• 15-05-2017

    Can't Sleep?: The Basics of Coping with Insomnia

    There is nothing quite so terrible as waiting away the night time hours brutally wide awake. It’s an unsettling and frustrating feeling to be incredibly tired, and ready physically and emotionally for sleep to come, and yet to be unable to cross that threshold. If this is continually happening to you, you are suffering from insomnia - a sleep disorder characterized by the inability to fall asleep, or stay asleep.

    I treat insomnia often in my practice; many people suffer (some needlessly suffer in silence) and may also find the transition to a new season a particularly unsettling time. In this season, as all year long, it is important to keep a few things in mind when dealing with chronic insomnia.

    Insomnia is often related to hormonal imbalances

    This is especially true for women experiencing progesterone deficiencies, a common occurrence in peri or post menopausal women. Women at all ages and stages need the right balance of estrogen and progesterone for optimal health; the hormonal surges of menopause can easily throw that balance off. Often it is estrogen that becomes dominant, causing insomnia and other symptoms like decreased sex drive and mood swings. I recommend Bio-Identical Micronized Progesterone to menopausal patients struggling with sleep issues. For most women, this one is a game changer.

    Insomnia has a relationship with cortisol and stress

    When our bodies experience stress we enter what is called “Fight-or-Flight” mode. For our ancestors, the resulting surge of biological processes served a very important function: to mobilize the body to flee real physical threats, like pouncing bears. Today we don’t often encounter these real threats, but nonetheless our bodies launch the same reaction. The cascade of bodily processes, marked by a release of cortisol - our stress hormone - occurs in response to looming work deadlines, partner stress and money worries just as it does when we encounter a bear in the forest.

    Over time, a stressed out individual can experience what is known as adrenal fatigue. Those important glands that work so hard to regulate our stress response just get tapped out. Those experiencing this exhaustion report they often can’t get a good night’s sleep no matter how hard they try, and how long they spend in bed. Stress also has a way of wiring us up, making it hard to shut off mind chatter and get into a deep sleep.

    In this case, it is important to treat the cortisol imbalance. I do this with an amazing supplement called Cortisol Manager, which is a mixture of phosophatidylserine, relora, theanine and ashwaganda. This blend is effective at bringing down cortisol levels at night, helping the body release itself into rest mode.  

    Many people who experience insomnia are also struggling with mood imbalances

    Insomnia can also be a symptom of depression or other mood imbalances, including Seasonal Affective Disorder. When this is the case, it is important that a patient receive specialized care to address the root problem. Once depression, anxiety or other mood imbalance is treated, we often see insomnia disappear. Taking supplements 5 HTP and L tyrosine together before bed can also be helpful.

    If you experience difficulty falling asleep only occasionally, you can try my favourite herbal blend for a more relaxing transition into sleep: valerian, GABA, lemon balm, chamomile, hops, passiflora, theanine and melatonin. These herbs will help you relax and they are also mildly sedative to give you that extra nudge. Look for a tea or capsule that offers these as ingredients. And try my other suggestions for a restful night.

    • 03-11-2016

    8 Essential Tips for Living Well

    Living a healthy lifestyle is about more than just eating well, though that is what you hear about most in the media. Naturopath Dr. Andrew Eberding has provided his essental tips for living your healthiest life; all of this is within your reach.

    By Dr. Andrew Eberding, ND

    Sufficient Water
    Water is really the elixir of life. Unlike the myth it won’t grant you eternal life, but without it you are decidedly reducing your quality of life. Water is the solvent that our bodies run on. You lose it constantly through your breath, sweat and urine production. This corner of BC has high quality tap water and you should not be afraid to drink it. In many cases, it is better than bottled water, which may have extra contaminants from the plastic bottle it comes in. If you are a regular consumer of coffee and/or alcohol then you should at minimum increase your water consumption to compensate for the added requirements these habits contribute.

    Regular Movement
    Your body was made to move constantly. If you are like many of the worker bees in our society, you will find yourself seated for large sections of your day. Look for opportunities to add more movement. This is part of the detoxification process. It pumps the cellular waste from the extremities and prevents them from damaging your tissues. Lack of movement leads to breakdown of muscle tissue. When you lose muscle, your posture suffers and you will develop health issues as a result.

    Breathe fully
    Breathing with the full volume of your lungs is normal, but most people in western society shallow breathe. The act of breathing deeply has a calming affect by transferring energy away from the sympathetic (fight or flight) nervous system to the parasympathetic nervous system. If you have never learned breathing techniques then you might consider finding someone to coach you through this: a qigong master, a yogi, etc.

    Quality Sleep
    It is not possible to heal or retain health without deep restful sleep. Sleep disruptions including noise, light, temperature, stress, alcohol, posture (inadequate mattress or pillow support), family relationships (parenting, co-sleeping, primary care giving), medications, poor air quality, pain, food reactions (heartburn, caffeine, etc), shift work, emotional turmoil, and the list goes on. Your pre-bedtime ritual can make a difference too. Looking into a screen (TV, phone, tablet or computer ) prior to turning in gives your primitive brain the idea that you are staring at the sun, and therefore, it is not time to sleep. Your body registers light even if you wear an eye mask. Your bedroom should be free of all light sources, including clocks; if you get up in the night, opt to leave the light off if possible. Just make sure the pathway to the toilet is clear before climbing into bed.

    Time spent outdoors helps in several ways. The fresh air invigorates your mind and stimulates your nervous system. Exposure to summer sun promotes Vitamin D production. The bright light, especially in the morning, helps to regulate the circadian rhythm thereby improving sleep.

    Promote Digestive Health
    We only function well if we are absorbing our food adequately. If you are uncomfortable after eating (bloating, gas, heartburn, cramping) then you are likely not getting the most of the foods that you are eating. If you are not having a well-formed bowel movement 1-3 times daily you are not removing toxins well from your body.

    Laugh and Play
    These activities improve mood. A strong social network that allows you the opportunity to experience happiness drives away long-standing undesirable moods (depression, anxiety, irritability) from your life.

    Complete Diet
    A healthy diet consists primarily of whole foods (not packaged or processed). If you prepare them yourself in your home then you have the most important part of a healthy diet in order. The rest is about balance of nutrients and moderating excesses.

    At the end of each day if you have taken care of these areas of your life you can expect to be moving your health in a positive direction.  These things underlie all others components of healthy living. If you feel you could use help with any or all of these items or other health challenges please arrange an appointment with me and we will work through your challenges together.

    This blog originaly appeared on Dr. Eberding's website.

    • 05-10-2016

    Happy? Avoid S.A.D

    Seasonal Affective Disorder (S.A.D) affects many people each fall and winter. Dr. Andrew Eberding explains what this is, what symptoms you might be experiencing and what to do to help yourself.

    You have probably noticed that the days are shortening rapidly. This decrease in daylight can lead to something that you might have heard of called Seasonal Affective Disorder, otherwise known as SAD.  The long dark winters in our great northern country can be associated with particular feelings like fatigue, low moods, increased irritability, decreased sex drive, indifference to life and overeating. Then, almost magically, when spring comes, all of these negative feelings fall away.

    This occurs so commonly that it is recognized within the medical field with a well-defined diagnostic set of parameters.  For some, the feelings are so strong that they can be admitted to hospital.  Most people, fortunately, experience it to a much lower extent.  It is best to take a proactive approach and do what you can to minimize these feeling before they become overwhelming.  The time to do that is now.  Here are some things that I recommend to ward off SAD.

    Get Some Light

    If you know that winter brings an great sense of gloom, you should be strongly considering light therapy.  Not everyone needs this degree of commitment, but for those who do suffer every winter, light therapy can make a world of difference. The following factors are important considerations:

    - Lux Level: try to get 10,000 lux (equivalent of full daylight).

    - Spectrum: Full-spectrum (visible wavelength) light is also crucial

    - Size and proximity: small lamps may have 10,000 lux light but may not work at a comfortable distance.

    - UV Output: UV light is important to generate Vitamin D excessive amounts are damaging in several ways. Balance is the key. Know what you are getting.

    Eat a Supportive Diet

    Comfort foods (simple carbohydrates, salt and processed fats) are detrimental and are not beneficial any time of year, but are the worst possible choice in the dead of winter.  Instead choose to eat soups and stews with plenty of protein and vegetables. Beans, legumes, nuts, healthy lean protein and hearty fruits should also be regular fare.

    Promote the Release of Endorphins

    Endorphins are the feel good chemicals that your body produces.  There are many ways to promote production:

    - Vigorous exercise: If you can do something that gets your heart pumping and quickens your breath. Simple walking may help, but if you can push a little harder the results will be much greater.

    - Laugh: Along with laughing comes positivity, so spend time with your joyful friends, watch a comedian or join a laughter therapy group.

    - Strengthen your social network, support others and be supported. Share caring interactions.

    - Experience sexual pleasure: the sensation of having an orgasm is primarily due to endorphins

    Plan a Vacation

    If you can financially and realistically afford a getaway to a tropical region then strongly consider taking one. This provides two different benefits.  Firstly, this gives you a boost of mid-winter sunlight. Secondly, it gives you something to look forward to in dark days of winter.  I find most people do best taking this trip between mid-January and mid-February.  After the holiday season has past, but spring is not too far away once you return.

