Shingles and IV Vitamin C

Every year many Canadian suffer from a painful case of the shingles.

Shingles is a re-activation of an old chicken pox virus (the herpes zoster, or HZ)  that is hiding in the dorsal root ganglion, a little sack where our nerves leaves our spinal column to go out to our body.

When our immune system is healthy and strong, this dormant virus stays right where it is and causes no trouble. If our immune system is weakened–sometimes by chronic stress, poor diet, or toxic exposures–the virus can leave its hiding place to create the characteristic red, raised lesions that show up, usually on the torso. These lesions can be very painful and difficult to treat.

Most shingles infections are self-limiting and will resolve in two to four weeks, but for the unlucky, symptoms can take months to resolve and some can be left with post-herpetic neuralgia. Either way, it’s a painful condition.

But while it’s usually a condition reserved for older folks, shingles can affect any adult and the incidence seems to be on the rise. What to do?

Conventional treatment

The conventional for shingles usually involves anti-virals, steroids and pain-killers, all of which have limited success, making it a very challenging thing to treat.

Naturopathic Approaches

Prevention, is of course, ideal. Stay healthy. Eat well, sleep, get outside every day.

But if you do get shingles, supplements like lysine and B12/folic acid are often used. Avoiding foods high in Arginine, like nuts and chocolate, is also recommended.

But the treatment we have the most success with? High dose IV vitamin C.

This great article by Dr. Levy MD, shows the evidence supporting the use of IV vitamin C for shingles pain.

Dr. Tara, cold but happy in January!

Beating the Winter Blues

Unless you are one of those “love to ski” types, winter can be a long, cold, boring, cold, dark, cold season. For many of us it’s hard to be happy. For others, the winter season is more then just a little difficult–they suffer from seasonal affective disorder or become clinically depressed.

There are many symptoms associated with depression other then sadness. Sleep troubles, change in appetite, slow thinking, fatigue, irritability, restlessness, and difficultly making decisions are all possible signs of depression. Even physical symptoms like back pain and headaches can be signs that your mood is out of balance.

Conventional medicine relies on the use of anti-depressants to treat the problem, and when the depression is severe, these tools can be literally life saving. However, there are some downsides associated with the use of antidepressants that have many patients looking for alternatives.

How Naturopathic Doctors See Your Depression

Because the body generally does an excellent job of healing itself, naturopaths see depression, like most symptoms, as a sign of an imbalance in your body that could be creating your current symptoms. Here are a few:

  • A hormone imbalance – low estrogen and/or high progesterone can be a culprit here. Also, thyroid and adrenal imbalances can lead to very low moods.
  • A nutrient deficiency might be in play – low levels of omega-3 fats, iron, B vitamins or vitamin D can be the cause of imbalanced mood.
  • Too much inflammation as is often caused by the standard North American diet and/or food intolerances, resolution of that inflammation with a diet change can greatly affect mood.
  • Mental-emotional imbalances. Unresolved grief, post traumatic stress – these are all real causes of sadness and depression. Also, a feeling of hopelessness, depression or overwhelm are all signals that it is time to sit down and re-evaluate what is most important in your world. Put those things that are front and center and act to change them.

What to Do?

The first rule of depression is to not go it alone. Serious depression requires serious help. Don’t be afraid to ask for it.

If you’re trying to beat the “winter blues,” though, there’s a growing body of research that says that exercise works as well or better than anti-depressants, and with none of the side effects.

The trick, of course, is that if there’s ever a time when you feel less like exercising, it’s when you’re depressed. With that in mind, here are a few suggestions:

  • Start small. Don’t make a big deal out of this. You’re better off getting a few minutes of exercise outside than nothing at all. Really–take a two-minute walk. Everyone has two minutes. It’s getting started that matters.
  • Walking counts. You don’t need to throw weights around, get sweaty, or go to Pilates. A simple walk will help.
  • Get outside. There are numerous benefits to being outdoors, particularly in winter. You’ll get more bang for your buck by getting out of the house.
  • Rely on friends and family. Getting out in winter is hard enough on your own. Find someone to join you, and hold you accountable.

Wondering if your hormones or nutrient status are affecting your mood? Just contact the clinic at 705-444-5331 to learn how you can find out.

A New Face (And New Rates!)

StoneTree would like to welcome our new student clinic intern Candice Soldaat to the team.

Naturopathic medical students complete an internship period where they see patients under the supervision of an experienced doctor in practice. Candice will be seeing patients under the supervision of Dr. Tara on Friday mornings, as part of her final year of training for becoming a Naturopathic Doctor.

This a great opportunity for your friends and family to not only support the growth of naturopathic medicine, but to access care at a reduced rate. If you know someone who’s been wanting to see an ND but hasn’t, this is their chance–new patient visits are just $75 and follow-up appointments are $40.

Contact the clinic at 705-444-5331 to book!

Just Keep Swimming

I remember reading a study many years ago that I thought was absolutely ridiculous.

The authors of the research wanted to answer the question, “What makes the people who quit smoking, successful at quitting smoking?”

Their answer? The more times a person quit, the more likely they were to be successful at quitting.

I remember laughing out loud at the time, thinking, “What a complete waste of money to uncover this obvious, common sense conclusion.”

Now, after years of being in the business of helping people change their habits, I realize what an important message that piece of research really contained.

Change is hard. And breaking habits? That’s even harder. Even with the strongest resolve to stop eating sugar, for example, life happens. A special birthday party where someone brings your favorite cake, and all your great effort and resolve go out the door.

After these things happen, patients often return to clinic and say, “I just can’t do it. I can’t give it up. Life always happens and I fall off the wagon.”

The answer, according to the evidence? Just try again and keep trying and trying and trying because eventually…it will stick.

As Dory, from Finding Nemo says, “Just keep swimming.”