Kew Beach Naturopathic Clinic

Putting the "care" back in healthcare


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Quick Start Guide to Meditation

By Kate Whimster, ND

Originally published on Kate’s blog

We all know what we think meditation is: sitting quietly, eyes closed, a Zen-like person sitting cross-legged and peaceful, chanting, etc.  But when it comes to doing it, it’s easy to feel lost and unsure.

The Merriam Webster dictionary definition of mediation is: “The act or process of spending time in quiet thought.” My definition would be: a practice of cultivating relaxation, stillness, and focus.  Putting aside time every day to do this, even for just 5 minutes, counts as a meditation practice to me.

How to meditate

There is no “right” or “wrong” way to meditate, but there are some simple guidelines that can help you create a meditation practice that suits you.

1. Space:

Find yourself some space where you can be alone and undisturbed.  Enlist the help of your family to allow you this time for yourself.  If you think you can’t get this, even for 10 minutes per day, something needs to change there!  Your health and self-care are important!  Make them a priority.

2. Sound:

Try to find a quiet place, but also accept the fact that it will sometimes be impossible to have a perfect environment for meditation.  Meditation is about learning to quiet your mind and focus DESPITE all that is going on around you. If you like total silence, great!  If you prefer, try using gentle music, nature sounds, or white noise during meditation.  You can also use guided meditations if you find that helpful.

3. Breathing:

A major part of meditation is learning to slow down, deepen, and enrich your breathing.  There are many breathing techniques you can try, but a good place to start is with learning to breathe slower, deeper, and more consciously.  In fact, you can meditate simply by spending some time each day breathing deeply.  Aim for at least 10 deep breaths each time you focus on breathing and repeat this to reach at least 100 deep breaths per day.

4. Mantra:

A mantra is a sound or phrase repeated out loud or silently while meditating. When people start meditating, having a mantra can lend a structure to their practice, along with using specific breathing exercises.  You don’t have to use a mantra, but I find it can help give your mind something to focus on and come back to if you get distracted. Some good mantras: “I am rested and well”, “I am secure and loved”, “I release suffering and accept peace”

5. Mudra:

A mudra is a physical posture and hand/finger positions. Again, you don’t have to use a mudra, but if you are fidgety, it can help give you something to do with your body/hands to help keep your focus. Some simple mudras: Resting your hands palms upwards on your knees, prayer position, touching your thumb and index finger.

Now that you’ve got the basics, it’s time to practice your meditation skills! Looking for a place to start? I recommend the Insight Timer (www.insighttimer.com) or Headspace (www.headspace.com) apps.


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Hydrotherapy, The Water Cure

By Helena Ovens, ND

Hydrotherapy was introduced in England in 1697 by Dr. John Floyer. His book, entitled The History of Hot and Cold Bathing, was translated into German and the established principles of hydrotherapy were used to treat both acute and chronic diseases, especially smallpox by Dr. Vincent Priessnitz. Using hot and cold alternating treatments also worked well in cases of gout and rheumatism. The demand for his “water” cure became so great that the Austrian government built new roads to facilitate access to his office and in 1840 he treated 1600 patients from all over the world using primarily cold water and simple diets.

One of his most able students wrote the book The Water Cure Applied to Every Known Disease and later Errors of Physicians and Others in the Practice of Water Cure. The Water Cure continued to evolve over the years. The most influential water “curist” after Priessnitz was Father Sebastian Kneipp who applied for the priesthood but was denied because he had a case of tuberculosis which he subsequently cured by the use of water treatments and diet. He then was admitted to the priesthood and started treating his sick parishioners. His book My Water Cure detailed his protocols with water and herbs and he also advocated barefoot walking in dew and snow.

Father Kniepp was the first “Naturopath” in Europe. The information that he shared with others went to the United States and a number of Sanatoriums were established which focused on the water cure, good food, good sleep, good exercise, etc. A majority of people were cured at these facilities without drugs or surgery and the “water cure” became one of the most utilized forms of healing treatments.

From Austria and Germany, the water cure spread to England and France as well as the United States and Canada. John Harvey Kellogg established and ran the famous Battle Creek Sanatorium in Michigan. He wrote the book Rational Hydrotherapy in 1901 which is still regarded as the definitive textbook of hydrotherapy. Even though there were differences of opinion between the Naturopathic Doctors and the Medical Doctors, hydrotherapy was used by Drs. Bard and Hosack at the New York Hospital.

