Back health tips for gardening

  • Give your muscles a chance to warm up before working in the yard or garden. Practice stretching with the various movements you will be working in the yard, or take a short ten to fifteen-minute walk around the block.
  • Avoid prolonged bending, pushing and pulling while raking and hoeing, which can strain shoulders or the lower back.Use long-handled tools, or the resulting forward and sideways bending can aggravate the neck or lower back.
  • To avoid strain and muscle spasm on one side of the body, switch hands frequently while raking or hoeing.
  • When using a hedge trimmer, keep your back straight and use short strokes to avoid upper arm and neck strain. Pause after three to five minutes.
  • Carry medium-to-small sized loads of debris close to your body, or use a wheelbarrow to avoid strain on your back. Save heavier work for mid-way through your chores. This helps avoid sudden strenuous exertion on unused muscles and joints.
  • Keep overhead work to five-minute episodes. Avoid extreme reaching with one arm.
  • Kneel to perform tasks, rather than bend.
  • Stretch! Back exercises should deal with flexibility first, strength second.
  • Finally, if a task seems like too much work, it probably is. Hire a professional for tasks like landscaping, tree-topping or trimming large hedges.

For more information, consult with your family chiropractor.

BC Chiropractic Association Staff. “Back Health Tips for Gardening | BC Chiropractic Association.” BC Chiropractic Association. Accessed June 19, 2016.

What is CranioSacral Therapy?

CranioSacral Therapy (CST) is a gentle, hands-on approach that releases tensions deep in the body to relieve pain and dysfunction and improve whole-body health and performance. It was pioneered and developed by Osteopathic Physician John E. Upledger after years of clinical testing and research at Michigan State University where he served as professor of biomechanics.

Using a soft touch which is generally no greater than 5 grams – about the weight of a nickel – practitioners release restrictions in the soft tissues that surround the central nervous system. CST is increasingly used as a preventive health measure for its ability to bolster resistance to disease, and it’s effective for a wide range of medical problems associated with pain and dysfunction.

How does CranioSacral Therapy Work?

Few structures have as much influence over the body’s ability to function properly as the brain and spinal cord that make up the central nervous system. And, the central nervous system is heavily influenced by the craniosacral system – the membranes and fluid that surround, protect and nourish the brain and spinal cord.

Every day your body endures stresses and strains that it must work to compensate for. Unfortunately, these changes often cause body tissues to tighten and distort the craniosacral system. These distortions can then cause tension to form around the brain and spinal cord resulting in restrictions. This can create a barrier to the healthy performance of the central nervous system, and potentially every other system it interacts with.

Fortunately, such restrictions can be detected and corrected using simple methods of touch. With a light touch, the CST practitioner uses his or her hands to evaluate the craniosacral system by gently feeling various locations of the body to test for the ease of motion and rhythm of the cerebrospinal fluid pulsing around the brain and spinal cord. Soft-touch techniques are then used to release restrictions in any tissues influencing the craniosacral system.

By normalizing the environment around the brain and spinal cord and enhancing the body’s ability to self-correct, CranioSacral Therapy is able to alleviate a wide variety of dysfunctions, from chronic pain and sports injuries to stroke and neurological impairment.

What conditions does CranioSacral Therapy address?

  • Concussion and Traumatic Brain Injury
  • Migraines and Headaches
  • Chronic Neck and Back Pain
  • Autism
  • Stress and Tension-Related Disorders
  • Motor-Coordination Impairments
  • Infant and Childhood Disorders
  • Brain and Spinal Cord Injuries
  • Chronic Fatigue
  • Fibromyalgia
  • TMJ Syndrome
  • Scoliosis
  • Central Nervous System Disorders
  • Learning Disabilities
  • Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder
  • Orthopedic Problems
  • And Many Other Conditions

Is there any condition for which CST shouldn’t be used?

There are certain situations where application of CST would not be recommended. These include conditions where a variation and/or slight increase in intracranial pressure would cause instability. Acute aneurysm, cerebral hemorrhage or other preexisting severe bleeding disorders are examples of conditions that could be affected by small intracranial pressure changes.

How many CranioSacral Therapy sessions will I need?

Response to CST varies from individual to individual and condition to condition. Your response is uniquely your own and can’t be compared to anyone else’s – even those cases that may appear to be similar to your own. The number of sessions needed varies widely – from just one up to three or more a week over the course of several weeks.

When was CranioSacral Therapy developed?

It was in 1970, during a neck surgery in which he was assisting, that osteopathic physician John E. Upledger first observed the rhythmic movement of what would soon be identified as the craniosacral system. None of his colleagues nor any of the medical texts at the time could explain this discovery, however.

