5 natural tips for poison ivy

Check out my upcoming post for the Ottawa Mommy Club! Great tips for kids but they all apply to adults too.

Contact with poison ivy leads to itchy, fluid filled pimples on the skin.  This blistering red rash is very unpleasant for kids.  One of the key things to teach your children is how to identify what poison ivy looks like and to obey signs that warn of poison ivy  in order to minimize their risk of contact.

If your child does come into contact with poison ivy, here are 5 natural solutions to help ease their discomfort:

1. Apply pure aloe vera gel to the skin 3 times per day.  This will have a cooling, soothing effect on the irritated skin.

2. Alternate aloe vera gel with calendula cream.  Calendula is anti-inflammatory which will help relieve redness and swelling.  Calendula is also anti-microbial and will help to prevent the spread of infection due to scratching and open blisters.

3. Boil chamomile tea, allow it to cool and add it to your child’s bath water.  Chamomile is soothing and when absorbed through the skin has calming effects which are helpful for irritable children.

4. Slice up some cucumber and store in the freezer for 10 minutes.  Apply cool cucumber slices to hot skin for a soothing effect.

5. Use the homeopathic remedy Rhus toxicodendron 30 CH.  Let 3 pellets dissolve under the tongue up to 5 times per day to relieve poison ivy symptoms.  Homeopathic Rhus tox is made from diluted poison ivy and utilizes the principle of ‘like cures like.’  Essentially you are giving the body a small, diluted amount of a substance to stimulate a healing response to the effects of the same substance at a higher toxic amount.  Homeopathic remedies are easily found at your local drug or health store.

If your child has poison ivy on their face or if they are having signs of an allergic reaction such as breathing difficulties and extreme swelling call your primary health care provider immediately.

Homeopaths to be regulated in Ontario April 1st 2015 – What does this mean for you?

Today is a big day for homeopathy in Ontario as the Homeopathy Act of 2007 will be proclaimed and the College of Homeopaths is formed.  This means that the homeopathic profession will now be regulated in Ontario under the Regulated Health Professions Act (RHPA) alongside naturopathic doctors, chiropractors, acupuncturists, etc.  Here’s a link to the Ontario College of Homeopaths which explains more about the regulation of the homeopathic profession.

Regulation of a profession ensures that we have access to holistic health care of a high quality standard.  In order to be licensed under the new College of Homeopaths, a homeopath must meet a certain standard of education, clinical knowledge and experience.

Regulation of a profession also protects the public from professional misconduct.  Professional standards of practice will now be in place to guide homeopaths in providing the highest standard of care to their patients.  Now if there is a complaint, we have a process for reporting the complaint and a regulatory body to discipline the homeopath if they are not meeting the standards of care.

As a naturopathic doctor, homeopathy is currently part of and will remain part of my scope of practice.  In addition to my education at the Canadian College of Naturopathic Medicine, I completed the Accelerated Diploma Program for Naturopathic Doctors provided by the Ontario College of Homeopathic Medicine.

I am pleased to announce that I am currently applying to the College of Homeopaths for my homeopathic license.  This means I will hold a license as a naturopathic doctor and as a homeopath.

What does this mean for you as a patient?

It means more options for your health care.  I can provide homeopathic care within the scope of a naturopathic visit along with the other naturopathic modalities of nutrition, lifestyle changes, herbal medicine and acupuncture.  Or if you are interested in homeopathic treatment alone, I can provide homeopathic care in a separate visit under my homeopathic license.

For those of you with extended health benefits for naturopathic medicine, look out for homeopathic medicine to be added in as a separate category.  Most insurance plans already cover homeopathic medicine.  It is your employer who chooses which coverage to include.  If you would like to see homeopathic medicine covered under your health insurance plan, it is best to speak with your human resources department about this matter.

This is an exciting time for holistic health care in Ontario! I’m looking forward to providing homeopathic medicine as part of your health care team.

Dr. Ellen

FREE health talk! Strategies to detoxify your body

This week I kick off a series of FREE health talks on ‘Strategies to detoxify your body.’

My goal is to increase your awareness of the negative health impact of toxin exposure.  I’ll provide  information on how to avoid environmental toxins in your home and work place.  You will learn practical tips on how to improve your body’s ability to detoxify using naturopathic medicine which includes clinical nutrition, botanical medicine, homeopathic medicine, traditional Chinese medicine and acupuncture and lifestyle changes.

