Join Us for the Be the Change Film RIVERBLUE

“There is a joke in China. They say you can predict the “it” colour for the season by looking at the colour of the river”

 – From the documentary RiverBlue

On October 18th, the Be the Change Film Series kicks off its 10th year with the documentary RiverBlue. The film looks at the environmental impact of the “fast fashion” industry on our waterways, and as a result, our health.

We’re sponsoring the series, and would love to see you there! There are two show times, 5PM and 7:30PM, at the Simcoe Street Theatre. Tickets are $8, and all proceeds go to Elephant Thoughts and The Blue Mountain Watershed Trust.

See the full 2017-18 line-up and buy tickets here!

Tuning Your Hormonal Orchestra

Hormones are your body’s chemical messenger system. They control many, if not most, of your major body functions, including digestion, mood, sleep, metabolism, respiration, stress, growth, movement and mood. Hormones, in short, are a big deal.

They also pack a powerful punch, and so they need to be balanced. To keep things running smoothly and to keep your body “in tune”, they have to be produced in exactly the right amounts at the right time.

This makes your hormonal system a little like an amplified orchestra with various instruments and roles to play:

  1. The pineal gland is the timer, to tell the system when to sleep and when to play.
  2. The hypothalamus is the sound man, detecting signals from the audience and reading the sound levels, balancing the output of control hormones.
  3. The pituitary gland, like a conductor, tells the individual players when and how forcefully, to do their part. If all is in balance, the individual player does just the right amount of work and the system is in tune.
  4. The thyroid hormone is the rate controller, increasing the speed of the beat and the efficiency of the instruments.
  5. The neurosteroids, or sex hormones, control tuning, maintenance and repair of the many instruments.

All of this must work in a complex biological harmony. Otherwise, like a poorly tuned orchestra, the results can be pretty awful.

Fortunately, the hormonal orchestra is usually an elegant and effective performance. The problem arises as we age, when hormone production begins to slow. It’s then that we hear the first problems in the musical score that is your body.

The progressive loss of hormones begins with the pineal, at about age 20, followed at about age 25-26 by declining growth hormone. After that, pregnenolone decreases, then DHEA, testosterone and progesterone, with estrogen in women following closely behind testosterone in men.

As hormones decline, your poor thyroid is left to handle the bulk of the work, like a lone musician trying to play an entire symphony alone.

Off Key: The Effects of Low Hormones

If we look at blood tests just a few months into menopause, a woman’s blood may contain:

  • Zero estrogen, testosterone, growth hormone and melatonin, and;
  • almost zero pregnenolone, progesterone and DHEA.

Is it any wonder things feel different? Like a poorly tuned orchestra, these changes don’t usually go unnoticed:

  • Low testosterone and/or progesterone causes depression and panic attacks.
  • Low progesterone causes menstrual irregularity, painful menses, water retention, poor sleep, reduced memory capacity, reduced self-esteem and inadequate maintenance and repair of the brain and nervous system.
  • Low estrogen causes hot flashes, night sweats, poor sleep and general misery.

All of this elevates your stress levels and further inhibits the ability of your thyroid hormone to do an increasingly difficult job. As more time goes by, the orchestra slips further out of tune. Your body loses its balance, can’t manage sugar and cholesterol metabolism, and is unable to heal quickly, fight off infections, avoid autoimmune diseases and kill cancer cells.

It’s reasonable to conclude that many of our age-related disabilities (if not all) have their root in this progressive reduction of hormone production. Add the stress of modern life to the mix, and you have a musical score for accelerating the development of disease and the aging process.

The good news is that it’s possible to bring the orchestra back into tune! Using accurate testing and bio-identical hormone replacement, you can relieve some of the troublesome symptoms of aging and your body can begin to play a more pleasing score.

To learn more about your hormonal orchestra—and bring your instruments back into tune—contact the clinic at 705-444-5331, or book an appointment with Dr. Gervais Harry, MD online here.

Are You Addicted to Your Phone?

Tens of thousands of years ago, when we homo sapiens were just getting started, we had to be able to effectively meet our goals in order to survive–we had to find water, get enough to eat, seek shelter, and generally get things done. Unlike now, if we just lay about all day not accomplishing anything, we’d die. We had to be goal-oriented.

The key driver for this goal-seeking behaviour was, and is, a neurotransmitter called dopamine. Dopamine is the reward chemical–it provides the little hit of “goodness” we feel when we accomplish a goal. (That delightful feeling of crossing something off your to-do list? Dopamine.) It’s an evolutionary gift from a long line of ancestors that helped us survive. It helps us see rewards, and take action to get them.