His curiosity piqued, Dr. Upledger began searching for the answer. He started with the research of Dr. William Sutherland, the father of cranial osteopathy. For some 20 years beginning in the early 1900s, Sutherland had explored the concept that the bones of the skull were structured to allow for movement. For decades after, this theory remained at odds with the beliefs of the scientific and medical communities. Dr. Upledger believed, however, that if Sutherland’s theory of cranial movement was in fact true, this would help explain, and make feasible, the existence of the rhythm he had encountered in surgery.

It was at this point that Dr. Upledger set out to scientifically confirm the existence of cranial bone motion. From 1975 to 1983 he served as clinical researcher and Professor of Biomechanics at Michigan State University, where he supervised a team of anatomists, physiologists, biophysicists and bioengineers in research and testing. The results not only confirmed Sutherland’s theory, but led to clarification of the mechanisms behind this motion – the craniosacral system. Dr. Upledger’s continued work in the field ultimately resulted in his development of CranioSacral Therapy.

CranioSacral Therapy (CST) was pioneered and developed by osteopathic physician John E. Upledger following extensive scientific studies from 1975 to 1983 at Michigan State University, where he served as a clinical researcher and Professor of Biomechanics.

CST is a gentle, hands-on method of evaluating and enhancing the functioning of a physiological body system called the craniosacral system – comprised of the membranes and cerebrospinal fluid that surround and protect the brain and spinal cord.

Using a soft touch generally no greater than 5 grams, or about the weight of a nickel, practitioners release restrictions in the craniosacral system to improve the functioning of the central nervous system.

By complementing the body’s natural healing processes, CST is increasingly used as a preventive health measure for its ability to bolster resistance to disease, and is effective for a wide range of medical problems associated with pain and dysfunction, including:

  • Migraine Headaches
  • Chronic Neck and Back Pain
  • Motor-Coordination Impairments
  • Colic
  • Autism
  • Central Nervous System Disorders
  • Orthopedic Problems
  • Concussions and Traumatic Brain Injuries
  • Spinal Cord Injuries
  • Scoliosis
  • Infantile Disorders
  • Learning Disabilities
  • Chronic Fatigue
  • Emotional Difficulties
  • Stress and Tension-Related Problems
  • Fibromyalgia and other Connective-Tissue Disorders
  • Temporomandibular Joint Syndrome (TMJ)
  • Neurovascular or Immune Disorders
  • Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder
  • Post-Surgical Dysfunction


SomatoEmotional Release (SER) is a therapeutic process that uses and expands on the principles of CranioSacral Therapy to help rid the mind and body of the residual effects of trauma. SER1 offers applications designed to enhance results using CST and other complementary therapies.

  • Assess and mobilize the Avenue of Expression working through more than 10 different body components, including the thoracic inlet, hard palate and hyoglossal tissues.
  • Locate and release Energy Cysts.
  • Release suppressed emotions that may be inhibiting complete structural releases.
  • Refine listening and comprehension skills.
  • Improve palpation and whole-body evaluation skills.
Upledger Institute Staff. “CST FAQs.” Frequently Asked Questions About CranioSacral Therapy. Accessed June 12, 2016.

Stress Management

Stress. This one little word carries the weight of the world. And it’s responsible for many health complaints in doctor’s offices across Canada. But what exactly does this word mean? Stress is the “wear and tear” your body experiences as you adjust to the continually changing environment. It has physical and emotional effects and can cause a variety of feelings.

Stress can be your friend or your enemy . A moderate amount of stress can be stimulating and challenging, pushing you to higher levels of personal achievement. But stress overload can be harmful to your health. Being overwhelmed with too many tasks can create negative emotions, such as frustration and anxiety. You can become tired, inefficient, and less decisive if you  continue at a frantic pace over an extended period of time. This may lead to exhaustion or illness. Stress can take a terrible toll on your physical and emotional health, as well as on your relationships.

The first step in preventing stress is realizing that it is your response to an event or situation, not the event or situation itself that causes these negative feelings. Things that are stressful for some people aren’t for others. For example, some people find their morning commute incredibly tiring, letting bad traffic conditions frustrate them. Others look at the time in the car as personal time when they can escape from the chaos of work and family commitments.

How the body responds to stress

Stress affects your body by releasing hormones such as adrenaline and cortisol that can cause your heart rate and blood pressure to rise, your muscles to tense and your blood sugar level to increase. The symptoms of stress may include:

  • anxiousness, depression, or irritability
  • sleep disturbances
  • muscular tension
  • headaches
  • digestive problems
  • appetite changes
  • frequent minor illnesses
  • difficulty in concentrating or making decisions

Causes of stress

There are two main kinds of stressors: external and internal. Examples of external stressors include:

  • Physical environment: noise, bright lights, heat, and confined spaces.
  • Social interaction: dealing with people who are rude, bossy, or aggressive.
  • Major life events: losing your job, the death of a loved one, a promotion, marriage, divorce, or the birth of a baby.
  • Daily hassles: commuting, misplaced keys, and mechanical breakdowns.

