Thursday, May 31, 2018

Natural "First Aid" Tips for Summer

by Dr. Leena Athparia, ND

What's in your First Aid Kit? It's likely to have an assortment of bandages, gauze, gloves and the like for emergencies, but what about for the less critical injuries you might get while camping, hiking or for the kids spending time outdoors this summer?

What do you use if you get a burn while cooking? Or a knee scrape while hiking? What do you use for kids' mosquito bites? While critical emergencies require a visit to the ER, most common injuries are minor and can be treated with natural remedies which have fewer side effects and are gentle but effective for speeding up recovery.

Naturopathic first aid involves using naturopathic principles when treating acute concerns such as burns, bites, stings, rashes, strains and sprains etc. Naturopathic doctors use a variety of modalities to help heal naturally and effectively: botanical medicine, homeopathy, hydrotherapy, nutrition, laser and light therapy, TCM & acupuncture and counselling.

Read more about the most common concerns and natural tips for your First Aid Kit. These remedies can be further customized by your Naturopathic Doctor depending on if you are camping or travelling or need a kit for kids.

Burns 

Too much fun in the sun (at peak time especially) can lead to sunburns. Children, those with sensitive skin, or on certain medications can be more prone to burning. To soothe irritated or peeling skin, use a natural aloe gel which is cooling and soothing for the skin or Manuka honey that you can apply directly to the affected area to help speed up healing. This applies for other kinds of burns such as in the kitchen. While outdoors, protect yourself from strong sunlight by wearing a hat or thin, cotton clothing that protects the skin.

Bites

Insect bites from mosquitos, black flies, bees or spiders are inevitable if you spend time outdoors. Bites are not only itchy, painful and irritating, but can also transmit infectious disease. Prevent yourself by being bitten in the first place by wearing appropriate clothing that provides a barrier for bites and using natural bug repellants made of essential oils such as citronella. It is not just a myth that mosquitos are attracted to "sweet" blood. When you eat a diet high in sweet (bananas, juice, sugar), you become a palatable target. Increase bitter foods such as leafy greens and consider supplementing with neem capsules which are blood cleansing. Speak to your ND about essential oils for bites and natural homeopathic pellets or creams for after-bites such Apis.


Cuts & Scrapes

Minor wounds to the skin such as cuts and scrapes disrupt the barrier and can lead to infections and scarring if not treated properly. Your natural first aid kit should contain a herbal antiseptic cream to apply to injured skin to disinfect the area. Some examples are creams that contain calendula, neem oil, tea tree oil, yarrow and comfrey. Other creams such as vitamin E cream or aloe are very beneficial to promote skin healing and reduce scarring. Essential for moms to keep on hand for active kids!

Bumps & Bruises

A must-have for everyone in their natural first-aid kit for any injury or trauma is Arnica. This well known herb appears in many formats such as creams, gels, oils and homeopathics. This herb is well known for healing bruises and speeding up any injury. Homeopathic arnica can be used in creams or taken orally to help with any physical or emotional shock. In addition for injuries, lymphatic creams are handy to help with reducing swelling as are anti-inflammatory supplements which may contain herbs such as turmeric or boswelia. Speak to your ND to learn more about which anti-inflammatories would be good for you.


Putting together a natural first-aid kit can be fun and very handy to keep on hand this summer. Most of these suggestions are safe to use alongside with other conventional treatments. When you are empowered with knowledge, you can be more equipped to help yourself and family members with minor injuries to speed up healing. At Naturopathic Foundations Health Clinic, we accept walk-ins for acute naturopathic care for concerns such as sprains & strains, skin reactions, bites, scrapes, hives and other conditions. You don't need to be a patient of the clinic to use these services. Read more about naturopathic walk-in services.


Dr. Leena Athparia is a naturopathic doctor & Ayurvedic practitioner at Naturopathic Foundations with a focus in joint health, pain and chronic disease. If you are healthy and looking into preventing disease or learning more about your constitution, Dr. Athparia can help you. Please call the clinic at 905-940-2727 to book an appointment.

Wednesday, May 2, 2018

Constipation? Get Moving Naturally

by Dr. Leena Athparia, ND

Let's face it - most people don't pay much attention to their bowel movements or make elimination a top priority in their day. A large percentage of people have unhealthy bowel movements and don't even realize it unless symptoms become uncomfortable. For many, constipation means not going to the bathroom for many days and straining. However, chronic constipation is more common than you might think, and is an indication of imbalance, so it is important not to ignore it.

A healthy person should have around 1-3 bowel movements daily with the consistency of a ripe banana. Healthy elimination starts with a bowel movement in the morning. According to the classical Ayurvedic definition, when the body doesn't eliminate naturally first thing in the morning, it is considered a sign of imbalance - a mild form of constipation. If addressed with balancing diet, lifestyle and herbs, this can be corrected before it turns chronic and leads to more serious conditions such as hemorrhoids, rectal prolapse and bowel disease.

