Friday, August 28, 2015

Inflammatory Bowel Disease Part 1 :My Story

by Dr. Kimberley Ramberan, ND

Inflammatory bowel disease is an umbrella diagnosis that refers to chronic inflammatory conditions that affect the lining of the intestine, with Crohn's disease (CD) and Ulcerative colitis (UC) being the two main branches.   This disease process disrupts the body's ability to digest food, absorb nutrients and eliminate waste.  

IBD is prevalent now more than ever, especially in Canada.  One in every 150 Canadians is living with CD or UC - a rate that ranks highest world-wide.  Most alarming to me is the number of new cases of CD in Canadian children has almost doubled since 1995.

This disease can be very disruptive, isolating, exhausting and debilitating.  With symptoms like bloody diarrhea, abdominal pain, bowel urgency, nausea, vomiting, weight fluctuations, anemia and the worst fatigue you can imagine, it can very well feel like life won't ever be the same.  

The conventional medical system looks at IBD as being idiopathic, which means that there is no reason for onset other than possibly genetics. Hearing that there is "simply no reason" can make people feel helpless as to what can be done to put them into remission and keep them there.   Naturopathic Medicine does not subscribe to this thought process. As a ND I believe that IBD has a root cause that needs to be addressed and that there can be multiple blockages that are internal and external, which can prevent someone from healing.   Over the next 12 months I have decided to write about the main factors that are contributing  to the increase in incidence of IBD, as well as what can be done from a naturopathic perspective to promote healing and hope.  

I am using my first post in this 12 part series to explain how the word hope started me on my journey to becoming a Naturopathic Doctor who has a passion and special interest in IBD.

I was 18 years old when I started my first year of my undergraduate degree in biology.  I had moved to Alberta from Toronto and, like many young adults, this was my first time away from home.  I was excited and motivated to do my best in school so that I could pursue a career in the medical field.  

Slowly through my first year I noticed I wasn't feeling the same.  My energy was lower, I lost my appetite, would have constant stomach pain, and "The Freshman 15" weight gain everyone talks about, was more like " The Freshman minus 15" for me.  I started noticing changes in my stools, especially mucus, but had no idea what that meant and  I sure wasn't going to start talking about it with my friends because I thought it would just go away.  

I remember the night that I couldn't ignore it anymore.  I had ended up passing out after a very painful bloody bowel movement.  It was the first time the pain was that intense and the first time I noticed blood.  I was taken to the hospital in Calgary where they did a colonoscopy.  The reports came back clear and that everything was normal.  Needless to say, everything was not normal.  Later, when I returned to Toronto for the summer, I was put on a course of antibiotics that made all my symptoms worse and this was the beginning of my first "Flare". 

I was diagnosed with Moderate UC and told that I would have this disease for the rest of my life.  The options put to me by my 1st Gastro-Intestinal specialist were "medication, then if that doesn't work more medication, then if that doesn't work, more serious medication, and if that doesn't work we would have to cut your colon out, maybe just a piece, or the whole thing, which in that case you would have to have a bag attached to your abdomen for the rest of your life." I remember feeling devastated, like I would never have the life I wanted.  I was 19 years old at this point and never had been seriously sick before. So now to be told I would have this for the rest of my life felt hopeless.  

I decided to do what I was told and take the medications that were prescribed for the next 3 months. My main symptoms got better for a month but didn't hold.  I packed my bags and decided to go back to school for as long as I could.  When I returned to school, I was lucky enough to have the Women's Dean looking out for me.  She told me that she had a friend in the community that was a Naturopathic Doctor and he would be willing to see me.  Within our first meeting he changed my diet, talked to me about my emotional state, which I had never explored before and prescribed a solid supplement regime.  Over the next couple of weeks I literally saw and felt my body change.  By the time I was home for Christmas that year my symptoms had cleared and I was better than my old self.

My UC story definitely does not end there as I had many more lessons to learn about how true health is obtained and maintained on the physical and the emotional level.   This was, however, the beginning of my journey to becoming a Naturopathic Doctor.  When my patients ask me why I became a ND, my answer is always "Hope."  I decided when I went into remission that if I could give one person the hope that life could be more than a disease and that we have the ability to change and heal, then that's what I wanted my life's work to be about.  

If you are interested in learning more about the Naturopathic approach to IBD please contact me at 905-940-2727 to book an appointment or schedule a 15 minute meet and greet that can be done in person or over the phone.  