Examples of internal stressors include:

  • Lifestyle choices: too much caffeine, not enough sleep, and an overloaded schedule.
  • Negative self-talk: being pessimistic, self-critical, or over-analyzing.
  • Mind traps: having unrealistic expectations, taking things personally, all-or-nothing thinking, exaggerating, and rigid thinking.
  • Stressful personality traits: being a perfectionist workaholic, or people pleaser.

Strategize for stress control

One of the safest and most effective ways to treat stress is to eliminate the things that cause it when you can. For stressful events that you can’t change, try to modify your attitude and reaction.

Since no single method of stress management is successful all of the time, you may want to try a variety of approaches. Consider the following list of techniques, and determine which ones might work best for you:

  • Decrease or discontinue caffeine use: Caffeine is a stimulant. Too much caffeine can cause headaches, restlessness, irritability, and difficulty sleeping. Slowly wean yourself from caffeine to avoid withdrawal headaches.
  • Physical activity: Regular, moderate exercise is one of the best ways to manage stress. Aerobic exercise-the kind that increases your heart rate, such as running, walking, bicycling, or swimming-is especially good at reducing the harmful effects of stress. Stretching is also a good way to relieve muscle tension.
  • Discuss your feelings: Social support is a major factor in how people experience stress. Knowing that you are cared for may improve your mental and physical health. Speak with someone you trust. By expressing your feelings, you will be able to understand and cope with them better. Or create a stress log and write for about 10 to 15 minutes a day about stressful events and how they make you feel.
  • Laughing: Laughter makes your muscles go limp and releases tension, so try to keep a sense of humour.
  • Find an activity you enjoy: Choose a hobby or activity that can help you relax, such as writing, gardening, crafts, or art.
  • Time management: Time management skills such as prioritizing, managing commitments, and learning to say “no” can allow you more time to relax and can help increase you performance and productivity.
  • Lifestyle changes: Some behaviour and lifestyle choices affect your stress level by interfering with the way your body seeks relief from stress. Try to eat a balanced diet, limit your intake of alcohol, avoid smoking, get enough sleep, and balance your personal, work, and family needs and obligations.
  • Relaxation techniques: There are a variety of methods that help many people relax and relieve tension.
  • Medications: In some cases, a doctor may prescribe a medication to help a person get through a particularly stressful time. Your doctor on London drugs can explain what the options are.

Relaxation techniques

Jus wishing away stress events won’t work. You need to deal with the way stressors affect you. The following are some relaxation techniques that can help reduce the physical symptoms of stress and help ease your mind:

  • Deep breathing: During stress, breathing becomes shallow and rapid. Taking a deep breath from the stomach, rather than the chest, is an effective technique for winding down. Try to do 20 minutes of deep breathing every day for god health, not just when you’re stressed.
  • Progressive muscle relaxation: This technique involves relaxing a series of muscles one at a time. First, you raise the tension in a group of muscles, such as in a leg or arm, by tightening the muscles, and then relax them. Concentrate on letting the tension go in each muscle.
  • Massage therapy: Massages can help relieve muscle tension.
  • Aromatherapy: Aroma-producing oils from plants are used to promote relaxation.
  • Yoga, Tai Chi, or qi gong: These are forms of exercise and meditation. Many local community centres offer classes in these techniques.
  • Music therapy: Music can alter your mood and help you relax.
  • Meditation: This relaxation technique focuses your attention on feeling calm and having clear awareness about your life.
  • Guided imagery: Also known as visualization, this relaxation method involves lying quietly and picturing yourself in a pleasant and peaceful setting.

The world is a busy place chock full of stressful situations. While you can’t always control the events and situations that cause you stress, you can control how you manage your reaction to daily stressors.

The material in this patient information pamphlet has been supplied by a professional medical writer and reviewed by Antony Nield, M.D. It is intended for information purposes only and should not be used in place of consultation with a healthcare professional. London Drugs is not responsible for error, omissions, or inconsistencies with respect to the information contained in this pamphlet and does not accept any liability whatsoever for reliance by the reader on the information contained herein.

Four Back-saving Tips for the Office

Given the number of hours in a work week spent sitting, including commuting time, it’s not surprising that many office workers suffer from at least one musculoskeletal (MSK) condition. Common workplace injuries include tendonitis/osis, carpal tunnel syndrome, back and neck pain, as well as neck/shoulder stiffness and circulatory problems. Pain and discomfort can be caused by maintaining a poor or static posture, repetitive movements, awkward work positions, and even excessive bending and twisting. Luckily, by paying attention to workplace ergonomics, you may be able to decrease the risk of developing many of these conditions or minimize the pain and discomfort. Check out the tips below to see how you can improve your office ergonomics and ultimately your health.

1. Adjust your chair

Sitting too high or too low relative to your desk or computer screen can fatigue and even strain the muscles of the neck, shoulders, back and even legs. An improperly positioned backrest may cause slouching or shrugging, and increase stress on the shoulders and back.

