Essential oils are everywhere and as a naturopathic doctor I get asked about them a lot! Essential oils are one way of preparing medicinal plants that concentrates specific compounds from the plant. There are lots of plants I prefer to use other ways but there are some essential oils I can’t live without! These essential oil are surprisingly specific. They are from medicinal plants that I love and unlike other plants (not listed here), I prefer to use these plants as essential oils.
Tea tree is my go to oil for a disinfectant. I use it topically for skin infections like acne and use it through out my home to help with cleaning. My favorite spot for tea tree essential oil is my steam mop, I add a drop or two to the cleaning pads to boost the disinfecting power in my kitchen and bathroom!
Eucalyptus is amazing for the respiratory tract and although I’ve always liked it for colds I’ve become a bit obsessed since my little one was born. I use a couple drops in a diffuser when she has a cough and she wakes less from coughing (which means more sleep for everyone)! I also throw a drop in my shower when I have a respiratory infection myself. A word of caution here, Eucalyptus essential oil is a potent medicine and something to take seriously. Store this one high up and make sure your little ones can’t get near the diffuser, it doesn’t take much of this essential oil taken internally to be dangerous.
Lavender is all round one of my favorite herbs. My neighbor grows a bunch of lavender on either side of their sidewalk and it is, year round, my favorite part of my walk home from work because it’s such an intoxicating smell. Lavender is a great anxiolytic; even just the smell of lavender has been shown to reduce blood pressure! A few drops in a bath with a cup of epsom salts is my go to recipe for relaxation and good sleep.
Next up in our Practitioner Profile Series is Dr. Lori Jones, Doctor of Chiropractic. Here's a little peek into her life story, from a conversation I had with her recently. For more clinical information on Dr. Jones you can visit her biography on the website.
Q: Where was your home town, and what was your favorite thing about it?
A: I grew up in North Bay, Ontario. My favorite things about it were the beautiful lakes and outdoor sports readily available. I water skied and tubed on Lake Temagami where we had a cottage and swam for hours in this isolated, cold beautiful northern lake. The house I grew up in had a ski hill right behind it and an ice rink right across the lake so in the winter I was figure skating, playing hockey or downhill skiing.
Q: What made you enter your field of practice?
A: I would say what drew me to chiropractic was the injuries I sustained while freestyle skiing, and racing. My mother was also in a significant car accident when I was 16 where she was hit by a drunk driver and sustained a bad head injury. Chiropractic was something that she used on her road to recovery and it helped her reach her wellness goals.
Q: What is the most rewarding experience you have had in your practice?
A: I would say it was when I performed a lecture that a patient attended and subsequently came to see me in office. She was in her mid 70's, she was such a sweet woman. She had been in pain in her mid back for about 25 years and after seeing my lecture came in to see what I could do for her. I took x-rays and adjusted her, on the next visit she came in crying saying that she was pain free and had suffered for 25 years and couldn't believe how good she felt after one treatment. It was so great to see someone who hadn't been exposed to chiropractic take a chance on something different out of their comfort zone (at 70 something years old), and have such amazing results so quickly. She is an amazing woman, and I've been blessed to have her be a part of my practice for many years thereafter.
Q: What is the most interesting place you have visited?
A: In 2009 my husband and I (before kids) travelled for 3 weeks to South East Asia. I was in the wedding of a friend I met in University who was from Singapore. So we visited and attended her wedding reception in Singapore and then went to Malaysia and Thailand. We took subways, ate at local restaurants, had many massages and late nights. It was a wonderful trip where we learned how to travel on our own in a faraway place without knowing the language. We learned so much and gained such freedom. I would love to go back to Thailand, it was an amazing place with such beauty.
Q: What is your favorite pastime away from the clinic?
A: Things have certainly changed for me over the years. Ten years ago I would have said it was the many sports that I participated in. Now I would say it is spending time with my husband and 3 young children. They are just getting to ages where we can now do lots of fun activities together. My 3 year old was on a harness downhill skiing in front of me this year singing away. It was a beautiful thing!!!
