Essentials for a Healthy Winter Season

Check out my latest article in Healthy Directions Magazine:

Essentials for a Healthy Winter Season.

winter

Have a happy winter!

Celebrate Naturopathic Medicine Week 2013!

Naturopathic Medicine Week 2013 is taking place May 6-12th, 2013 and there are many exciting and FREE events to attend!

Check out the Naturopathic Medicine Week events here in Ottawa.

As always I’m offering FREE 15 minute consultations for you to learn more about naturopathic medicine and to discuss natural treatments to help you achieve your health goals.

Please invite your friends and family to book a FREE 15 minute consultation or attend an event to raise awareness about naturopathic medicine and celebrate with us!

Happy Naturopathic Medicine Week!

herb

Ottawa’s Health and Care Fair September 15, 2012

Hi everyone! You’re invited to Ottawa’s first ever Health and Care Fair taking place at the Ottawa Masonic Centre (2140 Walkley Road) on Saturday, September 15 from 10am to 4pm!

I’ll be there discussing how naturopathic medicine can help keep you and your family healthy.  Stop by my booth to say hello and sign up for a FREE 15 minute consultation to learn more about naturopathic medicine.

There is FREE parking and gift bags for everyone!

The tradeshow is FREE admission however donations are appreciated and will go to support EARRS – Elder Abuse Response and Referral Service

Have a great week!

Naturopathic Medicine Week 2012 – Events in Ottawa

Naturopathic Medicine Week is a national event that takes place the second week in May.  Naturopathic Doctors will be hosting FREE events in their communities to educate members about naturopathic medicine, disease prevention and health promotion.

This year’s Naturopathic Medicine Week is from May 7-13, 2012

You are invited to join me for the following FREE events to celebrate Naturopathic Medicine Week:

Naturopathic Medicine for the Modern Woman

Dr. Ellen Simone, ND

Monday, May 7, 2012 at 7-8:30pm

Ottawa Public Library – Alta Vista Branch

2516 Alta Vista Drive, Ottawa, K1V 7T1

Join Dr. Simone as she discusses naturopathic treatments for supporting women through different phases of their lives; to regulate the menstrual cycle, ease PMS symptoms, optimize fertility, provide support during and after pregnancy, maintain breast health and welcome menopause.

 

Spring Cleaning: Strategies for Detoxifying Your Body

Dr. Ellen Simone, ND & Gwen Holm, RHN

Wednesday, May 9, 2012 at 7-8pm

Ottawa Public Library – Alta Vista Branch

2516 Alta Vista Drive, Ottawa, K1V 7T1

Learn about the impact of environmental toxins on your health.  Strategies to decrease exposure to environmental toxins and support your body’s natural ability to detoxify will be discussed.  Find out your level of toxic burden by completing the ‘Detoxification Questionnaire.”

 

Integrative Treatments for Headache

Dr. Ellen Simone, ND & Dr. Kirk Andrew, DC

Thursday, May 10, 2012 at 7-8pm

Ottawa Public Library – Alta Vista Branch

2516 Alta Vista Drive, Ottawa, K1V 7T1

Discover your options for relieving tension headache and migraine symptoms through an individualized and integrative approach using nutrition, herbal medicine, acupuncture, homeopathy, chiropractic care and massage therapy.

All Naturopathic Medicine Week events here in Ottawa:

 http://www.cand.ca/Ontario.nmwon.0.html#743

Naturopathic Medicine Week events across Canada: 

http://www.cand.ca/Naturopathic_Medicine_Week.nmw.0.html?&L=0

The healing power of optimism

This week I was searching through my old naturopathic textbooks for some new blog topics when I came across a chapter in the book, “Mind Body Health: The Effects of Attitudes, Emotions and Relationships’ by KJ Karren, BQ Hafen, NL Smith and KJ Frandsen about the influence of an optimistic attitude on health status.   The chapter was called, “The Healing Power of Optimism” and it reviews how important your beliefs about a situation are in influencing your health status.

This purpose of this post is to highlight and discuss the main points about the healing power of optimism.

What is optimism?

Looking up the definition of optimism on Dictionary.com I discovered that optimism is:

1.  a disposition or tendency to look on the more favorable side of events or conditions and to expect the most favorable outcome.

2. the belief that good ultimately predominates over evil in the world.

3. the belief that goodness pervades reality.

4. the doctrine that the existing world is the best of all possible worlds.