So what does this have to do with your cell phone?

Because accomplishing goals like “find food” were so critical, dopamine became a pretty addictive chemical in the brain. We LIKE the feeling of dopamine, and are driven to do what creates the release of it. We’re  easily addicted to things that deliver it.

The problem is that some things that have nothing to do with creating a meaningful life create dopamine for us. Things like alcohol, nicotine, gambling and yes, that delightful little “ding” your cell phone makes when you get a text.

Every time you hear the sound of a new message or see the tiny alerts or badges onscreen, your reward system swings into gear. Almost all of this happens below the level of your awareness. All you know is that you simply can’t resist checking your phone.

How Do You Know if You’re Addicted?

The same brain chemistry that casinos hijack to keep you sitting at a slot machine for hours is being hijacked to keep you staring at a screen. Your phone has been doing a remarkable job of training you. And not just to respond to whistles and signals like a trained seal, but to find it intolerable to suffer even a few moments without stimulation.

Here are some questions to ask yourself?

  • When you wake up in the morning do you check your phone before you go to the bathroom?
  • Do you walk from room to room holding your phone all the time?
  • If you get a text while driving, do you find it impossible to wait the ten minutes until you get home to look at it and respond?
  • Do you regularly respond to texts while reading your kid a bedtime story?
  • Are you unable to leave your phone in the car when you are having dinner out with friends?
  • Are you incapable of sitting quietly for ten minutes without looking at your phone?
  • Do you use your phone while watching TV or eating?

Why is it important to ask ourselves these questions? Here are a few things you might find interesting about high cell phone use. It’s been linked to:

  • Higher anxiety
  • Lower grades
  • Decreased happiness
  • Lower quality sleep
  • Poor posture
  • Lower relationship satisfaction
  • Reduced activity
  • Less time outdoors
  • Less time spent with others

Are those weather alerts and social media updates really that valuable?

What to Do?

Every recovering alcoholic will tell you that the first step to fixing a problem is to admit that you have one in the first place. If you can do that, what do you do next?

  • Turn off your alerts. Those little badges and sounds and flashes are designed to trigger your reward system. You don’t need to get alerts from every app.
  • Use “do not disturb” mode. Most devices will allow you to shut down your phone’s alert systems, while still letting through calls from a specified list of people. That way you can still get a call from your teenager or spouse, for example, but not from anyone else.
  • Set time periods in which you shouldn’t use your phone (i.e., 9 p.m. to 7 a.m.).
  • Designate activities in which your phone is forbidden (e.g., driving, dinner time).
  • Schedule break times to access your phone or social media.
  • Practice being bored. Your phone is gradually eroding your ability to simply be. Try taking longer and longer periods away from it. Reclaim your ability to live without constant digital stimulation.

If you find you can’t do these things, or instinctively push back against them, that might be the most powerful indicator of all that you have a problem.

Are you using your phone, or is it using you?

Why Healthy Eating is Hard

This video is perhaps the funniest way we’ve seen to capture the confusion around food that the health industry has managed to generate over the years.

So funny, but also so true. It feels like nutritional advice is constantly shifting and contradicting previous advice. What to do?

For us, nutrition falls squarely into the category of simple but not easy. It’s simple to eat better: Eat food, not too much, mostly plants

The trouble is that following that advice is not always easy. That’s where we come in:

  • Need to understand how your diet is affecting your health and how changing it can dramatically change how you feel? Book an appointment with a Naturopathic Doctor.
  • Want some insight into what specific foods you might feel better avoiding? Get a food intolerance test to find out.
  • Looking for access to gluten- or dairy-free foods and other specialty nutritional items? Check out the new Pantry at StoneTree.

Changing how you eat isn’t easy. But it is simple, and it is possible. And we can help!

The 2 Big Reasons We Use IV Vitamins

We have administered over 10,000 IV vitamin/mineral infusions here at StoneTree. That’s a lot!

Why so many? The obvious reason is the results–using IV therapy just works.

For complaints like migraine headaches, colds and flus, muscle cramping, wound healing, allergies, chronic fatigue, and many, many others, it’s a therapy that can get our patients better faster than with diet changes or oral supplements alone. (Read on for a longer list of conditions and complaints that we’ve used IV therapy with.)

But the results don’t tell you why. And the why is important.

