Enabling you and your family to heal in mind, body & spirit
4 Ways Acupuncture Can Help Your New Year’s Resolutions

4 Ways Acupuncture Can Help You Achieve and Stick to Your New Year’s Resolutions

1. Weight Loss

Acupuncture won’t make the pounds magically shed themselves overnight, but what it can do is increase your metabolism by directly affecting hormone regulation and improving your absorption of nutrients.

Acupuncture is extremely good at relaxing the body, so if you are a stress eater acupuncture would be an excellent tool to reduce unnecessary snacking due to stress.

Combining acupuncture, cupping and moxa, a form of heat therapy, is a great way to pack an even more powerful punch into your weight loss efforts.

Cupping can reduce cellulite by 50% by increasing blood flow directly to fat and by helping the body detoxify itself.

Moxa does the same thing, as well as increasing the Yang energy of the body which relates directly to your metabolism.

2. Pain Relief

Is pain holding you back from following up on your New Year’s resolutions such as going to the gym, practising yoga or taking relaxing and therapeutic walks?

If you haven’t already tried acupuncture, then make this year your year to try it out – your body will thank you!

Acupuncture is best known for its ability to relieve pain. Whether it is acute or long-lasting chronic pain, acupuncture is very good for treating pain and encouraging healing, working on many different levels.

Below is an outline of how it works from both a traditional and modern perspective.

From a Traditional Chinese Medicine perspective:

Acupuncture is based on the philosophy that Qi, or vital energy, flows throughout the body.  Qi protects the body from illness, pain and disease.  A person’s health is influenced by the quality, quantity and balance of Qi.

From a TCM point of view, pain is caused by the stagnation of Qi and Blood in the body or by Cold, Damp or Heat trapped in the joints.

Acupuncture works by removing energetic blockages in meridians of the body and dispelling pathogenic factors causing pain.

From a scientific perspective:

There are some theories as to why and how acupuncture relieves pain

Neurotransmitter Theory:

Acupuncture affects higher brain areas, stimulating the secretion of beta-endorphins and enkephalins in the brain and spinal cord.  The release of neurotransmitters influences the immune system and the antinociceptive system, which relates to inflammation, a critical factor in pain.

Autonomic Nervous System Theory:

Acupuncture stimulates the release of norepinephrine, acetylcholine and several types of opioids, affecting changes in their turnover rate, normalising the autonomic nervous system, and reducing pain.

Vascular-interstitial Theory:

Acupuncture affects the electrical system of the body by creating or enhancing closed-circuit transport in tissues.  This facilitates healing by allowing the transfer of material and electrical energy between healthy and injured tissues.

Blood Chemistry Theory:

Acupuncture is known to affect the blood concentrations of triglycerides, cholesterol, and phospholipids, suggesting that acupuncture can both raise and diminish peripheral blood components, thereby regulating the body toward homeostasis.

Gate Control Theory:

Acupuncture activates non-nociceptive receptors that inhibit the transmission of nociceptive (pain) signals in the dorsal horn (part of the spinal cord), ‘gating out’ painful stimuli.

3. Focus and Memory

Many of us feel our memory isn’t what it used to be and to stay focused can also be a challenge.

Many acupuncture points help with both memory and focus.

In TCM theory, the spleen is responsible for short-term memory and focus, and the kidneys for long-term memory.  The points to nourish and support these are found mainly on the legs.

A lack of focus can also be rooted in anxiety and stress.  Someone who has never experienced acupuncture might be surprised at how relaxed one feels after a treatment as it engages the body’s ‘rest and digest’ nervous system.

4. Quitting Bad Habits

Whether it’s cigarettes, caffeine, soda or some other addictive habit, acupuncture is a great tool to help ease withdrawal symptoms.

Cravings, edginess, fatigue and sleep disruption can all be treated with acupuncture.  If you have decided, like so many, that the new year is the time to kick your habit to the curb then consider trying acupuncture to help you through the journey to a better you.

Disclaimer

This article is not intended to provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.

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Eczema Frequently Asked Questions - Ottawa Holistic Wellness

Eczema Frequently Asked Questions

Why do I have Eczema?

  • Partly due to genetics, immune dysregulation causing allergic inflammation, and environmental factors.
  • If you have a family history of eczema you are more likely to develop it. Environmental factors like bacterial (Staphylococcus aureus) colonization of damaged skin, and chronic phthalate exposure (found in textiles, food products, and plastics) contribute to inflammation and immune dysregulation.
  • There is some evidence that the presence of Helicobacter pylori, a bacterium commonly known for causing stomach ulcers, can also contribute to immune dysregulation and inflammation of the skin barrier.
  • Food triggers are also an important contributor to eczema. Increased intestinal permeability contributes to allergen sensitization, so chances are good that your digestive system needs some help. A naturopathic doctor can work with you to establish which foods may be contributing to your eczema.
  • If you have endocrine problems like thyroid disease it is best to take your medication and be well managed, as worsening hypothyroidism may also worsen the severity of your eczema.

What is the best treatment for Eczema?

  • A combination of dietary management, skin care, and stress management will help to control the chronic symptoms of eczema and address the underlying causes.

