Posted on July 18th, 2019
Posted on January 25th, 2018
I’m going to be writing more on the new research that I read on the microbiome.
The existing and emerging research continuously reinforces the fascinatingly strong influence these bugs have on our current health and heath outcomes.
I will get in to specifics in future blogs, but today I wanted to give a brief synopsis on how the microbiome influences our health.
This dynamic, complex system (technically, organ) of bacteria, known as the Microbiome, that resides all over and inside our bodies has been found to have such an important role in our health and the way we adapt to our external environment.
The largest portion of the human microbiome is housed in the large intestine (the gut), containing over 10 trillion bacteria (to put that in to context, that is about 10 times more than the amount of human cells in your body).
One of the most important roles of the gut microbiota is the influence on our immune system.
The our immune cells read “codes” called Pathogen Associated Molecular Patterns (PAMPs) on the bacteria that tell our immune systems what to do - these codes are specific to each bacteria - good “commensal” teaches our immune system to be balanced, and pathogenic bacteria contain codes that signal dysregulation.
Imbalances in the immune system play a role in virtually every disease.
Many seemingly separate conditions have been tied to the same imbalances of the immune system; inflammation and it’s role in hypertension, mental health and the development of cancer, and autoimmune processes and their affinity on multiple organ systems in the body.
What’s interesting about the microbiome is that these bugs are what teach our immune systems how to react and adapt to the given environment.
We have a mutualistic interaction with our microbiome, especially the gut microbiome. When the microbiome is well-balanced, nourished and overall healthy, we are the same.
The interactions of a healthy microbiome with the “host” (us) results in immune regulation/balance, efficient energy production and metabolism, great digestive health and a well-functioning liver.
Healthy microbes teach the immune system how to properly adapt to the environment, preventing unnecessary inflammation, and they also produce biochemicals and vitamins that help our bodies function efficiently.
A healthy microbiome will also protect you from invasive pathogens that want in on the real estate.
When the microbiome becomes “dysbiotic” (which means overgrowth with bad kinds of microbes, or even too much of a good type), it sends the immune system the wrong signals, promoting inflammation, and producing noxious metabolites that burden our bodies rather than helping it.
Dysbiosis of the gut microbiome in particular has been linked to many diseases such as inflammatory bowel disease, obesity, diabetes, cancer, allergies, autoimmune disease and asthma.
Dysbiosis can be caused by many different factors.
For many people it actually starts from birth.
It’s been established and well-accepted by the scientific community that babies born via C-section, or who are not breast-fed, have a different, dysbiotic, gut microbiome than babies who were born vaginally or are exclusively breast fed, leading to higher rates of asthma, allergies, Celiac disease and obesity.
This is why it’s important to intervene early with probiotics a child is not born vaginally or is not breast-fed for many reasons.
Dysbiosis can also be caused by taking multiple rounds of antibiotics, especially if not counteracted by using probiotic during and after using the antibiotics.
As antibiotics wipe out the infective bacteria, it wipes out some of our good bacteria with it, leaving space.
This type of dysbiosis makes us more susceptible to catching bad, invasive bacteria and parasites that now have opportunity to occupy this space.
Dysbiosis can also occur if you’ve caught a parasite, or some invasive bug while drinking water in a different part of the world, or if you eat something not quite cooked.
Most importantly, dysbiosis is highly promoted by an unhealthy diet.
Just like us, your microbiome needs to be fed the right substances to be healthy, strong and efficient.
If you feed it bad food, such as refined sugars and starches, transfats, a diet full of meat, and nutrient-void foods, your microbiome will not be strong, leading to poor health.
You’d be surprised how many of our everyday foods actually are considered “prebiotics” and aid in the health of our gut microbiome.
You won’t be surprised to hear that colour fruits and vegetables, healthy fibres from non-GMO grains, and colour spices are great sources of prebiotics.
Fermented foods such as saurkraut, kimchi, kefir, and properly made yogurts are major sources of prebiotics if you want to get serious about feeding the microbiome.
Naturopathic doctors have been aware of and treating the microbiome for decades - we are excellent sources for dietary recommendations on how to maintain the health of your microbiome as well as strategic treatments on how to rebalance your gut microbial flora.
Obvious signs that you might have problems with the balance of your microbiome include digestive problems, or recurrent infections of any sort - if you suffer from these afflictions, it would be helpful to consult with a doctor that can help you rebalance your flora and prevent chronic disease.
Stay tuned for more up-to-date information and interesting research on the microbiome and its affect on your daily health.
Yours in Health,
Dr. Tanya Lee, N.D
To discover more ways about health, wellness, and alternative medicine, please visit us here: ontario naturopath
Posted on January 17th, 2018
As a naturopath, when I think of Gingko biloba, I think of words such as hope, vitality, resiliency, and patience.
This majestic tree has shown us that it embodies these exact words in the most horrific circumstances - 1945 Hiroshima atomic bomb destroyed everything within its epicentre, except six Gingko biloba trees, which even sprouted new greenery days after the terrible event.
This example of the resilience and vitality of this beautiful herb is translated in to its medicinal use and how it can help us become representations of these words.
Gingko biloba produces fruit that has been used in traditional Chinese medicine.
When they fall and start to decay, they produce a very unpleasant odour, one could compare to a pair of stinky feet.
So many who front this tree on their lawns must bare with this one downfall of having this tree in their presence.
This downfall, however, is completely superseded by the amazing beauty, elegance and medicine benefit of being around such a remarkable creation of nature.
Leaf, (seeds in Chinese medicine, not typically used in Western Medicine)
Astringent, Bitter, Warming, Moving
Ginkgo is not considered an edible plant
The actions of Gingko biloba on the human body can be represented as low and slow, and requires patience.
The medicinal properties of this tree are the strongest when used over a course of time.
The most commonly known medicinal property for Gingko leaves is its effect on memory, making this herb a “nootropic”.
Gingko has been heavily marketed to the public to be used to “improve and strengthen memory”, as people bought in to this claim, it’s not surprising the feedback that many found that they didn’t feel this at all worked.
Gingko indeed does improve memory but the application of this herb in this context is flawed.
This herbs works slow - expectations that this herb will work within a few weeks is not accurate - so if you’re a student looking to strengthen your memory in a week for an exam, gingko is NOT the herb for you.
Ginkgo has it’s best effect when used over a long period of time to establish its effects in the body and it works on memory in two ways: 1) Vasodilation and 2) Reducing blood viscosity.
This means that the biochemicals in Gingko will help open up the blood vessels as well has thinning the blood, allowing blood to flow more freely within the vessel, increasing microperfusion to the brain - more blood flow to and within the brain means more oxygen and protection to the brain.
Gingko also protects the brain through antioxidant biochemicals, protecting the brain from tissues damage caused by lack of oxygen, and increasing mitochondrial function therefore increasing energy production in the brain.
There is a plethora of research supporting the effect of Gingko in the improvement of memory and cognitive function in those with dementia and Alzheimer’s disease, especially if these conditions are a result of vascular insufficiency.
However there are many trials that do not support this, resulting in review studies performed between 2003-2014 concluding the research is too inconsistent to support Gingko in this context.
The varying results come from inconsistencies in dosage, administration and inclusion criteria set out by each trial.
One of the most recent meta-analysis on Gingko biloba research performed by Tan et. al (2015) took in to account these flaws and came to the conclusion that 240mg of standardized Ginkgo daily improved cognitive function and prevented decline in patients with dementia after 24 weeks, especially for those who also exhibited neuropsychiatric symptoms.
