Celiac Disease Underdiagnosed in 90% of Cases?

That’s the case according to U of T prof Ahmed El-Sohemy, whose research suggests that celiac disease is very much underdiagnosed in Canada, as with other parts of the world including the US and the UK.

When he took blood samples from over 2800 people, he found that celiac disease occurs in 1% of Canadians–that’s a similar frequency to other countries in the world.

What wasn’t similar was that this frequency of occurrence did not match the frequency of diagnosis. El-Sohemy estimated that 90% of the 1% go undiagnosed.

What does that mean in numbers? For Canada, a population of 35 million people means there are approximately 350,000 people with celiac. The same 1% as most places.

But if 90% of them are undiagnosed, then 315,000 of these people don’t know they have it.

What is celiac disease?

Celiac disease is an autoimmune condition. That means your own immune system is attacking a part of your own body. In the case of celiac, when a person eats gluten, that gluten activates the immune system in their digestive system and their immune system then attacks and destroys the intestinal lining.

The result is obvious symptoms such as abdominal pain, bloating, gas, and diarrhea. But the damage to the intestinal lining also results in poor absorption of nutrients. As a result, patients with celiac can have weight loss, failure to thrive, anemia and other complaints associated with nutrient deficiencies. In fact, whenever a patient comes to StoneTree clinic with unexplained iron deficiency anemia, this is one of the first culprits we consider.

Are celiac disease and gluten intolerance the same thing?

Nope.

Celiac disease is an autoimmune disease. The gluten activates the immune system to attack the person’s intestines.

Gluten intolerance is an inflammatory response to the gluten itself–the immune system sees the gluten as the problem and attacks it, creating inflammation. Why this happens is still not totally understood.

Theories include:

  • Wheat hybrids have been bred to have more gluten and therefore more antigenic.
  • We eat too much gluten so the inflammatory reaction never has a chance to die down.
  • Wheat GMO’s (round-up ready crops) create wheat that is irritating to the immune system.

How do you test for celiac disease?

For celiac disease, the gold standard for diagnosis is an intestinal biopsy to look for tell-tale signs of damage.

This way of testing has its limitations. First, the patient needs to go to a hospital, get sedated and have a piece of their intestines removed via scope–no fun at all. Also, the patient needs to be actually eating gluten or you could go through all that trouble and get a false negative result.

Other tests for celiac include blood tests for the auto-antibody. This is easier, but also the patient also needs to be eating gluten to ensure that there is not a false negative.

Gluten intolerance can be tested by looking for an IgG antibody in the blood.

You can also test using an elimination diet. Whether you have celiac or a gluten intolerance, an elimination diet can give your own body a chance to tell you if you have a problem with gluten without relying on a test to tell you. If you have GI symptoms like symptoms such as abdominal pain, bloating, gas, diarrhea, constipation and you suspect gluten might be the culprit – just remove it from your diet for 28 days and left your body talk to you. If gluten is an issue you will know, no blood test or biopsy needed. It’s simple and cheap, but not necessarily easy!

For more information on testing, contact the clinic anytime at 705-444-5331, or book online.

Need help with gluten-free foods? Check out The pantry at StoneTree Clinic. All foods, including pre-prepared meals, are gluten- and dairy- free.

13 Books to Help With Your Resolutions

According a recent poll, many of our top resolutions this year are around our health–three of the top four, in fact:

  • Eat better
  • Exercise more
  • Save more money
  • Increase self-care (more sleep, etc.)

Interestingly, “read more” came in at number five. With that in mind, we thought we’d give you a list of our top health and wellness books. If read and put to use, they could do wonders for your health in 2018.

Here they are, in no particular order. Happy Reading!

Younger Next Year: A Guide to Living Like 50 to 80 and Beyond by Chris Crowley. An oldie but a goodie. I have gifted and recommended this book dozens of times. It is a life changer.

Untangled: Guiding Teenager Girls Through the Seven Transitions into Adulthood by Lisa Damour. If you are living with a teenage girl you can feel like you are going crazy yourself. This great book helps you keep your head on straight as you navigate through this life change.

The Passion Test by Janet Bray Attwod and Chris Attwood. Purpose is a big determinant of our health. This simple read helps you get to yours.

