Sunday, April 2, 2017

Spring Detox: Your Skin

As the largest organ in the body, your skin is in constant contact with the outside world, processing temperature, texture and other sensations. Your skin is porous and absorbs whatever you put on it or bathe in: creams, gels, lotions, oils, bubble baths etc. 

While skin plays a significant role in receiving sensory impressions and absorbing materials, did you know that your skin is the largest organ of elimination?

When we talk detox, most people think of the colon, liver and kidneys as the organs that eliminate toxins from the body. While these organs play a critical role in detoxifying, other routes often go unnoticed such as the lungs, menstruation and most notably your skin which helps eliminate up to a third of all body impurities.

If there is a build up of toxins in your body or if one of the other channels or organs of elimination is blocked, skin is the overflow route, especially for the kidneys, liver and lung. Impurities in the blood, digestive buildup from food sensitivities and poor digestion often are mirrored in the quality of your skin. For example, someone who experiences constipation may find that they develop pimples more often. A naturopathic doctor can assess your skin to understand where there may be blockages in your body and treat it accordingly.

Skin Detox Tips
The skin is a reflection of what is happening inside your body. It is working constantly to remove the build-up of both topical and internal toxins. Sweat glands excrete waste products from below the skin and when these pores become clogged with dead cells and debris, your skin cannot eliminate waste efficiently, leading to toxicity and disease. Below are some tips to support efficient skin detoxification.

Ways to Ensure Skin Detoxification is Working

1. Avoid Synthetic clothing:

Your skin breathes whether you are aware of it or not. Artificial fibres such as polyester, nylon and plastic derivatives don’t allow your skin to breathe. They can trap moisture and heat, and provide a breeding ground for rashes, acne and skin issues. Choose loose clothing made of natural, breathable fibres such as cotton, silk, hemp or linen.

2. Avoid Excessive Lotions & Moisturizers:
As much as it is important to hydrate and moisturize the skin, it is also important not to clog pores with chemical products that reduce your skin’s ability to breathe. There is a wide variety of natural skin products available these days suited to different skin types. Speak to your naturopathic doctor on a suitable regime suited to your skin type to allow your skin to detoxify naturally.

3. Avoid Deodorants & Anti-perspirants:
Anti-perspirants are purposefully made to block the sweat glands to reduce body odour. Regular use of these products block your skin’s ability to eliminate toxins and can lead to more serious health concerns over time. There are certain natural deodorants and products that are made to support detoxification in the underarms as well as the feet with herbs to help draw out toxins. Unpleasant body odour is an indication of toxicity in the body so it is best to work with your ND on ways to identify levels of toxicity through assessment and testing, and tailor a comprehensive detox plan for you. Drop by the clinic to learn more.

Ways to Support Skin Detox
1. Include Saunas & Alkaline baths: 
Saunas (especially infra-red) provide deep heat that promotes sweating which removes metabolic waste and other chemicals stored in the body. This is a safe and effective method of enhancing skin detoxification with added benefits of toning your skin and providing relaxation. Sauna and steam detox exists in many traditions around the world, and is also a part of Ayurvedic therapy known as swedana which is used to help the skin eliminate toxins and promote absorption of medicinal oils. Exercise can also support elimination through sweating and provide other health benefits, but saunas reach the tissues at a deeper level. Saunas are an excellent way of detoxing for people taking medications which may interact with detoxifying herbs.

Warm baths with alkaline salts have the benefit of promoting relaxation while detoxifying. Alkaline salt baths stimulate the skin to eliminate acid and toxins in the body, and provide an alkaline environment that wards off diseases such as cancer. Taking regular baths several times a week for 30+ min can soothe pain, relax muscles and detoxify the entire body. If you have not tried alkaline bath salts, come into our clinic for a free sample!

2. Include Dry Skin brushing: 
This is a technique which exfoliates the skin, stimulates elimination of impurities, promotes gentle massage and lymphatic drainage. You can do this simple practice at home on a daily basis. Read instructions on how to do dry skin brushing here or ask your naturopathic doctor to show you how in your next visit.

3. Engage in Regular Massage
Massage can help move you from a state of stress to a state of relaxation where your body has more resources to eliminate efficiently. Certain massage techniques geared towards detoxing may involve gentle lymphatic massage. Ayurvedic abhyanga massage promotes detoxification and is an essential aspect of panchakarma therapy which is a traditional 5-fold detox program. Gharshana is a more elaborate form of dry skin brushing where an Ayurvedic practitioner uses skin cleansing herbs to exfoliate the skin and support detoxification with the added benefit of weight loss. These techniques are customized to your dosha type and health condition.