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Power of the Mind - Top Five Things to Remember

by Dr. Iva Lloyd, ND

The mind is a powerful thing.  It can stimulate healing or block it. It can manifest physical symptoms due to mental thoughts or it can make those symptoms seem much less or even make them disappear. The physical body mirrors what a person is thinking.  The mind and body are one.  In many ways the mind can actually control the body.

Learning to control your mind - your thoughts, anxieties, worries, judgements, etc - can be one of the best ways of improving overall health. Achieving a healthy mind starts with ensuring that your subconscious thoughts equal your conscious thoughts and they match your spoken words.  Many people focus on saying the right thing, on being positive.  It is not so much what you say that determines health, it is what you think and what you believe and whether all aspects of the mind are consistent.

The other common mistake that people make is to draw a connection between being healthy and being happy. Achieving mental and physical health starts with being honest, not about being positive or happy.  If you feel sadness, anger, frustration or disappointment, it is important to find a way to express those emotions safely. It doesn't mean that you have to stay in that emotional state for a long time, but you need to find time when you can truly express how you feel.  Many physical symptoms arise because emotions are suppressed or held-in, not because they are present.

Learning to embrace the power of the mind and to support the mind's ability to support healing starts with the following five steps:

#1: Dissipate Before You Distract

Thoughts and emotions that are held in have the greatest impact on health. I have found that learning to dissipate or release negative or unwanted thoughts and emotions is the most important step to achieving a healthy mind.

When I ask people what they do with their frustration, anger and negativity, many people answer that they read, meditate, do yoga, play on the computer or watch television. All of those activities are forms of distraction. They may serve the purpose in making you feel better in the moment, but they don't assist a person in releasing unwanted thoughts and emotions.

Some people dissipate their thoughts and emotions through exercise, others journal and shred, others yell and scream or just need to talk to someone.  There is no one ideal way.  It is about what works for you.  Here are some ways to dissipate thoughts and emotions:

  • Writing and shredding. You want to "yell" on paper.  Your aim is free-form writing where you say whatever you feel as quickly as possible. The idea is to write uninterrupted for as long as it takes to get things out.  If you are upset or angry and you are not sure why, it is often beneficial to write for at least 2 hours without stopping.  When you are done you shred (or burn safely) what you wrote.  Do not hang on to these writings.  This is not journaling.  Your don't send it to anyone.  It is not for others to read.  This is about putting your true, unedited thoughts on paper and then getting rid of them.
  • Short burst of physical activity. Hitting a tennis ball against a wall, kicking leaves or stones, throwing darts on a dart-board, hitting a bunching bag and other short bursts of activity can be beneficial.  The aim, like writing, is to release what you are feeling,  It is not about getting exhausted. Find something that you can do that allows you to release emotions.
  • Cleansing breath.  A deep exhalation helps to relax the nervous system and releases that feeling of holding your breath (which goes along with "holding your tongue" or not speaking your truth). I find cleansing breaths  are a good way of releasing pent up emotions.  They can be done while you're driving (preferably stopped at a stop sign or red light), outside or anywhere where you feel it is okay to make a loud noise.
  • Talking out loud, to yourself.  The mind doesn't really recognize or care if the person you are upset with is in front on you. It can be very therapeutic to speak your truth without any witnesses.  Keep in mind, it is all about you releasing the pent up emotions that you are carrying.  It is not about another person changing. Try it. You will be surprised how effective it is.
  • Talking to someone.  Having someone to talk to who is a good listener and who allows you to get out your feelings is always beneficial. Some people have a family member or a friend that can do that. If you find that you spin in your emotions and that they are driving you versus the other way around, I encourage you to work with someone who can provide you with specific guidance and who can assist you in recapturing the power of the mind.

#2: Stay "off the Fence"

One of the most stressful things for the mind is "being on the fence", being "in limbo" or "not making a decision".  Being "on the fence" makes the the head spin, keeps the mind incessantly active in a very unproductive way.

The mind is very good at guiding a person about a decision in the present and in evaluating the past. Only the gut can really tell you whether or not something is "right" when it comes to the future. Learning to trust your gut can be very valuable. The analogy that I use for life is like driving on a road. When you're on the right path it is like being on a paved road where the ride is smooth.  Being on the wrong path is like riding on the shoulder. It is bumpy, uncomfortable and you often run into barriers. Some people live a life in the fast lane, others choose a leisurely country road.  Either way, you want to enjoy as much of your life as possible in the center lanes, avoiding the shoulder and the barriers.

