Hearing voices

The idea of hearing voices is one of the most vilified aspects of mental illness.  Hearing voices is frequently attributed to those living with schizophrenia and dissociative identity disorder, but is much more common, and complex, than its portrayal on TV or in media.  Although auditory hallucinations can pose significant problems in some cases, voice-hearing can be positive and even, non-clinical. […]

By | November 7th, 2017|Health Research, Mental Wellness, Philosophy|0 Comments

How I recovered from (postpartum) depression

After my second child was born, I suffered from severe postpartum depression and anxiety. I was completely overcome by my own negative self-talk.  I felt like my whole life was out of control. My thoughts would spiral endlessly through anxiety, fear, despondency, self-deprecation, and then I could top it off with shame for having any [...]

7 best herbs for women’s health

I’ve avoided writing “best of” lists for years but was inspired last weekend by naturopathic elder and women’s health expert Tori Hudson, ND, speaking at a conference here in Toronto. Whenever I’m coming up with a treatment plan for a patient, I always think about using the fewest number of remedies possible to address the whole person sitting across from me. (I also think about the least invasive thing I can start with, though that is for another article.) In other words, I’m looking for one or two herbs to address multiple symptoms or health problems at the same time. John Scudder called these specific medicines. Tori Hudson calls these twofers, threefers, or fourfers. Even though it took a lot of restraint to keep this list small, here are my top 7 herbs for women’s health in honour of twofers and threefers. […]

Making a jewelweed succus

Early one morning I went outside to admire my garden (as I often do) and I noticed how much jewelweed (Impatiens capensis is the native to Ontario species) had taken over and was choking out the lady’s mantle. My kids had clearly done a great job last year of popping the seed pods. Possibly too good a job. There was a lot of jewelweed blocking my view of the lady’s mantle plants which had just started to flower. A little thinning out was needed, so I got to work weeding out the extra jewelweed plants. Naturally, I wasn’t about to waste all that jewelweed. Thankfully, I had a little time before my first patient of the day. In the past I’ve harvested jewelweed and created a mash or juice for immediate use on rashes, stings, bug bites, and especially poison ivy. Conveniently, it often grows right next to poison ivy on riverbanks and wet ground. But since I hadn’t recently been exposed to poison ivy, I decided to make a succus. […]

Fever: to treat or not to treat, that is the question

Fever is one of the most common childhood complaints seen by pediatricians and other healthcare providers. Fever, however, isn’t the real problem. Fever is just part of our natural, and actually quite helpful, physiological response to an infection. Rather than causing harm, fever actually benefits us by slowing the growth and reproduction of viruses and bacteria while increasing the production and circulation of white blood cells. (1,2,3) In generally healthy children (and adults too!), fever stimulates a stronger, more effective immune response. Research shows that fever actually helps the body recover faster, and may result in fewer complications with certain types of infections. (1,3) […]

By | January 17th, 2013|Health Research, Home Treatments, Kids|1 Comment

Neuroplasticity: your brain is playdough

The word neuroplasticity sounds like your brain on playdough. In a sense, it is. Neuroscience has documented how our brains are constantly changing and responding to our environments and lived experiences, changing both anatomically and physiologically. The mantra “neurons that fire together, wire together” has been used in educational and neuroscience circles since the 1990s but how does this relate to mindbody techniques such as meditation, visualizations, and affirmations in the context of general health? Conscious of it or not, we are constantly sending messages to ourselves, to our bodies. This internal dialogue may be related to physical sensations, feeling, moods, addictions, or ways of being in the world. The things we say to ourselves may be loving and self-affirming; or, they may be critical and hurtful. […]

By | July 20th, 2012|Health Research, Philosophy|0 Comments

Placebo medicine

In the world of medical research, placebo is almost always talked about in the negative, as the baseline against which all other treatments are tested. Randomized placebo-controlled clinical trials are often considered the gold standard of study design. According to Oxford Dictionaries Online, placebo is defined as “a medicine or procedure prescribed for the psychological benefit to the patient rather than for any physiological effect.” When surveyed, 1 in 5 Canadian MDs admit to prescribing placebo, or using medications significantly below the active dose. (1) In an American survey of internists and rheumatologists, over 50% of those surveyed had recommended a placebo treatment to a patient in the year prior. (2) […]

By | May 30th, 2012|Health Research, Philosophy|0 Comments

Gluten-free, Sugar-free Zucchini Loaf

Before I had kids, I never gave much thought to sugar-free baking. I rarely baked anyways, and sugar-free was a temporary lifestyle change I only associated with my twice yearly detoxes. All that changed after kids, as I resolved to provide them with a completely sugar-free existence until they were at least 1 year old. During that first year, I experimented, transforming the recipes I had previously loved with sugar into sugar-free favourites. Nowadays I’m more relaxed about sugar ingestion, letting the kids self-moderate at events where sugar is served, primarily at birthday parties and at other people’s houses. Not that they don’t over indulge when given the chance. But they are also the first to declare, “My tummy hurts. I think I ate too much sugar.” […]

By | May 8th, 2012|Health Research, Kids, Recipes|0 Comments

The Healing Power of Nature

A couple of weeks ago, I presented at the Ontario Forestry Association’s Annual Conference. This year’s theme was “Prescription for Nature: Healthy Forests for Healthy People”. It was an inspiring conference, with great speakers from the Back to Nature Network, Tree Canada, and the Kinark Outdoor Centre amongst others. I was asked to speak from a clinical perspective about the relationship between forests and human health, a topic I am very passionate about, as it speaks to the vis medicatrix naturae, or the healing power of nature. It was also a pleasure to present to a different audience than the usual naturopathic students I lecture to on a weekly basis. […]

By | February 23rd, 2012|Health Research, Kids, Nature & Culture|0 Comments

Why Dose Matters

Last week, media outlets were quick to pick up the story of a research study[1] that showed cranberry extract isn’t as effective as antibiotics for the prevention of recurrent urinary tract infections (UTIs). The headlines were consistent: “Antibiotics beat cranberries,”[2] “Don’t bet on cranberry,”[3] and “Cranberries little help”[4].  Unfortunately, what is lacking from many of the medical news reports is a critical review of the study’s methodology and thus the validity and applicability of its results. […]

By | July 30th, 2011|Health Research|2 Comments