May 16, 2013
Headaches exist in a strange limbo in health care. Considering that they’re one of the most common health complaints in our culture, we’ve historically done a surprisingly poor job of fixing them. More often than not we suffer through them, or perhaps treat the symptoms, but we rarely address the causes.
Stress, fatigue and structural issues are an obvious and often visible source of headaches, but at the clinic we regularly tackle many other causes that tend to fly under the radar. Here are four you may not have considered.
1. Nutrient Deficiency
Deficiencies in many nutrients can cause headaches. With StoneTree patients, the biggest culprits are B12 and magnesium, but low levels of other nutrients can also cause problems.
We recently had a patient in the clinic who had a headache every day for 25 years. One Myers cocktail (IV treatment) to boost magnesium and the headaches vanished. Now, the patient can keep the headaches at bay with oral supplements, and an IV every six weeks.
2. Food Intolerance/Sensitivity
This is surprisingly common, and there’s much evidence to suggest that immune responses to the food you’re eating may be causing your pain.
We recently treated a mother and daughter who both had food intolerances, and both had chronic headaches. After four weeks of an elimination diet (removing the foods they were sensitive to), the mother’s headaches were 80% better and the daughter’s were gone completely.
3. Hormone Imbalance
Hormone imbalances are a frequent cause in women. Menstrual cycle fluctuations, menopause, and birth control pills can all affect estrogen and progesterone levels, which in turn can affect headache related chemicals in your brain.
Our clinical approach is generally to try to re-balance hormones using supplementation and herbs, and to assess for other underlying causes such as toxicity.
Toxicity can often cause or worse headaches. Your body has a remarkable ability to rid itself of toxins, but as toxins stack up – from our diet, our environment, or medications–the process of mobilizing those toxins and moving them out of the body can create headaches.
Ironically, many things that seem to help headaches in the short term, like caffeine or over the counter pain-killers, can actually make them worse in the long run by making you toxic.
If you’re struggling with unexplained headaches or migraines, you can book a complimentary meet-the-doctor visit here to find out if we can help.
April 25, 2013
Often, these patients have had a conventional thyroid test and have been told by their medical doctor that everything is fine. They arrive at our office unconvinced, however, because when they look up the list of symptoms of low thyroid function, they seem to have them all.
When we test further, we often find that the thyroid really isn’t working optimally. Why is that? Why does the story differ from your MD’s office to ours?
The discrepancy arises because of the difference in what is tested, and when.
- Conventional medicine measures one thing: TSH (thyroid stimulating hormone). Your medical doctor uses that number as a way of assessing how well the thyroid is doing it’s job. If that test is normal, your MD won’t test any further. You’ll be told your thyroid is not the problem. End of story.
- Naturopathic doctors measure more initially. Like your MD, we test TSH, but we also look at T4 (the inactive form of thyroid hormone), T3 (the active form) and TPO (a thyroid antibody).
Why? Because some people can have normal TSH levels, but still have thyroid issues which are only revealed by looking at the other numbers. Those people get the “all clear” on the first test, and their MD doesn’t look any further.
Why the difference in testing? It’s a difference in philosophy. Your MD is really trying to determine if your thyroid is diseased. As ND’s, we want to know if it’s working optimally, and those are not the same thing.
Curious about your thyroid? You can book an appointment online, or call the clinic at 705-444-5331.
April 18, 2013
The road to healing can be a bumpy one. Getting there frequently requires us to make many difficult lifestyle changes. We need to give up our addictions to sugar, coffee or booze. We need to move our bodies, and eat more vegetables. We may need to go through the often painful process of detoxification of the body and mind. And we need to rest and recharge.
All of this can seem impossible to tackle in our day-to-day routine.
I had the fortunate experience of stumbling upon a local treasure that helps people do just that – Grail Springs Spa, in beautiful Bancroft, about three hours north east of Collingwood.
At Grail Springs you are lovingly and gently guided on your road to healing. Set on a beautiful mineral lake in the Kawarthas, this magical place truly recharges the body and soul. Packages include all food, which is vegetarian and organic, and there is no sugar, gluten, dairy, alcohol or coffee.
There are yoga classes everyday, along with meditation, inspirational talks, films and forest hikes. Guests stay in beautiful rooms with the comfiest sheets you have ever felt, and enjoy the most healing and detoxifying spa treatments I have experienced.
I was there for three nights and it felt like I was gone for a week. I can home fully nourished, fully detoxified and fully rested.
I already have a relationship with healthy eating and exercise, so I knew how well I would feel after this experience. For others who are not as far down the path, this lovely spa takes care of all the details. You simply show up at the table, show up at the classes and show up at your treatments. You allow them to hold your hand through the first part of the journey – the really bumpy part. Once you get through it and realize how well you feel, it becomes much easier to incorporate the difficult changes into your day-to-day life.