Can diet affect Eczema?

  • Eggs, wheat, dairy, soy, peanuts, tomatoes, and artificial colours & preservatives have been identified as exacerbators in a large percentage of eczema cases. Elimination of these offending foods has been shown to restore normal intestinal function and reduce the progression of new food allergies. Avoidance of these foods may be continued for up to one year to achieve the best results.
  • There is also a growing body of evidence to support histamine intolerance in the development and severity of eczema. In histamine intolerance, ingestion of histamine-rich foods (think red wine, aged cheeses, cured meats) overwhelms your gut’s ability to break down this inflammatory molecule. Over time, more systemic signs of histamine intolerance (rashes, heart palpitations, irritable bowel syndrome, and allergies) develop.
  • Eating more fatty fish (eg. salmon, herring) in pregnancy, lactation, infancy and childhood has shown protective effects against eczema in epidemiologic studies

What lifestyle behaviours can help with my eczema?

  • First, stop scratching. Scratching will break the skin barrier and allow for bacterial colonization.
  • In terms of keeping clean, baths are more beneficial than showers, as long as you remember to “soak and smear”; bathe, pat yourself dry, and then apply a very generous amount of moisturizer to the skin. For added benefit, soak oatmeal in a clean cloth bag in your bath to soothe your skin.
  • People suffering from the itchiness of eczema tend to have more anxiety and feel more stressed out. Finding an outlet for your stress and keeping your anxiety at a manageable level will help to benefit your outlook and the severity of your eczema. A naturopathic doctor has many tools to address high stress and anxiety.

What are natural topical remedies for Eczema?

  • Sea buckthorn oil, castor oil, olive oil, coconut oil, calendula oil, chickweed cream, and moisturizers containing beeswax can all help to moisturize the skin and maintain its barrier. It is also important to use a mild, pH-neutral soap free of any perfumes or fragrances to avoid any unwanted skin irritation.

What Supplements are good for Eczema?

  • Daily fish oil supplementation and use of the probiotic strains Lactobacillus acidophilus and Bifidobacterium bifidum are two supplements with good evidence for use in eczema. However, you should always consult your doctor before starting any new medication or supplement.

It is not uncommon for people with eczema to also experience anxiety, sleep and digestive issues, allergic rhinitis (seasonal allergies) and asthma.

A naturopathic doctor will take a thorough health history to determine any other health concerns that should be addressed along with your skin health and come up with a comprehensive treatment plan.

Disclaimer

This article is not intended to provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.

Now I would like to hear from you. Do you have Eczema? What have you tried to help their symptoms? Let us know in the comments below.

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References:

Kido M., Tanaka J., Aoki N., et al: Helicobacter pylori promotes the production of thymic stromal lymphopoietin by gastric epithelial cells and induces dendritic cell-mediated inflammatory Th2 responses. Infect Immun 2010 Jan; 78: pp. 108-114

Elias P.M., and Schmuth M.: Abnormal skin barrier in the etiopathogenesis of atopic dermatitis. Curr Opin Allergy Clin Immunol 2009 Oct; 9: pp. 437-446

de Maat-Bleeker F., and Bruijnzeel-Koomen C.: Food allergy in adults with atopic dermatitis. Monogr Allergy 1996; 32: pp. 157-163

Agata H., Kondo N., Fukutomi O., et al: Effect of elimination on food-specific IgE antibodies and lymphocyte proliferative responses to food antigens in atopic dermatitis patients exhibiting sensitivity to food allergens. J Allergy Clin Immunol 1993; 91: pp. 668-679

Kremmyda L.S., Vlachava M., Noakes P.S., et al: Atopy risk in infants and children in relation to early exposure to fish, oily fish, or long-chain omega-3 fatty acids: a systematic review. Clin Rev Allergy Immunol 2011 Aug; 41: pp. 36-66

Barnes B.: Thyroid therapy in dermatology. Cutis 1971; 8: pp. 581-583

Maintz, L., et al. “Evidence for a reduced histamine degradation capacity in a subgroup of patients with atopic eczema.” The Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology. Vol. 117, No. 5 (2006): 1106–1112.

Worm, M., et al. “Exogenous histamine aggravates eczema in a subgroup of patients with atopic dermatitis.” Acta Dermato-Venereologica. Vol. 89, No. 1 (2009): 52–56.

Case History Eczema and herbs to help - Ottawa Holistic Wellness

Case History: Eczema and herbs to help

When I first saw Lucy she had a number of health concerns.

There was an ugly patch of burning, weeping eczema covering most of her lower right leg. It had been there for years. Her bowels were loose. Suffering with surges of adrenaline, she swung from fury to depression in any single day.

Her mood swings made it difficult for her to shop and prepare food. She ate eggs and a few raw vegetables every day. Reading her eyes I saw low stomach acid and a constitutionally weak liver. Her tongue was fiery red.

I recommended Lucy make a poultice of powdered slippery elm bark and St. John’s Wort infused oil and plaster it over the eczema every night. I offered her a tea to calm her mind and tincture to regulate her bowel.