What is important is to make a decision, any decision.  Anxiety, panic and worry are often due to or worsened by "being on the fence" - that is, being faced with a challenging situation or decision and spending hours, days or even months running through the various possible options and outcomes without actually making a decision and moving forward.

Not only does "being on the fence" keep the mind unsettled, it also consumes a huge amount of energy. Fatigue, sadness, depression and anxiety will often result if you spend too much time on the fence.

It is difficult for the universe to give you any feedback when you're "on the fence".  But, when you make a decision, you will quickly know if it is the right one for you or the wrong one.  When you make the right decision you will generally find that things flow quite easily and you feel that you are back to the paved road.  Making the wrong decision often feels like everything is a struggle and you find that you run into barriers consistently.

#3: Recognize your Patterns and Triggers

Each person's mind is unique. You are born with specific qualities - called your constitution - and then you go through life with your unique experiences and exposures.  Together this will determine your patterns and your triggers. Everyone reacts to situations differently. The same situation may excite one person and cause fear or anger in another. Controlling your mind or understanding your mind is largely about recognizing your specific patterns and triggers.

Mental patterns and triggers include things such as not feeling supported, not being heard, constantly requiring confirmation or approval, always seeing the glass as half-empty, expecting the worst in everyone, not trusting, etc. When individuals don't recognize their patterns or triggers, they often end up repeating the same behaviour, getting into the same types of relationships, having the same challenges at work or home.

The value of recognizing what triggers you is that it narrows down the work that you have to do. For example, having good self-esteem is beneficial. Only those that lack self-esteem, or that choose to improve their self-esteem need to work on this trait. Similarly for anger or time management. Recognizing your patterns and triggers is like taking stock of your strengths and your weaknesses so you know what to work on.

I often meet people that want to improve their mind and they start by following the agenda in a book they bought. That may work for some people, but it is not the most efficient way. You are best to start with you. Just like you would if you were working on your physical health. The key to physical health is to know where you stand and to address your areas of susceptibility or weakness. It is too time consuming and costly to address every physiological system equally. The mind is no different. Figure out your areas of weakness, or work with a naturopathic doctor, counselor or other professional to more fully understand the strengths and weaknesses of your mind.

If you want to break patterns, you need to train the mind to respond and react differently.

#4: Practice Mindfulness or Mental Stillness

Being able to still the mind is essential for mental health. The mind, like all aspects of the body, needs time to recoup and recover. An active, non-stop mind is exhausting - both mentally and physically. An active mind is dehydrating and consumes nutrients that may be needed for other aspects of health and healing.

Mental stillness allows us to sense the inner wisdom of the mind. It allows us the opportunity to make better decisions and to see the bigger picture for things. Having a calm and content mind is associated with better and longer sleep. Mindfulness exercises and mental stillness have repeatedly been proven to be related to improved mental and physical health across a variety of disorders.

There are a number of authors that write about mindfulness.  One of my favorite authors is Jon Kabat-Zinn. I encourage you to check out his website and books.

#5: Protect Your Mind

You get to determine, for the most, what you are exposed to and what your mind is asked to process. You determine what you watch on television, what you listen to on the radio, what sites you search on the web, what conversations you have with others, the amount of time you are exposed to "noise" and how much time your mind gets to rest. Having a strong healthy mind requires you to protect the mind. To limit its exposure to irrelevant, negative, destructive information.

Psychological resiliency is defined as a person's ability to cope with stress and adversity. It is reflected in a person's ability to resist, adapt and strengthen itself when faced with "stress".  It is determined by and reflected in a person's ability to process events, especially "stressful" events in a timely, healthy fashion. I look at psychological resiliency as a person's constitution plus the impact of protective or positive experiences minus the impact of threatening or negative experiences.

A person's psychological resiliency can be affected by a range of factors including:

  • stressful or traumatic events that are not processed effectively
  • unrelenting thoughts and emotions such as fear, uncertainty, lack of self-esteem, anxiety, worry or helplessness
  • Secrets, feeling "on the fence" or "trapped" by your life, or not feeling supported
  • Exposure (whether real or watched) to violence and aggression
  • Abuse of the senses, especially too much noise and light
  • E-mailing, texting, and constant "unbuffered" communication
  • Environmental factors such as environmental toxins, cell phones and EMF radiation
  • Nutritional factors such as dietary imbalances, deficiencies, dehydration and excess consumption of salt, sugar or food that you react to
  • Sedentary, indoor lifestyles
If you find that your tolerance is low, that you react too quickly, too easily and too aggressively, you may want to look at ways to improve your psychological resiliency.  I will be writing more on that topic soon!

