Wednesday, July 13, 2016

Fun in the Sun! - How to Avoid the Risk of Skin Cancer

Enjoying the sun and getting a tan can be health, but before you decide to go and enjoy the sun, there is some very important information to consider to minimize your personal skin cancer risk.

3 Main Types of Skin Cancer
 1) Basal cell carcinoma: It is the most common form of skin cancer, affecting 60,000 Canadians each year. In fact, it is the most common of all cancers.

2) Squamous cell carcinoma:
This is the second most common skin cancer after basal cell carcinoma, afflicts more than 20,000 Canadians each year. It arises from the epidermis and looks like the cells that comprise most of the upper layers of skin. This type of  cancer may occur on all areas of the body including the mucous membranes, but are most common in areas exposed to the sun.

3) Malignant Melanoma:This is the most deadly of all skin cancers. Over 5,000 people are diagnosed annually in Canada, with more than 900 of those resulting in death. Early diagnosis is the key to positive outcomes

These are the Risk Factors

  •  A Weakened Immune System. People with weakened immune systems have a greater risk of developing skin cancer. Our immune system is responsible for catching and killing Cancer Cells before they actually turn into cancer in the body.  Keeping your immune system up and running properly through diet, lifestyle, and supplements has a positive impact on reducing your risk.
  • Lack Sweating. Sweating is the body’s way of releasing toxins that have accumulated in the body.  Lack of sweating leads to a build up of toxins in the body.
  • Chemicals in Your Personal Health Care Products. Many health care products that we use on a daily basis come loaded with nasty chemical that have been directly related to increase cancer risks.  When these chemicals react with the sun they greatly alter the natural terrain of the skin by affecting our good flora, altering the pH balance of skin leading to a more acidic environment which Cancer can thrive in, and altering the integrity of our skins therefore weaken its barrier function.
  • A History of Sunburns. Having had one or more blistering sunburns as a child or teenager increases your risk of developing skin cancer as an adult. Sunburns in adulthood also are a risk factor. Even a single severe sunburn increases your risk of developing melanoma which is the deadliest form of skin cancer; frequent severe sunburns doubles your lifetime risk. When you see or feel your skin redden, take cover. Remember, sunburns can also be dangerous for babies and toddlers, possibly leading to dehydration and heat stroke.
  • Inadequate Vitamin D Levels. Having adequate Vitamin D status is actually shown to be protective against cancer.  Making sure that you get enough sunlight improves Vitamin D stores in the body. The best time to stay out of the sun to avoid burning is between the hours of 11:00am and 3:00pm. As long as the skin is not burnt, getting a bit of sunshine and a gentle tan can go along way to improve your health and well-being.
  • Fair Skin. Anyone, regardless of skin color, can get skin cancer. However, having less pigment (melanin) in your skin provides less protection from damaging UV radiation. If you have blond or red hair and light-colored eyes, and you freckle or sunburn easily, you're much more likely to develop skin cancer than is a person with darker skin.
  • Use of Tanning Beds. Avoid! Avoid! Avoid! People who use tanning beds are 2.5 times more likely to develop squamous cell carcinoma and 1.5 times more likely to develop basal cell carcinoma. Even occasional use of sun-beds, almost triples your chances of developing melanoma. Research shows young people - including teenagers - are especially sensitive to the UVR emitted from tanning booths.
  • A Family History of Skin Cancer. If one of your parents or a sibling has had skin cancer, you may have an increased risk of the disease.
  • A Personal History of Skin Cancer.  If you developed skin cancer once, you're at risk of developing it again. Even basal cell and squamous cell carcinomas that have been successfully removed can recur.
  • Exposure to Radiation. People who received radiation treatment for skin conditions such as eczema and acne may have an increased risk of skin cancer, particularly basal cell carcinoma.
  • Exposure to Certain Substances. Exposure to certain substances, such as arsenic, may increase your risk of skin cancer.
  • Moles. People who have many moles or abnormal moles called dysplastic nevi are at increased risk of skin cancer. If you have a history of abnormal moles, watch them regularly for changes.

Early Detection – What to Look for

 Where skin cancer develops 
- Skin cancer develops primarily on areas of sun-exposed skin, including the scalp, face, lips, ears, neck, chest, arms and hands, and on the legs in women. But it can also form on areas that rarely see the light of day — your palms, beneath your fingernails or toenails, and your genital area.
Skin cancer affects people of all skin tones, including those with darker complexions. Its is a major misconception that if you are of a darker skin you don’t have to worry.