Another recent review study by Yuan et. al (2017) also concluded similar results that Gingko biloba improved cognitive function in those with Alzheimer’s at a dose over 200mg/day if taken for at least 5 weeks.
These review show promise and exemplify the need for higher quality, larger-scale studies in order to demonstrate the efficacy of Gingko biloba in the treatment of dementia.
Prevention of cognitive decline in healthy individuals is still not well represented in the research, but traditional use and anecdotal evidence supports the use of this herb for this purpose.
The effect of Gingko on blood flow doesn’t just stop at memory.
These properties translate in to effects on the peripheral body as well.
There are promising outcomes represented in the research of using Gingko in the treatment of cerebral insufficiency in stroke victims, peripheral artery disease, prevention of coronary artery disease by reducing plaque formation, diabetic neuropathy, Raynauds and thrombosis (blood clots).
There are claims that Gingko can be useful in the treatment of tinnitus, though studies are limited and results are inconsisent.
The most recent Cochrane Review on Gingko and Tinnitus found Ginkgo only to be beneficial when tinnitus is associated with dementia, not when tinnitus is the sole symptom.
This reflects back to the circulatory actions of gingko - when tinnitus is a result of poor cerebrovascular circulation, appears to be effective.
If it’s due to other reasons, the effects of Gingko appear to be less impactful on tinnitus symptoms.
Traditionally Gingko biloba taken through infusion (tea) - this application is best for people who want to use Gingko for daily prevention of cognitive decline.
Tinctures of Gingko leaf also provides a gentle and supportive effect.
I typically use these forms for healthy, older individuals who want to keep their memory sharp and encourage blood flow to the brain.
Much of the research on Gingko biloba use and support standardized extracts of Gingko at dosages of 120-240mg/day.
Extremely potent extracts of Gingko (50:1) are considered pharmaceutical grade substances and should not be dosed unless monitored by a health care professional.
Gingko biloba is considered a safe herb to use if used at the standard recommended dose (see above)
The blood-thinning effects of Ginkgo has made many clinicians weary about using this herb with blood thinning pharmaceuticals.
However, it has been found that the blood-thinning effects of Gingko are not related to reducing platelet count, but inhibiting platelet aggregating factor (PAF), so the that use with blood thinners may not be as detrimental as previously thought, with many studies demonstrating using Ginkgo (up to 240mg) in conjunction with blood thinning medication does not increase bleeding risk or influence coagulation time.
Nonetheless, do no use Gingko if you are on blood thinners and consult with a physician that is familiar with herb-drug interactions before use of this herb - one of the only cases of increased bleeding is when using the extremely potent extract (50:1) in combination with blood thinners
Do not use with drug exhibiting monoamine-oxidase activity (such as certain antidepressants), or anti-epileptic drugs.
Always consult a physician familiar with herb-drug interaction if you’re on medication and are considering using this herb.
Yours in Health,
Dr. Tanya Lee, N.D
To see more information about health, wellness, and alternative medicine, please visit us here: toronto naturopathic
Posted on January 9th, 2018
Winter squashes and pumpkins are robust “fruits” that are harvested in the fall so we can use them throughout the winter.
Keeping them in a dark cool place will preserve these foods to give us nutrient-packed meals that are warming, healthy and delicious.
One of my favourite things to eat during the winter are winter squashes - particularly acorn squash, due to it’s abundance in vegetable markets in Ontario and for it’s sweet, buttery taste.
I use these in casseroles, bakes, mash them in place of white potato or simply bake them in the oven.
Acorn squash is a great source of low glycemic-load carbohydrates - this means that despite it being a source of carbohydrates, it won’t spike your blood sugar (therefore insulin) to the extent other carbohydrates such as wheat-based carbohydrates (and other grains) will increase your blood sugars after eating.
They are also easier to digest than grains, which makes it suitable carbohydrate source for people who experience a lot of bloating and bowel movement problems.
Acorn squash is rich in antioxidant vitamins C and A (beta-carotene, hence the orange colour!), potassium (great for lowering high blood pressure) and a great source of fibre (valuble for those with diabetes and cardiovascular disease).
Yours in Health,
Dr. Marnie Luck, N.D
To find additional info about health, wellness, and alternative medicine, please visit us here: natural health doctors
Posted on January 3rd, 2018
Most people are aware that they should supplement with vitamin D.
Few people are actually taking the appropriate dose to correct for vitamin deficiency or attain optimal levels.
Here are the facts about vitamin D.
Vitamin D is very different from other nutrients because unlike other vitamins, it is NOT naturally occurring in most of the foods we eat.
Very small amounts can be found in fish, beef liver, egg yolks and fortified foods.
Alternatively, humans (and other mammals) require the sun’s UVB radiation to synthesize Vitamin D in the the skin.
Here’s how UVB radiation from the sun to makes contact with our skin and produce vitamin D:
Factors that influence Vitamin D conversion via the sun.
When we take vitamin D supplements, we are orally ingesting “cholecalciferol” or “Vitamin D3” and thus we no longer require the sun’s help for conversion.
However, the “cholecalciferol” is not the end point for vitamin D as there are a few more steps to get to the active form vitamin D.
The Cholecalciferol (Vitamin D3) travels to the liver and is converted to “Calcidiol” (aka 25-Hydroxy-Vitamin D.
25-Hydroxy-Vitamin D is the component in our blood that is used as a marker for Vitamin D status.
The calcidiol, or 25-Hydroxy-Vitamin D, is like a blank piece of paper and must be converted by the kidneys and other tissues to the active form “calcitriol”.
It is is this form of vitamin D that exerts different effects on the body - acting more like a hormone than a vitamin in the way that it interacts with different receptors.
Vitamin D plays an essential role in calcium utilization and metabolism of calcium and therefore is important in the maintenance of healthy bones.
As more research emerges, there are many “non-classical” actions vitamin D exerts on the body including:
Therefore, it is not surprising that Vitamin D deficiency is associated with:
Health Canada recommends a daily intake of 400 IU for infants, 600 IU for children and adults, and 800 IU for adults over 70.
Supplementation at these amounts will not correct for deficiency, let alone maintain adequate status during the winter months.
Implementation of high dose vitamin D may be required to achieve optimal levels to improve overall health.
It is important to assess Vitamin D status by running blood work that includes 25-Hydroxy-Vitamin D prior to implementing high dose supplementation.
This test is not covered by OHIP, nor is it routinely run by MDs.
Naturopathic doctors routinely run serum Vitamin D in order to safely prescribe high doses (often up to 10 000 IU daily) in those individuals who are deficient.
Most people can safely supplement with up to 4000 IU daily.
However, to achieve optimal levels and ensure safety it is important have a thorough assessment done, including testing for vitamin D.
Seeking guidance from a local naturopath is an effective option.
Yours in Health,
Dr. Marnie Luck, N.D
To see additional tips on health, wellness, and alternative medicine, please visit us here: naturopathic dr
Posted on December 27th, 2017
The new year is a great time to reset and create intentions for the following months.
Health is the foundation of life.
Our health is not limited to our physical parameters.
It also includes our emotional and spiritual health.
Here are some resolutions alongside specific actions that you can implement this year.
Hopefully some of these resolutions - or intentions- resonate with you.