They successfully cured cholera, intemperance, and rheumatic fever (Robert Wesselhoeft). Priessnitz and his brother William immigrated to America and set up a water cure establishment in Vermont based on the practices of Priessnitz which was incorporated in 1845 as the Brattleboro Infirmary and became well known across North America. Henry Wadsworth Longfellow and Harriet Beecher Stowe were successfully treated. Robert Weselhoeft knew Samuel Hahnemann and was well versed in the Water Cure.

The Water Cure Journal was started by Joel Shew who had been a daguerreotyper and became an invalid because of exposure to mercury, iodine and bromine at which point he made two trips to receive the Water Cure and regained his health. The Journal within a few years achieved a circulation in excess of 50,000 copies. Over the years, the water cure was used less and less. I have always been a supporter of hydro-therapy as it works, it is inexpensive, and it creates antibodies to a number of different diseases.

So this is my story. Every 5 years or so, I get about 4 or 5 problems when my immune system needs a “boost”. In 2010 I had sinusitis, ear infection, sore throat, and fatigue. Instead of giving myself any remedies, I ate simply, drank a lot of fluids, tea, etc. but did not eat protein. The “liquid” emphasis was so that I could create a fever and then break into a sweat. So what I did was go to bed early (around 7:00 p.m.) while wearing wool socks, a wool hat, and lots of blankets and sweaters. Fell asleep quickly and then after one or two days, woke up in the middle of the night drenched in sweat. All of the problems had resolved and my body had created antibodies to these problems.

I remained in good health for 5 more years and this past year, I came down with an ear infection, sinus infection, throat infection (thought it was strep throat so gave myself a dose of Belladonna), chest infection, and the flu. Followed the same protocol as before. I did not eat anything heavy but increased fluids and went home early. Went to bed as soon as I got home and fell asleep with wool hat, socks, sweatshirts, lots of blankets and woke up in the middle of the night with a slight perspiration. Not good enough. Repeated this the next night and the same thing happened. Still not good enough. Did exactly the same on the third night and woke up in the middle of the night drenched in sweat, and that was the end of it all. You can burn off infections when you raise your body temperature to 39 to 40 degrees Celsius or 102 to 104 degrees Fahrenheit. In burning off the infection, either viral or bacterial, you create antibodies to these “minor” diseases and then you are good to go for a number of (in my case) years.


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Why NOT to Meditate

By Kate Whimster, ND

Originally published on Kate’s blog

 

Sometimes I find myself talking to patients that spend most of their visit telling my why they simply can’t do whatever it is I’m suggesting that they do.  As in, they make the time to show up for their appointment at my office and pay me money to listen to “I can’t” over and over, even though simply by BEING THERE, they have already proven that they CAN make their health a priority and they do WANT to change!  I have an interesting job, that’s for sure!

Because of this, I have gotten into the habit of imagining objections and composing responses to them in my head.  So, here are my responses to the most common reasons people don’t meditate.

“I don’t have time!”

Yes you do, you are just not choosing to meditate with the time you have.  Meditating will actually IMPROVE your management of your time, so it will seem like you actually have more!  So will exercising and sleeping, by the way.

“It’s boring!”

Well, this one is definitely subjective, but I would challenge you to consider whether meditation is really boring or whether it is simply different than your usual hyper-stimulated state.  We can all benefit from taking a break from screens (TV, computers, phones, tablets, etc) and multitasking to just be still, even for just a few minutes.

“It’s too hard!”

Nothing is “too hard,” most things are actually just hard enough to challenge you.  I bet you can think of at least 10 things you’ve done in your life that you once considered impossible, right? Meditation is actually the opposite of hard – it requires you to literally do nothing.  You just haven’t practiced enough to be good at it.  Remember the first time you rode a bike without training wheels?  Did you fall off?  Of course you did, because you had to learn how to do it and the more you practiced, the better you got at it.  The same principle applies to every other aspect of life.  Practice makes perfect.

“I can’t clear my mind!”