Q: How has your practice changed over the years?
A: As my family has grown so have my interests. I have three children and the first was a breech that resulted in a Caesarean section. After this experience I expanded my knowledge base to provide prenatal care, and became certified in Webster, to be able to help those that are in similar situations to the one that I experienced. It has become a passion and large part of my practice, which I love.
One of the side effects of stress is that a lot of people carry it in their bodies. One of the common places is in the neck and shoulders. I (Dr. Katie) sat down with Leslie Brown RMT to discuss how massage can help with managing one of the most common physical side effects I see of stress in my practice - tension headaches.
What are tension headaches?
Tension headaches are trigger points that refer pain into your head. Trigger points are a tight hyper irritable spot that most people call knots. Each muscle has a different location and referral pattern. For example some one might experience pain behind their eyes and someone else might have pain in the back of the head. A massage therapist will know what muscles to treat based on where your tension headache is. Active trigger points will constantly refer pain into your head, while latent trigger points only create pain when you press on the trigger point.
Why do people get them?
Neck problems are so prevalent. So many people have poor posture and are so stressed! Also repetitive computer and cell phone use affects posture and causes neck pain and headaches. These headaches are very prevalent and exhausting. They take away from your focus and energy and impact sleep because when you have pain you don't have restorative sleep, which impacts your overall healing.
How do you treat tension headaches?
I have a lot of experience with treating headaches and neck pain because of my work with people who have been in motor vehicle accidents. Many people do not only come in when they have a headache, they come in for prevention and maintenance. Typical treatment would be 1/month to counteract lifestyle factors such as ongoing postural and stress tension. It is also beneficial as time for self care and to help with relaxation. If you are getting more than 3 headaches a year, treatment can help reduce frequency and intensity of your headaches.
This picture shows some common referral patterns of the neck muscles. The X's are trigger point locations in the muscles and the red areas show where the referral pain (tension headaches) are felt.
Leslie Brown is a Registered Massage Therapist at Norfolk Chiropractic Wellness Centre. To book a massage with Leslie, or chat with Dr. Katie about multidisciplinary headache care call 519 827-0040, or click on the links below to book online.
Anxiety is a funny thing, while most people think of it in terms of worry and excessive thoughts, many manifestations of anxiety are very physical. In fact, especially for men, these may be the only or primary symptom. These symptoms can be caused by many things, and it’s always important to look at physiologic as well as psychologic causes, however, anxiety, especially in men, can get overlooked as the cause despite the fact it is very common. And so with that, here are 5 Common Symptoms that might actually be anxiety.
Trouble sleeping sucks, and it’s tempting to write off insomnia as well, insomnia, but if the reason you can’t sleep is actually anxiety, treating the anxiety is a more effective way to get you better sleep. So if you tried melatonin and “it didn’t work for you” it’s probably not treating the cause of your anxiety. Herbs that calm the mind and ease anxiety are much more likely to help you sleep that even herbs that are for sleep if your insomnia is because of anxiety.
Anxiety can make all kinds of pain worse but headaches are a special kind of overlap because it’s so easy to overlook. I find that headaches from anxiety are often diagnosed as tension headaches, which although not untrue, leaves out a possible treatment option. If your tension headaches are not responding to usual therapy, consider that natural anxiety treatments may be helpful at reducing headache pain.
Having to go...
Running to the bathroom because your bowels are going to betray you is no fun. It’s even less fun when it makes it hard to leave the house. Here is the thing, it may not be “IBS” and even when it is, it still may be anxiety (a LOT of people have both). Treating the anxiety calms the nervous system, including the enteric nervous system which is in charge of making you “go”.
Having to go (the other one)
Perhaps not quite as distressing as having to run for the bathroom, having to pee ALL THE TIME is still super inconvenient. When the usual concerns (like infection and prostate issues) have been ruled out, its time to rule out anxiety before you just label your bladder as irritable too!