Overall, an optimist actively chooses to believe that good things will happen and their future will turn out in the best possible way for them.  Since optimism is an active choice, this means that you have control over your beliefs and perceptions of reality.

Once you make this powerful realization, that you have a choice, you can change your perceptions from negative  to positive which can have a beneficial outcome on your health status.

“Happiness, in short, turns out to be more a matter of how you regard your circumstances than of what the circumstances are.”

10 characteristics of optimistic people:

1. An optimist sees the good in a situation.

2. An optimist expects things to go their way.

3. An optimist believes they have the power to control the events in their lives.

4. An optimist will take action to ensure things go their way.  When things do not go their way, they re-evaluate their situation and make the necessary plans to take action in an effort to shift the situation in their favour.

5. An optimist displays perseverance and never gives up focusing on the positive things they are able to control.

6. An optimist can dismiss bad events and interpret them as isolated events without blaming themselves for the negative outcome.

7. An optimist consistently interprets the circumstances in their favour and chooses to internalize the good events.

8. An optimist chooses to view the world through ‘rose-coloured glasses’ meaning that they believe they will be successful and happy in the future.

9. An optimist believes that if something bad were to happen, they will have the ability to easily fix the problem.

10. An optimist knows when to acknowledge they cannot change a situation and successfully manages their unfavourable circumstances through healthy coping mechanisms.

How many of the above characteristics do you identify with and recognize within yourself? If you are familiar with all of them then congratulations, you are laying the foundation for optimal health outcomes! If you can only identify with a couple characteristics, that is ok too since optimism is a conscious choice in behaviour and everyone has the capability to become an optimist if you choose to do so.

This chapter on optimism goes into great detail about specific circumstances where optimism has improved health outcomes.  Here are a few examples demonstrating the potential power of optimism:

1. Researchers at Harvard evaluated the health records and psychological questionnaires completed 40 years ago of a sample of 99 army veterans.  They found that the veterans who, 40 years ago, displayed characteristics of optimism in their responses were significantly healthier 40 years later in both mental and physical health.

2. Researchers at the University of Massachusetts Medical Center found that the patients with greater optimism had more successful outcomes in a cardiac rehabilitation program where they lowered factors influencing their future risk of a heart attack and stroke.

3.  Studies of university students have found that pessimistic students were sick twice as many days and visited the doctor four times more than optimistic students.  An interesting observation was that most of the illnesses were infectious diseases perhaps providing further support to the field of psychoneuroimmunology.

4.  Optimism may play a role in speeding recovery from surgery in hospitals because optimists are more likely to seek information to improve their recovery after being released from the hospital.

5.  In a survey of physicians who collectively have treated over 100,000 cancer patients, over 90% responded that the most significant factor they have observed in effective cancer treatment was having an attitude of hope and optimism.  An attitude of optimism has also been shown to influence outcomes in women with breast cancer.

A possible explanation for the beneficial outcomes of optimism could be that optimistic people are more likely to pay attention to health risks and behaviours, and then choose to act positively with this information by changing their lifestyle habits in a healthy direction.

Of course, the above examples of optimism influencing health outcomes are extremely complex and the research is in the early stages. Optimism is just one factor in the field of mind body medicine currently being investigated.  Other factors include self-esteem, spirituality, altruism, humour/laughter, guided imagery, the impact of stress and emotional states.

Imagine the power patients would have in influencing their health outcomes by combining the power of their minds with cutting edge medical treatments!

I choose to be an optimist hope that the powerful wholistic approach to medicine which places equal emphasis on the physical, mental, emotional and spiritual aspects of an individual will be accessed and utilized by everyone in the future.

Are you tired ALL the time? Part 2: Hypothyroidism

As a continuation to my first blog post “Are you tired ALL this time? This may be why” I’d like to discuss another reason for constant fatigue: Hypothyroidism!

Hypothyroidism is the underfunctioning of your thyroid gland which leads to a decrease in the production and secretion of thyroid hormones.

Your thyroid gland is located in the front of your throat and is shaped like a butterfly:

Who can develop hypothyroidism?

