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Posts tagged ‘naturopath’

What is Naturopathic Medicine?

Christine-1Navigating the world of complementary and alternative health can be confusing and daunting. It’s difficult to understand what different practitioners can offer and how they are trained.  Unfortunately, this gap in education and awareness can lead many people to miss out on the care they want and need.  I will start by breaking down the mystery that is Naturopathic Medicine.

The Premise:

Naturopathic Medicine is a primary health care system that integrates modern science with traditional, natural medical practices. The principal objective is to treat the underlying root cause of disease and to promote health and vitality as a preventative, lifelong goal.  It is also a way to treat common health concerns in a gentle, natural manner.

The Training:

In Ontario, licensed Naturopathic Doctors have at least seven years of post-secondary education, graduate from an accredited educational institution, receive their professional licensing from the Board of Directors of Drugless Therapy-Naturopathy (BDDT-N), and complete and pass rigorous international licensing exams (NPLEX).

Naturopathic Guiding Principles:

The primary goal for a naturopathic doctor is to determine and treat the underlying cause of disease rather than simply managing the symptoms. The symptoms are viewed as expressions of the body’s natural attempt to heal and are important indicators of where the body needs to be supported rather than suppressed.

Naturopathic Doctors seek to treat the individual. Rather than treating only one organ or system, the naturopathic doctor treats the whole person. Your physical health, family history, nutritional status, lifestyle, environmental and emotional stresses are all carefully evaluated to devise a treatment plan that is unique to you.

The body has a remarkable ability to sustain and heal itself.  Naturopathic doctors respect the power of the body to heal and seek to facilitate the body’s innate healing capacity. This may include removing obstacles to healing or using tools to strengthen and build up the body.

Naturopathic Treatment:

Naturopaths are trained in lifestyle medicine. By working with you, they can find a nutrition, exercise and lifestyle plan that elevates your health while fitting into your routine. By analyzing your diet, NDs are trained to address areas of deficiency and to find simple, sustainable ways to improve your energy and overall health.

As for treating the individual, naturopathic doctors look at your unique symptom pattern, identify health risks and devise a nutritional plan that matches your constitution. They can augment this by using targeted nutritional supplements to achieve better health.

Naturopathic Doctors have many other “Tools in their Toolbox.” These include: traditional Chinese medicine, acupuncture, herbal medicine, homeopathy, hydrotherapy, massage therapy and chiropractic manipulation.  As well, most naturopaths participate in continuing education which may broaden their scope to include other therapies such as intravenous vitamin infusions, Bowen therapy, reiki, dark field microscopy and more.

A common question asked of naturopathic doctors is… what do naturopathic doctors treat? NDs are primary healthcare practitioners, and can treat the same conditions as a family doctor, including acute and chronic health conditions. In the event that an ND is unable to treat your condition, they will refer you to someone who can. Naturopathic Doctors often work on either end of the health spectrum. They are experts at helping those who are proactive and want to achieve optimal well-being by improving their diet and augmenting their health with targeted nutritional supplements and therapies such as acupuncture and hydrotherapy. Naturopathic Doctors also treat many individuals whom the conventional medical community is unable to assist (e.g. chronic disease cases). Naturopaths can be helpful in many different conditions; it is difficult to put them in a box. Instead, I will provide you with an example of how naturopathic medicine can help.

Meet Joe:

“Joe was having stomach difficulties.  For years, Joe had experienced bloating, gas, diarrhea and abdominal cramping.  After extensive medical investigation, his doctor diagnosed him with Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS). IBS is a diagnosis of exclusion, meaning that he doesn’t have any identifiable organic cause for the symptoms he is experiencing.  As a last resort, Joe decided to visit a Naturopathic Doctor who looked at all of the testing he had already been through and performed an intake and physical exam. During the intake, Joe admitted that many of the symptoms originated when he was at university. Joe’s stress levels rose dramatically and his nutritional intake diminished. Upon further examination, it was determined that two factors were at play here. Joe was identified as having a milk allergy.  All the pizza and ice cream he was consuming in residence was not helping. Secondly, Joe was experiencing a lot of stress, especially around his exam periods. By eliminating dairy, healing his gut, teaching Joe stress management techniques and using targeted nutritional supplements to improve his stress… Joe’s symptoms entirely disappeared. Joe was relieved and shocked that simple changes to his diet and lifestyle could make such impressive changes in the way he felt. Not only were his stomach symptoms resolved, he also slept better and had significantly more energy than he had previously.”