These talks are part of the Ottawa Public Library Program guide.

Click HERE to register and find a library branch in your community.

Looking forward to sharing lots of great info with you!

FREE Health Talk: Boosting your immune system naturally

This week I kick off a series of FREE health talks on ‘Boosting your immune system naturally in time for winter.’

My goal is to provide  information on how to boost your immune system using naturopathic medicine. You will learn how to prevent the flu and recover faster by strengthening your immune system using clinical nutrition, botanical medicine, homeopathic medicine, traditional Chinese medicine and acupuncture and lifestyle changes.

These talks are part of the Ottawa Public Library Program guide.

Click HERE to register and find a library branch in your community.

Looking forward to sharing lots of great info with you, just in time for winter!

Naturopathic treatments for spring allergies

If you or someone you know suffers from seasonal allergies, check out my article in the April/May 2012 edition of Healthy Directions Magazine.  The article is on page 24 and outlines naturopathic treatments for seasonal allergies including essential nutrients, probiotics, omega-3 fatty acids, botanical medicines, acupuncture and homeopathy.

Here’s the link: Healthy Directions April/May 2012: Natural treatments for spring allergies

If you would like a print version feel free to stop by my clinic to pick one up:

Alta Vista Chiropractic and Massage Clinic

1690 Bank Street

Ottawa, ON, K1V 7Y6


Happy reading!

Natural ways to treat nausea

Nausea is unpleasant no matter what the cause (pregnancy, the flu, being on a boat).  Why not treat it in a safe and natural way!

1. Ginger: Also known as Zingiber officinalis, this botanical is regularly used in cooking and has three active ingredients named gingerol, shogaol and zingerone that help to relieve nausea.  Drinking ginger tea can help calm your stomach.  Here is an easy recipe for homemade ginger tea: http://vegetarian.about.com/od/morerecipes/r/GingerTea.htm or you can buy it pre-made in teabag form.  There is also a ‘natural’ Gravol on the market that is ginger based if you cannot tolerate the actual ginger flavour.

2. Acupressure: There is a great acupuncture point located on the inside of your wrists called Pericardium 6 that helps relieve nausea.  You can apply pressure to this point for 10-30 seconds as needed for nausea.  Closing your eyes and focusing on your breath while you press the point can also help.  Check out the instructions in this video to locate the Pericardium 6 point on yourself:

If you suffer from nausea consistently, for example in your first trimester of pregnancy or you are on a cruise ship, an alternative option is to wear Sea bands.  These are bracelets with a metal ball that supplies consistent pressure on Pericardium 6 and can be worn as long as they are needed.

3. Homeopathy: There are many homeopathic remedies which can treat nausea without interfering with medications and that are safe for children, pregnant women and the elderly.  Two remedies readily available at health food stores are Arsenicum album and Colubrina aka Nux vomicaArsenicum album is useful for nausea after eating spoiled food and nausea that is associated with vomiting, diarrhea, burning pains in the stomach and a desire for small sips of water. Colubrina is useful for nausea after excessive alcohol intake or in the morning after eating that is associated with gas, bloating, headache and irritability. 

Although these natural methods are helpful, it is always advisable to see your primary healthcare practitioner, especially if nausea is persistent and worsening which may be a sign of a serious health condition.

What is the difference between a naturopath and a homeopath?

What is the difference between a naturopath and a homeopath? Now that I have designations as both a naturopathic doctor and a homeopathic doctor, this question seems to be popping up a lot more frequently.

Here`s a video by my colleague Seth Yates explaining the basic concepts of naturopathic medicine, treatment methods and education of a naturopathic doctor, I especially like the funky background music:

Now that you`ve familiarized yourself with naturopathic medicine, watch this video of my mentor Julie Henry explaining the basic concepts of homeopathy as well as the difference between homeopath and a naturopath:

Next, let`s summarize some of the key similarities and differences between a naturopath and homeopath:

Philosophy of health

Both naturopaths and homeopaths work under a wholistic view of health.  They strive to do no harm and treat using the most least invasive method available.  Health is considered to be influenced by physical, mental, emotional, social, and environmental factors which are all taken into account when deciding on a treatment plan.  Symptoms are an expression of an imbalance within a person and the different systems of the body are interconnected.  Both a naturopath and homeopath work to heal the root cause of a person`s health issues, rather than suppress symptoms.