  • New mothers: post-partum change in hormone levels can trigger the development of hypothyroidism.
  • Family history of thyroid issues: a family member with a thyroid issue increases your risk
  • Advanced age: growing older naturally leads to dsyfunction in organs and can lead to a thyroid condition.
  • Autoimmune conditions: if you have an autoimmune condition which affects your hormones such as diabetes, you are at a higher risk for developing a thyroid condition
  • Nutritional deficiencies: iodine is the primary nutrient to support thyroid function so a deficiency can alter thyroid function. Other nutrients which affect thyroid hormone production and metabolism are tyrosine and selenium.
  • Chronic stress: chronic stress increases your levels of cortisol which can affect thyroid gland function. Chronic/acute stressors increase your risk for developing autoimmune disease in general.
  • Genetic conditions: if you have Down’s or Turner’s syndrome you are at a higher risk for developing a thyroid condition.

Thyroid hormones are responsible metabolism in various parts of the body.  Impaired metabolism can result in the following symptoms of hypothyroidism:

  • Fatigue and weakness
  • Forgetfulness
  • Depression
  • High cholesterol
  • Low blood pressure
  • Constipation
  • Swelling, especially in the legs and face
  • Dry and pale skin
  • Fragile and coarse hair
  • Brittle nails
  • Cold intolerance and feeling chilly all the time
  • Menstrual issues: heavy periods or absence of period

Finding out if you have hypothyroidism is done through a simple blood test with your doctor.

Usually this test is done with your annual physical exam which is why it is important to see your doctor on a regular basis for screening.

The important thing to remember if you are tired ALL the time is to see your doctor!

As you’ll see in this blog series, there are many serious causes of being tired ALL the time which need to be addressed or ruled out with testing so that your tiredness can be appropriately addressed.

Stay tuned for my next blog post: Are you tired ALL the time? Part 3…

The ABC’s of skin cancer prevention

By now most of you have watched the viral melanoma prevention campaign video, “Dear 16 year old me” put out by the David Cornfield Melanoma Fund.

If not, you can watch it here:

This video is very powerful and really makes you think about what you can do NOW to prevent a serious disease in the FUTURE.

As a naturopathic doctor, I always advocate for prevention of disease and education on prevention is an important part of my practice philosophy.  Therefore, I feel this is an important issue to discuss.

Prevention of melanoma and other skin cancers can be done by checking your skin for moles and freckles on a regular basis, preferably once a month.

Skin checks are especially important if you are fair skinned, work outdoors, or have a family history of cancer.

The following is a summary of the ABC’s of skin cancer prevention:

A is for Asymmetry

What shape is your mole? Is it a circle, an oval, or just a blob? If you draw a line down the middle do both sides match or is one larger than the other?

If both sides are not the same shape and size, it should be looked at by a doctor.

B is for Borders

Look at the edges of the mole. Is it red, jagged, or poorly defined?

If you answered yes to any of the above, it should be looked at by a doctor.

C is for Colour

Moles are typically an even brown colour throughout.

Is your mole darker in some parts and lighter in others? Is it black, red, white or blue? Does it bleed?

If you answered yes to any of the above, it should be looked at by a doctor.

D is for Diameter

Take a ruler and measure the diameter from one side of the mole to the other.

Melanoma is usually greater than 6 millimetres (the approximate size of a pencil eraser).

If your mole is larger than 6 mm or smaller but has other changes, it should be looked at by a doctor.

E is for Elevation or Evolution

If your mole is flat and unchanging it is less likely to be cancerous.

If it is elevated or is changing in any way mentioned above, it should be looked at by a doctor.

The story of my mole

When I was little, I had a brown mole on my nose. As I grew older, it grew in size as well as elevation.  The borders were always well-defined and it was a perfectly symmetrical circle.  I didn’t pay much attention to it because it was just a part of me.

Except in grade school when my nickname became ‘Holy Moley’. But looking back now even I think this is funny LOL!

Then one day in university I noticed that the mole started to change colour.  It was becoming darker and almost black on one side.

This alerted me to the fact that perhaps I should seek the advice of a medical doctor.  I was referred to a dermatologist who asked me about my history of sun exposure and family history of cancer.  He also evaluated all of my other moles.

He suggested I remove the mole. The procedure took less than fifteen minutes and because he was a cosmetic dermatologist (the ones that specialize in botox and collagen injections) he took extra care so that I would not have a large scar left on my face.  Those who have met me post-mole removal cannot believe I ever had one!

After the mole was removed, the tissue was evaluated and they told me that it was not dangerous and I did not have skin cancer. What a relief!

Checking your moles is very quick and easy.  The 10 minutes you spend checking your moles each month can save you many years of your life so why wouldn’t you check them?

Great tools on how to check your skin can be found on the DCMF website

I’d love to hear your experience with your mole and skin cancer prevention. Please share your stories in the comments section!