By looking at Joe as an individual, his Naturopathic Doctor was able to address the root cause of Joe’s problems. His symptoms were representative of a multifactorial problem, involving stress and diet.  Given that everybody is unique, the diet and lifestyle strategies had to be catered to his unique constitution. Joe now understands why he is experiencing these symptoms and how to better manage them himself.

How does Naturopathic Medicine fit into my current healthcare?

Naturopathic doctors are considered primary care practitioners, meaning they can be a first contact in any health concern.  However, I believe in integrative care, meaning Naturopathic Doctors can work with your team of healthcare practitioners to augment any treatment you may be receiving.  For example, if you are working with a Medical Doctor, NDs can work with your MD to help achieve optimal health.

John has been diagnosed with high blood pressure. His medical doctor is recommending medication, but John wants to examine if there are other ways to improve his condition. By working with a Naturopathic Doctor, John has addressed his diet, exercise regime and stress concerns which were contributing to his high blood pressure.  John’s Naturopathic Doctor was able to coordinate care with his Medical Doctor and slowly reduce his need for medication.

For more information on naturopathic medicine and how it can help you attain optimal health for life, visit the Canadian Association of Naturopathic Doctors (CAND):; Naturopathic Doctors Ontario (NDO):; The Canadian College of Naturopathic Medicine (CCNM):; The Board of Directors of Drugless Therapy – Naturopathy (BDDT-N):

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The Ottawa Integrative Cancer Centre

By Dr. Christine Davis, B.Sc., Naturopathic Doctor, Magna Health Centre, Aurora, Ontario

Today, it is challenging to find someone whose life hasn’t been touched by the effects of cancer.  Cancer is immensely prevalent and it permeates all cultural and social divides.  The Canadian Cancer Society estimated there were 177,800 new cases of cancer (excluding 74,100 non-melanoma skin cancers) and 75,000 deaths from cancer in Canada in 2011.[1]  Despite this immense impact, cancer still poses a massive health risk. Not only is cancer a debilitating disease, but cancer treatments are often uncomfortable and incapacitating.

Are we doing all we can to help to prevent cancer and keep those people with cancer as healthy and comfortable as possible? Are we taking the necessary steps to prevent cancer before it takes hold?

There are ways that we can help to make cancer treatment less debilitating and cut down the probability of recurrence. I think we need to look outside the box of traditional cancer prevention and cancer care and ask how we can better serve this population.

“Integrative cancer care enhances conventional therapies and bolsters the prevention of recurrence. In addition, integrativeoncology provides systematic strategies to prevent cancer through lifestyle modification, such as nutrition and exercise. Recognizing synergy from a whole systems approach, integrative oncology provides new models for dealing with the epidemic of cancer.”

-Stephen Sagar, BSc (Hons), MB, BS, MRCP, FRCR, FRCPC, Radiation Oncologist, Past President, Society of Integrative Oncology, Professor of Oncology, McMaster University, Hamilton, Ontario

In November 2011, the first oncology center in Eastern Canada was opened: the Ottawa Integrative Cancer Centre (OICC), a not- for-profit organization that is governed by the Canadian College of Naturopathic Medicine. The OICC seeks to treat the whole person, using complementary therapies alongside conventional treatments. It works to provide education about prevention, support during treatment and prevention of cancer recurrence. The OICC works to optimize patients’ wellness, using innovative integrative treatment approaches.

The OICC provides evidence-informed integrative and preventative cancer care, research and education across the spectrum of prevention and survivorship. OICC emphasizes quality of life, care of the spirit, and active prevention of the disease.

The OICC is not only a center for clinical practice and education, but also a research facility striving to find the most effective and innovative evidence-based strategies to manage cancer.  Unlike pharmaceutical companies, natural health product manufacturers and practitioners of alternate therapies do not have the money to fund large clinical trials. This has often been a major deterrent, as the language of the conventional medical community is based on Randomized Clinical Trials.