Thanks, Grail Springs!
July 24, 2012
After a decade in practice, I’m still perplexed by conventional notions of what’s “curable” and what’s not.
- Why do we heal from the flu, but only go into remission from cancer?
- Why does a specific set of test results mean we have type 2 diabetes forever, even if we change our lifestyle and reduce that blood sugar to normal levels?
- Why is Crohn’s “incurable” even though many people never experience symptoms again once they change their diet?
Remission is a term we use when we expect a disease to return. But is expecting something to return really the most helpful way to approach it?
My experience–and that of thousands of others–is that healing from many chronic diseases is possible. It might be that changing our perspective begins with changing our language.
October 11, 2011
Hope you had a great Thanksgiving. A couple of quick clinic updates you might find interesting, including a new resource by request!
New Face: Lori Prest, RN
Please join us in welcoming Lori Prest, RN to the StoneTree Naturopathic Team. Lori is our new colon hydrotherapist and brings many years of experience in the world of complementary medicine to our team here in Collingwood.
StoneTree has been offering colon hydrotherapy for the past 3 years. This safe and effective treatment tool is a powerful method of detoxifying the liver, as the bowel is responsible for getting rid of the body’s fat soluble toxins.
Fall is one of the best times to detoxify to boost both your energy levels and immune function for the coming winter months. If you are interested in learning more about colon hydrotherapy contact the office at 705-444-5331.
Our Archived Articles, Now Online
We’ve written dozens of articles for various publications over the years, and we get frequent requests for them. You can now find the growing collection here:
We’ll be adding more over the next week as we get everything compiled online.
August 10, 2011
Scientific American published a piece last month, “It’s Time to End the War on Salt” that suggests that there’s little evidence that reducing the salt in our diet has much long-term benefit.
From the article:
“This week a meta-analysis of seven studies involving a total of 6,250 subjects in the American Journal of Hypertension found no strong evidence that cutting salt intake reduces the risk for heart attacks, strokes or death in people with normal or high blood pressure. In May European researchers publishing in the Journal of the American Medical Association reported that the less sodium that study subjects excreted in their urine—an excellent measure of prior consumption—the greater their risk was of dying from heart disease. These findings call into question the common wisdom that excess salt is bad for you, but the evidence linking salt to heart disease has always been tenuous.”
For a naturopathic perspective on just why salt isn’t the big hairy deal that we’ve been making it out to be for years, I’ve included an article that appeared in The Collingwood Enterprise Bulletin last summer. Enjoy! - Tara
Making Sense of Sodium
by Tara Gignac, ND
A look at the daily news tells us sodium is implicated in such high profile health concerns as high blood pressure and heart disease. And to be fair, it’s true: sodium is a problem. But the reality is that it’s only half the problem.
Sodium does a lot of good in our body. It helps our nerves and muscles work properly, and maintains our pH and water balance. Without sufficient sodium, we’d die.
But here in North America we’re not in any danger of dying of a sodium deficiency. We’re putting back a whopping 3200 mg on average – more than triple our cavemen ancestors.
But there’s more to the story. It’s not just sodium, but the ratio of sodium to another mineral, potassium, that’s important for our health. Potassium is sodium’s soulmate – the two complement each other in the body, and while our high sodium intake does throw off the ratio, we’re also consuming about a quarter of the potassium that our ancient ancestors did. That makes the imbalance even worse.
It also means, though, that we can tackle the sodium problem from both ends: by reducing our sodium intake and increasing our potassium intake. The simple formula? Decrease your processed foods (high sodium) and increase your consumption of fresh fruits and vegetables, which tend to be higher in potassium, to a minimum of 10 servings a day.
Tara Gignac, ND practices at StoneTree Clinic in Collingwood, ON. You can learn more about your sodium levels by booking a complimentary visit with a naturopathic doctor at 444-5331, or www.StoneTreeClinic.com
August 5, 2011
In the 1970′s, researchers removed the ovaries of healthy, normal weighted rats who had unlimited access to food. After the surgery the rats became ravenous, ate far more food then was necessary and became obese.
At first glance, this seems logical – eat more then you need, you get fat. Not that interesting.
It’s the follow-up study, though, that really makes for an interesting story. The researchers again removed the ovaries of healthy, normal weighted rats, but this time put them on a calorie restricted diet. According to conventional wisdom, this should have solved the weight gain problem. It didn’t. In fact, the rats still became obese. The difference was they also became completely sedentary. They only moved to eat.
