"The natural healing force within each of us is the greatest force in getting well." ~ Hippocrates
We're celebrating naturopathic medicine week in Ottawa!
What better way to celebrate than in nature so this week's Wellness Wednesday video was taken in the park at Dow's Lake (probably my favorite spot in Ottawa).
This week patients have been enjoying a free infrared sauna session and bag of Shanti wellness tea as a special thankyou from me for supporting naturopathic medicine.
Naturopathic Medicine is a wonderful profession that I'm incredibly proud of and so honored to work with people every day to transform their health!
Through precept, lecture and example, I will assist and encourage others to strengthen their health, reduce risks for disease and preserve the health of our planet for ourselves, our families and future generations. ~ Naturopathic Oath
I'm excited to introduce Wellness Wednesdays!
This is my commitment to sharing empowering health information with you EVERY WEEK through Video Blogging.
This is very new to me and being in front of a camera can be a bit daunting so I really appreciate your support! If you are inspired by the info...Please Share! And always feel free to contact me with questions or comments.
In celebration of springtime, this week is on SEASONAL ALLERGIES! Enjoy :)
How well do you know herbal medicine?
We had so much fun playing herbal jeopardy at the 5 year Anniversary of Sage Wellness!
And if you couldn't make it...test yourself from home...answers are posted at the end.
WHAT IS.....????Herb #2
- Supports digestive problems such as indigestion, bloating and IBS.
- Relieves tension and stress and improves sleep
- Reduces seasonal allergies
WHAT IS.....????Herb #3
- Strengthens the immune system
- Tonic for energy and endurance
- Has been used for thousands of years in Traditional Chinese Medicine
- Root is great to put in soups
WHAT IS.....????Herb #4
- Improves memory
- Is a commonly grown tree that has a uniquely shaped leaf
- Improves memory and is used in treatment of dementia
- A common essential oil that is used to relieve muscle tension, support sleep and relax the nervous system
- Also helps with irritability, depression and headaches
WHAT IS.....????Herb #6
- A mild sedative that helps to relieve tension, anxiety and irritability
- Helps promote sleep (non-addicting)
- Has the word flower in the name
WHAT IS.....????Herb #7
- Great healing herb for mild cuts, wounds and burns
- Heals skin conditions topically (acne, rashes, diaper rash and cradle cap)
- Has a very pretty bright orange flower that is found in many gardens
WHAT IS.....????Herb #8
- "Balm that is soverign for the brain, strengthening the memory and powerfuly chasing away melancholy" John Evelyn (1620-1706)
- A relaxing tonic that reduces anxiety, mild depression, restlessness and irritability
- Reduces cold sores
WHAT IS.....????Herb #9
- Supports stress and burnout by supporting adrenal glands that produce cortisol
- Has sweet flavour that is used as a common candy
WHAT IS.....????Herb #10
- Is a common nutritious breakfast cereal
- Tonic for over-stressed nervous system
- Mild depression, anxiety & insomnia
- Antimicrobial properties helpful for colds & flu
- Lowers cholesterol & blood pressure levels
Herbal Jeopardy - The Answers
Herb #1 What is Chamomile
Herb #2 What is Astragalus
Herb #3 What is Ginkgo biloba
Herb #4 What is Lavender
Herb #5 What is Passion Flower
Herb #6 What is Calendula
Herb #7 What is Lemon Balm
Herb #8 What is Licorice Root
Herb #9 What is Oat Straw
Herb #10 What is Garlic
"Times of Stress are times that are signals for Growth"
Dr. Abraham Twerski
Why don't lobsters share?
Haha...I just couldn't resist sharing that. After all laughter is great medicine.
I was recently naturopathic convention and this years theme was all about STRESS. Stress is no laughing matter.
One memorable moment was shared from a LOBSTER. Check the video out below for a little inspiration from our shellfish friends.
"Change is Inevitable. Growth is Optional" ~John C. MaxwellThe daylight shortens, the air cools and the leaves begin to fall.
The summer days are coming to an end inviting new beginnings of autumn. The changing season is reflected in our lives as a time of transition.
