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Reiki and energy healing for the winter blues

Reiki and energy healing for the winter blues

Are you one if the people who suffer from the winter blues in the winter? Or perhaps you just feel tired and run down? 

Many of us experience reduced energy, sadness or even full-blown depression during the long winter days. Some also have increased pain and insomnia.

During this time there are several ways in which to improve your winter blues.

Reiki and the winter blues

I have many clients who find no need for my services during the spring and summer but who will seek me out during the late fall and winter months. I know once the days start to shorten their mood will darken, their energy levels decrease and they come to me for rebalancing and recharging.

The lack of sunlight and decrease in activity lead to blockages and stagnation of our energy. Using Reiki and energy healing can re-establish the flow of your energy, release the blockages and bring a deep sense of calm and balance.

Reiki and energy healing work to channel the universal energy that exists all around us. It can fill you with a sense of energy, light and wellbeing. Some of my clients have described a session to be like charging their batteries and turning up their capacity for fun and enjoyment.

This comes along with an increased ability to cope with the added stresses of the holiday season and the following winter months.

Better balance will also strengthen your body and may help boost your immune system, making it less likely that you will succumb to the winter colds and flu.

Reiki and energy healing can also assist if you do become sick. By improving energy flow, bringing relaxation and better sleep it increases the body’s ability to fight and to heal. It addition it can help relieve symptoms such as a headache, muscle aches and blocked sinuses.

Alongside this, you may wish to seek advice from a Registered Holistic Nutritionist, Naturopathic Doctor or Functional Medicine Practitioner. They will complement the Reiki and energy work by addressing nutrition, allergies and lifestyle factors that may be impacting your immune system and your mood.

Reclaim your life and Enjoy Winter!

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


Beat the colds, flu, and blues!

Feeling under the weather? Tired, congested, and not feeling like your usual self? Chances are good that your immune system is lacking its true capabilities this winter, and you might be getting a cold or the flu!

The Nasopharynx–the area where the nose, mouth, and throat meet–is where most colds start because common bugs can travel in through your eyes, mouth, and nose.

How do they do this?

Well, pathogens that cause the cold transmit through people’s various secretions, ending up on shared surfaces like desks, the water cooler where people congregate to catch up on each other’s lives, and eventually onto your unwashed hands. When you rub your eyes and nose, the pathogens can travel into your body and take up residence in your nasopharynx.


The most common culprits in the development of colds are rhinoviruses that thrive in the conditions and temperature range of your nose. Typical symptoms of a common cold include coughing, runny nose, sneezing, sore throat, fever, and a headache. Many people know that the common cold can affect your nose, but it can also lead to issues in your throat, sinuses, and even rob you of your voice.


This common winter malady can develop from a history of allergies, colds, anatomical malformations like a deviated nasal septum (the barrier of cartilage that sits between your nostrils), and lifestyle factors like smoking which is very addictive.

Typically, people who suffer from sinusitis have pain and swelling over the affected sinuses which can cause a painful headache. Sinusitis is worse in the morning since mucus in the sinuses finds its way into your throat through post-nasal drip while you sleep.

Smokers have an increased risk of sinusitis because smoke can increase thick mucus production and impair your body’s ability to clear it. Even second-hand smoke can cause an increased risk of upper and lower respiratory tract infections.

Ear infections

These usually affect children with a cold or flu. Symptoms include ear pain, ear discharge, and fever. Bugs can travel through the eustachian tube–a passageway that links the nasopharynx to the ear in order to equalise pressure on either side of the eardrum.

Certain strains of H. influenza, a bug that waits until the immune system cannot hold them off, can cause ear & eye infections, sinusitis, and pneumonia in children.

Last, but not least, influenza!
The flu usually manifests with symptoms of fever, eye infection, runny nose, headache, sore throat, muscle pain, fatigue, coughing, and nausea/vomiting.

H. influenza is not the main culprit here, despite the misleading name. Influenza viruses A, B, and C all contribute what we know as ‘the flu’ in both humans and animals.

Type A causes all known flu pandemics, the most well known being the Spanish Flu of 1918.
Type B only affects humans but has less potential to mutate than Type A.

Type C usually affects children but is less common than Types A and B.

Unfortunately for our immune systems, influenza viruses mutate at a rapid rate. What this means is it is very difficult for the Center for Disease Control to predict which strains will appear each year, rendering the vaccine from the previous year ineffective. Furthermore, there is no guarantee that the flu vaccine for this year will match the strain that becomes most prevalent.