The Power of Habit by Charles Duhigg. When we can understand how and why our habits are there it makes it easier to change them and let them go. This book does that AND gives you strategies to make the change.

The Brain that Changes Itself by Norman Doidge MD. Debunking everything we thought about brain injury and the brain’s ability to heal – it will blow your doors off.

The Upside of Stress by Kelly McGonigal, Ph.D. In a culture that has demonized the stress word, we have forgotten it’s true purpose in our lives. This book reframes our thinking about this word for our betterment.

Healthy at 100 by John Robbins. Just read it – the solutions are simple…if not easy.

In Defense of Food: An Eater’s Manifesto by Micheal Pollen. Eat food that nature makes, mostly plants, not too much – it really is that simple

Why We Get Fat: And What to Do About It by Gary Traub. This book is a little academic, but worth the read. It will completely de-bunk everything you thought about fat.

The Happiness Project by Gretchin Rubin. A year of happiness – so worth it.

Eat, Move Sleep: How Small Choices Lead to Big Changes by Tom Rath. Can you capture health better in three words?

Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less by Greg McKeown, One of my favorite books of ALL times.   We so often trade our health in our pursuit of more. This book makes a very compelling argument for focusing on what’s most important.

Eat Dirt: Why Leaky Gut Might be the Root Cause of your Health Problems and 5 Surprising Steps to Cure It by Josh Axe. In a germ-phobic world, its good to reconnect with just how critical bacteria are in our lives. More than you might know!

Concussion Treatment and Prevention

Hurray, it’s ski season!

If you or your kids ski for fun, or more seriously in the many amazing race programs in our area, this post is for you. (Hockey players, we haven’t forgotten you either!)

Dr. Maggie, a former nationally competitive skier, and StoneTree Clinic’s resident sports performance guru, wants to make sure you know how to manage the inevitable bonks on the head that come when you “hit” the slopes or the ice.

Bruising Your Brain

Your body has evolved a great system for protecting the brain. On the outside, you have a hard bony layer—the skull—to shelter your soft brain tissue from the outside world. Under the skull, fluid and protective membranes allow your brain to “float” inside your skull, protecting it from damage.

In the case of a serious whack, however—say, falling while skiing, or piling into the boards—your brain can move in unexpected ways, and can actually hit the inside of your skull. We call that a mild traumatic brain injury. There are several kinds, but we often generalize and refer to them collectively as a “concussion”.

While your brain has a remarkable knack for self-healing from damage, it can only do so much. Here are three key strategies for protecting this vital organ.

1. Prevention. Did you know that there are things that you can do before impact to minimize the negative repercussions of a head injury? When you suffer a concussion, you trigger an immune response in your body–your immune system creates inflammation to help protect your brain. If you’ve managed and supported your inflammatory pathways, you can get a jump on minimizing damage and maximizing healing. Remember: if you’re involved in a sport with a head injury risk, there are things you can do in addition to wearing a helmet.

2. Early Treatment – The early days of a head injury are the most vital in terms of neurological and inflammatory changes. The sooner you can begin to get help, the more you speed up and support healing and recovery. Seek help as soon as you can after a head trauma.

For those who are competing competitively:

3. Set up your concussion health care team. Your best support comes from a combination of healthcare practitioners who can help you to a full recovery! Chiropractic, physiotherapy, exercise therapy and naturopathic care are all important components of complete care. In this regard, health care is a lot like sports: the better the team, the better the results.

We use a combination of tools to help support concussion recovery, including a specialized brain recovery diet, targeted supplementation, IV therapy, and acupuncture. For questions and care, Dr. Maggie is in the clinic during the holiday season and beyond. You can book online here, or call the clinic at 705-444-5331.

Shingles: Causes and Prevention

Herpes zoster is the virus that causes the chickenpox. Most of us experienced this infection as kids–a very itchy rash, that can show up over the entire body.

Once chickenpox is resolved the herpes zoster virus can “hide” in a little pocket in our nerves called the dorsal root ganglia. It can hide there, dormant, for years, with a healthy immune system keeping it where it can’t cause any trouble.

But, like a gift that just keeps on giving, the virus can reemerge.

