3 Great Natural Health Resources for Canada Day

Hurray! It’s the long weekend!

It’s going to be a hot one as we celebrate our nation’s birthday this weekend. Here are a few all-natural resources for your long weekend needs:

  • Fruit infused water: This delicious water is a tasty and beautiful way to get fluids into you on a hot, summer day. There are a few options there, but there is really no end to the combinations you can come up with. Our very own Julie is the “fruit-infused” water guru at the clinic–her creations show up in the IV suite every week!
  • All natural bug spray: Want to avoid the chemicals in bug sprays but can’t STAND those little bitey critters? Try this great recipe to keep them away.
  • Environmentally responsible sunscreen: The EWG released it’s 2018 sunscreen report. A great resource to manage both your skin health and the environment.

Happy Canada Day! Be safe, be healthy and have fun!

Bronwyn Hill - Collingwood Naturopathic Doctor

Welcome Dr. Bronwyn!

Once upon a time…

Some of you who have been patients since our early days in Collingwood will remember our office over in the Erie Street Medical Centre. Some of you may even remember a keen and shiny young university student helping us out one summer.

That young student’s name was Bronwyn Hill. At the time, she was very interested in health care but didn’t know much about naturopathic medicine. Determined to fix that, Bronwyn volunteered for a summer at the office, helping us in the IV suite and at the front desk, and anywhere else she could be helpful and learn more about naturopathy at the same time.

Flash forward a dozen years, and our young summer student Dr. Bronwyn Hill is now a skilled naturopathic doctor with more than six years of experience under her belt!

Bronwyn Hill, ND graduated from the Canadian College of Naturopathic Medicine in 2011 (in the same class as Dr. Maggie),  and after six years of practice in Toronto, she’s recently relocated to Creemore with her husband and golden doodle. We’re delighted to welcome her to the team at StoneTree, right here in her hometown of Collingwood.

Dr. Bronwyn has a general family practice, with a special interest in pediatrics–she loves working with kids of all ages. You can learn more about Dr. Bronwyn here, or click here to book an appointment.

Welcome home, Dr. Bronwyn! You haven’t changed a bit. 😉

Food as Medicine: Brazil Nuts

We just got some organic brazil nuts in at The Pantry. These guys are little nutritional wonders! Just 2-3 nuts can deliver a therapeutic dose of selenium at 200mcg.

What does selenium do? Lots of great stuff. Check out this list, courtesy of Dr. Axe:

  • Acts as an antioxidant and defends against oxidative stress
  • May help defend against cancer
  • Boosts immunity
  • Improves blood flow and lowers chance of heart disease
  • Regulates thyroid function
  • Increases longevity
  • Helps reduce asthma symptoms
  • Can help boost fertility

Here at StoneTree, we are mainly using brazil nuts to help balance thyroid hormone, and support healthy testosterone levels and sperm quality in our patients of reproductive age.

If 2-3 Brazil nuts are good, then…more must be better, right?

No!

Selenium can cause toxicity over time.

With chronic exposure to too much selenium, you get symptoms like:

  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Nail discoloration, brittleness, and loss
  • Hair loss
  • Fatigue
  • Irritability
  • Foul breath odor (often described as “garlic breath”)

So keep it to 2-3 nuts/day–you’ll get all the benefits without taking a pill!

Free Talk on Common GI Disorders

This month, StoneTree Clinic is pitching in with the CGMH Foundation’s Education Committee to educate the Georgian Triangle about common gastrointestinal disorders. You can learn all about this MD/ND/CGMH collaboration here.

Over the years, we’ve heard from our patients time and time again that they wish ND’s and MD’s worked more closely together. Well, we do! It’s a common misconception that you either have to choose one or the other. The true magic happens when conventional medicine and naturopathic medicine collaborate in a way that best supports the health of patients.

One of the best examples of this is dealing with complaints of the digestive tract. They are extremely common, very challenging for patient quality of life, but most important, they are often very treatable when health care professionals work together!

If you have symptoms like diarrhea and occasional blood in the stool, for example, it’s very important to get worked up medically to ensure there is nothing scary going on. An MD will do all the necessary tests to rule out pathologies like Crohn’s disease, ulcerative colitis, diverticulitis, or even colon cancer.