Sit in your chair so that your shoulders and lower back are resting comfortably against the back rest. The back rest should be adjusted to an angle of 90-110 degrees to provide adequate support.1,2,3 You may need to use a lumbar support pillow or rolled up towel to provide extra support to your lower back. The height and angle of the seat should allow for your thighs to be parallel to the floor with your knees in line with or slightly lower than your hips.

Once you have adjusted your chair, check your feet. If they are not flat on the floor, use a foot rest to decrease pressure on the back of your thighs. The arm rests support your forearms and elbows, and it’s important that they are the correct height for your body.

2. Adjust your computer monitor

The height and viewing distance of your computer monitor are important considerations that could help reduce eye strain, as well as muscle tension/stiffness in your neck, shoulders and upper back. The top line of text on the screen (not the top of the monitor) should be at eye level. This helps to keep your neck in a neutral position while you work. If your monitor is not adjustable, stack stable books or other materials underneath the monitor’s base to raise it up. If the monitor is too high to begin with, raise your chair and use a foot rest to maintain proper posture. If you raise your arm to shoulder height and stretch it out in front of you, your fingertips should just reach the screen.

3. Check the position of your keyboard and mouse

The keyboard height should allow you to rest your arms (rather than reaching) with your elbows at your sides and your forearms parallel to the floor. Keep your wrists neutral and consider using a soft wrist support.

Position your mouse at the same height as the keyboard and as close to the keyboard as possible to avoid reaching. Keep your wrist straight and use your full arm to move the mouse from your shoulder. Don’t grip it too tightly and take your hand off the mouse when you aren’t using it.

4. Maintain proper posture

If you’ve incorporated the above tips into your workspace setup, you should also pay attention to your posture. Most importantly, make sure you sit comfortably with a neutral spine and take “movement breaks” at least every 50 minutes or so. As a reminder, you can set an alarm or directly schedule breaks in your calendar. Straighten Up Canada, the free app from Canada’s chiropractors provides quick, easy-to-perform exercises and allows you to set reminders so you never forget to straighten up.

For more useful tips to help you beat back pain at work, check out our At Work resource.

CCA Staff Team. “Four Back-saving Tips for the Office.” Canadian Chiropractic Association CCA Association Chiropratique Canadienne. May 16, 2015. Accessed May 29, 2016.

Massage outperforms meds for low back pain, study finds

Is it conceivable that massage can provide more effective relief from low back pain than medication? A new study published in the Annals of Internal Medicine suggests this therapy might indeed alleviate back pain better in the short term than traditional interventions of medicine, bed rest or exercise: Healthday reports.

The investigation conducted by the Group Health Research Institute in Seattle involved 400 patients who had low back pain, the majority of which were middle aged, Caucasian and female. Researchers found those who were given a series of relaxation massage or structural massage were better able to work and be active than those who were given traditional medical care, such as pain pills, muscle relaxants or physical therapy.

According to The New York Times, the study’s participants were randomly divided into three groups: structural massage, relaxation massage and traditional care. Patients in the massage groups received one hour of therapy weekly for 10 weeks.

At the conclusion of the 10 week period, over one-third of the patients who were given massage therapy reported their pain was much improved or eliminated completely, as opposed to only one in 25 patients who were given traditional care. Furthermore, patients in the massage groups were twice as likely to have spent fewer days in bed rest, used less pain pills and participated in more activity than the traditional care group.

Lead author Daniel Cherkin was surprised by the fact that structural massage did not prove superior to relaxation massage in relieving pain. Structural massage involves manipulating specific back pain related muscles and ligaments, while relaxation massage, otherwise known as Swedish massage, involves inducing body-wide relaxation.

The beneficial effects of the massage seemed not only to be experienced during the 10-week therapy period, but also to linger for a time following the cessation of therapy. Evidence of this lingering effect was manifested by the fact that the massage groups continued to display improved function six months after the study’s onset. At the one year mark, however, no significant differences were found in the three groups.

Although the researchers were uncertain of massage therapy’s exact mechanism of action for easing back pain, they voiced several theories. One suggestion was that it either stimulated tissue locally or produced a general central nervous system response. Another speculation was that merely spending time in a relaxing environment and feeling cared for might have been responsible for the improvement. An additional factor to consider is the subjectivity that is impossible to eliminate in such studies. Patients in the control group were aware that the other groups were receiving massage and this knowledge may have caused them to discount their own progress.

It should be reiterated that the study suggests rather than proves the benefit of massage for back pain. Also, some members of the American medical community not associated with the research have expressed reluctance to accept the suggested benefits as being valid.

