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Few of us who grew up in Canada recall “tick checks” as children, where our parents would examine us for signs of tick bites after a day outdoors. Understanding tick-borne diseases is not usually on our summer priority list, but this has to change. Ticks infected with Lyme Disease-causing bacteria (Borrelia burgdorferi) are present in Kingston and pose a risk for contraction of serious chronic neurological illness. Diagnosing the illness is very challenging, so that Lyme disease is grossly under-reported.
Ticks are tiny insects, (even as tiny as a typed period on a written page), that live in wooded areas and on animals, possibly including outdoor pets. Infected ticks can transmit harmful bacteria to people through a bite though most people exposed to these bacteria never contract the corresponding disease. The very few who do contract Lyme disease often have a difficult time obtaining an accurate diagnosis.
Public health two-stage testing for Lyme disease will only catch the illness in approximately 65% of cases. More thorough testing is available by some laboratories in the United States with an MD or ND requisition (see www.igenex.com), but these can be quite costly and are still not 100% accurate. Much of the diagnosis for Lyme disease is clinical, meaning that other causes for the symptoms are ruled out, and symptoms are consistent with those of Lyme disease.
Many healthcare practitioners who screen for Lyme disease expect to see a characteristic non-itchy “bulls-eye” rash, though this occurs in less than 50% of the people with Lyme disease. Other symptoms of Lyme disease, including fatigue, joint pain, Bell’s Palsy, and foggy-thinking, mimic so many other illnesses that the disease commonly goes undiagnosed or even misdiagnosed as Fibromyalgia or Multiple Sclerosis, for example. The physiological stress and immune suppression caused by the chronic infection is associated with the development of other chronic illnesses, including depression, thyroid disease, and Crohn’s disease.
Early diagnosis is critical to successful recovery. If you suspect that you have Lyme disease, speak to a “Lyme-literate” health practitioner. Antibiotic treatment is often indicated, but not always required, and a holistic treatment approach that strengthens immune function, reduces inflammation, and heals damaged tissues and glands, may significantly reduce the chance of disease relapse, which is common with antibiotic treatment alone.
Prevention and quick diagnosis are critical! Here are some things to keep in mind this summer:
1. Wear light-coloured, long-sleeved clothing (with pants tucked into socks), when outdoors in tall grasses and wooded areas, so that ticks are more visible.
2. DEET is a proven tick repellant. Lemon eucalyptus extract may also be an effective tick repellant and safer for chemically sensitive individuals.
3. If you find a tick attached to your skin, gently remove it with a pair of tweezers (by the head, as close to the skin as possible) and seal it in a container. Apply antiseptic to the bite. Take the tick to public health for testing for Lyme disease and co-infections. Symptoms may appear anywhere from 3 days to several months later, but most commonly appear within 1 to 3 weeks. Contraction of the Lyme bacteria is unlikely if the tick was attached to the skin for less than 20 hours.
4. If you develop a rash and are uncertain, take a photo and have a healthcare practitioner look at it.
5. Keep your immune system up! Any chronic condition puts significant strain on your immune system so that battling acute infections such as Lyme is more challenging. Work with a health practitioner to understand where your immune imbalances exist, and how to support them.
6. If your spouse has ever been diagnosed with Lyme disease, and you have chronic symptoms that may be caused by Lyme disease, request a thorough evaluation by a healthcare practitioner. Some preliminary (and controversial) research suggests that the bacteria can be transmitted through body fluids, including during sexual intercourse. The research is convincing enough to warrant being taken seriously.
Education is key. For more information about Lyme disease, please visit the International Lyme and Associated Diseases website, www.ilads.org.
This four-week course is an introduction to Vipassana (Insight) Meditation and a support to those who wish to deepen their practice. Jocelyne is an experienced Mindfulness Meditation instructor, and maintains an Osteopathy practice here at KIHC.
Please call to register at least 3 days in advance.
Allergy Scratch Testing: Scratch testing is available through Dr. Sonya Nobbe, ND, for ragweed, weeds, grasses, trees, cats, and dust mite. The cost is $35.
Reduction or elimination of seasonal allergies is possible when the root cause of the allergy is addressed. Where mainstream medical philosophy perceives this root cause to be in the allergic response itself or in the pollen exposure, other medical philosophies acknowledge that the immune system is acting appropriately given signals it receives from somewhere deeper in the body. This is why over-the-counter anti-histamines tend to be most effective at managing your allergy symptoms, but incapable of initiating true healing and elimination of allergic symptoms. Eliminating allergic symptoms means addressing underlying imbalanced body systems.