The poultice of slippery elm and St John’s Wort oil cooled and calmed the inflammation while drawing excess fluid from the weeping tissue. St John’s Wort infused oil is a traditional burn remedy.

I also advised Lucy to limit her eggs and add more variety to her diet.

Over a period of two months, the eczema on Lucy’s leg cleared up, her bowels became regular, and her mood improved.

Unfortunately, her anger continued to rage and a new symptom appeared: a dry mouth. Lucy woke up parched several times in the night. She drank litres of water during the day.

I continued to encourage her to curb her temper and try to see the world from other points of view. I offered her cooling, nourishing herbs like marshmallow, plantain and chickweed and adaptogens like American ginseng. None of them relieved the thirst.

One day, complaining of an itch on her back, she lifted her shirt to show me. Thin red welts mark the area where she had been scratching, but what really interested me was a dark patch of skin over her kidneys. The discoloured skin was even the shape of her kidneys.

Looking at the skin discolouration I thought of the plant goldenrod and offered her a tea made with its leaf and flowers. The symptom of thirst cleared up quickly, as did the itching. Over a period of six months, the patch of dark skin on her back faded. Goldenrod is a specific herb for poorly functioning kidneys due to inflammation.

All was well for some time. Lucy’s skin was clear and her bowels were regular. Her skin no longer itched and her mouth was not dry. Her temper continued to flare, but not with same fury. A year went by. Lucy visited a skin clinic in Perth to helped make her skin healthy.

Then a crisis in Lucy’s personal life threatened to take all that she loved: her family and home. The crisis was demanding she stop the victim game that justified her use of anger. When the crisis deepened, a rash appeared on Lucy’s face.

As it spread, it covered the entire lower half of her face, from her cheekbones to her chin. The skin became thick, as red as beets, and hot to the touch. It began to peel and shed.

Again, we used St John’s Wort oil and revived the previous formulas that had helped Lucy before. It did not help. I offered her some energy healing and drew some of the heat from her face. It was a temporary fix. Eventually I simplified the protocol and offered her only burdock tincture and goldenrod tea. The herbs quieted down the skin rash, but did not resolve it.

The challenge was that every time Lucy lost her temper (which was several times a day) the red mask-like rash swelled and thickened. Then one day, desperate for relief, Lucy revealed the shame of her anger. The shame spewed from her mouth carrying the sound of a wild animal’s desperate cry. The shrieking pain of shame came directly from Lucy’s belly. Within ten minutes the mask faded.

A year has passed since Lucy expressed the visceral voice of shame. The mask has not returned. I have never seen Lucy so calm and agreeable. Overall her health is better than it has been for years. Although she occasionally complains of a lack of intensity in her life, she is discovering the health (both physical and mental) advantages to being peaceful with the world. Her skin is soft and glowing…

An except from The Herbal Apprentice: Plant Medicine and the Human Being by Abrah Arneson Cht.

Disclaimer

This article is not intended to provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.

Now I would like to hear from you. Do you have Osteoarthritis? What have you tried to help their symptoms? Let us know in the comments below.

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Can Hives Be Caused By Stress and Trauma - Ottawa Holistic Wellness

Can Hives Be Caused By Stress and Trauma?

I have worked as a Natural Allergist now since 2004, and in that time many people have come to me seeking relief from hives and rashes. Most have been told that their hives are “idiopathic”. In doctor speak that simply means “We have no idea what is causing this problem..”!

I can test these clients for allergens, whether food, environment, heat, cold or electromagnetic frequencies. However, in the case of chronic hives, the answer most often is not allergies, it is stress and trauma that the body is holding on to.

The client may appear to be reacting to something they eat or touch, but when asked they will say that one day it is okay… another it will create a considerable reaction.. this is a clear indication to me that the issue is not with the food or thing they touch, but comes with an internal, emotional response.

One example that comes to mind is a guy who was experiencing hives when he went in the sun. We tracked the reaction down to the day, 16 years previously, when his son drowned in the sea in the Caribbean.. this naturally caused a massive amount of emotional trauma, which the body interpreted as being to do with the heat and the sunshine on his skin.

It is well documented that psychological stress is linked with chronic idiopathic urticaria (hives) and other skin complaints including rashes, psoriasis, rosacea.
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22507051

Stress, whether long-term or acute, triggers reactivity in the autonomic nervous system and a state of hyperarousal in the sympathetic nervous system. This may manifest as hives.

In the case of PTSD following injuries, the hives can appear at the site of that injury. E.g. hives were affecting the area of the body where the person had been stabbed years previously.

Put plainly, the body’s immune system has become over-reactive. It detects the stress and mobilises histamine (inflammation) and the immune system to address the perceived threat. Unfortunately, stress cannot be dealt with by our immune system and histamine, there is no invading pathogen to attack, so an autoimmune reaction occurs – the body attacks its tissues, causing the skin reactions.
http://www.aocd.org/?page=Urticaria

Another way to view this is that the body has developed an allergic reaction to the stress and trauma.
http://www.hives.org/stress-hives.php

What can you do about it?