For more information on the guiding principles of wholistic medicine: http://www.drellensimone.com/guiding-principles.html

Types of treatments

A naturopath uses homeopathy as part of their overall healing toolkit.  They also use nutrition, supplements, lifestyle counseling, botanicals, Chinese medicine and acupunture, and physical medicine when treating their patients.  A homeopath is considered a specialist in using homeopathy and this is the primary treatment method used.  Both use their tools to provide specific and individualized care for their patients.


A naturopath and a homeopath both have knowledge of the core health sciences such as anatomy, physiology, pathology, immunology and pharmacology as well as training in physical examination, appropriate assessment, and knowledge of when to refer to another practitioner if warranted. Both professions undergo rigorous clinical training and examinations to ensure graduates meet the standards required to practice their form of medicine.

Educational institutions in Ontario:

Canadian College of Naturopathic Medicine

Ontario College of Homeopathic Medicine

Regulation in Ontario

Currently, both naturopathic medicine and homeopathic medicine are in a transition process to become regulated in Ontario under the Regulated Health Professionals Act (RHPA).  Naturopaths were previously regulated under the Drugless Practitioner Act and the Board of Drugless Therapy-Naturopathy.  Homeopaths have not been regulated in Ontario for a number of years and this re-regulation follows a renewed use of homeopathic medicine as a form of alternative medicine treatment.

Regulation resources:

The Transitional Council of the College of Naturopaths of Ontario

The Transitional Council of the College of Homeopaths of Ontario

Integration with other healthcare professionals

Regulation under the RHPA will hopefully lead to an increasing number of naturopaths and homeopaths being included in a patient`s current health team.  Integrating homeopathic and naturopathic medicine can effectively augment a patient`s conventional treatment plan leading to higher patient satisfaction and more comprehensive patient care.

Insurance coverage

Homeopathic and naturopathic medicine are currently not covered under OHIP and patients pay for these services.  However, the majority of private insurance companies like Great West Life and Sunlife provide coverage for these services to assist patients in seeking complementary forms of healthcare. Your employer decides what services are covered in your insurance plan and if naturopathic and homeopathic medicine are not currently covered, you may ask your employer or human resources office to explore the option of including these services.

Resources to help you find a qualified naturopath or homeopath:

Ontario Association of Naturopathic Doctors

Canadian Association of Naturopathic Doctors

The Canadian Naturopathic Foundation

Ontario Homeopathic Association

The National United Professional Association of Trained Homeopaths

I hope this post provided you with answers to this very common question. If you have other questions you would like answered let me know and I will try to address them in future blog posts.

Feel free to share your thoughts about naturopathic and homeopathic medicine, as well as resources you think others would find useful!

Homeopathic remedies for spring allergies

When I first started school to be a naturopathic doctor I had a basic idea of what a naturopath used as treatment tools such as nutrition, herbs, acupuncture, lifestyle counselling, etc but I had no idea what homeopathy was. I thought, “I like everything else, who cares if I have no idea what homeopathy is? I’ll just practice everything else and ignore it for now.”  As it turns out, I couldn’t ignore it and now it is the primary modality I use in practice.

We were given an assignment to go to the student clinic and have our homeopathic case taken (the case taking process is very detailed and a little longer than your typical 8 minute visit with the doctor) and were prescribed a remedy.  I took mine and experienced very positive effects on my wellbeing, moreso than just changing my diet or taking supplements had done and I knew I wanted to experience more about homeopathy.  A lot of my other classmates were hesitant to take their prescribed remedies or didn’t experience any effects at all, either positive or negative and concluded that homeopathy was not going to be part of their healing toolkit.  I don’t think they should have been so easily discouraged because there are many factors that could influence the effectiveness of a remedy:

The skill of the doctor to obtain information from the patient, analyze it and choose a remedy could have been lacking (we were seeing student interns, of course they were in the beginning stages of learning too).

Or maybe the remedy choice was correct but prescribed at an incorrect potency.

Or maybe the power of skepticism can be just as strong as the power of positive thinking or placebo and lead to negative or non-effects.