To add to the problem, it’s usually very difficult to tell the difference between an influenza illness and an influenza-like illness.

Could it be allergies?

Is the mucus from your runny nose watery/clear in colour? Usually, colds and flu result in yellow/green coloured nasal discharge while an allergic response to airborne allergens results in clear/watery nasal discharge.

People who suffer from allergies also tend to have itchy, watery eyes and an itchy skin rash that goes away when no longer exposed to the allergen. For other forms of severe allergies, it would be better to consult with a medical practitioner before you to treat your nasal problem.

Strep Throat

If you have a sudden onset of a very painful sore throat, but strangely no or very little coughing, a fever greater than 38C, tonsillar pus, and swollen lymph nodes in your neck chances are good that you might be suffering from Strep throat.

Strep throat is caused by a nasty bug called group A beta-hemolytic streptococcus (GAS). Streptococcal infections can be invasive and spread to your blood and organs if left unchecked. GAS is estimated to cause half a million deaths worldwide per year, and the most at risk for developing a GAS infection are those with compromised immune function (children, the elderly, pregnant women, etc).

Currently, there is no vaccine for Streptococcus, but good hand hygiene goes a long way!


Another emergent situation I want to discuss is called Epiglottitis. The epiglottis ( the between angry bit at the back of your throat) is like a valve that controls the passage of air into your trachea (windpipe) and food or drinks into your esophagus.

It stays open while you breathe normally, and closes off the trachea when swallowing foods and drinks. Interestingly, your epiglottis has tastebuds!

Epiglottitis, a severe swelling of the epiglottis, is commonly caused by H. influenzae in young children 2-5 years old.

Typical symptoms include uncontrollable drooling, inability to swallow, inability to lie down or talk, and restlessness.

Epiglottitis is life threatening, and can lead to death from an obstructed airway, so if you suspect epiglottitis in a young child take them to the emergency department immediately.

How to reduce risk

Wash your hands with soap and water before touching your face.

Hand sanitizers are okay to use if you don’t have immediate access to soap and water, but make sure the products you are using contain at least 60%-95% ethanol, since this formulation is most effective in killing those bugs! Unfortunately some commercial grade hand sanitizers, despite bold claims of killing a high percentage of germs, only contain 40%-60% ethanol. As a result, these products simply act to spread bugs around instead of killing them.

As a general rule of thumb, the combination of hand sanitizers and regular hand washing is better than using hand sanitizers alone.

In 2011, Stebbins et al. conducted a randomized controlled trial of 3360 school children to determine if hand sanitizer use could combat transmission of influenza infections. The study used the slogan “WHACK the Flu!”:

  • Wash and sanitize your hands
  • Home when you are sick
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth
  • Cover your coughs and sneezes
  • Keep your distance from sick people
  • Researchers found a 52% reduction in influenza A virus infections in children who received this program versus those who did not, and a 26% reduction in flu related absenteeism.

Using this simple acronym is a powerful tool in your fight against the common cold and the flu!

What else can I do?

Great question!


An easy way to strengthen your defenses is to find a fun form of exercise. Exercise can improve your mood, energy, and resilience to stressors; keeping your immune function strong.


Getting a good night’s rest also helps your body’s immune system to recharge.

Supplements, herbs and foods

Always consult your doctor before beginning any new supplement or medication to find out if it is a safe option. That being said, there are a few good remedies sitting in your pantry!


Peppermint contains the essential oil menthol. Menthol is an excellent anti-spasmodic–meaning it relaxes spasming tissues and can relax the airways to relieve nasal and sinus congestion.
Furthermore, peppermint can ease nausea, gas, and bloating by relaxing the digestive system. It’s important to cover your peppermint tea while it steeps since the essential oils can evaporate!


Ginger is an excellent herb for nausea, and it can strengthen your digestion to combat a loss of appetite and vomiting. Additionally, ginger tea can be used as a gargle for sore throats.


Yes, it’s time for some thyme!

The active constituent in thyme, similar to peppermint, is an essential oil called thymol. Thymol can relax a spasmodic cough and relax the airways to clear mucus.

Thyme also contains carvacrol, an anti-microbial oil that is excellent at killing bugs. Try adding more thyme to soups and stews, as well as on meat.

Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD).

So, you’ve come this far, and your cold or flu is on its way out but you still don’t feel like yourself. You might be suffering from seasonal affective disorder (SAD).

SAD has a host of depressive symptoms that tend to occur at the same time every year, usually during the winter. People with SAD tend to have difficulty waking in the morning, overeating, oversleeping, nausea, withdrawal from friends and family, difficulty concentrating, and decreased sex drive.

