5 Weeks to a Happy Stomach (Food Intolerance)

All doctors love when their patients get better, and as naturopathic doctors, we often get the joy of seeing people with long-standing symptoms heal.

A 55-year old man recently came into the clinic with symptoms of severe phlegm in his throat every time he ate.  His stomach was always uncomfortable, he was sensitive to his environment, and he couldn’t swallow properly. Years of appointments, tests and discomfort had finally led him to our office.

A simple lab test helped us diagnose a severe food intolerance to dairy, eggs and gluten. After five weeks of maintaining a diet free of those foods, all his symptoms resolved.

These were symptoms he had lived with for years. They were also symptoms that, according to conventional medicine, had nothing to do with food. But as we’re all discovering, food is medicine, and sometimes our chronic, longstanding health complaints are as simple as changing what we put in our mouths.

There’s really a simple 3 step process at work when it comes to a suspected food intolerance:

  1. Get a food intolerance test. The cost is reasonable, and while you can easily experiment on your own with adding and removing foods from your diet, the test narrows the field so you’re not randomly eliminating foods for months and months.
  2. Do an elimination diet. Remove any suspected foods for 4 weeks. Dairy, wheat, gluten, sugar, eggs, yeast are the most common culprits.
  3. Reintroduce the foods slowly. If you’ve eliminated multiple groups, you’ll need to reintroduce them one at a time. Watch your symptoms closely.

Once the body balances, some people are able to eventually tolerate foods they once couldn’t. Others may have to avoid them permanently. The end result in both cases is the same, though: a much happier stomach! 🙂


Something Old, Something New

Hi All,

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.


Women Helping Women: Midwives for Haiti

This October, local midwife Lilly Martin will be traveling to Haiti with the organization Midwives for Haiti to help teach local Haitian women to provide prenatal care and skilled birth assistance to their fellow Haitian sisters, who too frequently die in childbirth without such care.

North American midwives help by lending their expertise to train the Haitian women on the ground – that means they can continue to provide care once the volunteering professionals have left. This training creates a true legacy gift!

Lily has set a goal of fundraising $1500 before she leaves which will pay the full tuition for one Haitian woman to learn these valuable, lifesaving skills.

Here is how StoneTree Clinic wants to help. On September 12th – our next Well Woman Visit day will be by donation ONLY.

What does that mean?  The regular $135 fee for our Well Woman visit, which includes a breast exam, gynecological exam and Pap smear is waived. You decide what you would like to contribute to Midwives for Haiti.

No donation is too small. Many of us know women who have been avoiding getting a Pap or a breast exam done for years for all kinds of reasons. This is an opportunity to visit an all-female environment, with warm sheets and hot tea to do something important for women’s health. At the same time, you’ll be supporting the health of less advantaged Haitian women.

Call the clinic at 705-444-5331 to book your appointment today – the more the merrier!!

Ending the War on Salt

For years, salt has been an “enemy” in our diet. As naturopaths, we hold a somewhat different view of sodium (see below) and it’s one that’s beginning to gain more and more traction in the media.

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

A Different Perspective on Weight Gain

I read about an interesting study recently.

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.

Type II Diabetes: Disease or Lifestyle Choice?

I was at a lecture recently where the presenter stated, in very clear terms, the following:

Type 2 Diabetes is a lifestyle choice.

For many, that’s a statement that may be hard to hear. We’ve been trained to believe that Type II diabetes is “in our genes”. That we’ve either won or lost a genetic lottery.

It’s not true.

Study after study shows the link between lifestyle choices and development of diabetes. Like the link between the drinking of sugary drinks and diabetes, for example.

Do genes play a role? Certainly. They predispose us. They increase likelihood. But the problem is not our genes. The problem is our choices. If you are genetically tall and keep banging your head on a door frame, at some point you have to make a decision to duck.

The good news is that choices are just that. They’re decisions that we have the power to make.

If you’re diabetic, pre-diabetic, or know someone who is, you might be interested in Lia’s free Cooking for Diabetics class on Friday, June 10th at Loblaw from 6-8PM. You’ll learn how to cook and eat in a way that will help you make the right lifestyle choices when it comes to diabetes.

RSVP by visiting the customer service desk at Loblaw in Collingwood in person, or calling 445-4175 x4.

This Friday: Dr. Walter Crinnion at the Gayety In Collingwood

Hi All,

A quick note about our upcoming environmental medicine event – tickets are selling quickly, and we want to make sure that you can get yours if you’re interested!

On Friday, May 13th at 7PM, we’re bringing naturopath and environmental medicine expert and Dr. Walter Crinnion to the Gayety Theatre in Collingwood to share his expertise.

Author of Clean, Green and Lean, Dr. Crinnion has been practicing environmental medicine for nearly 30 years. He is a beloved teacher, an international speaker and has a love and passion for understanding the health effects of everyday toxins that is infectious.

If you want to understand the connection between chemicals and cancer and other chronic diseases, this is a must-see event.

Tickets are available at the door, but about two-thirds of the seats are sold. You can get yours in advance at the clinic, or on-line.

Looking forward to seeing you there!


The Connection Between Toxins and Chronic Disease

In this American Health Journal special report, Dr. Walter Crinnion explains the buildup and impact of environmental toxins in the body, including the connection to Parkinson’s disease and the use of IV therapy as a treatment tool, as well as links to conditions like arthritis, lupus, Hashimoto’s thyroiditis, allergies and asthma.

You can hear Dr. Crinnion speak live in Collingwood on May 13 at 7PM. Tickets and details here. All proceeds go to support the local Environment Network. 🙂

Is Your Calcium Supplement Increasing Heart Attack Risk?

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.

Understanding Calcium

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 protected]


5 Natural Products That Can Interfere With Conventional Cancer Care

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.

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.

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