Conversely, the study’s authors offered their assessments of its import. Cherkin characterizes the results as being “pretty strong.” He states the massage was tested on patients who did not improve using the standard medical approach to back pain treatment. He feels that massage therapy is a reasonable thing to try for anyone getting insufficient relief from this malady. The coauthor, Dr. Richard Deyo, feels that massage appears to provide clinicians with another choice for managing the challenging medical problem of chronic low back pain.

Learn more:

Mary West. “Therapeutic Massage of SWFL | Massage Therapy | Massage Therapist.” Therapeutic Massage of SWFL | Massage Therapy | Massage Therapist. November 5, 2015. Accessed May 23, 2016.!Massage-outperforms-meds-for-low-back-pain-study-finds/c1usb/563bf34d0cf2c322b49657ae.

5 Benefits of Massage for Fibromyalgia Patients

National Fibromyalgia Awareness Day is May 12 each year—and a good reminder for massage therapists to consider how healthy touch can help the 5 million Americans estimated, by the National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases (NIAMSD), to live with the pain and tenderness of fibromyalgia.

Fibromyalgia causes pain throughout the body, with tenderness in joints, as well as in muscles, tendons and other soft tissues. Although there is no cure for this painful syndrome, pain can be managed—and massage for fibromyalgia patients is one way to practice pain management.

This condition still remains a mystery to allopathic caregivers.

Fibromyalgia is seen in approximately 5 million Americans, according to the NIAMSD, and affects females more than males by a 9:1 ratio. Primary age range to acquire this condition is between 20 and 50 years old.

The Fibromyalgia Patient

Particular characteristics and certain demographics of fibromyalgia sufferers were studied recently, within the context of a national health survey. Results from the 2012 National Health Interview Survey (NHIS) conducted by the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health, released in late 2015, indicated that:

  • People with fibromyalgia had high levels of pain, non-pain symptoms, and psychological distress.
  • Their fibromyalgia-like symptoms were severe and continuous.
  • About 27 percent were diagnosed with fibromyalgia by a physician.
  • About 73 percent who were not diagnosed with fibromyalgia were told they had rheumatoid arthritis, gout, lupus or low-back pain.
  • They were more likely to have co-occurring major medical conditions, such as heart attack; hypertension; diabetes; depression or other mental illnesses; rheumatoid arthritis; or lupus.
  • They had relatively high levels of medical costs, Social Security disability and work disability.
  • Certain demographic factors and health behaviors were more highly associated with the presence of fibromyalgia, including: being female; residing in the Midwest; possessing an educational level lower than college; being divorced or separated; obesity; smoking; and being a U.S. citizen rather than a noncitizen. Fibromyalgia occurred about equally across all racial and ethnic groups, but was less common in Asians.

Symptoms of Fibromyalgia

The main symptom of fibromyalgia is pain, which can range from mild to severe. Pain may be characterized as shooting, burning or a deep, unrelenting ache. Soft tissue around joints may develop tender points. Pain can improve during the daytime and worsen at night, although for some people the pain remains all day.

If one has had three months or more of widespread pain, with more than 10 tender-point areas, there is a good chance that she will be diagnosed with fibromyalgia.

Today, a newer method of diagnosing this condition is being adopted by physicians. This includes a 19-item checklist in which a patient indicates which body parts have felt painful in the prior week. Patterns are witnessed over time as the patient completes this checklist weekly.

Almost all fibromyalgia patients suffer from hallmark symptoms: unrefreshing sleep, fatigue and cognitive issues. Other common symptoms include headaches, anxiety and depression. Although symptoms can improve, fibromyalgia is a long-term disorder with pain and symptoms continuing years.

Massage for Fibromyalgia

There are many benefits of massage for fibromyalgia patients, and various types of massage, including myofascial release, Swedish and shiatsu have been indicated by research studies to help this clientele. Here are five of the benefits of massage for fibromyalgia patients:

  1. The first will be relaxation to improve sleep. Sessions in the evening will benefit the patient to allow better quality of sleep at night, thereby helping the body repair and rejuvenate at night more effectively.
  1. The second benefit is improved muscle tonicity. This benefit will aid lethargic muscles and help restore strength and vitality to your client’s body. Be sure to include more petrissage strokes to accomplish this goal.
  1. A third benefit will be to improve mental clarity. A relaxing session can raise healthy awareness and relieve mental stress. This can improve the client’s cognitive issues.
  1. Headache relief is the fourth benefit a fibromyalgia patient may receive. Improving blood flow to the brain can relieve the physical source of headache, while the relief received can further keep the person’s mind in a healthier space.
  1. A fifth benefit is diminishing the effects of any anxiety or depression. These effects include hormonal fluctuations, interference with appetite and chronic fight-or-flight mode. Massage can restore homeostasis of the body, thereby diminishing these effects.

The Role of Empathy

A final consideration is to remain compassionate and supportive in the fibromyalgia patient’s treatment-plan efforts. A client who presents with fibromyalgia has likely grown accustomed to family, friends and practitioners not taking her condition seriously.