If you can’t afford to go on vacation and soak up some sun to combat SAD, try gratitude.

What’s so great about gratitude?

Gratitude towards others increases activity in the brain’s “social dopamine circuits”, making social interactions more enjoyable.

Focusing on positive aspects of your life also boosts the feel good neurotransmitter serotonin. If sitting down and making a list of the things you are grateful for seems like too difficult of a task, don’t sweat it! It’s actually the activity of searching for what you’re grateful for that counts.
Searching increases emotional intelligence, which in turn makes your brain more efficient at this activity. With higher emotional intelligence, gratefulness takes less and less energy over time.

Still having trouble? Don’t dismay! Just label how you’re feeling:

Sad? Angry? Anxious?

Consciously labelling and validating how you feel reduces the impact your mood has on your daily life. Believe it or not, your brain can recognize the difference between suppressing, or labelling your emotions.

To put it a different way, the only bad emotion is the one you don’t express.

Remember, there is a lot you can do to take control of your health and fight back against the colds, flus, and blues!

Have a safe and happy winter.

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healthy ottawa winter

5 Simple Ways To Stay Healthy During The Ottawa Winter

As I am writing this blog I am watching the sleet and snow of the first storm of the Ottawa winter 2106/17.

Winter is often associated with a downturn in our health. All our aches and pains seem to be more evident and of course, we are more prone to colds and flu.

But does it have to be to his way?

Below are 5 ways you can stay healthy and vibrant despite the Ottawa winter:

1. Sleep don’t hibernate

When the freezing rain is sticking to our bedroom window the tendency is to turn over and hide back under our duvet.

Research from the Form Clinic has shown that adequate sleep is essential for our health but too much shut-eye is equally as bad.

Scientists have established the optimal amount of sleep for an adult is between seven and eight hours. More than that is too much.

2. Stay active, stay healthy

For many of my clients, their activity levels tend to drop off during the Ottawa winter months.

Exercise, as we all know, is essential for a healthy body and mind. It can prevent you from adding those winter pounds as well as elevating your mood.

When I ask my clients whether they do any regular exercise they tend to mention going to the gym.

Personally, I hate gyms. For me, they are impersonal and unmotivating places.

I like to do my exercise preferably in a group.

I find groups more motivating and you get the added health benefit of connecting with other people.

My favourites are hot yoga and soccer but there are many others.

Do not forget to drink water

The human body is composed of seventy percent water. It is vital for the optimal functioning of our physiology.

So if we fail to drink or consume adequate amounts of water our body and mind are going to slow down.

We will get fat and depressed. Making sure we drink enough water, for obvious reasons , is tricky during the winter.

We also tend to lose just as much water through perspiration during the winter because of our heated environments.

To help my clients remember to drink more water I recommend using water app on their smartphone.

The app I use called Waterlogged alerts me every hour to drink a glass of water.

Manage the Winter stress

The shorter days and freezing temperatures add to our overall stress burden.

Stress is probably the most common root cause of my client’s health concerns.

Just like making sure we drink enough water being extra mindful of managing our stress is important to remaining healthy during the winter months.

When your body experiences any type of stress it will release the hormone cortisol into the blood.

Long term stress and production of cortisol can have detrimental effects on our health.

Ensuring adequate exercise and sleep have been shown to lower cortisol.

If you are open to taking supplements both Vitamin C and Fish oil help to lower cortisol.

Be with people

Humans are social animals and being so is vital for a healthy existence.

With the advent of social media, we have become much insular and this can be easily amplified during the winter months.

Making time to spend time with friends and family is important.

If you don’t have many friends or family nearby then try joining a group.

There are tonnes of meetup groups you can try in Ottawa.

I suggest having a look on meetup.com.

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Lower Back Pain: Why is posture so important?

Lower Back Pain: Why is posture so important?

Lower back pain puts a huge burden on the health care system, workforce, and overall well-being of Canadians. 8/10 Canadians will experience back pain at some point in their life. Although lower back pain usually goes away on its own within 2-6 months, if left untreated, it has an 80% chance of coming back. But do not worry; making small positive changes can decrease your chances of getting back pain. It is important to remember that posture is important. Paying attention to your posture could save you from getting back pain in the future, there is a reason why posture is important. Good posture contributes to increased energy, better breathing, improved circulation and allows you to move with greater confidence and grace compared to people who slouch. Our practitioners at Ottawa Holistic Wellness can help you maintain a great posture all day. Sedentary jobs are increasing and most of us sit at a desk all day. We are not designed to sit. In fact, sitting puts four times more pressure on the lower back than standing and 16 times more pressure than lying down. Such stress and strain also put pressure on our nerves, which control everything in the body. A problem with the spine can have far-reaching effects and cause diverse symptoms such as leg or arm pain or digestive issues. We must “move it or we lose it!”