There are two main reasons we use IV therapies for our patients:

Reason #1: To ensure nutrients actually get into your cells

When you eat food (or take supplements), you absorb nutrients from your intestines into your blood. At least, that’s the idea, and if all your digestive mechanisms are working right, it’s a great system.

As you age, however, or if you’re sick or things just aren’t working correctly for any number of reasons, you often don’t absorb nutrients as well. Your food and supplements don’t give you the same benefit. When we put vitamins and minerals directly into the blood via IV we bypass the intestines entirely, ensuring that the nutrients are available.

The other place that nutrient absorption happens is at the cellular level. Nutrients from our blood need to get into our cells and this is not a passive process. Your cells have to “actively” transport nutrients inside. Compromised cells don’t do this as effectively as they should.

When we put vitamins and minerals directly into the blood, the concentration in the blood changes so that it’s higher outside the cell than inside. The nutrients can then passively diffuse into the cell. That can allow the cell to get the nutrients it needs to start the active transport system again. Think of it as jumpstarting your cells to give them what they need to continue the process on their own.

Reason #2: To get a specific biochemical effect

Vitamins and minerals have real biochemical effects in the body. Just like pharmaceutical drugs, if you can get the blood concentrations at high enough levels, you can get the body to respond in specific ways. Vitamin C, for example, has a wonderful anti-allergy effect at high enough blood concentrations.

Because of the absorptive mechanisms in the digestive tract, however, it can be challenging to get the blood concentration high enough to get the biochemical effect you want. (Anyone who has taken lots of Vitamin C will attest to the effect of taking too much: the bowels become overwhelmed, the Vitamin C isn’t absorbed, and you have to run to the toilet with an acute case of diarrhea.)

When Vitamin C is given IV, we bypass the intestines and the side effects of a large oral dose. The blood concentration can easily rise to the level needed for the anti-allergy effect, and the patient gets allergy relief without the drowsy side-effect of anti-histamines.

What We Use IV Therapy For

Those 10,000 IV’s we’ve administered? We’ve used them for many things–here’s a list of some complaints and uses:

  • Arrhythmia
  • Anxiety
  • Autoimmune issues
  • Adrenal fatigue
  • Alcohol craving
  • Anemia
  • Asthma
  • Athletic performance
  • Bipolar (mania)
  • CFS
  • Chronic candida
  • Chronic EBV
  • Chronic fatigue
  • Cold/flu
  • Constipation
  • Depression
  • Dermatitis Herpetiformis
  • Diabetes (Type 2)
  • Diabetic neuropathy
  • Dysmenorrhea
  • Eating disorders
  • Fibromyalgia
  • Headaches (all types)
  • Hypertension
  • Infections
  • Insomnia
  • Lupus
  • Macular Degeneration
  • Mercury toxicity
  • Mono
  • Muscle cramps
  • Parkinson
  • Peptic Ulcers
  • PID
  • Polymyalgia Rheumatica
  • Post-surgical wound healing
  • Restless Leg Syndrome
  • Rheumatoid Arthritis
  • Seasonal Allergy
  • Shingles
  • Sinusitis
  • Ulcerative colitis or Crohn’s

And more!

This powerful treatment tool has been very helpful here at StoneTree over the years. Talk to your naturopathic doctor to find out if it’s the right fit for you.

You can book an appointment here, or call 705-444-5331.

Terry Fox Run: September 17, 2017

Getting our kids moving is SO important for their overall health and success. In fact, movement is important for all of us–especially getting outside for fresh air and nature.

This Sunday brings a great community based opportunity to get outside and to move as a family, all in support of one of Canada’s heroes, Terry Fox.

The Marathon of Hope

It’s astonishing to look now at photos of Terry back in 1980. He was just 22, and running a marathon a day with an artificial leg that he dipped in the Atlantic in April before setting out to do the same the Pacific after running across the country.

Sadly, on September 1 of that summer, coughing and suffering severe chest pains, Terry’s run ended near Thunder Bay. His cancer had returned and spread to his lungs.

Terry died the following June. During his Marathon of Hope, he had run 5,737 kilometres in 143 days, inspired a nation, and kicked off what would become the single largest one-day cancer fundraiser in the world.

To date, more than $750 million has been raised worldwide.

Terry Fox from Nick Schelle on Vimeo.

You can help continue Terry’s legacy by participating in this year’s run. Registration for the Collingwood event is here.