It seems as if the rat’s new physiology (resulting from having the ovaries taken away) changed the amount of fat the body “wanted” to store – it changed the fat regulation. To reach the new fat “set point”, the rats compensated by eating more, or if that wasn’t an option, moving less.
The physiology, in other words, created the behaviour, the behaviours did not create the physiology. They ate more or moved less because they were storing fat…not the other way around.
April 21, 2011
New research in the British Medical Journal, reported up to a 24% increased risk of heart attack in post-menopausal women taking calcium supplements. As most of my 50+ female patients are being told to take between 1200-1800mg of calcium a day by their MD’s, I know this research will result in a lot of questions.
The medical community is questioning the validity of the study, which is to be expected. It’s a long-accepted truth in conventional medicine that women need calcium in very high doses to build bone, and paradigm shifts happen very slowly in medicine.
As a naturopathic doctor, this tentative finding isn’t as surprising. When you have an understanding of how the body works at a biochemical level, the possible calcium-heart attack connection may make some sense.
Calcium has many important functions in the body, but it doesn’t work alone. It actually works in concert with, or in balance with, other nutrients. When you put calcium in the body in much higher amounts than normal, the other nutrients may not be present in high enough amounts to either support or balance what the calcium is doing.
Calcium is a contractor of muscles. All muscles, including, of course, the heart. Magnesium, calcium’s more chilled-out brother, is the relaxer of muscles. These two nutrients work in concert to effectively contract and then subsequently relax our muscles. With this relationship in mind, it might not be a stretch to consider that if you supplement calcium by itself at very high doses, there may not be enough magnesium around to balance it out and help our muscles to relax.
Want to read more about the study? http://www.latimes.com/health/boostershots/la-calcium-heart-20110420,0,4042620.story
Questions about your current calcium supplements? Just contact the office at 705-444-5331 or email@example.com.
April 14, 2011
April is Cancer awareness month. Here’s our most recent article from the Collingwood Enterprise-Bulletin – please pass on to any friends or family that might find it helpful! – Tara
It’s easy to assume that natural solutions are also risk-free ones. But as the complexity of a health complaint increases, so do the stakes in self-prescribing. That’s certainly the case with cancer care.
There are supplements and nutrients that can affect cancer treatment, either by inadvertently promoting cancer growth, or by interfering with conventional care.
- St John’s Wort and some other herbs like Echinacea, Licorice, Ginseng and Gingko have been shown to interfere with the metabolism of chemotherapeutic drugs. This can be extremely dangerous because many chemotherapeutics have a narrow safe range of use. By taking these herbs you may inadvertently make those drugs ineffective or, worse still, toxic.
- Iron favors cancerous cell growth by forming free radicals and suppressing the immune system. Iron-rich sites in the body are often sites of primary cancer growth. There is evidence that the host cells and cancer cells fight over iron – the reason for this is largely unknown. Be cautious and choose multivitamins that are free of, or very low in, iron.
- Copper is essential for cancer cells to grow their own blood vessels to ensure they have a continuous supply of nutrients. Anti-copper drugs and diets have been shown to diminish the ability of tumors to make these blood vessels. Choose multivitamins that are low in or free from copper.
- Quercetin should not be taken with chemotherapeutics in the taxane family such as Taxol. It prevents the cancer cell from taxol-induced death, making the drugs less effective.
- Curcumin is indicated in many types of cancers, but can interfere with certain chemotherapeutics especially Adriamycin, and Cytoxan. It inhibits the activation of an enzyme essential to the drugs effectiveness.
Consult a doctor trained in supplement and nutrient interactions before taking any natural health product while undergoing conventional cancer treatment.
You can book a 15-min complimentary visit with a Collingwood naturopath to learn more about alternative cancer care by calling 705-444-5331.
March 30, 2011
US Today reported this week on a study by the Natural Resources Defense Council in the US which identified possible “disease clusters” in various US states.
Disease clusters are disease incidences that are higher then national averages and cannot be due to chance along. Among the conditions mentioned were MS, cancer, ALS and various birth defects.
The purpose of the report is to look more closely at the link between environmental toxins and these increased disease incidence. You can find the US Today article here.
The evidence for the impact of everyday chemicals on our health continues to climb, as does public interest. If you‘d like learn more, keep your calendar open on Friday, May 13th, 7-9PM. We’ll be welcoming environmental medicine expert (and great speaker!) Dr. Walter Crinnion, author of Clean, Green and Lean to the Gayety Theatre in Collingwood.
Dr. Crinnion will speak on the connection between chemical exposure and cancer and chronic diseases. All proceeds go to support the environment network! Click here for more info and tickets.