As we age, or if we are in a situation where our immune system is run down, that little virus can poke it’s head out and start causing trouble. That trouble is called shingles, and anyone who has had it can tell you it’s no fun.

This painful rash typically appears as a single “strip” of blisters that wraps around either side of your torso.   These blisters can be itchy and/or burny. They can cause numbness or tingling and result in intense sensitivity to touch. Some people also experience fever, headache, fatigue, and sensitivity to light. Overall the experience is extremely unpleasant.

Wore still, as you age, chances increase that you can develop a complication like post-herpetic neuralgia, which is continued pain even after the blisters have resolved that can result in months of discomfort.

So what to do?

1. Keep your immune system strong and healthy.

Immune boosting is the key to prevention. You want to keep that dormant virus right where it is! Eat right, exercise, get lots of rest when you feel tired and lots of laughter whenever you can.

2. Treat early.

Getting an antiviral within 72 hours of the onset of shingles will decrease the duration of the disease. If you don’t want to do conventional anti-virals, some research supports using IV Vitamin C to decrease both disease duration and post-herpetic neuralgia. We’ve seen this work in practice in many patients. Vitamin B12 injections have also been shown to decrease post-herpetic neuralgia.

Shingles is no fun. If you develop symptoms, see your health care provider as soon as possible!

Your Cold and Flu “GO-KIT”

It is not uncommon for the ND’s at StoneTree to get emails or messages over the weekend, after hours, or when they are away from home, from patients who are coming down with cold or flu symptoms and want to get on top of them right away. No one wants a full-blown cold or flu!

Of course, the first thing we always recommend is to get in as soon as you can for in IV Vitamin C drip.

(To learn more, check out this “60 Minutes” documentary on the benefit of Vit C in resolving infection, or this interview with Dr. Marik, MD on the value of vitamin C and sepsis.)

When patients can’t get into the clinic for the “big guns” the first question we ask is, What supplements do you have at home?

As you might imagine, not everyone has a fully stocked cold- and flu-fighting pharmacy at home, and most people didn’t have the best tools at their disposal when they really needed them.

Here is what we wish you had:

  • Zinc. Studies show that taking zinc at first sign of cold symptoms can decrease the duration of the illness. We have definitely seen evidence of this in practice. It’s important to note, however, that more zinc is not always better. Taking too much for too long can create trouble, but taking it acutely for a short period is okay.
  • Oil of oregano. It tastes like a spaghetti monster exploded in your mouth, but this herb is AWESOME at killing all things microbial!
  • Echinacea and Goldenseal. These two herbal medicines together are a double threat to winter illness! Echinacea is the immune booster and goldenseal is anti-microbial. Taking them at first sign of symptoms can often stop a cold before it even starts.
  • Vitamin C. Can’t get in for an IVC? Taking Vitamin C orally can help, too. Taking a 1000mg every hour to bowel tolerance is the way to go. Some people may get an upset tummy but for those who tolerate it, get a chewable option–it feels like you are popping like sweet treats all day.
  • Castor Oil. This magical oil moves lymph, which means it helps the immune system move around. Sore throat? Apply cast0r oil and cover with a scarf. Ear infection? Castor oil to the neck, topped with a gentle heating pad, gets the lymph moving and moves the congestion out.

Now You Can Have the Wishlist On Hand!

For the cold and flu season, we’ve put together a cold and flu “GO-KIT”. It contains:

  • Zinc
  • Oil of oregano
  • Echinacea-Goldenseal tincture
  • An immune booster called Pascoleucyn that is safe and effective for all ages

You can pick up your “GO-KIT” at the front desk for $74.99 + HST. (Bought individually the kit works out to $104.81.)

Questions? Stop by to pick up your kit, or contact the clinic at 705-444-5331.

‘Tis the Season…

…to be stressed?

…to be sick?

…to have interrupted sleep?

…to be cranky?

…to have tummy troubles?

The holiday season can be a lot of fun, but it can also be pretty hard on our physical and mental health!

That makes December a great time to check in with your ND.

We can help support your immune system
No one has time to be sick over the holidays. Preventing illness is ideal, but in the event that a virus is starting to take hold, try getting on top of it with an immune-boosting IV and/or supplements as soon as symptoms show up. When you feel the onset, kick that critter fast!