Run Details

  • Sunday, September 17, 2017
  • Registration: 8:30 am
  • One Start: 10 am
  • Location: Harborview Park (behind McDonald’s Restaurant – Look for the tent for Registration)
  • Main intersection: First Street and Cedar Street
  • Free parking and public transit accessible

What to Bring

  • Dress appropriately for weather (can be cooler at the bay)
  • Water, snacks, warm-up, and music will be provided
  • The event is bicycle, stroller, and wheelchair accessible
  • And dog-friendly, too!

This event has no entry fee and no minimum fundraising amount. There are no barriers to entry. You don’t need a particular level of fitness. You can walk, run, jog, bike, or otherwise roll your way around the 2.5 km loop.

Register here.

Decreasing Heart Attack Risk by Tackling Inflammation

Recent research in the New England Journal of Medicine looked at 10,000 patients who had had a heart attack AND a positive hsCRP result. (This is a blood test for inflammation.)

All of the patients received high doses of statins, which is the present standard of care, then they were split into two groups. Half of the patients received an injection every three months of a drug called Canakinumab, the other half received a placebo injection of normal saline. This trial went on for four years.

Canakinumab is a form of anti-inflammatory medication. It’s used predominately in those with rheumatoid arthritis. But according to the research, when you give it to people with heart attack risk you get some interesting results:

  • 15% reduction in risk of a cardiovascular event like a fatal or non-fatal heart attack or stroke
  • 30% reduction in the need for expensive interventional procedures like bypasses or stents
  • No change in death rates in the 2 groups.

You can read some mainstream coverage of the news here, including the impact on cancer rates.

The short story? Reducing inflammation is good for your health, in particular your heart.

What’s the Catch?

All of this sounds like good news, and in theory, it is. But nothing comes for free. The problem with Canakinumab is that it decreases inflammation by suppressing the immune system. That means patients who take it may be more susceptible to infections, require increased healing time if injured.

Enter the Better News

Chronic inflammation is often lifestyle-related. A poor diet, being sedentary, being over-stressed and under-slept, smoking and/or exposures to other toxins—all of these things contribute to your overall inflammatory set point. And the magic of lifestyle issues is that they can often be fixed without medication.

Dealing with inflammation is a big part of what Naturopathic Doctors do. We have written about it often, and dealing with it in some form or another is a common part of our treatment plans.

It stands to reason that dealing with and improving your inflammatory lifestyle challenges would be helpful in decreasing inflammation. If you could reduce your risk without the need for intense anti-inflammatory medicines that suppress your immune system, wouldn’t you want to?

The starting point is easy. Finding out if inflammation is a problem for you is as simple as a quick and inexpensive blood test called hsCRP–the same one used in the study. All you need to do is get started!

For information on hsCRP testing or inflammation reduction, book online or call 705-444-5331.

Is Your Thyroid Medication Working for You?

Often, patients who have had a conventional thyroid test have been told that everything is fine. They know better. The symptoms of low thyroid function seem to be ubiquitously suffered, especially by middle aged women. A week doesn’t go by that we are not asked by one of our patients to look into their thyroid function.

There is another group of patients that come to us for help. They’re the people who are already taking thyroid medication but are convinced it isn’t working for them. Even though their blood tests suggest that it should be working, their bodies are telling them otherwise.

If you’re one of those people, it turns out you might be right.

The Problem with Thyroid Meds

The thyroid, a butterfly shaped gland in our necks, secretes thyroid hormone. This hormone is a big player, acting on almost every cell in your body, and it exists in a few different forms. The most common is T4, or thyroxine. This form of the hormone is not active. Instead, it’s the responsibility of our cells to use iodine and CONVERT this T4 to T3, or triiodothyronine, which is the active form of the hormone.

When patients are diagnosed with low thyroid function, they are given a drug form of T4. Levothyroxine is the most common, also known as Synthroid or Eltroxin. The assumption is that the patient taking this drug will convert it to T3, the cells will be happy, and all will be well.

What this piece of research tells us is that is not always the case. In fact, more than 20% of patients may not be converting to the active form of the hormone effectively.

Looking in All the Wrong Places

The real problem here is less that patients aren’t converting their medication, but that we are not doing the right tests to notice.

When these “non-converting” patients go to the doctor to complain about their thyroid symptoms, a thyroid test is done and it will almost always come back normal. That test, however,  is measuring TSH, or thyroid stimulating hormone….which is not a thyroid hormone at all.

The level of TSH in the blood is dependent on the level of T4, NOT on the conversion of T4 to T3. That means that TSH and T4 levels in the blood can appear normal, even in a person who is NOT converting properly.