    If Necessary Supplement

    Certain nutrients, especially if they are lacking in your diet, can be useful to include in your regimen.  Consider adding Vitamin D, Vitamin B complex, Polyphenols, Omega 3 oils, L-Theanine and Tryptophan.  There are herbals that can also be supportive like Licorice root, Rhodiola, and Ashwaganda.

    Don’t wait until you get down before you do something to support yourself, especially if you have a history of low moods in the winter.   Take care of yourself because you deserve it!

    • 28-09-2016

    16 Ways to Beat the Cold and Flu this Season

    The cold and flu season is hitting early this year. The rhinoviruses, the most common viral infections, like colder temperature. Here in BC it has been a colder September than usual giving these guys a great breeding ground and causing us to experience an early start to the dreaded sniffles, cough and worse. How do you protect yourself from those germs that are everywhere, as people increasingly head indoors, and treat the cold and flu well so you can get back on your feet sooner? I’m going to share 17 germ-fighting strategies that will keep you healthier this cold and flu season.

    1. Avoid Germs from Surfaces

    Be sure to wash your hands regularly with soap and water to minimize ingested germs from public surfaces like ATM pin pads, computer keyboards, grocery store carts, money and doors. Flu viruses can live on surfaces for 24 hours! At home keep your surfaces clean and free of germs with a regular wipe with hot water and soap. Avoid antibacterial wipes and sprays. These create superbugs, and are unnecessary too as soap and water does a great job.

    2. Stop Eating Sugar

    I know you didn’t want me to say it, but I have to! Put away the sugary treats. Sugar suppresses the immune system. It is why so many kids get sick after Halloween! Try to eat “clean”: reach for whole foods including plenty of vegetables and protein. Avoid processed food (anything that does not occur naturally).

    3. Get Your Sweat On

    Physical activity that raises your body temperature and induces that amazing sweat response is so great for strengthening your immune system. It helps to kill off bacteria, and the sweating releases toxins from your body. I recommend you get your heart rate up for more than 30 minutes each session.

    4. Avoid Dairy

    Dairy creates mucous and phlegm in the body. Say no to milk, cheese and yogurt while you are experiencing symptoms.

    5. Increase Your Protein Consumption

    Increase your protein consumption to give your body more of the building blocks it needs to fight the bad guys and keep your immune system in fighting form. Protein is needed for xx and this is why it is even more important when facing cold and flu bugs.

    6. Watch What You Drink

    You want to reach for hydrating beverages like water and herbal tea to flush the system. Stay away from dehydrating beverages like caffeine and alcohol.

    7. Get a Good Night’s Sleep

    Tired people are more susceptible to developing colds and flu symptoms from the germs they encounter. If you are not getting adequate sleep, your immune system will be weakened. When the bad guys attack, your good guys don’t have a chance. Strengthen your immune system by getting plenty of sleep and see our post here for tips.

    8. Control Your Stress

    Stress can also decrease the immune system, making you more susceptible to infections; it prevents healing and slows recovery. Look for outlets for reducing stress, like exercise, yoga, meditation or any soothing rituals (not food please) that help you to relax. Build in plenty of time in your schedule for alone time, romantic time with your partner and play time.

    9. Try Oil of Oregano

    It tastes awful but it works! At the first sign of cold or flu symptoms, take Oil of Oregano.

    10. Eat Immune-Boosting Foods

    Stock up on the following immune-boosting foods and let yourself overindulge in them! Echinacea, foods that are high in vitamin C like oranges (or try a supplement), ginger, garlic, oregano, onion and hot sauce.

    11. Try Natural Lozenges or Cough Syrup

    A lozenge or natural cough syrup can help you alleviate symptoms in the short-term. I recommend elderberry lozenges or cough syrup and zinc lozenges.

    12. A Spoonful of Honey Helps the Symptoms Go Away

    Honey contains anti-bacterial properties and helps combat germs when inside the body. Try a spoonful of honey on it’s own or with a spoonful of crushed garlic.

    13. Salt Water Gargle

    Gargle for a few minutes with salt water. It will help clear mucous and bacteria from the mouth and throat.

    14. Try Contrast Showers, Dry Skin Brushing and Steam Inhalation

    Not only are these three things very good for helping your body shed bad toxins, they also feel really good. A contrast shower involves switching from a hot temperature to a cold temperature during the duration of the shower. Dry Skin Brushing is completed with a loofah brush used in a circular motion on the skin while it is dry. And anything from a sauna (try our infra-red sauna) or simply inhaling steam over a bowl with eucalyptus will help evict the bad germs.

    15. Try Warming Socks

    This is a wonderful treatment for clearing congestion. The first step is to warm your feet, such as in a bath of warm water for 5 to 10 minutes. Soak a pair of socks in ice cold water and put them on your feet (stay with me, you will enjoy this I promise). Put dry heavy, preferably wool, socks over the wet ones and leave on as you go to bed. This treatment helps to clear congestion and increase circulation. It can also be quite soothing and sedating, making it effective for pain relief as well.

    16. Avoid Pain Relieving Medication

    These medications work to suppress a fever. But fevers are actually good for us; they work to kill off bacteria and they signal that the immune system is working. To find pain relief, try a cool bath, followed by lying down in a dark room.

    With these 16 tips you are well armed to face cold and flu season head on! Remember to make investments in wellness everyday; it’s the best preventative medicine. If you do become sick, try our tips here and be sure you rest. Sometimes we do need to take a day off.

    • 08-09-2016

    Back to Routine Tips for Healthy Living

    It's time to get back into the swing of things. Summer is over, fall is here and with it the return to some order and structure. Try these tips from Dr. Allana Polo for making this your healthiest fall yet.
    Try to get in the habit of going to bed at the same time each night, and always waking at the same time each morning. It may feel great to sleep in on weekends, but it will be far easier to wake at an early hour if that is what your body always expects.
    Make time for meal and snack planning, and get into the habit of shopping once a week, cutting and preparing foods in advance. Always leave the house with a little something in your purse, to curb hunger on the road which can lead to bad choices. Try a menu board in the kitchen and stick to it! Having a plan for what you will eat saves you from stressing over what's for dinner. Always having the right ingredients on hand will help you stick with healthy eating, even when you are tired and would rather order out. 
    Love to eat out? Don't deprive yourself, but rather set this date in advance so it is a choice and not an impulse. 
    Take advantage of starting into a routine again to create some new habits. Rather than always turning to television, if this is you, to unwind at night, try taking in some new hobbies and interests. Create a lovely before-bed ritual of a hot bath, soothing tea and a few chapters of a really good book. Try relaxing Yin style yoga to prepare the body for sleep, and keep a journal beside your bed so you can "download" all of those clutter-thoughts that keep you awake at night.
    Many new classes are starting up at your local gym and rec-centre. Fall is a great time to try a new activity. The secret to committing to regular physical activtiy is finding the sport or class that you absolutely love. You won't know exactly what that is until you try many different things. Don't want to go it alone? Set a few challenges to compete with a friend - like trying two new classes together, joining a new gym or even getting together after dinner for a walk and a chat.
    Make time for the things that keep you healthy and happy. There shouldn't be any excuse for missing out on these life essentials in your day. If you feel overwhelmed, try stacking activities together. Rather than sitting in the lunch room, walk with a friend to combine socialization and walking. Meal plan with your partner to enjoy some time together! Find ways to construct a healthy, happy routine that works for you.

    • 08-09-2016

    Get Started with a Fall Detox - Two Recipes to Try

    Our Naturopathic detox program is a powerful whole body cleanse to fight fatigue, increase your metabolism for weight loss and reset your body for the start of fall. Book an appointment to discuss the 7 or 21 day options available to you. You will be provided with a diet plan, recipes, an information package for your frequently asked questions and more!

    Here are a few recipes to get you started.

    Chicken Garden Soup


    6 carrots
    6 sticks celery
    2 onions, peeled and roughly chopped
    2 bay leaves
    sea salt
    freshly ground black pepper
    4 whole peppercorns
    1 organic/free-range roast chicken carcass, with leftover chicken attached

    olive oil
    2 cloves garlic, peeled and finely sliced
    4 shallots, peeled and finely sliced
    a few sprigs of fresh flat-leaf parsley, leaves picked, stalks finely chopped
    2 handfuls seasonal greens, such as kale or cavalo nero, washed and shredded
    200 g spinach, roughly shredded
    1 lemon


    Even the chicken carcass can be used as the base for a lovely and satisfying meal – I've used it here to make stock. Adding just a few extras will result in a comforting soup. Wash 2 of your carrots and 2 of your celery sticks and roughly chop them. Add them to a large saucepan with the onions, bay leaves, peppercorns, a pinch of sea salt and the chicken carcass. Fill the pan with cold water so that everything is covered, then place on the heat and bring to the boil. Reduce the heat to a simmer and cook for 1 hour, skimming off any scum that rises to the surface from time to time. About 20 minutes before your stock is ready, crack on with the base for your soup. Peel your remaining carrots, wash your remaining celery, and slice them nice and evenly, about ½cm thick. In another large saucepan on a low heat, melt your butter with a good lug of olive oil. Add the garlic, shallots and chopped parsley stalks and cook for 5 to 10 minutes until soft but not coloured. Add the carrots and celery and cook for a further 5 minutes. When your stock is ready, remove the chicken carcass, pull off any remaining pieces of meat and leave to one side, then discard the carcass. Strain your stock through a sieve into the pan with your softened veg. Bring to the boil then simmer for 20 minutes. Add your seasonal greens and cook for a further 10 minutes, adding the spinach for the last minute. Finish the soup by squeezing in the juice of your lemon, then taste and adjust the seasoning if necessary. Divide between bowls and top with any leftover shredded chicken, a sprinkling of parsley leaves and a good bit of freshly ground black pepper.