The OICC is taking the lead on this, providing clarity and confidence to those searching for alternatives and sifting through the maze of alternative options to better improve patients’ well-being and to optimize their health. The OICC is also a trusted resource for health care practitioners looking to provide answers to their cancer patients on the safety and efficacy of the complementary treatments they are undergoing. Lack of understanding and often fear in the conventional medical community can deter patients from getting the alternative treatments they desire. The OICC is providing a model of integration that can be extrapolated to the entire medical community.

“I applaud the OICC’s commitment to being a leader in integrative oncology research. From interactions with mutual patients, I realize that the clinical care provided by the OICC has real value to the people under our care, and that this care can and should be expanded to others. With the research that we’ve done together already and the approach you take in science and clinical care, I believe the OICC will achieve great prominence as a valuable resource for patients.”

-Andrew J.E. Seely, MD, PhD, FRCSC, Associate Scientist, Ottawa Health Research Institute, Associate Professor of Surgery, University of Ottawa, Research Director, Division of Thoracic Surgery and Critical Care Medicine, The Ottawa Hospital

Seminars focus on information about nutrition, lifestyle factors, and stress management. OICC also works with the Ottawa Regional Cancer Foundation, providing workshops, seminars and online learning.  As well, the OICC has a special focus on environmental contributors to cancer and educates people on how to avoid this exposure.

The team of regulated health care practitioners at the OICC is truly integrative.  Specialties include naturopathic oncology, family therapy, physiotherapy, psychiatry, nutrition, acupuncture, massage therapy, exercise therapy and yoga. The OICC helps to decrease the side-effects of cancer treatment; improve energy, well-being and overall quality of health; balance the body’s immune system; and support the mind, body and spirit in the healing process. The OICC uses natural non-toxic therapies in collaboration with allied health care providers, medical oncologists, radiation oncologists and surgeons.

As well, the OICC seeks to bridge the gap between conventional and complementary oncology services. It is estimated that over 50% of cancer patients embrace complementary therapies, but most don’t communicate choices with conventional oncologists. The OICC has partnered with the Ottawa Regional Cancer Foundation and the Ottawa Hospital Research Institute to make integrative medicine a reality.

An Overview video of the OICC

For more information on how to become a patient at the OICC, cancer resources or cancer research, visit

Published by Ottawa Life Magazine:

Cosmetic Acupuncture now being offered at the Magna Health Centre!

Cosmetic acupuncture helps to eliminate fine lines and makes deeper lines appear softer.  It can also help to minimize dark circles, puffy eyes, double chin, sagging skin, and drooping eyelids.

Other benefits include:

  • Increases circulation and therefore oxygenation of the skin
  • Increases collagen production
  • Tightens the pores, and brightens the eyes
  • Keeps acne skin under control
  • Nourishes the skin, giving you a healthy complexion with a natural glow
  • Moisturizes the skin from the inside, and gives rosy cheeks to people with dull, tired looking skin

The course of the treatment is between 10-12 sessions.  This will be done 1-3 times a week for best results.  Each individual will respond differently to the treatment depending on their age and lifestyle.  Visible results will be noticeable after 6 -7 sessions.  Maintenance maybe needed once every month.  In addition, Cosmetic Acupuncture will maintain the effectiveness of Botox, so it will save you a couple injections per year.

For more information, call the Magna Health Centre at (905) 726-7470.  Or come in for a free 15 minute consult to learn more!

Keep Cortisol at Bay for Better Health

Christine Davis, Naturopathic Doctor

We all know that stress isn’t good for our bodies… so what can we do about it? Stress can come in many forms. Many of us think only of the psychological stress, caused by family, work, life events or persistent worrying. However, physical stress is just as real and just as dangerous for our bodies. Lack of exercise, poor diet, food allergies or even weather changes can be a physiological stressor for our bodies. In contrast, excessive exercise can also be a major stressor for our bodies.

