Breathe Deep

24 09 2013

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There is nothing like a brisk fall day to remind me of how simple it is to improve health. As simple as breathing deeply. Historically, many Naturopaths treated using the basics of deep breathing and hydrotherapy (water therapy). 50-100 deep breaths a day might have been the only therapy needed for some. It was only if these simple techniques failed that nutrition or exercise were then added. Breathing deeply is an excellent way to decrease stress in our busy lives. So today I challenge you to get back to the basics and breathe. Start with 10 deep breaths and work up to 30-50 per day. Or, if you want a specific technique, here is an exercise I like called alternate nostril breathing:

1) take a deep breath through your nose

2) block one side of your nose (by pushing against the side of your nose with your finger) and exhale then inhale through the same side.

3) block the other side and exhale then inhale through this side.

4) repeat for 5 cycles breathing as deeply and slowly as you can. It is normal for one side of the nose to be a little more plugged or blocked than the other side. Now that you are aware of it, you may also notice that the side that is blocked switches back and forth throughout the day. Relax, and just breath in or out as much as you can on the blocked side (even if its noisy)!

Keep it simple and breathe deeply to decrease stress today!

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How to prepare for: Surgery

20 09 2013

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Surgery is not a topic that you might expect Naturopathic Doctors to address. However, in reality, we discuss surgery with our patients on a fairly regular basis. Surgery is a necessity in many cases and I highly respect surgeons’ skill and expertise in an area where I would be unable to help my patients. However, just because I cannot perform a surgical procedure such as open heart surgery or joint replacement surgery, I do deal with patients who need to or have already undergone surgery. Ideally, my job is to prevent you from needing to go “under the knife” In the first place. So many times I wish I could have seen a patient 5 or 10 years earlier (when they were still healthy) so I could have helped educate and inform in order to avoid health complications. I think that is probably one viewpoint that medical doctors, naturopaths, and surgeons have in common! Prevention is the most amazing cure! However, I’m thankful we have these complex procedures as back-up that can help when nothing else will. But what is my role in surgery? If I have not been trained in these procedures, why would I even attempt to get involved? Because I am trained in healing. In optimizing the body’s ability to fight infection and in restoring health. And if those aren’t reason enough to seek a Naturopath before your surgery, I am also trained in knowing how things interact. And so, without further ado, I would like to discuss how to prepare for surgery from a Naturopathic perspective.

1) Being as healthy as possible before surgery helps to minimize complications and healing time after. By this advice I am mainly referring to making sure the food you eat is health promoting rather than disease promoting. In the words of Michael Pollan almost all diets can be summarized into the phrase, “Eat food, not too much, mostly plants”. Eating a lot of vegetables and fruits in the months before surgery allow your body to feel better and heal better. Protein is also important for healing. Try hemp hearts (a local Manitoba product) for a novel plant protein source and kill two birds with one stone. And then, ask yourself, “what health habits (other than my diet) have I been neglecting?” You probably already know a few changes you need to make to affect your health. If you are struggling with this, come in for an appointment and leave the details up to me.

2) Prepare to fight bugs. There is always a risk of infection in hospitals and that risk increases with invasive procedures such as surgery. Help the hospital staff out a little by getting your body ready to kill some microbes! Antimicrobial herbs help to boost your germ fighting power. Don’t forget garlic! It’s germ killing capabilities are as powerful as its smell. Hiyah!! Karate chop those invisible chaos creators. If supplementing rather than eating these things in food form, remember to discontinue them 1-2 weeks before surgery.

3) Vitamin C. There is a lot of research on it preventing surgical complications. As with the herbal remedies, this supplement will also have to be discontinued at some point before your surgery but you can re-start it after surgery. Remember that vitamin C is found in many fruits such as those in the citrus family and doesn’t necessarily need to be taken as a supplement.

4) Homeopathic remedies may help with pre-surgery anxiety and post-surgery healing. Most people have heard of Arnica and this is usually included in my post-surgery protocols for patients. However, different surgeries require different remedies and anxiety remedies are matched individually to each patient.

5) Get lots of sleep! Remember how babies sleep significantly more when they are going through a growth spurt? Well similarly, surgery requires a lot of energy from the body. Sleep will help. And hey, when will be the next time you can use the, “sorry, I have to sleep” excuse? Never again. Use this excuse often and smile inside. 😀

6) Need more help? Include a Naturopathic doctor in your medical team.

Your Health, My Priority!