    Baked Salmon with Sautéed Kale

    How to Bake Fish:

    Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Rinse your fish fillet and place into a baking dish (I use an 8 x 8 glass dish). Generously sprinkle the top with Herbamare or sea salt and freshly ground black pepper. Drizzle the top with olive oil. You can add other dried herbs if you wish, but with the sauteed garlic scapes for a topping, salt and pepper are all you really need. Place fish into your preheated oven and bake for 10 minutes per inch of thickness. I actually never calculate this or even watch the time, I know when the fish is done by the smells in my kitchen. If you are not sure if it is cooked all the way through, simply remove the pan from the oven and pull away some of the flesh with a fork in the thickest part of the fillet. If it is very pink it still needs some time, if it is opaque pink, then it is done. Remember, fish still cooks after you remove it from the oven, so be careful not to overcook.

    Add steamed or sautéed veggies of your choice. Top choices: Broccoli, kale, green beans etc. 

    How to Sauté Kale:

    Rinse the kale leaves but do not dry them off. Finely chop them with a sharp knife. Heat a large pot over medium heat, add a few tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil and a few dashes of sea salt to the bottom of the pot. Add your wet greens. Saute for a few minutes (tender spring greens don't take long), add as many cloves of crushed garlic as you can tolerate and continue to saute until the kale is tender and wilted but still bright green. Add a little more sea salt to taste.

    • 25-08-2016

    Why Exercise Is About More than Looking Good

    Regular Physical activity is part of my prescription for healthy weight loss, but it's not the only time I prescribe it: it is part of nearly every whole health recommendation that I make. In order to strengthen vital organs of your body, you need exercise.
    Think it's only about fitting into your skinny jeans? Change your mindset and learn about how beneficial daily exercise is for your heart, lungs, brain .. really your whole body. And of course, losing weight feels great too.

    Photo Copyright: ammentorp / 123RF Stock Photo

    • 12-08-2016

    What Are Those Marks on the Skin of Olympic Athletes? The Health Benefits of Cupping

    Cupping is enjoying a moment in the spotlight and we are thrilled to see so many people now curious about this ancient Chinese healing practice. Our own Dr. Drew Jamieson was on Global TV recently to demonstrate cupping on Dr. Allana. Cupping leaves behind superficial markings on the skin, as blood is drawn to the surface much in the same way a hickey might leave a trace. And seeing these telltale red dots on athletes has many people talking about what cupping is. Here’s some information, should you be looking for techniques to manage your own muscle pain or soreness.

    Cupping has been a part of both eastern and western medical practices for centuries, with evidence of it existing in Egyptian and Ancient Chinese cultures. It involves specialized cups, which are placed on the skin. Either through heat or an air pump, the cups create a suction drawing the skin up and away from the muscles under the surface. The cups remain on the skin for a few minutes and this is enough time to encourage blood flow to the affected area.

    As Dr. Jamieson explains in this video, we need blood in order to heal. The movement of blood and fluid to the affected area helps speed recovery and reduces muscle soreness from overuse and even injury.

    After a cupping session you will find the telltale marks of redness, but these should disappear within a few days. Cupping is not painful, feeling more like a deep tissue massage and therefore the marks left behind are not considered bruises; a bump on your leg for example hurts because muscle or fascia has been damaged. With cupping there is no damage to the underlying tissues just a movement of very beneficial blood and fluid to the site to speed healing and recovery. It is for this reason that so many athletes find benefit in cupping - it allows them to recover and get back into their sport. It is also a great tool for pain prevention and management.

    If you want to learn more about cupping, and to discuss if it is right for you, come and see us in the clinic! This service is provided by Dr. Drew Jamieson and Dr. Andrew Gansner.

    Learn more.

    Make an appointment by calling 604 544 7656.

    • 05-05-2016

    Food Behaviour: Is Your Child's Behaviour Linked to the Food They Eat?

    When I sit with parents in my treatment room I repeatedly hear the same themes:

    -   How do I get my child to stop arguing about everything?

    -   I just do the chores because I am tired of asking my child to do them.

    -   I see my child irritating other children by teasing and poking at them.

    -   Little things seem to make my child so angry, even violent.

    -   My child doesn’t take responsibility, always blaming others.

    There are many reasons a child may display these behaviours.  I would like to focus on just one component though: food.

    What a child consumes can have a huge impact on the way that they act and respond to others.

    Food Ingredients to Watch For

    Most people will start by blaming sugar and undoubtedly sugar can be involved, but it is not the only culprit.  But let’s start by looking at sugar. 


    The human body does not have the ability to receive large amounts of sugar in short amounts of time – such as is what is found in sodas.  When excessive sugar is eaten, the brain reduces the production of a signaling chemical (BDNF) thereby lowering the ability to focus, reason and form memories.  Mental communication pathways can literally slow down.  Free radicals can increase and result in cell death. High blood sugar can cause neurons to misfire leading to inappropriate messages.  Abnormal brain waves are produced.  As well, an increase in stress hormone production is seen after consuming high amounts of sugar, which can lead to agitation and anxiety.

    As big a problem as sugar is, it may actually be low on the list of ingredients that negatively affect behaviour. Many of the foods that are readily available, easy to pack and preferred by kids (and many adults) are loaded with perfectly legal and highly questionable additives. Let's look at a few.

         Artificial Sweeteners

    Researchers have shown that diet sodas, when compared to sugar-based drinks, produce a distinct decrease in the ability to delay gratification (seen in daily life as a child who is not able to wait their turn).  

    Artificial sweeteners are implicated here. The brain expects a rise in blood sugar that never arrives. The result is increased impulsiveness as the body seeks to rebalance its unfulfilled biological expectations.  There is evidence that artificial sweeteners act as excitotoxins. This means that they excite the nerve cells in the brain to such a degree that they cause either damage or cause death of those cells. Gut bacteria is negatively altered by artificial sweeteners and imbalanced digestive bacteria can have indirect adverse nervous system effects.

         Artificial Colouring

    Children both with and without Attention Deficit Disorder diagnosis are equally affected by artificial colours in foods; all children’s attention and behaviour suffered after consuming common artificial food dyes. In Europe, some of the common dyes we use have been banned or must have warning labels.  One of the most highly used dyes is simply listed as caramel coloring and has been shown to cause high blood pressure (and more insidious problems), which many people can only perceive as anxiety.

         Sodium Benzoate

    A preservative called sodium benzoate found in drinks and salad dressings has been shown to increase hyperactivity.  There is some evidence this chemical also increases skin sensitivity and reactions.  Flavor enhancers such as MSG (and other deviously hidden similar chemicals) work by acting directly on brain receptors that trigger excitability. Australian research into flavor enhancers’ effect has led the development of the Feingold diet which can be used as a guide to minimize exposure.

    Combining Additives

    One thing that is often overlooked is the effect of combining additives.  Science requires an isolation of factors to determine proof of a theory: simply put, minimizing the variables can lead to an increased value of the research findings.  This becomes an obstacle, however, as it is possible, (even likely) more problems can occur when we mix additives, drugs, chemicals and allergens than when we consume additives alone.  Most reports of these combining effects look at dangerous or challenging drug interactions because drugs are easy to track. However, it is likely that consuming highly processed foods could produce similar results, but there is no mechanism for tracking them as many of them are not even listed on consumer labels.

    What's The Solution

    I hear you asking, “What then is the answer to these challenging behavioural problems?”  From a food perspective, it comes back to simplified eating habits.  The guidelines I give most of my patients are straightforward.  If you are eating something that your great-grandparents would have recognized as a food then you are off to a good start.  The closer a food looks to the way that it did when it was harvested the greater the chances that it is good for you and has fewer of these harmful added chemicals.  Processing food rarely makes it healthier. Mostly, processing makes it more appealing, both in appearance and in flavor while increasing shelf life.  Food science has worked at finding the ultimate palate pleasing, brain stimulating concoctions with no regard to how challenging the products are to the consumers. 

    It is often difficult to get children to eat healthy foods, but healthy foods can taste good. Over time they will develop a palate for a broader spectrum of flavours than salty, sweet and fat (which are the basis of most processed foods). 

    Have a look at this video clip which distinctly shows the difference in behaviours of groups of children who were fed either highly processed foods or more whole foods.

    The results are evident and dramatic. Which of these two groups do you want to deal with every day? 