Self Examinations - Paying attention to your skin is as sure way to increase your chances of early detection. While self exams are great they do not replace the eye of a trained professional. Regular total-body checkups with your Naturopathic Doctor are the best way to make sure your skin is healthy and stays that way. It is recommended that you check-in with your naturopathic doctor if you notice any of the following:
  • A persistent sore that takes more than 2 weeks to heal
  • A skin growth, mole, beauty mark or brown spot that has at least three of the following characteristics:
  • changes color or appears pearly, translucent, tan, brown, black or multicolored
  • changes in texture
  • increases in size or thickness
  • is asymmetrical
  • is irregular in outline or border
  • is bigger than 6mm, the size of a pencil eraser
  • appears after age 21

Naturopathic Treatment for Skin Health

Naturopathic Medicine has many tools to aid patients in Cancer prevention and Cancer treatment. An individualized treatment plan that may include some of the following therapies listed below will have significant impact on quality of life , survival outcomes, and prevention:
  • Intravenous Therapies – Including High Dose Vitamin C and Nutrient Therapies
  • Alkalinizing Protocol
  • Diet and Lifestyle Modification
  • Detoxing
  • Immune Stimulation
  • Decreasing Negative Side Effects of Chemotheraputics 

Skin is the largest organ in our whole body. It is responsible for thousands of reactions that are vital to our health, so take care of it! To learn more about what you can do to take care of your skin and/or address any concerns you currently have contact Naturopathic Foundations for an appointment.

Monday, July 11, 2016

Your Health, Their Future: How Preconception Care Can Influence Your Child's Future

By: Dr. Arjomand, ND

What if you were able to improve the quality of your eggs or sperm?  What if you knew that the changes you make will have a lasting effect on the genes of your future grandchildren?  Research now tells us you can.

The months preceding conception can determine the health of your baby and the health of future generations.  For women, eggs take 100 days to mature, and for men, sperm take 116 days to generate.  During this crucial period of development, they are at risk to the influential forces of your environment and nutrient status.  Diet, lifestyle, environmental exposure, and stress influence how optimal your egg quality is and the future health of your baby.  Adverse conditions in the utero can negatively and permanently impact the physiology of the offspring, contributing to increase incidences of developmental challenges like ADHD, learning disabilities and autism.

Factors that influence fertility and post-natal health:

As there are many factors that can accumulate and, in part, influence fertility, egg/sperm quality and the future health of a child, Naturopathic Doctors can play a unique integrative role in preconception care.  In fact, a study by the Association for Pre-conception Healthcare in the UK demonstrated that couples who underwent IVF were 47% more successful if they used a preconception healthcare plan. 

In a preconception healthcare plan, your Naturopathic Doctor would address the following:

  • Toxicity:  History of toxic exposure, your ability to detoxify and detoxification support: Your job, where you grew up, lifestyle factors and diet can give your Naturopathic Doctor an idea of the toxic load on your system.  Specialized testing can be used when indicated to assess the load on the system.  Many toxins accumulate in the system.  As such, the burden of the body can increase and the elimination processes can be compromised.  Herbs, vitamins, minerals and certain diets would be recommended to help your body's ability to detoxify.  

  • Nutrient status:  Female and male fertility requirements differ.  Key anti-oxidants, minerals and vitamins are essential for the health of the egg and sperm.  A deficiency in any of these can influence the ability of the egg to mature, sperm to develop, sperm count and sperm mobility. Supplementing with these nutrients can significantly improve fertility outcome. 

  • Hormonal balance:   For women, are you ovulating at the right time?  Is your cycle length optimal to carry a baby through the first trimester?  A history of certain medications, increased stress, shift work and body composition are some of the factors that can influence the hormonal rhythm of a cycle.  A Naturopathic Doctor can run a full hormonal work-up and educate you on cycle monitoring to understand what's happening in your body throughout the month.  Being aware of the changes in your body throughout the month empowers fertility.

Preconception care goes beyond taking a prenatal supplement and folic acid.  There are many factors and considerations that must be taken into account.  Many medications and even natural products can interact and be harmful.  Family planning that includes an integrative healthcare plan at least 3 months prior to conception can help to ensure a successful pregnancy and a healthy baby.

Dr. Arjomand, ND is a Naturopathic Doctor at Naturopathic Foundations that focuses on Women's Health concerns and hormonal balance.  Please call the clinic at 905-940-2727 to book an appointment with Dr. Arjomand.  

Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Keep Cool this Summer - Ayurveda Tips

Do you look forward to summer, and then find yourself feeling irritable and exhausted once the temperatures rise? Does your skin breakout with the heat? Do you crave air conditioning and cool drinks? If so, your Pitta may be out of balance.

According to Ayurveda, of the three bio-energies (ie. doshas) that exist in nature (Vata, Pitta, Kapha), Pitta is highest in the summer as it holds the energy of fire and water.  Dosha bio-energies are composed of the 5 elements and not only exist in the environment, but also within you. If your constitution is dominant in Pitta, summer heat can further cause Pitta to accumulate – on the physical, mental and emotional levels.

Summer is the season of sun, heat, intensity and fire – a celebration after the cold winter months. Depending on your constitution, summer may either aggravate your innate tendencies or compensate for your imbalances.  For example, if you struggle with cold hands and feet in the winters, you will likely enjoy warm summer temperatures.  If your body generally heats up quickly, you may find it challenging to tolerate summer heat.

How Do I Identify if my Pitta is imbalanced?

You need to first understand your original constitution before understanding what is out of balance.  Everyone is born with a unique constitution and needs individualized care to regain their original state of balance.  Online dosha quizzes can be a fun tool. However, they do not reveal the complete picture of your constitution.  A Naturopathic intake incorporating Ayurvedic assessment includes physical exam (including tongue & pulse diagnosis) and complete health history to identify your balance of Vata, Pitta & Kapha. Furthermore, skilled practitioners can identify which organ system or tissue is being impacted by Pitta.  For example, if Pitta accumulates in the mind, you may feel more angry or short-tempered, but if Pitta has increases in the blood, you may experience high blood pressure. Once a proper diagnosis has been made, tailored treatments can target the root cause of your health concern and assist in restoring balance.

Pitta can accumulate in the mind, specific organ systems, channels or tissues and can manifest as health concerns such as:

What Can You Do?

While increased Pitta is not life-threatening, if left unattended, chronic disease can develop over time.  For example, if you consistently eat spicy and acidic food (which increases Pitta), occasional heart burn may develop into daily heartburn and progress into a painful ulcer. The good news is that Pitta imbalance is easy to detect in the early stages with tongue & pulse diagnosis, and can be addressed with diet & lifestyle, herbs and therapies.  Summer is the ideal time to address Pitta-related imbalances before they develop into more severe conditions.

During the summer months, your focus should be to balance Pitta. Below are some general tips that can help keep your Pitta in check.

Tips to Stay Cool this Summer and Pacify Pitta:
  • Choose foods that are cooling energetically such as: cucumbers, dark leafy greens, mint and melons.
  • Choose flavours that are bitter, astringent & naturally sweet – fresh local greens make great salads and ripe, juicy fruits make a delicious summer snack.  Minimize flavours that are excessively spicy, sour and salty.
  • Try incorporating coconut into your diet (coconut water, oil, cream etc.)
  • Stay hydrated & avoid ice cold drinks. As counter-intuitive as it may seem, cold drinks are not advised to help you cool down.
  • Avoid overexerting yourself and plan your exercise away from the hottest time of the day
  • Be sun smart and stay out of direct sun during peak hours (~11 a.m. - 3 p.m.)
  • Observe situations where you are controlling or pushing yourself or others.  Bring awareness into surrendering and allowing.
  • Enjoy essential oils with floral tones such as jasmine, rose or lavender.

If you think you may have a Pitta imbalance, summer is the best time to address it. Once you understand your unique constitution, steps can be taken to harmonize yourself with the changing seasons under the guidance of your naturopathic doctor and Ayurvedic practitioner.  Making simple but consistent changes to your lifestyle and diet, in correlation with the change of seasons will allow you to experience your full energy and vitality this summer.

Dr. Leena Athparia is a naturopathic doctor with specialized training in Ayurveda and can help you identify your constitution to guide you on a customized health plan – whether you have specific health concerns or just want to promote general wellness. Please contact Naturopathic Foundations at 905-940-2727 or email to book an appointment with Dr. Leena Athparia ND.

Friday, June 3, 2016

Is Your Acne Hormone Related? We can help.

By Dr. Pearl Arjomand, ND

Are you a woman between the ages of 12 and 35 experiencing acne?  Is your acne inflamed, cystic, deep and painful?  If so, hormones can be playing a significant role.  Your skin is a mirror to your hormone health and persistent acne can be an indicator of an imbalance occurring at a deeper level. Hormonal acne is one of the most common and poorly treated skin concerns facing young women today.  Birth control and long-term antibiotic treatments are the most common conventional treatments. These medications work for some, but for others they often cause unpleasant side effects and provide no lasting benefit once treatment ends.
To get rid of hormone-based acne you need to treat the underlying cause.