The first step is to acknowledge that emotions, traumas and stress can be a part of actual physical symptoms in any part of the body. I find this can be the most challenging step for many clients.

Lifestyle and relationship stress

Firstly you need to address any lifestyle factors, reduce any current stress in your life. This may mean looking at your job and making plans to change it, or addressing issues in your relationships, and making sure to create work/life balance.

For some the act of planning to change their job, even if not immediately, provides some relief – there is light at the end of the tunnel, and the stress is reduced.

Psychotherapy, counselling and coaching can be helpful to determine where the stress lies and to develop strategies for alleviating that stress.

Old traumas

We all hold emotions in our bodies. To deal with these, we need to work with the conscious mind, as above, but also release the trauma from our physical body. This can be done in many ways, some of which are as follows:

Neuro-linguistic programming (NLP)

NLP works with your unconscious and the memories that your psyche has organised according to your individual “timeline.” It addresses memories from your life and genetic memories – events experienced by your ancestors.

Craniosacral therapy and cranial osteopathy

Craniosacral therapy and cranial osteopathy work with the subtle structures of the body, and with the energy and emotions. A goods therapist will put their hands on and be able to feel the body ‘shaking inside’ with unreleased trauma. They use gentle techniques to assist the release of these traumas from the tissues.

Somatic breath work

This modality is designed to rebalance the body’s systems and to release trauma. It can be practised at home once you have the techniques.

Energy healing

There are many types of energy healing, from Reiki and Chakra Balancing to Pranic healing, Angel healing and the Laying on of Hands practised by some religions.

The whole purpose of any energy work is to facilitate the release of emotions and to bring balance and harmony for the entire person. It has been practised by many cultures for many centuries.

NAET (TM) treatments

NAET TM works to release the body’s association between allergens and emotions. They can also be used to target traumatic events specifically and to release the associated emotions held in the body and to release those emotions.

In conclusion

Take the time to consider whether your hives and rashes may be due to emotional traumas or stress. Try to be honest with yourself. One way that we survive trauma is to bury it deep inside and avoid looking at it. Facing it can be painful, but rewarding, and can be the start of a whole new you.

If you think that stress or trauma may be a part of the cause of your hives, book a free health coach assessment with me to discuss the best approach for you.

Disclaimer

This article is not intended to provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.

Now I would like to hear from you. Do have hives? Were your hives aggravated by stress? Let us know in the comments below.

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How Can You Treat Severe Acne Naturally - Ottawa Holistic Wellness

4 Therapies To Treat Severe Acne Naturally?

From personal experience, I know that having acne can be emotionally traumatic. I developed acne in my early teens and 40 years on you can still the scars on my cheeks. In the late 1970’s treatment options were limited to antibiotics and creams. None of these helped so I was left to cope with going to school and university with enormous zits on the end of my nose. I am also still dealing with after effects of the antibiotics!

Fortunately, there are alternatives to antibiotics (which are still prescribed) to treat severe acne naturally. I actually found a natural cure for my acne by luck. While studying Naturopathy at College one of our practical projects involved removing a food from our diets for two weeks. I chose to avoid all dairy products. After one week I suddenly realised I had no acne. Since that point, scientists have produced evidence that dietary modification and other alternatives to treat severe acne naturally.

4 Ways To Treat Severe Acne Naturally

1. Acupuncture

Acupuncture is a complementary medical practice that entails stimulating certain points on the body, most often with a needle penetrating the skin. Acupuncture has been shown to alleviate pain and to help treat various health conditions including acne.

In double-blind placebo-controlled study researchers in China found that after 12 acupuncture treatment sessions of moderate acne vulgaris was associated with a reduction of inflammatory lesions and improvement of the quality of life.

2. Dietary Modification

Diet has been shown to influence many aspects of your wellbeing including the health of your skin. Acne has been associated with dairy and high glycemic load.

In a 2009 systematic literature review of 21 observational studies and 6 clinical trials, researchers concluded that there exists convincing data supporting the role of dairy products and high-glycemic-index foods in influencing hormonal and inflammatory factors, which can increase acne prevalence and severity.

In 2012 double-blind placebo-controlled study researchers in Korea concluded that a reduction in glycaemic load of the diet for 10 weeks resulted in improvements in acne.

3. Light Therapy

LED light therapy is a painless, relaxing, non-invasive skin-care treatment that has multiple benefits particularly stimulating collagen and treating mild to moderate acne.

In 2009 researchers carried out a prospective, randomized, open and comparative study to evaluate the safety and efficacy of blue light treatment versus a topical benzoyl peroxide 5% formulation in patients with acne grade II and III. They concluded that blue light irradiation was as effective as benzoyl peroxide in acne treatment grades II and III but there were fewer side effects.

4. Moxibustion

Moxibustion is a form of heat therapy in which dried plant materials called “moxa” are burned on or very near the surface of the skin. The intention is to warm and invigorate the flow of Qi in the body and dispel certain pathogenic influences.

Moxibustion has been shown to help many conditions including acne.

In a systemic review of randomised control trials, researchers in China concluded that moxibustion is safe and effective for treatment of acne, and it is possibly better than routine western medicine.