A massage therapist who treats this client with empathy and respect, holding her feelings in high regard and without judgment, will make the greatest impact and produce the most favorable treatment results.

Information presented in an article is never intended to replace advice from a medical professional.


About the Author

Jimmy Gialelis, L.M.T., B.C.T.M.B., is owner of Advanced Massage Arts & Education in Tempe, Arizona. He is a National Certification Board for Therapeutic Massage & Bodywork-approved provider of continuing education, and teaches “Working with Pathologies—Arthritis” and many other classes. He wrote “Fibromyalgia: Massage Therapy Considerations” for MASSAGE Magazine’s July 2015 print issue, and “Massage Therapy for Thyroid Health”  and “Massage for Clients with Hemophilia,” among other articles, for


Gialelis, Jimmy, L.M.T., B.C.T.M.B.. “5 Benefits of Massage for Fibromyalgia Patients.” MASSAGE Magazine. May 11, 2016. Accessed May 15, 2016.

What is naturopathic medicine?

What is naturopathic medicine?

Naturopathic medicine is a distinct primary health care system that blends modern scientific knowledge with traditional and natural forms of medicine. It is based on the healing power of nature and it supports and stimulates the body’s ability to heal itself. Naturopathic medicine is the art and science of disease diagnosis, treatment and prevention using natural therapies including: botanical medicine, clinical nutrition, hydrotherapy, homeopathy, naturopathic manipulation, traditional Chinese medicine / acupuncture, and prevention and lifestyle counselling.

What can naturopathic medicine do for you?

Naturopathic medicine treats all forms of health concerns — from paediatric to geriatric, from irritating systems to chronic illness and from the physical to the psychological. Naturopathic medicine is beneficial for the following types of patients:

  • Patients that are looking for disease prevention and health promotion strategies.
  • Patients that have a range of symptoms that they have been unable to address on their own or with the help of other medical practitioners.
  • Patients that have been diagnosed with an illness, often serious or chronic and are looking for alternative treatments. Naturopathic medicine is very effective for improving quality of life for those with serious and life threatening illnesses.
  • Patients that are looking to combine conventional and naturopathic treatments with the aim of minimizing side effects of drugs, surgery or conventional treatments.

Types of Naturopathic therapies

Naturopathic doctors use a variety of non-toxic, non-pharmaceutical treatments. All naturopathic doctors in Canada are trained in the following natural therapies:

Clinical Nutrition

Clinical nutrition examines the relationship between diet and health. Special diets, food elimination, variations in dietary habits or the use of nutritional supplements may be recommended.

Botanical Medicine (Herbalism)

The use of plants for healing dates back to the beginning of civilization and is the foundation of modern pharmacology. The use of herbs in many forms: teas, tinctures or capsules are used for their healing effects and nutritional value may be recommended for healing effect.

Homeopathic Medicine

Homeopathic remedies are minute dilutions of plant, animal and mineral substances designed to stimulate the body’s “vital force” and strengthen its innate ability to heal.

Traditional Chinese Medicine / Acupuncture

Based on balancing the flow of Chi (energy) through meridian pathways under the skin, Oriental medicine includes the use of Oriental herbs and acupuncture to regulate and release Chi in order to bring the body into balance.

Physical Medicine

Physical medicine includes soft tissue work (including therapeutic massage); naturopathic manipulation of muscle, bone or the spine; hydrotherapy techniques; gentle electrical impulses, ultrasound, diathermy; and exercise therapy.

Prevention and Lifestyle Counselling

Naturopathic doctors address all aspects of a person’s life, identifying and addressing the impact that stress and life events have on a patient’s health and assisting patients to make effective lifestyle choices.

Some naturopathic doctors will have additional training in other natural therapies such as:

  • IV Therapies
  • Chelation Therapy
  • Minor Surgery
  • Colon Therapy

Conditions and illnesses treated
Naturopathic doctors are primary health care practitioners. They are trained to treat virtually all health concerns from acute to chronic, pediatric to geriatric and physical to psychological. Naturopathic doctors work with three main groups of people: 1) patients that are looking for disease prevention and health promotion, 2) patients with a range of health concerns and no clear diagnosis and 3) patients with chronic and severe illnesses.

Safe and effective treatment

The goal of naturopathic practice is to treat underlying disorders and to restore normal body function by enhancing the body’s own healing abilities. Therefore, naturopathic doctors must focus their efforts on understanding the unique needs of each patient. Naturopathic doctors assist the body’s healing powers by using safe, effective non-pharmaceutical approaches with patients.

As a result naturopathic treatments are highly individualized. Patients are involved in their treatment programs and learn to make effective, educated self-care decisions, which can prevent future health problems.