While conventional medications or laxative herbs such as senna can give quick relief for blockages, they can cause cramping and discomfort and are not a long term solution since the bowels become dependent on laxatives. Many people will find that a morning coffee does the trick, but are unable to go without a stimulant such as coffee, meaning your body is not doing the job on its own.
Naturopathic medicine works with providing relief and removing obstacles to healthy elimination, while reminding the body to do its job.

Some causes of constipation are related to diet (lack of hydration, inadequate fibre, food sensitivities, refined food), lifestyle (lack of exercise), stress and anxiety, and other conditions such as hypothyroidism, IBS, depression, cancer and nervous system disorders.  Increasing fibre or drinking more water may not always fix constipation for many people, so you need to look at what is out of balance and treat it accordingly.  Read below for an overview of different types of constipation according to Ayurvedic body types and ways to correct imbalances.

Ayurvedic Body Types & Constipation


Elimination is governed by apana vayu, think of this as the force of the wind which helps expel things from the body.  This force regulates the "urge" to go, and can be easily thrown off balance with stress, anxiety, overthinking, poor eating habits and excess activity. Have you ever had to go, but then you had to rush to work or run to do something and lost the urge? Elimination is natural so listening to your body is crucial. When you know your body type, you can understand which factors in your daily life will throw off your digestion and elimination. 

What kind of constipation you experience will depend on your constitution (vata, pitta, kapha), the season and symptoms with which you present. Additionally, tongue and pulse diagnosis can pinpoint what kind of imbalances are manifesting.

Vata Constipation

There is an essential connection between the nervous system and elimination. When you are relaxed and at ease (parasympathetic mode), it is much easier to eliminate. When you are in fight or flight mode, blood and energy shunt away from your digestive system to your muscles in order to flee from what the body sees as potential danger. Chronic constipation develops quickly in individuals who have a Vata imbalance and is characterized by a dry colon with hard, dry stools. Eating too much fiber, such as raw vegetables, in Vata constipation can actually worsen constipation because it is rough and drying.

Tips: 
Increase your water intake and healthy omegas to help lubricate the intestinal passage. Make time in the morning to eliminate without rushing. Avoid suppressing the natural urge to go, and avoid eating on the go. The nervous system plays an important role in the digestive system, so spending time to eat in a relaxed environment and eating at regular times can improve regularity. Working with your ND for a customized diet, soothing demulcent herbs and natural lubricating suppositories can help with Vata constipation.


Pitta Constipation

Constipation in these body types is not as common as in Vata & Kapha, because of their innate digestive strength.  However, elimination issues manifest from excess heat in the body, particularly in the colon, leading to mucus, inflammation, burning sensation and hemorrhoids. These body types tend to be "doers", often pushing their body's limits to get work done and ignoring natural urges.

Tips:
Hydration in key for Pittas and so is slowing down. Following a Pitta balancing diet with cooling foods such as abundant leafy greens, salads and fruits can help treat constipation. Acupuncture can also help reduce heat in the body and stimulate movement in the colon. Cooling herbs such as aloe vera work well to soothe the intestines and work as a natural laxative.

Kapha Constipation

Kapha body types can struggle with elimination, in addition to fatigue and weight gain. This type of constipation is characterized by slow, sluggish bowels and mucous. Bowel movements tend to be large and oily. Eating heavy foods such as deep fried, excessive oil, cheese and creamy foods or eating late meals can aggravate this kind of constipation. Lighter food rich in fibre and vegetables are helpful to address this kind of constipation. If constipation is not addressed in a Kapha body, toxins can accumulate quickly and lead to weight gain, fatigue and other diseases.


Tips:
Exercise and gentle self massage or dry skin brushing can help stimulate movement in the colon. Fibre and dry foods support elimination and reduce mucous and heaviness in the intestines. Warming digestive spices such as ginger and black pepper can help as well as drying, astringent herbs and food (such as leafy green veggies). Triphala is a great herbal formula to address constipation in all types, including Kapha constipation. There are various ways and dosages to take this herb so speak with your ND to find out if this will help you.

Other Naturopathic Tips

Regardless of your body type, there are some foundational factors to ensure that your bowels move well. You can work on these tips with your naturopathic doctor to help identify your imbalances and what approach to take for your treatment.
  • Adequate water intake
  • Healthy fibers (such as vegetables, chia seeds, psyllium)
  • Probiotics to restore gut flora and promote healthy bowels
  • Healthy oils such as fish oils, ghee, coconut, seabuckthorn and olive oil
  • Food sensitivity testing: many people suffer from food sensitivities to dairy, wheat and other common foods. Identifying which foods are triggers for digestive health can make it easier to treat constipation.
  • Posture: the colon is meters long and muscle tension and poor posture can obstruct the route for healthy elimination.
  • Letting go: identifying emotional blockages or areas where you feel "stuck" in your life - in relationships, career etc. Working with your practitioner with counselling, homeopathic remedies, acupuncture and body work can help you release unprocessed emotions which often coincide with physical symptoms such as constipation.