    Photo Copyright: sifotography / 123RF Stock Photo

    • 24-03-2016

    Inflammatory Foods to Avoid

    We hear about foods like strawberries being a super food and yet for many people, they are causing inflammatory conditions in the body that leads to health concerns: arthritis, bursitis, colitis, conditions that can affect your joints and gut. These kinds of inflammations in the body need an anti-flammatory diet. Dr. Polo was on The Jill Bennett show on CKNW to talk about an anti-inflammatory diet, including what foods to avoid, for how long and how to re-introduce the food.

    You should avoid these foods for a good 3-6 weeks before you see a hint of improvement. Most people see improvement within a few weeks. Does this mean you have to always avoid those foods? It depends on the condition. You might notice that bringing the foods back in will create symptoms again. Pay attention to that concern and decide whether it is a food you can continue to eat.

    In this radio clip, Jill Bennett also asks about gluten. Most people that have inflammatory concerns do find an imporovement when gluten and dairy is removed. The key is to experiment. 

    For more information on foods to avoid in an anti-inflammatory diet, and how to go about removing these foods and potentially re-introducing them, listen to Dr. Allana's interview on the Jill Bennett show.

    Listen here.

    • 24-02-2016

    How to Sleep Better: Advice for When You Are Having Trouble Falling and Staying Asleep

    There is nothing worse that the feeling of frustration that comes over you when you can't fall asleep. Tossing and turning all night long, only to wake the next morning feeling depleted and exhausted, it is not the prescription for good health. What can you do to make for a better night's sleep? Here are my tips for giving yourself the best chance at catching deep and restful sleep.

    Getting ready for bed

    - Make your room as dark as possible. You shouldn’t be able to see your hand in front of your face. If you use an alarm clock, turn it away from you. Why? When light hits your skin, it disrupts the circadian rhythm of the pineal gland. As a result, this hinders the production of melatonin. Use low lighting in your bedroom and avoid using overhead lights and lamps with high-wattage bulbs.  Be aware of electromagnetic fields in your bedroom as they disrupt the pineal gland and production of melatonin and serotonin. EMFs are emitted through digital alarm clocks and other electrical devices. If you use them, leave them three feet away.

    - Turn off the TV

    - Use your bed for sleeping and sex only

    - Create bedroom “Zen” by trying to remove clutter, homework/work, calendars etc. If you can, think about painting the room earthy or soft tones. Making it your relaxing place: diffuse lavender essential oils, or peppermint.

    - Choose comfortable, soothing bedding, nothing that makes you too warm or itchy

    - Avoid using a loud alarm clock to wake you up suddenly. This can be a shock to your body; you’ll also find you’ll feel groggier when you are roused in the middle of a sleep cycle. If you get enough sleep on a regular basis, an alarm clock will not be necessary. If you do use an alarm, you should wake just before it goes off. Try a sunrise alarm, an alarm clock with natural light build in that simulates a sunrise, OR an alarm that gradually gets louder, or emits soothing classical music.

    - If you go to the bathroom during the night, keep the lights off. Brief exposure to light can shut down the melatonin production. If you really need a light, get a flashlight, or a nightlight.

    - Think about a comfortable mattress.

    Now that your room is ready, let’s talk about sleep!

    - Establish regular sleeping hours: try to get up each morning and go to bed every night at roughly the same time.

    Over sleeping can be as bad as sleep deprivation, how you feel each day is an indication of how much sleep is right for you.

    - Sleep nude (or as close to it as possible) wearing tight clothing (bras, underwear, girdles) will increase your body temperature and interfere with melatonin release while you sleep. You can also try a loose t-shirt and shorts, or a nightgown.

    - Get to bed by 11p.m: stress glands, the adrenals, recharge or recover between 11pm and 1am. Going to bed before 11pm is optimal for rebuilding your adrenal reserves. Start by going to bed 15-30 minutes earlier each night until you reach this goal.

    - Sleep 7-9 hours a night consistently. Needing more than 9 hours of sleep every night warrants a visit to your doctor for further investigation as this may indicate, hypothyroidism, depression or a deficiency of folic acid, vitamin B12. If you can wake with an alarm and feel rested, you’re probably getting the right amount of sleep for you.

    - See the light first thing in the morning. Daylight and morning sounds are key signals that help waken your brain. Turning on lights or opening the blinds is the proper way to reset your body clock and ensure that your melatonin levels drop back to “awake” mode until the evening. Also the exposure to morning light is one of the easiest ways to get a boost of energy.

    - Keep household lighting dim from dinnertime until you go to sleep. Believe it or not, this simple step not only prepares your body and hormones for sleep, but it also helps your digestion.

    Now you’re sleeping, but if you’re having trouble staying asleep, read on...

    - Avoid stimulating activities before bed, such as watching TV or using the computer. Computer use in the evening raises dopamine and noradrenalin, our brain-stimulating hormones that should be higher during the daytime.

    In the evening you need do engage in activities that make you more serotonin dominant, such as reading or meditation. Choose relaxing reading materials that have nothing to do with work!

    Stop all your work-related activities at least 2 hours before bed.

    - Develop a calming bedtime routine. Breaking bad habits often requires making good ones instead. Try reading something spiritual or listening to soft music. This can become cues for your mind to relax.

    READ: Stress Relief Strategies


    - If you cannot sleep, get out of bed and do something else until you feel the urge to sleep. Tossing and turning in bed will only make you feel frustrated. Try getting up for a while, but keep the lights low and the TV and computer off. Make a to-do list or try writing in a journal if you have problems sleeping because you feel that you have one million things to do. Write everything! Emptying those thoughts onto paper, but knowing that they are somewhere you may access them when you are ready, may create relief.

    - Exercise at the right time: exercising fewer than 3 hours before bedtime may be too stimulating and can impede your ability to fall asleep yoga and strength training are exceptions to this rule because they are less stimulating than cardiovascular exercise. Work out 3 to 6 hours before bed – this can help maximize the benefits of exercise on sleep, since the body actually increases deep sleep to compensate for the physical stress of your workout exercise. Exercise promotes healthy sleep patterns because of its positive effect on body temperature (after a workout, our body gradually cools down, which naturally makes us feel sleepy)

    - To relax muscles and trigger the sleep response after exercise, try a hot bath with Epsom salts. Soak in water as hot as you can stand with 1 to 2 cups of Epsom salts for at least 20 minutes. Place a cold towel around your neck if you feel too warm while in the bath.

    - Exercise your mind too. Try Sudoku or a daily crossword. People who are mentally stimulated during the day feel a need to sleep in order to maintain their performance.

    - Avoid napping. If you are getting enough sleep in the night, you shouldn’t feel the need to sleep in the day.

    - Avoid caffeine at any time of the day. Caffeine may be metabolized at different rates. A dose of caffeine usually takes 15 to 30 minutes to take effect and lasts for 4 to 5 hours. In some people it may last much longer, making usage in the afternoon a bad idea. If you must have it, have it in the morning. Caffeine may also negatively affect the natural release cycle of cortisone, which is generally highest in the morning and lowest in the evening. Cortisol release rises slightly at 2am and 4am, and then hits its peak around 6am. If this pattern is disrupted, you may awaken at these times and find you are unable to fall back asleep.

    - Avoid bedtime snacks that are high in sugar or simple carbohydrates like breads, cereals, muffins, cookies, or other baked goods. These prompt a short-term spike in blood sugar, followed by a sugar crash later on. A blood sugar drop means adrenalin, glucagons, cortisol and growth hormones are release dto regulate blood glucose levels – all of these stimulate the brain, making you become more awake. Try to avoid eating for at least 2 hours before going to bed and if you do need to eat, go for protein-rich (source of tryptophan that will be converted to serotonin and melatonin), high-fiber snacks like a few almonds and half an apple, sugar from the fruit may help the tryptophan reach your brain and take effect more readily.

    - Try to avoid fluids in the 2 hours before bedtime avoiding the drinks may help you avoid the washroom at night. Go easy on the alcohol, the body metabolizes alcohol as you sleep, which can result in sleep interruption. It appears to affect brain chemicals that influence sleep and to shorten total sleep time. Alcohol can prevent you from failing into deeper stages of sleep (where you do most of your healing!)

    If you try these tips and still struggle to fall or stay asleep, or to get a restful rejuvenating sleep, please reach out for help. We might need to take a look at what's happening for you.

    • 25-01-2016

    How to Avoid Xenoestrogens for Healthy Hormones

    Xenoestrogens and many other hormones become deposited and stored in our body, particularly in our fat reserves. With the amount of pollution in our air, water and general environment and surroundings, we are constantly exposed from unavoidable sources. If you can avoid known sources and keep your body from accumulating with toxins, it would be a great investment in your health, wellbeing, hormonal balance and much more.

    Below are simple ways you can help decrease your exposure to these “bad estrogens”

    - Check your cosmetics, soaps, lotions, dish detergents etc. for synthetic chemicals such as parabens, petroleum products (mineral oil is petroleum based) and “fragrance.” Many ingredients for sunscreen protection show estrogenic activity as well. The skin is very effective at absorbing what you put on it. A woman on average swallows 8 pounds of lipstick in her lifetime. Read labels and if there are words too complicated to pronounce or you don’t know what they are, they are most likely toxic. Ideally your cosmetics should be as organic as possible since pesticides are another source of xenoestrogens. Try this resource to better understand what to avoid in your cosmetics and skin care products. Try natural solutions to common beauty problems.