So why is stress bad for us? Stress can impact a multitude of physiological reactions in our bodies. Symptoms of excessive stress can be; insomnia, fatigue, weight changes (especially an accumulation of fat around the abdomen), headache, respiration problems, heart irregularities, digestive disturbances (e.g., bloating, gas, diarrhea, constipation), and psychological upsets (e.g. anger, irritability, rage, depression, anxiety). These stress responses can result in further complications. For example, stress can disrupt sleep, which can result in hormonal imbalances and will also trigger more stress. Many hormones are up-regulated during sleep, including growth hormone and melatonin. Growth hormone is an anabolic hormone that helps to build muscle and decrease fat mass.

Acute stress produces the hormone cortisol in the adrenal glands. Cortisol serves the body in non-stressful times and when called to respond to an acute crisis, however, it can cause damage when levels are high during chronic stress. Cortisol suppresses the immune system, in particular white blood cells, which is why it is used as an anti-inflammatory medication. Cortisol is also a catabolic steroid hormone, meaning it breaks things down (versus anabolic hormones, which are building hormones). It is known to break down collagen, bone and muscle. This can result in osteoporosis, joint pain and in severe cases, abdominal obesity and loss of muscle mass in the extremities.

How do we combat stress? There are many strategies to help cope with stress. Firstly, it is important to recognize what causes you stress and try to reduce or manage this stressor. If the stress is modifiable (e.g. time management), then take steps to manage this. For example, if your stress is caused by a busy lifestyle, make sure to create lists, assume tasks to reasonable expectation and to delegate whenever possible. Participating in relaxing activities, such as yoga, pilates, baths, singing, baking, laughing, and journaling can also help. Seek out care when necessary including massage, acupuncture or body-work. Take regular vacations, even media vacations from blackberries and e-mail can be helpful.

Another useful relaxation practice is deep breathing. Breathe in for a count of 7, and out for a count of 11. Breathe into your belly and expand you diaphragm, rather than your chest and shoulders. Repeat as often as needed- ideally 10-15 min 3 times per day.

There are also nutrients and supplements that can help. Magnesium supplementation can help to reduce cortisol after aerobic exercise. Omega-3 Fatty acids can help manage psychological stress. Vitamin C and B-vitamins dampen cortisol release in response to mental and physical stressors. Licorice (glycyrriza glabra) can help to build up the adrenals after chronic stress (don’t take this if you have high blood pressure). Herbs such as Ashwaganda and Rhodiola are known as adaptogens, meaning they can help you adapt to stress. L-Theanine supports normal brain alpha-wave activity, resulting in a calming effect to the sympathetic nervous system. It is always best to consult a medical professional when beginning a new supplement regime.

Water, Your First Step Towards Optimal Health

Proper hydration is imperative for optimal health. Without proper hydration, your body will become dehydrated, which means your body does not have enough water to function at peak capacity. You lose water every day when you breathe, sweat and go to the bathroom. The water content in the foods you eat and the beverages you drink combine to hydrate your body. Drinking 8 cups of water each day is usually sufficient, but more may be needed if you are participating in vigorous activities.

Drinking water keeps your body tissues moist, flushes out harmful toxins and makes nutrients more readily available. It is also involved in getting oxygen to cells throughout the body and regulating temperature. This is why staying hydrated is so vital when playing sports or exercising. Your body’s demand for oxygen increases during physical activity and your internal temperature rises. In fact, even a minimal fluid loss can affect aerobic performance and reduce your level of physical endurance. Inadequate hydration can fatigue your muscles, reduce your coordination, make you dizzy and cause muscle cramps. The goal during exercise is to drink before signs of dehydration occur. Ideally, try to drink 2 cups of water two hours before exercising and continue to drink 1 cup of water every 20 minutes while you’re exercising.

Fatigue is the most common symptom of dehydration. Other common dehydration symptoms include; muscle cramps, fogginess, dizziness, light-headedness, headache, thirst and dry mouth/skin/lips. If you are unsure about whether you are currently drinking enough fluids each day, the color of your urine can be a good guideline. If you’re well-hydrated, it should be light yellow in color. The darker in color it gets, the more dehydrated you may be. Keep in mind, other medical conditions can alter this (such as kidney disease). Another test is to pinch the skin on the outer part of your hand or forearm. If the skin tents, meaning it stays in place and doesn’t quickly bounce back then this is a warning sign that you are dehydrated.