Depending on the type, location, and time of month breakouts occur hormones can be an identifiable cause.  A naturopathic doctor can assess possible factors implicated in your acne by physical exam, blood work, health history and presenting symptoms.

Symptoms that indicate there is a hormonal imbalance contributing to your acne may include any of the following:
  • Breakouts that occur between the ages of 12-18
  • Lesions that are usually around the chin, lower jaw and sides of the cheeks or back
  • Lesions that are typically painful, deep and cystic in nature
  • Breakouts that occur second half of the female menstrual cycle and improve as soon as menses begin
  • The presentation of other premenstrual symptoms including breast tenderness, cravings, headaches or irritability.
There are many hormones that can be implicated in acne including insulin, cortisol, estrogen, testosterone and progesterone.  Naturopathic doctors are trained to identify where the imbalance may be occurring and through the use of natural therapies, dietary and lifestyle changes begin to help restore healthy balance in the body.

Naturopathic Approach to Managing Hormonal Acne

Hormone regulation through medicinal herbs
There are specific herbs that have an affinity to balance hormones.  Some of these herbs have influence on progesterone and others estrogen.  Herbal remedies are a great tool used to balance the female cycle and cyclical related acne.  Some common herbs used are Vitex Agnus, Angelica Sinensis and Dioscorea Villosa.  

Liver support
The liver is the main organ responsible for the breakdown and consequently elimination of hormones from the body.  If this organ is not functioning optimally hormones begin to recirculate and cause problems like acne.  Liver issues can arise because of the use of medications over a long period of time, a poor diet, stress (emotional or physical), and exposure to environmental toxins.  There are specific vitamins, herbs and anti-oxidants that are commonly used to assist the liver to detoxify hormones.  Some common supplements include indol-3-carbinol, calcium-d-glucarate, B-vitamins and herbs such as Silybum Marianum.

Skin support
Minerals and healthy fats are essential in the healing of scars and over all skin health.   Many patients with hormonal acne are low in essential fatty acids and essential minerals such as zinc, selenium and magnesium.  Medications, diet and stress are some factors that may deplete your mineral stores and contributing to poor skin healing.

The therapies described above are only part of a comprehensive treatment plan that a naturopathic doctor would prescribe.  Dietary changes are a significant contributor as well, which requires individual counselling and recommendations.  A food sensitivity test may also be used as a means to identify possible food allergens and contributors to inflammation in the body.

Topical recommendations are also given as a means to help heal and clear the skin.

Dr. Pearl Arjomand is a Naturopathic Doctor at Naturopathic Foundations who focuses on hormone related health concerns such as hormonal acne. She has extensive training the assessment of hormone health through the use of salivary testing, and has passed the pharmaceutical prescribing course in Ontario and is able to prescribe bio-identical hormones when appropriate.  She also has an interest in skin rejuvenation and anti-aging.  Please call the clinic at 905-940-2727 to book an appointment with Dr. Arjomand, ND.

The Many Faces of PMS

By Dr. Pearl Arjomand, ND

Most women have experienced unpleasant symptoms before their period.  The term "PMSing" has even become a politically correct term to refer to someone's irritable behaviour around their period. These unpleasant symptoms may present as mood changes or physical pain such as breast tenderness and migraines. Irrespective of the form it takes, all premenstrual symptoms point to a common underlying cause: hormonal imbalance.  Believe it or not, premenstrual symptoms (PMS) are NOT normal.  The hormonal fluctuation that occurs in a woman's body throughout the month is a meant to be a seamless process that occurs in the background, unnoticed.

PMS symptoms occur seven to fourteen days before your period.  These symptoms can include any of the following:

      • Headaches
      • Cravings (sugar, chocolates, carbohydrates)
      • Breast swelling and tenderness
      • Bloating
      • Fatigue
      • Increased appetite
      • Changes in libido
      • Insomnia
      • Depression
      • Anxiety
      • Irritability
      • Water Retention
      • Acne
      • Constipation or Diarrhea

What do PMS symptoms mean?

Throughout the month cyclical hormonal fluctuations occur naturally as part of our reproductive process.  PMS symptoms often mean there is an imbalance in the ratio of estrogen and progesterone in the body.  If there is too much or relatively too little of either one of these hormones circulating in the body at the appropriate time, it can cause many issues around menstruation. These hormones can influence neurotransmitters, circadian rhythm and serotonin levels.

