.
2) Learn to laugh at yourself, humour is medicine!
3) Once at work try the following strategies: pair up with people you like. Instead of having the phone control you, control it. Block out times during the day to return calls. Delegate as much work as you can. Do what you can to reduce environmental stress at work (temperature, noise, etc.) And, at least once a day, concentrate on doing at least one task - no matter how small - that brings you satisfaction.
Lastly, take time to treat yourself kindly. See your ND, Osteopath, RMT, DC for regular treatments. Treat your body well and it will be more adaptable to stress when you encounter it.

In good health,

Dr. Stacey Welton, ND

The not so sexy truth about "The Pill"

Stress, depression, sleep disturbances, skin problems, drop in sex drive, hormone imbalances, spotting or changes in periods...
That doesn't sound very sexy!
"The Pill", albeit convenient, can have a host of negative impacts on the body. It can lower blood levels of B vitamins and can cause other metabolic changes - for example: it interferes with carbohydrate metabolism which can increase the risk for type 2 diabetes.
It blocks the natural hormone/fertility cycle, may increase the risk of some cancers (granted, it decreases the risk of others) and increases the risk of heart disease. It also increases the risk of pulmonary embolism in smokers.

Jeez! How's a girl supposed to be safe??
In general, the pill's benefits outweigh its risks for a lot of women as it is an effective birth control method. It is only years down the line when deciding they are ready to become pregnant that its past use can pose problems. I have seen countless women in practice in this very situation. Physically there is no reason they shouldn't be able to conceive. Some of these women have never even had an irregular PAP! And from what they tell me, no one every told them that this may happen.

I agree that the birth control pill can be an effective and convenient tool, but I highly recommended it be used only on a short-term basis, if at all.
Many women have been on the BCP for at least a decade. Perhaps it was prescribed to them for their 'bad skin' or 'PMS'. But when they discontinue its use, these symptoms return. The key is in finding the root cause of those problems and treating from there.
Good news! Naturopathic Doctors have many tools that can help.

As for its use in contraception - that certainly can't be denied - or taken lightly. There are ways to educate yourself your own natural cycles and thus take control of your fertility. Women have been doing it for thousands of years!

Either way, know that you have a choice - and to make an informed choice - you need to know all of the risks, and benefits!

In good health,

Dr. Stacey Welton, ND


Silybum Marianum (Milk Thistle)

Milk Thistle is having quite its day lately, and rightfully so!
Current scientific research supports its use, showing that its constituents protect liver cells from chemical damage. The liver plays such a vital role in the body as a cleanser and detoxifier of all things... well... toxic!
The herb is indicated for a whole range of liver and gallbladder conditions, including hepatitis and cirrhosis. It helps increase the flow of bile from the liver and gallbladder.
As well, as the name implies, milk thistle promotes milk secretion and is safe for use during breast-feeding to help promote milk secretion. (*be sure to check with your ND, however, as exceptions always apply!)

The research shows that it is the property of Milk Thistle called 'silymarin' that has this protective effect on liver cells.

It is the seeds of the plant that are used therapeutically and it is generally taken either in tincture or capsule format.