Trouble Breathing (Even just when working out)
Everybody knows that difficulty breathing can be related to anxiety, but most people think of it as panic attacks and not being able to breathe. In fact, exercise intolerance, or having trouble breathing when working out, is common in anxiety and can be overcome with a combination of physical and psychological support!
The thing about all these anxiety symptoms is that they have an alternate treatment option. By treating the underlying anxiety (when present) you are treating the CAUSE of the symptom, not just suppressing the symptom itself.
If you are ready to find the root cause of your symptoms click on this link to book your complimentary 15 minute consultation with Dr. Katie.
I'm Dr. Alaina Gair, Naturopathic Doctor. I am passionate about helping women understand and optimize their breast (and overall) health! According to the Canadian Cancer Society, 1 in 8 Canadian women will be diagnosed with breast cancer in her lifetime. An estimated 26,300 Canadian women and 230 men will be diagnosed this year. That’s 72 women every day. Being that October is Breast Cancer Awareness month I felt this was the perfect time to share some quick tips that you can put into action today!
I created this blog to help you have:
• A clear understanding of what risks are within your control
• Simple strategies for optimizing breast health
• Peace of mind knowing that you are doing what you can to stay healthy
Let’s get started!
Did you know that pesticides, herbicides and fungicides are carcinogenic?
You can limit your exposure by investing in organic produce when picking foods that have the highest pesticide content.
For 2017, here are the fruits and vegetables that were found to be highest in pesticide content, according to the Environmental Working Group:
Eating a diet high in vegetables and fruit has been linked to decreased risk of developing breast cancer. Aim for 2-3 servings of fruit, 4-6 servings of vegetables and 7 or more servings of other plant foods like whole grains, beans, peas and roots.
Eat a rainbow - variety is important!
Dark green vegetables contain chlorophyll which helps to detoxify the blood, thereby decreasing risk for breast cancer. Colourful berries contain ellagic acid – a compound that actually blocks the growth of cancer cells. Members of the cabbage family contain indole-3-carbinol – an important ingredient for managing estrogen in the body.
Filtering your tap water can also help to maintain healthy breasts. Chlorine has been suggested as a cause of 1-2% of cancers in Canada and a simple Brita filter will remove 99% of this chemical!
Pump Up Protein
For protein, stick to lean meats like chicken and fish. These contain healthy fats – omega 3 and 9. Ideally these should be free-range, organic or wild caught. Red meat isn’t totally off the table when it comes to reducing risk for breast health. BUT, it’s quite important to buy grass-fed, organic beef. Red meat animals are particularly good at concentrating pesticides and herbicides from their feed. This is stored in the saturated fat in the meat we consume.
I’m sure most of you already know that keeping sugar to a minimum is beneficial for your health. Diets high in processed foods dump sugar into the blood stream following a meal. The liver responds by releasing insulin-like growth factors which makes cells double and are major stimulators for cancer growth and spread.
Lift Your Lifestyle
Try a few different activities and then pick one you really enjoy and can stick with! The best outcomes for breast cancer prevention are seen with 60 minutes of exercise 5 times a week, but benefits are seen with just 30 minutes of brisk walking daily. This simple strategy decreases risk of developing breast cancer by 18%!
Women's bodies process alcohol differently than men's, and therefore women should keep consumption to a minimum – no more than 1 alcoholic drink per day. Research demonstrates that daily consumption of 2-3 drinks results in an increased risk of breast cancer of 43%.
Chemicals at Home
Try making your own cleaners and stick to personal care products that don’t contain parabens, phthalates or sulfates. These chemicals build up in fat tissue (including the breasts) and have been shown to be carcinogenic. Chemical-free products are available at health food stores and your skin will thank you for investing in healthier options! One product that really goes a long way is castile soap. Use it as body wash, all purpose cleaner or laundry detergent.
All-Purpose Cleaner Recipe:
1 cup distilled water
15 drops essential oil –
(Pick your favorites, I use peppermint, lemon and lavender)
1/2 tbsp. castile soap
This makes an effective, non-toxic cleaner for your home. Remember, if it's not biodegradable, it's probably degrading you. If it's harmful to the environment, it's harmful to you!