Transition is also in the air at Sage Wellness
with changes happening in the fall. We are welcoming new practitioners
to expand our diverse health team. To accommodate this growth, our practitioners are also changing their availability
. Despite the change, the foundation of our mission and values remains the same:
To create a peaceful space of healing for all aspects of the self; physical, emotional, mental and spiritual.
Change can be simultaneously exciting and daunting. When we step into the unknown, we are reminded that anything is possible.
There is hope in the possibility of change that invites us to grow. As you transition into the fall, we invite you to reflect on your own life. What are my health goals?
What change can I make that reflects how I really want to live?
What obstacles challenge me from living a happy, health life? What steps can I take to overcome them?
We are honored here at Sage Wellness to continue to support you to achieve your health goals. Wishing you a happy transition into the fall.
In Wellness,Dr. Heather, ND
Change is in the air as the summer days come to an end. Reminds me of this favorite. Enjoy
by Robert Frost
Two roads diverged in a yellow wood,
And sorry I could not travel both And be one traveler, long I stood
And looked down one as far as I could
To where it bent in the undergrowth;
Then took the other, as just as fair,
And having perhaps the better claim,
Because it was grassy and wanted wear;
Though as for that the passing there
Had worn them really about the same,
And both that morning equally lay
In leaves no step had trodden black.
Oh, I kept the first for another day!
Yet knowing how way leads on to way,
I doubted if I should ever come back.
I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I—
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.
I have a confession.After long and stressful days, there are few things I enjoy more than dark chocolate. I'd like to say just one piece will satisfy the craving, but the truth is the entire bar mysteriously disappears
. This is usually followed by feelings of guilt and mild nausea. My medical training has taught me the health hazards of excessive refined sugar. Elevated blood sugar levels impair the immune system and increase risk of illness such as diabetes. Fluctuating blood sugar negatively impacts our mental health, sleep patterns and energy levels. I know and feel this. Yet sometimes...I do it anyway.Gabor Mate defines an addiction as, "Any behavior that has negative consequences but a person continues to crave and relapse into it, despite those negative consequences." I know I am not alone in this addiction to sweets. My patients constantly admit to cravings, emotional eating or binging. Why is this?
- Stress Response - Stress is designed to protect us from a threats like running away from a dinosaur. When stressed, our body produces a hormone called cortisol. This hormone elevates our heart rate and shunts blood to our muscles to give us energy to escape from the threat. When we are constantly exposed to stress, our body needs to fuel this energy with immediate sources. This is SUGAR.
Sugar = Love
2. Social Conditioning - Sugar represents love. We celebrate every holiday with sweets and are rewarded with sugar when we are "good". No chocolate for bad girls.
3) Brain Chemistry - Sugar is not only an emotional addiction but a physical one as well. Sugar stimulates opiods in the brain that rewards us with a pleasant feeling. Heroin and morphine do the same thing.
4) Poor Nutrition - Refined carbohydrates (white sugar, flour, junk food) elevate blood sugar levels very quickly. Unfortunately, this is soon followed by a sudden crash of blood sugar which stimulates our cravings for another fix. It's a vicious cycle.
Well, acceptance is the first step towards healing from any addiction. So now what do we do about it?
1) Breakfast - A large, healthy breakfast encourages balanced blood sugar and supports energy levels throughout the day.
Deliciously sweet & healthy!
2) Snacks - Have healthy snacks between meals. This includes includes nuts, seeds, chopped vegetables and fruit to stabilize blood sugar levels.
3) Fibre & Protein - Ensure that every meal contains fibre (vegetables, legumes or whole grains) and protein (nuts, seeds, legumes, quinoa, eggs or lean meats). These help to balance blood sugar levels and reduce cravings.
4) Healthy Fats - essential fatty acids are important to prevent "insulin resistance" which is leads to diabetes.
6) Manage Stress - Find ways to relax and unwind. Getting enough sleep and movement/exercise are also important.
5) Emotional Health - Explore what sugar cravings represent to you emotionally. How can we fill our need for love and connection through other means? How can we feel more balanced and peaceful? I find meditation a very helpful practice.
6) Sweet Alternatives - Fruit is a naturally sweet dessert option. Replace white sugar with healthier options. I like to use honey, maple sugar and whole leaf stevia in moderation.