So, what is proper posture?

When standing, make sure your head, shoulders, hips and ankles are lined-up. Your knees should be slightly bent and your feet should be hip width apart.

Bad habits that get in the way of good posture

  • Carrying a heavy bag/purse on one shoulder: If you insist on wearing a single strap, make sure it is padded and make sure the strap crosses your body.
  • Cradling the phone between the shoulder and ear: get a headset so that you can keep your shoulders level and neck relaxed.
  • Falling asleep on the sofa with your head on the armrest: your neck and low back will get twisted sideways and the muscles around your joints may tense up or even spasm.
  • High heels: they throw the spine out of alignment and can cause low back pain If you insist on wearing them, I recommend getting orthotics made from someone like me to help your biomechanics. Also, try to ensure the heel height is less than 2 inches.
  • Sitting at a desk all day: the single most important thing to do is take regular breaks every 20 minutes.

For more tips on how to prevent back pain and improve your posture, visit our clinic! We offer a variety of services from experts in health and wellness field who can help.

Chronic Back Pain, its complexity and the benefits of psychotherapy

Chronic Pain, its complexity and the benefits of psychotherapy

Are you offended if your doctor or health care practitioner suggests seeing a mental health counsellor to help you with your chronic pain? In our Western culture, we first turn to a doctor for our physical problems. However, more often than not, they are unable to find a cause to effectively fix the problem and remove the pain. From your perspective, as a chronic pain sufferer, this can leave you confused, frustrated and disempowered.

In our Western culture, we first turn to a doctor for our physical problems. However, more often than not, they are unable to find a cause to effectively fix the problem and remove the pain. From your perspective, as a chronic pain sufferer, this can leave you confused, frustrated and disempowered.

Not feeling believed

A recent study found that health care providers did not always believe their patients’ chronic pain complaints, which they “considered imaginary” and the providers’ responses “indicated speculation, underrating and denial of pain” (Ojala et al, 2015). Your scepticism about psychotherapy as a viable treatment method is completely understandable when the idea comes from someone who made you feel like they didn’t believe you. I can also see why it wouldn’t make sense to you to receive a suggestion to work on your mental or emotional health when you very clearly are experiencing a physical health problem. Chronic pain is a complex problem, whether you feel it in your lower back or anywhere else. So why should chronic pain be any more complex than acute pain?

How is chronic pain different?

Acute pain is temporary, not lasting longer than three to six months, which is the normal amount of time for tissue damage to heal. This kind of pain generally serves an important function of signalling damage to the body, as a warning to prevent further injury and to give the body time to heal. Also, the intensity of the pain experienced usually corresponds to the extent of the tissue damage. Chronic pain is persistent, does not usually match pain intensity to tissue damage, and serves no useful biological function. Even though chronic pain is not a signal of tissue damage the pain is still experienced biologically through the nervous system. Brain regions associated with pain may be activated even when there is no indicated tissue damage or observable cause. Whether there is an observable cause or not, all pain is physically perceived and experienced through the brain’s nervous system and the neurochemistry of pain is extremely complex. All that is to say, just because there is no observable cause, doesn’t mean that the pain you are experiencing isn’t real, in fact, it is the opposite – your pain is very real!

Even more complex…

Chronic pain is a complex and multifaceted problem that includes biological, psychological and social dimensions. For those of you who suffer from chronic pain, you know how difficult the experience is and how it can affect so many aspects of your lives.

Many people suffering from chronic pain often face other challenges like trouble sleeping, depression or other mood disorders, weight issues and relationship distress. When a doctor focuses on any of the above, especially psychological factors, you, as a chronic pain sufferer, may understandably feel like your pain experience is being invalidated and that you are being treated as if the pain is “just in your head.”

There are some really valid reasons for a health care practitioner to ask about these issues because these often are legitimate contributing factors to your pain experience. A well-informed pain practitioner should take into account your physical state, your emotions, your thoughts and your relationships. They will know that chronic pain is both a physical issue and a psychological issue.

The multi-dimensionality of chronic pain makes it a condition worth being treated by psychotherapy, not only by a body expert like a doctor, chiropractor, osteopath or massage therapist.