Stress management, like exercise, comes in many forms. It is important you to pick a system that resonates with you, that brings you peace, and that is something you could stick with every day.
We can predict cancer risk by assessing whether a person skips breakfast, eats between meals and has irregular hours of sleep. The extent to which this impacts development of cancer remains unknown, but there is no question that factor represents a level of chaos in daily life. Chaos adds stress physically and mentally, so it is important not to allow this into your life.
Consider some of the options below, try them out and then commit to a practice that brings you peace.
Some Stress Management Techniques
Guided meditation - there are many apps available to help you develop meditation as a skill. Consider trying out Buddhify (an app). This product has guided meditations to bring mindfulness to almost any daily activity.
Other activities include:
• Diaphragmatic breathing
• Bubble bath
• Walking in nature
• Spa day
• Make up your own!
Some people need more help with developing a stress management practice - be patient with yourself! This takes time to become routine.
I hope you have found some helpful information that you can put into action and start optimizing your health and wellness today!
Yours in Breast Health,
Dr. Alaina Gair, ND
* Please remember, this blog does not constitute medical advice and does not act as substitution for seeing a medical doctor or naturopathic doctor to discuss your health.
If you would like to book an appointment with Dr. gair to discuss Breast Health, or any other health concerns please click on this link:
The resting position of the jaw and tongue is when your upper and lower teeth are slightly apart, and your tongue is gently resting on the roof of your mouth just behind the upper central teeth.
What is the TMJ?
The acronym TMJ stands for “Temporomandibular Joint”. TMJ dysfunction is a disorder of the muscles of mastication (chewing), the temporomandibular joints and associated structures.
Causes of TMJ Dysfunction:
• Predisposition (genetics or trauma to the face, neck or jaw)
• Tissue alteration (postural dysfunction, spasms, trigger points, etc.)
• Stress (increase in tone of the chewing muscles due to jaw clenching, tooth grinding, or habitual gum chewing)
• Pain in the jaw, face, or ear area
• A clicking or popping sound when opening or closing the jaw
• Headaches (commonly felt in the temples or forehead) or earaches
• Jaw that “gets stuck”, locks, or goes out of place
What can Massage Therapy do?
Massage treatment can be very effective to reduce the muscle tension and trigger points in the jaw, neck and shoulders. These areas will commonly be tender if TMJ dysfunction is present, but working with a RMT to meet your goals (decreasing pain or reducing headaches) will provide positive results. Your dentist will commonly prescribe a mouth guard to wear at night to prevent your teeth from wearing down from chronic grinding, if necessary. Massage treatment in all of these areas will also help to reduce stress and improve posture.
Place the tips of your fingers on your cheekbones, then move your fingers down (they should be about an inch in front of your ears). If you clench your teeth with your fingers there, you will feel the masseter muscles engaged (the main muscles of chewing). You can then make small circles with your fingers to massage the area.
It is common to forget about the jaw muscles that we use for eating and talking all day long, but they can be a large contributing factor to neck pain or headaches. If you think massage therapy treatment would be beneficial for you, please do not hesitate to contact our clinic for an appointment.
Back to school colds are the worst! It seems like you are just getting into the swing of things and all of the sudden one (or more!) member of your house starts sniffling. At best it’s inconvenient, at it’s worst people are missing out on school, work and sleep all for a crummy virus you know is going to show it’s head again next year! The germs are inevitable, most children get 7-10 colds per year until they are 7 years old, and as beneficial as they are for helping their immune systems grow up it’s normal to want to minimize sickness and absenteeism. Here are our top five tips for boosting your immune system, naturally.
Get to Bed
A good night's sleep is essential for an optimal immune system. While each individual has their own sleep requirements, adults need at least 7 hours of sleep, and kids need a minimum of 9-14 hours of sleep depending on their age. To ensure a good nights sleep, create a consistent bedtime and follow a bedtime routine that is free of screen time. This will help support good sleep hormones for better sleep.