We can help support your digestive system
The holiday season is filled with over-indulging. Sugar, booze, and late nights are fun, but they can wreak havoc on your tummy. ND’s have many tools in our tool-box to help you manage these symptoms over the holidays so you can enjoy the season!

We can help you cope with the stress
There’s a lot to do over the holidays–parties, shopping, cooking, wrapping. At times, it can be overwhelming. Add those “challenging” family relationships and it can lead to many sleepless nights. ND’s are pros at helping you rebalance and support your stress hormones.

This season is also a great time of year to get started with an ND if you have unused benefits. Naturopathic care is covered by most extended benefit plans–that lets you save your money for presents. 🙂

Booking on-line makes it easy to book that IV or visit when it is convenient for you. If you can’t sleep – get in the next day for help. If your throat feels a little scratchy when you wake up, you can book that IV right away.

Welcome to December!

The Migraine-Food Intolerance Connection

This piece of research came across the desks of one of the ND’s here at StoneTree that supports what we have all seen time and time again with our patients: food intolerances and migraines are related.

We’ve written about food intolerances many times before. When we eat foods that we are intolerant to, our immune systems see these foods as foes, not friends. The normal response to a foe by the immune system is to create inflammation in an effort to get rid of the threat.

This works very well when the threat is a virus or bacteria. It works less well when the threat is a food you eat every day. The threat is never eliminated–it just keeps showing up on your plate, day after day, and your body keeps fighting the fight.

Over time, the result is an accumulation of low-grade inflammation that can cause symptoms throughout the entire body. One of those places is the vasculature of the brain. Result: migraines.

Testing for food intolerance is an easy blood test. If you are suspect that foods are causing a problem for you, this time of year is a great time to do intolerance testing. Most extended health benefit plans will cover this lab test if done through your naturopathic doctor. (Curious about what a test looks like? You can find a sample here.)

 To learn more about food intolerance and other lab tests, book online, or call the clinic at 705-444-5331.

From Endometriosis to Concussion: What We Learned Last Weekend

Last weekend the StoneTree Clinic team got to enjoy the 2017 annual convention of the Ontario Association of Naturopathic Doctors–right here at Blue Mountain Resorts.

It was such a treat to show off the Collingwood area to our ND colleagues. With our amazing community and beautiful natural attractions, they all agreed: we live in one of the BEST places in Ontario to be healthy!

All the StoneTree Clinic docs attended, and here are some of the things we learned:

  • Dr. Candice: Endometriosis in shift workers is 50% higher than in non-shift workers, and correcting imbalances in circadian rhythms with natural remedies can really make a difference.
  • Dr. Maggie: After an awesome lecture on “traumatic brain injury” by Dr. Paul Hrkal ND, Dr. Maggie is excited about the research supporting consumption of omega 3 fats in the prevention AND treatment of concussion and brain injury.
  • Dr. Shelby: Learned about a simple test to determine if a person is being exposed to mold–thanks to the amazing Dr. Neil McKinney ND, one of our naturopathic elders who has been practicing and teaching for over 30 years.
  • Dr. Kendra: Learned from one of the world’s leading experts on probiotics, Dr. Nigel Plummer Ph.D., that patients will have much better outcomes (by having fewer side-effects) when they take probiotics with and after antibiotics.
  • Dr. Tara: Throughout the 2 days, Dr. Tara was reminded about the importance of daily, preventative supplementation. Everyone (including Dr. Tara) should take daily probiotics, fish oils, and vitamin D (at a minimum) to support optimal health.

Our docs are involved in continuing education throughout the year–if you have questions about the latest research, tools, and treatments, contact us anytime!

World Diabetes Day: What’s Your Sugar Status?

World Diabetes Day started in 1991 and has been celebrated on November 14th every year since. It was initiated by the World Health Organization (WHO) and the International Diabetes Federation (IDF) in response to the rapid rise of diabetes incidence around the world.