4. Work from the Inside Out 
Ensuring that you have healthy looking skin always involves working from the inside-out. You require adequate hydration, a healthy diet, and you need to support any organ system that is struggling. To read more about balanced nutrition and other detox suggestions, read more on the "Do's & Don'ts of Detoxification". Keep in mind that detox goes beyond physical elimination of impurities - emotions such as fear, worry, resentment, guilt and negative emotions are toxic and need to be let go of to prevent disease. Spring is a great time for shedding old patterns and making space for fresh start.  Your naturopathic doctor will help guide you on customized treatment recommendations to help you detox from the inside out.  

There is a lot of hype about detox these days. While detoxing may be more critical than ever nowadays, it is also important to know what kind of detox is suitable for you, and which organs to support while detoxifying. In addition to self-care techniques you can do at home to detoxify, your naturopathic doctor can further support your detox regime with herbs and supplements depending on how gentle or intensive cleansing you need. 

Supporting your skin’s natural ability to detoxify can not only lead to bright and glowing skin, but will lead to you feeling better this spring from the inside out.

Dr. Leena Athparia is a naturopathic doctor at Naturopathic Foundations with a focus in chronic pain management and chronic disease. She is further trained in Ayurvedic detox treatments (panchakarma). If you interested in a detox this spring please call the clinic at 905-940-2727 to book an appointment with Dr. Athparia. 

Friday, March 31, 2017

The Do's and Don'ts of Detoxification

By Dr. Iva Lloyd, ND

Many associate Spring and Fall with a time to detox and cleanse. Although detoxification can be a wonderful healing tool, it is not for everyone and can actually be harmful if done inappropriately or by the wrong person.

The body often struggles in eliminating environmental toxins, especially when the exposure is high or prolonged. Detoxification can be an effective way of decreasing the body's burden of environmental toxins such as heavy metals and chemicals.

The theory behind detoxification is that the body consumes (through food, air, soil, water, personal care products, household and garden products, the environment and the senses) substances, particles and energies that it can't always process and eliminate. These toxic waste products, when not eliminated, build up in the body and can contribute to symptoms and disease. The body has six main routes of elimination of toxins: bowel movements, urine, breath, sweat, menses or ejaculate and voice.

The aim of detoxification is two fold:
  1. Reduce or eliminate a person's exposure or consumption of food, substances or energies that do not contribute to health.
  2. Assist the body in the removal of toxins through one of the routes of elimination.

The following are some detoxification guidelines:
  • First rule of thumb, only those in a state of excess are candidates for detoxification. If you are deficient (chronic illness, recovering from chemotherapy or radiation, young, weak or frail) then detoxification is typically not advised for you. You probably need to build your system up, not detoxify.
  • During any detox (ideally all the time) ensure that you drink adequate water, get sufficient sleep and engage in regular exercise and breathing or meditation to assist in moving toxins out of the body.
  • Spending time outside supports detoxification and healing. It is advised to reduce your exposure to cell phones, television, computers and generally to external "noise" and EMF radiation as part of your detox program.
  • The body part that is most important to detox is the one that is struggling or showing signs of toxicity. For example, if your are constipated it is important to support your bowels; if you have shortness of breath, asthma or environmental allergies you want to support your lung function; if your skin is breaking out or has a number of moles or discolouration you want to focus on detoxifying the skin.
  • If you are dealing with any concerning symptoms or a specific disease or condition it is always recommended to work with a naturopathic doctor or other trained health care professional before engaging in a detoxification program -- especially if doing so using herbs or other supplements.
The different types of detoxification include:
  • Dietary. The most gentle "detox" that is safe for most people involves adopting a clean diet:

    • removing any junk or processed food
    • eliminating food intolerances and sugar
    • reducing alcohol and caffeine 
    • increasing fruits and vegetables
    • choosing healthy sources of protein (legumes, nuts and seeds, lean protein)
    • ensuring adequate water intake.
  • Saunas or Alkaline Baths. Sweating out toxins is an effective and safe way to assist in the
    removal of environmental toxins and chemicals. It also provides relief for the kidneys and can improve the overall tone, texture and health of the skin.  Infra-red saunas are preferred over conventional saunas. If you haven't tried the alkaline bath salts, come into our clinic for a free sample of the salts (during the month of May).
  • Homeopathic Detox. There are a number of homeopathic options designed to stimulate detoxification at a cellular level in a gentle and effective way. Ask your naturopathic doctor for recommendations specific to you.
  • Herbal Detox. Herbs can either provide a gentle detox or can initiate a more intense detoxification process, depending on the herbs chosen, the daily dose and the organ systems involved. It is always best to initiate the detoxification of one or maybe two complementary systems simultaneously. Off-the-counter herbal products that work on detoxifying multiple organ systems at once are seldom advised and can cause more harm than good.  Herbs are truly remarkable in their healing and detoxification ability, yet it is advised to work with a naturopathic doctor versus self-prescribing.
There are many different ways to detox. As a general rule of thumb, the more gentle the detox the more it can be done for an extended period of time; the more intense the detox the shorter the time frame.

The idea goal is to establish a lifestyle where what you ingest on a daily basis you can process and eliminate. To figure what type of detoxification is advised for you, talk to one of the naturopathic doctors in our clinic.

Saturday, February 25, 2017

Pediatrics Pillars of Health: SLEEP

by Dr. Nadine Cyr, ND

There are three pillars to health: movement, nutrition and sleep. Good quality sleep is the most important pillar of health for adults and for growing children. Sleep is a biological necessity. Sleep is needed to recover from the physical and mental fatigue accumulated during the day. Without proper sleep, the body is simply unable to maintain homeostasis, regenerate, and rejuvenate. In fact, sleep may be one of the most important factors in the achievement of peak academic performance, optimum functioning, quality of life, health and ultimate personal success.

Research Says "Children Are Sleep Deprived"

  • "As many as 40% of [Canadian] children aren't getting enough sleep, which is not only impairing their ability to function properly, it's hurting their ability to learn.” Dr. Reut Gruber of Montreal's Douglas Mental Health University Institute
  • According to a 2011 report from the World Association of Sleep: Sleep problems (including insomnia, obstructive sleep apnea, restless leg syndrome and sleep deprivation) affect up to 45% of the world’s population. Adults and children are struggling to cope with "an epidemic" of sleep disorders.
  • Dr. David F. Finges from Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania has found that a few nights of sleep deprivation leads to reduced brain activity in regions of the brain that control critical thinking and behavioral function including:
    • Perceptual-motor coordination, consciousness, emotion, physical homeostasis, motor control, self-awareness, cognitive function, personality, planning complex behaviour, decision making, social behaviour, and working memory.

Are Your Children Getting the Sleep They Need?

According to the Canadian Pediatric Society, it is estimated that children need the following amount of sleep:

  • Babies & Toddlers need 12 to 16 hrs. The ideal bedtime 7-7:30 pm.
  • School-Aged children need 10 to 12 hrs. The ideal bedtime 7:30-8 pm.
  • Teenagers need 8.5 to 9.5 hrs. Later bedtime, around 9 or 10 pm is okay due to later melatonin release.

What Happens to Children When They Don't Sleep?

The following are signs that your children are not getting enough sleep.

       Hyperactivity, short attention span
       Increased desire for sugar
       Irritability, anxiety, pessimism, paranoia
       Impaired moral judgement
       Difficulty finishing tasks
       Falling asleep in boring situations ie. short car trips, during class
       Impaired short-term memory
       Weakened immunity
       Impaired growth

What's Happening During Sleep?

Research has demonstrated that during sleep, the brain makes more distant neural associations that don’t occur in wakefulness. These neural associations lead to enhanced aspects of creativity, problem solving, decision making, learning, memory consolidation, and insight.

In addition to allowing the brain to process, integrate, and understand new information learned in the daytime, sleep is when our cells grow and are renewed, immune function is enhanced and detoxification takes place. Sleep is important for many biological functions.

Enuring Adequate Restful Sleep

A good night sleep is highly dependent on the quality of our day. The better and healthier the day, the better and healthier the sleep. “Daytime sleep essentials” include: 

  • starting the day with a protein-rich breakfast
  • eating mostly clean, whole foods
  • ensuring that children drink adequate water throughout the day
  • ensuring movement or exercise throughout the day.
A good night sleep is also highly dependent on our bedtime routines - known as sleep hygiene or night-time sleep routine. What children do or don’t do in the evening has a serious impact on their sleep. Ideally, bedtime is at the same time every night. If some nights have to be later due to activities, it is important to make up for it the next night.