    - Avoid eating and storing foods in plastic. The softer the plastic the more will leach into foods and drinks. Plastic wrap, plastic bags (Ziploc), plastic water bottles (plastic bike bottles are some of the worst sources) are much more harmful than harder plastic containers such as Tupperware, and Nalgene bottles. Use wax paper, glass storage containers and jars or even aluminum foil as an alternative (glass is best). Never microwave or heat anything in plastic. The more oil or fat content in the food, the more toxins will leach into it from the plastic—try your best to avoid buying oils, nuts or cheeses stored in plastic bottles or packaging. If you purchase something in plastic packaging such as flax seeds or other nuts, immediately transfer them to a glass jar for storage since the amount of time the food has contact with the plastic also affects the amount of toxins passed into the food. Store food and drink in glass or stainless steel containers. 

    - It should also be noted that non-organic meat and dairy can be sources of xenoestrogens in that steroid hormones are used to fatten cattle and poultry. Try to buy organic meats and dairy products as best as you can to avoid getting extraneous hormone sources. Grass-fed beef has up to 5x more Omega-3, 2x more CLA fatty acids; more Vitamin A, Vitamin E, Zinc, and Iron. 

    - Try to buy organic produce whenever possible, as xenoestrogens are found in pesticides used to grow conventional produce. If you can't afford or don't want to buy organic everything, try to steer clear of the dirty dozen.

    If you are concerned about xenoestrogens, or your hormonal health, please make an appointment to come and see me. There are so many effects on our health when hormones are out of balance.


    • 11-12-2015

    How to Treat Dark Circles or Bags Under the Eyes with Natural Remedies

    Do you have dark circles or bags under your eyes? It can be frustratingly common for many of us. Here Dr. Polo shares tips for understanding what's going on here and what to do.

    Possible Causes:

    Black or dark circles under or around the eyes can be caused by many different factors. Most people inherit the tendency for dark circles. The following are the most common causes of those unattractive dark circles.

    • Fatigue, lack of sleep: A lack of sleep or excessive tiredness can cause paleness of the skin, which again allows the blood underneath the skin to become more visible and appear more blue or darker.

    • Nutrition: The lack of nutrients in the diet, or the lack of a balance diet, can contribute to the discoloration of the area under the eyes.

    • Stress: A fast-paced lifestyle, especially if you spend long hours on the computer can contribution to black bags under your eyes - perhaps mostly because you don't get enough sleep.

    • Heredity: Like varicose veins, dark circles under the eyes are usually an inherited trait. If you have dark circles, there is a good chance that others in your family also have them. The skin under the eye is very thin. When blood passes through the large veins close to the surface of the skin it can produce a bluish tint. The more transparent your skin, also an inherited trait, the darker the circles appear.

    • Exposure to the Sun: Even in darker skinned people, exposure to sunlight, especially during the summer months, can cause a higher-than-normal level of skin pigmentation (melanin) under the eyes. People get suntans because exposure to the sun increases the natural pigmentation of the skin and draws that pigmentation to the surface. The same principle applies to the skin under the eyes.

    • Allergies, Asthma and Eczema: Any condition that you have that causes your eyes to itch can contribute to darker circles under the eyes because rubbing or scratching the skin can darken the skin. Hay fever sufferers particularly will notice under-eye "smudges" during the height of the allergy season. Some food allergies can also cause the area under the eyes to appear darker.

    • Medications: Any medications that you are taking that causes blood vessels to dilate, can cause circles under the eyes to darken. Because the skin under the eyes is very delicate, any increase blood flow shows through the skin.

    • Pregnancy and Menstruation: The skin can also become more pale during pregnancy and menstruation, which again allows the underlying veins under the eyes to become more visible.

    • Age: If you have a propensity to have dark circles under you eyes, as you grow older, they are likely to become more noticeable and permanent. Excess folds of skin under the eyes will also make dark circles more pronounced.

    • Adrenal exhaustion: This one needs the support of your naturopath.

    What can you do to minimize dark circles or bags under the eyes?

    Natural Remedies

    • Eight hours of sleep is a must for all of us, especially for people who naturally have dark circles under their eyes.

    • Diet: Eat a whole-foods, plant-based diet, drink plenty of water (eight 8-ounce glasses daily), and avoid alcohol, coffee, tea and caffeinated soft drinks. These go a long way in preventing bags, circles and wrinkles.

    • Tea Bag Treatment: Try applying a cold compress of rosemary tea to increase circulation, which helps reduce swelling around the eyes. Make tea by bringing a half-cup of fresh rosemary and a quart of water to a boil. Steep for 20 minutes, then strain and chill. Soak a washcloth in the tea, ring out extra liquid anal place over eyes for 15 to 20 minutes, once a day, as needed.

    • Acupressure: Another circulation-boosting treatment is acupressure. This is an easy exercise that you can also do every day. Close your eyes and gently press your ring finger underneath one eye, moving from the inside corner to the outside corner. Do this 10 to 15 times. Then repeat on the other eye. Learn about our acupuncture services.

    • Cold compress: Close your eyes and cover them with a cold washcloth for about five minutes. Repeat several times throughout the day. That will help constrict your blood vessels, minimizing darkness, and it may help minimize tissue swelling and eliminate some of the darkness.

    • Freeze some parsley in ice cubes. Use the parsley cubes instead of eye creams to diminish dark circles and puffiness. Parsley is packed with chlorophyll which helps fade darkness, while the ice cubes reduce the swelling.

    • Potato/Cucumber combinations are helpful.

      • Close your eyes and cover eyelids with slices of raw potato or cucumber for 15-20 minutes. Wash with warm water and apply a cream.

      • Grate a cucumber, squeeze to take out its juice and refrigerate. Make a mixture of lemon juice, lanolin cream and cucumber juice and apply around the eye for 10-15 minutes.

      • Dip some cotton in a 1:1 mixture of potato and cucumber juices. Put the cotton on your eyelids and keep for 20 minutes. Wash your eyes with cold water.

    • Lemon/Tomato combinations are helpful.

      • Apply a mixture of lemon and tomato juice (equal parts) on the black circles 2 times a day.

      • Make a paste out of the following:

        • 1 tsp. tomato juice,

        • 1/2 tsp. lemon juice,

        • a pinch of turmeric powder, and

        • 1 tsp. of flour.

          Apply around eyes. Leave on for 10 minutes before rinsing.

    • Apply a paste of turmeric powder with pineapple juice for dark circles under the eyes.

    • Apply crushed mint around the eye.

    • Massage with almond oil under and around eyes at bed time daily for 2 weeks and see the improvement. Almond helps to remove dark circles, and is an excellent "skin food".

    • Vitamin E Rub the area with a powdered Vitamin E capsule and wipe off with a mixture of honey and egg white.

    • Put hot and cold cloths alternatively under eyes for 10 minutes. Then apply some almond oil on the dark surface before going to bed.

    • Smooth Puffy Eyes with Egg White: Astringent egg white tightens your pores and reduces puffiness. Additionally, its high concentration of the B vitamins promotes circulation and reduces inflammation. Use your fingers to dab 1/2 teaspoon of one raw egg white onto the clean, dry skin around your eyes, avoiding your eyes themselves. Leave it on until it dries, about 15 minutes. Then rinse the area well with warm water and wash your hands with soap and water.

    If you are worried that your dark circles or bags mean something more, be sure to make an appointment with your naturopath.

    You might also like to read: Secrets to Glowing Skin.

    Find out more about our medical aesthetic services.


    Photo Copyright: sergeyp / 123RF Stock Photo

    • 09-11-2015

    Dr. Polo's Liver Detox Guidelines


    Detoxification is the process of clearing toxins from the body and neutralizing or transforming them. Poor digestion, sluggish or dysfunctional bowels, decreased liver function, and poor elimination through the kidneys, respiratory tract, and skin all increase toxicity.

    Detoxification, in theory, is a process that occurs naturally in our bodies, by organs that physiologically function to carry out such processes, but due to the number of toxins and chemicals in our food, water, air and through processing/metabolism, these toxins build up over time.

    Detoxification involves dietary and lifestyle changes that reduce the intake of toxins while enhancing elimination.


    Toxins can be both external (environmental such as alcohol, pesticides, tobacco, heavy metal, medication, oral contraceptives) and internal (the body through its normal metabolism forms by-products which are toxic if not neutralized or excreted).

    The liver is the main and most important detoxifying organ in our bodies, acting as a blood filter. It not only breaks down, neutralizes, and detoxifies, but it also removes chemicals, dead cells, wastes, drugs, particles from the blood, bacteria, and undigested food from our bodies. Special liver cells call Kupffer cells ingest and break down toxic materials like the body’s waste products, alcohol, xenobiotic chemicals, medications and drugs, artificial chemicals that are found in foods, air and drinking water.

    A poorly functioning liver can lead to toxin overload and contribute to ill health and chronic diseases.