If you notice any changes in your bowel movements, it is important to bring it up with your naturopathic doctor as they could be a sign of a more serious health issue such as hypothyroidism, bowel obstruction, IBD or side effects of medications. While constipation is common, it isn't normal or healthy. You don't have to live with constipation - there are natural treatments that can bring relief. Healthy elimination means the body is able to dump out toxins and help your body work much more efficiently!

Dr. Leena Athparia is a naturopathic doctor & Ayurvedic practitioner at Naturopathic Foundations with a focus in joint health, pain and chronic disease. She has a special interest in Ayurvedic nutrition. If you are healthy and looking into preventing disease or learning more about your constitution, Dr. Athparia can help you. Please call the clinic at 905-940-2727 to book an appointment.



Spring Cleaning: Your Home

by Dr. Leena Athparia, ND & Marie Lennox

Spring is a time for renewal. The body does its clean up after the winter and begins to detoxify. Externally, it is also a good time to clean up your environment – at home, work or even in the car. Removing old clutter makes space for new things and can help you feel more at ease in your space. Physically cleaning your environment can go a long way in helping you feel reenergized this season.

When you clean with conventional products, unfortunately you are exposing yourself to chemicals that interfere with health - often unknowingly. Common products that contain chemicals are laundry detergent, softeners, dish soap, air fresheners, bathroom cleaners, drain cleaners and many more common household cleaners. These chemicals can enter through your skin, eyes or respiratory tract and can be very toxic to adults, children and pets. You can read more on common contaminants here.

During spring, the body is naturally trying to detoxify so you want to minimize toxins in your food & environment. Even if you are eating organic, exercising and keeping up with a healthy lifestyle, you could be getting unhealthy chemicals through household cleaning products. At Naturopathic Foundations, we use natural cleaning products and techniques, and thought we would share some healthy and easy spring cleansing tips that you can use at home.

Natural Cleaning Tips


Fridge Cleaning:
While your fridge may store many of your nutrient-rich foods, it is one of the most common places that harbours rotting food and unhealthy mold. Start by clearing out food shelf by shelf. Check for expiry dates, and throw food in compost and recycle glass jars in the blue bin.
  • Wipe shelves and inside of fridge with a touch of natural dish soap and baking soda on a damp cloth. This lifts and softens hardened drips and spills. Rinse with white vinegar and water solution (1/2 c. vinegar to 1 c. water) which will deodorize and disinfect your fridge.

Laundry solutions:
Washing your clothes with conventional detergents and softeners leaves residue on clothing and bedsheets which gets absorbed through the skin. This increases the toxic burden on the body and can eventually lead to hormonal imbalance, autoimmune conditions, cancer, and more.
  • 1/2 c. white vinegar in the rinse compartment to soften and deodorize your clothes and replace softeners. This is especially great for baby clothes and will not leave a vinegar smell. Choose natural laundry detergents which are environmentally safe and natural (unscented is best).
  • Essential oils placed on a damp cloth and placed with clothes in the drier will give a natural scent to your clothes. Choose essential oils such as lavender, jasmine, eucalyptus or any other blend you like. Check out the wide variety of essential oils in the clinic that you can use for this.
  • Drier balls can be used to reduce the time of your load by creating more space in the load. We have some available at the clinic at the front.

Surfaces & floor cleaners:
Tables, counter tops, floors pick up dust, grease and grime and cleaning with water won't always cut it. When you use conventional surface cleaners, chemical residue sticks to the surface and can be picked up by crawling infants, pets and adults through the skin. Keeping a bottle of homemade surface cleaner in a spray bottle will come in handy for regular use.

  • 1/4 c. hydrogen peroxide (as a disinfectant) and 10-15 drops of essential oils (such orange, grapefruit) and few drops of natural dish soap in 1 bucket of hot water. Use a mop or cloth to clean floor surfaces. (If cleaning granite or stone surfaces, rinse again with warm water.)

Home-made drain cleaner:
This non-toxic solution can clear drains clogged with grease and residue and is much safer than corrosive drain cleaners.
  • 1/2 c. of baking soda sprinkled in a clogged drain, followed by 1 c. of white vinegar. Let the mixture bubble for a few minutes and then pour boiling water. 

Natural Air Freshener:
Essential oil diffusers break up aromatic oils into small volatile particles in the air and add a wonderful fragrance on the home that is non-toxic. You can choose oils that you like for their scent or even their therapeutic properties. Lavender and floral scents tend to be calming, while citrus scents tend to be energizing and invigorating. We carry diffusers in the clinic that you can use at your home or office.


You will find that if you can replace your conventional household cleaners with natural alternatives, you will reduce the toxic burden in your home and support the healing of you and your family.  We carry a variety of natural cleaning products and essential oils at the clinic which you can come in to learn about anytime. You can speak with any of the naturopathic doctors at Naturopathic Foundations to find out more about ways you can help reduce toxins in your home, food and body care products, and improve your body’s ability to detoxify.