One of the purposes of the mind is to guide you, to warn you when things need to change, to protect you.  A strong healthy mind will do just that.  If there is too much anxiety, worry or mental chatter; or if your psychological resiliency is too low, you can end up with a mind that mentally paralyzes you, that intensifies physical symptoms and that actually creates symptoms.

Check out my website for a number of articles that I have written on the mind:
  • Perception of Time: How Its Assessment Can Create Meaningful Change – NDNR: July 2015
  • Psychological States Associated with Cancer – Vital Link: Summer 2014
  • Psychological Aspects of Pain – NDNR: July 2013
  • Sensors and Filters Aid in Establishing Consciousness – NDNR: June 2013
  • Overcoming Frustration Requires Tolerance – NDNR: June 2011
  • The Root Cause of Disease is Never Another Symptom – Vital Link: Fall 2008
  • Addressing Language Disorders – NDNR: June 2008
  • Is the Body Listening – NDNR: June 2007
  • Logic of Health and Disease – NDNR: June 2006
  • Energetics of Disease – Energy Currents (APTA): Spring 2006

Dr. Iva Lloyd, ND puts a strong focus on the psychological aspects of health as part of her naturopathic assessment. For more information on her approach visit her website. If you would like to learn more about what you can do to address common mental-health conditions checkout this website:

2015 Guide to Health Series

Check out the other topics on our Guide to Health Series. Each month we will he highlighting the top five things you need to know about each topic. The topics covered include:

January - Water
February - Breathing
March - Movement
April - Sleep
September - The Power of the Mind
October - Time Spent Outdoors
November - Addressing Environmental Factors
December - Healthy Relationships

As part of our Guide to Health Series, we will be offering in-house seminars on each topic. If you are unable to attend our seminars, we will be providing video highlights of some of the seminars on our website.

If you have any questions about the power of the mind that you would like us to address, please contact us at 

Let us know if you are joining us on the Guide to Health Series by sending us an email or by hitting the "like" logo on our blog. 

Saturday, August 1, 2015

Choosing the Right Sunscreen

by Dr. Jacqueline Cooper, ND

When I sat down to write this blog, my intention was to balance the scales a bit with regard to the over-promoted message to ' protect yourself with sunscreen'.  My issue with this common advice is that it leaves the consumer thinking "as long I slather on a lotion with a decent SPF level, I am protected".  This, however, could not be further from the truth.

The truth is that sun exposure is not inherently bad for you.  Like many factors that influence health, when it come to sun exposure, in order to optimize your health. moderation is the key.  A sunburn is certainly something to be avoided but the health risks associated with vitamin D deficiency from a lack of sun exposure are equally as worrisome.

The second issue I had with sunscreen is the toxicity of chemicals typically used to block or absorb UV rays.  While there are now many safe and natural options on the markets, most people still rely on chemically-based sunscreens.

These were the two points I hoped to educate people on with this blog.  However, as I started researching in preparation, I stumbled upon two other huge issues with the synthetic chemicals traditionally used to keep us 'safe' while having fun in the sun.  First, these chemicals wreak havoc on the coral in our oceans.  While this is devastating from an environmental perspective alone, it also has major consequences for our health as humans - we cannot possibly achieve health while living in a polluted, unhealthy world.  The second problem is that conventional sunscreens only protect the top layer of your skin.

The Sun: An epidemic of underexposure.
Vitamin D is made in the skin to maintain sufficient levels of vitamin D. Society at large has become so scared of burning that we now typically deprive our skin of the much needed sun exposure.  Vitamin D has massive effect on a number of different facets of health, including prevention of osteoporosis and the development of certain forms of cancer and autoimmune diseases.
Visit NDHealthfacts for more information about vitamin D.

For help in determining how to optimize your vitamin D levels through sun exposure, read this article by Dr. Mercola.  It has information and links to a calculator that will approximate how much sun exposure you need daily depending on where you live, the time of year and the pigmentation of your skin.  As Dr. Mercola references in the article, regardless of whether you utilize the sun or oral supplementation, it is important to get your vitamin D checked annually to ensure your levels are staying within the optimal range.

Trading one assault on the skin for another.
Most suncreens on the market use synthetic chemicals to block or absorb UV rays.  While they are effective at preventing burns, they happen to be quite toxic.  Toxins in products applied to the skin not only increase the toxic load on the skin but also penetrate deeper into the body contributing to more serious health issues such as: chronic fatigue, mood fluctuations, poor sugar control, hormonal imbalance, infertility and the development of certain cancers.