 As an intern at the Canadian College of Naturopathic Medicine we treated patients on different shifts under the care of different supervisors.  One of my shifts was a homeopathy focus shift and in the end I learned that I loved homeopathy and had very good results with it.  After graduation I enrolled in the Ontario College of Homeopathic Medicine to obtain my Homeopathic Doctor degree and have since gained more knowledge and experience with homeopathic patient care.  However, I learned that we are always learning and it never stops.  You just have to pay attention to the lessons that can come from anywhere, your teachers (obviously, that’s what they do!), your classmates, colleagues, and most importantly your patients.  All these relationships are important and that is a key lesson I have learned: the relationship between the doctor and patient is crucial to healing and is fostered in the homeopathic casetaking process.

So, just because you try the following homeopathic remedies which may or may not work for you, please keep in mind that there are many factors to the homeopathic prescription.  Homeopathic doctors prescribe remedies based on the totality of the symptom picture. We don’t just take into account your allergy symptoms, we also prescribe on your other physical, mental and emotional symptoms.  This is because you can have itchy eyes and I can have itchy eyes but how it affects you and your experience of it can be very different than my experience, perceptions and reactions to it.  This makes your prescription unique to you!

Now to the remedies:

Allium cepa (onion, think about your symptoms when chopping an onion)

  • Lots of sneezing with watery discharge and burning
  • Itchy, watery eyes – bland, non-irritating discharge
  • Symptoms are better outdoors and with splashing cold water on the

Euphrasia officinalis (eyebright flower)

  • Very red, itchy and watery eyes with burning (conjunctivitis)
  • Nasal discharge – bland
  • Very sensitive to the light and prefers to stay indoors in a dimly lit room

Arsenicum album (arsenic, don’t be scared! homeopathic remedies are very dilute and there is a minute amount of the original substance present) —

  • Sneezing with nasal burning relieved by hot compresses on the sides of the nose and breathing warm air through a humidifyer
  • Specific allergies to mould, dust and cats
  • Restlessness, tiredness, coldness of hands and feet and distressful waking in the night
  • High-strung and anxious about health

Hydrastis canadensis (goldenseal in homeopathic form! see my previous blogpost on goldenseal: https://drellensimonend.wordpress.com/2011/03/15/goldenseal-a-great-herb-to-combat-spring-allergies/)

  • —Very thick yellow-green discharge from nose
  • —Mucous often forms thick crusts around the nose
  • —Constipation
  • —Averse to bread and vegetables

Sabadilla officinalis (cevadilla seed, part of the liliaceae plant family)

  • —Spasmodic fits of sneezing with a lot of discharge
  • —Itchiness of the nose and soft palate, the child will want to scratch the top of his mouth
  • —Triggered by exposure to flowers

Most homeopathic remedies can be purchased from a health food store in a 30CH potency with recommended use of letting 5 pellets dissolve under your tongue 3 times per day.  If you don’t see relief after 3 days then it is not the correct remedy for you and you can try a different one or perhaps see a homeopathic doctor for a constitutional prescription which will encompass all of your symptoms.  Homeopathic remedies do not interact with medications and supplements but it is always a good idea to consult your doctor prior to starting any new treatment.

CBC Marketplace: Homeopathy: Cure or Con? my comments

After CBC’s show Marketplace aired an episode to discredit homeopathy I decided to write to them and let them know my opinion regarding the episode as well as some of the comments that were appearing on their website.  Below is a copy of my letter.  Feel free to comment your thoughts and opinions below.  The full episode can be watched here: http://www.cbc.ca/marketplace/2011/cureorcon/

Dear CBC:

I was disappointed by your recent show, “Con or Cure” which aired on your program Marketplace on January, 14, 2011. The “investigative reporting” was plainly biased and did not demonstrate an understanding of the basic tenets of homeopathy. Furthermore, it did not uphold the standards of professional journalism that should be a cornerstone of CBC programs. This episode has called into question the credibility of not only Marketplace, but all CBC programming.

Let me demonstrate my point.  On your webpage for the episode you fail to include any links in your “Related Documents and Links” section to either the Ontario Association of Homeopaths (www.ontariohomeopath.com), or the Ontario College of Homeopathic Medicine (www.ochm.ca). If you are indeed intending to provide individuals with information to inform themselves about the benefits and risks associated with homeopathy, these links are at minimum required. Both organizations have been advocating for regulation of homeopathy in Ontario to protect patients. The exclusion of these key players demonstrates an unwillingness on your part to allow Canadians to be a part of the discourse on homeopathy and inhibits their ability to exercise self-determination in regards to their health. This is a very troubling misstep, particularly for a public broadcasting organization.