Treating the root cause of allergic symptoms is greatly supported by diet and lifestyle choices that reduce total body inflammation. Below are some key ways to reduce inflammation and experience some relief from your allergy symptoms this season.
Quercetin is a flavonoid in food that functions as a natural anti-histamine, to be used in conjunction with or sometimes instead of pharmaceutical anti-histamines. Foods high in quercetin include apples, buckwheat, onion, and citrus fruits. Quercetin is also available in supplement form, and may be used effectively before exposure to the allergen.
Drink nettle (Urtica dioica) tea or use a high quality extract. Urtica dioica has a long history of use for allergic symptoms, and current research suggests it may alleviate symptoms by modulating how genes signal for the production of inflammatory chemicals.
Eat 6 to 8 servings of vegetables and berries daily. These contain high amounts of antioxidants and flavonoids, which are chemicals that combat the consequences of inflammation. You may also wish to add a high quality antioxidant supplement that includes vitamin C, to your daily regime.
Replace some of the red meat in your diet with wild-caught fish, or take a high-quality fish oil supplement (such as SuperEFA, NutraSea, or Nordic Naturals). Red meats are high in a fat called arachadonic acid, which your body uses to make inflammation. Over 8 to 12 weeks, the omega-3 “anti-inflammatory” fats in fish will start to replace the inflammatory fats.
Determine which foods you are specifically allergic to, and reduce or eliminate them from your diet. Food allergies do not necessarily cause digestive symptoms. Special allergy tests (see www.usbiotek.com), or a diet experiment called an “elimination diet” can help you identify these problematic foods.
Increase your daily intake of (filtered) water. The allergy response requires a lot of water and can lead to dehydration if a person is not consuming enough. Dehydration itself can cause histamine release, which is responsible for many allergic symptoms. Other symptoms of dehydration include dry eyes, fatigue, and dull headaches.
Replace foods made with sugar or flour, with whole grains. For example, replace cold breakfast cereal with steel-cut oatmeal or quinoa, sweetened with almond milk, berries, or apples. This will support your body’s efforts to reduce inflammation and heal.
In her more than 5 years of experience as a Naturopathic Doctor, Christina shines as a truly supportive and caring health partner for her patients. She is additionally skilled in the specialized field of naturopathic pediatrics. I am sincerely appreciative of her many contributions to our professional team at Kingston Integrated Healthcare. Please see her new video, created by Jayce at HowToBecome.tv, posted here.
Thursday March 10th, 7pm
Hosted by Kingston Integrated Healthcare
Please join Dr. Jennifer Wheeler, ND, for an informative session about intravenous (IV) therapy. In IV therapy, nutrients are directly injected with a needle into veins of the lower arm. Individualized treatments are tailored to each patient’s condition. Treatments may last 30 minutes to 2 hours, depending on the volume of solution. IV therapy may be used to treat cancer, fibromyalgia, Crohn’s disease, Lyme disease, Parkinson’s disease, migraines, high blood pressure, asthma, macular degeneration, and poor tissue healing. Dr. Wheeler is extensively trained to provide primary health care to patients of all ages and conditions, and devotes some of her practice to the treatment and prevention of cardiovascular disease and cancer.
~ Dr. Sonya Nobbe, ND
You may have noticed the sudden increase in recent negative media attention to homeopathy. This urged a few of my patients to ask about the differences between homeopathy and naturopathy. Though both naturopathic medicine and homeopathy are unique and separate medical systems, the question is common and I’d like to clarify some misperceptions.
Homeopathy is a 200 year old medical system from Germany. It works on the principle of “like cures like”, which is the antithesis to the conventional medical philosophy founded on opposites. For example, eczema and psoriasis are common health conditions characterized by inflammation on the skin. What is it about the state of the immune, endocrine, and nervous systems, that allow scaling and redness to occur here? Older medical philosophies often view this inflammation as a manifestation of the body’s attempt to heal. If the body is an intelligent, self-healing unit, then the inflammation represents unsuccessful healing. If we support the body’s healing process so that it completes the job correctly, the eczema or psoriasis disappears. In other words, if we stimulate the body in a way similar to how it’s attempting to behave and heal, then the body will have the capacity to heal itself. “Like cure s like.”