This year, World Diabetes Day focuses on Women with Diabetes, and for good reason:

  • There are currently over 199 million women living with diabetes. This is projected to increase to 313 million by 2040.
  • Two out of every five women with diabetes are of reproductive age.
  • Diabetes is the ninth leading cause of death in women globally.
  • 1 in 7 births is affected by gestational diabetes.
  • 2% of live births to women in 2015 had some form of hyperglycemia in pregnancy.
  • Approximately half of women with a history of gestational diabetes go on to develop type 2 diabetes within five to ten years after delivery.
  • Half of all cases of hyperglycemia in pregnancy occur in women under the age of 30.

These are some sobering statistics, and they don’t begin to cover it all. Diabetes can lead to nerve damage, kidney failure, and blindness. If you have diabetes, your risk of developing heart disease is twice that of the rest of the population, and you’re more susceptible to depression and infections.

Diabetes is dangerous. But it’s also a largely treatable and more importantly preventable disease. In fact, according to the IDF, more than 70% of type 2 diabetes could be prevented through the healthy lifestyle.

Where do you begin? Diabetes is a lifestyle disease, and naturally, food and movement are key.

Eat right. Eat foods that nature makes, mostly plants, not too much. It really is as simple as that. If a food package is making a health claim, be suspicious. The foods sitting in the veggie aisle with no claims and no packaging are where your diet should be focused.

Start with these 10 recipes that will save your life!

Exercise regularly. You don’t need to be a marathon runner to get the diabetes prevention benefit of exercise. Walk every day for 30 minutes. It’s all you need to do to make an enormous difference.

Test your blood sugar. Find out if your blood sugar is a problem before it’s a problem–testing your blood sugar regularly can give you an idea if your body is heading down the diabetes track.

Blood sugar tests look at the following:

  • Fasting blood sugar. This is the test we are all very familiar with. We fast overnight and get our blood taken first thing in the morning. Any value over 6.0 mmol/L should get your attention that you may be heading down the wrong track.
  • Hemoglobin A1c. This test measures how much sugar is attached to the red blood cells. The more that is attached, the more likely you are not getting the sugar out of your blood fast enough. Because the lifespan of the RBC’s is around 3 months, this test gives us an idea of what your AVERAGE blood sugar has been over a 3 month period. Values over 6% are a sign that things are not going well.
  • Two-hour post-prandial blood glucose. This test measures how well your body deals with sugar within 2 hours of eating it. If your blood sugar is over 7.8 mmol/L 2 hours after eating the sugar, you could be heading down the wrong track.

Interested in learning about your blood sugar levels? Tests are inexpensive, and we can take your blood sample right here in the clinic! Book online, or call 705-444-5331 for more information.

Cancer Care Comes to StoneTree

For several years, we’ve been looking for an experienced naturopathic doctor whose sole job at StoneTree would be to work with patients with a cancer diagnosis.

We found him!

We are very excited to welcome Dr. Ehab Mohammed, ND to the StoneTree Clinic family. Dr. Ehab is a licensed naturopathic doctor, board certified from the College of Naturopaths in Ontario.

What’s really exciting for us, however, is Dr. Ehab’s long oncology history as a medical doctor in Egypt, where he obtained his medical degree, a master’s in ocology, and a medical doctorate in radiation oncology. Dr. Ehab practiced oncology for over 20 years, published 33 scientific research articles in recognized medical journals.

After graduating from the Canadian College of Naturopathic Medicine (CCNM), Dr. Ehab spent a year on the adjunctive cancer care clinic shift where he managed patients under different types of conventional cancer care (chemotherapy, radiation, palliative care and surgery) with naturopathic supportive care.

If you know someone that needs support, our approach to cancer care strives to:
  • Decrease the side-effects of conventional cancer treatments
  • Support the patient’s immune system to avoid additional illness
  • Increase the effectiveness of conventional treatments
  • Improve overall health in an attempt to prevent the spread or recurrence of cancer
  • Help patients navigate the stress, information overload, and difficult choices created by a cancer diagnosis

StoneTree also offers alternative care for those patients who have exhausted all their conventional choices and are seeking new treatment options.

This is very exciting for us. Cancer touches lives every single day here in the Georgian Bay area, and this is something our patients need. We’re fortunate to be able to bring Dr. Ehab’s decades of cancer experience here to StoneTree!

Dr. Ehab will be starting at StoneTree Clinic, Thursday, November 16, 2017.  For more information, book an appointment, or contact the clinic at 705-444-5331.