Yours in Health,
Dr. Marnie Luck, N.D
To see more ways on health, wellness, and alternative medicine, please visit us here: top naturopath toronto
Posted on December 21st, 2017
Many people wish they had more energy.
Chronic fatigue and generalized low energy are common concerns that naturopathic doctors excel in treating.
People feel “tired” in different ways. Some people feel sluggish and lethargic in their body, while others may feel mentally fatigued.
Identifying and addressing the root causes of fatigue and implementing targeted treatment enables people to have a significantly better quality of life.
Here are some reasons you may be tired:
Iron is the component of red blood cells that brings oxygen to all parts of your body.
Low iron can leave you tired, pale and irritable.
Many women have low iron because they menstruate (bleed) monthly.
Vitamin B12 is a nutrient primarily found in animal products.
B12 plays a role in energy production, nerve health and red blood cell synthesis.
Vegan diets (purely plant based) are very low in B12 and require supplementation.
Additionally, people who have digestive concerns or take certain medications may not be able to properly absorb B12 and can become deficient.
Most Canadians have insufficient amounts of circulating vitamin D.
Vitamin D is necessary for many different processes in the body, one of which is its role in bone and muscle health.
People who are vitamin D deficient may have weakening of the muscles which can make someone feel tired and heavy in their body.
Some people may not be getting enough protein, fat or carbohydrates (also known as macro-nutrients) to meet their energy requirements throughout the day.
When there is insufficient calorie intake, the body will not be able to burn fuel and produce energy effectively.
The thyroid regulates metabolism and energy production. When our thyroid is “under-active” or “hypo-functioning” fatigue is the hallmark symptom.
Certain factors can adversely affect the thyroid:
When someone is under chronic stress, cortisol increases and it signals to the thyroid to decrease thyroid hormone production.
Further more, when our body is persistently under stress, our body begins to convert “T4” (the abundant, yet inactive thyroid hormone) into “Reverse T3” instead of the active “T3” hormone.
When the immune system becomes dysregulated due to inflammation present in the body- often because of irritation in the gut, obesity, poor diet, stress and infections- autoimmunity against the thyroid can occur.
This is referred to as Hashimoto's Thyroiditis which can cause the thyroid to stop producing adequate amounts of hormone.
The thyroid depends on certain nutrients to produce hormone.
Tyrosine, an amino acid found in protein sources, serves as the backbone of T3 and T4.
Iodine is the other essential component. Adequate amounts of zinc and selenium are also needed for the transport and production thyroid hormones.
Amongst other functions, our adrenal glands release cortisol and adrenaline into the bloodstream in response to stress and energy requirements.
Cortisol has many functions.
When the adrenal glands are overworked, inadequate and inconsistent production of cortisol can lead to adrenal fatigue, and thus, low energy.
These are the major contributing factors:
Chronic or repetitive stress will result in prolonged elevation of cortisol that ultimately exhausts the adrenal glands.
This leads to overall low cortisol production which can result in chronic fatigue and extreme difficulty getting out of bed in the morning.
Our bodies rely on a diurnal (daily) rhythm including sleep pattern that remains relatively consistent.
This ensures that our cortisol rises in the morning, reaching its peak midday, and drops slowly, reaching its lowest point at night.
People who work night shifts, or go to bed and wake up at inconsistent times, dysregulate their diurnal pattern and cortisol pattern.
If you’re feeling tired- there is likely a reason.
The Naturopathic Doctors at Annex Naturopathic are experienced at treating the root causes of low energy.
Our NDs complete a compressive assessment and routine and specialized testing to identify thyroid and dysfunction, as well as nutrient deficiencies.
Yours in Health,
Dr. Marnie Luck, N.D
To find additional tips on health, wellness, and alternative medicine, please visit us here: toronto naturopath
Posted on December 14th, 2017
Happy Holidays from us at Annex Naturopathic Clinic!
It’s a shared feeling amongst most people that this is a crazy, hectic time of year.
This typically leads to most of us neglecting our good healthy habits and trading it up for stress-coping indulgences from the vast number of treats the holiday season has to offer.
While as naturopathic doctors, we understand and encourage giving in to the season, letting loose and participating in some of these indulgences.
It’s also important to be mindful of HOW MUCH you’re indulging and whether the extent of the indulgences is negatively affecting the both your physical and mental health.
Here are 5 tips that allows you to let loose and indulge, while maintaining healthy weight and stable mental health during this busy time of year.
Not only is keeping hydrated important for maintaining healthy skin during these DRY winter months, it will also keep your stomach full, preventing your from NEEDING those 3-5 extra cookies available in the lunch room, or from getting “too tipsy” and then “too hungover” from the holiday parties.
Staying hydrated doesn’t mean drinking only water - you can keep hydrated by sipping on herbal teas as well, as long as they aren’t caffeinated.
Drink at least 2L (8 cups) of water or tea daily (6 cups of water, 2 cups of tea) to keep yourself hydrated.
You can drink your water warm, squeeze some lemon in to it, or use teas like chamomile, ginger, lemon balm and peppermint to keep yourself warm and strengthen your digestion and help you cope with stress (two things that are typically imbalanced during this time of year).
When attending a holiday lunch or dinner, try sticking to meals that are low in carbohydrates (especially wheat-based carbs) and higher in protein, fats.
Also make sure to get a healthy dose of vegetables (greens in particular) with your meals, despite if the other foods are not as healthy.
The vegetables will ensure you’re getting SOME nutrients with these meals, bind excess fat, and provide fibre.
Avoiding the carbs will make your full quicker which will help keep the weight down, prevent blood sugar spikes and dips, and maintain your energy.
Cutting out the carbs during your meals also gives you some more wiggle room for sugary treats that are offered during this season.
It’s not realistic to avoid the vast amount of sugar that is served up this season - especially if you happen to have a sweet tooth.
By reducing your carb intake at your meals, it allows you to have a bit more room in your body for the pretty cookies and chocolate.
But don’t go overboard. Have ONE cookie, ONE piece of chocolate and wait - this allows you to taste the sweet, enjoy, and it won’t send you in to a frenzy of sugar highs and lows.
Blood sugar stabilization is extremely important in maintaining good energy during the day, maintaining weight and coping with the stress around us.
Sudden blood sugar spikes from indulging in too much sugar leads to sudden blood sugar drops, which make us tired, irritable, messes with our hormones that maintain our circadian rhythms, and makes us CRAVE more sugar in the long run!
Starting off your night with a cold beer, nice glass of wine (or 2) with dinner, or a fancy cocktail its totally fine but if you decide to have a few drinks that night, it’s always wise to switch to drinks with a lower sugar content.
Not only will this prevent a nasty hangover, but it will also keep the waistline from expanding.
Mixing clear alcohols (like vodka, gin, tequila ) with club soda (not tonic!) with some lemon/lime, and ordering it in a “tall glass” with a “single shot” (therefore a higher club soda to alcohol ratio) will help you pace your alcohol so you don’t get too tipsy too quick, and keep you hydrated at the same time.
And most importantly NO POP - it’s not worth it.
This is an important aspect of mindful eating - you associate eating and drinking/indulging during times of socialization, relaxation and fun, instead of using sugar and alcohol for times when you’re stressed, need break or bored (eating sugar during in between work, or binging afterwork for no occasion).
This helps you disassociate from using these indulgences as a way to cope with stress and to “relax”, breaking the hard cycle that leads to ill-health in the long run.