The Western medical system frequently treats eczema and psoriasis with anti-inflammatories that block, rather than support, the inflammatory process. This is an approach of “opposites”. It effectively treats the symptom of skin inflammation, but frequent application of medication is required because the underlying cause is not addressed.
Naturopathic Doctors often apply this supportive, rather than inhibitory philosophy in their treatments. In their 7 plus years of post-secondary education, Naturopathic Doctors learn about multiple medical systems including homeopathy. We receive extensive training in Traditional Chinese Medicine, acupuncture, botanical medicine, nutrition and diet, physical medicine, lifestyle counseling, and mainstream medicine. We are generalists like a family physician, who look at the whole picture, attempt to understand how all symptoms are connected, and support the underlying deficiency with our many tools so that the body can heal. Conversely, Homeopaths might be perceived as specialists in the field of homeopathy.
The media attention appears to be an outcry against recent government legislation regulating homeopaths for the first time. These regulations are expected to come into effect over the coming 2 years. By contrast, Naturopathic Medicine has been regulated for 85 years and Naturopathic Doctors share many of the same legally controlled acts as Medical Doctors.
Homeopathy is a wonderful medicine full of potential if used properly. Contrary to the opinion expressed on CBC Marketplace, homeopathy has a signficant body of clinical and laboratory scientific research supporting its efficacy that can be accessed by simply typing “homeopathy” into a standard PUB Med search. Homeopathy requires a significant amount of skill to be effective, which is why seeking support from a knowledgeable health practitioner is advised. It is generally a gentle and safe medicine ideal for children, adults who are sensitive to pharmaceuticals, people with mental health concerns, pre- and post-surgery states, and faster recovery from injury.
~ Dr. Sonya Nobbe, ND
You have over 200 bones in your body. They live inside of you, and might be the last physical part of you remaining a few hundred years from now. For many of us, as we age, our relationship with our bones grows from relative indifference to insecurity. Menopause marks the turning point for many women in this relationship, as medical authorities warn that declining estrogen levels also means declining bone health. The change in bone health for men is less appreciated, though many experts agree that the risk for spinal fracture is the same for men and women. Can you have drug-free healthy bones in your later years? Absolutely! Following are some answers to common myths that reveal opportunity for attaining optimal bone health.
Myth 1: Calcium supplementation ensures good bone health.
In fact, bone metabolism requires at least 16 dietary nutrients, and multiple studies suggest that calcium alone offers only a small protective benefit against fracture risk. Though calcium makes up the majority of bone density, our bone quality is produced by our bone cells which require much more nourishment to do their job of removing old bone and creating new bone. Additional nutrients are required for optimal bone health. These include magnesium, vitamin K and D, boron, manganese, zinc, and copper.
Myth 2: A good bone density test score indicates healthy bones and little chance of fracture.
According to some experts, bone density scans predict less than half of those who experience a fracture related to osteoporosis. Furthermore, most women older than 65 years who experience a hip fracture do not have osteoporosis! So, while a bone density test is a good screening measure for poor bone density, it is a poor indicator of bone quality, and is not a stand-alone determinant of fracture risk. Many factors should be considered when evaluating your fracture risk.
Myth 3: Milk is the most important dietary choice for bone health.
Milk is certainly high in calcium, and organic dairy is an important part of some people’s diet. However, green leafy vegetables are also high in calcium, and are at least as important as dairy for healthy bones. The first reason for this is because unlike milk, many vegetables contain the trace minerals required to fuel enzymes for healthy bone production. The second reason is based on the theory of how the body balances pH, sometimes described as the “Acid-Alkaline Diet”. Dairy can stimulate a biochemical cascade in the body that results in bones releasing their calcium into the bloodstream to bring an acidic pH closer to neutral. Vegetables generally do not stimulate this cascade and indirectly encourage calcium retention by the bones. Though the exact mechanism for how foods stimulate this buffering process rema ins unclear, much evidence exists in favour of a diet high in foods designated as “alkaline-forming” such as vegetables, and low in “acid-forming” foods such as animal proteins and caffeine, for optimal bone health. It is possible to obtain all nutrients for optimal bone health in a carefully planned diet devoid of dairy products.
Myth 4: Tums is a good and inexpensive source of calcium.
Calcium, like many minerals, requires a significant amount of stomach acid for optimal absorption. Tums is used to neutralize stomach acid to treat heartburn, so that the calcium in tums is not very absorbable. The same logic applies to anyone with low stomach acid levels, which is common in people older than 65 years, and those taking an acid blocking drug such as Zantac and Ranitidine. It is important to choose the kind of calcium that is most absorbable in a low acid environment, such as calcium citrate rather than calcium carbonate.