What therapy is right for me?

At this point, you may be thinking which therapy is right for me. When choosing an approach with any of my clients I will always choose the simplest option first. Based on this strategy here is my suggestion for which order to take:

  1. Remove Dairy – the simplest and safest to try on your own.
  2. Try a low glycaemic diet – seek the advice of a registered functional medicine practitioner, naturopathic doctor or nutritionist.
  3. Acupuncture and moxibustion – search for a Traditional Chinese Medicine trained acupuncturist.
  4. Light therapy – LED Light therapy is available in Ottawa at Oxygen Medi Spa.

Disclaimer

This article is not intended to provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.

Now I would like to hear from you. Do have acne? What have you tried to help with their symptoms? Let us know in the comments below.

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Simple Herbs for Rheumatoid Arthritis - Ottawa Holistic Wellness

Simple Herbs for Rheumatoid Arthritis

It usually comes on quietly. “I thought it was tendonitis from working long hours on the computer.”  One person describes the beginnings of rheumatoid arthritis.

Another tells of not being able to get out of bed in the morning because her elbow were swollen and stiff. “For three months I took ibuprofen for the elbow pain. Then my wrists swelled, and a month later the pain was in my neck.”

These are a description of the onset of Rheumatoid Arthritis.

Attacking our own body

Rheumatoid Arthritis is classed as an auto-immune disease. The human body is fantastically complex; trillions of cells about each other. They feed each other, nurse each other back to health, banish renegade cells with their agenda (cancer) and continually replicate.

This co-existence requires the ability for cells to recognise that they belong to the same community called the human body. Something happens in auto-immune disease which causes this harmonious relationship to go astray and the immune cells to assault the cells of the cartilage, bones and ligaments in joints.

This assault results in inflammation, or in other words, painful, swollen and stiff joints.

Why does it happen?

It is accepted that RA is a genetic disease. However, a useful question to ask is, “why do some people with a history of RA in the family never develop it while others do?”.

The internal environment of the body is the deciding factor by which genes are turned on or off, including genes which trigger chronic disease. Much of the current research in genetic disorders, including other auto-immune conditions and some cancers, suggests that the internal environment of the body is profoundly influenced by the external environment.

Gaining relief with herbs

Each person I have spoken to with RA associates the onset of RA with unusually stressful events in their lives. Stress profoundly affects the internal environment of the body, interfering with sleep, digestion, and hormonal balance.

This is where herbal medicine shines. It eases the effect of stress on the whole body while targeting the specific area under duress.

In relieving RA, herbalists turn to anti-inflammatory herbs like turmeric (Curcuma longa), liquorice (Glycyrrhiza spp.) and devil’s claw (Harpophytum procumbens).

In some ways, to call these herbs anti-inflammatory is to misrepresent them. They do not act like over the counter pain medicine or like prescription anti-inflammatories which offer temporary relief for as long as the drug is used. Anti-inflammatory herbs work with the body to resolve inflammation. They may take longer to work, but their effects are longer lasting.

How do they work?

So what do these herbs have to do with stress aggravating RA?

  1. Both turmeric and liquorice moderate the effect stress have on the immune system. Adrenal glands react to stress. These herbs enhance the adrenals’ efficiency in secreting the anti-inflammatory, cortisol.
  2. They interfere with inflammation messengers the body produces when fighting illness, such as arachidonic acid.

By the way, arachidonic acid is higher in those who eat a lot of red meat. For this reason, holistic practitioners recommend decreasing or eliminating red meat from the diet while suffering from chronic inflammation.

  1. Licorice and turmeric are also high in anti-oxidants which negate the effect of free radicals produced by our stressed-out body.
  2. Both are considered herbs that protect the liver and support it in eliminating the debris created by chronic inflammation.

Devils Claw is a plant from the Kalahari desert in South Africa and is used by the Hottentot people to relieve migraine headaches. In 1953, it was imported to Europe and embraced by western herbalists as a pain reliever and anti-inflammatory for arthritic conditions, including RA.

There have been several clinical trials using Devil’s Claw in the treatment of RA. Each trial has demonstrated the herb’s active pain-relieving actions. At this time, how the plant reduces inflammation is not known. In holistic medicine, sometimes the search for the specific mechanism in a plant’s medicinal activity is like not seeing the forest for the trees.

The plant works. It also improves digestion and scavenges free radicals.

One final important herb added to an RA formula is the bark of the poplar tree (Poplaris spp.). In the spring, scrapping of the bark of young branches exposes a lovely green powder. This powder is high in salicylic acid, the pain-relieving compound found in over the counter medicine such as aspirin. Although symptomatic in its effect, poplar bark eases pain while the other herbs do their job.

Speak to your herbalist to find out how nature’s medicine can help you with your symptoms.

Disclaimer

This article is not intended to provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.

Now I would like to hear from you. Do you have Osteoarthritis? What have you tried to help their symptoms? Let us know in the comments below.