Psychological processes of pain

Researchers going back to the 1960s have studied how experiences in the brain, such as thoughts and emotions affect pain perception. In their ground-breaking study in 1965, Canadian psychologist Ronald Melzack along with Patrick Wall first introduced the gate control theory of pain, where they proposed that the perception of pain is not only from a specific place in the body to the brain but that what happens in the brain (thoughts and feelings) also influences the pain experience (Melzack & Wall, 1965).

Psychological and social aspects such as your environmental stressors, emotions and interpersonal issues play a role in affecting pain. Neurobiological research has verified that chronic pain includes biological, psychological and social dimensions; and therefore psychotherapy is a beneficial treatment method.

How a counsellor/psychotherapist can help

Counsellors or psychotherapist working with sufferers of chronic pain understand how the emotional, mental and physical components all interact together to produce and exacerbate the client’s experience of pain. As mentioned above, many people suffering from chronic pain usually report multiple and overlapping problems such as sleep disorders, mood disorders, disability, weight issues, and relationship distress, which are all issues that psychotherapy can help with. Numerous studies over the years have shown that 40 to 50 percent of those with chronic pain suffer from depression and these two conditions, unfortunately mutually reinforce each other.

As your counsellor, I will pay attention to your emotional state, which for many chronic pain sufferers is usually primarily negative emotions such as helplessness, fear, and anger. Living day after day with pain that interferes with your desired activities along with feeling little to no control over the pain, it is completely understandable you would be experiencing these difficult emotions. I also work with a client’s experience of stress, underlying beliefs and expectations, identity issues, family dynamics, problem-solving styles, formative experiences and behaviour patterns that may all be contributing to the pain experience.

In conclusion:

Chronic pain is a complex and multifaceted problem that includes biological, psychological and social dimensions. While it may seem like a suggestion to see a mental health counsellor to help with your chronic pain is not what you need, over fifty years of ongoing research continues to demonstrate the ways that psychotherapy can help. If you are a chronic pain sufferer, please consider setting up a free meet and greet session with me so we can talk more specifically about how psychotherapy and counselling could help.


Ojala, T., Häkkinen, A., Karppinen, J., Sipilä, K., Suutama, T., & Piirainen, A. (2015). Although unseen, chronic pain is real—A phenomenological study. Scandinavian Journal of Pain, 6, 33-40. doi: 10.1016/j.sjpain.2014.04.004  Melzack, R. & Wall, P.D. (1965). Pain mechanisms: A new theory. Science, 50, 971-979.

low self-esteem lack of confidence

9 Practical Ways To Help Low Self-esteem and Lack of Confidence in Young People

So many young people these days suffer from low self-esteem and a lack of confidence.

The pressure especially from peers to conform, and fit in is enormous. The pace of life is increasing all the time, they are expected to be instantly contactable at all times and they are becoming less and less present and grounded in the real world.

The lack of confidence and low self esteem creates an inability to stand up for themselves and may trigger bullying and isolation. They become plagued by fear and anxiety, feel unloved and unlovable, undeserving and inadequate. This can lead to depression, panic attacks, and a withdrawing or avoidance of social interaction.

It can also result in a lack of achievement due to an inner belief that it is better not to try than to try and not succeed.

There can be many reasons for this lack of confidence and low self-esteem, some examples are:

  • Failing to achieve parental expectation or standards
  • Not meeting peer expectations or standards
  • Being on the receiving end of other people’s stress or distress
  • Parents who fight, or who are separating or separated
  • Physical and / or emotional neglect or abuse in the home or outside
  • A feeling of being unsupported, a lack of interest, affection, love, praise or reassurance
  • Belonging to a group that other people are prejudiced against or being the odd one out

Often this low self-esteem and lack of confidence is formulated in childhood. It is the result of a child’s perspective of the world and those around us and can affect the whole of our lives unless we work to bring about a change.

Ways to improve low self-esteem and confidence

Unfortunately, it is not as easy as just telling the person they are great and giving positive feedback. In fact, that seems to have the opposite effect.

As a parent, it is helpful to ensure that your child feels supported;

  • Spend the time to listen to them, support them in their life challenges.
  • Make sure to give them a hug or show affection every day.
  • Acknowledge their efforts, even if they do not succeed and avoid the ‘could do better’ attitude.
  • Encourage them to find the things they are good at and support them in that field. We cannot all be hockey players or mathematicians!  Perhaps your child is good at art, or music.
  • Encourage them to write a journal and then to look at the good things and achievements for that day.
  • Try to be non-judgemental about mistakes your child makes, discuss these mistakes with the perspective that although it may not have been a wise choice it is a positive experience and a great learning opportunity. Perhaps discuss some of your own not so wise choices and look at how they have positively impacted your life.
  • Create the attitude that it is okay to be human, none of us is perfect. Display this attitude when talking about yourself.
  • Perhaps your child would consider enrolling in a martial art such as karate or aikido
  • Question their negative view of themselves and the messages they are receiving – why do they think that / why does it matter what peers say / think.