Despite what you have just read, I am not ANTI sugar. I believe in balance. However, I do feel that to have a healthy relationship with food, we must explore the cause of our cravings. So recently I've given up sugar. Yep, no more late night chocolate indulges. I'm listening to what my cravings are telling me. I'm replacing my addiction with better eating habits and emotional awareness. When we learn to listen to our body, we learn how to take better care of ourselves.
PS - Here's an interesting video by Dr. Gabor Mate, a Vancouver MD, on addiction of all kinds.
BY EZRA BAYDA
Our aspirations, our calling, our desire for a genuine life,
is to see the truth of who we really are--
that the nature of our Being is connectedness and love,
not the illusion of a separate self to which our suffering clings.
It is from this awareness that Life can flow through us;
the Unconditioned manifesting freely as our conditioned body.
And what is the path?
To learn to reside in whatever life presents.
To learn to attend to all those things
that block the flow of a more open life;
and to see them as the very path of awakening--
all the of the constructs, the identities,
the holding back, the protections,
all of the fears, the self-judgments, the blame--
all that separates us from letting Life be.
And what is the path?
To turn away from constantly seeking comfort
and trying to avoid pain.
To open to the willingness to just be,
in this very moment,
exactly as it is.
No longer ready to be caught
in the relentlessly spinning mind.
Practice is about awakening to the true Self;
no one special to be, nowhere to go.
Residing in the Heart, just Being.
We are so much more than just this body
just this personal drama.
As we cling to our fear,
and our shame, and our suffering,
we forsake the gratitude of living from our natural Being.
So where, in this very moment, do we cling to our views?
Softening around the mind’s incessant judgment,
we can awaken the heart that seeks to be awakened.
And when the veil of separation rises,
Life simply unfolds as it will.
No longer caught in the self-centered dream,
we can give ourselves to others,
like a white bird in the snow.
Time is fleeting.
Don’t hold back.
Appreciate this precious life.
Thanks to Stephen Hicks for sharing this inspiration at his weekly meditation sitting group which I am so grateful for. In Wellness,
It is time for summer fun! Are you reading this through itchy, watery eyes, while your nose runs and your head pounds? Having fun yet? For allergy sufferers, this can be a miserable season.
Like many of my patients, you probably have questions. Must I suffer every year? What causes my allergies? Can I feel better? Must I take handfuls of pills? Is there another way? Can I prevent allergies from returning? Let’s find out.
What Causes Allergies?
It’s not the allergen (tree, grass, pollen, dust, pollutant) itself that cause allergic symptoms that cause us so much grief. It’s our body’s response. The body perceives the allergen as a threat and the immune system cries, “I’m being attacked! Invasion! Call in the army.”
The “army” is the immune system cells which try to eradicate the threat. Mast cells are summoned to release chemicals called histamine. This causes many of the allergic symptoms.
Our body is just trying to protect us and doing its job overly well. This is what causes us so much suffering! So the question is how do we teach our bodies to make peace rather than war with the environment around us?
Treating Allergies – Addressing the Cause
Conventional treatment involves antihistamines which shut down those mast cells. These medications offer relief but they don’t address the cause of why we have allergies in the first place and they don’t prevent allergies from coming back the next year.
In my practice, we take a look at a person’s complete health history to address the cause of allergies which is different depending on their constitution. From there we create an individualized plan. However, there are a few key tips that I have for everyone that suffers from allergies:
Whole Food Nutrition – Unprocessed, whole foods such as whole grains (brown rice, quinoa), vegetables, fruit, lean proteins (fish and chicken), nuts, seeds and healthy unrefined oils (extra virgin olive oil) support a healthy immune system. Limit your intake of dairy which increases mucous production. Avoid processed foods, junk food and refined sugar and flour.
Food as Medicine - Choose foods rich in Vitamin C which help to stabilize mast cells. Eat lots of peppers, broccoli, cauliflower, tomatoes, kale and berries. Quercetin is a bioflavanoid that also stabilizes mast cells and reduces inflammation. Good sources include red onions, the white pith of citrus fruits, apples and lovage. Choose organic foods or go to the farmers’ market and ask them if they spray their fruits and veggies. Many of them do not. Pesticides may exacerbate your allergies. Aim for half of your plate at each meal full of delicious veggies rich in many colors.