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Osteoarthritis - How to manage your pain - Ottawa Holistic Wellness

Osteoarthritis: How to manage your pain and have a better quality of life

An estimated 10% of Canadians over the age of 15 live with a diagnosis of osteoarthritis [OA] (1). 70% of these Canadians experience the majority of their arthritic symptoms in their hips and knees (1). Unfortunately, among Canadians with a diagnosis of arthritis, the average time between onset of their symptoms and an accurate diagnosis can be up to 7.7 years (1). This period between onset of symptoms and diagnosis of the disease could be spent making dietary and lifestyle changes to reduce pain and improve quality of life. By 2036 an estimated 7.5 million Canadian adults will have a diagnosis of OA.

So what are the symptoms of OA?

Increased stress and ageing of our joints leads to a breakdown of joint tissue known as cartilage. Cartilage acts as a cushion between the bones of our joints, and without it, bones begin to rub against each other. When cartilage is sufficiently worn down, joints are left with a bone-on-bone contact; limiting the range of motion. As a result, people with OA experience pain, stiffness, and swelling in their affected joints (2).

Lifestyle treatments for OA aim to reduce further injury, relieve pain, and improve joint function. Some of these procedures are as simple as self-management; avoiding repetitive stress on the affected joints. For example, musicians and dancers place repeated stress on their joints, and they may be at higher risk of developing OA. Obese Canadians are also at risk for OA, and adhering to a lifestyle plan of healthy eating and weight management will help to reduce the pain and damage of OA. Deep breathing and massage therapy can help to relax tense muscles around an inflamed and stiff joint (2). In some cases, joint replacement surgery is required to limit the damage of OA and provide a better quality of life.

So how can naturopathic medicine help with the prognosis of OA?

Naturopathic doctors can provide acupuncture, which has been shown to help with the pain, stiffness, and limited range of motion observed in OA.

Curcumin, a robust anti-inflammatory component of the spice turmeric, may help to reduce the pain and stiffness of OA (3,4).

Fish oil also has excellent evidence for use as a potent anti-inflammatory and antioxidant in OA (5).

Some people also benefit from a hypoallergenic diet; cutting out potentially aggravating foods that may be contributing to pain and dysfunction.

Finally, for topical pain relief, Boswellia serrata AKA frankincense oil mixed with your favourite carrier oil (think sweet almond, olive, coconut, etc.) and applied to your affected joints daily may help reduce inflammation and pain (6). In one study of 30 patients with OA of the knee, eight weeks of Boswellia extract significantly improved knee pain, swelling, range of motion, and walking distance compared to placebo (7).

If you are interested in learning more about how naturopathic medicine can benefit your arthritis, please book a visit with your local naturopathic doctor.

Disclaimer

This article is not intended to provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.

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Foods to Avoid for Arthritis - Ottawa Holistic Wellness

Foods to Avoid for Arthritis

Can certain foods be a trigger for arthritic conditions?

Absolutely!

The saying “We are what we eat..” holds a lot of truth…

Anything that adversely affects our digestion will impact our overall health and in turn our immune system and the level of inflammation in the body.

A 1989 survey of more than a thousand arthritis patients is highlighted by the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine. It found many foods that consistently aggravated arthritis symptoms.

There have been many other studies that support their findings.

So what do you need to avoid?

There is no one size fits all when it comes to foods, so some trial and error is required to discover what works for you. You may wish to avoid all of the following for at least a month then add them back in one at a time, consuming each one for at least a week before adding the next one.

The following list is not in any particular order.

Dairy: Any product that contains lactose OR casein (milk protein), so this includes milk, yoghurt, cheese, ice-cream, whey powder etc. whether on its own or as an ingredient in prepared goods.

Eggs: On their own or in baked goods

Wheat and Corn: In fact, the protein in all grains can be inflammatory for some people. You may wish to start with wheat/corn and then experiment with eliminating all grains (including rice, oats, buckwheat etc.) for a period.

These are found in bread, pasta, baked goods, muffins, cookies, pastries etc., and also in many prepared sauces, marinades and ready meals, so read the labels or cook from scratch.

Sugar: Foods high in sugar can be overt (white and brown sugar, maple syrup, honey, sodas and pop) but it is also hidden in many foods.

Some examples are fruit, fruit juice and dried fruits (a slice of watermelon can contain the equivalent of 5 sugar cubes, click here to see..); applesauce; sauces and marinades such as ketchup, teriyaki, BBQ; ready meals; beer, wine and cider; some milk alternatives e.g sweetened, chocolate or vanilla soy milk; and gluten-free products which are generally highly processed.

Meats: The saturated fat in meat has been linked to arthritis. It may be the fat itself, or the fact that when fat is heated (grilled, fried, baked etc.) it contains toxins called “advanced glycation end products” (AGEs), which trigger inflammation.

You may wish to remove all meat or just fatty meat from your diet. 100% grass fed and game meats are leaner than commercially produced meats.

Night Shade Vegetables: Tomato, bell pepper, eggplant and potato contain a chemical that is linked to inflammation.

Citrus fruits: For some these can trigger arthritic pain.

Coffee: Both de-caff and regular coffee have been linked to increased inflammation in the body which can aggravate the symptoms of arthritis.