Outside support

We cannot do everything alone; sometimes we need a little help.

There are a number of healing modalities that can be beneficial in improving self-esteem and confidence and in bringing about a change in how we view ourselves and the world.

Hypnosis and Hypnotherapy

Hypnosis works with our subconscious to shift our views and beliefs.  It can provide tools to be used at times we are feeling vulnerable, depressed or anxious.

It can also help to release emotional baggage that we may be carrying.

Counselling and Psychotherapy

Talk therapy can be extremely helpful. The opportunity to work with a non-judgemental person outside of our immediate family and social group, they are non-biased and independent. They can bring a different perspective on our issues, and help us develop coping strategies.

Reiki / chakra balancing

Energy work will assist the body in better balance. It can help to release negative emotions and generate more self-love and self-worth. In turn, this leads to an increased confidence.

When we acknowledge our strengths and weaknesses and accept that we are a beautiful person despite that weakness and areas that need work then we have less need for acceptance from others.

Emotional Blueprint Coaching

This unique approach combines reflexology to examine and release the deeply held emotions in our bodies along with journeying and visualisation to work with the conscious mind.

We all have an Emotional Blueprint – the way we have been trained to view the world and our expectations from that world. This powerful technique works to shift that perspective so we can truly be the best that we can be.

Whatever you or your child is drawn to, it is important to address the underlying causes of low self-esteem and lack of confidence. They can have a very negative impact on our whole lives.

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sports performance cupping

Sports performance – How Cupping Massage can help young atheletes

So I’ve been getting a lot more inquiries about cupping treatments since the Olympics. It seems that Michael Phelps has really helped his sports performance put this effective form of treatment on the map!

Thanks, Michael!

It’s true, cupping can really work wonders. In my practice, as a registered massage therapist I use them a lot, especially with athletes and sports enthusiasts. The intense strength training and repetition that the athletic population participate in can quickly build up areas of thick fascia in the body.

While the marks that cups leave can be a little off-putting for some, more often than not the benefits far outweigh any sensitivity to the aesthetics of cupping. 4-7 days is the average amount of time it takes for cupping marks to disappear.

So how does this relate to young athletes and their sports performance?

As the school year is getting into full swing, a lot of students are starting try-outs and practices with their chosen athletic teams.

Aches and pains and injuries are going to happen, it is a natural consequence of pushing ourselves and our bodies. And while these physical challenges are a healthy part of life, it is just as important to take care of our bodies through this process, when an injury happens, and to help prevent injury.

What a lot of athletes don’t know is that stretching the fascia that surrounds and weaves through muscle tissue is going to help them achieve peak performance, just as much as strengthening the muscle itself.If our muscles can’t glide or move through their full range due to restrictions, then the body won’t be able to perform as well. Cupping can be a great option for areas that are difficult to stretch out, or for those of you who neglect the stretching part training (you know who you are !) And for the younger generation of athletes, keeping the body’s tissues open, will not only improve athletic performance, but it will help minimize the effects of thickening fascia on their still-growing bodies.

Taking advantage of the services of a massage therapist who also incorporates cupping into their sessions can double the amount of treatment that can be achieved in the allotted time.

The cups can remain static (leaving them in one place for a period of time), and the therapist can simultaneously use their hands to work other areas of the body.

Dynamic cupping (keeping the cups moving) can also be used which greatly reduces marking, yet effectively opens the fascia. This allows for much more effective treatment of the muscles underneath afterwards. And for those who really want the benefits of manual therapy, but are not comfortable with the hands-on of traditional Swedish massage, cupping is a great solution!

Book an appointment for yourself or your young athlete, and discover the amazing benefits of Cupping!

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acupuncture concussion

Concussion – How Acupuncture may help in youth

Concussion, which occurs more frequently in children and adolescents than in adults, can have many debilitating symptoms.  These symptoms have an impact on both a physical and an emotional level.  In Traditional Chinese Medicine or TCM theory, acupuncture works on the mind, body and spirit and thus addresses these problems.