Naturopathic diagnosis and therapeutics are supported by scientific research drawn from peer-reviewed journals from many disciplines, including naturopathic medicine, conventional medicine, European complementary medicine, clinical nutrition, phytotherapy, pharmacognosy, homeopathy, psychology and spirituality.

Information technology and new concepts in clinical outcomes and assessment are particularly well-suited to evaluating the effectiveness of naturopathic treatment protocols and are being used in research, both at naturopathic medical schools and in the offices of practicing naturopathic doctors. Clinical research into natural therapies has become an increasingly important focus for naturopathic doctors.

“About Naturopathic Medicine.” Canadian Association of Naturopathic Doctors. 2015. Accessed May 08, 2016.


Acupuncture Can Help With Weight Loss

By Alex A. Kecskes

It’s a staggering fact that as many as a quarter of all Americans are overweight. In their struggle to lose those excess pounds, Americans spend over 33 billion dollars every year on weight-loss programs. Regrettably, a whopping 95 percent fail in their attempt to lose the weight they need to maintain good health. Fortunately, medical acupuncture can help.

Acupuncture involves the insertion of very fine, sterile needles at specific body points or “energy pathways.” The inserted needles act to stimulate the release of endorphins, the body’s natural “feel good” hormones. This can create a calming, relaxing effect, which counteracts the need for excessive eating brought about by increased stress, frustration or anxiety. In this respect, acupuncture can calm those so afflicted and help them lose weight without resorting to drugs.

Several studies have shown that when acupuncture is combined with traditional methods of weight loss, patients lose more weight. In these cases, one to three acupuncture weight loss sessions can be safe and effective in helping people achieve reasonable weight loss goals.

In Traditional Chinese Medicine, the belief is that excessive weight gains are caused mainly by an imbalance in the body due to a malfunction of the spleen and liver organ systems. Skilled acupuncture practitioners will zero in on specific body areas to effect weight loss. Among these are the endocrine system and kidneys, which are addressed to treat water retention and to stimulate nerve and hormonal rebalance. The spleen and thyroid gland are also targeted to effect sugar and hormonal rebalancing. Finally, the adrenal and ovary glands are included to treat weight gain due to menopause or Premenstrual syndrome (PMS). Some people notice the effects of acupuncture fairly quickly and only require treatments every other week.

Another Chinese acupuncture practice for losing weight is ear stapling. This involves manipulating points on the ear to control food cravings. Auricular acupuncture has been used successfully to help cigarette smokers and heroin addicts kick their drug habits.  When properly administered by a qualified acupuncturist, this technique may help some people lose weight. One study, published in Medical Acupuncture, found that ear acupuncture combined with a 2,000 calorie a day diet and 15-minute walk helped reduce weight. The study involved 20 obese women, 22 to 42 years of age. Half of those who received weekly 15-minute sessions of ear acupuncture lost an average of 10 pounds. Those without ear acupuncture averaged only a three-pound loss. Moreover, the women who received the acupuncture treatments reported a decrease in appetite.

It is important to note that ear acupuncture treatments must be administered by a qualified acupuncturist. For the best results, these treatments should be combined with a reduced calorie diet and appropriate physical exercise. The critical point to be made here is that acupuncture should be viewed as a support system not a sole modality.

As with all medical conditions, always seek the advice of a doctor before beginning any acupuncture treatments for weight loss.

See more at:

Kecskes, Alex A. “Pacific College.” Acupuncture Can Help With Weight Loss. November 05, 2014. Accessed May 01, 2016.

3 Things Massage Can Help You With Right Now

We know massage will make us move better and feel happier, but not everyone can make time for regular appointments. Luckily massage is great preventive care and it can have some instantly-gratifying results. Check out these 3 things massage can help you withright now.


Tension headaches (often called stress headaches) are the most common type of headaches among adults.

Pain or pressure in your forehead or on the top or sides of your head? Could be a tension headache. It’s especially likely if you’ve been hunching over a desk or some knitting, spent a ton of time in a car, or if you’re still shivering and huddling to keep warm as spring slowly creeps in.

Massage can help get rid of that headache and regular massage may well keep it from coming back. (If you want to geek out about tension headaches and try a few self-massage techniques, check out this article.)

Low Back Pain

A major research study was published in 2011 showing that massage therapy was better than drugs and usual care for general lower back pain. Better than drugs. I just had to say that twice.

Just about everyone will experience low back pain at some point in their life. If it happens to you, don’t suffer. Schedule a massage and get back into action.


Have you ever been so cranky you got on your own nerves? Yeah, me, too. It isn’t fun. When you feel yourself biting everyone’s head off when they ask you a question, it might be time for some self-care.

Massage is great for stress relief. You get to shut off all the things that buzz and chime and aggravate you to the point of eye twitches. Music, silence, warmth, massage. All the cranky disappears.

This is dual purpose. You’ll feel better and all the people around you will be happier that you’re back to your sunny self.