Our oceans are suffering.
Our health is not the only thing that suffers from the toxic chemicals in sunscreen.  When you choose a natural sunscreen, not only are you taking a step to dramatically improve the health of your skin, you are also helping to keep the oceans clean.  Benzophenone-2 or BP-2 is a common chemical used in sunscreens and personal care products since the 1960's to provide consumers with UV protection.  However, it is known to disrupt hormones.  Scientists have discovered that it is damaging ocean ecosystems by killing off young coral as well as causing mutations in more established coral, including a loss of colour.  Sunscreen Chemical Threatens Coral Reefs by National Ocean Service is an article about the role the synthetic chemicals used in typical sunscreens play in the the damage to coral reefs.  Currently most water treatment plants do not take measures to mitigate the damage of this chemical, therefore, educating consumers on product selection is the most effective action to preventing further damage.

SPF is not enough.
Most people gauge a sunscreen's ability to provide protection based on its SPF.  While that gives the consumer an idea of the lotion's ability to block UVB (the rays that are responsible for causing a burn), it does not speak to the ability of blocking UVA rays.  UVA rays penetrate deeper into the skin where they inflict damage in three ways:
  • They damage DNA by creating a pro-oxidant environment.  Anti-oxidants like Zinc, Selenium and Vitamins A, C and E are protective nutrients that promote healthy skin by decreasing free radicals caused by overexposure to UVA rays.
  • They disable the skin's natural defense system by inhibiting it's ability to produce melanin (the protective pigment that results in a tan).
  • They activate progerin, a protein that is associated with aging.  Progerin inhibits the production of collagen, which results in the development of wrinkles and overall thinning of the skin.
Another benefit to choosing a sunscreen that uses zinc oxide as its active agent is that, besides being the least toxic agent, zinc oxide also provides comprehensive protection by effectively blocking both UVA and UVB rays.

There are plenty of sunscreens on the market now that utilize zinc oxide.  To find a product that fits your needs check out the Environmental Working Group's Guide to Sunscreens.

Choosing the Right Personal Care Products

by Dr. Jacqueline Cooper, ND

Choosing the right personal care products can certainly help you look your best, but did you know that they can help you feel your best as well?

I talk to patients a lot about the fact one of our skin’s functions is to eliminate toxins and waste from the body via sweat or sebum (oil). Another function that perhaps receives less focus is the skin’s ability to act as a delivery system of nutrients into the body. We are all familiar with transdermal patches that deliver medicine (nicotine patches, certain forms of birth control). Few people, however, tend to think about how nutritive and nourishing their skin products are for their body. Choosing personal care products that meet your skin and body’s nutritive needs can make a hugely positive impact on your health.

On the flip side, there are numerous health consequences of choosing chemical based products instead of natural nutritive ones. I will often tell patients, “if you can’t eat it, then you shouldn’t be putting it on your skin.”  Research has clearly shown that even in minuscule doses, environmental chemicals can wreak havoc on our hormones and nervous system. In Canada, the personal care industry is largely unregulated and, as a result, conventional products found on most store shelves are ridden with toxins. Some of these chemicals are suspected or known to be carcinogenic (cancer causing) and yet manufacturers continue to use them.

The lack of regulations means it is up to the consumer to self-educate and select products that are not harmful to their health. One of the challenges in doing this is that it can be tough to decipher between clever advertising messages and legitimate information. I hope this blog helps bring some clarity to the issues around personal care products, and assists you in going beyond simply avoiding chemicals and instead, finding products that are genuinely nourishing. 

When shopping for personal care products there are three questions to ask yourself when deciding if a product is right for you.

1. Does this product contain toxic chemicals that pose a threat to my health?
Take a look at the ingredient list. If you see a long list of items, none of which are recognizable, it’s a pretty good indication you should probably put the product back on the shelf. A list of natural ingredients is much more promising, but does not guarantee that it’s free from toxins. Unfortunately, the personal care industry in North America is barely regulated, making it tricky for consumers to know for sure what they are getting. There are a few ways that companies hide toxins. One is in fragrances. Fragrances are considered trade secrets, so companies do not have to disclose their contents. Fragrances are generally highly toxic, so it is a good idea to avoid anything with ‘fragrance’ or ‘parfum’ listed. Another sneaky way chemicals end up in products without being listed as an ingredient is as preservatives in extracts. For example, the ingredient list might say ‘Mandarin Extract’, but what they are not telling you is that there are parabens used as preservatives to stabilize that extract before it gets added to the product.