And that is exactly why you need to meditate!  I don’t know anyone who meditates who doesn’t have random thoughts popping up all over the place at some point or another.  I like to imagine that all the crazy thoughts that come up while I’m meditating means that my brain is detoxing and clearing out, so I can think clearer and focus on what matters. Meditation will teach you to take charge of your thoughts instead of your thoughts pushing you around.

“I hate it (and I hate you for telling me to meditate!)”

Wow, who knew you felt so strongly?  Luckily, you and I live in a society of free choice and you can totally choose to ignore all my suggestions!

But, before you go, just consider all the things people HATE doing that are the exact things that make life more enjoyable, foster good health, or at the very least provide a means to a valuable end.  Things like exercising, eating our vegetables, going to bed early, getting our passport photos taken, cramming into a crowded subway with angry, sweaty people each morning, and I could go on…  So, rather than throw all your energy into hating these kind of things, how about choosing to see these things simply as chores or what we do to live the life we want.


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No-Bake Cocoa Oat Cookies

By Kate Whimster, ND

Originally published on Kate’s blog

 

Makes approximately 36 cookies

Ingredients:

  • ¾ cup maple syrup, honey, or combination
  • ½ cup ghee, butter, or coconut oil (or combination)
  • ½ cup cocoa
  • ¼ cup plain or vanilla almond milk
  • ¼ cup nut butter (almond, hazelnut, peanut)
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 2 cups rolled oats
  • 1 cup shredded coconut (or quinoa flakes)
  • ½ teaspoon sea salt

Directions:

  1. Combine sweetener (I use honey and maple syrup), ghee (great for baking and easy to make at home), cocoa powder, and almond milk in a medium pot.
  2. Heat mixture at medium heat and bring to a boil, stirring regularly.
  3. While waiting for mixture to boil, combine oats, coconut, and salt in a small bowl, ready for later.
  4. Cook wet mixture at boil for 1 minute, then stir in nut butter and vanilla.
  5. Boil for 1 more minute and remove from heat, making sure the mixture is combined.
  6. Stir oats, coconut, and salt into the hot mixture until well mixed.
  7. Using two small spoons, drop mixture onto parchment paper to form cookies.
  8. Flatten cookies gently with your hand while mixture still warm.
  9. Cool until firm (about 20 minutes).


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Allergies – Seasonal or Otherwise

By Helena Ovens, ND

An allergy is an inappropriate response by the body’s immune system to a substance not normally harmful. The immune system allows us to combat infection by identifying foreign bodies and mobilizing white blood cells to fight them. Substances are called allergens. Examples are common grass pollen, dust, cosmetics, lanolin, animal hair, insect bites and stings, drugs (aspirin and penicillin), foods (strawberries, eggs, shellfish) and additives (Benzoic acid, sulfur dioxide, etc.) and the list goes on. There are a number of factors which predispose people to allergies. Perhaps the individual was weaned too early and inappropriate food substances like wheat, cow dairy and red meat) were introduced into the diet before the digestive system was mature enough to handle these foods.

Normally, the liver detoxifies histamine and therefore, a damaged liver allows increased histamine in the bloodstream leading to increases in allergic reactions. Antihistamines (common allergy medication) increases liver damage and decreases the body’s ability to detoxify histamine.

Hayfever is an allergic reaction to wind-borne pollens. Those of you who have experienced it know the signs and symptoms: runny nose, itchy and water eyes, sneezing uncontrollably. Most people with inhalant allergies may also have hidden food allergies which play an important role in overall reactivity. We are dealing with a hyper-allergic system, not a system with an allergy or two.

There are two types of food allergies. One has immediate mast cell degradation (IgE). The second is a delayed onset which occurs when a substance is eaten too often and in large amounts which stimulates an IgA, IgG, and/or IgM allergic response. This is often seen in wheat, gluten, and dairy consumption. One of the best tests for allergens is the RAST test which measures IgE antibodies caused by bee stings and peanut butter. Air-born allergens are more difficult.

As naturopaths, we try to strengthen the entire body by removing the most common food allergens from the diet. In an acute phase, we recommend that you ELIMINATE dairy products, wheat, gluten, eggs, citrus, corn, and peanut butter for 3 to 4 weeks. With respect to  supplementation, we suggest increasing Vitamins A, E, & C plus bioflavonoids, B Complex with an emphasis on pantothenic acid (THE STRESS VITAMIN). Taking Quercetin and Vitamin C three times a day with food seems to be one of the best approaches to calming down the allergic response. Nasal lavage can also offer another good temporary solution (1 tbsp salt in one quart of water). Neti pots facilitate nasal lavage uptake.