Alcohol: The alcohol itself triggers inflammation. However, wine, in particular, creates a lot of histamine in the body and will aggravate arthritis.

Omega 6 oils: This is converted in the body into pro-inflammatory chemicals. The foods to avoid would include corn, peanut, sunflower, safflower, palm and soy oils. Canola oil is also best avoided as it has been linked to many health concerns. Check labels on ready meals, gluten-free products, chips and crackers, dips (hummus, baba ganoush etc.), sauces, marinades etc.

And finally, where possible, choose organic produce that is in its natural state and not processed. Pesticides and herbicides have a detrimental effect on our gut health which in turn impacts our immune system and levels of inflammation in the body.

To find out more book with your Holistic Nutritionist, Naturopathic Doctor or Functional Medicine Practitioner.

Disclaimer

This article is not intended to provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.

Now I would like to hear from you. Do you have Osteoarthritis? What have you tried to help their symptoms? Let us know in the comments below.

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Complementary Therapies For Osteoarthritis - Ottawa Holistic Wellness

7 Best Complementary Therapies For Osteoarthritis

What are the best complementary therapies for osteoarthritis? What does science have to say about the subject?

Compared to conventional approaches there has been limited research into the effectiveness of complementary therapies and osteoarthritis.

That being said this article offers a brief outline of the available scientific evidence of complementary therapies for osteoarthritis and where to find them in Ottawa.

Complementary Therapies For Osteoarthritis

1. Acupuncture

Acupuncture is a form of alternative medicine that stems from Traditional Chinese medicine (TCM). TCM practitioners use needles to stimulate specific points on the body. Scientific research offers limited but promising evidence that acupuncture can help arthritis symptoms.

In a small 2017 pilot study published in the Journal of Pain Medicine, researchers concluded that acupuncture offered in the group setting was effective in reducing pain severity, pain interference, and depression in patients with chronic neck, back, or shoulder pain or osteoarthritis.

In a 2009 randomised study, published in the Journal Of Alternative Medicine, researchers found that Acupuncture improves symptoms of chronic shoulder pain diagnosed as osteoarthritis or rotator cuff tendonitis.

Acupuncture is widely available in Ottawa. In general, the best acupuncturists tend to be TCM practitioners.

2. Balneotherapy

Balneotherapy or spa‐therapy is an old and favorite therapy. It entails spending time in an indoor pool filled with mineral water at a temperature of between 31 to 34 degrees Celsius.

Research is insufficient but offers encouraging evidence that Balneotherapy can help osteoarthritis.

In a study published in 2007, researchers found that Balneotherapy was effective in treating people with knee osteoarthritis.

Balenotherapy is available at Spa Nordik in Chelsea, Quebec which is about 20 minutes north of Ottawa.

3. Chiropractic treatment

Chiropractic treatment is a system of complementary medicine based on the diagnosis and manipulative treatment of misalignments of the joints, especially those of the spinal column, which are held to cause other disorders by affecting the nerves, muscles, and organs.

A small study of 10 people concluded that Chiropractic management of atlantoaxial or upper neck osteoarthritis yielded favourable outcomes.

Chiropractic treatment is widely available in Ottawa. All chiropractors in Ottawa should be a member of the Ontario Chiropractic Association.

4. Homeopathic Treatment

Homeopathic medicine views symptoms of illness as typical responses of the body as it attempts to regain health. Homeopathy is based on the idea that “like cures like.” That is, if a substance causes a symptom in a healthy person, giving the person a tiny amount of the same material may cure the illness.

A relatively small but high-level scientific study found that homoeopathic gel was at least as effective and as well tolerated as the NSAID gel for treating osteoarthritis of the knee.

Homeopathy is widely available in Ottawa and is practised by Naturopathic Doctors as well as Homeopaths.

5. Massage

Massage Therapy is the rubbing and kneading of muscles and joints of the body with the hands, primarily to relieve tension or pain.

A high-level scientific study involving 68 subjects concluded that massage therapy seems to be efficacious in the treatment of osteoarthritis of the knee.

Massage therapy is widely available in Ottawa. All massage therapists in Ottawa are registered with the Registered Massage Therapists’ Association of Ontario.

6. Mud Therapy or Bath

A mud bath is a bath of mud, commonly from areas where hot spring water can combine with volcanic ash. Mud baths have existed for thousands of years and can be found now in high-end spas in many countries of the world.

A small study from Serbia found that Sulfur bath and mud packs lead to a significant decrease in pain intensity in patients with osteoarthritis.

Several spas in Ottawa offer mud bathing.

7. Prolotherapy

Prolotherapy also called proliferation therapy is an injection-based treatment used in chronic musculoskeletal conditions. It has been characterised as an alternative medicine practice.

A high-level scientific review paper concluded that prolotherapy for knee osteoarthritis might be appropriate for the treatment of symptoms associated with knee osteoarthritis.

Prolotherapy is available at the Ottawa Naturopathic Clinic in downtown Ottawa.

Disclaimer

This article is not intended to provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.

Now I would like to hear from you. Do have osteoarthritis? What have you tried to help with their symptoms? Let us know in the comments below.