So what is a concerned consumer to do?
Ultimately, ask questions. Either consult with your ND or a trusted aesthetician that specializes in natural skin care. You can also email or call the company directly. Ask them how they extract ingredients (with alcohol, which is the safe method; or with chemicals, which can leave chemicals in the final product that goes to market).

2.  Is this product rich in nutrients?
When establishing an optimal skincare regimen, it should mirror the tenets of a healthy diet. You want your personal careproducts to be highly nutritious, have lots of variety, and you want to change what you use seasonally. Most people don’t typically think of their skin care products as nutritious, but they should. If you want your skin to look good, you need to give it the raw materials it requires. If you want to increase your collagen, it’s important to ensure your skin has sufficient vitamin C and iron, two important nutrients required for its production. You are not likely to see iron listed as an ingredient in many skin care products, but you can find products that use nettle or kale extract two plant sources rich in iron.

Eating healthy and staying well hydrated are both absolute musts for maintaining health skin, but keep in mind there are a number of organ systems competing for those essential nutrients. Priority will always go to the vital organ systems such as the brain, heart, kidneys, lungs, liver, etc. So, to ensure your skin has the nutrients it needs, it is important to use products that are rich in vitamins and minerals.

It is also important to make changes in which products you use over time. In the winter you will naturally need to select products that are more hydrating, while in the summer months products that contain zinc and other anti-oxidants are important for mitigating sun exposure.

3. Do the nutrients in this product meet my skin’s therapeutic needs?
Everyone’s skin requires hydration and nutrients, particularly anti-oxidants to help mitigate free radicals that form from chemical exposure and excessive time spent in the sun. However, each person’s skin has unique needs. Understanding your skin symptoms and the root causes behind them is necessary for selecting products that will deliver maximal effects. For example, two people can both have hyper-pigmentation (darker patches), but for one person it may be due to hormonal imbalance while for the other it is more of a toxicity issue. While their skin problem may appear the same, these two people require different products in order to correct their respective issues.

Starting from scratch?
If you are just starting to pay attention to natural personal care products, the idea of doing a complete overhaul can feel overwhelming. Here are some practical tips for where to start.
  Start by lining up the products you use on a regular basis. Assess how toxic each one is by comparing it with the chemicals on David Suzuki’s Dirty Dozen list. If it has any of the top 12 worst offenders, you should consider throwing it out right away. If it has three or more ‘Dirty Dozen’ chemicals, definitely throw it out!
  Once you have determined which products are the most/least toxic, one of the main priorities should be replacing the products you use most frequently. For example, the nail polish you use may be far more toxic than your moisturizer, but if you use your moisturizer daily and only paint your nails occasionally then purchasing a clean moisturizer is the greater priority.
  Another consideration is whether the product is rinsed off vs one that penetrates the skin - i.e. shampoos vs moisturizers. It is more important to replace the penetrating products first. There are a few exceptions to this rule.

  1. If breast cancer runs in your family, or is a current health concern, you absolutely must eliminate all products that contain parabens. Look for any ingredient that ends with -paraben, i.e. methylparaben, isobutylparaben, propylparaben, etc.
  2. If hair loss is a concern, it is important to use natural shampoos and conditioners that promote the health of your hair, as opposed to increasing the toxic burden of the scalp. Sodium lauryl sulfate (the ingredient that causes shampoos to suds up) erodes the hair follicles. Most people struggle to adjust to natural shampoos because they miss the ‘sudsing’ feeling of conventional shampoos, but the chemicals that create this effect are incredibly damaging to your hair follicles. A tip for using natural shampoos - use less and add a little bit of water as you massage them into the scalp. Unlike conventional chemically based brands, most do not contain any water and thus are highly concentrated. Often people complain that natural shampoos leave their hair feeling greasy, when in fact it is residue from using an excessive amount of product.
  3. Microbeads are common in many conventional exfoliants. These microbeads are made of plastic and can not only damage your skin, but they are horrendous for the environment. Because they are so small they slip through filtration at water treatment plants and make their way to the ocean where they accumulate and permanently pollute the water since they are not biodegradeable. See some images of massive plastic accumulation in the oceans by clicking here. 
  Coconut oil is a good multipurpose item to stock in your bathroom as you start to make the switch to clean natural personal care products. It can be combined with essential oils and used as a deodorant, or simply used on its own as a makeup remover, a moisturizer (for both body and face), a leave in conditioning treatment for hair, a vaginal lubricant, as well as being used for a form of oral care called oil pulling (click here for Dr. Mercola’s instructional video and explanation of its benefits).