I also found the program’s lack of understanding about the fundamental tenets of homeopathy troubling. How can Marketplace present an overwhelmingly biased position on a health practice it doesn’t understand? There is a historical context for homeopathy that went completely unexamined.  I think the public has a right to know (and Marketplace should have acknowledged that) homeopathy was the dominant form of medicine prior to the introduction of antibiotics and the shift of medicine to rely on pharmaceuticals; instead Marketplace made homeopathy look like an emerging health trend without a historical and societal context.  Were your journalists aware that homeopathy has a rich history in North America and it played a key role in the creation of the American Medical Association, it set standards for curriculum in medical schools that are still being employed today, including standardized testing to obtain a license as a physician? If they had done their jobs, they should have been able to articulate the merits of this practice and the benefits it has attributed to our current health system. A thorough history of the development of homeopathic medical theory and the spread of homeopathic medicine in North America can be found on the North American Society of Homeopaths website under this link: http://www.homeoint.org/history/king/index.htm

I would also like to broach the topic of research that was continuously discussed in the episode. Randomized trials, meta-analyses and Cochrane reviews are not the only way to determine what works and what doesn’t in the field of medicine. Research and its methods are constantly evolving and within the confines of evidence-based methods homeopathy does not perform well due to the limitations of these methods. Randomized control trials are performed to isolate a specific substance and its effect on one isolated symptom in the body.  This is a very linear approach of looking at the effects of A on B and expecting them to equal C.  However, holistic medical models such as homeopathy, traditional Chinese medicine and naturopathy view a person as an individual with many factors affecting their health and medicines in these fields are prescribed upon the totality of the symptom picture which includes mental, emotional, social, environmental and physical symptoms.  Therefore, isolating a specific symptom or a specific substance through randomized control trials will not yield results representative of how these medicines actually work because they are not currently studied in the context in which they are prescribed.

I think it is completely unethical for your journalists and web moderators to include and allow comments that call into question a homeopaths knowledge of physics and chemistry. These are personal insults and they are contrary to the code published by your organization about what is publishable and what is not. I would like to refute these comments and remind others of a basic concept in physics; the fact that all matter is energy and all energy is matter.  This is the basic concept of the particle-wave duality where a substance exists as the potential to be both matter and energy.  Its expression is based on how it is observed or the perception of the scientist/measuring instrument.  Just because you can’t observe matter in a homeopathic substance in the chemistry lab, does not mean there is not an energy wave that is associated with the matter, which has been diluted and potentized in water to that degree.  Also, if these basic physics concepts are true, this means we cannot deny that our physical bodies are made solely of energy, observable at the quantum level and that a medicine may work on this energetic level and not be detectable through instrumentation available today.  Throughout history we have observed the effects of energies we could not see or measure at the time (for example gravity) and science only came up with an explanation for the mechanism of action after the fact. If your journalists had a shred of integrity and had done research about how homeopathy works, perhaps they would have included this basic information about how homeopathy works. 

Other comments on the website described a concern about the mechanism of action. As a health practitioner, I call into question this concern.  Is it really necessary to fully understand a physical mechanism prior to prescribing a medicine which we have observed through hundreds of years of practice to have a positive healing effect on a patient? Why don’t we ask medical doctors why so many pharmaceutical drugs are prescribed for off label use without the mechanism of action being known? Would we ask medical doctors to withhold these experimental or theoretical treatments, which through experience and case studies have been shown to greatly benefit other patients in a similar situation just because the mechanism of action is not yet known?

Lastly, I’d like to challenge the sceptics  employed by your organization and those that dominate the discourse on your website to open their minds to research in quantum physics, psychology, neurology, immunology and biology which clearly shows evidence that all matter and energy are connected by a quantum field. For those unfamiliar with the basic principles of physics this explains that all theories  are under one “grand unified theory.”  (Here is a link to a great documentary and well-respected researchers who are pioneering their fields http://www.whatthebleep.com/scientists/ ). Perhaps these scientists will disprove that randomized control trials are the only way to prove something exists and create a new scientific framework where alternative medicines can be evaluated in a fair and representative manner.

Until that time, I urge CBC to examine this episode in detail and bring an equitable and balanced viewpoint to the foreground in this and all future programming. To do otherwise risks not only your credibility as a trusted organization, but by misrepresenting a health practice – you are misinforming the Canadian public about arguably the most important public issue of our time, our health.


Ellen Simone, Naturopathic Doctor