Acupuncture is known for treating headache, insomnia, irritability, anxiety, and pain which are all possible symptoms of a traumatic brain injury or TBI.

How does acupuncture do this?

TCM is founded on the idea that where the energy goes, blood goes.

Science tells us that some of the symptoms occurring in concussion patients are due to a lack of blood flow to the brain.

The brain cells, which use glucose delivered by the blood as a source of energy, are not able to heal as quickly as they otherwise would and as this impeded flow of blood to the brain continues symptoms can become worse.

Another factor at work here is the nervous system.  More often than not clients report feeling more relaxed after an acupuncture treatment.  This shift into the parasympathetic nervous system responsible for rest and digest is a key factor in the healing process for TBIs.

Acupuncture affects the neurochemical activity of the brain as well.  The theory is that this helps the brain return to its normal activity after a severe trauma such as a concussion.

Battlefield acupuncture for concussion

In the American army, where concussion is the number one injury, Battlefield Acupuncture is used.  Battlefield Acupuncture was introduced to one sector of the army and then incorporated across all of them because of its effectiveness and ease of use in the field.   In this protocol, small semi-permanent needles are used in the ear.  The doctors using this technique have described the results as “off the charts” and “incredible”.

Just as with most if not all therapies, the effectiveness of acupuncture’s ability to relieve symptoms is increased the sooner it is used, though results have been seen in patients treated even several years following the original injury to the brain.

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allergies children ottawa

Children – Why so many allergies?

The number of allergies is on the rise, but why are we seeing more people, and especially children with allergies?

Allergies and auto-immune disorders occur when our immune system mistakenly identifies an otherwise harmless substance as a threat. It then attacks these inappropriate targets. In the case of an allergy this may be a food, dust, mould, pollen etc or in the case of an autoimmune disease the body is attacked.

So why are there more food allergies?

The medical profession does not really have any definitive answers as to why the number of allergies is on the rise. There are however several theories.

The Hygiene Hypothesis speculates that we are not exposed to enough pathogens, parasites and other microbes giving our immune systems too little to do. This hypothesis has been around for several decades.

Digestive Health and Leaky Gut – around 80% of our immune system is in our gut, if the gut is not healthy, then we will not be healthy.

Lifestyle factors such as warmer, drier homes and a more sedentary lifestyle.

The Hygiene Hypothesis

Population studies have found that there is a much lower incidence of allergies, asthma and anaphylaxis in developing countries. It is also known that children who grow up on a farm, around animals and spending a lot of time outside have fewer allergies.

The theory is that these children are exposed to parasites and other microbes, which is much more in line with the way that we evolved.

During evolution our bodies adapted to the constant presence of these parasites and other microbes. Now that they have been removed from our environment we have a very active immune system that is effectively itching for a fight.

In other words, our living conditions and food are so clean they don’t offer our immune systems enough to do, so our systems overreact to harmless allergens instead.

Nick Furnham at the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine and his team have also found similarities between the proteins in parasitic worms and those in pollens. He suggests that our parasite defenses will naturally attack the pollen leading to seasonal allergies.

So what can we do?

We are simply too paranoid about “GERMS”

If your house is generally clean it is acceptable for your child to play on the floor. Allowing your child to play outside and to be exposed to dirt is beneficial for the immune system. (Avoid areas that may be contaminated with animal waste)

Also exposure to animals including pets will have benefits for their immune system and your child’s mental well-being.

Digestive Health and Leaky Gut

It is estimated that 80% of our immune system is found in the gut.

When damage is caused to our gut lining by food allergies and intolerances, reactions to antibiotics or pesticides, or illnesses such as gastro-enteritis it allows bacteria, metabolic wastes and undigested proteins to enter our blood stream.

These foreign substances in the blood stimulate the immune system into attacking and trigger inflammation, allergies and auto-immune diseases.

Allergies are also more prevalent in C-section children. Baby’s digestive tracts are sterile. During a natural birth they will be exposed to the flora found in their mother’s gut. Studies are suggesting that these babies should deliberately be exposed to a swab from their mother in order to populate their gut with the necessary ‘good’ bacteria and other microbes.

So how do we fix this?

“Healing and sealing” your gut has been shown to help alleviate allergy symptoms. The key lies in altering your diet to eliminate any offending foods and introducing healthier choices that will support a proper balance of bacteria in your gut.

It is becoming more generally understood that processed foods, “junk food”, GMO products and synthetic ingredients in foods can decimate the beneficial bacteria in your gut, thereby having a negative effect on your immune system.