I hope after reading this blog you look at your personal care products with new respect, or perhaps healthy suspicion. Optimizing your health, means making your beauty regimen part of your healthcare plan. While this is important for everyone, it is particularly important for anyone with a skin concern. If you are unsure of your skin’s needs are and what nutrients would serve it best book a visit with a naturopathic doctor to discuss what choices are most therapeutic for you.

If you live in the Markham Unionville area and would like to have a comprehensive healthcare plan that includes optimizing your personal care regimen, please contact the clinic at 905-940-2727 to book an appointment or email me directly at, if you would like additional information.


Monday, July 27, 2015

Benzene Exposure in Your Car

There is an email going about concerning the impact of Benzene exposure in cars when the windows are rolled up and temperature outside is high.  We would like to shed some light on the topic.

The email is as follows:
"Do NOT turn on A/C as soon as you enter the car. Open the windows after you enter your car and then after a couple of minutes, turn on the AC . Here's why:  According to research, the car's dashboard, seats, a/c ducts, in fact ALL of the plastic objects in your vehicle, emit Benzene, a Cancer causing toxin.  A BIG CARCINOGEN.  Take the time to observe the smell of heated plastic in your car when you open it, and BEFORE you start it up.

In addition to causing cancer, Benzene poisons your bones, causes anemia and reduces white blood cells. Prolonged exposure can cause Leukemia and increases the risk of some cancers.  It can also cause miscarriages in pregnant women. The "acceptable" Benzene level indoors is: 50 mg per sq.ft.

A car parked indoors, with windows closed, will contain 400-800 mg of Benzene - 8 times the acceptable level.If parked outdoors in the sun, at a temperature above 60 degrees F, the Benzene level goes up to 2000-4000 mg, 40 times the acceptable level.

People who get into the car, keeping the windows closed, will eventually inhale excessive amounts of the BENZENE toxin. Benzene is a toxin that affects your kidneys and liver. What's worse, it is extremely difficult for your body to expel this toxic stuff.  So friends, please open the windows and doors of your car - give it some time for the interior to air out – (dispel the deadly stuff) - before you enter the vehicle."

Like most things, there is a bit of truth and bit of fiction to the statements.
  • Benzene is carcinogenic.  Exposure to benzene has been linked to some types of cancers, like leukemia.
  • The plastic in cars does contain benzene - as well as a number of other toxic environmental chemicals.
  • The link between benzene exposure and cancer has only been done in those people with direct occupational exposure, such as chemical, shoe making and oil refinery jobs.  It has not been directly or adequately researched with respect to automobile exposure.
  • We are exposed to low levels of benzene from many sources - automobile exhaust; vapors from glues, paints and furniture wax and indoor air especially in new buildings.
Bottom line . . . 
  • It is generally better to ventilate a car when you first get in, if just to decrease the inside temperature and make it more comfortable.
  • The more time you spend in your car, the more you would benefit from paying attention to the materials in your car and the car's environment.
  • We are likely going to be exposed to many emails and messages about our toxic environment and it's impact to health.  It is true, our environment -- all aspects of our environment - are more toxic than they used to be.  The more you pay attention to those things that you are exposed to the most, the better for your health.

Additional information on Benzene : 

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Proclamation of the Naturopathy Act 2007

by Dr. Iva Lloyd, ND

As of July 1st, 2015, naturopathic medicine will now be regulated under the Regulated Health Professions Act (RHPA) which is the umbrella legislation that governs all regulated health professions in Ontario.

The History

Naturopathic medicine has been regulated under the Drugless Practitioner's Act since 1925. The scope of practice for Ontario naturopathic doctors has steadily increased since 1925 and includes gynecological exams, rectal exams, naturopathic manipulation, acupuncture, intravenous therapy, taking blood samples and communicating a naturopathic diagnosis. The Drugless Practitioner's Act was an antiquated Act that did not provide the same degree of regulatory structure as other regulated health professions and restricted the scope of practice. In order for naturopathic doctors to have the level of regulation commensurate with other regulated health professions in Ontario the profession had to move under the RHPA.