Sleep & Exercise – Rest and movement are essential for a healthy immune system and our overall wellness.
Healthy Oils Daily - Omega-3 fatty acids are healthy fats that help to stabilize the membranes of mast cells over time and help to lessen the symptoms of allergies. Good sources are deep sea fish (ex salmon), flaxseeds and walnuts. For a therapeutic dose, I recommend supplementing with fish oils or flaxseed oil. Quality is important. I like Nordic Naturals Cod Liver Oil with Vit D or Udo’s Choice Oil (vegetarian blend).
Nasal Lavage (Neti Pot) – This involves cleansing the nasal passages with a saline solution. This helps to gently wash away dust, pollen and environmental irritants while reducing excess mucous. You can find neti pots at Rama Lotus Yoga Centre or at your local health food or drug store.
Stress Management & Emotional Wellness - Allergies tell us that our bodies find the environment around us threatening. Sometimes this is also true on an emotional level. Perhaps we find our environment stressful or we live with fear and uncertainty. Louise Hay offers this affirmation, “The world is safe and friendly. I am safe. I am at peace with life.”
Herbal Support – My favorite herbs for allergy support are chamomile and nettles. They tell those mast cells to relax. To extract the healing constituents, steep a tablespoon or more of the herb for at least 1-2 hours (or overnight) and drink 1-3 times daily. Adding 1-2 teaspoons of local unpasteurized honey throughout the year can help to prevent allergies. Personally, I like to add honey and almond milk to my nettle tea.
In a world of sneezes, sniffles and watery eyes, I offer you a glimmer of hope. There is a way to reduce symptoms, address the cause and even prevent future allergy outbreaks. This is a journey to which there are no quick fixes and the only side effect is better health and wellbeing.
Honestly, it's not a TOY!
I still giggle when I bring out my stethoscope to examine a patient and they look at me with surprise.
"You're like a REAL doctor!"
No one is more surprised than myself. When I started my journey to become a naturopathic doctor, I had NO IDEA what was ahead. I probably would have hit the hills running.
I thought I was just going to learn about nutrition, acupuncture and herbs. I was clueless that I would perform physical examinations, learn venipuncture (I hate needles), prescribe drugs (only in BC), assess laboratory results and diagnose disease.
The day I had to do a digital rectal exam for the first time was a real shock. You mean I have to do WHAT?!?!?
MIDLIFE: Welcome to a world of New Adventures
The truth is that Naturopathic Doctors have SECRETS that I wish they'd warned me about...
WHO KNEW (not me):
- Naturopathic Doctors go to school for 8 YEARS?!? 9 years in my case. What was I thinking?
- In 4 years we complete 98 courses, which is an equivalent class time to 10 years of full time university or 2.5 bachelor’s degrees. This doesn't even include our clinical education (1,500 hrs) or undergraduate degree
- In order to graduate, we have to pass 250 tests, 75 final exams, 200 assignments, 25 presentations, and 15 practical exams (thanks Dr. Long for calculating our suffering)
- All ND's graduate with a nervous eye twitch and a stress induced ulcer (well, at least we know how to treat it)
And after all this, many people don't even know what a naturopathic doctor is. It's ok, you're not alone. And if they have heard of us, many think "quack", "witch doctor"
, "nonscientific", "fill in the blank". I've heard it all.
Yep, that's me. The QUACK with 9 years of training, an undergrad in biochemistry and a stethoscope.
Honestly, becoming a naturopathic doctor was more challenging and more amazing that I ever imagined. And being an ND is even more wonderful. I am incredibly proud of my profession, the heart and dedication of my colleagues and the high standard of education and regulation that give us our designation of ND. I feel so grateful to say that I'm living my dream.
Dr. Heather Eggleston, BSc, ND, WD
BSc = Bachelor of Science
ND = Naturopathic Doctor
WD = Witch Doctor (I don't actually have this designation but maybe HogWarts is next)