A registered nutritionist can give you individualised advice on which foods to eat.

Antibiotics should be avoided unless absolutely necessary. Following any course of antibiotics it is essential to take a good quality, preferably soil based, probiotic to repopulate the gut with ‘friendly’ bacteria.

Lifestyle factors

Human beings are designed to be active for a greater portion of their day. In our modern world we too often spend many hours sitting down. Our lack of fitness impacts many systems in the body.
We also evolved to be outside in all weathers and temperatures. We live indoors in clean, warm and dry conditions. We are not exposed to challenging conditions and temperature changes that strengthen our bodies.

One study in the UK found that people who took a swim in cold water (sea, river or a lake) daily or several times a week, actually had stronger immune systems, were sick less often and had fewer allergies.

What can we do?

The answer is easy – move more and get out into the fresh air…. If only it were that simple!

Take your child outdoors throughout the year, they will come to no harm in the cold or heat as long as they are properly dressed and protected.

Make sure that they get plenty of exercise and active time – you will benefit too if you play with them.

As an adult, try to make time to be outdoors most days, and plan a time to exercise 5 days a week if you can, even if it is a 30min walk. Find an activity that you enjoy, whether playing ball with your child, building a snow man, going to the gym, a team sport or a regular walking group.

Beautiful plants and pots may be beneficial for your kids, too, only make sure the fertilizers are organic.

By putting your exercise time into your schedule you will find it easier to achieve. The benefits will be worth the effort!

hidden signs of food sensitivities in children

10 Hidden Signs of Food Sensitivities in Children

Food sensitivities are on the rise in Canada and most worryingly among children. In my practice, the most common food sensitivities I see are to wheat, dairy, corn, eggs and soy. If I were to ask you what symptoms you would expect to see from a food sensitivity, I would suspect you to say digestive. Beware, this is not always the case. In this blog, I talk about the hidden symptoms of food sensitivities in children, what causes them and how best to identify them.

Peter is ten years old and has been brought to see me by his mum and dad complaining of lower back pain. They found me by looking for a local osteopath on Google and had been recommended osteopathy by a family friend. All osteopaths are trained to look for and treat physical causes of pain. Physical causes are usually the result of some trauma such as a fall. Peter’s pain had begun two months previously without any trauma. He noticed the pain only when he was playing hockey and running.

When physical pain, of any kind, develops for no apparent reason it makes me very suspicious and leads me to suspect that there may be an underlying factor at play.

On examination, I found that Peter’s muscles were very tight, and his lower back muscles were not functioning very well. These two clinical findings, to me, are a sign of chronic low-grade inflammation. There are four main causes of inflammation:

  1. Food sensitivities
  2. Infection
  3. Toxins
  4. Stress

Symptoms of Hidden Food Sensitivities

The most common cause of inflammation in children is food sensitivities. Peter had no digestive symptoms such as abdominal pain, bloating, constipation or diarrhoea. Despite this fact, I asked whether he experienced any of the following extra-digestive or hidden signs of food sensitivities. These symptoms include:

  1. Recurrent ear and throat infections
  2. Canker sores
  3. Frequent nosebleeds
  4. Unexplained muscle and joint pains sometimes diagnosed as “growing pains”.
  5. Black circles under your eyes, known as “Shiners.”
  6. Insomnia
  7. Hyperactivity and ADHD
  8. Anxiety
  9. Rash and other skin complaints
  10. Fatigue

Peter had some these other symptoms, which confirmed my suspicions and prompted me to suggest to his parents that we investigate whether he does have any food sensitivities.


There are three different ways I recommend to determine food sensitivities including:

Elimination diets

A food elimination is the scientific “gold standard” method for determining food sensitivities. Foods are avoided for 30 days. If symptoms improve then each food is reintroduced, one at a time, to determine which are the triggers.

Blood Food sensitivity testing

Blood food sensitivity testing in Canada measures IgG food antibodies to different foods. The problem with this testing is that there are two other antibodies, IgA and IgM, that your bodies immune system might produce. More comprehensive testing is available through Cyrex Labs in the US that measures both IgA and IgG antibodies.

Muscle testing

Muscle testing or applied kinesiology measures the response of your body’s nervous system to a substance. Muscle testing has not been validated by any scientific research, however I have found a very reliable way of screening in clinical practice.

I always give my clients the option of what method of testing they would like me to use. For Peter, we used only muscle testing and identified dairy as a problem.

After three weeks of avoiding dairy, Peter returned my office and reported that he could now play hockey and run pain-free, and many of his other symptoms had lessened.


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