Also, when you limit your indulgences to happy times, you’re less-likely to over-indulge, as you’re feeling happy, content and satisfied for many reasons, not just from food and drink.
These tips will allow you to enjoy your holiday indulgences guilt-free and let you start 2018 on a healthy path!
Yours in Health,
Dr. Tanya Lee, N.D
To read additional ways about health, wellness, and alternative medicine, please visit us here: toronto naturopathic
Posted on December 6th, 2017
Digestive concerns are very common issue that we see here at Annex Naturopathic Clinic.
The following are some important tips to consider if you currently are experiencing or do experience digestive problems.
A wise man once said, “your stomach doesn’t have teeth” and that’s one of the reasons we must thoroughly chew our food.
An integral part of the digestive process starts in our mouths.
Chewing, alongside the digestive enzymes in our saliva, starts the process of breaking down food so that the stomach acid and other enzymes released further down the gastrointestinal tract are better able to function.
Not chewing your food leads to symptoms of indigestion and decreases nutrient absorption.
Our brain and our gut are connected.
When our brain is focused on tasks other than eating (replying to emails, driving, Instagram, ect.) our body is not is an ideal position to digest food.
Not to mention we often we faster and larger quantities when we are multi-tasking.
To build of the last point, when you stop multi-tasking and slow down before you eat you allow the body to settle into its “parasympathetic” nervous system, also know as our “rest and digest” nervous system.
When we are on-the-go, working or multi-tasking our “sympathetic” nervous system is predominant.
When we are in this state, we are primed to be on alert, with blood flow moving towards our brain and periphery- away from on digestive tract.
Taking a few deep breaths and relaxing while you eat (eating with others helps) you will digest your meal better.
A common misconception regarding diet is that we should drink a lot of water with our meals.
This is problematic as excess liquid intake around meals will actually dilute our gastric juices- like stomach acid and other digestive enzymes- making it harder to break down food.
It is best to avoid drinking large quantities of water or other liquids 30 minutes before and after meals.
Sipping beverages with your meal will not cause an issues.
Often people are eating for other reasons than hunger.
People eat because it is lunchtime- even though they may have ate a late breakfast.
People eat because they are tired, stressed, bored or sad.
Making sure you are actually hungry when you eat will improve digestion as your body is primed to receive food.
You’ll notice when you are hungry and you see your food and can sense you saliva production begin to increase.
At this point, you should implement the above 4 points and have significantly improved digestion.
Yours in Health,
Dr. Marnie Luck, N.D
To learn additional ideas about health, wellness, and alternative medicine, please visit us here: toronto naturopaths
Posted on November 29th, 2017
On the theme of cold and flu season, as a Toronto ND I thought it would be appropriate to talk about one of the most commonly used botanical remedies for viral and bacterial infections - Echinacea spp.
Echinacea is also one of the most researched herbs in the world, with much of the research centred around its effects on boosting immune health and killing off pathogens, which is why it’s such a valuable herb during this season.
There are different types of Echinacea, with three species being the most commonly sold as medicine: Echinacea purpurea, Echinacea angustifolia, and Echinacea palladium.
Most of the research that supports the medicinal value of Echinacea is mainly centred around Echinacea angustifolia and Echinacea purpurea, and should be the type of Echinacea you should choose which looking for a good brand.
For the rest of the article, I will refer to Echinacea angustifolia and Echinacea purpurea when outlining the medicinal value of Echinacea spp.
Echinacea, also known by its descriptive name, Purple Cone Flower, is part of the Asteraceae (Composite) family, and Native to North America, mainly growing in the Western prairie states, such as Illinois, Nebraska, Missouri and Texas.1
The plant grows to about 2-3 feet high, blooms from June to August and reveals purple and rose petals.
Echinacea is a relatively new plant to botanical medicine, as it is rarely mentioned in texts older than 1850.
From there, the antibiotic/antiviral properties of Echinacea were described in medicinal writings as a “blood-purifying”, being used for conditions such as ulcerated sore throats, internal abscesses, malarial fevers, cholera, and insect/reptile bites.1
These findings have paved the way for abundance of research supporting the effects of Echinacea in the treatment of infections.
Native American medicine mainly used this plant for topical infections, such as wounds, burns and insect bites.2
Root (some preparations use aerial parts as well)
The medicinal properties of Echinacea reveal that it has the best effect when used to PREVENT infection, and at the FIRST SIGNS of infection.
When a pathogen first infects a mucous membrane, such as the back of the throat, it will activate an enzyme called hyaluronidase, which breaks down our protective tissue and mucus, allowing the virus to enter the tissue and cause inflammation (and therefore pain).
Echinacea can prevent this process through inhibiting the hyaluronidase activity and by reinforcing the connective tissue, and preventing the pathogen to infiltrate the tissue infect.2,3
One of the immune-stimulating mechanisms involve activating our macrophages, which are important for killing off pathogens and removing them and other cellular debris from the area.3,4,6
This process aids in reducing inflammation, preventing the spread of infection, and improving healing time.
Echinacea appears to enhance the innate immune system (our first line of defence) as well as reducing biochemicals produced by our bodies that stimulate inflammation, such as TNF-α, COX-1 and COX-2.6
Biochemicals in Echinacea responsible for these effects include alkamides and caffeic acid, and long sugars called polysacchrides.5,6
In 2014, a Cochrane Review was published claiming that Echinacea did not appear to be effective in treating the common cold, and may have potential benefit in preventing the cold.7
While this may not be an encouraging statement on the value of Echinacea, the results from this study are more-so based on the lack available studies, rather than the inefficiency of the herb itself.
There is a plethora of pharmacological evidence that shows Echinacea boosting immune activity and exhibit anti-pathogenic qualities, but we don’t seem to have enough well-designed clinical studies to prove its benefit - YET.
Bottom line is that we need more studies that prove Echinacea works.
Many physicians see Echinacea work in clinical practice.
Anecdotal evidence finds the dosing and timing of Echinacea is an important factor on whether it will work.
Based in its pharmacological profile, it makes sense to dose Echinacea at first signs of a cold, preventing the virus to spread.
Once a virus infects your body systemically, it’s unlikely that anything at this point will prevent you from feeling sick.
At this point, the anti-inflammatory and immuno-stimulating effects of Echinacea can help by reducing the severity of the infection and preventing the worsening of the condition, such as being infected by a secondary pathogen (like other viruses and bacteria) causing conditions such as pneumonia.
Don’t expect anything to “get rid” of the cold once you’re sick - your body has to go through the process of ridding the body of the infection, which is the only way to recover, and Echinacea can help your body do exactly this.
Echinacea has been confirmed to be a safe herbal medicine in with minimal side effects and adverse event profile, which no toxicological concerns when ingested for up to 6 months.8,9,10
Echinacea used in children for cough and cold is generally well-tolerated, but can increase the risk of rash in children with atopic disease such as allergies and eczema and therefore should be used with caution.10 Children should only be given Echinacea on the advice from a qualified doctor who has strong training in herbal medicine.
Echinacea has also been found to be safe to use in pregnancy, with no increase in malformations and adverse effects in pregnancy, such as preterm birth, low birth weight,.10,11,12 However it’s best recommended to limit use to only when one is actively sick, or about to get sick while pregnant, and to be recommended by a qualified doctor trained in herbal medicine.10,12
Those who have a Asteraceae family allergy should stay away from Echinacea, and long-term use of Echinacea is not recommended for those with autoimmune disease.