    The liver uses 2 phases of detoxification to perform this function, therefore, we need to ensure that both phases are functioning optimally.


    Your current lifestyle practices play a huge role in liver function and overall health.

    Plenty of fresh air is needed to support cleansing and oxygenation of the cells and tissues, while exposure to vitamin D and sunshine is needed to revitalize our body.

    Exercise - very important to support the cleansing process. It helps to relax the body, clears wastes, and prevents toxicity symptoms.

    Hydrotherapy in the form of contrast Showers - alternating hot and cold showers provide cleansing, increases circulation and is a simple, effective way of improving metabolism. Start with three minutes of hot water (or as warm as you can tolerate) followed by less than one minute of cold water (or as cool as you can tolerate). Repeat pattern at least once, and always finish with cold.

    Dry skin brushing - with a soft brush or loofah prior to bathing, start at the feet and hands, working your way up, and always stroking towards the heart. This can be done every day, year round. This helps to clear toxins from the skin (the largest detoxifying organ of the body!).

    Rest - an important component of allowing body to detoxify and heal. Ensure at least 8 hours of sleep per night.


    Heavy fats that cause extra work for the liver and gallbladder: dairy products, foods high in heavy saturated fats such as preserved meats, smoked meats, sausages, deli meats, and hot dogs, processed vegetable oils (such as hydrogenated oils or trans-fats), fried foods. Artificial chemicals, artificial sweeteners, artificial flavours, artificial colours, pesticides and artificial preservatives that can be found in food also place tremendous pressure on the liver, forcing it to work harder to process these chemicals.

    Read product labels carefully to detect unnecessary chemical additives. Consider purchasing bodycare lotions that don’t contain synthetic ingredients, after all, your skin is highly absorptive and these chemicals eventually end up inside your body’s bloodstream to be processed by the liver and other organs.

    Alcohol causes stress on the liver and damages many cells in the body. Reduce your alcohol intake as much as possible.

    Prescribed and over-the-counter medications need to be processed by your liver once they’re absorbed. Use them only as directed by your medical doctor or pharmacist.

    Storing and heating food and beverages in plastic containers causes chemicals to leach into the food; store and heat your foods in glass or stainless steel as much as possible.

    Avoid drinking water in plastic bottles, as the bottles leach chemicals known as xenoestrogens into the water. Store your water in glass or stainless steel bottles.


    Fruits and vegetables that are rich in color and variety are high in antioxidants and are helpful for preventing cell damage and providing vitamins and nutrients to assist with healthy body function. As a rule of thumb, the darker, deeper or richer the color, the better the food is for you. Dark leafy greens, as well as orange, yellow and red coloured fruits and vegetables are rich in antioxidants. Berries are also a rich source of antioxidants.

    Consume at least 6 servings of fruit and vegetables daily.

    Fresh squeezed lemon added to water can be helpful to gently promote liver function. Lemons are bitter, and work to gently stimulate the liver and digestive juices in the stomach. Fresh lemons are also abundant in vitamin C, which is a useful antioxidant to support liver detoxification.

    B vitamins are vital for optimal liver function, by helping with energy and fat metabolism in the body. They also aid the liver with congestion that can be caused by alcohol, birth control pills and toxin exposure. B vitamins are found in dark leafy green vegetables, whole grains, nuts, seeds, fish, egg yolk, milk and eggs.

    Milk Thistle (Silybum marianum) is an herb that helps to protect and regenerate the liver. It has anti-inflammatory and antioxidant effects. There is much research that demonstrates Milk Thistle’s ability to benefit a variety of liver diseases. You can find this herb in a tea form, or for more concentrated extracts, consult with your naturopathic doctor for effective product and dosing recommendations.

    Dandelion (Taraxacum officinalis) is a bitter herb that stimulates digestion and the flow of bile. It is helpful for liver and gallbladder congestion. Consume young dandelion leaves (if harvesting at home, make sure they haven’t been contaminated with pesticides). They may be used fresh in salads, served lightly steamed or added to stir-fry. Dandelion root may be drank as a tea or served roasted as an alternative to coffee.

    Support your liver with these liver detox guidelines. Your liver will thank you!

    You might also like to read: Foods to Eliminate During a Detox.

    • 07-11-2015

    How to Survive Cold & Flu Season: Immune Boosting Tips

    The cold and flu season is here and it is important to protect your body from invading germs. There are many natural ways to boost the immune system, and to treat your symptoms if you do become ill. Dr. Andrea Gansner has put together a terirrific handout with everything you need to know to survive the cold and flu season, naturally.

    Causes of impaired immune function

    • High stress

    • Lack of sleep

    • Decreased physical activity

    • Poor diet

    • Impaired digestion

    • Lack of exposure to sunlight General Tips

    • Wash your hands frequently throughout the day – this may sound simple but it is really important! Especially after blowing your nose. Washing your hands frequently greatly decreases the risk of viral spread. Avoid touching mucous membranes (eyes, nose, mouth) with unwashed hands. Avoid close contact to those you know are sick

    • Avoid sharing food and drinks with others

    • Sneeze & cough into your elbow crease

    • Work to manage stress

    • Avoid cigarette smoke

    • Drink alcohol in moderation


    Herbs to BOOST immune function

    Echinacea purpura (Echinacea) at the first sign of Cold:

    • Tincture or capsules best

    • There are children’s formulas available in glycerin form (sweet) of Echinacea and Goldenseal

    • Take for 2-3 days, to help fight off cold before it takes hold

    • Follow instructions on the supplement label for dosage or talk to your naturopathic doctor


    Astragalus membranaceus (Astragalus)

    • Is used to strengthen and support the immune system to better prevent colds and flus.

    • Immunostimulant/modulator

    • Activates T cells, increases T cell cytotoxicity, increases phagocytosis

    • Slows replication of viruses


    Lentinula edodes (Shitake)

    • Protective/prophylactic against most strains of influenza

    • Increases phagocytotic activity


    Eleutherococcus senticosus (Siberian ginseng)

    • Used for 4000 years in TCM to improve general health

    • Treats fatigue and stress

    • Immunomodulatory, and increases resistance to stress

    • Antiviral, analgesic, anti-inflammatory, antibacterial, antifungal


    Immune Boosting tea

    - 4 cups water

    - 6 peeled garlic cloves, cut in half

    - Approximately 1 ½ - 2 inches of peeled fresh ginger, sliced into ¼ inch rounds

    • Bring to boil, cover, turn down and simmer for 5-8 minutes.

    – Add honey to taste.

    – Add juice of 1 lemon.

    – Add a tiny pinch of cayenne pepper (optional)

    • NOT for children under 1 year of age, contains honey *


    Herbs to take when you are sick!

    When looking for herbal treatments, choose formulas with these herbs – combinations of immune boosting and antimicrobial. Can use in pills, tinctures or teas.

    Sambucus nigra (Elderberry)

    • Anti-viral and anti-inflammatory

    • Study found it resolved flu sx in 2-3 days vs. 6 days for controls

    • Prevented replication of several strains of Influenza types A and B

    • Reduced mucous production, and improved sx of influenza


    Berberis aquifolium (Oregon Grape)

    • Antibacterial, anti-inflammatory


    Plantago lanceolata (Plantain leaf)

    • For cough (anti-tussive), also antibacterial

    • Soothes irritation of the throat and bronchi


    Eupatorium perfoliatum (Boneset)

    • For cough, also antibacterial

    • For deep muscle/bone pain, intermittent or constant fever

    • Immune stimulatory


    Inula helenium

    • For cough (anti-tussive), expectorant, immunostimulant

    • Good for chest pain, persistent wet cough


    Recommended Supplements

    • Vitamins A, C, E: Mucous membranes, immune support, antioxidant. Vitamin A (caution in pregnancy)

    Food sources include carrot, squash, broccoli, kale

    • Vitamin C: Adults 500 mg 1-4 times daily, Children 200-300 mg 1-3 times daily. Can have up to 5 grams per day to boost the immune system.

    May cause loose stools

    • Zinc lozenges: great for relief of sore throats. Antiviral, MOST people deficient

    • Intravenous multi-vitamin, multi-mineral infusion to optimize health which we offer at our clinic



    • Gargles – are antimicrobial and astringent

    o Salt water gargle: gargle with 1 tbsp salt in warm water to help clear mucous and bacteria from the mouth and throat

    • Steam inhalation

    o 2-3 drops of essential oil in bowl with boiling water

    Eucalyptus, tea tree, rosemary, thyme

    o Helps reduce congestion in the nose and sinuses

    o Create a tent by draping a towel over the head to prevent the escape of vapours, and inhale for 5-10 mins

    o Can use in children only with supervision 

    • Humidifier w/ eucalyptus oil: Hydrates dry irritated throat

    o Great for children at night for cough and congestion

    • Contrast hydro on the chest: to assist in mucus expectoration and cough productivity

    o 2 mins hot, 1 min cold, ending on cold


    Dietary recommendations for good immune health

    • Eat regular meals to stabilize your blood sugar

    • Never skip breakfast

    • Limit simple sugar consumption. Bacteria love to feed on simple sugars! Weakens immune system, decreases number of WBCs and reduces their ability to kill viral or bacterial infections.