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How to Eat Less Sugar

By Kate Whimster, ND

Originally published on Kate’s blog

Did you know that sugar is toxic?

Check out my blog Sugar is toxic for a sugar reality check!  Eating less sugar is actually very simple and easy and pays off in so many ways:

  1. Kick-start weight loss and super-charge your energy
  2. Eradicate sugar cravings and re-calibrate taste buds
  3. Strengthen immunity and prevent chronic disease

Whole foods rule!

The first step is to eliminate or significantly reduce the sugar you consume.  The simplest way to do this is to avoid packaged foods (stick to whole foods close to their natural form instead) and to prepare your own foods.Even if you only choose to bake your own sweets rather than buy them, you will still consume far less sugar and eliminate a lot of preservatives and additives.  Baking with honey or maple syrup is another great step, as well as using fruit to sweeten foods instead of sugar, such as applesauce, bananas, and dates.  However, you can still consume a lot of sugar from homemade sweets, so why not become less dependent on sugar in your diet?

Go sugar-free:

Level 1: Avoid sugars and sweeteners

  • Including added sugar and “natural” sugars, such as honey, maple, syrup, agave, syrup, molasses, etc.
  • Focus on eating vegetables, nuts, seeds, vegetable and animal proteins
  • Continue to eat naturally sweet foods, such as fruit, and starchy foods, such as grains
  • Use natural sweeteners that do not raise blood sugar (eg: stevia, vegetable glycerine)

Level 2: Avoid sugars, sweeteners, dried fruit, fruit juices, and grains

  • Follow the guidelines in level 1, plus eliminate dried fruit, fruit juices, and all grains
  • Focus on eating vegetables, nuts, seeds, vegetable and animal proteins
  • Continue to eat fresh or frozen fruit (but not dried fruit or fruit juices)

Level 3: Avoid sugars, sweeteners, grains, and all fruit

  • Follow the guidelines in level 2, plus eliminate all fruit
  • Focus on eating vegetables, nuts, seeds, vegetable and animal proteins

Ease into it by starting at Level 1 for at least one week.  Go up to Level 2 and then 3 when you’re ready.  There are lots of other foods to eat and you will likely find it much easier than you think!

If you are a true addict, start slow!  You will probably feel a bit strange for a few days.  This is called withdrawal and could include low energy, irritability, headaches, and body aches.  This is a great indicator of just how reliant on sugar your body has become!  Don’t worry, you should feel better within a week!  Ensure you are drinking lots of water, eating healthy, and getting enough sleep – support your body and it will continue to support you!


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Is Organic More Expensive?

By Helena Ovens, ND

If you compare price tags between organic and conventional products, organic may seem like it is the more expensive option, however, we need to take a closer look at the “back-end” and the long-term social, economic, political and environmental costs.

True costs of conventional agriculture

Consumers often subsidize the growing of non-organic food. Non-organic industrial agriculture has been subsidized $25 billion dollars in the U.S.A.  Organic food is not subsidized. Agricultural land is becoming non-viable for growing because the chemicals and artificial fertilizers have been applied to American and Canadian soil for far too long. In Canada, it was estimated that soil depletion has cost $2 billion per year (Science Council of Canada, 1986).

Health care cost

Land, water and air continues to be polluted by chemical pesticides. This agricultural pollution affects the environment and our health. Mt. Sinai School of Medicine physician Philip Landrigan says: “the range of these adverse health effects include acute and persistent injury to: birth defects, the nervous system, lung damage, injury to reproductive organs, dysfunction of the immune and endocrine systems, and cancer”. The health effects of pesticides on both farm workers and consumers place a burden on our health care system. Additionally, the burden of environmental remediation falls on the government and tax payers.

Climate change/Global warming

Conventional agriculture practices mono-cultures and depletes the soil of organic matter through the use of chemical fossil fuel-based fertilizers. Organic agriculture, on the other hand, grows cover crops, uses composted manures, and manages soil fertility with crop rotation. Rodale’s Farming Systems Trial has documented that organic soils actually scrub the atmosphere of global warming gases by capturing the carbon dioxide and converting it into soil material.