Echinacea is a useful plant for the prevention and treatment for the common cold.
When Echinacea works, not only does it prevent duration and severity of cold, it reduces the need to use other medications riddled with adverse effects and a worse toxicity profile such as acetominophen, antibiotics and anti-inflammatory drugs.
Not to mention that these pharmaceuticals do not enhance immune anti-viral activity like Echincea has been proven to do.
With the help of a qualified doctor experienced in herbal medicine, Echinacea can be a valuable tool in your cold-prevention and treatment kit.
Yours in Health,
Dr. Tanya Lee, N.D
To find additional ways on health, wellness, and alternative medicine, please visit us here: natural doctor
Posted on November 21st, 2017
The common cold is a viral infection that is highly contagious.
That is precisely why it can seems like everyone is sick at the same time.
A combination of factors can increase the chance of getting sick: lack of sleep, exposure to other people who are sick, poor diet, stress, and nutritional deficiencies.
Being a naturoapthic doctor in Toronto, I see my share of patients with colds throughout the winter months.
Helping them take better control of their health is part of what I do.
Preventing colds in the first place is a great start for keeping yourself and those around you at your healthiest.
Here are 5 tips I share with my patients that should help prevent you from catching that cold that's going around this season:
Hopefully I can shed some new light (or perhaps darkness) on the subject.
Restful sleep is essential for optimizing our immune response.
Aspects of our modern lifestyle can drastically disrupt our sleep.
Do you lie in bed scrolling through Instagram and Facebook?
Maybe Netflix is streaming?
The light from our devices and the electromagnetic fields they emit (not to mention the cognitive stimulus) can adversely affect our bodies and sleep patterns.
Implementing a "no phones or laptops in the bedroom rule" will improve your sleep quality.
You may be thinking- "I can’t do that, my phone is my alarm clock, so it has to stay in my bedroom".
No problem- set it to airplane mode and wifi off.
Your alarm will sound, but your phone won’t be lighting up, vibrating, buzzing or searching for wifi or network signals beside your head all night.
The options can see overwhelming , and the average person may not know which vitamins and herbs to take, in which form or how much.
Not to mention, all supplements aren't created equally.
Seeing a naturopathic doctor for a safe and effective protocol is advisable.
However, Vitamin C is a great start- you can safely supplement with about 2000 mg daily (be sure to take it in divided doses as it can cause diarrhea if taken all at once).
You may be wondering if drinking orange juice would be a good idea when you have a cold.
Unfortunately it’s not going to help, as the juice is high in sugar content and it would take 25 oranges to obtain 2000 mg of vitamin C.
Vitamin D also plays an important role in immune function.
Canadian guidelines recommend that we supplement with 1000 IU daily year round- however, many people are deficient and their MD/ND may recommend a much higher daily dosage.
I often order a vitamin D blood test when there is concern of deficiency and then dose appropriately for my patients to achieve optimal serum levels.
Zinc is another vitamin that supports our immune system- dosages will vary per individual, and also note that taking zinc supplements on an empty stomach may cause nausea.
Further supplementation and the inclusion of herbal protocols is best done under the supervision of an ND.
Avoid eating excess sugar and refined carbohydrates.
Sugar suppresses the immune system.
A study showed that healthy volunteers who ingested 100 g of sugar (equivalent to about 2 cans of Coca Cola) caused a significant decrease in the capacity of immune cells to engulf bacteria.
Good old fashioned chicken soup.
Broths keeps us warm and hydrated.
Chicken soup has been shown to have in-vitro anti-inflammatory effects aiding with the thinning of chest congestion, mucous and improving coughs.
Here is link to the study if you’d like to read more.
I recommend making your own broth from scratch, and then increasing its immune boosting properties with a tried and true combination of Chinese herbs to brew up a Change of Season Soup.
Wash your hands, and wash them often.
Give sick people their space- be supportive of the utilization of sick days and working from home.
If you do get sick, reduce exposing your sickness to others- especially those who may not be able to mount adequate immune responses (the elderly, individuals with chronic illness, infants).
If you feel like you are chronically getting sick and it takes you a long time to get better, it may be a good idea to have a thorough assessment done with a naturopathic doctor.
Yours in Health,
Dr. Marnie Luck, N.D
To read more tips about health, wellness, and alternative medicine, please visit us here: nd toronto
Posted on November 15th, 2017
Today, many women are choosing to have children later in life than previous generations.
Fertility treatments are a common option for those with difficulty conceiving naturally.
Creating the conditions for optimal egg quality is an important factor in achieving and maintaining a healthy pregnancy.
Women are born with a set number of oocytes (eggs) and from puberty until menopause, an egg should be released from the ovary (ovulation) each month.
The quality of the egg depends on the health of its mitochondria - the powerhouse- or energy production of the cell.
The more mitochondria the healthier the egg.
As women age, they have reduced mitochondrial activity- and therefore, reduced energy production which adversely affects the egg’s viability.
Regardless of contributing factor, there are multiple ways to support egg quality.
Exercise increases blood flow to the core and pelvic organs, while improving sexual function and mood. Moderate exercise also reduces inflammation and oxidative stress.
Both in the diet and in supplement form, anti-oxidants have a protective effect on the ovaries and their mitochondira.
Bright coloured fruits and vegetable contain high amounts of anti-oxidants.
Supplemental anti-oxidants include: melatonin, pyrroloquinoline quinone (PQQ), alpha-lipoid acid (ALA), and resveratrol.
Although all the aforementioned points all act to support the mitochondria, there are more nutrients that support the ovaries in different ways.
A nutrient called “inostitol” improves glucose uptake and helps ensure the mitochondria of the ovaries have optimal fuel.
Another nutrient, “carnitine”, plays a role in metabolism of fatty-acids to produce energy through a process called beta-oxidation.
This process is also essential for egg maturation.
Naturopaths are able to appropriately recommend diet, lifestyle and nutritional supplementation to help support egg quality and fertility.
The naturopathic doctors at Annex Naturopathic Clinic are experienced in working with fertility and helping women achieve and maintain healthy pregnancies.
Yours in Health,
Dr. Marnie Luck, N.D
To discover additional information about health, wellness, and alternative medicine, please visit us here: toronto naturopathic doctor
Posted on November 8th, 2017
The change from hot to cold weather has me searching for comfort foods that will provide the feeling of warmth and energy.
As a N.D I'm regularly informing patients about healthy recipes and encouraging them to create a diet around the changing seasons.
One of my favourite spice palettes during the winter season is the warm, aromatic flavours of Indian cuisine - likely because it’s full of warming, sweet spices designed by nature to boost our metabolism, increase circulation and strengthen digestion, all properties that we need to warm our bodies during the colder seasons.
Any warm recipe containing these spices will be a good choice for the upcoming winter.
Dahl is essentially made up of lentils, which are packed with protein, B vitamins, fibre and iron, making this legume a super food, especially for vegetarians/vegans.
Lentils are an amazing source of protein because it contains all but two of the amino acids (the building blocks of protein).
Lentils are high in one particular amino acid, lysine, a great remedy for viral infections, handy during cold and flu season.
Top this on a small bed of basmati rice, or enjoy with a few whole grain (non-GMO) crackers.