Many of these myths represent the dichotomy between mainstream medical philosophy and the philosophy of more holistic medical systems. Optimal bone health requires far more than treatment of bones. It requires attention to full body health, including the digestive tract for balanced nutrient absorption, kidney and thyroid balance for proper calcium regulation, and muscle, to stimulate proper bone growth. Supporting your body where it is most susceptible is your key to achieving optimal bone health.
For more information about bone health, please download our pdf version newsletter Healthy Bones Newsletter.
~ Dr. Sonya Nobbe, ND
Eating to lose weight can seem complicated; no sugar, low fat, good fat, and even… maple syrup and lemon juice. And if choosing your food wasn’t confusing enough, multiple studies suggest that starting a diet is one of the best predictors of weight gain. Is the problem our inability to stick to a diet, or is it the failure of the diet industry to understand us? Is there such a thing as a perfect diet for you?
The science of “let food be your medicine” is more complex than the philosophy conceived by Hippocrates circa 400 B.C. The food we eat impacts our health well beyond the calories, fats, and vitamins we spend most of our time focusing on. We now know that certain foods flip our genes on and off, which can be the difference between experiencing the heritable disease your mother had and bypassing the poor health outcomes experienced by your father. Your food creates your health from the level of your DNA and up.
Though older cultural medicines lacked an understanding of unique genetic makeup, they offer an extraordinary appreciation for the qualities of different foods, and how foods complement particular disease patterns expressed by a person. For example, in Traditional Chinese Medicine, foods and people are categorized by their amount of heat, cold, dampness, and dryness. Accordingly, warm foods can be used to treat conditions characterized by a lack of heat or by excess cold. Meals might incorporate a balanced amount of yin and yang, so as not to cause a health problem.
More contemporary approaches to dieting may include specialized laboratory testing that evaluates your metabolism, hormone status, and food allergens. The corresponding food plan includes foods that support, and excludes foods that hinder, your particular metabolic state. For example, raw cruciferous vegetables such as kale and broccoli, can improve liver and estrogen metabolism which makes a healthy weight more attainable. However, these vegetables can also interfere with the thyroid gland which slows down metabolism! Whether these vegetables help or hurt your ability to attain a healthy weight depends on your particular metabolic balance.
Beyond the biochemical, organ-specific, and genetic impact of certain foods, lies the more complicated aspect of our emotional and spiritual response to food. For many people, food is a social connection, a comforting activity, a method of control, or an escape. (In fact, “comfort foods” may actually make us feel better by supporting serotonin production in our brains.) How each of us relates to food can quite surprisingly reveal how we relate to life in general.
Consequently, your perfect diet incorporates 1) a thorough appreciation for food, and 2) a deeper understanding of your unique biochemical and emotional makeup. With these 2 principles in mind, most any traditional diet plan can be improved. Attaining a healthy weight is a lifestyle, and a philosophy. Support from a knowledgeable health professional will take you further in your search for optimal eating, but the majority of the work occurs in challenging yourself to broaden your understanding of your relationship to food, and of food’s genuine capacity to change your life. You are what you eat
We’d like to welcome Joel Ackerman, Registered Massage Therapist, to the team! Joel is currently accepting new clients.
Joel is a graduate of the Sutherland Chan School of Massage Therapy in Toronto. In addition to offering relaxation massage, Joel is skilled with treating a variety of conditions, including sports injuries, chronic pain syndromes, neurological disease, and pre- and post-surgical states. He has additional training in Shiatsu technique, pregnancy massage, and Positional and Dynamic Release. Joel enjoys working with clients of all ages and stages of health, including seniors.
Joel believes strongly in the effectiveness of massage therapy when applied as part of an integrative approach to health. When appropriate, Joel will conduct functional testing and suggest home care stretching and strengthening exercises. He enjoys educating clients about their bodies and will work with you to support your health goals.
In response to your many inquiries, many of our practitioners are offering immune-focused appointments for the months of November and December. Your health practitioner can help you identify where your body needs support to obtain optimal immune health this winter season.
Cold and flu prevention appointments may additionally include:
Laboratory testing for vitamin D status
Flu vaccine alternatives
Nutrient status assessments with individualized dietary recommendations for boosting the immune system
Flu treatments to keep on hand, “just in case”
Cold and flu recovery strategies