    • Maintain an ideal body weight. Obesity is a risk factor for influenza

    • Increase intake of bright/colourful veggies: Fruits and veggies are high in antioxidants (Vit A, C & E), Zn, bioflavonoids o A lack of nutrients decreases the immune response

    • Incorporate garlic and onions into your diet: Contain alliin and quercitin, two immune-modulating and immune boosting phytochemicals that are scientifically proven to contain antiviral and antibacterial properties

    • Remove preservatives, artificial sweeteners and colourings, flavourings, sodium

    • Avoid refined/allergenic foods – can increase inflammation in the body

    • Get plenty of fluids. Allows for improved lymphatic circulation. Dry respiratory tracts have been shown to produce a much more hospitable environment for viruses to invade than a moist environment. o Water is also very important in the function of white blood cells o Optimally you need to drink half an ounce of water for each pound of body weight to thin mucus secretions. (at least 8 cups/day)

    • Decrease caffeine intake – causes increase in cortisol leading to a decreased immune system

    • Incorporate good sources of protein into your diet: o Lean meats, eggs (if not sensitive), and legumes o Ensuring adequate protein is essential to produce antibodies and white blood cells that are responsible to fight off bacteria

    • Nuts are a good source of protein and also contain high amounts of arginine, an amino acid responsible for regulating immune function • Eat fish 2-3xweek: especially cod, contains high amounts of vitamin D, a nutrient that is key to optimal immune function

    • Incorporate food sources of probiotics: Fermented foods help to feed the good bacteria in the gut:

    – Plain yogurt: contains acidophilus and lactobacillus for optimal digestive health and thus immune function.

    – Kefir

    – Sauerkraut (fermented cabbage)

    – Kimchi (Korean spicy cabbage)

    – Tempeh (a fermented soybean product)

    - Should say contains “Live” or “Active” cultures


    I hope these tips help keep you healthy this season. 

    All recommendations and tips are suggestions only. In order to follow-up with the advice given, it is strongly suggested that you contact your health care practitioner regarding your specific health and concerns.

    Photo Copyright: pressmaster / 123RF Stock Photo

    • 11-02-2015

    9 Ways to Reduce Stress

    By Francesca Tomas, Registered Professional Counsellor

    Sometimes a little stress can be helpful. However, many of us frequently experience stress overload. Remember, stress puts your health at risk. Stress is linked to the leading causes of death including heart disease, cancer, and lung disease. Stress causes headaches, muscle tension, depression, and anxiety. Stress also takes a big bite out of your productivity, creativity, and motivation. So, what can you do? 

    You can't just walk away from your job or responsibilities. But you can put into action a personal stress reduction plan, and I am here to help you do just that.  

    Here's my short list of 9 easy ways to reduce stress.

    Healthy Diet

    Stick to a healthy diet. Eat more leafy greens, fruits, and vegetables. Eliminate or cut back on refined carbohydrates, like sugary cereals, chips, and desserts. Read labels on cans and packages. Avoid saturated fats and trans fats. If you have emotional eating issues, get these under control to feel the rewards of a balanced diet. 


    Exercise 20 minutes daily to brighten your mood and relieve your stress. For optimal health benefits, try to raise your heart rate while you exercise. Do something you enjoy like brisk walking, playing tennis, or swimming. An indoor treadmill, elliptical, or stationary bike can be handy in cold weather.


    Yes, sleep. The sweet spot is 7.5 to 8 hours per night. Sleep lets your body rest and repair, and helps reboot you for the next day. Not enough sleep can make you irritable and slow your thinking.

    Take Care of Your Emotions

    Be present in the moment. Check your body several times a day. How do you feel? Is your neck tight? Are your shoulders tense?

    If you feel tense, take a break or a short walk. Breathe deeply and exhale slowly to help release the tension. Be concious of your feelings and work with someone to better understand how they are affecting your life in the big picture.

    Write a Daily To-Do List

    Trying to remember everything you need to do each day increases your stress. Writing a list simplifies the process and helps you prioritize your tasks. This avoids stress. 


    Laughter releases feel-good hormones that help you release stress. Watch a comedy, read funny books or get together and share funny stories with a friend or family member. 

    Pay Attention to Your Self-Talk.  

    What are you saying to yourself? Is your self-talk negative? 

    If it is, you will feel worse if you listen. It will also ramp up your stress. Practice stopping the negative self-talk when it begins and finding positive things to say to yourself instead.

    Keep a Journal. 

    Before you go to bed at night, write down anything that comes to your mind.

    How was your day? Debriefing at night helps you get a better night's sleep. It's therapeutic to clear your mind of stressors and put in on paper. Once out of your head, negative thoughts no longer have a place to expand. 

    Write Five Things You are Grateful For

    This could be a daily gratitude journal or a once a week practice. Writing gratitude statements has been closely linked to increased happiness and contentment. Statements can range from someone holding the door open for you to someone taking the time to listen to your story. 

    Implement these 9 strategies for reducing your stress, and be sure to be honest with yourself. If you are consistently overwhelmed by life, perhaps you need to work with someone to target the root of your troubles. It is always good to get in touch with your feelings and thoughts, which itself can reduce a lot of stress.

    This has been one entry in our detox series. See our 7 pillars of detox, of which "rest" and living stress-free is one pillar. You might also like to read: eliminate, and sweat.

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    • 09-02-2015

    Why Sweating is Good for You

    We’ve been sharing the secrets to a healthy detox, from prepping for the week with healthy food to what to eliminate from your diet to stay well. We’ve got more up our sleeves as we roll out the top advice for making you your healthiest yet. Now, let’s focus on sweat. Yes, it may make you nervous in an important meeting - do I have sweat stains under my arms? - but sweating is an important part of your body’s processes. Here’s why, and here’s how to get your sweat on.

    Why Your Body Needs to Sweat

    Your body’s way of releasing toxins

    Sweating is your body’s way of releasing toxins, such as heavy metals you are exposed to in the food that you eat, and chemicals that get in through the air that you breathe. This study showed a high concentration of heavy metals in the perspiration of research participants (compared with urine), suggesting sweat as a means for reducing the body’s toxic load.

    Sweating also helps clear the lymphatic system, which supports your immune system. It helps ensure there aren’t toxic blockages in the lymph nodes, which can affect your overall health.

    Opens up pores

    In spite of your rigorous cleansing, your skin’s pores are holding on to dirt and grime. Sweating is an amazing way to open up the pores and deeply cleanse the skin towards greater skin tone and clarity (goodbye acne).

    Sweat is a natural antimicrobial

    Getting sweaty from head to toe actually makes you a superhero, with the superpower of fighting germs so they don’t enter your body. Yes, research shows that sweat is a natural antimicrobial. Sweat contains dermicidin, an antibiotic that has been shown to fight tuberculosis and other dangerous bugs.

    So now that we’ve convinced you that sweat is good for you, what are the best ways to get your sweat on?

    • You should be moving to produce a sweat at least 20 minutes, 3 times a week;

    • Hit the sauna - our infrared sauna is a therapeutic way to get sweaty;

    • In a pinch, allow the face to sweat by filling a basin with boiling water and hang your head over top with a towel draped around you.

    Sweating is a natural part of ridding your body of toxins, and is therefore essential to any detox plan. Let us know when you want to jump in the sauna!

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    • 30-01-2015

    Eating Well on Super Bowl Sunday

    The Super Bowl is synonymous with chilli and cheesy nachos, sausage rolled in wheat and other fried and not exactly healthy foods. So how can you survive the day without going overboard and packing on the pounds? I’ve got a few tips to share with you.


    Balance Alcohol Consumption with Water

    Beer and football go hand in hand. No matter what your choice of alcoholic beverage, balance your intake with water to stay properly hydrated (alcohol can dehydrate you) and to keep your system well-flushed. Water can also fill you up just a little bit more, so you tend to eat less.

    Bring Your Own Healthy Option

    If you are attending a party, you can probably expect a great spread of fat-filled, unhealthy treats. Bring something you can share with everyone that offers a nice alternative. You can reach for this instead when you want something to snack on. Some healthier options include,

    Eat Before Arriving So You Aren’t Starving

    When our bellies are empty, we are more likely to make poor choices, as our body naturally just wants us to get food in there fast. Eat a healthy, protein-rich snack before you head out to the party, or start the game. You are less likely to overeat and more likely to choose consciously.

    When You Do Indulge, Detox

    When you do overeat and overindulge the important thing is to not beat yourself up over it. Recognize it wasn’t your finest hour and then move on. The next day you can mitigate damage by having a detox day. Our blog has great resources for how to do this, but a detox day might include drinking tons of water (with lemon would be great!), some light fasting, saying no to white sugar, white flour and white rice, steering clear of alcohol and caffeine and focusing on eating a lot of protein and vegetables.

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    • 29-01-2015

    The Benefits of Colon Hydrotherapy

    Susan Kinross, one of our Certified Colon Hydrotherapists, would love to talk with you about how amazing Colon Hydrotherapy is. And it is an integral part of your detox process. Have you been following along as we talk through the 7 pillars of a healthy detox? We've talked about the importance of being prepared, and the foods you need to eliminate to be successful in this process.