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A Diet for Arthritis - Good and bad foods - Ottawa Holistic Wellness

A Diet for Arthritis: Good and bad foods

When considering what foods are good and bad for arthritis, both rheumatoid (RA) and osteoarthritis (OA), a great place to start it to address those that either create or reduce inflammation in the body.

By reducing the overall level of inflammation arthritic conditions can be improved.

There are three relevant facts to remember:

1. Anti-inflammatory diets are not a one-size-fits-all solution. We are all unique in our make up so what works for one will not work for another, so it will take some trial and error to find what works for each individual.

2. When seeking natural ways to improve your condition, it is not a quick, short-term fix; it is a lifestyle change that will need to be maintained long term if you wish to continue to experience the benefits.

3. Diet is only a part of the process, and many also find that moderate exercise will increase the positive effect of diet on arthritis pain.

Toxins in food

It is well known that pesticides, herbicides and artificial fertilisers are harmful to us. They interfere with our gut health, and in turn affect our immune system and overall well-being.

Also, foods that are heated, grilled, fried, or pasteurised will contain toxins called “advanced glycation end products” (AGEs).

These toxins damage specific proteins in the body. To address these AGEs, the body recruits cytokines which are in themselves, inflammatory messengers.

http://icahn.mssm.edu/about-us/news-and-events/study-shows-that-reducing-processed-and-fried-food-intake-lowers-related-health-risks-and-restores-bodys-defenses

High amounts of sugar in the form of processed grains (white flour, white rice, many breakfast cereals), candies, soda etc. will also increase the number of AGEs in the body. If you like sweet snacks try to use natural, fibre rich fruits such as dates and figs.

Oils, the good and the bad

Omega 6

This is found in corn, peanut, sunflower, safflower, and soy oils, and is healthy in small amounts. However, excessive consumption is detrimental as it is converted into pro-inflammatory leukotrienes and prostaglandins.

It is essential to be aware that many baked goods, commercial snacks and foods contain corn oil and other sources high in omega 6.

Omega 3

Omega 3 has been shown by many studies to be beneficial in reducing inflammation in manysome ways. It inhibits the production of other inflammatory molecules and also triggers the production of anti-inflammatory chemicals.

In particular, olive oil contains oleocanthal, which has properties similar to non-steroidal, anti-inflammatory drugs.

Omega 3 can be found in fish, flax, hemp, chia.

Trans Fats

Trans fats are altered by the addition of a hydrogen molecule to increase stability and shelf life.

They are believed to impact inflammation, heart disease, and cause other health problems.

The dangers are becoming better known, and they have been removed from many products but can still be found in some baked goods, fast-food items, processed snack foods, and many kinds of margarine.

Antioxidants

Free radicals will cause oxidative stress in our bodies when their number exceeds our ability to process them.

Creation of these radicals is a normal part of metabolism, but production is increased by some activities such as smoking and consuming certain foods including alcohol, fats that have been heated to high temperature (including fat in meats) and chlorinated water (let your tap water stand for a while before drinking).

High oxidative stress is linked with arthritic conditions, both RA and OA.

The good news is that there are various antioxidants found in foods, these include those below (just a note that chocolate should always be at least 75% cocoa):

• Allium sulphur compounds: Leeks, onions, garlic

• Anthocyanins: Red and purple fruits – Eggplant, grapes, berries

• Beta-carotene: Pumpkin, butternut squash, mangoes, apricots, carrots, spinach, parsley, cantaloupe, sweet potato, carrots, kale,

• Catechins: Tea, dark chocolate

• Copper: Seafood, lean meat, nuts, legumes

Cryptoxanthins: Red peppers, pumpkin, mangoes, papaya

Flavonoids: Tea, green tea, dark chocolate, onion, apples

• Indoles: Cruciferous vegetables such as broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower

• Lignins: Sesame seeds, bran, whole grains, vegetables

• Lutein: Leafy greens – includes spinach, kale, chard

• Lycopene: Watermelon

• Manganese: Seafood, lean meat, nuts

• Polyphenols: Thyme, oregano

• Selenium: Seafood, offal, lean meat, whole grains

• Vitamin C: Berries, kiwi fruit, mangoes, broccoli, spinach, peppers

• Vitamin E: Cold pressed vegetable oils, nuts, avocados, seeds, whole grains

• Zinc: Seafood, lean meat, nuts

• Zoochemicals: Red meat, offal, fish

An anti-inflammatory diet cuts down or eliminates foods suspected of causing oxidative stress and encourages the consumption of foods rich in antioxidants.

Disclaimer

This article is not intended to provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.

Now I would like to hear from you. Do you have Osteoarthritis? What have you tried to help their symptoms? Let us know in the comments below.

Like what you’ve read? Sign up for FREE updates delivered to your inbox.


By submitting this form, you are consenting to receive marketing emails from: Ottawa Holistic Wellness, 356 MacLaren Street, Ottawa, ON, K2P 0M6, https://www.ottawaholisticwellness.ca. You can revoke your consent to receive emails at any time by using the SafeUnsubscribe® link, found at the bottom of every email. Emails are serviced by Constant Contact