3 tablespoons coconut oil (or whatever you have)
1 medium yellow onion
1 tablespoon fresh ginger, grated
4 garlic cloves, minced
2 cups of spinach or chopped kale
1 teaspoon of fine seasalt
1 cup dried red lentils
2 tablespoon tomato paste
4-5 cups water or veg broth
5 plum tomatoes, chopped
juice of 1 lime
1 cup lightly packed chopped fresh cilantro
2 teaspoon mustard seeds
1 teaspoon fenugreek seeds
1 teaspoon coriander seeds
1 teaspoon cumin seeds
6 whole cloves
4 cardamom pods
2 dried red chilies (seeds removed)
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
Yours in Health,
Dr. Tanya Lee, N.D
To find more tips about health, wellness, and alternative medicine, please visit us here: holistic doctors
Posted on October 31st, 2017
Cold and flu season is here and one of the worst parts of getting sick is the stuffy nose and stubborn mucus that just wants to keep you from getting a good night’s sleep.
As a naturopathic doctor in Toronto, many patients ask if there are natural, non-drug ways to manage congestion and allow for a good night's sleep.
Congestion in the sinuses prevents one from breathing through the nose while sleeping, forcing us to breathe through our mouths that can lead to throat dryness, irritation.
This could leave to coughing or chronic lung congestion can may cause incessant coughing, preventing one from sleeping throughout the night.
Sleep is extremely important for recovery when you’re sick.
The warming sock technique is done at night in order to battle these symptoms.
It can also help reduce temperature if there is also a fever present.
In response to the wet socks placed on your feet, the body sends the circulation of blood and lymph (therefore some heat) down to warm the feet, pulling along the congestion from the head and lungs, allowing drainage through the lymphatic system.
Many of my patients report being able to get a full night's sleep when using the wet socks for cough and congestion.
If you feel this will be uncomfortable, don’t fret - the discomfort of wet socks on your feet tends to let up after a couple of minutes.
You wake up with completely dry feet!
This can be used for the whole family, ages through 100
Yours in Health,
Dr. Tanya Lee, N.D
To get additional tips about health, wellness, and alternative medicine, please visit us here: naturopath toronto
Posted on October 25th, 2017
I call this recipe, “reverse engineering at its finest".
I kept taking a detour on my morning walks with my pup, Maeve, to grab one of these cookies from a local cafe- so I decided to make them myself!
This cookie is great on its own for breakfast, and also makes a great snack when you are on the go.
Not to mention, it’s absolutely refined sugar-free, dairy-free, egg-free, gluten-free and nut-free making this an extremely “hypo-allergenic” cookie.
A great option for school lunches. And the best part- these cookies taste great!
They fit almost every “health nut” parameter, being both vegan and raw.
Watch this video to see how it’s done
2 cup gluten-free rolled oats
1 banana (ripe)
1 cup unsweetened shredded coconut flakes
6 tbsp water
1/2 bar 70-85% dark chocolate
2 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp sea salt
Makes 12 cookies.
Blend water & dates.
You can use a food processor, a magic bullet, or blender.
Once thoroughly mixed, add banana and blend until a paste is formed.
Mix together the dry ingredients: the rolled oats, coconut, sea salt, and cinnamon.
Combine the banana-date mixture with the dry ingredients.
Chop the chocolate and mix it in with step 3.
Using mason jar lids, form your cookies by firmly pressing the mixture into the lids.
Place in plastic ziploc bag or container and place in freezer for 1 hour to harden.
Remove from freezer and enjoy.
Store cookies in fridge or freezer.
If storing the cookies together, separate them by squares of parchment paper.
Yours in Health,
Dr. Marnie Luck, N.D
To discover additional ideas on health, wellness, and alternative medicine, please visit us here: best naturopaths in toronto
Posted on October 17th, 2017
’Tis the season for sore throats!
The fluctuating temperatures of the change of seasons renders our immune system weak, making our bodies susceptible to these floating viruses waiting to find a host.
Or that person standing right near you is just waiting to pass on their strept infection (they may not even know they have it yet).
One of the most common symptoms people experience when catching a cold (or a more severe viral or bacterial infection) is a sore throat.
Being a naturopathic doctor in Toronto, regularly around this time of year I receive many inquiries on how to treat cold symptoms.
There are a number of ways to remedy a sore throat, but one of the most effective (and tasty!) ways is to take a spoonful of raw, unpasteurized HONEY, infused with garlic in order to soothe and heal this delicate mucus membrane.
Honey has been long used as medicine - with its use dating back to 5500BC until now, the properties of honey have been found to be efiective for infections (internal and external), wound healing, lowering cholesterol and cardiovascular risk.
Honey has potent anti-microbial properties, where studies have shown antimicrobial activity against a number of gram positive and gram negative bacteria, such as Haemophilus influenzae, the Streptococcus family, and the antibiotic-resistant bacteria such as MRSA.1
Anti-viral properties of honey have been studies, one finding that honey given to children with upper respiratory tract infections can reduce cough at night time.2
There are many mechanisms involved with the anti-bacterial and anti-viral properties of honey, but one of the most simplest ones comes from the fact that honey blocks the attachment of "bugs" to the tissues they’re trying to infect.
This is important when you’re exposed to someone with strept throat, or sore throat in general - by taking honey after exposure, you may be able to prevent the actual attachment and incubation of this bacteria, steering clear of infection.
On top of it’s anti-viral and anti-microbial properties, honey is also very soothing to the throat; it’s strong wound-healing properties stimulates the repair of damaged tissues and protection of mucus membranes from inflammation.
The anti-viral and anti-microbial and immune boosting properties of garlic have been long known in the medical community,3,4 so it’s a no brainer that combining these two natural foods would be a great way to battle sore throats and fight infection.
Along with it’s ability to fight infection, garlic is full of antioxidants (vitamin C, selenium, B-vitamins etc.), which can help keep the immune system strong during an infection.
By adding honey to the garlic, the slow-moving viscous honey can coat the throat, allowing the anti-viral, antimicrobial properties of both honey and garlic act longer on the affected tissues.
This is a very easy recipe - there are many on the web, but this is how I like to make this amazing remedy.
At first signs of infection, you can actually eat the garlic to fight off the infection, but if you don’t want to do this (it’s potent!!), discard.
You can use the cloves for cooking to reduce waste and to give your dishes some extra flare (ahem, it’s amazing in salsas, and coconut curries).
Keep them in the fridge.
The garlic cloves don’t keep as long so use within the month after infusing.
The garlic infused honey should be good for up to a year.
Take 1/2 to 1 tsp of honey when you’re feeling a sore throat.
You can take this up to 3-4x/day (it’s pretty sweet and sugary so you don’t want to take too much!).
A great way to use this is for when you or your family are waking up with a sore throat because congested sinuses are forcing you to breathe through the mouth throughout the night.
If this is the case, taking it before bed, and on waking can help.
Due to the potent antimicrobial and anti-fungal effects of garlic and honey, this will prevent bacterial (Clostridium botulinum) and mold buildup in the honey, so this can keep for a while (a whole season).
I’ve never encountered any contamination of my garlic honey, but make sure to use CLEAN equipment when making this, and make sure to wash your hands thoroughly before handling any ingredient.
DO NOT GIVE HONEY TO CHILDREN UNDER 1.5 YEARS OLD. Honey contains natural botulism spores. In kids over 1 and adults, our immune systems are strong and built up enough to naturally clear these spores.
Babies under 1 years old do not have the immune system to clear these spores and are at risk for botulism toxicity (floppy baby syndrome) and should NOT be fed honey.
Bees are special - they pollinate our plants, encourage genetic strength and survival of these plants by promoting cross-pollination, and are the only insects that produce food for human consumption.