    Now Susan is here to share with us the benefits of Colon Hydrotherapy. We'll include a link to more information on our site, and of course to book - because you'll feel inspired!

    Hello Detoxers and Cleansers!

    In my experience for myself and in working with others, colon hydrotherapy is a fantastic aid to cleansing - before, during or after a cleansing diet.  It’s a gentle yet powerful detoxification treatment.  So as your body is going through a time of detox with your cleansing diet – your organs and cells are letting go of toxins through the various channels of elimination from the body.  The colon is a major channel of elimination.  Although ideally the colon would always move all of its toxic waste out of the body, the reality is that it is very common for fecal material and toxins to become stuck and congested, accumulating in the pockets of the colon.

    Having a colonic (short term for colon hydrotherapy session), or a series of them, during your cleansing diet helps to ensure that those toxins that you are eliminating from your organs and cells are getting out of your body!

    Of course you can only know the benefits if you try it for yourself!  Once you try a colonic and experience the results, you will know what a gift this is to you.


    Susan Kinross

    Certified Colon Hydrotherapist


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    • 21-01-2015

    Foods to Eliminate During a Detox

    Welcome to part 2 of our detox series! Missed part 1? You can read about it here. This post comes to us from Dr. Andrea Gansner, ND and it takes you through the second pillar of a great detox: eliminate! Dr. Andrea wants to teach you how to follow a diet that is focused on optimal nutrient intake, and a detox that removes common allergens, towards building healthy habits and keeping these changes for the long-term. Here is what you need to know:

    An elimination diet is commonly used in order to identify hidden food allergies, sensitivities and intolerances that may be contributing to your symptoms. This break from the common allergenic foods enables the body to heal and decreases potential sources of inflammation in the body. It is also great for a detox period, because it gives the body a break from common triggers.

    If you have any known allergies or sensitivities, work to eliminate them entirely from your diet and minimize environmental exposures. Eliminate all forms of the food by carefully reading food labels and inquiring as to how foods are prepared at restaurants to avoid triggers if eating out.

    Prior to beginning a detox, I recommend my patients remove the following list of foods from their kitchens and replace them with healthy whole food alternatives.


    Read labels thoroughly;

    Try to eat fresh organic fruits and vegetables whenever possible. If cost is an issue, begin by eliminating the Dirty Dozen These are the most pesticide residue laden fruits and vegetables so buy organic to minimize exposure;

    Avoid foods high on the glycemic index. The glycemic index of a food calculates the carbohydrate and fiber content and determines how much the food will increase blood sugar. Aim for foods that are lower on the glycemic index and do not spike blood sugar;

    Avoid deep fried foods, canned vegetables, and frying vegetables. Instead, bake, steam or eat your vegetables raw to ensure optimal nutrient density/concentration.

    Foods to eliminate during a detox:

    Processed foods, the common allergens, sugar, alcohol, caffeine (exception: green tea);

    Avoid anything with added colour, flavouring, preservatives;

    Avoid all sweeteners, including: honey, molasses, glucose, fructose, maltose, maltodextrose, brown rice/corn/maple syrups, white/brown sugar;

    Avoid all carbonated beverages such as pop, fruit juices high in refined sugar and processed vegetable drinks;

    Grains that contain gluten (wheat, rye, spelt, kamut, barley, oats). These are usually found in pasta, bread, products made from refined flour, but can be found in hidden sources such as soy sauce. Avoid yeast containing bread and crackers;

    Avoid eggs and dairy products, such as: milk, cheese, yogurt, cream, butter;

    Avoid shortening, margarine, and refined oils;

    Avoid red meats such as beef, pork, deli meats, sausages, hot dogs, canned and smoked meat;

    Avoid canned fish, tuna, catfish, shellfish; 

    Tomatoes, potatoes, peppers, eggplant, corn, which are common allergens;

    If you have a ragweed allergy – remove sunflower seeds and oil, safflower oil, dandelion, chicory, chamomile, iceberg lettuce and artichokes;

    Avoid peanuts, cashews and pistachios, salted or flavoured nuts;

    Soy products (soy milk, soy beans, tofu, tempeh, miso, soy sauce, TVP) because they are common allergens;

    Avoid bananas, oranges, grapefruits, strawberries, melons and dried fruits. 

    I hope this food elimination list helps you navigate the sometimes confusing information available and instead makes these changes ones that will last a lifetime. After the detox period, or after checking that you are not sensitive to these foods, please feel free to slowly add them back in (using moderation for some, or eliminating entirely for others - ie. processed foods).

    Follow the Polo Health Detox on Facebook!


    Dr. Andrea Gansner, ND 


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    • 14-01-2015

    7 Pillars of a Great Detox: #1 Prepare with Soup Recipe

    Have you joined our detox challenge? And are you following along on Facebook as participating practitioners share what they've been up to, and how they are coping with the challenge of ridding the body of excess toxins, and cutting the crap? Last night we held our information night and Dr. Andrea introduced the concept of "detox" to all who attended. If you missed it, don't worry!, we'll be sharing resources on the blog all month long!

    We'll cover the 7 Pillars of a Great Detox .. that's right; we've boiled it down to the top 7 things to do or keep in mind when taking on the detox challenge, and we will share resources on how to support these 7 topics as we go along.

    So without delay, what are the 7 pillars of a great detox? 

    1. Prepare;

    2. Eliminate;

    3. Cleanse;

    4. Sweat;

    5. Rest;

    6. Move;

    7. Transition.

    First up, prepare....

    On a detox program you need to fuel the body with foods that heal and nurture, and eliminate those foods that are toxic, counter-productive and hard for your body to process. When switching to a new diet, or starting a new habit, the hardest part can be process of learning how to integrate new practices into your daily life. So when you can't reach for your regular sugar-fix at 3pm, what do you reach for instead? We might shout: "Carrot sticks and hummus" from the rooftops, and you might respond, "Who has time to cut up carrots and to make homemade hummus?" Well, you do! Here's Dr. Polo's secret for always having healthy food on hand.

    Every Sunday morning (well, almost) I head to the grocery store and pick out fresh fruits and veggies, as well as kitchen staples and meat. I stock my fridge and freezer with only nutritious food, so I am never tempted to eat anything that isn't the best for me. I prepare a big bin of fresh cut veggies, for snacking all week long, and then make sure to have a few other dips and meals on-hand for busy nights.

    I also pack a lot of meals - sometimes I eat lunch and dinner at the clinic. While it is always tempting to get take-out, I know that I can stick to my healthy eating goals if I make food at home that is just as good, and just as portable, as take out.

    I make up big salads, grill chicken breasts, hardboil a few eggs (makes a quick protein-rich snack) and set aside small portions of nuts and seeds. Another thing I love to make in batches is soup! And to prepare for this detox I made a big batch of detox soup.

    I don't have a recipe, because I make it up as I go, but here are the ingredients for you to mix and experiment with!













    And gluten free chicken broth

    Added 1 cup of quinoa.

    Let cook for a few hours and purée it!


    Do you prepare meals and snacks in advance? What do you like to make?

    • 09-01-2015

    Take the Polo Health Detox Challenge!

    January is a popular time to set health goals and to start new weight loss or healthy eating programs. But so many of us approach the new year confused about how to get started eating better, cleansing the body (inside and out!) and moving toward wellness.

    At Polo Health + Longevity Centre we have decided to challenge each other to a little workplace fun! Several of our practitioners have all decided to embark on a detox program. And we hope you will join us; it is a great way to learn more about lasting lifestyle changes! A detox is an opportunity to be kind to your body, to cleanse from the crap you may have consumed over the holidays and to start your new year with a fresh mind, and feeling great. 

    So just what is a detox? 

    Our bodies are built to naturally remove impurities and foreign junk via the liver but also the kidneys, intestines, lungs, lymph and skin. But our exposure to toxins (in food in the form of pesticides and preservatives, in plastic products that leach into our food or water, and all around us in the air) can sometimes load up our body and make it hard for the liver and other organs to keep up. A detox is a way to help the body better eliminate the stuff that invades it, towards a better and more vibrant system all around. By following detoxification principles, you can...

    - Kick start weight loss, or move stubborn pounds;

    - Improve the tone and clarity of your skin;

    - Enjoy increased energy and a brighter mood;

    - Overcome pain and inflammation;

    - Experience stress relief;

    - Fix chronic digestive problems.

    A detox can take many forms and some popular (even ancient) forms include:

    - Fasting;

    - Eliminating certain foods;

    - Juice cleanses;

    - Supplement protocols;

    - Sauna, hot baths, steam;

    - Colon hydrotherapy.

    Our program at Polo Health will include a couple of different components - including giving up certain foods, adding in key supplements and taking advantage of our Infra Red sauna and colon hydrotherapy. If you want to join us, come to our info night happening January 12 at 6pm at 711 Columbia Street. Click here for more info. And follow along on Facebook, and here on the blog, as we share resources.

    Anyone can detox, anytime. But it is best to seek medical guidance when embarking on one, and when finishing a detox. We can help you smoothly transition, while making lasting lifestyle changes.

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