In 2007 the Naturopathy Act was passed and the decision to move naturopathic doctors under the RHPA was confirmed. At the time that the Naturopathy Act was passed, naturopathic doctors were informed that they would  maintain their current scope of practice.

Current Status

Proclamation has taken a number of years. But, we are pleased to announce that naturopathic doctors in Ontario have, for the most part, maintained their full scope of practice. Click here for the link to the College of Naturopaths of Ontario (CONO) to access the list of the controlled acts.

One of the positive things that will happen under the RHPA is that the College of Naturopaths of Ontario (CONO) will be able to ensure that anyone who uses the title naturopath or naturopathic doctor has received the training that they require. The terms naturopath, naturopathic doctor, ND and others are now officially protected titles.

There are some changes in the way that naturopathic doctors will have to practice. Some of these changes, we hope will be short term. The changes include:

Laboratory Testing
  • Taking of blood samples: Although naturopathic doctors have been authorized the act of taking blood samples according to the Laboratory and Specimen Collection Centre Licensing Act, they are currently not allowed to take blood samples that have to be sent to a lab for analysis as an inspection program has not yet been developed and approved and the access for standard medical blood testing has not been written into the Controlled Act. The Controlled Act, currently, only allows for point-of-care blood samples for seven laboratory tests that are assessed in-office.  For standard medical blood test naturopathic doctors will, for the time being, have to provide patients with a requisition form and have patients visit an Ontario laboratory facility for the blood draw. Results will still be sent directly to their naturopathic doctor. Although the blood will be drawn at an Ontario laboratory facility, the blood work will not be covered by OHIP.  
  • Range of laboratory tests: Prior to proclamation, naturopathic doctors were able to order any laboratory test. During the consultative process a list has been created which defines what laboratory tests naturopathic doctors are able to order. Generally speaking, the list is fairly comprehensive and includes 194 laboratory tests, but there are some common laboratory tests or test panels that did not make it to the approved list. Click here for the list of approved laboratory tests, or talk to your naturopathic doctor directly. The OAND and the naturopathic profession will continue to work with the CONO and the MOHLTC to seek inclusion of the remaining laboratory tests that are required.
  • Handling of external laboratory tests: Thankfully, naturopathic doctors maintained access to a number of external laboratory tests, but similar to blood testing, the handling of external laboratory testing, such as saliva testing, urine testing for environmental toxins, urinary organic acid testing, will be handled differently than it is now. The process is not completely worked out, but it most likely will involve your naturopathic doctor providing patients with a collection test kit and having them return the kit to an Ontario laboratory facility for shipment to the external lab. Your naturopathic doctor will be able to clarify the new process and any change to fees when they provide you with the test kit.
Prescription Rights and Intravenous Therapy (IVIT)
Prior to proclamation only those naturopathic doctors that were IVIT certified were able to prescribe a select list of drugs and substances as part of their IVIT treatment. The following is the update on prescription rights and IVIT therapy.
  • List of IVIT substances: Most of the substances that naturopathic doctors have been using for intravenous therapy (IVIT) are included on the prescribed list, yet there are a few that have been removed at this time. The OAND and naturopathic profession will continue to work with CONO and the MOHLTC to add back the substances that have been omitted.
  • IVIT treatments: Under the new regulations that requirements for IVIT practitioners are much stricter and ensure optimal patient care. Any naturopathic doctor that meets the new standards and that passes the prescribing course will be able to continue to offer patients IVIT treatments.
  • Prescription rights for non-IVIT naturopathic doctors: The controlled act of prescribing primarily relates to substances that are used in IVIT treatments, but under the new RHPA regulations there are a few substances that non-IVIT naturopathic doctors will have the ability to prescribe once they successfully complete a prescribing course.  The substances that have been added include bio-identical hormones estrogen and progesterone and thyroid hormone, as well as the ability to prescribe high doses of Vitamin D, Vitamin A, Vitamin K and Folic acid.  

Next Steps

There are a lot of positives about the move to the RHPA, but there will be some challenges during the transitional period.  Generally speaking, patients that are working with naturopathic doctors will primarily experience changes with respect to the handling and access to laboratory testing.

If you have any questions about these regulatory changes, I encourage you to visit the CONO website at:, the website of the Ontario Association of Naturopathic Doctors at or talk directly to your naturopathic doctor.

This is an exciting time for the naturopathic profession.  These regulatory changes will ensure greater patient safety, increased clarification as to the scope of naturopathic doctors and will increase the opportunity for intra-professional collaboration and support.

It is a great time to work with a naturopathic doctor to optimize your health.