They are important for our survival so please buy honey from ethical, sustainable farms.
Yours in Health,
Dr. Tanya Lee, N.D
To learn more information about health, wellness, and alternative medicine, please visit us here: Annex Naturopathic Toronto
Posted on October 10th, 2017
We often see women or hear stories about others who have been affected by cancer in their live's.
Today's article's goal is to provide further understanding around breast cancer, specifically risk factors and prevention, for both women and men.
Breast cancer is the most common cancer diagnosis in women over the age of 20.
Research from the Canadian Cancer Society estimates that 1 in 8 Canadian Women will have breast cancer in her lifetime, and 1 in 31 will die from it.
Reducing risk and early detection are important factors in decreasing the amount of people affected by breast cancer.
There are 2 types of risk factors.
These factors are classified as those that are non-modifiable, such as age, family history, and genetics, and those that can be modified, such as physical activity or smoking.
Breast cancer is significantly more common in Females.
Men with breast cancer make up fewer than 1% of all cases.
78% of new breast cancer diagnosis occur in women older than 501.
About half of all new cases of breast cancer occur in this age group.
BRCA1 and BRCA2 are tumor suppressor genes - they play a role in the body’s ability to stop cancer from happening.
5-10% of all breast cancers are linked to mutations in these genes.
BRCA1 and BRCA2 occur in less than 1% of the populations, however, women with these gene mutations have up to an 80% risk of developing breast cancer by age 802.
A woman with cancer in one breast has a 3- to 4-fold increased risk of developing a new cancer in the other breast or in another part of the same breast3.
Women who has first-degree relatives with a history of breast cancer has has an increased risk.
Someone with one first-degree relative with breast cancer approximately doubles a woman’s risk.
The more first-degree relatives (sister, mother, daughter) with breast cancer, the greater the risk.1
Women whose first period was at age 11 or younger and/or women who experience menopause after age 55 have an increased risk of breast cancer.
Those who have more menstrual cycles throughout her lifetime, have greater exposure to estrogen and its metabolites.
Similarly, women who have had one or more pregnancies, have a greater protection against breast cancer.
Pregnancy limits the exposure of breast cells to estrogen and lowers the total number of menstrual cycles a woman has in her lifetime.4
Breast contain fatty tissue as well as dense tissue such as connective, gland and milk duct tissues.
Women with dense breast tissue in 75% or more of their breasts have a 4-5 fold greater risk of breast cancer.5
Women who are overweight have an increased risk of developing breast cancer.
Breast cancer may be influenced by the amount of estrogen tissue in the breast is exposed to over time.
In addition to the ovaries, estrogen is also produced in fat tissue.
Therefore, higher body-weight due to excess fat tissue can increase estrogen levels.
Those who do not exercise also have an increased risk.
Smoking increases overall cancer risk, including breast cancer.
Alcohol consumption increases a woman’s risk for breast cancer.
Even low levels of alcohol consumption (just over 1 drink per day) can increase a woman’s risk.
The risk increases with the amount of alcohol consumed.
There are multiple recent studies that demonstrate that vitamin D deficiency significantly increases breast cancer risk.
While at the same time, another study showed that women with elevated risk, who had high serum 25(OH) vitamin D levels because of regular vitamin D supplementation were associated with lower rates of incident, especially in the postmenopausal population.6,7
There is some evidence to show that high intakes of saturated fats and and high glycemic load (simple sugars and refined carbohydrates) increases risk.8
Xenoestrogens are man-made compounds that mimic estrogen’s effects.
Postmenopausal women with high serum levels of Bisphenol A (BPA) and mono-ethyl phthalatehad elevated breast density. Elevated breast density is associated with increased risk.k.9
Although people can’t change their genetics, age or whether or not they are born with ovaries- they can modify their lifestyle to reduce their breast cancer risk in other ways.
Leading a healthy lifestyle with appropriate diet and lifestyle, correcting for nutritional deficiencies (like vitamin D) and optimizing overall health will reduce the risk for breast cancer.
While at the same time, following Canada’s breast cancer screening guidelines and seeking medical attention if you notice any changes to your breasts can facilitate early detection and treatment.
Naturopathic doctors excel at helping their patients optimize their health and make the changes that reduce modifiable risk factors.
Through evidence-informed knowledge, and taking a preventative approach to healthcare we can help reduce the amount of women affected by breast cancer.
Yours in Health,
Dr. Marnie Luck, N.D
To read more information on health, wellness, and alternative medicine, please visit us here: toronto naturopathic doctors
Posted on October 3rd, 2017
At our naturopathic clinic in the Annex we always get asked around cold and flu season what someone should take to ward these off.
I think it’s an appropriate time to write about a herb that is useful for the prevention and treatment viral infections.
We all know about echinacea and the fantastic benefits in the prevention of cold and flu, but one of the most underrated herbs that can also be used grows right in our forests and marshes.
Eupatorium perfoliatum (Boneset) is a beautiful three-branched, white flowered plant that grows along creeks and marshes and can grow up to 5 feet tall.
This plant is native to North America and flowers and matures from the mid-summer to fall.
It is one of the most coveted cold and flu remedy by Native medicine has been used extensively throughout Europe for these properties.
Parts Used: Aerial parts, tops and flowers. Best to harvest when it first blooms.
Boneset is very bitter (due to the constituents, sesquiterpene lactones), and has a strong profile of medicinal constituents so is not typically eaten as food.
Boneset is considered a panacea for treating acute and viral infections by traditional native medicine.
It was historically used to treat “bone-break” fevers, fevers caused by Dengue fever so intense that it was described like pain as if your bones are breaking, hence the common name.
Since then it has been traditionally used to treat any fever-inducing infection - this property is called a “diaphoretic”, in which it makes a person sweat during a fever, allowing the fever to break.
This is a great remedy for those with “intermittent fevers” where the fever produced is never strong enough to actually kill off the infection and “break”, causing the a person to stay ill for longer periods of time.
Boneset is thought to induce a fever by activating the immune system through stimulating white blood cells to fight off the infection. This herb also exhibits anti-microbial and anti-malarial properties, but more research is needed to confirm these effects.
Despite the presence of only preliminary evidence, Boneset is considered one of the best treatments for cold and flu by traditional herbalists, with many case reports revealing the powerful activity of this herb against cold and flus.
This warrants better and more detailed investigation of this herb by researchers interested in herbal remedies in infections.
Boneset is a good alternative to the herb Echinacea as Echinacea only tends to be strongly effective when taken at the beginning stages of the flu, while Boneset works well for beginning stages as well as during the active, mid-flu stages.
Boneset has also been traditionally used to treat arthritis and other inflammatory diseases.
A number of constituents present in Eupatorium perfoliatum have been found to exhibit strong anti-inflammatory activity by inhibiting the formation of a inflammatory factor, NF-Kappa-ß.
Boneset is taken in both tincture and tea/infusion forms.
Traditionally, hot infusions are taken for acute conditions when the patient needs to increase their body temperature for the fever to break and kill off the infection.
Then a cold infusion is taken as a tonic when the body needs to heal after the fever has broken.
The cold infusion in general is taken when the body is weak, making it a more suitable form for those feeling fatigued and pained.
As mentioned the book Medical Herbalism: Materia Medica and Pharmacy, this very dichotomy ofadministration represents the signature what the herb is meant to treat - dual symptoms (ie fevers and chills from infection).