Night-time sleep essentials include:

  • At least 1 hour before bed, all screens/blue light electronics are shut down and there’s a “down time” period with a book, bath or music. 
  • Bedrooms are best kept completely dark (no night lights on all night please)
  • Bedrooms should also be as clutter-free as possible and not too warm (18 degrees Celsius is ideal).

Naturopathic Support

For some children, daytime and night time sleep essentials aren’t enough to promote optimal sleep. In such cases, the underlying causes of poor sleep may be related to nutritional deficiencies or imbalances, nervous system conditions such as anxiety or ADD/ADHD or environmental factors such as EMF interference.

There are a number of naturopathic treatments options that can improve not only the quality of sleep, but the duration of sleep.  As parents, we all want our children to be healthy and happy so they may lead a successful and fulfilling life. Helping them build a strong and solid first Pillar of Health – Sleep, is one of the greatest gift we can give them.

Dr. Nadine Cyr is a Naturopathic Doctor at Naturopathic Foundations with a focus on pediatrics. She has been a Naturopathic Doctor for over seventeen years and is passionate about finding and treating the underlying causes of dis-ease. To book an appointment with Dr. Nadine Cyr, please call the clinic at 905-940-2727.

Naturopathic Doctors

Medically Trained.  Naturally Focused.

Friday, February 24, 2017

5 Tips to Relieve Arthritis Pain

By Dr. Leena Athparia, ND

Chronic pain doesn’t just hurt – it can be debilitating, frustrating, and can impact daily activities such as walking, cooking, dressing, bathing etc. It can further lead to other concerns such as insomnia, fatigue, depression and anxiety.

Even though you may have had arthritis for years, you don't have to live with the pain. Arthritis pain, even in seniors, generally responds very well to simple changes in diet and gentle exercise. There are also a number of naturopathic treatments that can reduce the pain, without causing side-effects.

If you are dealing with arthritis, I encourage you to try the steps below to reduce your pain and to regain better movement of your joints.

Tips for reducing pain associated with arthritis:

As a foundation, anyone with arthritis should be taking natural anti-inflammatories and supplements for joint support. Most anti-inflammatories work in the same way as prescription medication and are natural without causing major side effects. For example, Boswelia is a herb that is very effective in reducing pain, and fish oil is widely accepted for it's ability to reduce inflammation in the joints. It is important to speak with your naturopathic doctor to choose the right supplements for you to ensure the dosage and quality is effective for your condition, and to ensure that there are no interactions with other medications you may be on. In addition to supplementation, below are tips you can do on your own to relieve arthritis.

1. Diet 

Customized supplements and herbs will speed up healing and give your body the building blocks to rebuild joint tissue and reduce inflammation. However, even if you are taking the best supplements, if you are not eating a supportive diet, your arthritis may not improve as well as it could.

  • Avoid: foods that cause inflammation; sugar, artificial sweeteners, deep fried foods, refined flour, additives, red meat and alcohol. Different foods can cause different reactions in each person. To personalize your diet and identify the foods that you are sensitive to, your naturopathic doctor can run a simple food intolerance test. If you are struggling with cravings or making changes to your diet, your naturopathic doctor can guide you on how to include anti-inflammatory foods into your diet while enjoying your meals.
  • Include: a diet that is suited to your constitution and condition. Bone broth soups can easily be made at home and provide minerals and nutrients to nourish your joints. Anti-inflammatory foods can be included into your meals such as ginger, turmeric and leafy greens.

2. Gentle Movement

It may be difficult to move if there is significant pain, but gentle exercises can help you decrease pain, increase range of motion and flexibility, strengthen muscles, improve circulation and help you feel uplifted. It is important to discuss with your naturopathic doctor to choose the right kind of exercise for you.
  • Avoid: pushing yourself to exercise or doing repetitive movements which can strain the joints. Listen to your body and don't push beyond what is comfortable.  
  • Include: gentle exercises that improve flexibility and blood flow to the muscle and joints. Restorative yoga, tai chi, walking and water exercises are examples of low-impact exercise that you can include into your day. For example, simple hand stretches (opening and closing your fists) can be done a few times a day to increase joint mobility. Knee curls don't require any special equipment and can improve flexibility in the knee joint. To do this, you support your hands on the back of a chair while standing and bend one leg at a time. Depending on the severity of your arthritis, doing even 10 minutes of gentle exercise twice a day can result in significant improvement in joint health.   