When those things are all ruled out, the result is usually a diagnosis of IBS (Irritable Bowel Syndrome). Conventional medicine doesn’t offer great solutions for IBS, but this is where ND’s shine. We’re experts in the proper function of the GI tract, and pros at figuring out what is out of balance and helping patients get to the root of it. It’s work we love, especially working in collaboration with an MD to make sure the “scary stuff” has been ruled out.

To learn more, join us on April 26 for a free informative seminar on healthy medical and naturopathic approaches to GI care. Walk-ins are welcome, but you can also register in advance here.

Thursday, April 26 at 7:00 pm (Doors open at 6:30 pm)
Collingwood Leisure Time Club
100 Minnesota Street, Collingwood

See you there!

Words to Live By

Choose happy and embrace the weird.

-A.H.

It seems like we are always surrounded by bad news and tragedy. Stories of trouble and woe. Stories of people not getting along. Stories of people disrespecting other beliefs, religions, genders, races.

It’s incredibly easy to get sucked into this world of drama, negativity, and divisiveness. I like to think that this little sentence reminds us that getting sucked in is a choice.

We can choose to judge someone who is “different than us”… or we can “embrace the weird”.

We can choose to be offended by a comment made by a cranky teacher….or we can “choose happy” by maybe imagining that they are cranky because their child is sick, or they’ve suffered a loss.

We might not be able to control all that happens to us, but we can do our best to choose how we let it affect us and the view that we have of the world around us.

We have written about choosing happy before, but this little sentence made us think about it again. These are truly words to live by, and we thank the lovely person who shared them with us this week!

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!

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. 🙂

Men: Understanding and Measuring Your Testosterone

Testosterone is predominately a male hormone. Although women have it in small amounts as well, this post is all about our boys. (Although our female patients may have to drag their guys in for testing. :))

Gentlemen, testosterone is the “fountain of youth” hormone. It’s part of what makes a guy feel like a “guy”. It makes you feel strong, vital, virile and ambitious.

As you age, however, testosterone levels gradually decline. This decline can have very little abnormal effect on some men, or it can have varied and far-reaching effects that can really wreak havoc.

Symptoms of Low/Decreasing Testosterone

Low testosterone has a lot of possible symptoms, such as:

  • Reduced sexual desire, or low libido
  • Fewer spontaneous erections
  • Impotence (erectile dysfunction)
  • Infertility
  • Changes in sleep patterns
  • Emotional changes, such as low self-confidence or lack of motivation
  • Physical changes, like increased body fat, reduced muscle bulk and strength, and decreased bone density

The Challenge of Measuring Your Testosterone

How do you find out if low testosterone is behind your symptoms? Usually testosterone is measured in the blood in two ways: bound and free. They’re different.

Total testosterone is all testosterone in the blood, much of which is “bound” to something called sex hormone binding globulin, some that’s  bound to albumin, and some that’s not bound to anything.

Free testosterone is made up of the second two–that bound to albumin and that not bound to anything. This is the testosterone the cells can actually use–it’s  what we call “bioavailable.” Only about 1/3 of total testosterone is free.

The free number is mainly what we’re interested in, but  there are a couple of problems. The first is that the “free” number is more of a calculation than a measurement–we’re using other measurements to do some math. So it’s not completely accurate.

The second problem is that even though we get a number, normal ranges can vary a lot between individuals. What’s normal for you may be typical. Levels are also age-related. You can try this page for reference.

Testing, though, is critical because it gives us a reference point.

Optimal Testosterone

Ideally, then, this is what we want to do:

  1. Test so that we have a baseline. That way, at least we can compare future numbers against something and see when things are changing. You can find a sample report here if you’re curious.
  2. Focus on optimal testosterone. That’s the level where you are not experiencing symptoms.
  3. Make the right health changes to keep your testosterone in its optimal range for you.