Got a headache, low back pain, or a case of the grumpies? Get a massage scheduled and we’ll handle that fast.

“3 Things Massage Can Help You With Right Now.” Braille Bodywork. March 9, 2016. Accessed April 24, 2016.

What causes back pain?

Injuries to the back are the most common cause. Minor injuries may result from tripping, falling, improper lifting techniques, or too much twisting of the spine. More severe injuries may follow car accidents, falls from significant heights or landing in an awkward position on the buttocks, direct blows to the top of the head, or a penetrating injury. Sometimes back pain is due to a condition the person is born with such as scoliosis or spina bifida.

Back pain can also result from overuse injuries, which usually occur as a result of improper movement or posture when lifting, standing, walking, sleeping, or sitting. In addition to pain, symptoms can include muscle spasms, stiffness, numbness or tingling, and weakness in one or both legs.

A herniated disc (a problem with one of the rubbery discs that separate the bones of the spine) is also a common cause of back pain.

Some people are more likely to develop back pain than others, including middle aged males, people with a family history of back problems, and women who have carried a pregnancy to term. Lifestyle risk factors include smoking, being overweight, being inactive, sitting for long periods, or taking medication that weakens the bones, (such as corticosteroids).

Treatment for back pain

Most back pain disappears over time with home treatment and self-care, but if you don’t feel any improvement in the first 72 hours after the pain starts, see your doctor. During the visit, your doctor will examine your back and access your ability to sit, stand, walk, and lift your legs. Using a rubber hammer, your doctor may also test your reflexes. These tests will help determine where the pain is, your pain-free range of motion, and whether you have muscle spasms. Diagnostic tests aren’t usually necessary to confirm the source of your pain unless the doctor suspects that the pain may be the result of a more serious problem such as a fracture, tumour, infection, or other illness.

Most back pain goes away within a few weeks with the proper home treatment.

The following tips can help relieve pain, swelling, and stiffness related to your back problem:

  • Avoid bedrest. Excessive bedrest may delay healing.
  • Be active. Return to normal daily activities, and work as soon as you can, keeping in mind that you may need to limit or modify some tasks.
  • Ice the injury. Apply cold packs to the injured area for the first 24 to 48 hours. Use them for 15 to 20 minutes, three to four times a day, for at least the first two days. Cold helps decrease the swelling and pain. But the body needs to return to normal temperature between cold applications, so don’t leave the cold pack in place for longer than 20 minutes at a time.
  • Apply heat after 48 to 72 hours, if the swelling is gone. Use a warm pack or heating pad set on low. Some experts recommend alternating between heat and cold treatments.
  • Gently massage your injury. Sometimes massaging an injury may help relieve pain and encourage blood flow to the area. However, do not massage the area if it causes too much pain.
  • Use pain medication as needed. Over-the-counter pain medications can help you manage your discomfort, especially during activity. You pharmacist can help you select an appropriate product.
  • Be cautious. Avoid sitting up in bed, sitting on soft couches, and twisting or sitting in positions that make your pain worse.
  • Begin moderate exercise. Once the pain begins to lessen, start taking short walks on level surfaces to keep your muscles strong. Avoid hills and stairs. Add to your exercise program every week to slowly build strength and endurance. Yoga may be a beneficial addition to your exercise program.
  • Physical therapy. Advice on proper movement from a trained professional can help you get back to normal activity.

An ounce of prevention

There time you spend sitting at desks, in cars, or in front of the television or computer, the more you must do to prevent back pain. The following tips will help keep your back healthy and strong:

  • Exercise. Aerobic exercises that don’t irritate your back can increase strength in your lower back, helping the muscles function better. Some of the best choices include walking, bicycling, swimming, and yoga. Speak to your doctor to determine the best activity for you.
  • Build strength and flexibility. Condition your stomach and back muscles for better core body strength. More flexibility in your hips and upper legs encourages proper pelvic bone align meant, which can improve your back feels.
  • Butt out. Smokers have lower oxygen levels in their spinal tissues, which can slow the healing process.
  • Stand tall. When you have to stand for long periods, try to rest one foot at a time on a low footstool to take some of the load off your back.
  • Sit straight. Choose seats that offer good lower back support, armrests, and a swivel base. Pillow or rolled towel in the small of your back may also help your back maintain its normal curve. Keep your knees and hips level.
  • Lift carefully. When lifting, let your legs do the work. Move up and down, keeping your back straight and bending only at the knees. Hold your load close to your body and avoid lifting and twisting at the same time. If the item is too heavy, get someone to help you.
  • Sleep smart. Use a firm or medium-firm mattress for better support. Be careful that your pillows don’t force your neck into a severe angle.

Fortunately, back pain is often short-lived and causes no permanent damage in most cases. Most people can resume their normal daily routines once the pain has subsided. If you have any questions about back care or medications for back pain, speak to your doctor or London Drugs pharmacist.