Say No to Sugar
Sugar enters our blood stream quickly when we eat it. This increase in blood sugar suppresses our immune system. Also sugar negatively impacts the good bacteria living in the intestines (AKA the microbiome). The microbiome has an important role in regulating the immune system. By avoiding processed sugar you avoid both the blood sugar related suppression of the immune system and also support the microbiome in it’s natural regulation of the immune system!
Stress also has a large negative effect on the immune system. When we are stressed our bodies produce a hormone called cortisol. This hormone suppresses the immune system which decreases our ability to fight off infections. Simple stress management exercises, such as breathing deeply or taking a dog for a walk, can help a lot in lowering cortisol levels and keeping the immune system healthy buy keeping stress at bay.
Practice Hand Hygiene
There is a reason public health officials are always talking about hand washing, it works! Washing your hands is a great way to prevent the spread of many infections including the common cold. Teach your children to cough or sneeze into a tissue or their elbow and to wash their hands after doing so. Have children wash their hands after they get home from school. There is no need to use anti-bacterial soap or hand sanitizer, regular soap and water works effectively.
Your immune system cells travel through the blood and their own network of pathways in your body called the lymphatic system. In order to keep the lymphatic system moving well its important to stay hydrated. Make sure everyone in your family drinks plenty of water. Fresh fruits and vegetables are also important sources of water so include as many as possible in the diet. Immune cells act as “surveillance” in the body, they look for infection. In order for them to do this job they need to be moving. Drinking lots of water helps them do just that!
In addition to lifestyle changes, there are other naturopathic tools, like herbs, nutritional supplements and acupuncture, that can be helpful in supporting the immune system. To find out how naturopathic medicine could help you, book your complimentary meet and greet appointment today.
Next up in our “Practitioner and Staff Profile” Blog series is Dr. Katie Thomson Aitken, Naturopathic Doctor. Here is a little ”Take 5” interview I did with her, to give you a better idea about just who Dr. Katie is, and what some of her favourite things are (and are not!)
Q: What made you enter your field of practice?
A: I decided to become a naturopathic doctor when I was 12. I was the kid with the constant runny nose, I was always sick and had constant ear infections and frequent asthma attacks. My health changed dramatically when I saw a naturopathic doctor. I felt called to join the profession and have enjoyed learning about naturopathic medicine ever since. This short video talks more about "why I do what I do"
Q: What is your favourite book?
A: The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho. Only very rarely does a book come along that is so profound and so real that it changes who you are as a person. This book came into my life when I needed it and I've been working on listening to my heart ever since.
Q: Do you have a favourite sports team? Which one?
A: I have a confession to make. I have never been to a professional sporting event. Literally never. No sports. I also don't watch sports on TV. I like participating in sports, I love to ski and do yoga; I even run sometimes. My husband has convinced me to try curling and ultimate frisbee, both which I enjoy playing. But I'm just not into watching professional sports as a hobby!
Q: What has been the best year of your life so far? why?
A: This is a tough one but I'm going to pick 2016. It had some life changing bucket list moments; I became a mother and I confirmed my faith, both things I've been looking forward to for some time. It was full of a lot of joy; I celebrated as many of my dearest friends got married (Half of my own wedding party!) and spent a lot of time with my family. But none of those things is really why I picked it. 2016 was a year of stepping further into myself, and making choices that allow me to live my life in way that feels authentic and full of joy. And so while 2017 honestly has had some very difficult moments so far, I'm optimistic that by this time next year my answer will have changed and that, from a place gratitude, my best year "so far" will be 2017.
Q: What is your favourite pastime away from the clinic?
A: One of my favourite things to do is cook. I love making everything from tomatoes on toast to a multi-course roast dinner. I find cooking to be such a full body sensory experience. It's very grounding and, when I have time to cook alone in the kitchen, quite meditative. It's also been a rewarding hobby in that the more time I spend doing it the more delicious food I get to eat! If you want to hang out and cook with me, Dr. Gair and I share our seasonal menu plan in our Nourish Facebook group here: https://www.facebook.com/groups/1266867286745284/
Welcome to our newest Blog Series – our “Practitioner and Staff Profiles”, a series designed to let you get to know our awesome team a little bit better! Recently I connected with Dr. Dean MacDonald, owner and senior Chiropractor here at Norfolk Chiropractic, and asked him a few questions, and his answers (and some insights into what makes him tick!) follow.