When choosing fluids to help you meet your daily hydration requirements, water is the ideal choice. Water will help keep you properly hydrated without the empty calories found in sports drinks, sodas or juices. However, very vigorous activities can warrant the use of carbohydrates and electrolyte replacements. To keep it interesting and add some zest, use slices of lemon or lime. Herbal teas, such as peppermint, berry or chamomile can “count” towards your daily fluid intake. Sipping water throughout the day is the best strategy. Drinking too quickly will reduce absorbability. As well, drinking water at meals might not be ideal. It can be beneficial for weight loss as it can make you fuller, however, it will also dilute your digestive juices. Drinking in-between meals is a better strategy.

Use strategies to help increase your fluid intake. Carry a stainless steel water bottle with you wherever you go and make sure you finish it by the end of the day. Set reminders on your phone to drink water, or use post-it-note reminders. If you’re feeling groggy during the day, try drinking a glass of water instead of reaching for coffee or tea. Coffee and tea are diuretics, meaning they increase water loss from the body, and can actually be more dehydrating. For every caffeinated cup of tea or coffee, make sure you add an extra cup of water. Try drinking at least 2 cups of water first thing when you wake up.

Cheers to better health!

Auroran article- Magna opens new health centre here

Provided by: Dr. Christine Davis, Naturopathic Doctor

Magna opens new health centre here

Magna Health Centre, a new medical clinic established by Magna International Inc., officially opened its doors in Aurora last week.  The Centre will serve residents in Aurora and surrounding communities as well as Magna employees who work in the area.  The Centre is a multidisciplinary clinic and its healthcare team includes practitioners in family medicine, chiropractic, acupuncture, Chinese medicine and naturopathic medicine. In addition, Magna Health Centre has partnered with Meditech, a global leader in the field of advanced laser medicine, and recently installed Meditech’s low intensity laser equipment at the Aurora clinic. Low-intensity laser therapy is used to treat strains, sprains, chronic back pain, osteoarthritis and tendinitis conditions. Laser therapy is also used for diabetic and venous ulcer wound healing. “We’re excited to be able to offer our services to the community,” said Dr. Arif Bhimji, Medical Director of Magna Health Centre. “Magna Health Centre is a unique medical clinic with a broad range of medical expertise under one roof and a personalized, multi-disciplinary approach to health care.” Magna Health Centre is located at 375 Magna Drive, next to the Magna head office just off Wellington Street in Aurora. The clinic is open Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. Residents can call 905-726-7470 for more information or to schedule an appointment.

SNAP Aurora- Magna Health Centre Opens to Public

Magna Health Centre Opens to Public

Magna Health Centre, a new medical clinic established by Magna International Inc., is now officially open! SNAP was invited out last month to meet their fantastic team of doctors and to tour this amazing clinic. It will serve residents in Aurora and surrounding communities as well as Magna employees who work in the area. The Centre is a multi-disciplinary clinic and its healthcare team includes practitioners in family medicine, chiropractic, acupuncture, Chinese medicine and naturopathic medicine. Magna Health Centre is located next to the Magna head office in Aurora. Residents can call 905-726-7470 for more information or to schedule an appointment.

Provided by: Dr. Christine Davis, Naturopathic Doctor

YorkRegion Article: Magna clinic offers treatments

YorkRegion Article: Magna clinic offers treatments.

By Amanda Perisco|
Provided by: Dr. Christine Davis, ND
Jan 24, 2011 – 4:37 PM

Open to the community. Naturopathic practitioner Dr. Christine Davis (left) and chiropractor Dr. Stephanie Milley are among the medical professionals staffing the new Magna Health Centre.  The facility opened as a resource to Magna employees, but has now opened its doors to the entire community.

You now have new health treatment options here in Aurora.  The Magna Health Centre is an 1,800-square-foot multi-disciplinary clinic that’s home to four practitioners and one medical doctor.  A Magna International initiative, the health centre is built on a holistic approach to medicine and features some of the latest laser technology.

Magna has always been a pillar of Aurora, said Dr. Stephanie Milley, a chiropractor based at the centre. “It was important for Magna to have a place to better serve its employees.”  Open to Magna employees for the past three months, the health centre has now opened its doors to all residents of Aurora and Newmarket.  “There is a need for health services in the area,” Dr. Milley said.  “This is a way to better service our employees and our community.”