The tincture is administered by drops as this herb is considered very strong and does not need to be given in high doses.
This herb is to be taken in small amounts - it has a powerful “emetic” effect, which makes a person vomit and does have laxative effect.
These effects were actually used medicinally by traditional herbalists to help a sick person detoxify, but is considered undesirable effect in modern medicine.
For this reason, never take this herb unless you’re being monitored and treated by a healthcare professional who is familiar with the specific dosing of this herb.
If you’re interested in learning more about how to use this effective herb during the upcoming cold and flu season, feel free to book an appointment.
Yours in Health,
Dr. Tanya Lee, N.D
To learn more ideas on health, wellness, and alternative medicine, please visit us here: naturopathic doctors toronto
Posted on September 26th, 2017
Should everyone be taking health supplements?
This is something that we, as naturopathic doctors here in Toronto, get asked a lot about from our patients
Walking into the supplement section of any grocery, health food or drug store can be overwhelming to say the least.
The options are endless and the prices are ever increasing.
It’s hard to keep track of what Dr. Oz or Dr. Google recommended.
Internet searches often give us expansive lists of contradictory information.
The Nutraceutical industry is rapidly growing and just as profit driven as pharmaceutical industry.
The following article will shed some light on how to approach supplementation in a critical and informed manner.
In the true sense of the word, supplements are an addition of a macronutrient (protein, fat, carbohydrate) or micronutrient (vitamin or mineral) normally found in the diet.
Supplements can also be pharmaceutically synthesized molecules that are naturally occurring or built in the body (like GABA- a neurotransmitter or melatonin- a molecule involved in sleep).
Unlike drugs, whose components are synthesized and not found in the diet or naturally occurring within the body, supplements contain molecules which the body inherently knows how to absorb, metabolize and incorporate into physiological processes.
Drugs often change or inhibit a naturally occurring process, whereas supplementation corrects for deficiencies and optimizes inherent function.
It depends. Each person has unique requirements based on individual factors and intended effect.
Most commonly, supplementation is indicated in cases of deficiency (common deficiencies include: iron, B12, vitamin D).
Symptoms vary depending on which nutrients are deficient. Deficiency can be caused by inadequate dietary sources or decreased absorption due to digestive dysfunction.
Many medications also deplete certain nutrients (the birth control pill for example, depletes vitamin B6). Many vitamins act as cofactors: molecules that make reactions happen- analogous to a catalyst in an engine.
As such, supplementation can also be used to up-regulate processes in the body.
For example, vitamin B6 is required for the synthesis of serotonin from the amino acid tryptophan.
Continuing with the car analogy, if we supplement with tryptophan, the gas, and B6, the catalyst, theoretically we should have increased serotonin- or a smoothly running car.
On the other (pharmaceutical) hand, selective serotonin re-uptake inhibitors (SSRIs/antidepressants) work by altering receptors so that more serotonin remains available.
Like pharmaceuticals, you need to take specific dosages of supplements in order for them to have their intended therapeutic effect.
Furthermore, many supplements have misleading dosing information on their labels.
For example, the therapeutic value fish oil lies in its omega-3 content (EPA and DHA). A 1000 mg Jameson fish oil has 180 mg EPA and 120 DHA mg in one capsule where as a professional line has 600 mg and 400 mg respectively.
You would need to take at least 3 capsules of Jameson brand fish oil to equal 1 capsule of the professional line.
No. High doses of certain supplements can be toxic and dangerous.
For example, high doses of supplemental vitamin D can cause kidney damage, niacin (vitamin B3) even at low doses can cause significant vasodilation (flushing), magnesium and vitamin C can cause diarrhoea, iron often causes constipation and zinc can induce nausea and vomiting.
Assuming that a healthy diet is rich in fruits and vegetable, healthy fats (nuts and fish), and proteins (grains, legumes and meats) you may still fall short of certain nutrients due to inherent nutrient depletion in soil and decreased availability of certain foods.
Additionally, when supplements are prescribed at high dosages to enhance a specific function, it would be near impossible to achieve equal intake of that constituent through food alone.
For example, a dose of 4000 mg of vitamin C would require consumption of 80 oranges.
Vitamin D doesn’t actually come from the sun.
However, exposure to the sun (specifically UVB light radiation) converts a precursor molecule to the active form of vitamin D.
This conversion happens subcutaneously (just underneath the skin) and requires sunlight.
The amount of skin exposed to the sun is proportional to how much vitamin D our skin makes. How much skin do Canadians expose to the sun in the winter?
Most supplementation should be individualized and supervised to have true therapeutic value.
Self prescribing can be ineffective and dangerous.
All supplements are not created equal.
When comparing brands, look at the amount of content in milligrams in each capsule.
For Canadians, supplementing vitamin D in the winter is appropriate in almost all circumstances
Yours in Health,
Dr. Marnie Luck, N.D
To read additional tips about health, wellness, and alternative medicine, please visit us here: holistic naturopath
Posted on September 19th, 2017
Hello, and Happy September!
As a naturopathic doctor in Toronto, seasonal shifts are factors that I take into account when helping patients develop healthy routines.
Theses seasonal shifts can't be ignored as they have a real effect on the body and the health of each individual.
As we say goodbye to summer, it’s time to welcome the structure and seasonal shifts September brings.
At this time of year it can be difficult to:
Prioritize restful sleep.
That means going to bed a little earlier, and saying no to that last episode on Netflix.
Waking up refreshed sets the stage for a great day.
Check out our top 5 tips for improving sleep quality to help you make the most of your time in bed.
Start off your day with a BIG glass of water. Aim for 2 litres throughout the day.
Not a big fan of water? Try putting lemon or cucumber slices in it for a little bit of flavour.
Remember - coffee and alcoholic beverages are dehydrating. Switch out that second cup of coffee for a big glass of water!
Planning your meals ahead of time is definitely easier in theory than practice.
A good start to making is easy to meal plan for the week is thinking of your 3 favourite “go-to” meals, and making sure you have all the ingredients on hand.
Freeze leftovers in singles servings to be warmed up on days when you don’t have time to cook.
Start with short and sweet when it comes to exercise.
A half hour at the gym or walking briskly is enough when you’re getting back into the groove.
Schedule in your exercise at the beginning of the week and have your gym clothes ready the night before.
Turn that gosh-darn phone off!Smartphones are very stimulating to the brain and can dysregulate the body’s stress response.
Give your brain a break from your phone daily.
You’ll have more time to tackle the other 4 items on this list!
For any reason you need some help, come see one of the Naturopathic Doctor’s at Annex Naturopathic Clinic - they will help you figure out a gameplan together!
Yours in Health,
Dr. Marnie Luck, N.D
To see additional tips about health, wellness, and alternative medicine, please visit us here: natural health doctors
Annex Naturopathic Clinic (http://citynaturopathic.ca/) is a clinic in downtown Toronto that offers integrative healthcare solutions. Drs. Marnie Luck and Tanya Lee, ND, offer treatments such as diet, exercise, and lifestyle counselling, nutritional supplementation, vitamin injection therapy, bioidentical hormone replacement therapy, herbal medicine, acupuncture, and musculoskeletal manipulation, among others. You can also find us at: https://drive.google.com/drive/folders/0BxrI67uNb3FxbHEzd1BCcVBDTDQ?usp=sharing 572 Bloor St W Suite #201, Toronto, ON M6G 1K1 647-624-5800