3. Hot & Cold Therapies 

Ayurveda & Traditional Chinese Medicine are systems of medicine which evaluate the presence of hot (yang) or cold (yin), in the body. The eastern systems of medicine examine the causes and manifestations of joint issues and treat accordingly with the opposite quality. If your joints are warm and inflamed, cold treatments are recommended. If your joints are painful and stiff due to cold weather, warm treatments are recommended.
  • Avoid: cold weather or cold treatments on arthritis that is worse with cold. Avoid excessive heat on arthritis that is worse with warm weather or is inflamed. Speak to your naturopathic doctor who can guide you on what kind of arthritis you have and what is the best way to manage it.
  • Include: warm baths for arthritis that is worse with cold weather. If you have difficulty getting into the tub, you can try foot or hand baths, or apply heat packs to affected areas. For arthritis where the joints are inflamed, you may find relief with cool washcloths or topical ointments with cooling ingredients such as menthol. Topical hot or cold packs are simple and effective ways of relieving pain at home.

4. Massage with Oils or Topical Ointments 

Applying oil to your joints topically can be very effective in lubricating the joints and soothing pain. For example, castor oil can reduce the inflammation in arthritic joints and relieve pain. Warm castor oil can be massaged gently into the affected joints before bed, and wrapped with a cloth and a heating pad for the castor oil to penetrate deeper. Another example is Mahanarayan oil which is a popular Ayurvedic oil that is effective in reducing pain. 
  • Avoid: straining yourself by trying to do self-massage. Avoid positions that could put you at risk of falling. If you have difficulty doing self-massage, ask someone to help you or book a massage with a professional for pain relief (such as abhyanga massage). 
  • Include: oil suited to your constitution and type of arthritis. Ensure that the oil is not rancid and is a good quality oil (organic is best). The following essential oils can also be added to a base oil (such as castor, olive, sesame oil) for pain relief: boswelia, camphor, ginger, peppermint, myrrh. The frequency of application and the type of oil are best recommended according to your constitution and health condition. Topical treatments don't only include oils, but include other varieties of creams, gels and ointments. Speak to your naturopathic doctor for more personalized guidance. 

5. Positive Attitude 

The mind-body connection cannot be overrated. Mood can play a significant role in managing chronic disease, and it’s common for individuals with arthritis to feel frustrated and discouraged by the pain and inability to do daily activities. Depression and anxiety can further increase the experience of pain and decrease your ability to cope. Rather than fighting arthritis, try focussing your attention to nurturing yourself. Self-love and self-care promotes healing in the body, mind and spirit. Knowing that you can get better with self-care treatments and professional guidance can give you strength and hope.
  • Avoid: negative thoughts (“I wish I…I should have…I’m useless) and avoid focussing on what you can’t do. If you find yourself having difficulty coping with chronic pain, speak to your naturopathic doctor. There are many options to help alleviate depression, fatigue, anxiety often associated with chronic disease.
  • Include: meditation and gratitude on a daily basis. Plan activities or events to look forward to: lunch with a friend, a short vacation, outings with family, book clubs, hobby groups etc. Focus on your strengths and what you can do. Individuals who have a positive attitude towards life and look forward to the day are better equipped to cope with illness. 

Managing chronic pain on your own may not be enough. If you are struggling with arthritis, you are not alone. Talk to your naturopathic doctor who can identify the root cause of your pain and customize treatments to bring relief - even if you are already on medications.

There are numerous treatments such as acupuncture, cupping, massages, diet and supplements that are very effective in reducing pain and managing chronic arthritis, but they need to be customized based on your condition, constitution and other factors. Taking the time to do activities that you enjoy, pampering yourself with treatments, taking suitable supplements and eating a diet which replenishes your body are all ways of improving your condition.  You don’t have to live with chronic pain. There is hope. Take steps forward to pain-free living today!

Dr. Leena Athparia is a naturopathic doctor at Naturopathic Foundations with a focus in chronic pain management related to aging, metabolic issues and chronic disease. She is skilled in pain relief with naturopathic & Ayurvedic treatments. If you are experiencing joint pain, please call the clinic at 905-940-2727 to book an appointment with Dr. Athparia. 

Naturopathic Doctors
Medically Trained.  Naturally Focused.