The health centre is not an emergency clinic, but operates more like a combination between a walk-in clinic and family doctor’s office.  Along with chiropractic services, the centre offers naturopathic medicine, traditional Chinese medicine, acupuncture and health and wellness services.  “We see a broad range of patients, everything from common allergies to chronic pain,” Dr. Milley said.  “It’s a very health conscious approach.”  The practitioners also take a more integrated and incorporated approach to treating their patients, Dr. Milley added.  Most people know what a family doctor does, she said.

“We want to keep a form of transparency as to what we do, why we are doing it and why the patient needs it.”  The centre has partnered with Meditech, a leading health software supplier, to offer the latest in laser technology.  The clinic has three laser machines to treat soft-tissue injuries, such as sprains, strains, arthritis and sports injuries as well as wound management and diabetic ulcers.  The specialty machines are meant to be used hands-free, which means while the laser is being applied to a specific area, you are free to sit, read, lie down, listen to music and change positions.  The centre also has two laser machines that provide therapy through acupuncture points without puncturing skin.  The Weber laser machine is used in the United States and Europe, but has yet to be approved for use in Canada.  The Magna Health Centre is one of the few clinics in Canada to have this machine, Dr. Milley said, and it is ready to go when approval is granted.  Laser technology is essentially low-intensity light, Dr. Milley said. The treatment is non-invasive and adds additional energy to damaged cells to boost the healing process.  This is on the conservative side of medicine. It doesn’t cut, burn or heat up, so it’s a very comfortable type of treatment, Dr. Milley said. The treatment gives more fuel to better repair the area. It’s extra energy so the cells can do their jobs more efficiently.

“We can treat well beyond the common cough and cold,” she added.
For more information, visit

Bulgur Chicken Salad

Written by: Dr. Christine Davis, Naturopathic Doctor

1 cup bulgur
1 ½ cups boiling water
450 g boneless, skinless chicken breast
Freshly ground black pepper
¾ tsp kosher salt, divided
4 Tbs extra-virgin olive oil, divided
1/3 cup fresh orange juice
2 Tbs fresh lemon juice
5 oz (8 cups) arugula, roughly chopped
2 cups cherry tomatoes, quartered
4 green onions, thinly sliced
1 avocado, chopped

Put the bulgur into a large bowl, pour in the boiling water, and cover. Let stand for 10 minutes, then uncover and allow to cool. Pat the chicken dry with a paper towel and season with pepper and ¼ tsp salt. Saute over medium heat in 1 Tbs of the olive oil until golden brown on both sides, about 2 minutes per side. Remove the chicken from the pan and let rest for 5 minutes, then slice.
Make the dressing by whisking together the remaining 3 Tbs of oilive oil with the orange juice, lemon juice, remaining ½ tsp of salt, and pepper. Add the arugula to the bowl with the bulgur and toss with the dressing. Top with the sliced chicken, tomatoes, green onions, and avocado. Serves 4.

Fresh Asian Summer Rolls

Provided by: Dr. Christine Davis, Naturopathic Doctor

Asian slaw:
½ cup fresh cilantro
2 carrots julienned
½ red cabbage julienned
1 red pepper julienned
¼ red onion, thinly sliced
1 apple, sliced thinly

Toss slaw together

2 cooked chicken breasts
1 package of Vietnamese Rice Paper Wrappers

Sauce– can use on slaw or for dipping:
2 Tbs. fresh lime juice
2 Tbs. almond butter
¼ tsp sea salt
1 tsp fresh ginger, grated
1 clove garlic, minced
¼-½ cup water (to desired consistency)
1 ½ Tbs. sesame oil
½ teaspoon garlic chili sauce

Fill a large bowl with warm water. Dip one wrapper into the hot water until softened. Lay wrapper flat. In a row across the center, place chicken and Asian slaw, leaving about 2 inches uncovered on each side. Fold uncovered sides inward, and tightly roll the wrapper. Repeat with remaining ingredients. Serve rolled spring rolls with dipping sauce.  Enjoy!