What can cause PMS?

Anything that eventually influences the ratio of estrogen and progesterone to shift outside it's healthy normal range can cause PMS.  The following are some common causes:

  • The birth control pill- Although this is often prescribed to treat PMS, it can also be the cause. Even history of birth control usage can contribute to PMS by shifting the hormonal rhythm of your body's hormones.  It also puts stress on the gall bladder and liver which are the organs responsible for the breakdown and elimination of estrogen.

  • Endocrine disruptors- Toxins in our environment such as PCB's, bisphenol-A, parabens and phthalates bind to hormone receptors and mimic hormones.  Exposure to these toxins often come from food stored in plastic, cans and beauty products. 

  • Diet- Hormones can also be found in food such as dairy and diets high in animal protein. Foods such as coffee, chocolate, alcohol and sugar can also influence our hormones and cause PMS. Nutrient deficiencies like protein and iron deficiency can also lead to fatigue, insomnia and headaches prior to menstruation. 

  • Lifestyle- A sedentary lifestyle can have a profound effect on mood and energy.  Lack of sleep can further disrupt our hormonal rhythm and promote premenstrual symptoms.  

  • Stress-  Chronic stress without adequate down-time and recovery leads to increased cortisol and can shift our sex hormones leading to relative deficiencies.  

Naturopathic Approach for the treatment of PMS

Your naturopathic doctor will assess for the underlying factors contributing to your PMS. Appropriate collection of health history, testing and a physical exam will identify which hormones are out of balance and why.  

At Naturopathic Foundations Health Clinic we offer comprehensive testing that includes the use of specialized tests such as saliva hormone panels, adrenal panels and food sensitivity testing which measure important and often overlooked markers of hormone balance.  We also have the ability to requisition blood work when needed to identify other health markers.  Unique testing is also available and commonly used to identify how the body is metabolizing and breaking down hormones allowing us to better understand and identify areas that need special support.

Naturopathic treatment focuses on balancing the physiological hormonal imbalances, however we also recognize that psychological and emotional factors also influence our hormones.  Stress management techniques, diet and lifestyle counselling as well as liver support are often foundation work that is required for long lasting benefits.  Herbs, vitamins and supplements are often prescribed to help uncomfortable symptoms and help balance the hormones. 

Dr. Arjomand is a Naturopathic Doctor at Naturopathic Foundations that focuses on women's health. Her practice consists on treating a variety of hormonal imbalances that affect women.  Dr. Arjomand has passed Naturopathic Ontario pharmaceutical exams to be qualified to prescribe bio-identical hormones to patients when appropriate.  Bio-identical progesterone is a natural hormone that a can be extremely effective and helpful in many cases of PMS.  Please call the clinic at 905-940-2727 to book an appointment with Dr. Arjomand. 

Skin Rejuvenation - A Natural Treatment For Younger Looking Skin

By Dr. Pearl Arjomand, ND

What to look younger?  One of the most effective, gentle, non surgical ways to reduce fine lines, wrinkles and puffiness under the eyes is through the use of facial rejuvenation acupuncture.  This ancient method of treatment is gaining more momentum and recognition as more people are seeking low risk and effective means to look younger.

Facial rejuvenation acupuncture uses of extremely small non-painful needles in specific areas around the face and surrounding problem areas as well as constitutional points around the body.  Facial acupuncture increases blood flow to the face and stimulates collagen production.

Benefits of facial rejuvenation acupuncture include:

  • Improvement in muscle tone
  • Decrease in fine lines and wrinkles
  • Eliminates puffiness by improving metabolism
  • Decreases tendency towards sagging and jowls
  • Improves facial colour by improving circulation
  • Slows the aging process
  • Tightens the pores
  • Promotes a glowing and vibrant appearance

A course of treatment consists of 10-15 treatments administered once or twice a week.  Each treatment lasts approximately 1 hour.  Results may be seen as early as the first treatment, but it is around the 7th treatment that results are more dramatic and lasting.  Maintenance sessions (on an as-needed basis) are also recommended after the series is finished.

As our internal health is often reflected in our appearance, special attention is also given to diet, lifestyle and skin regimens.  Topical treatments are also advised as well as other supplements to promote healthier looking skin.  This treatment is ideal for those who don't want facial surgery, botox or fillers but want to look younger.

Dr. Arjomand, ND is a Naturopathic Doctor at Naturopathic Foundations who focuses on facial rejuvenation.  Please call the office at 905-940-2727 to book an appointment if you are interested in learning more.