Q: Where was your home town, and what were your favorite things about it?
A: I was born and raised in Waterloo, Ontario. My favorite thing about growing up in Kitchener-Waterloo was playing competitive sports. I played rep hockey, soccer and baseball throughout my childhood. This taught me a lot of great life lessons and I made many lifelong friends through the process. Waterloo has always been a great youth sports town with a lot of parks and great sporting facilities. Waterloo was also very supportive of their local competitive sports teams. I was fortunate enough to have played Junior B hockey in Waterloo and won the Provincial Championship Sutherland Cup in 1990-91 with the Waterloo Siskins. Another great thing about growing up in Waterloo was having two great Universities in town. I went on to study and play Varsity Hockey for the University of Waterloo Warriors from 1991-95, where I achieved Academic All-Canadian status and graduated with an honours Degree in Kinesiology, which ultimately led me to my career as a Doctor of Chiropractic.
Q: What made you enter your field of practice?
A: The reason that I became interested in chiropractic was due to a personal experience I had with it when I was a teenager. In my early teen years, while playing competitive hockey, I began to have problems with my lower back and began seeing a chiropractor in Waterloo. I had great results from my treatment, but I also learned about the spine and nervous system and became very interested in how the body worked. This interest in the body led me to study Kinesiology (Human Kinetics – the study of Human movement) at the University of Waterloo, and eventually to my interest in Chiropractic as a profession. I have been under regular chiropractic care since my first experience with it as a teenager and am grateful to have chosen such a great profession to be a member of. My first chiropractor – Dr. Jeff Goldsworthy was definitely a huge influence on me and later became a mentor for me in seeking out a career in Chiropractic and I feel fortunate to now call him my colleague in practice.
Q: What is the most rewarding experience you have had in your practice?
A: I don’t think I could list just one experience as the most rewarding… Sometimes it is the small day to day things that are the most important and most rewarding for me in practice. The most rewarding experiences I have in my practice are being able to help people achieve better health and “Wellness” every day. Being a chiropractor, I treat many different conditions, but the most rewarding is being able to help people become healthier through “chiropractic adjustments”. Chiropractic adjustments remove spinal misalignments or “subluxations” which interfere with proper nerve function in the body. Correcting these misalignments improves nerve function, allowing people to achieve better health and function, helping them to heal.
The following link is a video of a quote from one of the founders of the chiropractic profession which best exemplifies the idea that sometimes it is the small things that can make a big difference. This famous chiropractic quote is called “The big idea”.
Q: Do you have a favorite sports team? Which one?
A: Although I grew up playing hockey, and have always been a fan of the Leafs, the Toronto Blue Jays are my favorite sports team. I am not sure why I love watching the Jays so much, but I think it goes back to when they won the back to back World Series Championships in 1992 and 1993. I was in University then and fell in love with baseball and especially following the Jays and have been a hard-core fan ever since.
Q: What are your favorite pastimes away from the clinic?
A: My favorite pastimes away from the clinic are fitness and travel. I am a very active person, so staying fit and healthy is a priority for me in my life. In the winter months, I continue to play ice hockey 3 times per week, as well as work out (lift weights) 2-3 times per week. In the summer months, I enjoy golf, biking and running. I completed my first half marathon in 2011 and my first full marathon in 2012 and have continued to occasionally participate in various trail running half marathons since then as a way to stay fit and help satisfy my travel bug.
It's that time of year again! Are you looking for a place to drop off food bank items? We are collecting donations for our friends at Chalmers Community Services Centre, right up until December 21st. A full sheet of Chalmers' Wish List items can be found in the clinic! From all of us at Norfolk Chiropractic, thank you for your generosity in helping us to help others! #BeGood #DoGood