Tips for Restoring Optimal Testosterone Levels

Testosterone levels are related to other hormone levels, too–things like insulin and cortisol. That means your lifestyle can have a huge effect, and it’s generally our first treatment choice, although there are other options. We’ll often recommend that patients:

  1. Stop drinking too much.
  2. Get rid of extra weight. Fat cells make estrogen, which throws off testosterone levels.
  3. Avoid refined carbohydrates. Increased insulin levels suppress testosterone.
  4. Deal with stress. Stress hormone suppresses testosterone
  5. Get off the couch. Exercise is the key. It helps decrease the weight, burn off those carbs and helps deal with the stress. Weight lifting stimulates the muscle building which in turns stimulates testosterone. (Plus, when you’re exercising,you’re not sitting on the couch drinking that second beer!)

For more information on testing your testosterone levels, contact the clinic at 705-444-5331 or book online!

Well-Woman Visit Dates for 2017

We’re happy to announce the Well Woman Visit dates for this year. This unique service offers a warm, caring environment for annual visits that includes:

  • A complete breast exam
  • Self breast exam education
  • Full gynecological exam with PAP test

Dates filled up quickly in 2016, especially with the addition of online booking. Here are the dates for 2017:

  • Jan 16
  • Feb 27
  • Mar 27
  • May 1
  • June 5
  • July 10
  • Sept 18
  • Oct 23
  • Dec 4

In the last part of the year, booking online resulted in slots filling up quite quickly. You can grab one for 2017 by booking online, or calling the clinic at 705-444-5331.

All dates are online and available. If you want to book for the December date, for example, go for it. No worries about forgetting – we will email you to remind you as the date approaches. (Online booking also allows you to cancel in the event of an unexpected cycle course correction.)

You can learn more about how this unique service was created here:

And learn more about cervical cancer screening and guidelines here and here.

A Stitch in Time?

If it seems like your doctor isn’t as interested in your yearly screening exam, annual physical, or regular blood work as they used to be, you’re not alone. Patients are increasingly coming to the clinic to ask for tests to be done that their MD’s won’t do anymore.

This is part of an increasing trend in conventional medicine toward abandoning the screening tools used to determine if there is a potential problem in otherwise “healthy” people.

The Conventional Rationale

I’ve spoken with my medical doctor colleagues about this. For them, the evidence suggests that finding a problem earlier (when there are no symptoms) doesn’t change long term outcomes any more than just waiting until the patient has symptoms, and treating the problem then. The only thing that changes, according to one colleague, is that when you use screening, the patient ends up on drug interventions (with all the risks and side effects) for much longer then had the patient simply waited.

The result of this evidence is the trend to test less often, or simply wait until there is actually a problem and then deal with it. That’s what you’re seeing more of now in conventional care.

The Naturopathic Approach

As many of you know, we test, screen and assess a great deal, and continue to do so. But why do we do it if the evidence suggests we shouldn’t?

There are a couple of key reasons:

  1. Our philosophy leads us to individualize. If a study of a thousand patients suggests that doctors should stop screening, that doesn’t mean there won’t be patients who are worse off by abandoning screening. It means that in aggregate, the data supports abandoning it. But patients aren’t aggregates, or averages. They’re people. It’s hard to talk about “averages” and “overall population benefits” to someone who lost a spouse or parent to a disease that could have been prevented.
  2. We believe in, and see the results of, prevention. When a patient comes into our office, she might in fact be on the diabetes or heart disease track. Her diet might be full of simple carbohydrates and inflammatory foods. She may never exercise. She may have an imbalance in hormones or a toxic body burden. All of these things contribute to disease processes like diabetes or high blood pressure, for example. And most are all correctable before the disease fully develops. In other words, the disease can be prevented.

But to properly do both of those things—individualize and deliver preventative medicine—we need a level of understanding of the patient that’s difficult to achieve without testing and screening and monitoring.

When we do screening blood tests, for example, we’re trying to find out what future track the patient might be on, not so we can treat them on that track earlier, but to get that specific individual on an entirely different track so the disease never arrives.

The great strength of a publicly-funded health care system is that it’s designed to benefit the whole group. But that strength can also be its weakness when individuals suffer as a result.

A stitch in time saves nine. That’s math that works just fine for big groups. But what if a stitch in time saves just one?

For us, it’s still more than worth it.