Remember it is the CONVERSION that allows the symptoms of low thyroid to be corrected by medication. If you’re not converting, the medication may not work.

So how do you know if your thyroid is working? Test the WHOLE picture. Work with a health professional who understands this relationship and can help your medication work better for you!

For information on thyroid and other testing, contact the clinic at 705-444-5331, or book an appointment online.

Why You Should Consider Natural Feminine Hygiene Products

Our menstrual cycles are a fact of life. In our early teens we were taken aside by our moms, aunts, big sisters, teachers or friends. We were told the facts of life and given a box of pads and/or tampons to start our journey into womanhood.

After that, dealing with our cycles month after month eventually became routine. Most of us buy whatever product we were either first introduced to, or whichever one is on sale. Not much thought is given to it, other than, “I hope it doesn’t interfere with my next beach holiday”.

So why consider changing now, especially to an all-natural feminine product? Here are a few good reasons, and a few great product suggestions.

Your Health
Pads and tampons are made from cotton, synthetic rayon, and other synthetic fibers. Cotton has been called “the world’s dirtiest crop.” It’s heavily sprayed with pesticides, and along with pesticide residues, the material these products are made with are bleached with chlorine dioxide, creating dioxin as a byproduct. Add to that anti-bacterial agents, fragrances and many other chemicals, and you get quite a toxic soup that we are exposing our lady parts to on a monthly basis.

These contaminants are carcinogens, endocrine disruptors, and allergens. The tissues of the vagina are sensitive, and these chemicals can cause real problems. In fact, in women with irritations in this area, one of the main treatment options is to change to an all-natural product. After that, the problem often resolves with no further treatment.

The Environment
According to The National Women’s Health Network, 12 billion pads and 7 million tampons are dumped into U.S. landfills each year. That’s A LOT of garbage, not to mention to chemicals used in the growing and manufacturing processes.

Cost
The average woman will spend an average of $150 per year on feminine hygiene products. That’s well over $5000 in a lifetime–no small potatoes. Choosing a re-useable option cuts that down considerably.  For example a Diva Cup costs $45 and you can use it for a decade or even longer.

All Natural Options

Disposable, organic pads and tampons

Although this option is not less expensive nor does it solve the environment problem entirely, they are MUCH healthier for your lady bits. The organic, unbleached cotton eliminates the exposure to toxins. Natracare products are available for purchase at The Pantry at StoneTree Clinic.

Diva Cup

This option is awesome for your health, the environment, and your pocket book. The diva cup, or a menstrual cup, is a silicon cup that can be used over and over again. It sits in the vagina and is emptied at regular intervals throughout your cycle. It takes a little getting used to but is absolutely worth the effort. Available for purchase at The Pantry at StoneTree Clinic.

Cloth Pads

This option also hits all three reasons for making the change to all natural products. Just like reusable, cloth baby diapers, you can make or buy reusable cloth menstrual pads.

Sea Sponge

Again, this reusable option is beneficial in all three areas. This absorbent sponge is placed in the vagina like a tampon, removed at regular intervals, cleaned, and re-inserted.

There have been some reports of cases of toxic shock syndrome as a result of using sea sponges because of dirt, grit or bacteria left in the sponge. However, it is important to keep in mind that this can happen from conventional tampons as well.

Drop by The Pantry at StoneTree to see our selection of natural feminine hygiene products!

Get Those Kids Moving!

A new study published in the Frontiers of Physiology in July offers a glimpse into the possible long-term importance of getting our young ones moving.

The study fed a group of baby lab rats a high-fat diet and then separated them into three groups. One group was denied exercise for their whole life, one group was denied exercise until they were adults, and the last group was allowed to exercise from the very beginning.

  • The researchers found that early exercise positively impacted the way the rat’s metabolism responded to the high-fat diet. They were able to transform fat into energy more effectively. This effect lasted for 60 days after the exercise stopped. No big surprise here.
  • But, the interesting part was that early exercise decreased overall inflammation as an adult. Even though the rats still all got fat from a diet that was too calorically rich, they did not seem to have the same negative health effects of a high-fat diet without exercise.

Clearly, kids aren’t rats, and no one is going to run a lifetime study denying humans exercise (although the fact that 1 in 10 kids meets the physical activity guidelines suggest we might be working towards it, sadly.)

But although it might be difficult to know what the long term studies will tell us for sure about humans, while you’re waiting there’s almost zero downside to getting kids moving!

This is one time when it’s probably quite reasonable to compare your kids to rats. 🙂